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When Bill Craig's body is found in the swamp with a noose around his neck, the villagers attribute the death to "The Strangler." The Strangler is thought to be the ghost of ferryman Douglas, who was convicted of the murder of farmer Berkeley on the testimony of Joseph Hart, the current ferryman. Douglas maintained his innocence until he was hanged and before his execution, vowed vengeance on the men responsible for his conviction and their families. Since then, many have died by various means of strangulation. The village women ask Joseph to sacrifice himself to break the curse, which will only be ended when someone voluntarily offers himself to The Strangler. Joseph refuses and, later that night, starts to burn a piece of paper when he is summoned by someone on the opposite shore. His caller is The Strangler, and Joseph is killed. Later, Maria, Joseph's granddaughter, who left town as a little girl, returns to the village and, learning of Joseph's death, takes over the ferryman's job. Secretly, Christian Sanders, one of the jurors who convicted Douglas, reveals that Joseph confessed that he killed Berkeley during a quarrel and falsely accused Douglas because he wanted his job. It was this confession that he tried to burn the night of his death. Even though he is now aware that he was responsible for the execution of an innocent man, Sanders still believes that The Strangler is just a superstition. He insists that all the deaths will end if they drain the swamp and proposes to use the money the villagers have saved for a new church for this purpose. In the meantime, Chris, Sander's son, and Maria have fallen in love and plan to marry. Sanders refuses to allow the marriage, however, because Maria's grandfather was a murderer. Chris then accuses his father of equal guilt for hanging an innocent man. When Chris is almost killed by stepping in a deer trap, Maria saves him, but is prevented from fetching the doctor by the appearance of The Strangler, who tells her that Chris is doomed. Maria vows that as long as she lives, The Strangler will not touch Chris, and together with Sanders, takes Chris to the old ruined church. Despite their efforts, Chris grows near to death. To save him, Maria offers herself to The Strangler in his place. Her unselfish act puts The Strangler's ghost to rest, and a grateful Sanders gives Chris and Maria his blessing.