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Historic Hotel Attracting Ghost Watchers

October 29, 1990

CORONADO, Calif. (AP) _ The rich and famous flock to the Hotel del Coronado for its lavish service, beautiful view and world-class reputation. Alan May seeks less earthly delights.

He’s looking for a ghost.

On Halloween, he’s got plenty of company.

The employees and many guests at the Victorian seaside resort know all about the black-clad ghost that haunts room 3312. Some - including May - claim to have seen it.

″Anytime Halloween comes around, the phones just won’t stop ringing off the hook and people come in looking for the ghost,″ said hotel spokeswoman Nancy Weisinger. ″It’s almost like this lady is doing her own publicity.″

Steve Miller, the hotel’s front desk manager, said many guests who stayed in the room ″felt like there were eyes looking at them all the time.″

Although more than one tale circulates, the most famous involves Kate Morgan, a 24-year-old pregnant woman who checked into the hotel on Thanksgiving Day 1892 under the name of Lottie Bernard, had an abortion and, according to a coroner’s report at the time, committed suicide on the steps leading to the beach.

May, a 48-year-old defense attorney from San Francisco, has written a book that gives the legend a different twist. He says Morgan was murdered by her estranged husband.

May, who has stayed in room 3312 more than a dozen times, has claimed to have encountered the ghost twice. He said she stared at him from a TV set, brushed against his cheek and appears in his dreams.

″I think she just wanted her story told,″ he said.

This is his version:

Tom Morgan married Kate Farmer in 1885 in Hamburg, Iowa, after winning her from her father in a poker game. The couple traveled throughout the country, using numerous aliases.

The marriage was stormy, especially when Kate became pregnant, and they separated often.

Wearing a black lace dress and shawl, Kate checked into the Hotel del Coronado in 1892. She induced an abortion and waited in vain for Morgan, who had promised to meet her there.

Four days later, she bought a gun and searched for him at other hotels. The next morning, she was found dead.

May claims Tom Morgan shot Kate as she slept, destroyed some letters that would have implicated him and dumped the gun and body outside to make it look like suicide.

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