The house at 432 Abercorn Street in Savannah is a dilapidated Greek Revival structure. The historic house sits on Calhoun Square, and like any building on one of Savannah’s squares, it’s a coveted piece of real estate. So why, then, does the building stand empty and, apparently, abandoned?

Sixth Sense Tours’ Dawn Laxton has been researching the long and mysterious history of the house, although details have proven difficult to find. The house was built in 1868 for General Benjamin J. Wilson, a veteran of the Civil War. The General’s wife succumbed to yellow fever, leaving him to raise their daughter alone in the four-level house.

Just across the street from the house is the Massey School, one of the oldest public schools in Savannah still in use today. General Wilson’s daughter loved to play with children who went to Massey School, but her father disapproved of her socializing with them. Undeterred, the little girl continued to run across the street to play with the other children.

Legend says that, in his frustration, General Wilson punished his daughter by putting her in a chair in the living room window and tying her into place. She could see the other children playing outside and she could do nothing but sit and watch. When neighbors saw the little girl, they complained to General Wilson about his mistreatment of her. He responded by removing the ropes that bound the girl in place, but he ordered her to remain in the chair nonetheless.

After a few days of sitting in such a humiliating position, the little girl died of heat stroke and dehydration. In those days before the advent of air conditioning, houses could become stiflingly hot, and the child’s position directly in front of the window made her even more susceptible. Years later, General Wilson also died in the home, but his death came naturally, unlike his daughter’s.

The General and his daughter have never left, according to many. Dawn is just one of the tour guides I spoke to who says that tourists often take a picture of the house, only to find the image of a little girl sitting in one of the windows. Other tourists are less lucky: before they can snap a picture, their cameras shut down. In some extreme cases, Dawn has even seen smoke begin to curl up from cameras that worked just fine at every other spot on the tour.

The General's face in the stucco.General Wilson’s face doesn’t show up in a window that of like his daughter’s. Instead, he can be seen looking out from the plaster next to the right-hand window on the second level. This living-room window is the one where his daughter purportedly died. Is the image of the old man’s face just a coincidental arrangement of cracks and discoloration in the plaster? Even the pictures that I took, before I had heard the story, show what looks like the face of a man with a white beard, turning his face away from the window.

As if the sad tale of General Wilson and his daughter isn’t enough, there are other mysterious tales surrounding the house. I first heard about the haunted house on Abercorn Street from “Hollywood” Ron Higgins during one of his Scary Ghost Tours. The story Ron uncovered deals with a much more recent tragedy at the house.

In 1959, a family from Pompano Beach, Florida, came to visit the doctor and his family living at 432 Abercorn. The visiting family included four daughters, ranging in age from four to twelve. The adults went out one evening, and when they returned later they found three of the girls dead. Two of them were still inside the house, and one was sprawled on the front porch, as if she was slain while trying to escape. The youngest daughter, age four, was the only one still alive. The sad and senseless triple murder was never solved.

In the 1990s, the house was briefly rented out and a lot of college students from nearby Savannah College of Art and Design lived there. They heard pounding, heavy pacing, crying and, even more mysterious, a lot of giggling. I spoke to a local resident who sometimes feels such a negative emotion emanating from the house that she can’t even walk past it. One of her acquaintances lived at the house for a time, but he disappeared while living there, and the mysterious circumstances make her wonder if his disappearance is somehow related to the paranormal activity at the house.

Among all the ghost stories I’ve heard about Savannah over the years, I have never encountered a story like this one, in which people are so reluctant to tell the story and even more wary of going near the place. I’ve walked past in broad daylight and broken out in goose bumps. If you have a story or pictures to share about 432 Abercorn, e-mail me and I will post your information on this site.

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33 Comments

  1. […] its stairs. This is one of Savannah’s most haunted houses, whose tales of fright include dead and murdered children. Honestly, the very fact that this tremendous building is sitting there unoccupied is […]

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    Tim says:

    I have never heard this story. I have heard several stories about the place. This tops them. My (10 at the time) daughter and I took a peculiar interest in this manion sitting empty in a highly desirable location. We still have not quite figured out why. So we stopped there one day and she just had to get pictures of the house. Being a ten year old she has to be in the shots. Well she was not alone. In every picture there was another little girl just out of focus through the windows. In one there seems to be a smoky silloette in a sitting position almost sitting on the stack of wood (that never got used). I thought it was cool but not as cool as it seems now that I read this page. I will dig up the photos and post them in the next few days. Thanks for the info. By the way follow the google street view options and look in the north window on the second floor. Also very interesting.

  3. Beth Dolgner

    Thanks for sharing, Tim! I am anxious to see the photos you took, and I will definitely check out the Google street view. Thanks for the tip!

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    Karri Konczal says:

    Hi there-
    My hu7sband and I went on a ghost tour tonight in Savannah. Nicodemous Hammil was our guide. He tlld us that the general did not die a natural death, but he actually commited suicide in the house before he could go to trial for the murder of his daughter. I just wanted to share that. I do wonder where the survivor, the 4 year old might be at this time. She would be close to my mother’s age, in her 50’s.

  5. Beth Dolgner

    That’s a great point about the surviving child! It would be fascinating to hear a firsthand account. Thanks for sharing!

  6. […] Click here to see plenty of user submitted photos of 423 Abercorn in Savannah GA […]

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    Keith Savage says:

    Beth,

    A cursory Google search turns up nothing about a civil war general named Benjamin J. Wilson. You’d think even a confederate general would have a wikipedia page! The only things that show up are mentions in connection with this ghost story. How do we know this house was built in 1868 by said general? Where is any proof of the story of his neglecting his daughter, or easier, the 1959 triple murder of girls story? I find nothing on either story!

  8. Beth Dolgner

    According to “The National Trust Guide to Savannah,” Benjamin J. Wilson did have the house built in 1868. His military status was shared with me by local historians and tour guides who had done research into the house. As for the details of the ghost story…well, that’s why it’s called a legend! Each one of us can decide to believe or not. I’ve simply relayed the stories I was told from multiple sources, including some eye-witnesses.

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    Marie says:

    My husband and I took the Zombies tour with Tobias McGriff last night. The only thing we got out of it was tired feet from walking about 2 miles! The picture of the little girl that the story tellers tell could be no different than those who think they’ve seen the Virgin Mary in stuff. For entertainment I would recommend the tour, but the guy’s raking in over a $1000 a night (in cash I might add) so if he does a couple of tours a night, 7 days a week, guess I should pack up, move to Savannah, learn the “legends” and start my own tour company!

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    Jessica Meyers says:

    I’m surprised Tobias still does tours. I know he has several guides. 432 is a controversial location in Savannah and many tours go there. I have taken most of the ones that go there and I felt like Blue Orb did the most balanced treatment of it. As for Marie’s comment, I felt Blue Orb was well worth it and if you were to start a tour in Savannah I wouldn’t count on duplicating Tobias’s success. Lol.

  11. Beth Dolgner

    I haven’t tried Blue Orb yet, but it sounds like they should be on my list for my next trip to Savannah. I’m a fan of Jamie’s Cobblestone Tours because he does such extensive research.

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    Cathy says:

    My daughter and I went on the uncensored blue orb tour with Tobias last week. That leisurely paced one mile hike was more like a nearly two mile major workout. He is an excellent tour guide and gave fascinating information. All we saw in our pictures was black darkness. Since coming home, I have researched a lot about the different places on his tour and found conflicting stories. I personally don’t buy into any of this but it was a fun night out, and very entertaining. Tobias is very good at what he does, he just needs to slow down the pace a bit! It was worth the price!!

  13. Beth Dolgner

    I’m glad you enjoyed your tour, Cathy. Separating fact from fiction can be tough sometimes, but the ghost tours are always entertaining!

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    Taylor Godwin says:

    I found this blog after researching 432 Abercorn. My husband and I took the uncensored tour with Tobias and Blue Orb Tours. It was my second time touring with Tobias and I agree with the previous poster depending on which route Tobias takes it can be 1-2 miles in length and it was worth it regardless of whether or not you believe in ghosts. We had a blast. Tobias just released his book and remarked there is an extensive section on 432. I’m looking fwd to reading it because I haven’t found a book that delves into the house and he seems to have done quite a bit of research and talks about the different stories and controversies on the tour. I think Sixth Sense and The Hearse tours go to the house as well. Interesting place for sure! Like your blog!

  15. Beth Dolgner

    Thanks, Taylor! I’ll be interested to read Tobias’s info. I had thought I was the first to write about 432 Abercorn (it’s included in “Georgia Spirits & Specters,” which came out three years ago), but then I found a story about the house in “Danny’s Bed” by Al Cobb. Interestingly enough, Al’s account is completely different than what they tell you on the tours, and Al’s info came from a friend who used to live there. As Alice in Wonderland would say, “Curiouser and curiouser.”

  16. Avatar

    Hi Beth,

    I keep getting referred to this blog most every time someone goes home and researches 432 (I’m a fan, by the way) and I believe we have swapped an email or two.

    It is true I will have a section on 432 but it doesn’t make an exhaustive attempt at validating anything beyond the known history of the homes build date, etc. The book is “Savannah Shadows: Tales from the Midnight Zombie Tour” and really keeps that focus throughout the section. It’s a book about guests experiences, photos, evp’s etc from the tour.

    As I’ve stated many times about 432 we include it on the route for two reasons: The heavy amount of activity we experience there and the fact that part of the slave cemetery runs underneath it. That is enough to include it on a tour route.

    And while we do tell a few of the stories that circulate about the house we dismiss the ones with no trace of proof (i.e. the three girls being murdered there). That apparently grew from one decades old news article that said “Possible homicide at Abercorn Street home.” As you know from your own research, telling the story of a reputed haunted house comes with all of the necessary disclaimers and must at some level be left to speculation.

    As someone who has stood in front of the house hundreds of nights with thousands of guests and seen their experiences unfold, I have also had the privilege of speaking with the caretaker, nearby residents and interviews with two people who are good friends of the current owner.

    My conclusion, after being in the fortunate position to have done this, is that 432 Abercorn has its fan following courtesy of its own merit and doesn’t seem to grow with the size of the stories others may tell, (There are plenty of other homes and businesses that have questionable stories in Savannah that don’t attract similar followings) it keeps its momentum rather, by those who give the word of mouth of their own encounters, that stand to gain nothing by doing so. “Savannah Shadows” uses those types of stories, by permission, and just like on the tour; lets the reader decide.

    James Caskey is about to release another book around the same time as mine and we have been swapping pieces and parts with one another (his is about NOLA this time) but 432 hasn’t come up yet. I ordered your book by the way, I’m anxious to see what you did on the 432 piece and if you will shoot me an email Ill send you a copy of Shadows in June when its released. Hope you are well and I love the blog.

    Tobias- Founder, Blue Orb

  17. Beth Dolgner

    Thanks for the response, Tobias! Yes, it would seem that fact IS stranger than fiction in the case of 432. The original stories I was told about the house haven’t seemed to pan out in terms of historical info to back them up, yet the personal experiences and the fact that the slave cemetery lies below the house are enough to convince me that there are strange things going on there. I was even contacted by a psychic medium who dreamed about the house, even though she’s never visited Savannah! I look forward to your book – I really like hearing modern, first-hand accounts. So many ghost tours include old stories that it’s nice to hear more recent experiences.

    My mom is in Savannah, so we’ll have to come along on your tour the next time I am in town. Thanks again!!

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    Lisa Galloway says:

    I have went on several ghost tours in Savannah. By far, my tour with Tobias at Blue Orb was the best I have ever been on. So good that when my friends have asked me which tours to take, I always tell them about Tobias. I find it interesting that someone would think his tour is not good. I have never seen a bad review of Blue Orb on any travel sites. He has a vast knowledge of Savannah’s history, and he isn’t even from here. He tells stories relevant to the area that he takes us too. As far as the length of the tours…it is clearly stated on his website how long the tours are. I could go for 4 hours on one of his tours! I have pre-ordered his book and can’t wait until it arrives!

  19. Avatar
    Richard Bunch says:

    LOL. Did not think you would post my comments. Confirms my opinions of ghost tour people and authors.

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    Pam says:

    I agree that the Blue Orb ghost tour was most informative and my friend and I enjoyed it. However, we are older ladies and online it said a 1/2 mile leisurely loop which we thought we could handle easily. It was more like 2+ miles and a very brisk pace. We were mostly bringing up the rear and coming late to the next stop and explanations/history of the place. Also since I think it would be impossible for most (of any age) to remember everything, I think it would be great to hand out a brochure with at least highlights of history of each place we stop.

  21. Beth Dolgner

    If you ever come back to Savannah, you’ll have to try a hearse tour. A group of us girls did that one time, and it was a riot! We felt like we were on parade the whole time, just waving at the tourists who stared. It’s a nice alternative for those who don’t want to do meet the ghosts on foot.

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    Casey says:

    My family and I also took the Blue Orb wher my wife got the picture thatg I provided Beth and Tobias. I have been fascinated with the location ever since. The tour was great, although I found some stories hard to swallow. Interesting side note, as a law enforcement officer, I am most often carrying a sidearm, as I was that night. Early into the tour had us standing in the square being told the story of the graves under our feet and the bone collectors that dig late at night. Tobias referred to a large cluster of bushes behind us. All I could think about was a painted face actor jumping out of the bushes, and reactions being what they are, things taking a bad turn! Fortunately that did not happen and all was well. I still have not had anybody able to give an explanation for the photo.

  23. Beth Dolgner

    I guess it’s a good thing that tour guides don’t use scare tactics! Yikes!

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    Denise Dineen says:

    I was there with my friend Dana in April 2011 and it was I think a TAPS tour. When I arrived at the house I could not get any further than the sidewalk without feeling sharp pains and naseaus. My girlfriend Dana walked right up the stairs and started taking pictures with her flash on. The picture that she got was horrible to say the least. It was of a figure with a noose around its neck and the face was very clear. the pic also has a small figure that looks like its sitting and you can see the fee clearly. Above in the top of the pic is a face of what looks like a dog with teeth. That night when we got back to our hotel room I was very scared like something was watching me. I almost woke my friend up to sleep with her, needless to say I was up until 5am until I finally fell asleep. We went to the house during the next day before we went to go home just so I could feel some peace. Well, we were met by two younger adults one female and one male. I couldnt walk any closer then I did the night before but the young man came up to me and asked if I saw her and I assumed he meant the little girl and I said no but my friend has an amazing picture. We showed them the pic and they just looked and were very quite. The women said that the pic was demonic and the dog was a “Hag” and they are very vendictive and didnt like women. The man brushed his arms as if brushing off dirt. I think he was cleansing himself. They told us that the hole near the stairs was a portal for evil spirits. When my friend and I walked away from them it seemed odd like they had the look on their faces that they wanted to tell us something but looked confused. My friend and I just sat into the mini van to leave and when Dana had a knock on her window, it was the man and women who asked if they could sage Dana because they said they believed the “hag” had attached its self to her. Dana got out of the car and they did sage her. She was also told some things about her daughter that the women could not have known. The women worked for Orb Tours. She was amazing and I wish I remembered her name. I think that it explains why I felt so awful that night in the hotel. I was terrified that night and I never want to feel that way again. Dana was told that the “Hag” attached itself to her because she was bold and was not aware of the negative energy and so it was easy for her to attach.
    I also heard that the three young men that were renting were very smart and they
    were going to med school. I think they said that one of the men never left the house and was never found and the other two had become homeless and drug addicted.
    I do have a picture on my camera of that night and everyone who sees it is speechless and then they just say they dont like the pic.
    Savannah is a beautiful place and has alot of history but I’m not sure if I will ever visit such a haunted city with all of that crazy energy, especially for someone who is highly sensitive as myself.

  25. Beth Dolgner

    Wow, thank you for sharing. That is a really disconcerting story, but not unlike others I have heard. I’m friends with a woman who knew one of the home’s renters – as you mentioned, he left and no one ever found out what happened to him. Very odd.

    I would love to see your picture, and even post it to the site, if you’re interested. You can email it to me at [email protected]. Thank you, again!

  26. Avatar
    sharon gault says:

    i would love to see a picture of the general before he die and what of his daughter is there no picture of ger either when she was a live that is please post them thank you sharon

  27. Beth Dolgner

    I would love to see one, too, but I am not aware whether one actually exists. We know he built the house because it’s public record, but unfortunately I don’t know that anyone has a photo of him.

  28. Avatar
    Mireya Rojas says:

    Hi.
    My boyfriend and i has just returned from a 6 week vacation in the us. Driving all the way from Miami to New York, we passed Savannah and stayed for two days. And of coures knowing savannah beeing haunted, we booked a ghost tour with 6th sense with Nick as our guide. He did a exellent job. Even though i do believe in ghost, i had never experienced anything and didnt expect to. The tour was great and we had goosebumps during the entire tour. We got to the last house on the tour, wich was this famous one, he stopped across the street on the lawn and started to tell its story. Before starting to talk, i snapped a couple of pictures, from the front, where the stairs are, and a minute later i started to feel nurseus and thougth that i had to go behind the trees and throw up, but thougth this is stupid and braced my self, couldnt even hold on to my bag, i felt that bad. I pushed it a side and tryed to concentrate on the story. He told us pretty much what you guys allready know, but he also told us, that after that student vanished from his, locked from the inside room, the brought in an indian psyckic man in, who didnt believe there was such a thing as evil energi. Cause is energy is spirits made by god, it couldnt be evil. He got only to the bottom of the outside stairs and refused to go in. He said he could see alot of spirits screaming out at him from the windows, he walked away saying he now knew that there was evil and that house was evil. He never practiced his psyckic abillities after that encounter.
    Nick also told us that there was a reason that we didnt get closer to the house than we did, they usually let the tour groups all the way up in front and half up the front stairs, but he had have a guy, a couple of years ago, who Nick was training to be a tour guide for 6th sense. And one day the stood in front of the house, he guessed the trainee was getting a bit bored listening to the same storys so many times, so he got restless and started to kick some of the loose stones on the stairs, and as soon as he did that, he felt sick, light headed. He didnt think much about it, but a few days later he came to Nick and told him, he was sure something had followed him home and he was really really scared. He even tried to go back to the house and put the stones back as they where, but nothing helped. He quit the ghost tours and got more and more withdrawn from everything and everyone around him and to this day is a lone and kind of strange guy. Ghost dosnt like anyone altering anything about their place so that was why this happend.
    We thought well okey, thats scary, but the top floor ligth was on, so there is living somebody in the house, so it cant be that bad, but Then Nick told us, there was no one living in the house and the only reason the ligth was on, was to keep people out of it, including the young boys in the town always looking for a place to hang out. They had tried to get in touch with the owner of the house to ask her, how come she was willing to keep paying the mortgage, while lived in NY, they couldnt get an answer , when a news paper finally got an answer, all she said was: why would i put that house on anybody?:
    So Nicks thinks that maybe, the owner of the house, could be the 4 year old girl that survived the horror all thoes years back. But whoes to know.
    Well back to me standing there feeling sick. After he was done with the story, he said you are welcome to take pictures, but he had bever personally taken any pictures of the house and would never think about doing so, i thought im not gonna take any, forgetting i allready did, my boyfriend starts snapping away, with me telling him not to. When we got back to our car we toæd Nick i had felt sick when we got there and he told us, that he have had people throwing up before even starting to tell his stories, and cameras suddenly stop working when they got to the house.
    When we got back to our hotel we started to look at our pictures, kind of hoping to havw cautgh something, my boyfriends pictures didnt have anything out of the ordenary, we looked at mine, me still forgetting i snap the pictures of the house, when i get to the first one you van see to figures in the ligthed window in the 2 floor. A small face and a larger one, kind of looking out of the window. I know that sometimes the mind sees what it wants to see, but the following pictures of the window dosnt show the same, as the first, and they where taken from the same spot in a row.
    I must say i look at Savannah in a whole different ligth now, then before the ghost tour. And not sure thats gonna be my first choice when we come back to the Us.
    Just wanted to share our experience with you:)
    Sincerely.

  29. Beth Dolgner

    Thank you so much for sharing! Like Nick told you, feeling physically ill at that house is not uncommon. I’m a guide for the Roswell Ghost Tour, and we have one house where people feel the same way. A friend of mine, who is a sensitive, felt so bad at that house that she had to leave the group. As soon as she got away from the house, she felt fine.

    That’s interesting that you were told the owner of the house is in New York. I was informed that the owner is actually in Atlanta, and that the house is unoccupied because it’s tied up in a trust. It’s ironic that the house might be vacant not because of ghosts, but because of legal issues!

    I hope you enjoyed your visit to the U.S. and that the house won’t make you dislike Savannah! My mom lives about two blocks from that house, and I absolutely love the neighborhood. I always enjoy visiting Savannah. Thanks again!

  30. Avatar
    Maxine F says:

    I live in Savannah and had a friend come to visit and go on the ghost tour I’m assuming it was also with Nick. After he came back he told me about the house and I’ve been back to visit 3 times since. For whatever reason I don’t feel strictly negative energy there. I feel very powerful spiritual vibes from that house but to me they’re a mix of bad good and sad. Good and Evil. I almost feel sorry for the feelings floating in and around that house. The strangest thing though, the other night while i was there i sat on the 6th step from the bottom and when i placed my hands on the step, even gently, i felt a throbbing sensation. When i placed my hand on anything else, even another step, it would stop. That house definitely has an amazing allure to it and if you get the chance to experience it, it will undoubtedly linger in your mind for a long while.

  31. Beth Dolgner

    Maxine, you have an interesting point about the mix of energy there. I was contacted some time ago by a psychic medium who dreamed about the house, although she has never even visited Savannah. She, too, felt that there were spirits there who were both protective and sad. As you say, there is an allure to that house. Thank you for sharing!

  32. Avatar
    Scott Tant says:

    Beth, so after hearing a co-worker talk about the house at 432 Abercorn, I felt compelled to go have a look. I am open-minded enough to realize there are unexplainable occurrences and phenomenon, but also objective in my process of investigation. I parked on the side street adjacent to the balconies, stood there for a few moments to get a full assessment of how I was feeling prior to going up to the house. Having researched the residence, I was aware that sensitives were negatively affected, and while I am not sensitive, I do get that ‘feeling’ from time to time when something isn’t quite right. I took my Nikon D90 with me, and approached the house from the right hand side. The first thing I noticed was that someone had removed the plate that held the 432. I took a couple of shots from the street of the front, walked up the steps and took a few shots of the doorway. Then down to the Wane Street side and around the back. At this time the sun was steadily setting, and as I worked my way around the front I noticed that there was a single light on in the top floor, in the room just to the right of the bay-styled windows (see photo 8956 and 8957 from my email). I found that to be a bit unusual, considering the house is supposed abandoned. In photo 8949 you can notice the state of decay the roof is currently going through, which would back up the abandoned story, but then I also noticed through the mail slot (lower left photo 8947) that I could look through it and see that mail had be gathered and stacked on something like a table just behind the door. Also, if you look a t the door picture, you will notice the lack of a doorknob. I observed that the hinges for the door are in the inside of the house, so that the door would open by swinging inwards. The front doors appear to be bowing outward slightly, suggesting that something of slight weight has been placed in front of the door to shore it from being opened. I stayed on the steps and in front of the door for quite a few moments, and never really felt anything more than the normal Savannah heat. I would love the opportunity to further explore the house’s interior, but quite sure that will never happen. I was lucky enough to get a full access tour of the Sorrel Weed house three years ago. I suppose my luck will not strike twice!

  33. Avatar
    Scott Tant says:

    Last question: Why would anyone waste time and money on a deteriorating house by installing storm shutters? I have noticed pictures from three years ago showing the windows completely uncovered; looking back on mine the are covered inside with a sheet, and now there are storm shutters (on the Abercorn side of the house only, might I add!) What’s going on here?

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