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Listen to ““CAN YOU SENSE EVIL IN OTHERS?” and More Terrifying True Tales! #WeirdDarkness” on Spreaker.
IN THIS EPISODE: In January 1966, three children vanished from the seaside suburb of Glenelg, in Adelaide, Australia. Was the sudden disappearance of the Beaumont children murder… misadventure… or something else? (The Disappearance of the Beaumont Children) *** Stories like Sweeny Todd and Soylent Green (warning – spoilers!) include the imagery of humans eating humans. But when it happens in real life, we still somehow find it morbidly fascinating… even entertaining. (The Butcher of Chicago) *** Some people say they can sense good or bad energy when they enter a place or meet other people. Is this scientifically possible? (Sensing Evil In Places and People)
MENTIONED LINKS, EPISODES AND EVENTS…
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Episode with the virginity tests and cures story: http://weirddarkness.com/archives/5372
Episode with the “Cover Your Feet” story: http://weirddarkness.com/archives/4772
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(Note: Over time links can and may become invalid, disappear, or have different content.)
The hairdresser story used to begin this episode is from Tess Gerritsen: https://tinyurl.com/yefzjwdu
“The Butcher of Chicago” from Chicago Hauntings: https://tinyurl.com/yz7qka7l
“The Disappearance of the Beaumont Children” by Stephen Karadjis for Crime Traveller: https://tinyurl.com/yg7u6zt3
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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
SENSING EVIL IN PLACES AND PEOPLE
Is it really possible to pick up good and bad vibes in a particular place, for example from those who once inhabited a house? If humans can feel good or bad vibes, then how and by which means are these emotional states transferred?
Scientists have long been skeptical about the subject, but it seems the first evidence of the perception of good and bad energy is slowly emerging.
The study of human chemosignaling is a relatively new field and there is much we still don’t know.
Researchers have investigated human capacity to communicate fear, stress, and anxiety via body odor from one person to another.
It is known that many animal species transmit information via chemical signals, but the extent to which these chemosignals play a role in human communication have long been a mystery.
Some year ago, researchers from the Utrecht University in the Netherlands tested whether odor can transmit a sense of fear to others.
They asked a group of men to watch either a scary or disgusting video while wearing a certain t-shirt. The men followed a strict protocol to avoid possible contamination. For two days prior to the collection, they were not allowed to smoke, engage in excessive exercise, or consume odorous food or alcohol. They were also instructed to use scent-free personal-care products and detergents provided by the experimenter.
Later, the t-shirts were collected and given to women to smell. Scientists observed women’s’ facial expression and discovered that those who received the “fear sweat” shirts showed fearful expressions and those who had gotten “disgust based” shirts made disgusted ones.
The result of the study was that chemosignals act as a medium through which people can be “emotionally synchronized” outside of conscious awareness.
In a follow-up study, it was confirmed that positive emotions could be transmitted in the same way.
Some scientists suggest that is possible we can pick up good or bad energy in a particular place.
Basically, what we sense is linked to our perception of positive or negative chemosignals left over in that particular environment. This means that if you enter a room where something horrible causing fear has happened, you may actually feel bad vibes. These who were present in the room left negative chemosignals that you pick up.
What is unknown is how long such chemosignals are present in the environment. It is also unclear how the human brain processes chemosignals and while a reaction evolves quickly, it’s undetermined how long it lasts.
Many would consider these abilities as a “sixth sense”. But why limit our senses to a sixth sense? Actually, according to scientists, humans can have between 9 to 21 senses in total!
The idea that humans have only five sense is a pure myth. Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC), ancient Greek philosopher and scientist is credited with the traditional classification of the five sense organs: sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing. Aristotle was wrong, but the myth of five senses persists.
Currently, there is no concrete definition of what constitutes a sense, but according to most researchers a sense is a feeling or perception produced through the organs of touch, taste , etc., or resulting from a particular condition of some part of the body. In order for us to have a sense, there needs to be a sensor. Each sensor is tuned to one specific sensation. For example, there are sensors in your eyes that can detect light.
The five senses mentioned by Aristotle are what we call traditional senses, but there are also additional senses such as:
Equilibrioception: Simply known as the sense of balance. It is helps prevent humans and animals from falling over when standing or moving.
Proprioception: This is the perception of one’s body in space or the body’s position. Even if a person is blindfolded, he or she knows through proprioception if an arm is above the head or hanging by the side of the body.
Thermoception is the sense of heat. Specialized cellular sense receptors (thermoreceptors) allow the detection of cold and hot temperatures. It means we know which object is hot without touching it.
Nociception is the ability to feel pain.
Magnetoception is the ability to detect magnetic fields. Unlike birds, humans do not have a strong sense of magnetoception, but we still have a certain orientation of when detecting the Earth’s magnetic field.
We also have stretch receptors. These are found in such places as the lungs, bladder, stomach, blood vessels, and the gastrointestinal tract.
Our chemoreceptors help us to detect chemicals in the environment.
Familiarity is part of our recognition memory. A strong sense of familiarity can occur without any recollection, for example in cases of deja vu.
Hunger and thirst are also senses. The sense of time is still debated, but researchers have discovered humans have an astonishing accurate sense of time, particularly when younger.
Other senses are pressure, itch, and muscle tension.
Many people would also say that intuition is also a sense, but there is still isn’t enough conclusive evidence to add it to our sense list. However, more and more scientists are becoming convinced some humans are able to acquire knowledge without proof, evidence, or conscious reasoning.
Scientists who study the phenomenon say it’s a very real ability that can be identified in lab experiments and visualized on brain scans.
What is certain is that humans certainly do have more than five senses.
Combined, all these senses could also play a vital role in picking up good or bad energy.
The idea that we can pick up good and bad energy has often been relegated to the realm of the supernatural, but our scientific knowledge increases and we may one day learn more about this interesting subject.
The next time you walk into an empty room and feel good or bad vibes, maybe you are not imagining things. Maybe something very good or bad really did happen there once.
THE BUTCHER OF CHICAGO
This story may seem, if not as old as time, pretty old. It’s the story of the Demon Barber of Fleet Street: Dickens’ Sweeney Todd character of The String of Pearls who liked to make pies of out people. It’s the story of Soylent Green for that matter: the apocalyptic foodstuff that is just a little more palatable than death.
Everyone loves the story of the dinner made out of one’s neighbor. In Chicago, there are several such stories.
The first is the one most everyone knows. The story of Adolph Luetgert–the Sausage King of Chicago–is an old one. Luetgert went down in history known for killing his wife in his Diversey Avenue sausage factory and grinding her up into sausage. According to legend, the resulting delicacy was in high demand by the community. The ghost of Luisa Luetgert was so troublesome to the man who bought the Luetgert house later that he had it moved a block away, but Luisa moved with it, so he had it moved again. Or so they say. The factory is high end condos now. For the moment, the residents claim that all is quiet. The engineer says the basement is sometimes a little unrestful.
When the author and web manager of Chicago Hauntings was first married, she and her husband bought a house up in the Indian Woods area along Indian Road near Central and Elston. They used to shop at the Jewel in Jefferson Park. A neighbor told her that a butcher there back in the 1970s once killed someone, butchered the body and packaged it for sale before being arrested. He was connected to a high ranking cop and, being back in the day it was not made public.
I would imagine this kind of thing happens a lot more than we know.
A story I heard many years ago is one that still remains very mysterious. It’s the story of the Butcher of Palos Park. A gentleman who grew up in Palos Park and who now lives in Las Vegas, says the Butcher Shop where these events took place was housed in the building where the famous Plush Horse ice cream parlor now stands on Southwest Highway. He verified that many businesses in the area opened in 1893, when there was a mass exodus of single men and families from the building of the World’s Fair in Chicago. However, the building which houses the Plush Horse was built in 1893 as a house but there was a general store built by the wife of the couple who built it while the husband was off fighting the Spanish-American War. She built a store so that her husband would have a job when he came home. A butcher shop was added later. But that is where the history trails off . . . until the Plush Horse opens in the 1930s.
We can’t know if the Plush Horse was the site where the Butcher of Palos Park committed his dastardly deeds. Nor if any such deeds were committed at all. But for those who want to know the tale, keep listening. And the next time you drive along the tree-shrouded roads of Palos . . . you may wonder just what the shadows of history hold.
Just southwest of Chicago proper lies a sprawling expanse of slough-studded forest, one of the largest preserve areas in northern Illinois and, many believe, one of the most haunted regions in America.
Though the story to be told plays out in one of this area’s many villages, it cannot be told without setting the larger scene because Palos Park is nestled in one of the nation’s most mysterious districts, and Chicago’s most supernatural realm.
The area known locally as “Palos” is comprised of three separate villages: Palos Heights, Palos Hills, and Palos Park and these three towns slumber on the eastern border of the most underpopulated part of this very haunted territory. The district is bounded on its north end by phantom-riddled Archer Avenue, home to Chicago’s most famous ghost, Resurrection Mary, an erstwhile South Side Polish girl who has, for more than seventy years, hitchhiked this old Indian road as far south as Willow Springs. Her stomping grounds are also home to the so-called Sobbing Woman of Archer Woods Cemetery, the gangland ghosts of Rico D’s restaurant, an old Capone speakeasy, and the phantom automobiles tied in legend to the 1956 double-murder of little Barbara and Patricia Grimes, whose frozen bodies were eventually found at nearby Devil’s Creek.
Archer Avenue was built in the early 1800s by Irish immigrants who settled in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood, near present day Chinatown. The building of the road progressed in conjunction with a much larger, more significant project: the construction of the Illinois and Michigan Canal, a waterway that aimed to, at long last, connect by water the Chicago River and the Illinois River, thereby connecting the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River. Constructing the road over an old Indian trail that snaked southwest out of the city, immigrants worked under conditions that were often slave-like, going without pay or food—and sometimes without water—for days or weeks at a time. It is estimated that many hundreds of canal workers died along the canal route; indeed, one of Archer’s most haunted sites is the churchyard of St. James, established near the Sag Bridge, which was founded to accommodate the bodies of the many dead canal workers.
The suffering of the Illinois and Michigan Canal workers certainly left a preternatural imprint on this atmospheric road, but other factors that have contributed to the haunting of Archer Avenue can also go a long way in explaining the haunting of the entire region south of it, most notably the presence of water.
Even before the building of the Illinois and Michigan Canal (and, with less fanfare, the Calumet-Sag Channel and the Illinois Sanitary and Ship Canal), the Des Plaines River flowed through this heavily-forested land, a landscape covered with lakes, ponds and sloughs. Though it was long-believed by many cultures that water keeps ghosts at bay, parapsychologists today contend that paranormal manifestations are actually encouraged by the presence of water, an excellent conductor for the electromagnetic energies that ghosts are thought to be.
Another contributor to the paranormality of this region may be the sheer under population of much of it. The Chicago area is rife with forest preserves, some of them even within the city limits, and these areas have long been notorious as hotbeds of supernatural phenomena. Why? Theories abound.
Of course, haunted houses most often harbor their ghosts in the attic or basement—areas with infrequent human visitors. Silly as it may seem, ghosts seem to prefer to “hide” from flesh-andblood cohabiters rather than mix in with their everyday lives. It would follow, then, that forest preserves would be perfect habitats for Chicago ghosts with a distaste for the hustle and bustle of urban life.
Other theories, however, suggest that it is humans—and not haunts—that have infested Chicago’s preserves. Some preserve visitors have attested to experiencing chanting and singing by unseen people; at times this chanting seems to be done by dozens of voices. Others have reported glimpsing apparitions of hooded or cloaked figures, including those seen at Red Gate Woods, along Archer Avenue, and at the notorious Bachelors Grove Cemetery, part of the Rubio Woods preserve, an overgrown woodland ossuary that remains one of the most haunted cemeteries in the nation. These audio and visual apparitions are often tied to the ritualistic activities that have been reported in Chicago-area preserves since at least the 1960s. Those who make the connection believe that these rituals, performed largely by amateurs, have conjured up nature or even evil spirits that their unskilled conjurers could bring forth, but not send back.
The little village of Palos Park is, today, pure woodland serenity, a pocket of humanity comprised largely of mid-twentieth century ranch houses bordering the great forested preserves of southwest Chicago. Residents commute to Chicago to work but thoroughly enjoy the riding stables, fishing holes, and hiking trails of their home village. Don’t be fooled by this town’s peaceful looks. The place holds a terrible secret indeed, if the legends of this town are true. For, at the foot of a hill on the grounds of Palos Park’s unassuming, interactive “Children’s Farm” (a petting zoo and interpretive center catering to school groups) is buried the head—and only the head—of a horrifying local maniac: the Demon Butcher of Palos Park.
Hermann Butcher was one of a number of small businessmen who migrated to the Palos region during the chaos of the Columbian Exposition of 1892, when the influx of visitors to Chicago—many of them eventually settling there—drove a significant section of the urban population to quieter realms outside the city limits. The town of Palos was originally dubbed “Trenton” at its founding in the 1830s; in 1850, the village was renamed by its postmaster, whose ancestor had sailed from Palos de Fronters with Christopher Columbus.
In the days of its establishment, Palos Park was a farming community in a region that had been alive with Indians and French explorers in the 1700s, but the building of the Wabash Railroad was the key to its survival, as it allowed non-farming residents with Chicago ties to establish homes in Palos beginning in the late 1800s.
Butcher, whose family name came from the long-held family business, was one of several German immigrants who set up butcher shops in Palos in the late-nineteenth century, but it wasn’t long before he was the only butcher left in town. The significant depression that swept the United States in the 1890s did not miss Palos, and butchers here were pinned to the wall by the livestock shortage that accompanied it. Fortunately, Hermann Butcher was not only well-to-do, having enjoyed a thriving business in Chicago before his exodus, he was also well-connected to executives and managers at the best Chicago meat suppliers. Though he was forced, like his colleagues, to raise his prices, Butcher was able to remain in business.
No one knows whether Butcher’s insanity stretched back further than his life in Palos, but what happened during his days here have made residents of Palos afraid to dig more deeply.
The atrocities began one afternoon when a large shipment of beef arrived at Butcher’s shop. Like most butchers of the day, Hermann retained an apprentice who learned, at his side, the art and craft of butchering meat. Hermann was known in the village to drive his apprentice too hard. With a bad back and a sharp tongue, Butcher pawned off most of the daily workload onto his young charge, who bore the increasing burden with the patience of a saint. On this particular day, though, the shipment was larger than usual; Butcher pressed his apprentice to carry every parcel of it down to the basement meat locker, without a lick of assistance from the master. Unfortunately, a particularly heavy package of beef caused the young man to falter on the steep steps; he tumbled to the basement, breaking his neck with a fatal snap.
Butcher was horrified. He knew he had a reputation for working his apprentice into the ground and of disciplining him with his foul temper. Because of it, he had been on unfriendly terms with the boy’s family for months. Would the apprentice’s family think the boy’s death had been Hermann’s fault? That he had driven the boy too hard or, worse, in a flair of temper, pushed him down the stairs?
Strained by months of trying to keep his business afloat, Butcher wasn’t willing to chance it. If he were accused of contributing in any way to his apprentice’s death, who knew what could happen? And Butcher was sick of worrying and struggling. In a moment of desperation, Butcher stashed the apprentice’s corpse behind the parcels of beef that the young man had just unloaded.
He locked the freezer door and hoped for the best.
It wasn’t long before the boy was missed, but inquiries as to his whereabouts were met by Butcher’s own, feigned bewilderment and anger: I have no idea where he is, Hermann claimed, but when you find him, tell him to get into work immediately! Butcher claimed he hadn’t seen the boy since he’d left work two days before; he suggested that the boy had been unhappy with the job and, perhaps, had decided to hop a Chicago-bound train to make his fortune in a more pleasing apprenticeship.
Despite his cool demeanor, the heat on Hermann increased as the week wore on. Adding stress was the always-dwindling meat supply. When fare for his customers was at an all-time low, Butcher took action. After closing up shop one evening, he made his way to the basement meat locker. Working by the light of a dim lantern, he carved up a portion of the apprentice’s chilled left leg and packaged it in butcher paper. At home that night, Hermann roasted the leg meat and sat down to dinner. Sampling the morbid fare, he found it surprisingly similar to beef, but with an added sweetness that rendered it quite delectable.
Early the next morning, Butcher arrived at his shop and spent several hours butchering and displaying his gruesome offerings. When the first customers arrived, they were delighted to find the fine-looking cuts of meat and, in short time, every one was sold.
The next day, a nervous Butcher was waiting for the verdict on his grisly new supply. To his delight, the same customers returned, having found Hermann’s “beef” scrumptious. Luckily, Butcher had carved up most of the apprentice’s remaining corpse, so his customers went away happy again, but this couldn’t last… or could it?
Butcher found himself newly perplexed. If he could not supply more of the flesh his customers craved, what would they do? Likely, try to find more of the strangely delicious beef themselves by contacting his suppliers. This simply couldn’t be allowed. The supply would have to continue.
When the last scraps and bones had been sold, Butcher launched a fresh plan to protect his ever-floundering business. Each evening for weeks, he made his way out to the railroad yard and singled out a hungry-looking hobo. Promising food in exchange for some light labor, Hermann lured his victims back to his shop where he fed them a drugged dinner, washed down with potent schnapps, until they dozed off. When the unfortunate vagrant was suitably comatose, Butcher brought out his cleaver and hacked him up in his sleep, working late into the night to attractively arrange the cuts for sale the next day.
Soon, however, word spread through the hobo camp that something untoward was afoot; overnight, the camp emptied, and Butcher was again without meat for his shop.
By this time, Butcher had passed the point of no return. One by one, in the days that followed, the children of Palos began to go missing. Besides the hobos who could be plied with food and liquor, these little ones were all that Butcher, in his aged state, could handle.
Worse, with the first child’s murder came even greater reviews of Butcher’s products: Hermann’s customers, of course, found the latest offerings the most succulent of all, so Butcher was insanely encouraged to provide more and more of the sickening stock.
Eventually, the locals began to suspect that one of their own villagers was behind the recent string of child abductions. Working with an assortment of tips—and driven by the hunches of the apprentice’s family—a group of enraged villagers stormed Butcher’s shop late one night, searching it from top to bottom and finding, in the basement meat locker, a shocking array of packaged body parts—and the remains of a seven-year-old child hanging from a meat hook.
Making their way to Butcher’s home, the villagers forced entry and dragged Hermann out onto the lawn where they butchered him with his own cleaver. The final blow severed Butcher’s head, which the people of Palos buried at Indian Hill across from Oak Hill Cemetery.
Today, Palos Park remains a uniquely peaceful suburb of Chicago, the greatest beneficiary of the preserves that surround it. Residents enjoy horseback riding, fishing, boating, and hiking in the beautiful woodlands that abut the village, and even the homes here nestle in lovely woodland settings. Still, at Oak Hill Cemetery, all is not at rest.
After the slaughter of Hermann Butcher and the burying of his head at Indian Hill, the murderer’s headless remains were interred separately in a plot near the center of Oak Hill Cemetery, marked by a stone bearing only the name of “Butcher.” But they haven’t remained there. Residents of Palos Park tell of the body moving ever closer to the head. In fact, the grave has mysteriously moved twice already, from the center of the graveyard towards the road, to a plot near the pond, then to its current site along Southwest Highway itself. Is it only a matter of time before Butcher’s body returns to its unbutchered state—rejoining its head across the road?
Of course, skeptics claim that the Butcher remains have been repeatedly moved by decidedly unsupernatural means. The water table at the cemetery is such, they say, that certain graves have become waterlogged over the years, forcing the caretakers to move them, sometimes more than once.
A visit to the Children’s Farm on a warm summer afternoon seems to chase away all thoughts of ghosts. The air smells of hay and new-mown grass, and the sounds of young animals mingle with the laughter of children, visitors to the Farm enjoying its pleasant, natural surroundings.
Wandering away from the animals and the outbuildings, however, yields a distinctly different feeling, especially if one wanders toward Indian Hill….
Is Hermann Butcher really buried with other Butcher family members under the tombstone at Oak Hill cemetery? Is the story really true? Is the Plush Horse ice cream parlor really the site where these terrible tales played out? And is the head of the Butcher of Palos Park buried at Indian Hill? What do you think?
THE DISAPPEARANCE OF THE BEAUMONT CHILDREN
When three children vanished from the seaside suburb of Glenelg, in Adelaide, on Australia Day, Wednesday, 26 January 1966, the greatest land, sea, and air search in South Australian history began. Today we are no closer to solving the case, and the disappearance of the Beaumont children remains an unfathomable mystery fused eternally with the Australian psyche.
Within days, police dismissed the possibility of misadventure and regarded the matter as one of abduction and homicide. But there has never been a definitive suspect, and the story endures as our most captivating and iconic cold case. The circumstance that led authorities to conclude foul play was involved are witness sightings of a man seen frolicking with the children on the day they went missing. This fact alone, however, could be incidental. Australia in the 1960s was a far more conservative society, and the individual seen, may have been an innocent party, reluctant to go to the police.
There has only ever been one credible suspect, and this man, who came to the attention of police very late in life, is possibly Australia’s most prolific child killer.
The question of whether they did indeed meet with murder or misadventure needs to be revisited.
When Adelaide’s householders woke on Wednesday morning, it was already very hot. The mercury in the thermometer was climbing and the temperature was to reach 40 degrees.
A little after 8:30 am, Jane, 9, her sister Arnna, 7, and brother Grant, 4, left their home in Somerton Park and walked along Harding Street to the corner. Nancy Beaumont waited by the front gate and waved to her children as they stepped aboard the bus for the 5-minute ride to Glenelg.
By 2:00 pm Nancy became concerned when they had not come home. She alerted her husband an hour later upon his return from work. Jim and Nancy then began looking for the children, and at 5:00 pm they went to the police.
Over the next 36-hours, the largest mobilisation in Australian history for missing persons was mounted. Police, along with the Army, Navy and Airforce and thousands of civilians fanned out in all directions in a desperate search. It was thought the children may have met with an accident, either by drowning or covered over by sand or soil in a landslide or cave-in.
All seaside suburbs and the foreshore were searched to a distance 30-miles south of Adelaide. The sand hills of North Glenelg and in amongst the rocks at the base of the cliff-faces were the scene of a more intensive search. Storm-water drains opening on to beaches were checked, sewage channels explored, and police divers scoured the murky depths of the boat haven. It was drained a week later, as a police-launch kept watch, as the water flowed into the sea.
Neighbourhoods were traversed where land was being subdivided into vacant lots. Some blocks were in the process of excavation and new homes under construction. If the earth looked freshly disturbed, police cadets made diggings, search parties sprouted, and well-meaning citizens made forays on their own. Nothing was ever found.
By Friday, 28 January, police began to discount the theory the children had met with an accident. So great was the search, and utility of resources that little hope was now reserved for an outcome other than a tragic one.
On Saturday, 29 January, information was received from a 74-year-old local resident. This woman said she saw a man playing with the children on the lawn of Colley Reserve at the beach between 11:00 am and 11:30 am. The younger girl and little boy were jumping over him as he lay on a towel on the grass, and the older girl was flicking a towel at him. He appeared to be encouraging the children.
She described the man as being in his late 30s, about 6ft 1in tall, slim build with a thin face, light-coloured hair, deeply suntanned, although with a fair complexion and almost certainly Australian. He was wearing navy blue swimming trunks with a white stripe down each side.
On Wednesday, 2 February, a middle-aged woman gave a statement to police. She was sitting on a bench at the beach, alongside an elderly couple, when a man and the 3-children walked up to her. He had asked them. “Have you seen anybody messing around with our clothes? Our money has been pinched.” She said the description given by four other people on the day was accurate. Detectives regarded her account as reliable in corroborating the story given by the 74-year-old woman.
A staff member at Wenzel’s Cake Shop on Jetty Road and who knew the children from previous visits, said she saw them at around 12:30 pm when they purchased a pie and pasties and a couple of other items. She said Jane paid with a one-pound note. Nancy Beaumont, the children’s mother had only given Jane 6 or 8-shillings, enough to cover the cost of lunch and bus fares home. This anomaly led detectives to conclude correctly, that the trio had met someone who gave them the pound note.
Ms Daphne Gregory reported seeing Jane, Arnna and Grant Beaumont with a man on Australia Day. She said he was in his mid-thirties, with light-brown hair which was neatly parted and brushed. She went on to say that he walked with his arms bowed like an ape. This description was entitled in news articles as, “The Man with the Crazy Walk.”
A local postman, who also knew the children, said he saw them at around 3:00 pm and that they had waved to him and called out, “There’s the postie.” Later, he changed his mind about the time and believed the encounter was in the morning.
The police considered these sightings credible as the stories tended to support the others.
Mr. Gerard Croiset was an internationally renowned psychic who had reputedly assisted The Netherlands police in solving several missing persons cases. Members of Adelaide’s Dutch community had courted him, asking for his assistance and guidance in locating the missing children.
The Dutchman claimed the Adelaide children were dead. He had seen them in a vision after receiving photographs from Australia. They were crawling on hands and knees when all of a sudden the earth tumbles down covering them. The seer said they were lying in an underground cave in the rocks near the beach. He said the cave would be difficult to find because the entrance was sealed off by rocks or sand. The clairvoyant was waiting for a detailed map of the area so he could pinpoint the spot.
On the night of 4 August, two separate rolls of film depicting the beachfront were mailed to the psychic. The first was taken by a cameraman attached to a local television station as he sat in a plane while out at sea. The other had been shot months prior in the early stages of the investigation.
Two Adelaide businessmen agreed to share the cost of flying the psychic to Australia. In early November he arrived in Adelaide to much excitement and anticipation. He flew out of the country days later without success. He said he had been unable to visualise due to the clamouring of news reporters and television crews. “It was strange and unfamiliar. I am upset at my lack of success. I wanted to be of more assistance. It is not an easy thing. It has made me very, very tired.”
During his search, he was shown a warehouse that had recently been erected. The location in Paringa Park was a place the Beaumont children were purported to have played. The clairvoyant said the children were either buried there or had been there at some point. In 1967 holes were drilled into the concrete floor and a partial excavation made and 30-years later a complete demolition of the building. Nothing, however, was found.
The psychic believed the children had met with an accident and that the man seen at the beach had nothing to do with their disappearance.
In 1998, Arthur Stanley Brown, 86, was arrested in Townsville, Queensland and charged with the 26 August 1970 murders of sisters Judith and Susan Mackay, aged 7 and 5. Now in the twilight years of his life, he had never come to the attention of police.
Following a television episode of Crimestoppers documenting the abduction, rape, and murder of the Mackay sisters, a relation of Brown’s wife contacted the show. She reported her suspicions and told of being raped by him as a child. Detectives then interviewed other family members.
Within weeks Brown was arrested and charged with multiple counts of sexual assault and rape, involving his 8-stepchildren and other related minors, aged 3 to 10 years. He was also charged with the murders of the Mackay sisters.
It came to light, that in 1982, Brown’s wife’s relations had sought legal advice after individual family members began to learn from one another that they were not the only one he had molested.
The trial of Arthur Stanley Brown commenced on 18 October 1999 in the Queensland Supreme Court.
Judith and Susan Mackay disappeared from Aitkenvale, Townsville at around 8:10 am while waiting for the school bus. A witness had seen the girls talking to a man who was sitting behind the wheel of a car. Their small bodies were found two days later in the dry bed of Antill Creek, 25 kilometres to the south-west.
At trial, it was revealed that Brown had worked as a carpenter at the Mackay sisters’ school at the time. Testimony was also given of two witness sightings of the girls on the day they went missing.
Jean Twaite was a service station attendant in Ayr, 85 kilometres south of Townsville. She recalled that a blue Vauxhall sedan had pulled in at 11:00 am. The occupant asked for petrol. As she was filling the tank, she noticed the Mackay sisters sitting in the car. She overheard the younger girl ask the man, “Are we there yet?” The older girl then asked, “When are you taking us to mummy? You promised to take us to mummy.”
Neil Lunney had returned from active service in Vietnam. A man in a blue Vauxhall sedan on the road ahead had prevented him from overtaking. His driving had infuriated him. As he attempted to pull alongside, the man turned his head the other way and it appeared he was trying to hide his face. He noticed two girls in the car in Aitkenvale school uniform.
During their encounters, each was observant enough to notice that the driver’s door of the Vauxhall was painted a different colour to the rest of the car. At the time, Arthur Stanley Brown owned a blue Vauxhall sedan with a mismatching coloured driver’s door. The make of the vehicle alone was very uncommon. Both witnesses gave matching descriptions of the driver. They said he had high cheekbones, a narrow skull, and one said he had “Mickey Mouse ears”, all distinguishing features of Brown.
There were, however, several witnesses who reported seeing a car parked on the road adjacent to the murder site. When asked, they thought the make was a Holden. This discrepancy led police at the time to conclude that Twaite and Lunney were in error.
Arthur Stanley Brown made two confessions on separate occasions. The first was to 19-year-old John White in September 1970. The men were drinking in the White Horse Tavern in Charters Towers west of Townsville. White reported the matter to police. They interviewed Brown but he convinced them it was all pub-talk.
The second time was in 1975. John Hill was an apprentice carpenter to Brown. He had mentioned the Mackay sisters. Brown had reacted in an exasperated manner stating, “I know all about that. I did it.” Hill said he did not go to police as Brown’s statement was out of character and he thought he was making it up.
At the conclusion of the trial, the jurors could not agree on a verdict. All evidence relating to the paedophilia charges were not heard in court. Neither was the fact that Brown had molested many of his relations at Antill Creek, where the Mackay sisters were taken. The jury, therefore, had to decide whether the 87-year-old now sitting before them, should be convicted of the rape and murder of two children, relying on decades-old witness testimony.
A retrial stalled after psychiatric assessments showed the defendant was affected cognitively by dementia and Alzheimer’s. The Director of Public Prosecutions had no legal standing to pursue and withdrew all charges.
The widespread media coverage led a woman to contact police. She claimed Brown was the man she had seen as a teenager with Joanne Ratcliffe, 11, and Kirste Gordon, 4. The children were abducted on Saturday, 25 August 1973 from Adelaide Oval, where rivals Norwood and North Adelaide were competing in the final of the Australian Rules Football.
Another witness recalled that Brown had mentioned having seen the Adelaide Festival Centre under construction, and at the stage where it was almost complete. This would place him in Adelaide after June 1973.
It has long been regarded by South Australian police, that the abductor was the same person who took the Beaumont children 7-years earlier. An identikit picture and an artist’s impression both published at the time the two girls were taken, bear a striking likeness to the identikit picture of the alleged kidnapper of the Beaumont children. More importantly, all sketches look identical to Arthur Stanley Brown.
He was employed from 1946 as a maintenance carpenter for the Department of Public Works until his retirement at age 65 in 1977. He had unrestricted access to public buildings and worked unsupervised and his employment records are missing. Police investigations have failed to uncover the dates he took holidays. It has therefore proved impossible to cross-check his whereabouts at the time of the Adelaide Oval abduction in 1973 and on Australia Day 1966.
It needs to be pointed out that homicide detectives and all involved have no doubt Arthur Stanley Brown murdered the Mackay sisters. The Queensland Police Service has closed the case.
There were few citizens out there in the 1960s and early 70s responsible for kidnapping, raping and murdering multiple children, from one family unit, on the same day.
Judith and Susan Mackay were taken in 1970, roughly midway in time between the disappearance of Jane, Arnna and Grant Beaumont in 1966, and the abduction of Joanne Ratcliffe and Kirste Gordon in 1973.
If Arthur Stanley Brown took the Beaumont children, as with the Mackay sisters, he most probably drove a similar distance along the highway out of Adelaide, parked the car and led the trio into the scrub. True to form, he likely left them where they lay, neatly folding their clothing and belongings alongside.
The circumstantial evidence stacked against Brown is so high that his guilt is almost beyond doubt. It is also highly probable he is responsible for other unsolved child homicides dating back decades.
Or perhaps the children did indeed meet with an accident, after all, playing hide and seek or deviating as kids do on their way home. Perhaps they were crawling through a crevice of rocks at the beach or a trench of earth on a vacant lot, and the weight of sand or soil fell upon them. Whether people believe in psychics or not, the likelihood of misadventure is a logical explanation for their disappearance. Despite a search on an unprecedented scale, their burial site may have gone unnoticed.
In the decades since social historians have come to regard this single event, as a turning point in the way parents adjusted their outlook on the issue of child safety.
At the time commentators did not suggest the parents were negligent, or that the children should not have been permitted to go to the beach unescorted. This complacency by the public reflected the attitude of the day.
From then on families were more guarded when it came to their children, thinking twice before allowing them to play unsupervised, keeping a vigil and watching out for strangers. For our nation, it marked the end of innocence.
The mystery behind the fate of the children lingers like a broken record, replaying a verse over and over from a time long ago. It overshadows us like a dark crevasse, a melancholia, a frightening and deeply disturbing nightmare from which we have never woken.