Any wandering taphophiles gravely reading the stones at Salt Lake City Cemetery may want to check out the resting place of Lilly E. Gray, born 1881, died 1958. What makes this grave so interesting, to put it simply, is its epitaph: “Victim of the Beast 666.”
Many have pondered what this strange inscription means, and the fact that so little is known about Lilly E. Gray herself has allowed all sorts of strange theories to surface over the years. Satanic rituals? Demonic forces? Witchcraft? Why, of all things, would this be written on her gravestone?
The answer, as it so often turns out, is likely far more ordinary (though perhaps no less fascinating, if only because it took several years before someone finally got to the bottom of it).
In 2009, Richelle Hawks published what seems to be the best explanation we have:
Lilly E. Gray died in 1958 of natural causes at a Salt Lake hospital, one of the very few facts we actually know about her. However, her husband, Elmer Lewis Gray, possessed a number of eccentricities, as well as a distrust of authority and government, according to documents Hawks uncovered.
Mr. Gray then, perhaps, blamed certain officials for his wife’s death, and as he was her “only known survivor,” it’s not unreasonable to assume that he wrote her gravestone’s inscription accordingly. “The Beast,” following this line of reasoning, could refer to the people he felt were responsible.
I know what you’re thinking: that’s just more speculation.
Well, you’re not wrong.
There are other weird ideas. A possible link to Route 666, the Devil’s Highway, which ended in Utah. Or perhaps even to a following of Aleister Crowley’s in Salt Lake City. His mother once referred to him as “the Beast,” after all…