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IN THIS EPISODE: (Dark Archives Double Trouble Episode with previously released stories from August 13-14, 2018) *** One of paranormal history’s most bizarre, worldwide, phenomena, the Men In Black, traces its origin directly back to one man, and his name was Albert. (The Albert K. Bender Story) *** Daryl Collins’ encounters demonstrate the sheer level of weirdness that surrounds the UFO phenomenon. (Alien Abductions and High Strangeness) *** A young girl sees an odd cube shape floating in her back yard among the trees. Was it extraterrestrial, paranormal, or just the wild imagination of a child? (Floating Multi-Color Box) *** What began as a joke to tease his sister, became all too real for the boy. (Ouija) *** Legend has it that a man murdered his wife and young daughter, before committing suicide. Has this caused the Banff Springs Hotel to become haunted? (Room 873) *** Frank Nash was not only an infamous outlaw, but he could escape just about any prison – even the prison of his own coffin after being dead and buried. (The Kansas City Massacre) *** Due to a murderous plot, 11-year old Terry Jo Duperrault spent 84 grueling hours alone at sea until she was rescued. (Orphaned At Sea) *** Moving into your own place alone for the first time is often an exciting moment in a young adult’s life – but it can also be a bit nerve-racking. But then, it probably doesn’t help if you move into a place that is haunted. (My Closet Door) *** The true story of Rasputin is full of both truths and lies. Was he a controversial mystic with healing powers, or an evil or misunderstood man? Maybe he was a little of both. (Rasputin) *** The Lake Club in Springfield, Illinois had its heyday in 1940s and 50s – and not even a lingering ghost could stop the parties. (The Lake Club Ghost)
STORY AND MUSIC CREDITS/SOURCES…
“Alien Abductions and High Strangeness” by Nick Redfern: http://bit.ly/2LlDcZZ
“The Albert K. Bender Story” by Michael J. Bielawa: http://bit.ly/33Q3VEl
“Floating Multi-Color Box” by Keileigh Mather: http://bit.ly/2DKQJ9r
“Ouija” by Juan Guzzman.. submitted directly to WeirdDarkness.com.
“Room 873” by Jessica Ferri: http://bit.ly/33IH1ih
“The Kansas City Massacre” by Troy Taylor: http://bit.ly/34P0hfn
“The Lake Club Ghost” by Troy Taylor: http://bit.ly/2rOEG8q
“Orphaned at Sea” by Gabe Paoletti: http://bit.ly/33LIhBd
“My Closet Door”: http://bit.ly/2DMt884
“Rasputin” by Ellen Lloyd: http://bit.ly/2rW5eUZ
Background music provided by EpidemicSound and AudioBlocks with paid license. Music by Shadows Symphony (http://bit.ly/2W6N1xJ) and Midnight Syndicate (http://amzn.to/2BYCoXZ) is also sometimes used with permission.
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“I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” — John 12:46 *** How to escape eternal darkness: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IYmodFKDaM
KANSAS CITY MASSACRE
Frank Nash never achieved the notoriety that was given to the famous bank robbers of the day, but he enjoyed a career that was just as profitable and perhaps even more daring than most. Nash was born in Indiana in 1887 and in 1902, his father, John O. Nash, moved the family to Oklahoma so that he could establish a hotel in Hobart. As a young man, Frank worked in the hotel’s kitchen as a cook but eventually, his father turned over the ownership of the place to his daughter, Alice, and her husband, John Long. Frank was not disappointed. He never believed that he was cut out for hotel work, either in the kitchen or as a front desk clerk. He was looking for more excitement and soon found it by committing a series of small burglaries around the Hobart area. In 1913, he teamed up with two accomplices and they continued their successful series of crimes until Nash grew to suspect that one of them had talked to the police. Without a second thought, Nash murdered him.
Nash was arrested and brought to trial but managed to get acquitted. He then murdered a witness who had testified against him and, for that; he was sentenced to serve a life term at Oklahoma’s McAlester State Prison. Nash was a model prisoner at McAlester and early in 1918, his sentence was commuted to 10 years. In July 1918, he was given a full pardon and released. In a short time, he was back to committing crimes again. Nash was next arrested in October 1919 after a series of minor robberies made him a suspect in a bank heist that was pulled in Cordell, Oklahoma. This time, the charges were dropped.
He then put together a gang to rob the bank in the small farming community of Corn, Oklahoma. He was arrested and convicted again and sent back to McAlester to serve a 25-year sentence. Remarkably, the former convict got another reduction in sentence. On December 29, 1922, the governor signed an order commuting Nash’s lengthy sentence to just five years, and the next day he was set free.
Over the next eight months, Nash is believed to have taken part in a number of murders and robberies, mostly with the Al Spencer gang. On August 20, 1923, he took part in the holdup of a mail train in Osage County, Oklahoma, that turned out to be the country’s last great horseback train robbery. The gang made off with $20,000 in cash and bonds but not before Nash brutally assaulted a mail custodian, leaving him with a serious concussion. Nash remained on the run after this robbery until late autumn 1923, when he was discovered working as a ranch hand in Mexico. His boss refused to turn him over to U.S. authorities while Nash was still employed in the country but compromised with officials by sending him over the border on a bogus errand. He was quickly arrested.
On March 3, 1924, Nash was sentenced to 25 years in Leavenworth for robbery and assault. He didn’t receive any political help or clemency this time, but he did receive unusual privileges for a prisoner with his past record. He was a model prisoner at Leavenworth and was made a trusty. After being given an outside assignment in October 1930, he calmly walked away from the prison and disappeared. What Nash did after his escape is not only unclear but it may also be the stuff of legend. It is known that he hooked up with the Ma Barker- Alvin “Creepy” Karpis gang for some time after meeting up with them in St. Paul. It’s believed that Nash may have known the Barkers from his days in Oklahoma, but no one really knows for sure. Nash is also believed to have worked briefly for the Capone mob, with the rackets in Kansas City, and with several small outfits organizing and carrying out robberies and burglaries.
In the early part of 1933, Nash underwent plastic surgery to straighten his crooked nose and he purchased a toupee to try and hide his well-known bald head. These changes were not very effective given the bank robber’s distinctive appearance, so he and his new bride, Frances Luce, decided to get away to one of the underworld’s most protected locations, Hot Springs, Arkansas.
Unfortunately for Frank Nash, federal agents, who considered the Hot Springs police department to be one of the most unreliable in the county, kept the White Front under almost constant surveillance. On June 16, 1933, Agents Frank C. Smith and F. Joseph Lackey from the Bureau of Investigation’s Oklahoma City office spotted Nash lounging with a bottle of beer in front of the cigar store. They followed him to a horse betting parlor, where he was placed under arrest and rushed out of town.
The two Bureau of Investigation agents drove into Fort Smith and at 8:30 p.m., they spirited their manacled prisoner aboard the Missouri Pacific Flyer headed for Kansas City. When they arrived, they would be met the following morning by more federal officers and local police officers, who would accompany them on the final leg of their trip to Leavenworth. Realizing that Nash’s criminal friends might try and help him escape, the agents kept their route a secret. The agents joked in their stateroom with Nash about his new disguise, a red wig that he had bought to cover his bald head. Nash good-naturedly shrugged, “I paid a hundred bucks for it in Chicago. You do what you can.” He told them that he also had his nose straightened and then asked the agents not to pull on his mustache because that was the real thing.
Word spread about Nash’s capture, passing from Galatas in Hot Springs to Herb Farmer, outside Joplin, to Verne Miller, the member of the Barker-Karpis gang who was living in Kansas City. Miller learned that an unnamed prisoner was heading to Kansas City by train and he began making arrangements to meet him. On the morning of June 17, there were a number of people waiting to see “Jelly” Nash. Federal agents Raymond Caffrey and R.E. Vetterli and city detectives W.J. “Red” Grooms and Frank Hermanson were waiting to escort Nash to Leavenworth in their car. Also waiting were five or more gangsters, the would-be rescuers of Frank Nash. One of them was definitely Verne Miller but the identities of the others are in serious doubt to this day.
When the Missouri Pacific Flyer pulled into the station, Agent Lackey instructed Smith to stay with Nash in the stateroom while he went to the loading platform to find his contacts. Establishing their credentials to be legitimate, Lackey then asked the men to help him survey the immediate area. All were satisfied that nothing appeared out of the ordinary. Lackey then went back to the train to retrieve Nash. As Miller and the other waiting gangsters surveyed the scene and determined that the prisoner was Nash, they went out to the parking lot and took up positions among the parked automobiles.
Nash was led from the train platform and through the station toward the outdoor plaza by the two agents, Lackey and Smith, who both carried shotguns, and by Otto Reed, police chief of McAlester, Oklahoma. The bandit was still wearing his ridiculous toupee, which kept slipping off his head. The trio, joined by the sour lawmen, began to get into a Chevrolet that was parked in the plaza. Nash got into the front seat and Lackey, Smith and Reed got into the back. Agent Caffrey walked around the automobile to the driver’s side when a thunderous voice yelled at the lawmen from across the parking lot, “Up, up! Get ‘em up!”
Frozen in shock, the agents and the detectives looked up to see three men standing on the running boards of a nearby car, pointing machine guns in their direction. The man who had yelled at them waved his weapon back and forth while another, heavyset man pointed the muzzle of his gun directly at their windshield. For the next several moments, the entire parking lot was frozen in time. The lawmen dared not move and bystanders stood gaping at the drama that was playing out in front of them. Police detective “Red” Grooms moved first. He jerked his pistol out and squeezed off two shots, hitting the heavyset man in the arm.
The wounded gangster never paused. He shouted, “Let ‘em have it!” A second later, he pulled the trigger of his machine gun and he and the others raked the Chevrolet with bullets. Burning lead ripped into the metal body of the car and shattered the window glass. Agent Caffrey spun to the pavement, dead before he hit the ground. Police Chief Reed took several bullets to the chest and fell to the floor of the car. Agents Smith and Lakey were also hit several times and pitched forward onto the floorboards. Lackey somehow managed to pull himself up and thrust his revolver out the window, returning a few shots. The weapon was shot out of his hand. Agent Vetterli and detectives Grooms and Hermanson were all wounded and fell to the pavement, scrambling for any cover they could find.
Inside the car, Nash waved frantically at the gangsters with handcuffed wrists. He screamed at them, “For God’s sake, don’t shoot me!” His voice was silenced by machine gun fire as bullets ripped away most of his head.
Bystanders ran screaming for cover as bullets cut through the air. Many ducked behind cars, while others merely dropped to the pavement and covered their heads with their hands. Mrs. Lottie West, a caseworker for the Traveler’s Aid Society, witnessed the massacre from the station. She spotted a police officer that she knew, Mike Fanning, who came running to see what was going on in the parking lot. She screamed at him, “They’re killing everybody!”
Bullets were now bouncing into the pavement in front of the car. They tore into the already-wounded lawmen, killing detectives Grooms and Hermanson.
Mrs. West screamed at Officer Fanning, “Shoot the fat man, Mike! Shoot the fat man!”
Fanning later recalled: “I knew she meant the big man whose machine gun was doing such bloody work. I aimed at him and fired. He whirled around and dropped to the ground. I don’t know whether I hit him or whether he fell to escape. In any event, he got up, fired another volley into the car, and ran toward a light Oldsmobile car, which roared west towards Broadway. As the car raced out of the parking lot I saw three more men in it and there may have been more.”
Just as Fanning was about to walk over to the lawmen’s car, which was by now a smoldering, bullet-riddled ruin, a 1933 Chevrolet with more gunmen inside sped past the parked car and fired into it from the rear. As the second car sped away, Fanning ran over to the lawmen’s auto and looked inside. He reported. “It was in shambles. In the front seat, a man was dead under the steering wheel. On the rear seat was another dead man. On the right was an unconscious man but he was groaning. A third man lay face down on the floor. I could see that he was alive.”
Agent Vetterli, holding a wounded arm, staggered over to where Fanning stood. He stared down at the pool of blood that was gathering on the pavement at their feet. Five men were dead: federal agent Caffrey, Chief Reed, detectives Hermanson and Grooms, and Frank Nash, the man the shooting supposedly had been designed to set free.
In hours, newspapers across the country screamed headlines about the “Kansas City Massacre.” The public was shocked and federal agents and local lawmen scoured the Kansas and Missouri countryside looking for the escaped gunmen. Witnesses tentatively identified one of the killers as Verne Miller and Mrs. West was sure that the “fat man” had been Charles Arthur “Pretty Boy” Floyd. The authorities deduced that the third gunner must have been Floyd’s sidekick, Adam Richetti.
That was the way that J. Edgar Hoover began presenting it to the press and since that time, it has largely been accepted as the truth. Basically, the official story was that when news of Nash’s arrest reached his pal, Verne Miller, he went to John Lanzia, an underboss for Kansas City’s corrupt political leader Tom Pendergast. Lanzia declined to put any of his own men at risk in a rescue attempt, and Miller had to recruit Floyd and Richetti, who were passing through town and were conveniently hiding out at his house. The attackers opened up with machine guns and killed Nash in the battle that followed. That is the official story but in more recent times, it appears that the FBI account may be based more on speculation, perhaps even perjury (survivors could not initially identify Floyd or Richetti), than on actual evidence. Many believe that it was a very public way for Hoover to give the bureau the excuse that it needed to carry firearms and to make arrests without using local lawmen. Soon after the massacre, President Franklin D. Roosevelt passed a law that broadened the agency’s jurisdiction and authority. Agents were allowed to carry firearms and given almost a free hand in their pursuit and apprehension of criminals.
It is also believed that the official statement was used as a way to directly go after Floyd and Richetti. In October 1934, Floyd and Richetti were spotted by Ohio authorities, who captured Richetti after a gunfight and then called in agents from Chicago. The group literally stumbled across Floyd as he was running across a field and killed him. Examined at the mortuary, Floyd’s shoulder bore no scars from a wound that he was supposed to have received in Kansas City. Adam Richetti was executed in 1938 and he swore to his grave that he and Floyd had no part in the massacre.
So, if Floyd and Richetti didn’t kill those five men in Kansas City, who did?
One of the shooters was undoubtedly Verne Miller. Miller, who worked for a time with the Barker-Karpis Gang, was an expert marksman who had learned his craft as a machine-gunner in the service during World War I. After being discharged from the Army, he returned home to South Dakota where his prowess with firearms earned him a job as a policeman. Later, he was elected sheriff but Miller felt constricted by the law and turned to a life of crime, first as a bootlegger and later as a bank robber. After a series of arrests, he ended up in St. Paul, where he met Barker and Karpis, and then drifted to Chicago, where he hired out as a gunman. Miller was known for his violent temper and often erratic behavior and the Kansas City Massacre has all of the earmarks of the kind of unstable operation that he would plan.
In the hours after the massacre, the police trailed Miller to his home after the shooting but found that he had fled. They found bloody rags in his living room, but nothing else. Miller and his current girlfriend, Vivian Mathias, had escaped to Chicago. On October 31, 1933, federal agents raided their apartment but Miller had escaped. Mathias was taken into custody and charged with harboring a fugitive.
Almost a month later, on November 29, the naked and mutilated corpse of Verne Miller was found in a roadside ditch outside Detroit. His hands and feet were tied and he appeared to have been tortured before his death. His skin had been burned with flatirons, an ice pick had been used on his tongue and face and he had been badly beaten. His captors had finished him off by crushing his skull with some sort of heavy object. To the investigators who had been pursuing him, Miller’s murder had all of the signs of an organized crime execution.
Underworld theories surfaced about who else might have been involved in the massacre. It seemed to be common knowledge that Floyd and Richetti had not, so who else was in the car? Two of the most often suggested accomplices were little-known gunmen Maurice Denning and William “Solly” Weissman.
Strangely, Weissman was found murdered just two weeks after Miller’s body was discovered. He had also been beaten and tortured and then was dumped along a road outside of Chicago. Maurice Denning was never seen again, dead or otherwise. Were these three men killed because they botched the rescue of Frank Nash – or because of something else?
One of the most prevalent theories behind the Kansas City Massacre is that it was never designed to help Frank Nash escape from custody, but rather to make sure that he was permanently silenced. Many believe that powerful figures in the underworld were afraid that Nash might talk about things he knew to stay out of prison, endangering their operations. Rather than let him be taken into custody, they had him killed – and hired Miller, Denning and Weissman to pull the trigger. Then, because they knew who had ordered the hit to be carried out, killed those three, as well.
We will likely never know for sure what really happened but there is one rumor that circulated in mob circles that suggests that the assassins may not have been the ones who really killed Frank Nash. He may have accidentally been killed by a federal agent instead. There was (and still is) speculation that the wounds that killed Frank Nash and Agent Caffrey, both in the front seat of the car, may have been caused by a weapon that was in the back seat, in the hands of another federal agent. The story has persisted that when the fighting broke out, the agent began fumbling with the action of an unfamiliar 16-gauge shotgun that was loaded with steel ball bearings instead of the customary lead buckshot. The shotgun then went off by accident, blowing most of Nash’s head all over the roof of the car and fatally wounding Agent Caffrey. Some of the ball bearings were reportedly found in the agent’s body during an autopsy.
But whatever happened, the end result was the same and Frank “Jelly” Nash had his life instantly snuffed out. Whether he was killed by accident by a shot that he never saw coming, or whether he was slain by his friend Verne Miller, his spirit now refuses to rest. To this day, local stories have it that his ghost can still be found wandering through Kansas City’s Union Station. Does he walk that last stretch through the station on his way to the lawmen’s car – and to his doom? Or is he searching for his killers, wondering what became of the men who betrayed him back in 1933?
Stories of a haunting have swirled about Union Station for many years. Some people have reported seeing figure of men in dark suits outside the building, near where the massacre took place. When approached, these figures always vanish. There are also stories of footsteps being heard on the pavement outside and inside the building, in the corridor leading out to the parking lot. Some have surmised that these phantom footsteps may be a re-enactment of the last steps taken by Frank Nash and the federal agents as they walked to their doom.
The ghost of Frank Nash is perhaps the most commonly reported specter connected to the massacre.
Visitors and staff members have reportedly seen Nash’s ghost at several different locations in Union Station, both in the daytime and at night.
Does Frank Nash still lurk in the darkest corners of Kansas City’s Union Station? And if he does, how long will he linger here? It seems very possible that his confused and tortured spirit has remained behind at the place where he met his tragic end but how long he may stay here is a question that no one is able to answer.
The majestic Banff Springs Hotel in Alberta, Canada, was built in 1888 at the terminus of the railway, meant as a retreat for traveling businessmen. The picturesque surroundings and luxurious amenities earned it the nickname “the Castle of the Rockies.” Over its 128 years, the hotel has been host to distinguished guests such as Queen Elizabeth II, Helen Keller, and Marilyn Monroe.
But there are some other distinguished guests at Banff Springs who have never left.
Legend has it that a man murdered his wife and young daughter before committing suicide in Room 873. But if you’re hoping to reserve that room during your stay, you’re out of luck. Paranormal activity in Room 873 apparently reached such a fever pitch that the hotel decided to brick up the room—thus setting its otherworldly legend in stone.
Guests who were lucky enough to stay in Room 873 before it was sealed claim that they were terrorized by horrible disembodied shrieks and screams in the middle of the night. Maids charged with cleaning the room were unable to remove bloody fingerprints from the bathroom mirror.
Banff Springs Hotel representatives assert that the murder-suicide is merely a gory ghost story; no such crime occurred, and there is no blood-spattered room sealed behind a brick wall. Nevertheless, some enterprising guests have done their own detective work in an attempt to prove that Room 873 did in fact exist. On other floors, there are rooms ending in the numbers “73,” except on the eighth floor. The baseboard where Room 873 would be is cut, as if there were a door there, and there is a corresponding light on the ceiling. If you knock along the walls between each room, you’ll hear a sound tap-tap-tap. But knock where Room 873 is alleged to be, and instead you’ll hear a lighter, hollow-seeming sound.
Other guests claim that despite the hotel’s best efforts, the ghosts of Room 873 are still very much in residence at Banff Springs. Some have reported seeing the spirit of the young daughter standing outside her room, as if lost.
The doomed family of Room 873 isn’t the only contingency of ghosts to haunt the illustrious hotel. Another infamous guest who is said to have met her death at Banff Springs is the Ghost Bride. Long ago, as she walked up the stairs in the main hall of the hotel to meet her groom, a bride lost her footing—some say she slipped, while others say her dress caught fire on one of the many candles adorning the stairwell. She tumbled forward and fell, breaking her neck. Guests have claimed to see the ghostly specter of the poor girl, dressed in her wedding gown, both on the staircase and in the ballroom. Some have even claimed that, on the back of her long dress, rising flames can be seen. The Ghost Bride of Banff Springs has become so famous that she even has her own Canadian postage stamp and collector coin.
A friendlier spirit encountered by guests is the former Scottish bellman Sam McAuley, who loved the hotel so much that he said in death he would return to haunt its halls. Guests have claimed to receive the assistance of a very friendly bellhop with a Scottish accent before learning that no such person works at the hotel. Others, upon handing Sam a tip for his hard work, have seen him simply vanish right before their eyes.
Though the hotel may not want to discuss the veracity of the reports surrounding Room 873, they’ve embraced their other ghosts with a family-friendly Halloween Heritage Ghost Tour. If you’re discreet, perhaps you can sneak off to the eighth floor for your very own ghost hunt.
Daryl Collins lives in the Lone Star State. His encounters demonstrate the sheer level of weirdness that surrounds the UFO phenomenon. When interviewed, he said:
“Approximately April or May 1945, an extremely bizarre encounter. I was playing in the backyard when I spotted a creature about my size, an elf perhaps, which communicated telepathically. It merged its body with mine, and controlled my movements. We went out the back gate and down several streets to an area that at that time was still wild country. We found a hole in the ground and jumped in, falling a fair distance, stopped, and entered a strange room and walked down a corridor. The corridor led to a door which swung open, and the elf separated from me. There followed some kind of physical examination, then I was back in my yard quickly forgetting the whole incident. Long ago I described the details to Budd Hopkins, and he said he had many similar cases.”
Daryl had much more to say: “In 1948 my parents and I were driving at night on a deserted rural highway. An object came over and lifted the car into a big round room. A door opened and three creatures, with clawed webbed toes and stubs for fingers, took each of us in different direction. I followed one down a long dark corridor to a brightly lit room with an examining table and a gray with long bony fingers. He stuck a sharp instrument into my stomach, then a different instrument far up my right nostril. When he pulled it out, my nose bled a little and was sore for hours. Then he took an instrument like a black cone and pressed the point to my forehead, producing a strange vibrating sensation. Apparently he was activating an implant that had just been put in place. He said, telepathically, ‘It will be all right from now on.’ Abruptly we were all back in the car and the whole episode was forgotten.”
That was not the end of the encounters, however, as Daryl made very clear: “I don’t remember the date, but once I was confronted with a large insectoid which said, ‘I want you to devote your whole life to me!’ I didn’t understand and asked what that meant. I don’t remember what the creature said, but I replied emphatically, ‘No, I won’t!’ This evidently didn’t go over very well.
“In January 1950, I was taken at night from my home by skeletal creatures who said they were going to kill me. I begged for my life, reminding them of the time they had said: ‘It will be all right from now on.’ So instead they put me on the table and performed extensive procedures. Finally they abandoned me, and all the memories were lost for very many years. As far as I can tell, I was never abducted again. When I first encountered ‘flying saucers’ in the newspapers that March, I immediately adopted the subject as the center of my life, but it never occurred to me to wonder why, nor to suspect it had anything to do with me.”
Things then went quiet, at least until 1986. That was the year in which Daryl had a very weird and creepy encounter with nothing less than a Woman in Black. Daryl related the strange facts: “In early June of 1986 (don’t recall the exact date), I was just coming from a discussion of my abduction memories and approaching the parking lot to drive home. A white-haired lady in dark or black clothes drove by in a dark or black car. As she approached me she slowed down, leaned out her window, and yelled at me, ‘You have nine years until what you were made for! You have nine more years!’ Then she sped up and drove away. I didn’t catch the license number, make of car, or any other details. But I distinctly remember what she yelled, since I spent the next nine years haunted by what might be awaiting me in early June of 1995. When the date finally arrived, there were smells suggesting the things might have been in the house, but otherwise nothing happened. The literature is full of cases where predictions failed to come true; maybe they just change their minds.”
As I read Daryl’s words, I couldn’t fail to remember how – at the height of the Men in Black encounters in the early 1950s – Albert Bender found his Bridgeport, Connecticut home filled with overpowering odors of brimstone and sulfur. What goes around clearly comes around, it seems. An elf-like thing controlling Daryl’s every movement, what appear to have been alien abduction-type incidents long before the Betty and Barney Hill incident of 1961, and a strange and sinister Woman in Black: add all of those issues together and we see just how bizarre the UFO phenomenon can really be.
ALBERT K BENDER
Sci-Fi fans will readily recall the brilliant Twilight Zone episode penned by Rod Sterling, The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street. This television fantasy postulates the frightening results of an Alien visitation and its impact on everyday Americans. However if one is to believe Bridgeport stories, monsters in the form of otherworldly Aliens have already visited Broad Street in downtown Bridgeport. Maybe, just maybe, they are watching still.
One of the earliest, and certainly the most infamous, of Earth’s reported “Men In Black” incidents occurred in bustling Bridgeport. According to ufologists, Men In Black, popularly identified as MIB, are ultra-secret agents associated with the FBI, CIA, or an unnamed covert federal department which seek out and thwart those individuals probing too close to the truth behind UFOs. Some ufologists alarmingly postulate that the MIB are actually not of this Earth.
Albert K. Bender was born in Duryea, Pennsylvania, on June 16, 1921. Bender served in the US Army-Air Force during World War II, from June 8, 1942-October 7, 1943 as a stateside dental technician. After his honorable discharge from active service at Langley Field, Virginia, Bender relocated to Bridgeport with his mother Ellen and step-father Michael Ardolino. The family lived at 784 Broad Street. According to Bender, MIB arrived in Bridgeport during 1953. They appeared at his Broad Street home, just a few hundred yards from the main library.
Albert was employed as chief timekeeper at Acme Shear Co., the world’s largest manufacturer of scissors. The factory was located across the Pequonnock River from downtown at Hicks and Knowlton Streets. Perhaps it was Bender’s sense of humor, but in an ironic salute to his job Bender filled his living space with an assortment of twenty chiming clocks. Every fifteen minutes, half hour and on the hour, 784 Broad Street resounded with the din of bells, bells, bells. But the cacophony of ticking timepieces and alarms were merely a small part of Bender’s eccentricities. The timekeeper enjoyed his privacy living in the attic (and its small connected den) of his step-father’s three-story Broad Street home. At some point when Bender entered his late-20s, Albert adorned his realm with a collection of monstrosities. Faux skulls, shrunken heads, and his own original, outsider art. Should friends stop-over Albert made sure to compliment the atmosphere with unnerving sound effects featuring thunder, sobbing and hissing noises on his record player. Enamored with ghost stories and horror movies, the terror connoisseur claimed his blood flowed with ancestral witchcraft. Fittingly Bender dubbed this attic room his “Chamber of Horrors.”
Albert’s unique appreciation for the supernatural coincided with a rash of well publicized “flying saucer” sightings in the American West during the late 1940s, prompting Bender to form one of America’s nascent UFO organizations. In 1952 the Park City resident organized the International Flying Saucer Bureau. World War I flying ace, and CEO of Eastern Airlines, Eddie Rickenbacker became an honorary member. Albert Einstein declined the invitation. The Bureau’s 600 worldwide members, with Bender as president, were dedicated to furthering the study of these mysterious craft. Its headquarters were located in Albert’s Bridgeport home. One of the group’s most enthusiastic members, Max Krengel, also worked as a timekeeper at Acme Shear; he served as IFSB vice president and assistant director. Krengel lived in Stratford. His home was in one of Lordship’s new Cape Cod style houses along Stratford Road, between Hartland Street and Airway Drive. Shortly after its founding, the IFSB reached out to members around the world through a quarterly journal, Space Review. The newsletter shared stories of UFO sightings and offered theories about the origins of these seemingly inexplicable objects.
No sooner had Bender commenced the IFSB than odd occurrences plagued him in Bridgeport. Ill health, strange phone calls, and telepathic messages hounded the researcher. These events coincidently mirrored an outbreak of UFO sightings over southern Connecticut. In addition, Albert felt as if he was being watched. November 1952, at a local movie theater Bender realized a strange man with glowing eyes observing him; and while walking home along Main Street Albert was shadowed. On a separate occasion late one night on Broad Street Bender reported he was telepathically hypnotized and levitated. But the worst phenomenon was the sickening odor filling his attic. The stench of burning sulphur.
Sequestered in his Broad Street home, Albert blended his UFO research with mental telepathy. To further his experiments, Bender prompted readers of Space Review with an audacious request: memorize and silently recite, on a particular day and time, a form letter penned by Bender. Albert’s goal was to connect with Alien life via the simultaneous thought-projection of hundreds of IFSB members. World Contact Day, or as Bender and the IFSB officially preferred, “C-Day,” commenced at 6 o’clock in the evening (EST) on March 15, 1953. The noble telepathic message opened, “Calling occupants of interplanetary craft! Calling occupants of interplanetary craft that have been observing our planet EARTH. We of IFSB wish to make contact with you. We are your friends…” Just over twenty years later the Canadian progressive rock band, Klaatu, incorporated Bender’s words into a haunting anthem. Musical siblings and New Haven natives, the Carpenters, provided their own version of the Klaatu song. World Contact Day is still observed by UFO enthusiasts every March 15th.
Bender’s message did not go over well. His rooms continued to fill with the smell of sulphur and he was telepathically ordered to cease delving into matters that were not his concern. A yellow mist gathered in the attic. Undeterred, Bender announced that the July issue of Space Review would hold a “startling revelation.” It never appeared in print.
In July 1953 Albert Bender was visited at his home by three men. Bender stated “All of them were dressed in black clothes. They looked like clergymen but wore hats similar to [the]Homburg style.” The notorious Men In Black, always in threes, made it clear to Bender that he was to immediately halt all UFO work. They communicated telepathically: “Stop publishing.” Before departing, the MIB confiscated copies of Space Review and in their wake a yellow fog materialized in the upstairs rooms of 784 Broad Street. Again, the vile odor of sulphur wafted through the attic. Unnerved by their other-worldly presence Albert shuddered that he was “scared to death” and was unable to eat for days. The 32 year-old timekeeper would be the recipient of repeated MIB visits.
Not surprisingly, Bender’s paranormal experiences were reported in local newspapers. What might seem borrowed from the plot of a late-night horror movie, Bender’s odyssey can easily be retraced at one of his familiar haunts: the downtown Bridgeport Public Library (Bender prominently notes BPL in his autobiographical encounter with MIB, Flying Saucers and the Three Men (London, England: Neville Spearman, 1962) that he conducted research into the paranormal at the main library; page 14). Bender’s account of the threats from the Men In Black become evident when viewing old microfilmed pages of the Bridgeport Sunday Herald. One Herald article reported the story under the headline, “Mystery Visitors Halt Research” (Bridgeport Herald, November 29, 1953). Bender is quoted that three men in dark suits “flashed credentials showing them to be representatives of [a]‘higher authority’ ” and they asked numerous questions about the IFSB. The Herald reporter, Lem M’Collum, interpreted these visitors as “government” officials. It was only years later when the passage of time apparently lessened his anxiety that Bender explained that the MIB were not of Earth.
The telepathic messages, headaches, his being stalked, and of course the surreal warnings by authoritarians in black suits, compelled Albert to shut down the International Flying Saucer Bureau. A year and a half after founding the IFSB the final issue of Space Review was released in October, 1953. It included a cryptic message, and warning: “The mystery of the flying saucers is no longer a mystery. The source is already known but any information about this is being withheld by orders from a higher source. We would like to print the full story in Space Review but because of the nature of the information we have been advised in the negative. We advise those engaged in saucer work to be very cautious.”
In 1956, fellow IFSB member, Gray Barker penned the book, They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers. In these pages, Barker detailed Albert’s Bridgeport experiences and introduced the world to the evocatively menacing phrase, “Men In Black.” A decade after his own brush with Aliens, Bender chronicled his strange personal story in a bizarre expose entitled, Flying Saucers and the Three Men. Albert stressed how the dark-suited visitors were mind-manipulating silencers.
Abandoning his forays into the supernatural and UFO research Albert Bender departed Bridgeport and relocated to California three years after publishing his autobiography. Albert Bender passed away, at the age of 94, on March 29, 2016.
Sadly, the house at 784 Broad Street no longer stands. This home where Alien theorists believe beings from outer space made their presence known needed to make room for a different sort of invasion. Urban renewal. Bender’s home suddenly vanishes from city directories in 1957. Its proximity to the brand-new, federally constructed, Connecticut Thruway claimed Albert’s residence (the majority of I-95 was built from 1954 through 1957). Afterward the State Street Redevelopment Project (roughly 1962-1968) razed practically everything (except the Bridgeport Public Library building) south of State Street, between Main Street west to Lafayette Boulevard and down to the thruway –in other words, Albert Bender’s neighborhood. During 1967 the Southern Connecticut Gas Company’s parking lot absorbed a swath of Broad Street, including the former backyard of the “Chamber of Horrors.” Bender’s portal to the Beyond was forever closed. Was it just a coincidence that the government bulldozed Bender’s residence? For those conspiracy-minded readers one could choose to suspend disbelief and mull over the possibility that this urban destruction was part of a vast government plot. It’s fascinating to ponder, even from a sci-fi perspective, that all evidence of the MIB and Bender were eliminated from the Bridgeport streetscape. (Just don’t tell anyone I mentioned it.)
What, if anything, really transpired within the walls of 784 Broad Street? Could events be explained by Albert Bender’s mental state? Was the Bridgeport resident hallucinating? Did the stress of managing an international organization, and publishing the Space Review, generate a sense of paranoia and trigger a nervous breakdown? Some might say Bender’s experiments opened a door to an Occult force. Others shudder at the thought of demons. Or, as ufologists avow, it really was Aliens. Take your earthbound, or celestial, pick.
Whether the MIB arrived from Washington, D.C., were born of Albert Bender’s imagination or were transported here by Alien science, one of paranormal history’s most bizarre, worldwide, phenomena traces its origin directly to downtown Bridgeport. It would be appropriate to commemorate Bender’s legacy with an historical-folklore marker at the site of 784 Broad Street. To borrow, and retool, an observation made by the Nobel Prize winning Danish physicist, Niels Bohr, “Anyone who is not shocked by what happened in Bridgeport has not understood what happened in Bridgeport.” Of course, Bohr was commenting on quantum theory, but his words could readily apply to a different subject of scientific inquiry… namely, who, or rather, what, may have visited Bridgeport. Only Albert Bender knows. Now he is silent.
“I keep an open mind. When I was about 4 or 5 I was staying at my great grandparent’s house for a week over the summer. One night there was a storm and as the house was old, the windows rattled and strong gusts of wind made things in the room shake. It creeped me out as I was young and started to get upset. I looked out the window and it was dark. All of a sudden this small box thing, about the size of a microwave came floating through the tree. It was multi-colored and then at one point it looked like a TV screen. It looked as of there was a cartoon on and it looked like an audience of people watching a clown juggling on a unicycle on a stage. The people and the clown were all black silhouettes…my heart just started pounding and I looked away for a second and then when I looked back it had gone back to multi-colors and disappeared in the distance as if it was shrinking at the same time. I knew this because it was still close by the time it disappeared. I put myself back in bed and just lay there confused as it was like a dream but I wasn’t asleep. I was wide awake. My gran came up and I tried to explain to her what I saw. She told me I was being silly and offered me a warm drink to help me sleep. I mostly didn’t talk about it after that night but I’ve told a few people over the years and have put it down to a vivid child imagination. Who knows, the memory of what I saw is still pretty clear and never seen anything like it since.” – Keileigh Mather
When I was about 15 years old I remember my sister talking about her and her friends playing with an Ouija board. She used to collect dolls and had them all over her room. One day I decided to tell her that I heard her dolls talking just to mess with her. All of a sudden she couldn’t sleep anymore, was crying, and told my dad that there was something or someone in her room. I laughed and told her that I was just messing around and that I was joking. This continued for a while, she would say that the dolls were moving around the room at night.
One night while in bed I heard something, a sound coming from underneath my bed, the sound of one of my sisters dolls! I jumped from my bed and while still in the air managed to hit the light switch before landing. I looked under the bed and YES, there the doll was, laying there looking right at me. I yelled out to my dad who was sound asleep to get over here and get the doll out of my room. Needless to say, my dad had a priest come and bless the house. The funny thing is, years later while I was working offshore on a drilling rig a few of the guys and I were talking about ghost stories, he told me his brother had the same thing happen to him. I asked where his brother lived and he said the named the street we used to live on. I gave him the address and low and behold it was the same house but this time it was my old room that they were having issues with, not my sisters room.
LAKE CLUB GHOST
The Lake Club opened as a nightclub in 1940, but the building on Fox Bridge Road had seen many incarnations in the years prior to that, including as several restaurants and even a skating rink called the Joy Inn. In 1940, two dance promoters named Harold Henderson and Hugo Giovagnoli renovated the place and opened it for business as the Lake Club.
The club soon became one of the hottest nightspots in Illinois, drawing customers from all over the state. It boasted a raised dance floor surrounded by a railing, with curved walls and a swanky atmosphere that made patrons feel as though a New York club had been transported to the shores of Lake Springfield. The owners concentrated on bringing big name entertainment to the club and succeeded. Among the many top performers were Bob Hope, Ella Fitzgerald, Guy Lombardo, Pearl Bailey, Spike Jones, Nelson Eddy, Woody Herman, Mickey Rooney, and many others. The constant stream of entertainers and big bands brought capacity crowds to the club every night. During the height of its popularity, the club even hosted a radio call-in show that broadcast music and entertainment all over the area.
The Lake Club thrived for nearly two decades, becoming known not only for its swinging entertainment, but for its first-rate gambling, as well. Wealthy customers and the society elite of Springfield and Decatur frequented the club for the musical guests and also for the billiard tables, craps and gaming tables, slot machines, and card games. This part of the club operated in secret in a back part of the building, known only to high rollers and special customers. However, in December 1958, the golden days of the Lake Club came to an end. The partners had survived many setbacks over the years, from lawsuits to foreclosures, but the club would not survive the two undercover detectives who gained access to the gambling rooms that Christmas season.
The club was immediately shut down, although patrons continued dining and dancing while the actual raid was going on. The two state troopers who entered the gambling rooms were the first police officers to arrive, but many more followed. Newspaper accounts reported the police confiscated all sorts of gambling equipment including tables, dice, slot machines and large quantities of cash. The billiard tables were so large they had to be dismantled to get them out of the room.
Business began to falter in the wake of the raid and the place finally closed down in the 1960s. Giovagnoli blamed the failure of the club on the gambling crackdown, always maintaining that the entertainment had been just part of the club’s appeal. However, he refused to give up. Despite his partner Harold Henderson’s death in 1977, Giovagnoli managed to open the club again with other parties managing different projects in the building. During this next popular time in the club‘s history, it was managed by Bill Carmean and Tom Blasko as a rock club. In 1980, it was leased by Pat Tavine, who also operated it as a rock club until 1988, when it closed down for good. The Lake Club was destroyed in the fire just a few years later.
It was in August 1979 that the Lake Club, known in 1980 when the story came out as the “Sober Duck Rock and Disco Club,” gained national notoriety. It was at this time when the ghost of Albert “Rudy” Cranor was finally put to rest.
According to the many patrons and staff members who had experiences there, the haunting of the Lake Club first began in 1974. At the time, the club was in the midst of a revival in interest and the business was under the ownership of Tom Blasko and Bill Carmean, two Springfield men who were booking rock acts into the club. The building itself was still owned by Hugo Giovagnoli and Harold Henderson.
Bill Carmean was the first to notice that something strange was going on at the club. Both he and Tom Blasko had experienced cold chills in the building, along with hearing odd sounds and getting the feeling of being watched in certain rooms. One afternoon, he came into the club and sat down at the bar with the lights off. Suddenly, he heard the sound of a piano being played in another room. He got up to see who else was in the building with him and as he stepped into the room, the music stopped. The room was completely empty.
Weird things continued to happen. Often on Monday nights, while Carmean would be in the building going over the weekend receipts, he would hear a door near the office open and footsteps crossing the floor. He would jump from his seat to see who was there, but the hallway was always empty. Carmean also remembered a salesman visiting his office one evening when a glass flew off a table and hit the wall on the opposite side of the room. The salesman left in a hurry.
By 1976, the haunting had intensified and things began happening more often, and in front of more witnesses. A club bartender was pouring a drink one night when the glass in front of him suddenly shot up into the air and landed over his shoulder. A waitress also experienced the antics of the ghost one night when she went to serve a drink to a customer, only to find the glass inexplicably filled with chocolate. She would later insist the glass had been absolutely clean when she handed it to the bartender.
Carmean was the first of the club’s staff to guess the identity of the ghost who was plaguing the club. He recalled that a former employee had committed suicide in the building several years before. On a lark, he started calling the ghost by this man’s name, which was Rudy.
Albert “Rudy” Cranor had worked at the Lake Club during its heyday of the 1940s and 1950s. He was described as being well-liked and popular with the entertainers and the customers. He was a very large man, well over 250 pounds, and he had snow-white hair. He was remembered as one of the club’s most memorable characters and even 50 years later, I have spoken with people who remember him. They speak fondly of him and recall his as a nice man and their favorite bartender.
After the club fell on hard times following the gambling raid, Rudy also began experiencing some personal difficulties. He was a very private person, so no one really knew what was going on, but they did notice that he began to drink heavily while on the job. They also began to notice some changes in his personality and appearance. He seemed to be more tired than usual and dark circles had begun to appear under his eyes. Then, one night, he became sick and had to be rushed to the hospital. It took several men to carry him downstairs to the ambulance. He returned to the club after a two-week stay in the hospital, but he was never the same again.
On June 27, 1968, Rudy shot himself with a high-powered rifle in one of the back rooms at the club. He died in the hospital the next morning, never regaining consciousness. No one was ever sure why Rudy had killed himself, but regardless, he wouldn’t stay gone for long. In a few short years, he would return to haunt his beloved club.
The strange events at the club continued in the form of weird antics and pranks, apparently carried out by the ghost of Rudy Cranor. One night, Tom Blasko placed a pile of tablecloths on an empty table and left the room. When he came back, the cloths were on the floor. He picked them up and left again, only to return moments later and find them once again on the floor. This was repeated several times until Blasko finally gave up and left them on the floor.
Employees and visiting musicians also reported strange occurrences like doors opening and closing by themselves, the sound of footsteps in empty rooms, a drink that lifted off a table and then dumped in a customer’s lap, office equipment that operated on its own, feelings of being poked and prodded by unseen hands and numerous other bizarre happenings.
A frightening event took place in the summer of 1977 when Barbara Lard, a waitress at the club, had an encounter with Rudy himself. She was working one evening and went to the bathroom behind the back office. As she came out, she glanced over the back bar and saw Rudy looking at her. She described what she saw as just a head, hanging there in space, and although she could see through it, the head appeared life-like. She said that the apparition had snow-white hair – and she had never known, heard about, or had even seen a photograph of, the late bartender. The apparition looked at her for a moment and then spoke, telling the waitress that one of the owners of the club was going to die. This was not a threat, Lard recalled later, but merely a warning.
The waitress ran out of the room in tears, visibly shaken and close to hysterics. Other staff members who saw her that night reported that she was very frightened and that she was not a person known for being hysterical or easily frightened. Tom Blasko later stated that he went back into the room after Lard’s encounter and claimed to feel the same bone-chilling cold that he always associated with Rudy’s spirit.
Needless to say, Blasko and Carmean were more than a little unnerved by the ghost’s warning. By this time, they had no doubt the ghost was real and that the club was genuinely haunted. Because of this, they also had no reason to doubt that Barbara Lard’s encounter had been real. Her description of the late Rudy Cranor had been too accurate to have been imagined. The two men waited and probably were more careful than usual when doing things like driving to work or climbing ladders. Then, two weeks after the incident, Harold Henderson, one of the original owners of the club, died at the age of 69. He was still the owner of the building itself and was an owner that Rudy would have known during his lifetime.
This incident would shake Blasko more than anyone else. He had spent two weeks living in fear for his life and he felt that it was time to get rid of the ghost if possible. Perhaps Rudy had been trying to be helpful with his warning, but Blasko didn‘t really care. He contacted a woman he knew who was interested in the occult and she suggested that he ask a priest for help. Blasko was a practicing Catholic, but when he contacted his parish priest, the man declined to become involved. He suggested that Blasko pray for Rudy on his own and Tom spent the next six months carrying a rosary around the club with him. But it didn’t help – Rudy was still there.
Finally, in August 1979, Blasko attended a high school class reunion and ran into one of his former classmates, Reverend Gary Dilley, a priest who now lived in Fort Worth, Texas. Tom mentioned the problems at the club to Father Dilley and the priest was intrigued. After some discussion, he agreed to come out to the club and take a look around. He said later that he believed Blasko was sincere about what he said was happening. He had known the man for many years and had never thought of him as the hysterical type.
After arriving at the club, Father Dilley also sensed something out of the ordinary there. He experienced some unexplained cold chills and felt as if someone was watching him. He said in a later interview, “I also had the feeling that someone was trying to communicate with me.”
The priest questioned several of the club’s employees and found that their stories were very similar. He knew they had not had time to compare notes before he spoke with them. He was convinced that something was going on, but he declined to do an “exorcism” of the club. To do that, the case would require a thorough investigation and permission from the local bishop, which he doubted that he would get. Instead, he decided to bless the place and pray there, hoping this would perhaps put Rudy to rest.
Father Dilley contacted two other priests to take part in the ceremony, Father John Corredato of Kankakee and Father Gerald Leahy of Griffin High School in Springfield. The three men were quick to point out that they were merely trying to bless the building, to clear out any negative spirits and to help at least one “very restless soul” to find peace. The three priests went from room to room in the club, blessing each with holy water and praying. They asked that any negative spirits depart from the building and they prayed specifically for Rudy Cranor. They entered the room in which he had committed suicide and prayed that his spirit be at rest.
So, was that the end of the haunting? Apparently, it was. The same people who considered the club to be haunted were now sure that Rudy had departed. The day of the religious ceremony was the last day when anyone was aware of Rudy’s presence in the building. It seemed that the prayers and blessings had helped the bartender find his way to the other side. It certainly seemed possible that Rudy might have chosen to stay behind in a place where he had many attachments in life. Perhaps the intervention of the priests was all he needed to be convinced to move on.
Once Rudy was gone, some staff members realized they hadn’t minded his ghost as much as they had once thought. In a 1980 newspaper interview, Tom Blasko said, “In a way, I sort of miss Rudy. We were all fond of him. It’s been pretty quiet since the priests were here – sometimes I wish that I hadn’t asked them to come.”
Missed or not, Rudy finally found some peace and a release from his suffering, somewhere on the other side.
Rasputin’s true story is a mix of lies and truths. When a man’s life story contains plots, controversies, intrigues and rumors, it’s difficult to grasp how everything started and ended. We must rely on experts and books to get to bottom with the mystery of Rasputin, but how far can we get?
We can say with certainty that Grigori Rasputin was one of the most intriguing, yet least understood historical persons in Russia. He had a strong influence on the Tsar family and his power led to his death.
It is said that he was a holy man, a prophet with healing powers and it seemed almost impossible to kill him. He survived several assassination attempts before he was brutally murdered by a group of conspirators.
Was he an evil or misunderstood man?
The exact date of Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin is uncertain, but it’s assumed that he was born in the late 1860s. He was child of a peasant family living in Siberia. It seems that he was an uneducated boy as his family did not have the funds or maybe the desire to send young Rasputin to school. According to some historians Rasputin never learned how to read and write, but author Colin Wilson who wrote the book Rasputin and the Fall of the Romanovs, states that Rasputin “had little schooling; although his father taught him the rudiments of reading, he could see no point in learning to write. He hated discipline; he preferred fishing or swimming to sitting over books. (He never learned to write properly; letters in his handwriting show an awkward, childish scrawl.)”
In those days, he may have been a typical boy, one who had some minor encounters with the law. In the eyes of Praskovya Dubrovina, he was worthy enough to marry and she bore him five children, though only three survived.
Rasputin supported them all by working on the family farm in the early years of their marriage. It was his interest in religion that started him down the road that would lead to fame and eventually his demise.
Before Rasputin had the privilege of meeting the Tsar family he spent many months in a monastery. Although he was referred to as a holy man, a mystic and the mad monk, he never took the final vows to become a monk. To name him the Mad Monk is incorrect, but that was what his enemies called him. Rasputin made several trips to the holy land, sought out religious leaders in his search for God.
His strong personality and charisma influenced many who heard him. As his popularity grew, so did his supporters and eventually enemies. Rasputin had so many followers that he began to build a little church, so he could teach and preach with ease. But his view on religion became slightly twisted. Wilson revealed that the Russian mystic became “obsessed with asceticism and the idea of pilgrimagé.”
It took Rasputin some years before he came to the attention of Russia’s royal family. In 1903, Rasputin, often called the Wander came to St. Petersburg. By now he was a well-known mystic and faith healer. It was said that he possessed unusual healing powers. He had healed the family dog of one of the relatives of the Russian Tsar Nicholas II (1868 – 1918). News about this extraordinary mystic and the great gifts he held, reached the Tsar who in 1905 decided to invite Rasputin to join his royal court.
The Tsar family had a sick child who suffered from hemophilia. Surely, Rasputin could help them cure the youngster, they thought.
The healing of the young boy is just one of the controversies that surrounded Rasputin. The stories range from him stopping the aspirin being administered to the young lad, to his laying on hands, to kneeling and praying for the boy and finally to using peasant folk medicine.
We may never know what Rasputin did, but the child’s health improved, and the young was cured. It’s no wonder that the grateful Tsar and his wife invited Rasputin to stay with them long term. Rasputin became a close friend to the Tsar family and the royal couple found comfort in his advice and counseling.
Fame and jealousy often go hand in hand. Rasputin was not immune to this fact.
When Rasputin’s rise in influence over the royal family became obvious, it created jealousy in Church leaders, government officials and the elite member of society. Because of this jealousy, there are several stories surrounding Rasputin that may or may not be true. Rasputin suddenly became a target of all possible controversies and accusations. It was said he was a member of the Khylists, a group believing that to get close to God they had to practice debauchery and other sins. His daughter Maria refuted that notion and said that Rasputin rejected the sect and did not like their thinking at all.
One vicious rumor had Rasputin in a very lurid affair with the Tsar’s wife, Alexandra. Other rumors had him working with the Germans against the Russians and starting a cholera epidemic using imported Canadian apples. There seemed to be no ending to the accusations against Rasputin, but how much was true is difficult to determine today.
Wilson reminds all readers interested in Rasputin that “original source material is scanty. The Revolution came shortly after his death, and the historians of the Soviet government were more interested in denigrating Nicholas II than in historical accuracy. Most of the books about Rasputin that were published outside Russia were cheap sensational biographies that make no pretence of detachment.”
Despite the lack of proper information, most historians agree that a group of conspirators, started to develop a plot how to murder the Russian mystic. One of the main figures in the assassination plot was Prince Felix Yusupov 1887 – 1967), a Russian aristocrat who married the niece of Tsar Nicholas II.
When Rasputin survived several assassination attempts, people got scared thinking this holy man must be immortal, but they were wrong.
In his book To Kill Rasputin: The Life and Death of Grigori Rasputin, author Andrew Cook describes how Rasputin on the night of December 29, 1916 was invited to some would-be friends who wanted to murder him. Prince Yusupov and the Tsar’s first cousin, Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich gave Rasputin poison, but it had no affect on him.
“Rasputin had eaten all the cakes and drunk two glasses of poisoned wine and ‘nothing has happened, absolutely nothing’. Rasputin was belching and dribbling, but that was about it,” Cook writes.
The killers shot him several times, but to their astonishment Rasputin survived and fled. But he didn’t get far. He was seriously wounded, fell in the snow-clad courtyard and the great mystic knew death was inevitable. Rasputin died in the Moika Palace. His killers wrapped his body in a carpet and threw it the Neva River, where it was discovered three days later. When examined by a coroner it was found that Rasputin had water in his lungs and was alive at the time he was thrown in the water.
Russians’ great mystic was gone. Some saw it as liberation. Others were sad. But Rasputin’s dead voice could still be heard through his prophecy. Shortly before he died he wrote to the Tsar telling him: “If I am killed by common men, you and your children will rule Russia for centuries to come; if I am killed by one of your stock, you and your family will be killed by the Russian people!” —Rasputin”
Rasputin’s prophecy came true 15 months later. The whole Tsar family, the Tsar, his wife and all their children were murdered by assassins during the Russian Revolution. Some suspected one of the daughters survived, Anastasia and many women stepped forward claiming to be the daughter of the Tsar. No-one could provide enough evidence.
Was Rasputin a mad, evil charlatan or was he a misunderstood man born ahead of his time? His life is colorful, and his personality captivates the public. Hundreds of books have been written about Russia’s greatest mystic. No-one knows his true story. If you want to learn more about Rasputin, read some biographies, but remember they all present a slightly different story. Create your own picture of this controversial historical person who has never been forgotten.
MY CLOSET DOOR
In the summer of 2002 I moved into a little apartment in a small town in Massachusetts. With the exception of the previous few months (thanks to lease complications with my former landlord) I had been out of my parent’s house for years, but I’d always had roommates. This was my first apartment by myself and I was really looking forward to being alone. It was a cozy first floor apartment with a private garden entrance at the rear of an old house that had been converted into four apartments and I loved it.
The first night that I moved in was wonderful. My friends had all gone home after beer and pizza and I was left alone. I had electricity and hot water, but no cable TV or phone for dial-up internet. I took a long hot shower and read a book until I felt sleepy and then proceeded to enjoy one of the best night’s sleep I’ve ever had. Independence and quiet are wonderufl things!
The next night things started to change. As I said, this was an old house and as such, the closet door in my bedroom didn’t close properly unless I lifted the doorknob and hip-checked it closed. Opening it was no picnic either. That night I again fell asleep with a sense of peace and tranquility. It didn’t last. Sometime in the middle of the night the closet door slammed open as if someone had kicked it open from the inside, smacked into the wall and slammed shut again (I know this because it happened many more times over the next few weeks). As you can imagine, I was catapulted out of sleep in a panic! I sat upright staring at the closed closet door, terrified and too petrified to reach for the light in the dark. I probably sat like that for a good 15 minutes before I could move. Once I got the light turned on I left it on for the remainder of the night.
The closet door continued to do it’s thing as the weeks went on accompanied by lights turning on in the middle of the night, doors locking on their own, the stereo doing whatever the hell it wanted, cabinet doors all being opened when I got home from work and other various things. I was not happy and I didn’t know what to do.
One Friday night a friend came over for dinner and I told him all about my situation, admitting that I was scared and might need to move out already. He told me not to worry about it and that he would have a little chat with my ghost. I was a little uncomfortable with it, but he insisted. I poured myself a glass of wine and went outside to peer in through my bedroom window while my friend sat on the floor in front of my open closet and had what appeared to be a one-sided conversation. After about 15 minutes or so, he closed the closet door and signaled to me that he was finished. He wouldn’t tell me what he said, but he assured me that my troubles would be over.
And they were. For five wonderfully peaceful years.
In the summer of 2007 I was working on my computer in my bedroom, listening to music and enjoying the warm breeze through the window when I heard a loud crash from the other end of the apartment. I ran into the kitchen to find a beautiful old ceramic serving platter that I had left on the counter smashed in the middle of the kitchen floor, about five feet from the counter. That was the end of the peace and quiet.
For the next ten months I endured an ever increasing amount of activity which even my friend couldn’t do anything about. My boyfriend would no longer stay in my apartment alone for more than five minutes, and other friendss often said they felt uncomfortable there even with others around. In the spring of 2008 I moved to another small town in Massachusetts and haven’t experienced anything at all to indicate my current home is haunted.
ORPHANED AT SEA
In 1961, a picture was snapped of a young girl who was discovered adrift, alone, on a small lifeboat in the waters of the Bahamas. The story of how she ended up there is much more horrifying and bizarre than one can imagine.
When Nicolaos Spachidakis, second officer of the Greek freighter Captain Theo, saw Terry Jo Duperrault, he could hardly believe his eyes.
He had been scanning the waters of the Northwest Providence Channel, a strait that divides two major islands of the Bahamas, and one of the thousands of tiny dancing whitecaps in the distance caught the officer’s eye.
Among the hundreds of other boats in the channel, he focused on that single dot and realized it was too large to be a piece of debris, far too small to be a boat that would travel that far out to sea.
He alerted the captain, who put the freighter on a collision course for the speck. When they pulled up alongside it, they were shocked to discover a blonde-haired, eleven-year-old girl, floating by herself in a small, inflatable lifeboat.
One of the crew members took a picture of her squinting into the sun, looking up at the vessel that had saved her. The image made the front page of Life magazine and was shared around the world.
But how did this young American child find her way to the middle of the ocean all alone?
The story begins when her father, a prominent optometrist from Green Bay, Wis. named Dr. Arthur Duperrault, chartered the luxury yacht the Bluebell from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. to the Bahamas for a family trip.
He brought with him his wife, Jean, and his kids: Brian, 14, Terry Jo, 11, and Renee, 7.
He also brought his friend and former Marine and World War II veteran Julian Harvey as his skipper, along with Harvey’s new wife, Mary Dene.
By all accounts, the trip was going swimmingly, and there was little friction between the two families throughout the first five days of the journey.
On the fifth night of the cruise, however, Terry Jo was awoken by “screaming and stamping” on the deck above the cabin in which she slept.
Talking to reporters later, Terry Jo recalled how she, “went upstairs to see what it was, and I saw my mother and brother lying on the floor, and there was blood all over.”
She then saw Harvey walking towards her. When she asked what happened he just slapped her in the face and told her to go down below deck.
Terry Jo once more went above deck, when the water levels began to rise on her level. She ran into Harvey again, and asked him if the boat was sinking, to which he replied, “Yes.”
He then asked her if she had seen the dinghy that was moored to the yacht break loose. When she told him she had, he jumped into the waters towards the loose vessel.
Left alone, Terry Jo remembered the single life raft aboard the vessel and embarked on the tiny boat out into the ocean.
Without food, water, or any covering to protect her from the heat of the sun, Terry Jo spent 84 grueling hours before she was rescued by the Captain Theo.
Unbeknownst to Terry Jo, by the time she woke up on Nov. 12, Harvey had already drowned his wife and stabbed the rest of Terry Jo’s family to death.
He likely killed his wife to collect on her $20,000 double indemnity insurance policy. When Terry Jo’s father witnessed him killing her, he must have killed the doctor, and then proceed to kill the rest of her family.
He then sunk the yacht they were on and escaped on his dinghy with his wife’s drowned corpse as evidence. His dinghy was found by the freighter the Gulf Lion and brought to a U.S. Coast Guard site.
Harvey told the Coast Guard that the yacht had broken down while he was on the dinghy. He was still with them when he heard that Terry Jo had been discovered.
“Oh my god!” Harvey reportedly stammered when he heard the news. “Why that’s wonderful!”
The next day, Harvey killed himself in his motel room, slitting thigh, ankle, and throat with a double-edged razor.
To this day, why Harvey decided to let the young Terry Jo Duperrault live is unknown.
Some at the time hypothesized that he had some kind of latent desire to be caught, as little else would explain why he would have no qualms killing the rest of her family, but mysteriously left Terry Jo Duperrault alive.
Whatever the case, this bizarre act of mercy the case resulted in the media phenomenon of the “sea waif” that captured the nation.