Lake Crescent is more than just a natural wonder in Washington—it’s the home of the legendary “Lady of the Lake.”
From the Hall of Mosses in the Hoh Rainforest to the Kalaloch Tree of Life that sits out on the Pacific Coast, the westernmost part of Washington State offers more than just breathtaking hikes and great camping. No such wonder beats the second largest lake in the state of Washington, Lake Crescent.
At over 600 feet (182.8 meters) deep and 12 miles (19.3 kilometers) wide, Lake Crescent sits as one of the most gorgeous, expansive lakes that the Evergreen State has to offer. But beauty isn’t always innocent. Despite its majestic nature, Lake Crescent has a hauntingly dark past. Her name was Hallie Illingworth, and in 1940, three years after her disappearance, her body surfaced from the depths of Lake Crescent.
Originally born in Kentucky, Hallie spent the majority of her life bouncing all across the country. That is until 1936 when she found herself in uniform, waiting tables at a tavern in the Lake Crescent Lodge, just a half hour away from her apartment in Port Angeles. She was 35 years old and despite her young age, was a two-time divorcee. Like most patterns, her unlucky streak in love wasn’t about to end anytime soon.
While working at the tavern, Hallie became acquainted with a local beer truck driver by the name of Montgomery “Monty” J. Illingworth, who often stopped at the tavern before heading back out on the road. Known for his charm, it didn’t take Hallie long to fall in love, and the two quickly wed. It hadn’t even been a year since Hallie established a home on the Olympic Peninsula.
Almost immediately following their nuptials, Hallie started coming to work covered in bruises and paired with broken teeth and black eyes. The newlyweds drunkenly fought often in their apartment and outside the tavern in the early morning hours. Five months after the wedding, still in what is now known as the honeymoon phase of the relationship timeline, Hallie went missing.
It was right before Christmas. Monty told police that she wasn’t missing—she had just run off with an Alaskan sailor. Just like that, the case closed, and in 1938, Monty received his highly desired divorce and ran off to the California sunshine with Hallie’s sister’s roommate.
All went according to Monty’s plan until July of 1940, when an unidentified body floated to the surface of Lake Crescent. After untying the rope and unwrapping the blankets, the fishermen discovered that, minus a few fingers, toes, and the tip of its nose, the body was perfectly preserved.
According to Harlan McNutt, the young medical student who examined Hallie, the body had the texture of soap. Medically speaking, the term of this bodily process is saponification. Hallie’s body fat had interacted with chemicals formed deep within the lake, essentially turning her skin into wax.
Hallie’s body wasn’t identified right away, and so, of course, the public named the corpse the “Lady of the Lake.” It had been three years since the incident, and the case had closed. However, after McNutt noted that the body was both strangled and beaten, the police dusted off the old file and started investigating. Hallie’s dentist in South Dakota was the one who confirmed that the body was hers, all thanks to a dental extraction that matched his work.
With that piece of evidence locked down, along with Hallie’s clothes and the rope used to tie the body, which happened to be sitting on the shelf of a local store whose owner confirmed that Monty borrowed that same rope the night of the murder, all fingers pointed to the third husband. The trial lasted a whopping four hours. Convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison, Monty got out on parole in 1951 and lived out the rest of his life in California.
Lake Crescent is one of the deepest lakes in Washington State, and though scientists have measured at least 600 feet (182.8 meters) of it, it’s claimed to be over 1,000 feet (304.8 meters) deep. And it’s those deep-water chemicals that helped solve the murder of one missing woman who lived on the Olympic Peninsula.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.