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Listen to “THE CONSPIRACY OF STANLEY KUBRICK, ‘THE SHINING’, AND THE MOON LANDING” and more! #WeirdDarkness” on Spreaker.

IN THIS EPISODE: (Dark Archives episode with stories from September 27-28, 2018) *** Poltergeists have been reported as having unique personalities. Some are violent, others are eerily playful. But in Vietnam, they are dealing with one that likes to start fires. (Pyromaniac Poltergeist) *** In 1885 a madman stalked the streets of Austin, Texas, slaughtering women where they slept. You might think he was inspired by London’s Jack the Ripper – but this was three years before anyone ever knew about Jack. (The Servant Girl Murders) *** Does Stanley Kubrick’s classic 1980 film The Shining contain a hidden code about the Apollo moon landings? (Under a Shining Moon) *** Are ghosts and shadow people the same thing? Author Jacob Shelton doesn’t think so – and gives us an indepth essay behind his reasoning. (Ghosts And Shadows) *** In September, 1935, the Labor Day Hurricane obliterated the Florida Keys, killing hundreds. Even today, more than 83 years later, skeletal remains still continue to occasionally be found… as do some of their ghosts. (Ghosts Of The Labor Day Hurricane) *** Nathaniel Bar-Jonah was accused of murdering a child. Soon, his neighbors remembered the strange meat he’d given them years before. (Child Killer and Cannibal) *** Was the notorious Dr Crippen, convicted and executed in 1910 for the murder of his wife Cora, actually innocent? (Dr. Crippen and the Chamber of Murder and Horror) *** Two women decide to move into a flat together – but quickly find out they might have a paranormal third roommate they didn’t know about. (The Other Flatmate) *** In the wild frontier of the 1790s, Americans had much to be worried about. Drought, famine, being injured with no one there to get help for you, poisonous snakes, hungry wolves, even being scalped by bloodthirsty natives of the land. But nothing was so scary as… the Harpe brothers. You see, the Harpe brothers didn’t choose their victims – they simply killed anyone who got in their way, including women and children. (Two of the Outlaws of Cave-In Rock)

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Musical theme from “The Shining” cover by Kay Bizzy: https://tinyurl.com/uv7pjwu
“Under a Shining Moon”: https://tinyurl.com/sdagzpx
“Pyromaniac Poltergeists” by Paul Seaburn: https://tinyurl.com/s5cprcy
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“Child Killer and Cannibal” by Wyatt Redd: http://ow.ly/w3LT30m1fSy
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“Dr. Crippen and the Chamber of Murder and Horror” posted at The Unredacted: http://ow.ly/MsGr30m1fx1
“The Harpe Brothers: Two Of The Outlaws Of Cave-In Rock” by Troy Taylor: http://ow.ly/hk4930m1fy1
“The Other Flatmate” by Jubeele: http://ow.ly/wSxJ30m1fzu
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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

The Shining is the story of a writer named Jack Torrence, played by Jack Nicholson, who goes mad whilst acting as the winter caretaker at an isolated hotel. Early in the film it is revealed that the previous caretaker also went mad and hacked to death his wife and children. Torrence’s young son, blessed with a supernatural power named the Shining, then starts to experience visions of this traumatic event.
Torrence becomes increasingly unhinged by strange supernatural forces that inhabit the hotel and begins to experience his own troubling visions. Eventually, he loses his sanity entirely and attempts to follow in his predecessor’s footsteps and murder his wife and children with an axe.
For anyone who has read the book, It’s easy to see why it’s author was unhappy with the resulting film. It only really plays lip service to the basic plot of the novel, and makes many often minor plot changes for no obvious reason. Most of King’s thematic concerns were also discarded, much to his annoyance. Kubrick appeared to be using the shell of the story to serve a more impenetrable and arcane purpose.
As common with many of Kubrick’s films, the Shining has undergone a critical reassessment in recent years. Often dismissed in 1980 as a curiously flat and unscary longueur, many critics now regard it as a uniquely unsettling masterpiece of the horror genre.
At the same time, a number of commentators have begun to explore the hidden meanings in the film. The Shining has since become one of the most analysed films of all time, its intricate subtexts attracting a variety of readings. Clearly beneath what remained of Stephen King’s book, there was some other narrative, but what exactly was Kubrick trying to tell us?
In 2012, director Rodney Ascher found enough competing interpretations about the true meaning behind the Shining to justify a whole documentary film about them. Room 237 examines five of the most popular theories, allowing their authors to describe them in their own words.
One of the contributors in the film thinks the Shining is really about the massacre of the native Americans, another that it is an extended metaphor about the holocaust. A segment in the film explores the theory that the Shining’s hidden meanings are only revealed when it is played backwards and forwards simultaneously.
Room 237 is an entertaining documentary but the arguments set out by the various contributors are often absurd and nebulous. It’s easy to read anything into something as ambiguous and dense as the Shining. It is like a mirror that reflects back at you whatever you project at it.
The other problem with most of these theories is there would be no reason for Kubrick to hide them in a horror film about a haunted hotel. If he had wanted to explore the theme of the holocaust or the American Indians, both widely covered in American cinema, there would be no reason to be so cryptic about it.
Perhaps what Kubrick wanted to tell us was something darker and more personal. Something he would want, or need, to hide inside a film that seemed on the surface to be about something else. One contributor to Room 237 follows this reasoning with the most outlandish theory of all; the Shining is actually a hidden confession to Kubrick’s involvement with faking the footage of the Apollo moon landings.
Filmmaker Jay Weidner has set out this idea before, in his own full-length documentary named Kubrick’s Odyssey in 2011. It is based on a pre-existing conspiracy theory that Kubrick was approached by NASA during the production of 2001 in the mid-60s to help them fake the footage of the Apollo 11 mission as a failsafe in case the astronauts did not make it to the moon.
Weidner believes that Kubrick used the state of the art special effects he developed for 2001 to help NASA fake the footage of the first moon landing and, racked with guilt about the deception, decided to put a secret ‘confession’ about what he’d done in the Shining.
Weidner’s idea has become an extremely popular and widely disseminated conspiracy theory on the internet, inspiring countless youtube videos and websites. But it is really two separate theories, and Weidner’s’ connecting of them is highly speculative.
We clearly do not have to believe the footage of the Apollo landings were faked, or that Kubrick did the faking, to believe he put references to them in the Shining. There could have been a variety of other motives for doing so. The question is, are the references there at all or is it the overactive imagination of those confounded by Kubrick’s byzantine filmmaking style?
That there is at least one reference to Apollo 11 in the Shining is beyond much dispute. It is not in the book and like several other important parts of the film, is an addition Kubrick himself made for reasons not entirely clear.
At the twenty minute mark, Jack Torrance’s young son Danny is seen playing on the richly patterned carpet in one of the hotels corridors. Sensing something is drawing him to Room 237, he rises up to reveal he is wearing a jumper with an Apollo 11 rocket knitted into its front.
Stanley Kubrick is widely regarded as one of the greatest film directors of all time and a master of visual metaphor. The analogy between Danny and the launch of the Saturn 5 rocket to the moon was undoubtedly deliberate, but to what effect? Some critics have attempted to fit this curious moment into the film’s conventional narrative, but it doesn’t seem to serve any obvious purpose in the story.
For proponents of the theory, this sequence was merely the most obvious of a whole string of Apollo references in the Shining, enough for them to be both deliberate and meaningful. This was Kubrick they argue, a man with a track record of using cryptic symbols in his films, from 2001 and a Clockwork Orange right up to his enigmatic final work Eyes Wide Shut. Nothing was put on the screen by chance.
Does the Shining contain a secret message about the Apollo moon landings? And if so, what was the purpose?
By the time Kubrick came to make The Shining in 1978-79, he already had a reputation as an exacting perfectionist. But the shoot of his version of Stephen’s King’s novel would become notorious for both the treatment of the actors and the vast overrun of its schedule
For what was ostensibly a relatively straightforward horror film, Kubrick spent a staggering 13 months on its production, most of it on the backlot of Elstree studios in England, the home of the vast Overlook hotel set in which most of the films action takes place.
For some reason it seemed particularly important to Kubrick to get this one absolutely right, and the film would become legendary in the movie business for the number of takes used for even the most mundane of scenes. The films lead actors, Shelley Duvall and Jack Nicholson, were often pushed close to breaking point by Kubrick’s insistence on filming the same scenes dozens of times.
The director forced his actors to perform one famous moment in the film, the confrontation between an unhinged Jack and a baseball bat wielding Wendy an incredible 127 times, with both of them close to tears at the endless repetition of same lines, often for little or no obvious reason.
Duvall in particular suffered a great deal during the films production, Kubrick’s treatment of the then 29 year old American actress little short of bullying. Duvall suffered from nervous exhaustion throughout the shoot, and became so ill her hair would fall out.
Was Kubrick so unconcerned by the welfare of his actors, or was his obsessive refilming of the same scenes more about capturing important and perhaps fleeting details in the sets, the backgrounds, the props and the framing? Cinematographers have a term for this, mise-en-scène and Kubrick was a master of the art.
Part of this came from his background as photographer. He learnt early how to use framing, scenery and props as storytelling devices, but it was rarely spontaneous. Before each project he would undertake months, sometimes years of painstaking preparation, research and storyboarding before he filmed a single scene.
Kubrick’s planned, but ultimately unmade Napoleon film involved vast amounts of research, location scouting, photographs and storyboards, eventually amounting to hundreds of filing boxes worth of material.
All of the scenes in Eyes Wide Shut set on the streets of Greenwich village were filmed in meticulously recreated sets constructed on the backlot of Pinewood Studios, England, with every lamp post, sidewalk and newspaper vending machine exactly modelled on their real life New York equivalents.
On this last, most mysterious of Kubrick films, he went as far as personally overseeing the design and placement of every set set, prop, and costume, right down to the furniture and even the color of the walls.
With the degree of preparation and control Kubrick had over his work, it’s hard to imagine anything in his films was there by chance. A director like this doesn’t film something 100 or more times unless everything that he his is capturing in the frame of his camera has a purpose.
With most other filmmakers, the kind of strange allusions and references we see to the moon landings in The Shining could easily be dismissed as chance, or simply peripheral dressing that has no real meaning. Knowing what we do about Kubrick, it much harder to make this determination.
But before we take a closer look at The Shining itself, it may be worth a brief review of some of the acknowledged hidden meanings in some of Kubrick’s other films by way of comparison.
Few film critics who have studied Stanley Kubrick’s work doubt they contain some abstruse subtexts, although exactly what they are remains more contentious. Fewer still can cite a more meticulous or exacting director or one who spent more time and attention on every shot.
Kubrick himself preferred to remain silent about his filmmaking process – “In all things mysterious – never explain”, he told the press in an interview to promote The Shining. It is a quote from the great horror author H.P. Lovecraft, whose own work contained its fair share of secrets.
Codes and symbols fascinated the director all his life. According to his personal assistant Anthony Frewin, Kubrick regarded ‘The Codebreakers’, David Kahn’s 1967 book about secret writing and code breaking as one of the most important works of the 20th century.
The Codebreakers is a detailed history of message encryption and decryption and how they have been used by intelligence agencies, criminals and secret societies throughout the ages. Kubrick’s interest in it betrays a lifetime fascination with ciphers and the esoteric, an interest which can help inform our understanding of what is really going on in the filmmaker’s work.
As with the interpretation of any creative work, it is often a fine line between correctly finding meaning and having one’s imaginative run away with itself. In 1964, shortly after the release of his film Dr. Strangelove, Kubrick made a rare acknowledgement that somebody had correctly found that line.
Responding to a fan’s letter, the director congratulated them on finding some hidden sexual references in the film that seemed to have eluded the professional critics. Had they simply missed the obvious or were they afraid of looking silly for seeing things that were not there?
Perhaps of all the director’s films, the most overtly vague and subjective is 2001. At its release in 1968 the film became a favourite of the counterculture generation, who would often attend multiple screenings whilst tripping on LSD. The film chimed with many at the time as a message to mankind about expanding human consciousness, although its many depths are still debated to this day.
As an essentially visual filmmaker, Kubrick always preferred to remain ambiguous in his statements about the meaning of his films. About 2001 he would state to Jerome Agel – “I don’t like to talk about 2001 too much because it’s essentially a non-verbal experience. It attempts to communicate more to the subconscious and to the feelings than it does to the intellect. I think clearly there’s a problem with people who are not paying attention with their eyes. They’re listening. And they don’t get much from listening to this film”.
Was this the same principle Kubrick followed when making The Shining? Was the literal meaning of the story, a caretaker who goes mad looking after a remote hotel, not what his film was about at all? Do we need to look more rather than listen?
1971’s A Clockwork Orange, a film about psychological conditioning and mind-control replete with illuminati and masonic symbolism, got somewhat overshadowed by the tabloid controversy over its violent content. But the film was about much more than violence; Kubrick even hid an all seeing eye atop a pyramid in its poster to hint as much.
The director’s last film was Eyes Wide Shut in 1999. A strange, disturbing work, tackling themes of obsession and identity and featuring a sinister secret society, some believe this was Kubrick’s attempt to reveal dark truths about the establishment and their corruption, both sexual and spiritual.
Eyes Wide Shut appears to be a kind of culmination for Kubrick, a film where almost everything lies beneath the surface and nothing appears to be what it seems. The scope of the film warrants an entire separate article in itself, and indeed many books have been written attempting to decipher what the directors last, most mysterious work is really about.
Four days after he completed Eyes Wide Shut, Kubrick died of a massive heart attack, prompting inevitably conspiracy theories that he had been killed by the very sinister forces he seemed to be trying to expose in the film. Whether coincidence or not, Kubrick himself might have appreciated that his death came exactly 666 days before the dawn of the new millenia on January 1st 2000.
The disclaimer here is, of course, not to get too carried away and see things that are not there. John Lennon famous deliberately put meaningless nonsense lyrics into Beatles songs because he enjoyed the incredibly elaborate theories their fans would spin about their ‘hidden’ meaning. It’s hard to imagine Kubrick himself would not have done the same.
But with all this in mind, is there more than meets the eye in Kubrick’s only foray into horror?
Much to author Stephen King’s dismay, Kubrick removed much of what he saw as the central themes his book, retaining just a basic sketch of his story. Why the filmmaker chose King’s novel at all for his next project puzzled many critics at the time.
Perhaps if Kubrick wanted to make some kind of obscure statement about the moon landings under the guise of a popular horror film, he simply chose The Shining for the punning name, as in the the Shining Moon. It seems unlikely, but then the cerebral Kubrick always loved puns and wordplay.
To further indulge the idea that Kubrick may have included subtle moon related wordplay in his film, we have the curious case of Billie Gibson. Gibson played the hideous crone who Jack Nicholson’s character encounters in the bathroom of the mysterious room 237.
Whoever Billie Gibson was, she was not an actress. She has no other credits on IMDB other than this film. Some accounts have it that she was simply an old lady Kubrick knew, but why she was cast in one of the films most disturbing scenes remains a mystery.
Intriguingly, there is one other Bill Gibson listed on IMDB with only a single credit to his name. That credit is as the director of the official documentary of the Moon landings, 1969s ‘Footprints on the Moon: Apollo 11’.
Gibson is an obscure figure, what little information about him suggests he was a military photographer and filmmaker who worked for NASA in the 1960s. Kubrick, who collaborated closely with the space agency during the making of 2001, may well have known Gibson.
As we shall see later, the scene in The Shining in which the crone appears is the culmination of an unmistakable visual metaphor for the Apollo 11 mission. Could the casting of an unknown non-actress in the part with the same name as the director of ‘Footprints on the Moon’ really have been a coincidence or was it mischief on the part of Kubrick?
The theories presented in the film Room 237 and the work of Jay Weidner range from speculative film criticism to outrageous conspiracy theories. But Weidner’s work in particular is of some use to us in search of further moon clues.
The central thesis of his 2011 documentary Kubrick’s Odyssey, that Kubrick had helped NASA to fake the moon landing footage and then put a coded confession to this in The Shining, is of course somewhat imaginative. But some of the evidence Weidner presents is nonetheless intriguing, whatever Kubrick’s true motives may have been.
Kubrick’s Odyssey argues that the father and son characters of Jack and Danny Torrance represent a duality within Kubrick himself. Danny the innocent boy with the unique gifts is Kubrick the creative genius, invited by NASA to take part in the biggest filmmaking challenge in history – faking the moon landing.
Whereas the dishevelled figure of struggling writer Jack and his terrible descent into madness represent the grim, corrupting reality and the toll Kubrick’s part in the deception took on him. The directors continued use of mirrors and mirror images in the film might provide, at least on an artistic level, some further affirmation for this interpretation.
The long gaps between projects and his reclusive nature had long prompted rumours that Kubrick had gone mad; had the director hidden from the world because the guilt and paranoia about his role in the deception had become too much to bare? And was the madness of Jack Torrence Kubrick’s coded allegory for his torment?
The theory that The Shining as a ‘mirror’ narrative of the Apollo program starts with the scene near the beginning of the film where Jack is interviewed for the caretaker’s job at the Overlook hotel by its manager Stuart Ullman, played by Barry Nelson.
Weidner argues that the hotel manager represents John F Kennedy, the ‘manager’ of the USA when, as President in 1961, he initiated the Apollo program. Behind the hotel manager character in this scene is a window sill, representing a stage, and on that stage is a statue of an eagle, ‘Eagle’ being the name of the lunar lander.
Does this scene represent a real event in Kubrick’s life, when he was approached by the US government to participate in the filming of faked footage of the Apollo 11 moon landing?
Chronologically, Apollo followed a program named Gemini. In the film, Jack Torrance and his son replace a previous caretaker and his two daughters as the residents of the hotel during its off-season. If Jack and Danny represent Apollo, then it certainly seems apt that a man with twin daughters would represent Gemini, the star sign represented by twins.
That this is more than coincidence is suggested by a change Kubrick made to the book. In the original novel, the previous caretakers daughters are two sisters of different ages, whereas Kubrick consciously cast the parts as identical twins in the film, hiring identical twins Lisa and Louise Burns for the roles.
Jack’s descent into madness is finally revealed in one of the films most famous scenes. After typing away for hours in the hotels vast, cavernous central hallway, Wendy discovers all her husband has written is the phrase “All work and no play make Jack a dull boy” thousands of times.
On Jack’s old fashioned Adler typewriter, the characters of a lowercase l and a 1 are the same, indeed on old typewriters they were often the same key. Hence the phrase equally reads “A11 work and no play make jack a dull boy”. Is this yet another strange reference to the Apollo 11 mission, and even Kubrick’s part in it?
In terms of this theory, the films pivotal scene is the extended sequence involving Jack’s young son Danny, which looks very much like a visual allegory of the Apollo mission itself.
Danny, who according to Jay Weidner represents the idealistic side of Kubrick that agreed to fake the moon landings for NASA, can be seen playing on the floor of one of the hotel’s labyrinthine corridors.
From above the gaudy 70s carpeting on the corridor looks, with its hexagonal patterning, a lot like aerial photos of the Saturn V rocket’s launch pad. Agitated by something in one of the hotel’s many empty rooms, Danny slowly rises to his feet, revealing he is wearing a knitted jumper featuring a Saturn V rocket and the words ‘Apollo 11’.
Clearly this is not some incidental costuming detail. Kubrick, a master of visual storytelling, can only be deliberately echoing the takeoff of the Apollo 11 mission in this sequence. The question is why? It doesn’t seem to fit into the rest of the story and whilst it’s always possible Kubrick did this simply because it looked interesting, that’s seems at odds with this most calculating of filmmaker’s style.
After rising to his feet, Danny then proceeds slowly, as if mimicking an astronaut, across the corridor to one of the hotel’s rooms, specifically room 237. If the metaphor is still intact, this room must represent the Moon itself. Could there be some clue in the number 237?
In King’s novel, this room is actually room 217, but according to Kubrick’s Odyssey this was changed to 237 in the film as Kubrick intended the room to be a hidden reference to the Moon, which is 237,000 miles away from the Earth.
Whilst some critics argue that the Moon is actually 238,900 miles away from the Earth, the allusion is not entirely invalid. Some old science dictionaries and textbooks, which Kubrick may have used during his research for the film, do list the distance as 237,000 miles and Isaac Asimov’s important 1972 article ‘The coming decades in space’ also uses the same figure.
What happens to Danny in room 237 is never shown, only the aftermath. Distressed and with his Apollo 11 jumper torn, Danny returns to his parents refusing to speak about what occurred. This certainly seems to fit Weidner’s theorised hidden narrative that Danny represents a young Kubrick scarred by his involvement in the moon landing conspiracy.
But even if this is not the case, it’s hard to escape the impression Kubrick is trying to tell us something in this sequence, some of the visual parallels are just too strong. Exactly what, of course, is very much open to interpretation.
The whole Apollo takeoff portion of the film concludes with Jack returning to room 237 to investigate exactly what had harmed his son. It is here that and he encounters the old crone played by the mysterious Billie Gibson and his spiral into madness accelerates, ultimately leading him to attempt to murder his wife and Danny.
Other more tenuous visual references to the the Apollo program are perhaps worth briefly mentioning. The large Native American totem murals that hang in the grand hallway of the hotel look decidedly like Saturn V rockets, whether coincidence or not. The film’s chilling sequence where rivers of blood are seem to spill out of the life shafts also bears a strong resemblance to a red hued version of the Saturn V’s fiery launch sequence.
The Shining ends with one final, esoteric moon reference. In the film’s closing shot of an old black and white photograph we see Jack Torrance at the centre of a crowd of party goers in the hotels ballroom. The photograph is, puzzlingly, labelled ‘1921’, and how Jack could be present in a picture taken before he was born is not explained.
Jack’s pose in this photograph echoes the traditional depiction of the medieval demonic idol Baphomet, one hand angled downwards and one upwards. The comparison is no doubt helped by Jacks Nicholsons famously devilish grin.
Baphomet features heavily in masonic symbolism and was said to be worshipped by the Knights Templar. The most common illustration of deity is by 19th century occultist Eliphas Levi and features the goat headed figure pointing directly at the moon.
If we accept that there are references to Apollo and the moon landings in The Shining, the obvious question is why?
Speculation that Kubrick was involved in faking the Apollo missions is not new, sceptic Bill Kaysing had suggested the idea as early as the 1970s. As a one of the world’s most prominent directors who had recently made a science fiction film with pioneering special effects, he would always look a likely candidate for role.
Did Kubrick simply insert some of this material into The Shining by way of a jokey acknowledgement of this? He may have found the whole idea that he was involved in susch an outlandish undertaking amusing, and wanted to tease conspiracy theorists further by giving them more material to work with.
Another more mundane explanation is that Kubrick, who had already worked closely with NASA during the making of 2001, did indeed work with them on some other entirely un-conspiratorial classified project. The director may have been forced to sign a nondisclosure agreement that forbid him to acknowledge his involvement.
The subtle nods in The Shining were therefore his playful way of breaking that agreement without getting into too much trouble.
That leaves us with one final, sensational alternative. Jay Weidner is right and Stanley Kubrick did indeed film the footage of mankind’s greatest achievement on a Hollywood soundstage.
If The Shining is really his encoded confession to this, then it is surely one of the most artful and confounding confessions ever made.
Critics argue that the elliptical, often surreal nature of Kubrick’s work inherently lends itself to the kind of far out analysis given to it in documentaries like Kubrick’s Odyssey and Room 237.
Room 237 itself is ample proof of this, containing as it does five radical interpretations of the film that have little to do with its overt horror plot. And this only scratches the surface, dozens of other theories have been posited over the years, on the internet and in books of film criticism.
Several key aspects of the theory expounded by Kubrick’s Odyssey have been questioned by sceptics, not least the identification of Room 237 with the moon. The idea that Kubrick changed this from 217 to 237 in order to represent the moon looks to be overreaching in light of Kubrick’s own more banal explanation in an interview with Michel Ciment at the time of the films release.
The director was simply asked by the management of the The Timberline Lodge in Oregon, which doubles as the exterior of the Overlook hotel in The Shining, to change the malevolent room in King’s novel to the non-existent room 237 in order to avoid putting off superstitious guests.
Of course even if this is true, and we must remember Kubrick also denied that HAL was a sly joke at the expense of computer giant IBM, it wouldn’t preclude the possibility it was actually this request that gave him the idea to use 237 as the room number in the first place.
The change from sisters to twins is also cited as a reference to the Apollo precursor program Gemini, but could equally just be because it makes for a more sinister image in a horror film. The creepy look of the twins in the film is actually based on a well known photograph by Diane Arbus that predates both the book and film.
The closing image of Jack Torrance in what appears to be a pose similar to moon deity was also not created especially for the film, Kubrick instead airbrushed Nicholson’s face into an old stock photograph of a group of party revellers from 1923.
Whatever the truth about these references, it’s entirely unclear what any of them really mean. And if there wasn’t already an existing conspiracy theory that Stanley Kubrick had helped NASA fake the moon landings it seems unlikely anybody would have made any connections between The Shining and Apollo in the first place.
As such an iconic historical event, and an integral piece of modern American culture, the Apollo program is part of the widely recognised bank of shared imagery many artists and filmmakers dip into, not just Kubrick. It may be the references just felt appropriate to him for a whole variety of artistic and aesthetic reasons and have no deeper meaning.
It’s impossible to prove one way or the other what Kubrick really intended The Shining to be about. A personal confession to a dark secret or the tale of a man who goes mad in a haunted hotel, and any number of possibilities in between. The truth, if there is one, went with Kubrick to his grave.
But like any work of art, truth is also something invested into it by the viewer. In a sense all of the many interpretations of The Shining are valid, the secrets of the film ultimately lying in the eye of the beholder.

Jack the Ripper. The name alone sends shivers down one’s spine, conjuring visions of a knife-wielding killer prowling through London. The case remains one of the most chilling in recent memory. Yet Jack’s brutal attacks in 1888 were preceded some three years earlier by a series of murders in Austin, Texas, perpetrated by a shadowy soul who came to be known as the Servant Girl Annihilator.
History rarely discusses these cases in the same breath. But could the culprit behind the serial killings be one and the same?
Local papers of the era dubbed the Texas killings “The Servant Girl Murders”—the Annihilator nickname wouldn’t appear until Austin writer O. Henry coined the phrase in mid-1885. As for the servant girl descriptor, it alluded to the occupation of many of the victims. The vast majority were young, African American women employed as domestic help in the homes of Austin, Texas.
Nevertheless, the phrase failed to capture the scope of the killer’s crimes. As J.R. Galloway of Servant Girl Murders notes, victims included a boyfriend of one of the women; the child of a servant who was attacked but survived her assault; and a pair of “married white women, neither of them servants.”
The first killing occurred on December 30, 1884, when Mollie Smith was assaulted in her home. She was attacked with an axe while she slept and then dragged from her bed to the backyard, where she was raped and murdered. Walter Spencer was also attacked that night, left wounded but alive.
Over the course of the next year, the sinister force prowled the streets of Austin, claiming the lives of six more women and one man, while seriously injuring seven more people.
How could a killer leave behind so many living victims and still evade capture? That’s one of the many mysteries surrounding the strange case of the Servant Girl Annihilator.
All of the attacks occurred while the victims were asleep in their beds. Five of the women, including Mollie Smith, were dragged from their houses and killed outside. Sexual assault was a recurring theme, as was the murder weapon. Many of the victims were attacked with an axe, and the bloody blade was left behind at more than one of the crime scenes, leading some to dub the killer the Axeman of Austin.
Many of the murdered women were severely mutilated, with some accounts claiming that the bodies were posed in a signature fashion. According to sources, six of the victims had a “sharp object” inserted into their ears. Despite these similarities, not everyone was convinced that the killings were the actions of one individual, or even of one group acting in concert.
It certainly didn’t help that eyewitnesses offered bafflingly divergent accounts. The killer’s complexion was described as being both light and dark, while others called him a “yellow man.” Some said that he wore a slouch hat, while others described him as a man in a dress. Reports also indicated that there may have been more than one killer working together, or even a “gang” of murderers. An editorial in a local paper compared the violence to “a band of Comanche Indians.”
The Servant Girl Annihilator was even credited with magic powers, as some people believed that he could turn himself invisible to evade the dogs outside the houses of his victims.
Newspapers struggled to make sense of this “epidemic of murder.” According to an article in the New York Times from 1885, more than four hundred men were arrested in connection with the case, though there was only ever one conviction.
James Phillips, the husband of one of the last victims, Eula Phillips, was convicted of killing his wife on Christmas Eve, 1885. Attorneys acting in Phillips’ defense asserted that the murder was the work of the Servant Girl Annihilator, and the conviction was later overturned.
So who was this phantom? Like the identity of Jack the Ripper, we may never know for sure. Some believe that it was Nathan Elgin, a 19-year-old cook with a missing toe on his right foot that matched bloody footprints left at one of the crime scenes—a fact that the police had kept from the public at the time. In February of 1886, Elgin dragged a girl from a saloon to a nearby house, where he assaulted her with a knife. The saloon keeper and a neighbor accompanied a police officer to the house, where they shot and killed Elgin.
Others, however, maintain that the similarities between the case of the Servant Girl Annihilator and Jack the Ripper—a fixation on female targets, sexual assault, mutilation and corpse posing—point to the same culprit. Exactly who that person may be is up for some debate. The first theory linking the two sets of killings is thought to have originated in 1888. It has been a source of speculation ever since.
In her 2003 book Jack the Ripper: The American Connection, author Shirley Harrison contends that Jack the Ripper and the Servant Girl Annihilator were both Liverpool cotton merchant James Maybrick, who often traveled to the southern United States for business. Maybrick’s wife ended up poisoning him in 1889, after a tumultuous marriage. In her book, Harrison contends that Maybrick was in Austin when the servant murders took place. She reproduces Maybrick’s own journal entries as proof.
The possible connection has inspired fiction writers, as well. In Ross E. Lockhart’s anthology Tales of Jack the Ripper, author Ed Kurtz used the supposed link between the two sets of killings—and a headline from the 1885 Fort Worth Gazette—as the jumping-off point for a fictional retelling of the Servant Girl Murders in his story “Hell Broke Loose.”
Currently, the relationship between these murders is merely an intriguing possibility, haunting the imaginations of writers, historians, and true crime aficionados. It’s likely that we’ll never know the answer. Just like Jack the Ripper, the case of Austin’s Servant Girl Annihilator remains unsolved.

Can watching Fahrenheit 451 cause your television to catch fire? Sounds farfetched, but no more so than the presence of a fire poltergeist. That’s one of the possibilities being considered in the ongoing investigation of mysterious recurring fires in a home in the Thu Thua district in the Mekong Delta region of Vietnam that have destroyed televisions, radios, phone chargers, clothes, chairs, plastic baskets and many more items. Is this a case of spontaneous plastic combustion? Psychokinesis? Arson? Gas?
According to various Vietnamese media sources, the fires seem to have started on or about May 10 at the home of Nguyen Van An in the low-lying Long An district in southern Vietnam. While An claims this has never happened before, it appears there may also have been mysterious fires occurring in the same village in 2011 at the home of Nguyen Thi Luong. The accounts are similar – while sitting in the house, the family hears crackling and finds a fire … in a closet, in a room, even in front of them.
Because of the frequency of the fires at the home of Nguyen Van An, local government officials called for investigators from the Department of Science and Technology of the Long An province. They reported that the most common items catching fire were made of plastic, not wood, paper or other highly flammable materials. The objects inflamed only during the day and only inside the house or in a back garden. The investigators found no presence of natural or synthetic combustible gases, no radiation and no evidence of accidental combustion due to sunlight passing through glass.
Ruling those things out, that leaves … fire poltergeists? Not yet. Nguyen Van An was suspected of setting the fires to collect insurance, but there was no evidence of arson. Some of the media coverage refers to “superstitions,” “fire invisible god,” “mysterious fires” and “the bad guy spell Cha” (Google Translate is helpful but far from perfect). The website TheFortean.com suggests the cause may be fire poltergeists, which it says are relatively common in Asia, Africa and Middle Eastern countries but rare in the West. While not recently, there have been a number of fires suspected to have been started by poltergeists in the U.S.
Because arson investigation is not a perfect science and fire tends to destroy evidence, mysterious fires that aren’t caused by the equally mysterious spontaneous human combustion are sometimes controversially blamed on paranormal entities. That can be the ghost of someone who died by fire, one who knows how to short out microwaves or electrical equipment, or even a human with the (unproven) power of pyrokinesis – a term coined by Stephen King to describe the ability to start fires with the mind, the plot of his early novel “Firestarter.”
What is causing plastic objects in the home of Nguyen Van An, and possibly others, to seemingly spontaneously burst into flames? Anyone? Anyone? Stephen?

Not much is known about the Harpe brothers before they began their crime spree and it’s hard to separate fact from legend about everything they did. Most likely, they were born in Orange County, North Carolina to a Scottish family, but some accounts say they were actually cousins, Joshua and William Harper, who changed their names when they arrived from Scotland in 1759.
Micajar “Big” Harpe and Wiley “Little” Harpe were said to have fought for the British during the Revolutionary War. It was not for their loyalty to the crown but simply so they could kill and torture people without punishment. Allegedly, the brothers joined a gang of criminals in North Carolina and they raped, stole, burned down properties, and murdered patriot colonists. One account stated that the gang kidnapped, raped, and murdered three teenage girls. A fourth girl that was taken but was rescued by Captain Frank Wood, who managed to wound Little Harpe. This would not be Captain Wood’s last encounter with the brothers.
After the war, the Harpes moved west and settled among the Chickamauga Cherokee people at Nickajack, near Chattanooga, Tennessee. They stayed there for around 12 years, after kidnapping two young women and forcing them to be their wives. The unfortunate girls were Maria Davidson and Susan Wood – Captain Wood’s daughter. The women were treated like animals, beaten, kept in chains, and raped. Some stories say that Maria and Susan became pregnant several times and each time, the brothers murdered the children.
The brothers fled Nickjack in 1794 after word reached their settlement that the authorities had learned of their location. They took the women to Powell’s Valley near Knoxville, where the brothers began robbing and killing settlers who passed through the region. A few years later, the Harpes began their so-called “trail of death” – a killing spree across Tennessee, Kentucky, and Illinois.
In 1797, the brothers were chased out of Knoxville for stealing livestock and for murder and they fled into Kentucky. After several more murders, they earned the attention of law enforcement and after a local innkeeper informed on them, the Harpes were arrested and locked up in Danville, Kentucky. They didn’t stay behind bars for long, though. The managed to escape and before going on the run, murdered the son of the innkeeper who had testified against them. Kentucky Governor James Garrard placed a $300 bounty on their heads.
The Harpes crossed the Ohio River into Illinois – murdered five men along the way – and found refuge with a band of outlaws at Cave-in-Rock. The cave was a stronghold for bandits and river pirates, which were then led by Samuel Mason, who organized raids on the slow flatboats that were traveling down the Ohio River. The Harpes soon introduced even more vile methods of murder to the already violent gang.
Unlike the pirates, the Harpes did not wait until nightfall or the cover of a storm to do their dirty work. They operated boldly in broad daylight. Their most effective method was to appear on the riverbank and flag down passing boats, usually telling them that they had been attacked by Indians, or robbed, and needed help. When the sympathetic travelers came ashore, the Harpes would slaughter them on the spot and raid the boat. Their trademark method of murder was to disembowel their victims, load their stomachs with stones, and then sink the bodies in the river.
As it later turned out, the Harpes were too vile for even the rough outlaws at Cave-in-Rock. After a raid on a flatboat, the sole survivor of the craft was stripped of his clothes, tied onto a blindfolded horse, and run off a cliff while the Harpes watched and howled with delight. The other outlaws who witnessed this were sickened by the brothers’ bloodthirsty entertainment and forced the Harpes and their women to leave.
The murderous brothers, together with their wives and the children they had allowed to live, returned to Tennessee. The murders that have been credited to them continued, including William Ballard, who had been disemboweled and thrown in the Holton River; James Brassel, who had his throat slashed; and John Graves and his teenage son, who were found dead with their heads cleaved in by axes. In Logan County, the Harpes killed a little girl, a young slave, and an entire family they found asleep in their camp.
Then, on August 16, 1798, Big Harpe committed his most vicious crime when he smashed his baby daughter’s head against a tree because her crying annoyed him. Later, he stated that this was the only killing that he felt remorse for. A week later, the brothers embarked on one more terrible murder spree.
The Stegall family in Webster County offered them shelter in their house – unaware that the Harpes were monsters. That night, the brothers killed another guest named Major William Love, the Stegall’s four-month-old child – because he was crying – and Mrs. Stegall, after she began screaming when she discovered her murdered child. The Harpes then set the cabin on fire in an effort to conceal the crime.
John Stegall – the husband and father of the latest Harpes victims – formed a posse with another man, John Leiper. They were determined to hunt down the Harpes and found them on August 24, 1799. When the brothers were told to surrender, they tried to flee. Big Harper was wounded in the chase and was pulled off his horse by John Leiper. He had been shot in the spine and was unable to walk. While Harpe lay dying, the confessed to 20 of the numerous murders that he committed but he never begged for his life. John Stegall produced a knife with which to cut off the killer’s head and Harpe simply growled, “Cut away and be damned.” Big Harpe’s head was placed on a stake and left outside the ruins of the Stegall house as a warning to other outlaws. The area where the homestead was once located is still known as Harpe’s Head Road today.
Little Harpe managed to escape from the posse and he joined back up with Samuel Mason at Cave-in-Rock. He stayed with the gang for four years until he got caught up in a plot to kill Mason. A reward had been placed on Mason’s head – dead or alive – of $1,000.
This was a grand sum on those days, but Harpe didn’t just want the money – he wanted to take over Mason’s criminal enterprise. He contrived to get Mason alone, then Little Harpe buried his tomahawk into his friend’s back. He finished him off and then hacked off Mason’s head. He carried the grisly object off and placed it on the desk of the judge who had been charged with dispensing the reward. The men who were present that day all confirmed that he brought in the head of Samuel Mason but just as the judge was counting out the gold coins in payment, one of the bystanders recognized Little Harpe as an outlaw himself.
He tried to escape, but it was too late. He was captured and hanged in January 1804. His head was placed on a spike along Natchez Road. It was a fitting end to a man who had brought so much terror and fear to the frontier for so many years.

At our recent family reunion in Singapore, I shared with my mother and sisters about YGS when the conversation wandered onto the subject of strange experiences. My younger sister, Cara (all names mentioned have been changed), then revealed that she was sensitive to the spirits as well.
Around 2002, Cara decided to further her studies and get a degree. She and her friend Bea attended university together and they found accommodation in nearby Bedford Park, a southern suburb in Adelaide, South Australia.
The units (flats or apartments) at Bedford Park were built in a basic utilitarian design: four square-shaped units arranged side-by-side like boxes, three stories stacked one above the other in exactly the same way. It wasn’t five-star housing, but the location was close to campus and the rent was reasonable for students on a shoestring budget.
The entrance to their ground-floor unit opened onto the living/dining room, which in turn led on the far right into the master bedroom. A short hallway separated the master from the second bedroom, with the latter having the bathroom on its left. The kitchen was located just beyond the living/dining area, sharing a common wall with the bathroom.
My mother came over from Singapore later that year to spend some time with my sister, who was the youngest to leave the nest. Mum stayed there for a week before flying to Sydney to see me for a few days, and then came back to Adelaide for the remainder of her stay.
While she was there at Bedford Park, Mum helped with taking out the garbage. She did this without incident for an entire week. After she returned from Sydney to Bedford Park, she made her way as usual out the kitchen by the back door to the bin bay area. The little path led past the electrical fuse box on the far wall.
Somehow on this occasion, Mum couldn’t get past the fuse box. It was late afternoon; there was still plenty of light around. She couldn’t see anything there that could be causing the problem, but she was certain that something big was in front of her, blocking her way. Whatever it was, it was not about to let her past. Mystified by this, Mum gave up after a few attempts, deciding to try again another time.
The next morning, she was able to reach the bin bay without any problem. On her way back to the unit, she met the neighbour who lived upstairs with her young daughter. When Mum mentioned her odd experience, the woman’s eyes widened.
‘I’ve felt that same way too!’
Cara agreed with Mum there was something not-quite-right about the whole property. But it was the best she could find at the time and she could not afford the cost of moving. By now, she had the skin-prickling sensation of being watched at all hours of the day or night, especially in the master bedroom, which was hers. She had the clear impression of resentment, and that someone or something was really unhappy at having them there.
Cara found herself staying away from the living room unless Bea was with her. A tree grew outside the living room window; its leafy foliage obscured part of the natural light coming in from the street. She thought it had an odd “cold spot”; it was always exceptionally cooler in temperature from the rest of the place, even during the heat of summer. She and her flatmate, Bea, spent many hours checking all the doors, windows, nooks and crannies for areas where drafts could be possibly have sneaked in. But there wasn’t even a crack.
Bea proved to be even more sensitive than Cara to the nuances around the unit. She had chosen the smaller second room as being less “unsettled” of the two, but she soon felt so troubled in the place that she asked her parents for help. Bea’s parents asked the pastor at their church to cleanse and bless the unit. The uneasiness didn’t exactly disappear for either of them, but it calmed down noticeably for a while. But gradually over time, the strangeness began to build up again.
Then my sister woke up in the middle of the night with the weirdest feeling that someone was calling her. Cara sat up in bed and saw a shadow standing at the foot of her bed. From the width of the shoulders and the height, she had the impression it was a tall male figure looking down at her with a puzzled air and some curiosity.
Cara had the distinct thought in her mind that she knew came from this shadow man: ‘Who are you and why are you doing here?’
So she thought right back at it: ‘But I live here now.’
At her reply, the shadow man disappeared.
Fully awake now and quite unnerved, Cara got out of bed and turned on all the lights. She promptly did a search all through her bedroom, flinging open the cupboards, looking under the bed, everywhere she could think of. But she didn’t find a thing.
In the days, months and years after that encounter, Cara would still get the occasional fleeting glimpse of a long shadow out of the corner of her eyes. But the disturbing feelings of being warned away subsided.
Cara ended up staying there for a total of seven years. There was no further episode with the shadow man. She and Bea got used to sensing the other flatmate simply as a quiet presence in the background.

For many years Dr Crippen was a name that would make the blood run cold. Once the star exhibit of Madame Tussaud’s Chamber of Horrors, the infamous murderer has become a byword for cold eyed evil.
His case became famous because of the global communications age, with Crippen becoming the first fugitive from justice to be captured with the aid of the then new wireless telegraph.
Hawley Harvey Crippen was an American homeopath living in London, charged in 1910 with murdering his wife Cora. His capture, trial, conviction and execution were played out on newspaper front pages around the world.
The Doctor’s reserved, emotionless demeanour convinced readers of his guilt, and at his death by hanging in November that year he had few defenders.
Crippen’s trial was one of the first to centre around the embryonic discipline of forensic pathology, with the prosecution presenting seemingly incontrovertible scientific evidence of his guilt.
The story begins with the disappearance of Crippen’s wife Cora after a dinner party at their home in January 1910. When police questioned the Doctor about his wife’s whereabouts he first told them she had moved back to America, where she had then died. Later he changed his story, claiming she had actually returned to America to live with her lover, music hall actor Bruce Miller.
Hawley Crippen was, by all accounts, the classic henpecked husband, constantly undermined by his overbearing, flamboyant wife. Cora was often openly unfaithful to Hawley, taking a string of younger lovers and flaunting the fact in public. Crippen himself had also taken a lover, secretary Ethel Le Neve, in response to his wife’s infidelity. The motive for murder was as old as the hills.
With the police sniffing around, Crippen and his mistress went on the run, believing it was only a matter time before they were arrested. Their disappearance led to further searches of the house, culminating in the discovery of a horror show in the coal cellar – a mass of rotting dismembered human flesh wrapped in a pair of old pyjamas.
Pioneering forensic pathologist Bernard Spilsbury determined the remains to be of Crippen’s wife Cora, by matching surgery marks on a piece of still intact skin. Spilsbury also found traces of the drug hyoscine in the flesh, which police discovered Crippen had purchased shortly before Cora’s disappearance.
Things looked bad for Hawley Harvey Crippen, exacerbated by his decision to leave the country. Attempting to abscond to Canada aboard the SS Montrose, the couple posed as father and son, with the diminutive Ethel disguised as a boy.
The ship’s captain Henry George Kendall, aware that Scotland yard were pursuing the pair, had seen through Ethel’s paltry disguise and used the ship’s brand new Marconi wireless telegraph to radio his suspicions to the authorities: “Have strong suspicions that Crippen London cellar murderer and accomplice are among saloon passengers. Accomplice dressed as boy. Manner and build undoubtedly a girl.”
Inspector Walter Dew of Scotland Yard boarded a faster ship to Quebec and was waiting with the Canadian police to arrest Crippen and Le Neve as the SS Montrose arrived in the harbour. This apprehension, using wireless communications, was an historical first in 1910.
The subsequent trial at the Old Bailey was dominated by the new science of forensics, with Crippen himself showing little emotion or remorse during the proceedings. The jury swiftly found him guilty and on the 22nd October Justice Richard Everard Webster donned a black cap to deliver his damning verdict.
“Hawley Harvey Crippen, you have been convicted, upon evidence which could leave no doubt on the minds of any reasonable men, that you cruelly poisoned your wife, that you concealed your crime, you mutilated her body, and disposed piecemeal of her remains.
On the ghastly and wicked nature of the crime I will not dwell”, the judge added, before delivering the ultimate punishment of death by hanging. Crippen was subsequently executed at Pentonville jail on November 23rd, his only request to be buried with a photograph of Ethel.
Whilst few questioned the Doctor’s guilt, some aspects of the case were strange. The remains found in the basement of the Crippens house were missing the head, limbs and skeleton. Why had Crippen gone to the trouble of dismembering and disposing of his wife’s body elsewhere only to leave part of it in his own home?
These curiosities aside, it wasn’t until 2007 that a serious challenge to the longstanding belief in Crippen’s guilt emerged. Like most people, forensic toxicologist John Trestrail had heard the name Dr Crippen, but it wasn’t until he learnt of the details of the case that alarm bells started to ring.
Cora Crippen’s murder contained one feature so unusual that Trestrail had never encountered it before in over 20 years of practise. According to the prosecution pathologist Bernard Spilsbury, the cause of death was poison, yet Crippen was also accused of dismembering the body.
For Trestrail, this made no sense. Murderers invariably chose poison to kill their victims because they want to pass the death off as natural or an accident. So why dismember the body?
Trestrail’s investigation pushed Crippen’s descendants to commission new tests on the piece of tissue Spilsbury had used to identify the body. The results were a bombshell – the DNA extracted from the remains was not from Cora.
Was Dr Crippen, a man whose name has become synonymous with murder, innocent after all?
For forensic toxicologist John Trestrail, the Crippen case was an anomaly. As a veteran of hundreds of FBI cases, and the author of standard textbooks on the subject, Crippen’s mutilation of a victim he had also poisoned was something he had never seen before.
“A poisoner wants the death to appear natural so he can get a death certificate. This is the only case I know of where the victim was dismembered. It doesn’t make sense.”
If Crippen was the culprit, then he had essentially filleted his wife’s body, leaving nothing but a tangled mess of flesh and skin hidden beneath a slab in his cellar. Gone entirely were Cora’s head, limbs, skeleton and sex organs.
The grisly treatment of Cora’s corpse raises the obvious question as to whether someone as timid as Crippen could have done something so horrific. But more crucially, why did he?
Having successfully disposed of the majority of his wife’s body, indeed none of the other body parts have ever been found, why did Crippen leave these small scraps wrapped up in a pair of pyjamas where they would surely be discovered?
The strangeness of this behaviour has led some to speculate that Crippen was framed by the police, although there appears little other evidence or even motive for this to be the case. Clearly if Cora had later turned up alive, it would have been incredibly damaging for Spilsbury and the police to have staked their reputation on the belief that she was buried in Crippen’s cellar.
Those remains did contain a piece of skin featuring what Spilsbury identified as a surgery scar. This scar was found to be consistent with a 4 inch scar Cora had from an operation on her abdomen some years previously.
In the pre-CSI era and to a jury unused to forensic evidence, Spilsbury’s findings looked incredibly persuasive, so much so that it took them just 27 minutes to return a guilty verdict at the trial.
Spilsbury was a brilliant man whose findings during his lifetime were rarely challenged. However, working with primitive equipment at the infancy of forensics, some of his conclusions look somewhat less impressive to modern eyes.
A modern day forensic scientist, David Foran of Michigan State University, believes Spilsbury was overreaching in his evidence at the Crippen trial and the ‘surgery scar’ was nothing more than a fold of skin, something the defense at the trial had argued to little avail.
Foran believes the marks on the skin are simply natural folds because of the visible hair follicles present on the surface, something that would not be the case if it was scar tissue.
Trestrail was also sceptical about the poison Crippen was supposed to have used, a common sedative and depressant named hyoscine that he’d never seen used in any other poisoning case in the literature.
With hyoscine so rare in poisoning cases and toxicology still primitive in 1910, Trestrail believes the prosecution’s team would not even have searched for, let alone found the presence of the drug in the remains.
Several theories have been posited about the presence of hyoscine in the body recovered from Crippen’s cellar. Renowned barrister Edward Marshall Hall thought Crippen may have been using hyoscine on his wife as a sexual depressant, due to her promiscuity, and had accidentally given her an overdose.
If the theory is true, it still leaves us with the conundrum of why Crippen had disposed of his wife’s body in two locations, electing to leave lumps of flesh in his own cellar. Nobody has ever provided a convincing motive for Crippen’s actions in this regard, and it remains a tantalising mystery at the heart of the case.
Whilst the evidence used to convict Dr Crippen at his trial now looks speculative at best, Trestrail’s trump card is something undreamt of in the days of Bernard Spilsbury – DNA.
Spurred on by his investigation, Trestrail enlisted forensic biologist David Foran to conduct DNA tests on a sample of skin tissue preserved from Spilsbury’s original 1910 slides at the Royal London Hospital.
Trestrail had used genealogists to meticulously unravel Cora Crippen’s convoluted family tree in the hope of finding modern day relatives, and eventually found Marie Hamel, a 64 year Californian living quietly in a suburb of Los Angeles.
Foran’s team at the forensic biology lab at Michigan State University compared a DNA swab provided by Hamel against DNA from the century old Royal hospital samples only to come to a startling conclusion that threatened to turn one of crimes most famous cases on its head.
The skin Spilsbury had used all those years ago to send Dr Crippen to the gallows was not from Cora Crippen. In fact, the DNA wasn’t even female. With one fell swoop both the central case against Crippen – that he had murdered his wife, and rumours that he may have been conducting illegal backstreet abortions, crumbled.
Foran’s results have come under fire but he stands firm against criticism that the samples were too old to reliably test. “A slide in a museum is a pretty nice way to preserve DNA. Compare that to bones that have been in the ground for thousands of years.” He stated, “There was a lot more DNA work that showed unequivocally that the remains were male”.
Other critics believe that the modern day relatives of Cora may not actually be blood relations, thus nullifying the results, although this is something denied by Marie Hamel, who is the granddaughter of Cora’s half-sister Bertha Mersinger.
Assuming the DNA findings are correct, the results have led to speculation that Crippen may have murdered one of Cora’s lovers or even that he was some undiscovered Edwardian serial killer.
Whatever the truth, the DNA evidence suggested that even if Crippen had killed Cora, he had not buried her remains at Hilldrop Crescent.
In light of the circumstantial evidence against him, and with such an obvious motive for murder, Crippen’s explanation for his wife’s disappearance always looked unbelievable.
However, some tantalizing hints do exist that suggests the possibility he was telling the truth. Most of these were suppressed at the trial for fear they might damage the case against the Doctor, but have been rediscovered over the years by researchers into the enduring case.
One statement obtained by the police, not used at the trial, was from a cab driver who testified that two weeks before Cora’s disappearance he had helped a woman matching her description carry six steamer trunks from the house at Hilldrop Crescent.
Similar evidence that around the same time Cora may have tried to withdraw a large sum of money from the Crippen deposit account was also not followed up.
Several letters were sent to Crippen at Pentonville prison from a woman claiming to be Cora, one stating “I don’t want to be responsible for your demise if I can save you in this way, but I will never come forward personally, as I am happy now.”
Whilst it’s generally thought these letters are hoaxes, an all too common hindrance in many high profile criminal case, they were never passed on to Crippen’s defense and so were not investigated further to determine their provenance.
If the forensic case against Dr Crippen now looks decidedly unsound, the circumstantial one remains as strong as ever. Crippen’s lies, suspicious behavior, his flight from justice and his refusal to talk are all redolent of some kind of guilt. But was it of his wife’s murder?
Shortly after Cora’s disappearance had become noticed, Crippen started to claim that his wife had returned to the United States. He would later write to her friends saying that Cora had unfortunately been taken ill and passed away.
This naturally aroused suspicion. Why had Cora not written to her friends herself, or told them she was returning to America? Suspicion only grew when Crippen moved his mistress Ethel Le Neve into his house, and she begun to openly wear Cora’s clothing and jewelry.
After a few weeks had passed, and the whispers about Crippen had become louder, Chief Inspector Dew of the Metropolitan Police called by to question the Doctor about his wife’s absence.
Crippen admitted to Dew that he had made up the entire story about his wife’s death out of embarrassment because she had in fact eloped to Chicago with one of her lovers from the music hall.
Having made Dew his confidente about this delicate matter, the Detective was inclined to believe Crippen. A subsequent search of the house revealed nothing and Dew elected to drop the matter.
What Hawley Crippen did next did not look like the actions of an innocent man. Scenting that the police may not believe him, he and Ethel fled the country, taking the ferry to Brussels before moving on to Antwerp where they boarded the SS Montrose for their ill fated voyage to Canada.
Would a man entirely innocent of wrongdoing really have upturned his whole life to become a fugitive? It’s impossible to know what was going on in Crippen’s mind at this time, but his actions almost look tantamount to a confession.
The case against Dr Crippen looked open-and-shut. Shortly after his wife vanished without trace, body parts are found in his cellar. At the first sign of the police, he fled the country. Any prosecution would have successfully won the case against him on circumstantial evidence alone.
For their part, Crippen’s defense attempted to argue the human remains had predated their client’s residence at Hilldrop Crescent, and must have been deposited there by a previous tenant. However, the prosecution would soon thwart Crippen’s last chance of escaping the gallows.
Crippen’s trial at the old Bailey lasted just five days. Faced with a barrage of damning evidence against their client, the defense countered with the argument that the body buried under the coal cellar was not Cora and had been left there before the couple had moved into the house.
This line of defense looked futile from the off. Hawley and Cora Crippen had moved into the house at Hilldrop Crescent in 1905, and the body was discovered in 1910. Could the couple really have lived there for more than five years unaware that a putrefying corpse was buried in a shallow grave in their ground floor coal cellar?
Crippen’s hopes were comprehensively dashed when fragments of a pyjama top found amongst the flesh was traced back to a local firm of shirtmakers from the still intact label which read ‘Jones Bros (Holloway) Ltd’.
An employee from the firm was called to testify who confirmed to the courtroom that Jones Bros had not become a limited company until 1906, the year after Crippen had moved into the house. This put to bed any doubt that whoever was buried in the cellar had been put there before Crippen was a resident.
But in order to be sure of the conviction, the prosecution had to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it was specifically Cora, and not some other unfortunate who had somehow met a grim fate in the Crippen cellar.
The scar Bernard Spilsbury had found on a piece of skin was the most obvious connection, matching as it did a surgery scar Cora was known to have. Also strewn amongst the remains were three Hindes hair curlers of the type Cora was known to use, wrapped in brownish blond hair that matched the Doctor’s missing wife.
To round off the case against Crippen, the prosecution produced evidence from an Oxford Street chemist that Crippen had purchased a large quantity of the drug hyoscine – he claimed as an ingredient for his homemade patent medicines, a fortnight before Cora’s disappearance. This was the very toxic substance prosecution toxicologist William Wilcox had detected in the remains from the coal cellar.
Given the weight of evidence against him, the jury at the trial really had little choice but to send Crippen to the gallows. Back in 1910 the criminal justice system enacted it’s verdicts with startling haste, and just a month after his sentencing Crippen was hung.
Ethel Le Neve was tried separately and acquitted of been an accessory after the fact, after which she emigrated to America and disappeared from the public eye. The case, however, has never left the public conscience and even inspired a popular song of the era:
Dr Crippen killed Belle Elmore Ran away with Miss le Neve Right across the ocean blue Followed by Inspector Dew Ship’s ahoy, naughty boy!
Whether Dr. Crippen deserves his reputation as one of history’s most notorious murders is debatable. The case may have become one of countless obscure domestic murders if not for the novelty of Crippen’s capture and the gruesome nature of the crime.
The Doctor’s presence amongst other infamous murderers in the chilling Chamber of Horrors at Madame Tussauds, and his depiction in fiction have also done much to secure his place in the public imagination.
Today, modern forensics has raised serious doubts about the identity of the victim in the coal cellar. On one hand we have 1910 era CSI and an iron-clad circumstantial case, on the other we have seemingly incontrovertible DNA evidence that the body was not Crippen’s wife.
The two are not entirely irreconcilable. Even if Dr Crippen’s unlikely story about Cora was true, and he did not murder her, he was surely responsible for someone’s death. But Crippen never talked, and whatever secrets lurked in the gloom of that dank cellar went with him to his grave.

On September 2, 1935, the Labor Day Hurricane slammed into the Florida Keys, obliterating everything in its path and sweeping scores of men, women, and children out to sea. At least 423 people died in the Category 5 storm, though no one knows just how many perished. Even today, lost victims’ skeletal remains occasionally surface, along with whispered tales of ghosts.
In 1935, the only way in and out the Keys was by boat or by rail. As the storm drew near, escape by boat was impossible, and nearly 1,000 people found themselves trapped. A rescue train braved the pounding wind and rain, but was overcome when it stopped to help the stranded. The train cars quickly flooded, and many of the people who thought themselves saved were drowned or swept away. For years after the disaster, reports of a phantom train plagued the area.
“The Key West Extension of the Florida East Coast Railway was never rebuilt after the storm, but in the early 1940s, weird events began to be experienced along the old line,” reports American Hauntings Ink. “The sound of a steam engine and a train whistle could sometimes be heard later at night and occasionally, a headlight could be seen silently rolling by in the early hours of the morning.”
The phantom train isn’t the only hurricane-related haunting. Legend has it the victims’ tortured spirits roam the swamps at night, searching for help that never comes. The hunched figures reportedly stagger in the same direction before fading back into the darkness, only to repeat their fruitless march another night.
Do you think victims of the Labor Day Hurricane haunt Key West to this day? Or are the stories nothing more than remnants from the tragic past?

STORYY ==========
At more than 300 pounds, Nathaniel Bar-Jonah cut an intimidating figure in the small Montana town of Great Falls. But few in Great Falls knew just how frightened they truly should have been.
Bar-Jonah had moved to Great Falls from Massachusetts, where he had just finished a long sentence for the sexual assault and attempted murder of a young boy. And in this sleepy town at the edge of the Rockies, he would strike again.
But now, he had a taste for human flesh.
Nathaniel Bar-Jonah was born David Paul Brown in Worcester, Mass. in 1957, and there were early signs that he wasn’t a normal child.
In 1964, Bar-Jonah received an Ouija board for his seventh birthday. Using the promise of trying the board out, he lured a five-year-old neighbor into his basement. There, he tried to strangle her. Luckily, the girl’s screams alerted Bar-Jonah’s mother, who ran downstairs and forced him to let her go.
His mother likely assumed that the boy didn’t know what he was doing, and nothing came of the incident. But in 1970, Bar-Jonah decided to try again.
Promising another neighbor, a six-year-old boy, that they could go sledding, Bar-Jonah lured the child to a secluded area. He then sexually assaulted him.
This became a pattern for Nathaniel Bar-Jonah. But as he grew older, he developed a more sophisticated technique to gain access to victims.
In 1975, Bar-Jonah approached an eight-year-old boy on his way to school. Claiming to be a police officer, Bar-Jonah lured the boy into his car, where he began to sexually assault and strangle him.
Luckily for the boy, a neighbor looking out their window saw the boy being abducted and called the police. Bar-Jonah was arrested but was only sentenced to a year’s probation.
The light sentence emboldened Bar-Jonah, and three years later, he abducted another two boys from a movie theatre after claiming to be a police officer and telling them they were under arrest. He handcuffed the boys before taking them to a secluded area and molesting them.
Trying to silence a potential witness, Bar-Jonah began strangling one of the children. When he was convinced that the boy was dead, he put the other victim in his trunk and drove away.
Luckily, the boy had actually survived the attack and ran to get help. Bar-Jonah was soon found by the police with the other victim still in his trunk. This time, Bar-Jonah was charged with attempted murder and sentenced to 18-20 years in prison.
While in prison, Bar-Jonah began meeting with a psychiatrist. After hearing him describe his fantasies, which revolved around murdering, dissecting, and eventually eating children, the psychiatrist recommended that he be moved to a mental hospital.
But in 1991, a judge concurred with psychiatric evaluations that had somehow found him to not be a dangerous threat. Inexplicably, the judge agreed to release Bar-Jonah on probation if he moved to Montana to live with his mother, though it was recommended that he seek psychiatric help.
Just days after being released, Bar-Jonah spotted a seven-year-old boy sitting in a parked car. He forced his way into the car and tried to smother the boy by sitting on top of him. Luckily, Bar-Jonah was stopped by the boy’s mother and quickly arrested.
Somehow, after the arrest, no one from the Massachusetts court followed up with the probation officers in Montana, to which Bar-Jonah had quickly fled. This allowed Bar-Jonah to melt into the local community. By now, he had changed his name from David Brown to Nathaniel Benjamin Levi Bar-Jonah, claiming that he wanted to know what it felt like to live with the persecution that Jewish people experienced (he alternatively claimed that he had always been Jewish, and the actual truth may never be known for sure).
But despite the name change, he had changed little else about himself.
In 1996, 10-year-old Zachary Ramsay disappeared on his way to school. His parents filed a missing person report, but the local police department wasn’t used to this sort of crime. With few leads, the case went cold.
Meanwhile, Nathaniel Bar-Jonah was living in a nearby apartment complex. There, he’d secretly been luring young boys from the area inside his apartment before sexually assaulting them. He’d even installed a pulley from the ceiling where he hung at least one of them by the neck.
Yet these crimes went undiscovered for years. One woman grew suspicious after her child suddenly became withdrawn and angry after spending time with Bar-Jonah, but no one thought that someone in Great Falls could be molesting children.
And no one suspected that Bar-Jonah was a murderer.
But other neighbors did notice that the food Bar-Jonah made for them was full of strange meat that they couldn’t identify. When asked, Bar-Jonah claimed that it had come from a deer he shot, though no one knew Bar-Jonah to ever go hunting.
In 1999, he was arrested outside a local elementary school carrying a fake gun and dressed as a police officer. At first, the charge was simply impersonating a police officer. But when the police searched Bar-Jonah’s home, they made a shocking discovery.
Inside Nathaniel Bar-Jonah’s home, investigators discovered thousands of photos of children cut from magazines and a bizarre journal written in code. Even more importantly for the investigation, they also found a piece of human bone.
The journal was sent to the FBI to be decoded while the police began looking into the possibility that Bar-Jonah had murdered Ramsay. Meanwhile, other neighbors now came forward with allegations that Bar-Jonah had been molesting their children, and Bar-Jonah was quickly charged with kidnapping and sexual assault.
By the time the trial began, the FBI had decoded Bar-Jonah’s journal. Inside, he described his obsession with torturing and murdering children. There was also a list of 22 names. Eight of them were known to be Nathaniel Bar-Jonah’s earlier victims. Many of the rest were local children. The others were never identified.
Even more disturbingly, the diary detailed his plans to cook and eat children. “Barbequed Kid,” “Sex A La Carte,” “My Little Kid Dessert”, “Little Boy Stew,” “Little Boy Pot Pies,” and “Lunch is Served on the Patio with Roasted Child,” were all entries in Bar-Jonah’s twisted writings.
Taken with the meat grinder that police found in Bar-Jonah’s home, the writings raised a dark suspicion.
Thinking of the strange meals Bar-Jonah had fed them, his neighbors began to wonder if Bar-Jonah had murdered Ramsay and fed them his flesh. But Bar-Jonah denied that he’d killed Ramsay at all. And there was never enough evidence to prove these allegations of cannibalism one way or the other, though there’s more than enough circumstantial evidence to make one wonder.
That said, there wasn’t even enough evidence to substantiate the claim that Bar-Jonah had murdered Ramsay in the first place. And after the boy’s mother claimed that she didn’t think he did it, the charges were dropped.
Instead, Bar-Jonah was sentenced to 130 years in prison for the molestation charges. Others in town wanted to take their own form of justice. One resident told the press that if Bar-Jonah were released, “His life wouldn’t be worth a plug nickel around here.”
But no one would ever get the chance to kill Nathaniel Bar-Jonah. He was found dead in his cell in 2008. Morbidly obese, he died from cardiovascular disease.
To this day, no one is sure how many people Nathaniel Bar-Jonah killed. He is as a possible suspect in several murders in Massachusetts, Wyoming, and Montana, but none have ever been conclusively solved.

In the world of paranormal research, there are two distinct types non-corporeal creatures — ghosts and shadow people. In many instances, it can be nearly impossible to tell the differences between ghosts and shadow people, but after some exhaustive research into these scary monsters and super creeps, here’s a handy guide to help you figure out whether you’re dealing with an energy-sucking shadow creature or a full-bodied apparition.
Are ghosts and shadow people the same things? It’s a question that’s bogged down believers in the supernatural for a long time. While they both share similarities, they’re definitely not the same thing. Not only are there different classes of shadow people, but the types of ghosts that you’re likely to bump into aren’t anything like the ominous figures cut by a shadow person. The following guidelines will teach you how to know if you saw a ghost or a shadow person lurking in your room and what to do about it.
Paranormal experts have been debating for decades about whether or not ghosts can actually understand what’s happening around them or if they’re simply going through the motions of a past life. It’s believed that ghostly apparitions are simply the residual energy left over when a person dies, meaning that while you may be able to see them they can’t see or interact with you.
On the other hand, shadow people are sometimes corporeal beings who are, at best, believed to be from another dimension, and at their worst they may be demonic in nature. People who have had interactions with shadow people believe that the creatures make conscious decisions for how they’ll treat a person, something that a ghost can’t do.
One of the many stark differences between a ghost and shadow person is that ghosts used to be a physical person, while shadow people have always been the creepy crawlies that come to you when you sleep. No one knows why the residual energy released when humans die creates ghosts for some people and not for others, but it very well may have something to do with that person having unfinished business on the corporeal plain.
Shadow people have always existed. Whether they’re from another dimension, a time traveler, or a demonic entity, it’s believed that these creatures are fully aware of what they’re doing.
If you’ve never been visited by a ghost or a shadow person, your first experience with either can be terrifying and confusing. How do you know with which type of entity you’re dealing? When it comes to ghosts, there are a few different types of entities that you can encounter. There are ghosts with “interactive” personalities, like Bruce Willis at the end of The Sixth Sense or a Civil War battlefield ghost, but there are also ectoplasmic mists that are just as visible as interactive full body apparitions.
Aside from the two visible, and easily recognizable types of ghosts there are poltergeists, or “noisy ghosts,” which are essentially pure energy. You’re most likely to experience one of these if you have a teenager in the home or a large amount of pent-up negative energy. They knock things down, break windows, etc. Finally, there are orbs and the swirling bits of light that are most commonly seen in photographs.
Shadow people, though, are usually described as being tall and “human-like,” but as if their bodies are made of shadows rather than flesh and blood. The most notable shadow person is the “Hat Man,” who’s been appearing since at least 2001 since he was discussed on Art Bell’s Coast to Coast AM. It’s been theorized that “Hat Man” is a separate phenomena from shadow people, even though he appears in the same way as the rest of his creepy brethren.
Trying to determine the intentions of a ghost is nearly impossible. You might find, depending on what type of paranormal phenomenon with which you’re dealing, that the ghost doesn’t have any intentions. If you have a poltergeist in the home, it’s taking cues from you or whomever’s negative energy helped manifest the creature, and it’s going to keep doing what it’s doing until you cleanse the home. If you’re dealing with an interactive ghost it could be reenacting something from its life over and over without any ill intent towards you, despite the negative ramifications of a ghost clanging and banging around your house.
The intent of a shadow creature is nothing but malicious. Since the first report of a shadow person there haven’t been any claims of one of these creatures doing anything positive whatsoever. Many paranormal experts believe that shadow people want to feed off of your negative energy and fear.
An interesting theory posited about shadow people is that they’re likely aware of other types of paranormal creatures and that they feed off them the same way that they feed off of humans. If a spirit or an entity is trapped in a particularly haunted location (meaning that it’s rich in negative energy) then it’s likely that a shadow person (or shadow people) are aware of this location and use it as a feeding ground.
It’s been theorized that shadow people prefer the fresh negative energy of someone that they’ve trapped, but the residual energy of an entity trapped in its own torment for eternity is probably just as good.
While no one knows exactly why shadow people exist, one interesting idea is that they’re similar to poltergeists, meaning that humans create them from their own negative energy. While most ghosts are created through outside means (murder, suicide, etc.), a poltergeist tends to be created when someone with a lot of pent-up negative energy becomes a vessel for their awful feelings. This is usually done subconsciously, although you could probably manifest a poltergeist or shadow person if you tried hard enough.
If you believe that you’ve created a shadow person on accident then your best bet is to try and clear all of the negative energy in your life. Start meditating, cleanse your apartment, do whatever you’ve got to do to stop feeding that horrible creature.
The most out-there theory about shadow people posits that they aren’t technically ghosts or creatures of any kind, but rather they’re people who are having out-of-body experiences. Some paranormal researchers believe that our consciousnesses leave our body while we sleep and allow us to “show ourselves” to other people who are tuned into our frequency. This differentiates shadow people from ghosts in a major way because it means that shadow people aren’t even dead.
It could be argued that if our consciousness leaves our bodies while we sleep that they’re technically the “ghosts” of the living, although it’s likely that we’ll never be able to determine if this is actually what’s happening.
While shadow people could be a figurative shadow of a person who’s still alive, spiritual medium James Van Praagh claims that actual ghosts are usually what’s left of a person who can’t move on past the mortal plane of existence. Sometimes they just can’t accept that they’re dead.
One of the things that ghosts and shadow people have in common is that they’re drawn to negative energy and people who are spiritually open. The main difference in this scenario is why ghosts and shadow people are drawn to someone. Ghosts may simply be making themselves visible to you because you’re open, or something happened to you at a young age that made you a magnet for spiritual activity.
While shadow people are also drawn to someone who’s open, it tends to be a more malicious reason. They want to feed off of you in one way or another. If they can feed off your fear when you see them, great. If they can feed off the entities around you and the fear that creates, that’s also good.
No one knows exactly what ghosts or shadow people are. While they can both take on the characteristics of a human, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are or were human at one time or another. Some paranormal researchers believe that ghosts and shadow people are both creatures from another dimension and that they’re simply manifesting in different ways.
Some scientists believe that alternate dimensions exist directly next to ours, it’s just their vibrations are slightly off. It’s possible that shadow creatures and ghosts are actually entities from another dimension that are somehow bleeding through to our own.
Whether you’ve found yourself haunted by a ghost or a shadow person, there are a few things you can do to get rid of both entities. Unfortunately, clearing your home of an extreme haunting is harder than it sounds. Since ghosts tend to be residual energy you could always try to ignore them and wait around for the haunting to disperse. Although in the case of a poltergeist the haunting could increase if you ignore it.
Paranormal researcher Loyd Auerbach says that telling the ghost or shadow person to leave tends to work if you’re forceful enough. However, if you engage the creature and you waver you could end up with an even larger haunting that you had. If you can swing it, have paranormal expert come out and sage the haunted area – that should do the trick.

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