“APOLLO 20 AND CRASHED ALIENS ON THE MOON” and More Disturbing But True Stories! #WeirdDarkness
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IN THIS EPISODE: (Dark Archives episode with stories from October 8-9, 2018) *** Did a secret Apollo mission to the dark side of the Moon discover an ancient alien life-form? (Apollo 20: Journey Into Darkness) *** It’s been 12 years since Jennifer Kesse disappeared from her Florida home without a trace. What happened to her? We’ll look inside this case that is still a mystery. (Inside The Unsolved Disappearance of Jennifer Keese) *** In 1894, a massive fire broke out in the forests of Minnesota, killing more than 400 people. Do their ghosts remain behind with the ashes? (Under a Flaming Sky) *** A teenager tells how ghosts are just part of day-to-day living for her family. (Ghosts – A Part of Life) *** One of the most well-known explorers, Christopher Columbus, had a signature that was so perplexing that most scholars believe it is a secret code of some kind – and so far, an unbreakable code at that. (The Secret Code Signature of Christopher Columbus) *** Some victims died because they happened to leave their doors unlocked. Others had been methodically stalked. How do serial killers choose their victims? We’ll look at the methods of nine of the most notorious serial killers in history. (How Do Serial Killers Select Their Victims?) *** When Jeffrey Dampier won the lottery, he thought he finally had it all. Little did he know that someone was about to take everything from him. (No Good Deed Goes Unpunished) *** They found Annie stretched out on the floor with a pistol lying by her hand. There was no sign of a struggle and nothing had been taken; they could only conclude that Annie had taken her own life. But is that really what happened? (The Annie Dorman Mystery) *** When you think of seeing a ghost, you almost automatically envision an ethereal being, in flowing white – like that of a woman in a wedding dress. And that might make sense, seeing as there are a lot of dead brides-to-be floating around America. (Til Death: Ghost Brides of the United States) *** You’ve seen them on the outside of large gothic buildings and massive churches. Their stone faces and menacing presence can be unsettling to some. But what are the purpose of gargoyles? (In The Protection of Gargoyles) *** Were Betty and Barney Hill actually visited and even abducted by aliens in 1961, or was it an outlandish story just to get attention? (The Betty and Barney Hill Abduction) *** The village of Trasmoz in Spain is said to be cursed by witches. Could there be a truth in the lore? (The Cursed Village of Witches)
MENTIONED LINKS IN THE EPISODE…
CRIME LINE FLORIDA: https://twitter.com/OrlandoPolice/status/956119157296136193
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STORY AND MUSIC CREDITS/SOURCES…
(Note: Over time links can and may become invalid, disappear, or have different content.)
“Ghosts – A Part of Life” by M. Lynch: https://tinyurl.com/wnprlzs
“Under a Flaming Sky” by Troy Taylor: https://tinyurl.com/rdkxpyo
“Apollo 20: Journey Into Darkness” posted at The Unredacted: https://tinyurl.com/yx4suc9q
“The Secret Code Signature of Christopher Columbus” by Jenny Kile: https://tinyurl.com/uxmyym2
“How Do Serial Killers Select Their Victims” from The Line Up: http://ow.ly/S6aw30m9rAC
“Inside The Unsolved Disappearance of Jennifer Kesse” by Joel Stice: https://tinyurl.com/uyjw9f4 ***CRIME LINE FLORIDA: https://tinyurl.com/tsqwqej
“The Cursed Village of Witches” by Brent Swancer: https://tinyurl.com/yx3xu2jn
“Til Death: Ghost Brides of the United States”: https://tinyurl.com/w9lsovt
“No Good Deed Goes Unpunished” by Wyatt Redd: https://tinyurl.com/uylol76
“The Annie Dorman Mystery” by Robert Wilhelm: https://tinyurl.com/y9fk5rr4
“The Betty and Barney Hill Abduction” by Les Hewitt: https://tinyurl.com/ruf5rcq
“In The Protection of Gargoyles” by A. Sutherland: https://tinyurl.com/ux8pcfk
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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
Official history tells is that the last time man ever went to the Moon was in December 1972, when Apollo 17 astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt spent a record breaking three days on the lunar surface.
But more Apollo missions were originally planned — Apollo 18, 19 and 20 having already begun construction or in the latter planning stages when they were cancelled in 1972, a combination of declining public interest and budget cuts making the once prestigious moon program fall out of favour in Washington.
Science fiction can speculate on what would have happened if these programs had gone ahead. Perhaps we would have habitable colonies on the Moon today, or staging posts for trips to Mars. And maybe we would have explored the dark side of the Moon, long rumoured to contain remnants of an ancient alien civilization.
In 2007, a mysterious figure took to video sharing website Youtube with evidence that this incredible scenario was not speculative fiction, but a clandestine fact, one hidden from the world to protect the truth about what they had found on Earth’s closest neighbour.
A user calling himself retiredafb posted a number of videos purporting to be footage of a secret Apollo 20 mission, jointly manned by US and Soviet astronauts, that took place in August 1976.
Retiredafb identified himself as William Rutledge, a now elderly and retired Nasa astronaut, in exile in Rwanda, who took part in the secret Apollo 20 mission alongside fellow astronauts Leona Marietta Snyder and Alexei Leonov.
According to Rutledge, Apollo 20’s mission was to explore the polar region of the Moon, on its dark side, to investigate images supposedly taken by Apollo 15 of the area which showed what appeared to be a vast ancient city and a huge, miles-long crashed spacecraft.
Rutledge’s footage would be astonishing if true, as it shows both the alien city and a flyover of the cigar-shaped spaceship. The videos then cut to the Apollo 20 crew actually exploring the interior of the crashed ship, and perhaps most amazingly of all discovering the body of a human-like alien.
Dubbed ‘Mona Lisa’ by the astronauts, the body appeared to have been that of a young woman, partially mummified with a thin layer of a waxy substance covering its skin. She appeared to be locked into the controls of the spacecraft by a device connected to her eyes and nose.
In an interview with Italian journalist Luca Scantamburlo, Rutledge went into more details about their discovery of Mona Lisa, explaining that the EBE — Extraterrestrial Biological Entity, appeared to be neither alive or dead, but in some kind of state of suspended animation.
According to Rutledge, the alien was disconnected from the navigational device and returned back to Earth aboard the lunar module, where the body still resides today.
Rutledge also described the ship — “We went inside the big spaceship, also into a triangular one. The major conclusions of the exploration were: it was a mothership, very old, that crossed the universe at least a billion years ago”.
Understandably, due to the sensational nature of the videos, Rutledge’s posts to Youtube gathered millions of hits. But soon after he claims his account was hacked and the videos deleted. Was NASA trying to destroy the evidence of this most secret of missions?
If so, it did not work. Quickly Rutledge and others would set up multiple mirrored versions of the videos on several different video sharing websites, and they remain widely available.
But did NASA, or anyone, really need to worry? For many the story was simply too incredible to be believable. Indeed, more than one commentator noted how similar Rutledge’s claims were to a variety of science fiction films.
Could there be any truth in the Apollo 20 story?
Photographs of the lunar surface taken by Apollo 15 in 1971 do appear to show some strange anomalies in the Delporte-Izsak region in the southern region of the Moon’s dark side.
An unusual cigar-shaped object situated on the edge of a crater can clearly be seen in several of the NASA photographs circulating on the internet, including those on NASA’s own website. The feature looks to have mass and form and seems to sit on top of the Moon’s surface rather than be a part of it.
The videos of the supposed Apollo 20 flyover of the craft show it to be stone like in texture but covered in intricate carvings and patterns that could not possibly be natural.
If the footage is a hoax, then the creators have avoided the obvious temptation to make their spaceship metallic and futuristic looking, instead opting for a curious megalithic design replete with elaborate decoration.
Rutledge’s account of the Apollo 20 mission and his video footage have been met with widespread scepticism. But If they are a hoax he has managed to insert some authentic details into his story that at give it some hint of verisimilitude.
Whilst Rutledge and Leona Marietta Snyder appear in no official lists of NASA or Soviet astronauts, Alexei Leonov was an internationally respected Soviet cosmonaut best known for becoming the first man to walk in space in 1965.
For hoaxers to include such a high profile figure as Leonov was risky, as he could simply have come out with unassailable proof that he was elsewhere at the time of the mission and the whole deception would instantly fall apart.
Was this bold choice of using a real cosmonaut actually evidence for Apollo 20’s authenticity? One figure shown briefly in the videos even looks like Leonov, which at least attests to an attention to detail.
Other aspects of the footage show that, if a hoax, the creators had access to either real Apollo mission hardware or a very good replica of it. Several shots in the videos showing the interior of the lunar module are exact and impressive replica of the real thing.
An Apollo 20 badge, complete with the names of the three astronauts, is also visible in some frames as further proof this is not simply recycled footage from one of the earlier official Apollo mission.
If Rutledge was really an imposter, then this part of the video was well produced. He must have had a decent sized budget to replicates a whole Apollo module interior inside a studio, indicating this was a professional operation.
Alternatively, he may have somehow secured access to a real Apollo lunar module housed in a museum, although it seems unlikely any museum would ever consent to the filming of a hoax video in such a location.
Was the real reason Rutledge’s depiction of the modules interior was so accurate because it was genuinely filmed aboard a secret Apollo 20 mission to the Moon?
The are numerous examples of researchers and investigators discovering anomalous artifacts and structures in NASA photographs, both of the Moon and other planets in the solar system.
Author and lecturer Richard C Hoagland is a proponent of many such claims, most famously that of the ‘Face on Mars’ a striking formation in the Cydonia region of the planet’s surface that Hoagland insists is a giant alien statue of a human-like face.
Like many such observations, Hoagland’s work is based on poor quality, blurry photos, often nth-generation copies found on the internet. Invariably, when higher quality source images are found, many of these seemingly artificial structures prove to be optical illusions.
That proved to be the case when newer, far higher resolution images gathered by probes such as NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor in 2003 showed the Cydonia face was merely a Martian hill, an entirely natural structure that only vaguely resembled a face when illuminated at the right angle.
Hoagland’s work is an example of a psychological phenomenon called pareidolia, the tendency of the human mind to perceive significant patterns where there are none. Often this takes the form of seeing human faces or animals in abstract or formless images.
William Rutledge’s story of Apollo 20 begins with the premise that Apollo 15 captured images of a giant cigar-shaped mothership on the dark side of the Moon. Many of the images circling on the internet today do show what appears to be an artificial object, but they are low resolution and lack detail.
Like the Face on Mars, when higher quality source images are referenced, this ‘mothership’ is shown to be an optical illusion. The structure is merely a long hill on the lunar surface, which when in deep shadow appears to resemble a cylindrical object.
With Rutledge’s alien spacecraft vanished into dust, much of his story disappears with it. How could the crew of Apollo 20 have explored a spaceship that does not exist?
Showing that the ‘spacecraft’ in the photographs is simply a hill does not prove Apollo 20 never flew, but if it did its mission as stated by Rutledge is a deception.
Could the spacecraft story be deliberate misinformation to hide Apollo 20’s real mission in a cloak of absurd sounding science fiction? Or did the apocryphal mission never even get off the ground?
The American’s mammoth Saturn V rocket remains the only vehicle ever developed that was capable of taking a payload further than low-earth orbit. As such, all of the Apollo moon missions were launched using Saturn V rockets.
Between 1966 and 73, 13 of the rockets were successfully launched from the Kennedy Space Center, twelve of them for Apollo and one for SkyLab. A further two were constructed but never used and are now on display in museums and space centers across America.
This presents a serious problem for William Rutledge’s story about a secret Apollo 20 mission. Since the Saturn V was the only rocket capable of propelling a payload beyond Earth orbit, and since all of the known Saturn V rockets are accounted for, how did Apollo 20 even leave the Earth?
In order for the Apollo 20 mission to have occurred, we have to propose either the USA had built more Saturn V rockets in secret or that they or the Soviet Union had developed other completely unknown rocket technologies that were capable of sending men to the Moon.
Construction of the Saturn V was a massive effort involving tens of thousands of engineers, designers, scientists and contractors all around the world. The rocket was also vastly expensive, each one cost over $3 billion dollars — so expensive that the cost was one of the main reasons the Apollo program was canceled by President Nixon.
After construction, the next challenge was the logistics of storing and transporting something so huge. Specialists buildings and vehicles had to be designed, and the moving of the rocket to the launch site involved thousands of people.
Even if it was possible to keep all of this completely secret, the real problem is the launch itself. According to Rutledge, Apollo 20 was launched from Vandenberg Air Force base, an installation that is located close to several large towns and cities in Santa Barbara. There is even a public rail line that runs right alongside the base.
The launch of any rocket, let alone something as huge as a Saturn V, would be visible for hundreds of miles around, unmissable to hundreds of thousands of people throughout Southern California. Civil aviation and air traffic control would have to be notified, as would numerous other public bodies.
It would essentially be impossible for a secret launch to have occurred from Vandenberg, all but confirming the Apollo 20 story as a hoax. A confirmation that would soon come from the hoaxer himself.
French sculptor Thierry Speth claimed responsibility for the Apollo 20 hoax on an internet bulletin board in 2007. Speth’s use of the username retiredafb elsewhere on the internet was also exposed by several researchers.
Although Speth admitted the videos were a hoax, this has not deterred posters on websites and internet forums propagating the videos as genuine, either unaware of Speth’s admission or choosing to ignore it.
One line of reasoning has it that Speth’s confession is itself a hoax, simply an attempt at damage limitation or misinformation from NASA. But a closer look at the videos Speth posted under the pseudonym of William Rutledge show the clear fingerprints of fakery.
Since the hoaxers were obviously unable to produce their own footage of the Moon, they had no alternative but to use existing NASA photos of the lunar surface in order to create their footage, a fact which makes the task of producing undetectable fakes virtually impossible.
Several of the shots of the Moon’s surface used in the videos are unmistakably composites using such NASA photographs with fictional elements added by the hoaxers.
One of the film’s most striking sequences was created in this way. The panning shot showing what appears to be a vast alien city on the lunar surface is actually a digital composite created from an Apollo 17 moon photo combined with a painting of alien landscape by artist Bruce Pennington.
The next sequence in the videos showing the alien mothership look very much like they were filmed using models, with the wobbly looking flyover of the craft been perhaps the least convincing part of the whole film.
Thierry Speth is a sculptor by trade, and he appears to have put his talents to good use in creating the ‘Mona Lisa’ alien body. Indeed, several of the artworks shown on his website have a strong resemblance to the body seen in the videos.
As beguiling as she seems, Mona Lisa is in all likelihood a clay sculpture, created by Speth as the centrepiece of his hoax. She bares all the hallmarks of the artist’s previous works and whilst very artfully designed, does not convince as a real body in most of the shots in the video.
The cavalier attitude towards the alien body is also giveaway as to its unreality. No quarantine protocols are evident, and the unqualified astronauts perform crude medical procedures on the alien that clearly would never be allowed in a real NASA mission.
There’s no doubt that the tale of Apollo 20 and its secret mission to investigate aliens on the Moon is a fantastic story. We all want it to be true, which might explain why basic critical faculties are often suspended when the story is recounted on the internet.
Those who want to believe will find a way to keep Apollo 20’s incredible adventure to the dark side of the Moon alive regardless of the facts. As alternative history, it is more captivating than mere reality.
GHOSTS A PART OF LIFE
I’m a 19 year old girl from the west of Scotland, myself and my family have always had connections with ghosts and spirits and talk openly about them so it’s quite normal for us. I live in an old miner’s cottage which was built in the 1800’s and before I lived there my uncle and cousins did.
One day I watched my cousin as she sat at the bottom of the stairs looking up, I asked what she was looking at and she just replied with ‘the man on the stairs’.
A few years later I moved in with my mum and sure enough every night I can hear distinct heavy footsteps walking up and down the stairs. He seems to be pretty chill and I’ve never felt threatened in the house with him. He’s affectionately named the man on the stairs.
Another time I was having trouble in my own room with a spirit and would wake up with things thrown on me and my belongings moved. I wasn’t able to sleep in my own room for about a month until I finally went to my parish priest who agreed to come and bless my house for me and the trouble died down there but every now and then I begin to feel very uneasy in my room. Not sure if I should get it blessed again as I definitely do not want it to get as bad as it was before.
I can happily sit in the presence of ghosts as long as we both go about our own business and I do not feel threatened.
SERIAL KILLER VICTIMS
Serial killers frequently follow a pattern. That pattern may just be the ways in which they harm their victims, but frequently, their pattern extends to the manner in which they choose their victims. Some killers target people who look similar, or have the same jobs, or have the same interests. These nine killers all had specific profiles they bore in mind while choosing their next victims.
1. Adam Leroy Lane
Lane reportedly hated women, saying they were “below him.” He is known to have killed two women and was caught while trying to kill a third, a 15-year-old girl. Police believe he may have killed many more as he traveled for his job as a trucker. He put little planning into his attacks. His first known victim was killed while she was outside in her yard talking on the phone. He chose his second victim by trying doors. Monica Massaro was stabbed to death in her New Jersey home because her door was unlocked. Lane’s only goal was to kill women – he didn’t particularly care what they did or looked like.
2. Robert Hansen
Hansen was an experienced tracker and hunter. He literally hunted his female victims. He either drove or flew them in his private plane to remote sections of Alaska, then pursued them through the woods. He kidnapped, raped, and murdered at least 17 women around Anchorage and possibly more than 30. Hansen had a stutter and bad acne growing up. He reportedly felt shunned by attractive girls in his school and turned his revenge fantasies into reality. Hansen primarily targeted good-looking women who worked in the sex trade.
3. Dennis Rader
Rader, the BTK (Bind, Torture, Kill) Killer, chose his victims carefully. He identified women who fit his specific sexual fantasies then stalked them over a period of time. He left a frightening note for one intended victim who didn’t come home the night he planned to kill her. It read, “Be glad you weren’t here. Because I was.” Rader prioritized targets who lived alone or didn’t lock their doors regularly.
4. Anders Breivik
The Norwegian mass murderer killed 77 people, first detonating a bomb at a government building, then shooting dozens of young people trapped on an island summer camp. Most were the children of liberal Norwegian politicians. Breivik, a neo-Nazi, says he planned the terrorist attack for nine years. His manifesto, published the day of the attack, declared his enemies were feminism, Islam, and “cultural Marxism.”
5. Richard Chase
Chase, sometimes called ‘The Vampire of Sacramento’, told police he chose only victims whose doors were unlocked. He said he considered an unlocked door a sign that his victim wanted him to enter. Chase killed at least six people, drank their blood, and sometimes ate their flesh.
6. Ashley Mervyn Coultson
Australian killer Coultson picked two victims after they put an ad in the paper. Two students were looking for a third person to share their house. Coulton answered the ad and forced the two women into separate rooms. The brother-in-law of one of the women was there at the time and Coultson forced him into a third room. All three were hogtied and shot. No motive has ever been established. Coultson went on to attempt to abduct another couple about a month later but was stopped by nearby security guards.
7. Colin Ireland
Ireland stalked his victims in gay bars, choosing men who were willing to be tied up as part of a sexual game. Ireland claimed he was not gay and his motivation was not sexual. Rather, he said, it was easier to kill someone when they willingly allowed themselves to be restrained. Ireland killed at least five men and died in prison.
8. Gary Ridgway
The so-called Green River Killer targeted vulnerable women – prostitutes and runaways. That may have been why he was able to kill so many before being caught. He was convicted of 49 murders but is believed to have killed twice that number. He himself said he killed so many women that he has trouble keeping them straight.
9. Anthony Sowell
When he was arrested, police found eleven bodies in Sowell’s Cleveland, Ohio duplex. Sowell, too, chose victims he believed were less likely to be missed. In this case, the killer chose African-American women, typically ones who were not close with their family, or struggled with drug use, thinking that police and the community would not be able to come together to find his victims. He was right. Many of his victims had not even been reported missing by their families.
One of the most well-known explorers, but least talked about unsolved codes, is the signature of Christopher Columbus. It might be surprising, that to this day, no one is completely sure on its meaning. The cause for this is because Columbus never explained his reasoning for adopting the mysterious writings of his signet. What is known, however, is that it was very important to him.
Columbus began using the mysterious signet after returning from his first voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. The first known example dates to 1483 and historians have numerous other examples and documents demonstrating the curious signature from that time on to his death. He even instructed his heirs to continue using the signet themselves.
In doing so, we have a written record for how Columbus described his signature. He directed them,‘to sign with my signature which I now employ which is an X with an S over it and an M with a Roman A over it and over that an S, and then a Greek Y with an S over it, preserving the relation of the lines and points.’
As can be seen from the illustration, the shape of his signature is in the form of a triangle, and by his instructions this was exactly how it should be written, without alteration.
Attempts to ‘decode’ the signature have of course been made, and theories put forth. They range from stating his signature proves he was secretly a Jew in search of a new land for his persecuted people to being a devout catholic.
One of the most commonly accepted suggestions are that the letters S, SAS, XMY, Xpo-Ferens- decode to, ‘Servus Sum Altissimi Salvatoris Xristus Maria Yosephus Xristo Ferens.’ This translates to ‘Servant I am of the Most Exalted Savior, Christ, Mary, and Joseph, Christ Bearer.’
The last part of his signature, xpo ferens, is agreed by most to be a Greek-Latin form for his name Christopher. Xpo a Greek form for Christo, and Ferens is a Latin form. This combination, however, allows for a deeper religious significance to appear in his name. When translated it can literally mean, ‘Christ Bearer’.
But there are other theories. Some suggest the shape he chose for his signet is important, and feel it could mimic the mast of a ship and a Jewish prayer—supporting ideas that Columbus himself was Jewish and looking for a new homeland for his Jewish people. By signing his name as such, he was secretly conveying this to other ‘hidden Jews’.
Some also found his signet to support the crusades and his desire to free the Holy land of Muslims. The example given is that his signature can refer to: Sarraceno Subjuget Avertat Submovent, Christus, Maria, Yosephus = May the Saracens be subjugated, turned away, and removed by Christ, Mary, Joseph.
It is difficult to know for certain. While many do feel his signature is religious in nature, and that the X, M, Y do connect to Xristus, Maria, Yosephus or Christ, Mary, and Joseph, some put forth the Y might perhaps refer to Ysabel, for Queen Isabella who backed his most famous voyage.
Unless a document is found revealing Christopher Columbus’ intentions, it seems the mystery of his signature will continue on.
“UNDER A FLAMING SKY”
Ghosts of the 1894 Great Hinckley Firestorm
On September 1, 1894, a massive fire broke out in the forests of Minnesota, destroying more than 390 square miles of land and the town of Hinckley. The official death count was 418, although it was likely even higher than that. Many of those who died were simply never found.
It was a hot summer in Minnesota in 1894. With high temperatures, a two-month-long drought, and a then-common method of lumber harvesting in place, which stripped branches in place and littered the ground with flammable debris, a terrible fire was simply a matter of time. The deadly combination began with several small fires in Pine County, Minnesota that united into a firestorm. As the heat, smoke, and gases from the smaller fires rose into the sky, they were pushed back down by cooler air above. As the heat came down, it swirled into a tornado of flames, which then began to move quickly and grew larger and larger, turning into a horrific firestorm.
The fire first destroyed the towns of Mission Creek and Brook Park before coming into the town of Hinckley. The temperature rose to at least 2,000 degrees, melting barrels of nails into a solid mass and fused cars in the Eastern Minnesota Railroad yard to the tracks. Some residents escaped by climbing into well, ponds, or the Grindstone River.
Others made it aboard the two crowded trains that managed to pull out of Hinckley before it was consumed by the flames. James Root, an engineer on a train heading south from Duluth, rescued nearly 300 people by backing up a train nearly five miles to Skunk Lake, where the passengers escaped the fire. William Best was an engineer on the second train, and he steamed to Hinckley to try and save as many people as possible.
When the smoke finally cleared, Hinckley was in ruins. It had also destroyed the nearby settlements of Mission Creek, Brook Park, Sandstone, Miller, Partridge and Pokegama. Hundreds of acres of land lay black and smoldering and hundreds had been killed.
Could this be why ghost stories still linger in Hinckley?
In the small town was a gravel pit, where many residents who were unable to make it to the trains took refuge from the fire. The pit had been dug by the railroad and had filled with water from a natural spring. After the summer drought, though, the water was only about three feet deep. Many considered it an “eyesore,” but it ended up saving the lives of more than 100 people, livestock, and wild animals during the fire. Everyone who took refuge there survived, except for one man who fainted and was stepped on by a cow and died. Fire victims waited out the blaze in the pit, emerging to find their town was in ashes.
The pit was eventually filled in and became part of a public park. But despite the lack of death connected to it, it has come to be considered a haunted place. They say that if you are a believer in ghosts, the town of Hinckley will offer many opportunities to find them. At the site of the old gravel pit, strange lights appear at night and, as one resident stated, “Sometimes there are more dead people in the streets of Hinckley than live ones.”
On the evening of Jan. 24, 2006, friends and family of 24-year-old Floridian Jennifer Kesse had already begun to pass out fliers requesting information on the whereabouts of the young woman who had vanished either late the night before or early that morning. By the following day, news of her disappearance had spread beyond Orlando and into national news outlets.
Before she vanished, Jennifer Kesse seemed to have it all: a loving family and boyfriend, a great job, and no reason for her to drop everything and run away. Her loved ones naturally assumed that something terrible must have happened.
That remains the prevailing assumption today. But more than a decade later, detectives still have not made much headway in the case.
There is some haunting, grainy video footage of a person of interest and authorities have found Kesse’s abandoned car, but there is overall minimal physical evidence for law enforcement to work with. So what exactly happened to Jennifer Kesse in 2006?
Jennifer Kesse was 24 at the time of her disappearance and by all accounts was a successful young woman. She had a stable job working as a finance manager for Central Florida Investments Timeshare Company in Ocoee, Fla. and was the proud new owner of a condo in nearby Orlando. Kesse and her boyfriend, Robert Allen, had recently vacationed in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Life appeared pleasant.
Then came the morning of Jan. 24.
Kesse had returned home from work around 6 p.m. the night prior and chatted with her family on the phone. She called her boyfriend later that night at around 10 p.m. before turning in for bed. Robert Allen would be the last person in Kesse’s inner circle to have contact with her.
It was common for Kesse to call or send a text message to her boyfriend as she was leaving for work, but no message came on the morning of Jan. 24. Concerned, Allen made several attempts to contact his girlfriend, but texts went unreceived and phone calls went straight to voicemail.
Coworkers had also begun to wonder why they hadn’t heard from Kesse. It was unlike her to not call in and she had missed an important morning meeting.
At 11 a.m., Jennifer Kesse’s employer contacted her parents to inform them of the situation. Realizing that something was amiss with their daughter, Drew and Joyce Kesse made the drive down from Tampa to Orlando to check if their daughter was at her home.
They soon discovered that her car was missing, but that her condo did not show any signs of disarray. They found a damp towel, puddles in the shower suggesting she washed before work that morning, a pair of pajamas on the floor, and some makeup on the counter.
Her mother noted in the Podcast Unconcluded, which details the investigation, that a particular pair of pumps that Kesse was excited about was missing from her closet that morning. All of this evidence seemed to indicate that Kesse had left for work as usual. (It should be noted, however, that the Orlando Police never processed Kesse’s condo as a crime scene.)
So where was she?
In the years following Jennifer Kesse’s disappearance, police have managed to track down her car, but not much else. Two days after Kesse disappeared, police received a phone call from somebody who had seen a photo of her car on the news and thought that it looked a lot like the one parked outside their apartment complex. It was indeed the car in question (a black 2004 Chevy Malibu).
Upon analyzing the car at the police crime lab, just two pieces of physical evidence were recovered — a latent print deemed “too minuscule” to yield any helpful information and a small amount of DNA.
A DVD player of hers remained in the backseat of the car, and because Kesse’s personal effects like her cell phone and purse have never been located, it can be surmised that the motive of the suspect was not robbery.
While the lack of physical evidence from the car was frustrating, the video footage captured from the apartment complex was just as disappointing for detectives.
The surveillance video showed a person of interest dropping off the car at noon on the day of the disappearance, but any physical description of the suspect is almost entirely obscured by the apartment’s gate. The cameras were designed to capture images just once every three seconds (as opposed to continuously), and it just so happened that at each interval, the person of interest was obscured by a different gate post while walking by.
Investigators went so far as to tap NASA to enhance video footage of the person but have even been unable to determine whether that person was even a man or woman. Police could only discern that the person was between 5’3″ and 5’5″. Journalists who covered the story reported that the obscured footage made this person of interest “the luckiest person of interest ever.”
Without much physical evidence to go on, the investigation turned to those who knew Jennifer Kesse. Her boyfriend and brother both checked out and an ex-boyfriend who had wanted to rekindle the relationship was also ruled out. Detectives learned that an older work colleague had unsuccessfully pursued a romantic relationship, but he too was determined unsuspicious.
Kesse had mentioned to her family that construction workers doing renovations at her complex would occasionally catcall, but those leads also turned up nothing. Her credit cards went unused after her disappearance and her cell phone had been turned off. The beloved daughter of the Kesse family was nowhere to be found and there were no clues to go on.
“Imagine waking up and your daughter is nowhere to be found,” Orlando police Det. Teresa Sprague told the Orlando Sentinel on the 10th anniversary of the disappearance. “You can’t reach her, you can’t locate her. The police can’t locate her. Hours turn into panic and days into your worst nightmare. I cannot imagine the nightmare the Kesse family has been sleepwalking through for the last 10 years.”
As of late, the Kesse family has been largely disappointed in the Orlando Police investigation, stating that they have largely withheld information from the family. They add that outside of a two-page document, the police have had little contact with the family regarding their progression on the case. “We need to get this information,” Kesse’s father reported to Fox News, “after 12 years, we deserve that.”
Anyone with information regarding the case is asked to contact Crimeline Florida. You can find a link in the show notes.
CURSED WITCH VILLAGE
Ground zero for rumors of witchcraft can be traced to the construction of the Castle of Trasmoz sometime in the 13th century. The layout of the spooky and imposing structure was a unique hexagonal shape, which was seen as a sure sign of witchcraft afoot, and it did not help that the castle supposedly constantly issued forth anomalous noises such as rattling chains, the banging of metal, which was seen as the result of witches mixing potions in their cauldrons and other mischief, as well as occasional shrieks and arcane wails. Even the construction of the castle was wreathed in myth, as it was said to have been created in a single night by a magician called Mutamín.
Many of these bizarre rumors seem to have been originally intentionally spread by the castle’s very own inhabitants. At the time the Castle of Trasmoz was said to be a major den of the illicit manufacture of fake coins, which was helped along by the rich silver and iron mines of the area. It is said that in order to keep the locals from becoming too nosy about all the noise they were making, the counterfeiters intentionally began to fan out rumors that the scraping and banging of metal was from the nefarious activities of witches engaged in their dark, arcane business. The ploy worked, and it is thought that this is where the village’s reputation as a haven of witches began.
Unfortunately for the villagers, the rumors spread by the fake coin forgers worked a little too well. Before long the rumor grew to encompass the whole village, until it was seen as a veritable hive of witches and warlocks, a cursed place and a center of the dark arts that stirred fear and superstition in the surrounding areas, an idea still held on to by many today. It got to the point that the neighboring monastery of Veruela had the entire village officially excommunicated from the Church, although this is often seen as just being an excuse to force Trasmoz to pay taxes to them, something from which had previously been exempt as it didn’t officially belong to the Catholic Church. With the excommunication carried out and in full effect, the villagers nevertheless refused to beg for forgiveness, with many of them Jews and Muslims and not even Christian, which only furthered their reputation as Devil worshipping heathens.
The friction between Trasmoz and Veruela Abbey would continue for many years, eventually almost leading to civil war when the abbey began trying to divert the village’s irrigation water without paying. Although the King of Spain, King Ferdinand II, deemed Trasmoz to be in the right in terms of the water dispute and ruled in their favor, the Church took this as an affront. Seething that they had been bested by this witch infested, excommunicated town, the Catholic Church went about getting revenge. Pope Julius II gave permission to dust off the powerful and rarely used Catholic curse “psalm 108 of the Book of Psalms,” which is said to be a potent curse saved for the worst of times, and in this case it was invoked to curse the entire village of Trasmoz.
It was in the wake of this wicked curse that the once prosperous and populous village fell into severe decline, suffering from a mysterious epidemic of disease, famine, a fire which burned down the Castle of Trasmoz in 1520, and other myriad woes, during which time the population fell to its current low. Even to this day the village is poor and in shambles, its buildings weathered and decrepit, its nearly empty streets cracked and weed-choked, a veritable ghost town, and for many this is a result of the Catholic curse, which is technically still in effect as no Pope has ever officially lifted it. This makes Trasmoz the only whole town in all of Spain to remain both excommunicated and also cursed by the Catholic Church, as well as to incidentally still be considered a haven for witches and witchcraft.
This reputation has brought in droves of tourists to this tiny, withered village, who come for the dark history and to see for themselves what an officially cursed town of witches looks like. Trasmoz does little to downplay this history of witchcraft, and indeed there is the yearly Feria de Brujeria festival held here, during which amulets, potions, herbs, charms, and other magical witch’s items are sold, and there is even the crowning of the “Witch of the Year,” called the Bruja del Año. There is even a museum of witchcraft now located in the Castle of Trasmoz, where the whole legend started. If one is ever to visit, there are plenty of charms to be bought against witchcraft, so rest assured you are in safe hands.
BETTY AND BARNEY HILL
The idea of little green men from Mars invading our planet has been bringing us excitement, joy, and even laughter for decades simply due to the absurdness of it. But on September 19, 1961, a reported event occurred on the back roads of New Hampshire that single-handedly rewrote what experts believed about UFO encounters and little green men. Up until this time, only a handful of reports of a similar nature had surfaced. However, this was the first highly publicized abduction account filled with detailed information. What happened close to Lancaster that evening made international headlines and made celebrities out of the couple that came forward. Their names were Betty and Barney Hill… and this is their story.
The Hills were a married couple living in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, with their pet dog, Delsey. Betty was a social worker with the State Welfare Agency and Barney worked for the Post Office. They were respected members of their community as members of the NAACP and the Unitarian Church. In fact, the governor had appointed Barney to serve on the state civil rights committee (Huff Post).
After a short vacation to Niagra Falls, they were driving home on Highway 3 through the White Mountains. Betty sat in the passenger seat and was idly gazing out of the window when she noticed a bright light that she initially thought was a star. It seemed to be following them, but it was moving erratically. The couple had a brief conversation about it. Barney initially assumed that it was just an ordinary aircraft, but Betty suggested they pull over so they could get a better look and also to give Delsey a pit stop.
Barney stopped the car and got out his binoculars. Betty looked first. She knew it wasn’t a star when she saw a spinning craft with an “odd shape” and flashing lights of different colors. Barney took his turn to look through the binoculars. Although he had presumed it must be an airplane, he saw it rapidly descend and move in their direction . . . too quickly to be a plane. He rushed back into the car and continued to drive toward Franconia Notch. Betty watched the craft as it got closer and closer until it was right over them, forcing them to stop in the road.
Barney did not know what they were looking at, but it was huge and silent. It hovered about 100 feet above them. He grabbed his pistol and the binoculars and went out to investigate. Barney saw windows across a pancake-shaped object. As he moved toward it, he saw something else that made him turn and run back to the car. Inside there were up to 11 beings that didn’t quite look human. They were staring at him through the windows.
Barney hysterically ran back to the car and drove away as fast as he could, but the Hills were suddenly overcome by buzzing and tingling throughout their bodies. This was when things became very cloudy for them. When they regained full consciousness, they were once again experiencing the tingling, and they were 35 miles further down the road without a clear memory of the drive to get there.
When the Hills arrived home around dawn, they both felt strange. They knew they had seen something, but they couldn’t remember what happened after they felt the buzzing sensations.
“Both Betty and Barney had physical changes from the night before, including Betty’s torn and stained dress, Barney’s scraped shoe, and a broken binocular strap. But neither of them had any memory of these things having happened” (University of New Hampshire). Each also owned a watch, and after the previous night’s events, neither watch ever worked again. Attention quickly turned to the car. On the back of the vehicle, shiny circles of a concentric nature were discovered. A compass placed near the circles indicated that the circles were magnetized.
Betty confided in her sister who strongly advised that she get in touch with the local Air Force Base to report the incident. Barney was more concerned with being labeled an eccentric but allowed Betty to get in touch with Pease AFB on September 21. At that time she made her first report.
Five days later, Major Paul Henderson visited the Hills at their home and completed an official inquiry. A report written by the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP) concluded that the Air Force files had insufficient data on the events of that night.
Ten days after their encounter, Betty began to have vivid dreams about the strange event. Five nights in a row her dreams contained small men in uniforms who forced the Hills into a strange craft and subjected them to examinations. She wrote down her dreams in a journal.
Betty went to the library and found a book on the UFO phenomenon written by former Marine Corps Major, Donald Keyhoe, leader of NICAP. She contacted him directly, and their investigation began about a month after the sighting. Both of the Hills were interviewed at length by NICAP officials. Betty and Barney both admitted to seeing the same thing – a large disk that was silent. The people that Barney said he saw were “somehow not human.”
The couple did try and put the whole episode behind them but were being affected in different ways. Barney grew more and more stressed and anxious as time went on. Outsiders assumed that this was due to their interracial marriage – an uncommon occurrence during that generation. Some criticised the pair based solely on their union. None of this helped either spouse, and things got so bad for Barney that he was forced to take time off work in order to try and recover.
Things were not much better for Betty, but she turned her attention toward trying to find out as much as she could about their perceived encounter. Meanwhile, Barney began seeing a therapist. Their feelings that something happened that they couldn’t quite piece together gnawed at them for two years.
A speaker at the Hills’ church, Ben H. Swett, gave a talk about his poetry, and Betty and Barney attended. The pastor was aware that Ben dabbled in hypnotherapy and ask him about it. At the end of the talk, Betty and Barney asked Ben if he thought hypnotherapy might be able to help regain what they felt were lost memories. They also asked for his help, but he declined because he didn’t feel that he was qualified, and instead, he recommended they ask Barney’s therapist for a referral. They took his advice, and that’s when they found Dr. Simon.
Dr. Benjamin Simon began working with the couple at the start of 1964. Over the course of around six months, he used hypnotic regression. During the first sessions, Dr. Simon concluded by inducing amnesia to each partner in order to reduce the possibility of potential collusion out of session. If neither was able to remember what happened, then there was less chance of them discussing matters among themselves.
In his sessions, Barney had many new recollections, such as meeting an Irishman that had red hair. There were also beings there that didn’t seem to be human. All of these individuals were dressed in similar looking uniforms. Each had a peaked cap and silver piping on the uniform itself that reminded Barney of Nazi uniforms. According to his own memories during hypnosis, Barney said the crew spoke a language he could not understand and also English. But, they weren’t using their mouths; Barney said they appeared to use “thought transference.”
Betty reported similar events during her hypnotic sessions separately from her husband. Both revealed that they underwent medical exams during which the beings took numerous samples that included blood, bodily fluids, and hair. Betty also stated that as part of her exam, skin samples were taken. Much of what Betty had mentioned during her sessions were things that she had already written in her journal.
Something took place on board the craft that only Betty noted. She indicated that the aliens showed her a map of where they came from, which she drew during one of her sessions. Some people believed this could be the location of the “homeworld.” Additionally, Betty had indicated that the beings showed her “trade routes” that they used frequently, routes they didn’t take often, and those that they took for expeditions.
Sometime around 1970, a teacher from Ohio made a match to the Zeta Reticuli star system. It looked just like the map Betty drew and also included our own Sun. Some of the stars on that map weren’t cataloged until after the Betty and Barney Hill incident, which for some people proves that their experience was genuine.
Carl Sagan, however, provided another perspective on his show, Cosmos, episode 12. He said, “There is a resemblance between the two maps, but that’s mainly because the lines corresponding to the navigation route have been copied from the Hill map onto the real star map. If we were to substitute some other set of lines for the Hill lines we find that the eye suddenly is biased against seeing any agreement between the two maps at all.” He also indicated that anyone can find just about any pattern from various vantage points in space.
Once Dr. Simon completed the hypnotic sessions, he presented the tapes to the local NICAP investigators. Having interviewed the pair shortly after the original event, NICAP officials were impressed by their honesty and intelligence. Both wanted nothing more than to get to the bottom of what happened to them. Many people considered the Hills to be reliable, and even Dr. Simon believed that the Hills truly and sincerely believed what they reported.
On the other hand, Dr. Simon never believed in UFOs or alien visitations. He was under the impression that the Hills shared a delusion based on Betty’s dreams. Although he conducted the hypnosis sessions, he never swayed them into their testimonies. On the contrary, Ben Swett heard the session tapes and indicated that Dr. Simon actually tried to suggest logical, rational explanations for the Hills’ memories during the sessions – but to no avail. They stuck with their abduction stories.
Toward the end of 1965, the Boston Herald Traveler managed to get an exclusive scoop when they somehow acquired reports of the original encounter. Someone had broken confidence, and October 25 was the first of a five-day exposé of the Betty and Barney Hill alien abduction story. According to Swett, Barney was upset about the leak and he had called Swett in the middle of the night in a panic about it. “Barney said he and Betty were afraid they would be scorned and ridiculed and lose their jobs,” said Swett in his personal statement about the Betty and Barney Hill abduction case.
Now that the couple was a media sensation, they both felt they had little choice. They needed to break their own silence. Before this, neither made any overtures for publicity at all. The Hills and Dr. Simon all collaborated with author John Fuller to produce a book based on their experience. This book, titled “The Interrupted Journey,” emerged in 1966. Betty’s niece, Kathleen Marden, wrote a second book and titled it, “Captured! The Betty and Barney Hill UFO Experience.” Both publications are still available today, along with countless others.
We may never know what really happened to Betty and Barney Hill on September 19, 1961. The public is divided in its perception of the story between those who believe it wholeheartedly and those who think the story was merely a confabulation. What is certain is that, despite their reluctance to come forward and report their encounter, the Hills have become synonymous with the UFO community. Their experience turned into the most well-known of all UFO reports and would set the stage for many others like it.
As the 1960s progressed, Barney’s health began to worsen. In February 1969, he died of a cerebral hemorrhage. Betty never remarried after his death and went on to become something of a UFO celebrity until her own death in 2004.
ANNIE DORMAN MYSTERY
John Dorman left the farmhouse to work in his fields at about 1:15, the afternoon of September 1, 1897. His wife, Lizzie, had some banking to take care of and left for Philadelphia at about 2:00. As usual, they left their children in the care of John’s half-sister, Annie. 18-year-old Annie Dorman had lived with John and his wife at their Cobb’s Creek home off and on for the previous five years, working as a nurse to their four children. Around 3:00 that day a neighbor, Mrs. Myers, came by to chat with Annie leaving about ten minutes later. At 4:30 one of the children found Annie lying on the floor of the second story front room, dead from a gunshot wound.
The children ran for their father who returned to the house with Al Myers, stable boss at nearby Melbourne Mills. They found Annie stretched out on the floor with a pistol lying by her hand. There was no sign of a struggle and nothing had been taken; the men could only conclude that Annie had taken her own life.
But suicide was unlikely for a number of reasons. No one who knew Annie could imagine what would have driven her to kill herself. She was bright and pretty, with an even and sweet temperament and was always cheerful. Her boyfriend, Ernest L. Pendlebury, was steady and honest. She was a religious girl, healthy in mind and body; a favorite among the congregation of Sarah D. Cooper Methodist Church.
The circumstance of Annie’s death made suicide all but impossible. The pistol was old and rusty, sitting unused for at least two years, high on a shelf in the room where she was found. Annie was only five feet tall and would not be able to reach the pistol without standing on something, and none of the furniture had been moved. Chief Barry of the Chester Police Department examined the pistol and found it so rusty that it took all his might to cock it and pull the trigger. It had been fired five times; two shots went through the ceiling, one went through a washboard under a window, one shot shattered Annie’s jaw and one shot went through her heart. The shot through the heart had killed her but the shot to the jaw had been so severe that she would not have been able to fire another.
Since nothing had been stolen, it was thought that Annie may have been raped. When the body was found, her dress had been smoothed as if to hide signs of a struggle, but the top had been opened, exposing her breasts. The medical examiner determined that Annie had not been raped and was still a virgin.
The inquest held at the Dorman homestead on October 5, revealed that the household had not been as peaceful as it first appeared. A letter from Annie’s father said that John’s wife had not treated her right. One witness said he had seen Annie crying on several occasions and had seen Mrs. Dorman chase her with a broom. Lizzie Dorman admitted that once during a quarrel with Annie she had grabbed her by the throat, but generally their relations had been pleasant. Their disagreements were seen as trivial, hardly provoking murder, and Mrs. Dorman was in the city at the time of the shooting. The Coroner’s jury ruled that Annie Dorman was shot by a person or persons unknown.
The Philadelphia Inquirer speculated that a man who knew Annie and was familiar with the place had been watching and knew when she was alone. He entered the house between 3:30 and 4:00 and approached Annie with one intention; she “at once detected the foulness of that intention.” She pleaded with him, then threatened him. It was someone she knew, and he realized he had gone too far and must silence her. He reached for the gun and she rushed him, fighting for her honor and her life. Three shots were fired wildly before the two that killed her. The murderer then placed the gun by her side and smoothed down the dress to hide evidence of a struggle, “but like all takers of life left the one mute piece of evidence in the shape of the exposed bosom.”
But there was no way to prove any of this and no way to determine the identity of the man or even whether the killer was a man. With no leads to follow and no funds available to hire professional detectives, Delaware County District Attorney W. I. Schaffer was forced to drop the investigation. The circumstances of Annie Dorman’s murder would remain a mystery.
NO GOOD DEED
If you’re like most people, you’ve probably fantasized at least once about winning the lottery. After all, with that kind of money you’d never need to deal with going to work. You’d never have to worry about bills, or saving for retirement.
But to paraphrase Biggie Smalls, sometimes more money just means more problems. And that’s especially true for people who win the lottery. It turns out that becoming a multi-millionaire overnight doesn’t always lead to happiness. Just ask Jeffrey Dampier.
Jeffrey Dampier was an average guy. He grew up on Chicago’s West Side and worked as a security guard until he won a staggering $20 million in the Illinois state lottery in 1996. After coming into that kind of money, Dampier’s life changed pretty abruptly.
He and his wife got divorced, splitting the winnings 50/50. Dampier then began dating, and eventually married, another woman named Crystal Jackson. Two years later, the couple moved to Tampa Bay, Florida, where they opened a gourmet popcorn store.
Dampier was generous with his winnings, especially to Jackson’s side of the family. He spent lavishly on cruises and gifts. And when his sisters-in-law fell on hard times, he offered to take care of their finances. Of course, Dampier had a less-than-innocent motive for doing so. He was actually having an affair with his wife’s sister, Victoria Jackson.
It seems like things were good for Dampier for a few years at least. Then in 2005, the story took a dark turn.
Victoria was also dating another man named Nathaniel Jackson (they weren’t related). Nathaniel knew about Jeffrey Dampier’s money and came up with a plan to get his hands on it with Victoria’s help.
According to Victoria’s account, she showed up at Nathaniel’s apartment on July 26. He then demanded that she call Dampier and tell him to come to the apartment. Victoria lured Dampier over by claiming that she was having car troubles. When Dampier showed up to help, Nathaniel pulled out a shotgun and forced him into a van.
Dampier then had his hands bound behind his back with shoe strings while Victoria drove the van. Nathaniel repeatedly hit Dampier with the butt of the gun, demanding that he turn over his money. When Dampier proved uncooperative, Nathaniel and Victoria switched places so she could try to reason with him.
Finally, Nathaniel handed the gun to Victoria. According to police, he demanded that Victoria shoot Dampier. “Shoot him, or I shoot you,” he said.
Victoria then fired a single shot into the back of Dampier’s skull, killing him almost instantly.
The pair drove the van to a deserted road and abandoned it with Dampier’s body inside. The body was discovered soon afterward, and the two fugitives were arrested a few days later.
At the trial, the defense painted Victoria as a victim. According to her sister, Tiffany, Jeffrey Dampier began his relationship with Victoria when she was just 15. “They knew she was just 15 when he started messing with her,” she said. “Where’s the justice for her?”
And according to the defense, Nathaniel had forced Victoria into committing the murder. But the prosecution argued that when she placed the phone call that lured Dampier to the apartment she knew what would eventually happen.
For her part, Victoria felt that the victim wouldn’t have blamed her. After the guilty verdict was read, she turned to her mother in the courtroom and said, “Jeffrey forgives me.”
Both Jacksons were sentenced to life in prison, where they remain today.
For Jeffrey Dampier, winning the lottery turned out to be a death sentence. His widow, Crystal, agreed in a later interview that he would have been better off without the money.
“I think it is a curse,” she said.
TIL DEATH BRIDES USA
A young woman, groom, and some of their wedding guests decided to play a game of hide-and-seek in a large mansion used for the wedding reception (one version say it was the father-of-the-bride’s house). Someone other than the bride was designated as “it” (some versions say the maid of honor, others say the groom). Everyone was found, but the bride. Friends and family searched the house for hours, days, and weeks. A missing person report was filed. Eventually, the groom had to move on with his life. One day in the far off future, someone was cleaning the house. They opened a large chest in the attic and found a skeleton in a tattered wedding dress. It seemed that the lid of the chest shut on the bride when she used it as a hiding place. She was unable to open the lid and she suffocated to death (some say the heavy lid crushed her skull).
Another legend I grew up hearing involves a deadly wedding dress. There are many versions of this story, too. Sometimes it is not even a wedding dress. The story goes that a dead young woman was to be buried in her wedding dress, but her parents decided last minute to bury her in another dress. Since the wedding dress was expensive, they sold it for profit. This dress ended up in the hands of a another young woman as she needed it for a community dance. The entire night of the dance, the dress gave off an odor and she felt very faint. Her date decided to take her home, since she was not feeling well. She did not make it home alive. Her date told the doctor about the odor. The doctor investigated and found formaldehyde in her veins, which had caused her blood to coagulated and stop flowing (I don’t know). When they asked the store about the dress, they revealed that they received it from a funeral home and it had been worn by a corpse. The dancing most likely caused the young woman to sweat, which opened her pores and took in formaldehyde.
I am not sure why revisiting such dreadful stories brings joy to people- but in writing all of this it sent me down a rabbit hole full of ghost brides. T Enjoy the following bits of paranormal history involving brides, grooms, and haunted wedding dresses.
Old Faithful Inn (Yellowstone National Park): The inn itself is very haunted. A woman staying in Room 2 reported a woman dressed in 1890s clothes floating at the end of her bed. People have also reported the fire extinguisher moving and doors opening and closing. The most interesting ghost, though, is the headless bride. People have reported a woman in a white dress drifting across the Crow’s Nest, holding her head under her arm. According to legend, the bride was a young woman from 1915 New York that, despite her wealthy father’s wishes, married a much older male servant. Her father provided them a one-time dowry of a substantial amount with the agreement that they would not ask for money ever again and would leave New York forever. They married and headed to Yellowstone National Park for their honeymoon (staying in Room 127 of Old Faithful Inn). On their way to Yellowstone, the groom spent most of the money on gambling and booze. A month into their honeymoon, their dowry was gone. This led to intense arguments between the couple, which was heard by hotel staff. One day the husband stormed out and never returned. The hotel staff thought they might give the heartbroken wife her space and after a few days decided to check in on her. The maid found the young bride bloody in the bathtub. Her head was no where to be found. A couple days later, an odor in the Crow’s Nest led staff to…her head.
Dauphine Orleans Hotel (New Orleans, Louisiana): A young courtesan named Millie worked in May’s Place, a bar in the Dauphine Orleans Hotel. The morning of her wedding, her groom-to-be was shot dead in a gambling dispute. Millie, from that point on and even after death, walked around the bar in her wedding dress. She still walks around the Dauphine in her wedding dress today, waiting for her fiancé to return.
Driskill Hotel (Austin, Texas): Room 525 is haunted by two brides. Allegedly two young women ended their lives in the room on their honeymoons, 20 years apart. The room was closed for a time and then eventually reopened for renovations. The renovations brought about some paranormal activity including apparitions, weird sensations, unexplained leaks, distant voices, and other odd noises.
Hotel Galvez (Galveston, Texas): Since her death in the 1950s, a ghost bride haunts Room 501 in Hotel Galvez. Her fiancé was a mariner and she, when expecting his return, would watch the sea from the hotel. One tragic day, she watched as his ship sank and soon after ended her life. He had actually survived and returned to heartbreak. She still walks the halls, scaring guests. One guest in Room 501 abruptly left the hotel at 3 a.m. in tears.
City Tavern (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania): A bride and her bridesmaids were preparing for the wedding when one bridesmaid accidentally knocked over a candle, setting the curtains on fire. The fire spread throughout the tavern, taking the lives of the bride and her bridesmaids. The ghost of the bride is active today, especially during wedding events at the tavern. Some wedding photographers have even reported seeing her apparition appearing next to the (living) bride when looking through the camera viewfinder. Although, no one has caught her on film.
Emily Morgan Hotel (San Antonio, Texas): The Emily Morgan Hotel resides in a building erected in the 1920s; the hotel itself was established in the 1980s. The building, first used as a Medical Arts building, is lined with gargoyles portraying a different medical ailment. Such an astonishing building comes with some astonishing ghost stories, of course. The seventh floor of the thirteen-floor building is haunted by a ghost bride. Her backstory is unknown. Visitors of the hotel have called down to the front desk after hearing loud shrieks. Hotel staff simply reply, “We’re sorry, but we do think it might be a ghost responsible for that.”
Hotel Conneaut (Erie, Pennsylvania): Elizabeth and her new husband stayed in Room 321 on their honeymoon. Their blissful vacation was interrupted by a raging fire in the hotel. The husband was able to get out alive, but Elizabeth was trapped in the room and died. The heartbroken bride still roams the third floor, looking for her husband and sobbing. Wearing a wedding dress, she leaves behind the smell of jasmine.
The Alpha Gamma Delta House at University of Georgia (Athens, Georgia): The AGD sorority house at the University of Georgia once housed the wealthy families of Athens. The mansion was built by William Winstead Thomas in 1896 as an engagement gift for his daughter, Isabel, and her fiance, Richard W. Johnson. The house is often called “the wedding cake house,” because of this. Isabel ended her life in the house after Richard left her at the altar. The house went through a couple of hands before becoming a sorority house.
According to several reports, the scorned bride is still active in the house. Paranormal activity includes faucets turning on, lights turning on and off by themselves, doors opening by themselves, and faces appearing in the window. One sorority sister named Sarah lived in the “Engagement” room and described her experiences :”The door to my bedroom and my roommate’s closet door randomly swing open on their own […] I swear that the ghost who lives here is doing it. It really freaks me out.”
Long Island Campgrounds (Bolton Landing, New York): The state campground has 90 sites over 100 acres. In the 1960s, a new husband and wife decided it was the perfect location for their honeymoon. They were allegedly murdered in their sleep while camping. The bride now wanders the grounds, looking for her husband among the living campers.
Phelps Grove Park (Springfield, Illinois)
When driving over a bridge in Phelps Grove Park, a newly married couple lost control of the car and both died. The bride still haunts the location. She can be seen holding the hem of her wedding dress. Her face is only darkness.
Curves (Onondaga Hill, New York): A similar story appears in Onondaga Hill folklore. About 60 years ago, a young couple died in a car crash on a very snaky road just after their wedding. People claim to see the bride on Halloween. Her glowing figure floats down the road in a wedding gown, searching for her husband. Some say she carries a bright orange lantern. To read more about this legend, visit Weird New York.
Baker Mansion (Altoona, Pennsylvania): Anna Baker, the daughter of the rich Elias Baker, fell in love with a local steelworker. Her father forbade her to marry him, because he was of lower class. She died alone. Much later, The Baker Mansion (in Altoona, PA) was made into a museum and a wedding dress was put on display in a glass case in Anna’s bedroom. When there is a full moon, the dress violently shakes, sometimes to the point of almost breaking the glass. Myth says she is so mad she never got to wear a wedding dress, and therefore shakes it in anger. Some people often report seeing it dance by itself (with the shoes tapping along).
Some Small Town (North Dakota): The book Haunted America by Michael Norman and Beth Scott tells a spooky story of sisterly jealousy in the 1930s. Sisters Lorna Mae and Carol were complete opposites. Lorna Mae, the youngest sister, was strong, cheerful, and a hard worker. The older sister, Carol, was reportedly more attractive, grumpy, and lazy. They both fell in love with a widower with three children, Ben. Ben chose Lorna Mae to be his wife, imagining the both of them working side-by-side on the farm. Carol was very angry. Shouldn’t he be with the prettier one?
Shortly before the wedding, Lorna Mae suffered abdominal pains. Carol was nearby and was sent to get the doctor. She returned saying she could not find a doctor in town. It is believed she lied and even dawdled in town. Lorna Mae was rushed to town, but died of a ruptured appendix shortly after arriving.
Carol set out to marry Ben. She even demanded the undertaker to remove the wedding dress from Lorna Mae’s dead body before the burial. A month after the funeral, Carol was able to convince Ben to marry her. Their wedding was in mid-July in 100-degree heat. Carol look beautiful in Lorna Mae’s high neck wedding dress. During the festivities, though, Carol began to sway and grab at her throat. She died in Ben’s arms.
The autopsy revealed that it could not be heatstroke. The wedding dress had absorbed some of the embalming fluid while on Lorna Mae. The hot weather caused Carol to sweat, which opened her pores and allowed the fluid to enter.
Well, I’m back at that same childhood legend. I still do not have a wedding dress for my own wedding, but I’ll tell you what: I won’t be going vintage.
Gargoyles are depicted with many fearsome faces. They grin and leer down from roofs and towers of medieval churches and have been present there for centuries warding off evil. They decorate great churches and cathedrals of the British Isles, Ireland, and other European countries.
It is traditionally believed that gargoyles were created during the medieval period.
However, their history goes far beyond that time to the very beginnings of art, when man created demons to scare away demons. Many examples of these creatures have been found in ancient civilizations as well.
The use of decorative water spouts was known to the ancient Egyptians, Etruscans, Greeks and Romans and gargoyle-like carvings have been found in other parts of the world, especially in countries that were influenced by European culture and tradition such as Mexico.
They have appeared in a number of different images and figures and it is said that no two gargoyles are identical, but no-one seems to know why.
They were seen on the roofs of Egyptian temples where their mouths served as a spout for water. Also Greek temples were decorated with gargoyles in form of lions and other animals.
Later, these creatures became strictly ornamental and assumed many forms such as dragons, devils, demons, half-human and half-animal as well as caricatures of real people or classes of people.
The name ‘gargoyle’ is often attributed to St. Romanus, the Archbishop of Rouen.
According to legend, he saved his country from a monster by the name of Goji, sometimes called ‘Gargouille’. La Gargouille is said to have been a legendary dragon with batlike wings, a long neck, and the ability to breathe fire from its mouth, that lived in a cave near the Seine River in the 7th Century and was ravaging the town and people of Rouen. It was slain by St Romanus, the Archbishop of Rouen. After the dragon was slain its body was set ablaze, its body was consumed by fire but the head and neck survived and was mounted on a building.
Supposedly the monster was so scary looking that it frightened off evil spirits. This led to some calling the monster a protector and placing similar carved figures on churches and other important buildings.
Originally the term referred only to the carved lions of classical cornices or to terra-cotta spouts, such as those found in the Roman structures at Pompeii.
The word later became restricted mainly to the grotesque, carved spouts of the European Middle Ages.
It is often – but incorrectly – applied to other grotesque beasts. Gargoyles always have drainage conduits, other carved beast depiction have not.
What’s important is, not all grotesques are gargoyles, but all gargoyles are indeed, grotesques.
A French abbot , St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090 – 1153) was famous for speaking out against gargoyles most probably didn’t fully understand their role, when he wrote: “What are these fantastic monsters doing in the cloisters before the eyes of the brothers as they read? What is the meaning of these unclean monkeys, these strange savage lions, and monsters? To what purpose are here placed these creatures, half beast, half man, or these spotted tigers? I see several bodies with one head and several heads with one body. Here is a quadruped with a serpent’s head, there a fish with a quadruped’s head, then again an animal half horse, half goat… Surely if we do not blush for such absurdities, we should at least regret what we have spent on them..” (“Apologia ad Guillelmum abbatem”, as part of the ‘Library of Latin Texts.’)
Even in the United States, gargoyles were used on more modern buildings as a form of decoration, such as the stainless steel versions used on the Chrysler Building in New York City, at Princeton University, University of Chicago and Duke University.
Perhaps the most famous are the gargoyles that decorate the Washington National Cathedral in Washington D.C. – the 6th largest cathedral in the world and likely to be the last Gothic cathedral ever built.
It has 112 gargoyles (rain-diversion devices with a spout) and over 1,000 other grotesques (without a spout). When people think of gargoyles, most envision monsters and dragons and the like, but there are also other intriguing and odd figures.
More famous gargoyles from history are those used on Notre Dame de Paris. They reside atop dizzying heights and are often unnoticed by human eyes but ever watchful of our movements. They have ‘observed’ us by centuries. The gargoyles of the famous Notre Dame Cathedral – half man, half beast – preside over Paris, and have done so since the medieval times.
It is believed that there is no commonly accepted explanation of why these odd carved creatures exist as they do.
Why were these figures actually placed atop the buildings? Did they have a symbolic meaning? Were they used for repelling evil or perhaps only for architectural balance?
Or were they perhaps, as Klaus Schmidt (1953 – 2014) of the German Archaeological Institute in Berlin suggested, “watchmen’ of the period”, guardians of the ancient religious sanctuaries?