From there we ventured to the Don Vicenti Inn.
Normally the tour would take a stop in the basement, but a private party wouldn’t allow it. It’s a shame, because to me this was the building with the creepiest tale attached to it that had to do with a Dr. Avellanal’s son, fondly referred to as Junior.
The Don Vicenti was a clinic that Dr. Avellanal practiced in back in the day for a few years. His son was schizophrenic and very violent (he once shot a kid with a BB gun just to see what it would be like, and he horribly disfigured another “just because”). Junior actually collected and froze the city’s felines, convinced that a rat infestation would one day overrun Ybor and he would de-thaw the cats to eat them all, becoming the hero. When logic prevails, one would realize that Junior was inadvertently causing said infestation by eradicating all the rats’ predators – so when the influx did happen, Junior went to release his arsenal of cats, only to find that they were all, of course, dead. Clearly this boy had a skewed way of thinking.
The doc shipped his son off to military school in the hopes of making him better and upon his arrival back to Ybor, he decided to keep him a secret, seeing the boy was still clearly disturbed. He had him working in the morgue – the basement of the Don Vicenti – day and night so no one could see him, He lived right across the street in a brothel. The top corner window, closest to you, is that of his old room. And wouldn’t you know that, during this time, nearly 20 prostitutes went missing.
It’s been said that Junior would not just kill the women, but perform gruesome experiments on them before utilizing the underground tunnels to travel across the street to the morgue and the incinerator within it, getting rid of all evidence. That incinerator still exists – though it’s bricked up within the walls of the Vicenti, where many ghosts have been seen during the very tour we were on.
Staring at that cavernous window, glancing down at my feet, then back to the hotel behind me made the realization stick all too much – at one time a man drug mutilated bodies right under my toes, to be burned…and was probably smiling the entire time.