The Joelma Building – A haunting tragedy

Edifício Praça da Bandeira, better known by its former name, Joelma Building, is one of the most imposing buildings in Sao Paulo, Brazil, which burned down by more than four hours on February 1st of 1974. The result of this tragedy were 345 injured and 189 killed. Even today experts ensure that the place is surrounded by a strange spiritual energy. Witnesses say the building Joelma carries a curse.

The Joelma Building
The Joelma Building Tragedy

In 1948, there was a house where is now the Joelma Building. There lived a 26-year-old chemistry professor, named Paul Campbell, along with his mother and two sisters. Paul shot and killed his mother and sisters and buried the bodies in a pit that was built in the backyard of their hous. After Paul committed suicide, the police went with two hypotheses for the crime. The first was that the family would have rejected Paul’s girlfriend. The second was that Paul would have killed his mother and sisters because they had serious health problems and he did not want to take care of them.

The mystery of the death of the entire family has never been solved. After the recovery of bodies, a firefighter also became a victim of the curse and died of corpse infection. The triple murder-suicide shocked the population of Sao Paulo and became known as “The Crime of the Pit”. The place became famous for being haunted.

In 1972, the house gave way to a modern building consisted of 25 floors, it was the Joelma Building. Because of the Crime, the number of the street was changed, but the curse was not forgotten.

Joelma Building
The Joelma Building

On February 1st of 1974, around 8:45 am, a short circuit in the air conditioner of the building started a small fire, and soon it engulfed the entire building. With nowhere to run, people panicked. The heat already reached 700°C and many jumped from the top of the building. The fire virtually destroyed the Joelma Building. There wasn’t sufficient water in the cars of the Fire Department ladder (Magirus) and they only managed to reach a part of the building.

Joelma Tragedy
Joelma Building Tragedy, February 1, 1974

Thirteen people managed to escape by elevator, but could not save themselves. The bodies were not identified and were eventually buried side by side in St. Peter’s Cemetery in the capital. The thirteen bodies gave rise to the mystery of the ’13 Souls’ and to them are attributed miracles.

After the fire, the building was closed for four years for the re-construction work. When reopened, it was renamed the Plaza of the Flag. Witnesses say that spirits of the deads still roam the building today. They claim to have experienced many unusual things and unnatural phenomena within the building halls and rooms.

These haunting events have led dozens of rooms at the Joelma Building to remain empty, and the attempt to rid the place of spirits continues to this day. The stories about the old Joelma are still a great mystery. Some loosely believe, some are skeptical and some are sure that everything is true.