A SHOPPING centre which was once the largest in the world is today an eerie shell of its former self.
The £143million Randall Park Mall lies derelict after bearing witness to a grim succession of crimes, from murder and kidnapping to rape.
The massive shopping centre, measuring nearly 2.2million square feet, represented the future of retail in Ohio, US when it opened in August 1976 complete with 200 stores and a three-screen cinema.
It made £114million in sales during its first year.
But it was brought to its knees by various economic factors over an extended period of 33 years, not helped by its reputation as a place tainted by dark crime.
The mall was passed between owners for years, eventually selling for just £6million amid deindustrialisation.
Its final owners attempted to inject life into the shopping centre, investing millions of pounds – but it was to no avail.
When a patron of the shopping centre’s Magic Johnson Cinema, Paul Robinson, shot dead another man then tried to kill himself in 1998, Randall Park Mall’s reputation was already too far gone.
It wouldn’t be long before it was abandoned completely and plans were made to have it demolished.
Pictures snapped by a photographer showed filthy floors and forgotten relics, from a sole statue of a dancing bear to a decorated Christmas tree.
They pointed to the mall’s marred history – which included the murder of 23-year-old shoe store employee Larry Cook in 1977.
It is said the young man was shot in the back of the head and robbed of about £1,000 in cash and cheques during the Christmas period.
His body was found two days later by a maintenance worker who saw his feet sticking out of a snow drift in the centre’s car park.
Just two years later, food chain executive Julius Kravtiz was kidnapped from the mall along with his wife.
Julius tragically died of gunshot wounds, his body discovered not far from the shopping centre, while his partner managed to escape.
Car theft, muggings, and violent attacks ran rampant in the 9,000-car car park which was supposed to be a selling point of the mall.
Groups of teenagers also contributed to the chaos.
On one occasion, 150 youngsters stampeded through the shopping centre for a reason that remains unclear.
On another, eight teens smashed the window of a jewellery store in an attempt to rob valuables, but were caught.
In 2002, toward the end of the mall’s life, a security guard named Curtis Smith is said to have accused a 17-year-old girl of shoplifting and ordered her to have sex with him to avoid arrest.
Parts of the shopping centre, including much of its interior and anchor tenants, have already been demolished, its massive entrance now littered with rubbish and glass.
Ghosts exist in the form of mannequins, erected during a more hopeful time, now doomed for destruction.