“ACID BATH HORRORS” and More Terrible True Stories! (PLUS BLOOPERS!) #WeirdDarkness

“ACID BATH HORRORS” and More Terrible True Stories! (PLUS BLOOPERS!) #WeirdDarkness

Listen to ““ACID BATH HORRORS” and More Terrible True Stories! (PLUS BLOOPERS!) #WeirdDarkness” on Spreaker.

IN THIS EPISODE: It’s one of the most gruesome ways movie and television villains dispose of their victims… the acid bath. The body being tossed in a tub, barrel, or bin, slowly dissolving into soup – leaving no evidence behind. But the truth of acid baths is far more gruesome – even more so those who choose to use the method to get rid of a body. (Acid Bath Horrors) *** Defiance, Ohio was the location for one of the best true werewolf stories most people never talk about. (Welcome to Werewolf Central) *** If you’re looking for some creepy places to visit this Halloween season, you can’t get much creepier than cemeteries and graveyards. I’ll share some of the most haunted ones that you might want to check out if you have ice in your veins. (The World’s Most Haunted Graveyards) *** The scenery may be beautiful when driving this road, but locals have nicknamed it la carretera de la muerte (the highway of death). We’ll look at Mexico’s La Rumorosa Highway. (The La Rumorosa Hauntings) *** Many considered Edward Rulloff to be a genius – a man ahead of his time. Others had quite the opposite opinion of him, thinking him a fraud or a conman. But nobody expected they would also be adding the word “killer” to his description. (Genius, Conman, Killer)
SOURCES AND REFERENCES FROM THE EPISODE…
“Welcome to Werewolf Central” by Nick Redfern for Mysterious Universe: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/2c3p59aa
“The World’s Most Haunted Graveyards” from RealParanornalExperiences.com: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/39z4fyaf
“Acid Bath Horrors” by Abraham Rinquist for ListVerse: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/znvcuzps
“The La Rumorosa Hauntings” by Brent Swancer for Mysterious Universe: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/5xj9sewk
“Genius, Conman, Killer” by Robert Willhelm for Murder By Gaslight: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/dy9fmky5
Weird Darkness theme by Alibi Music Library.
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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
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WeirdDarkness® is a registered trademark. Copyright ©2024, Weird Darkness.
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Originally aired: March 14, 2023

PARTIAL TRANSCRIPT:

DISCLAIMER: Ads heard during the podcast that are not in my voice are placed by third party agencies outside of my control and should not imply an endorsement by Weird Darkness or myself. *** Stories and content in Weird Darkness can be disturbing for some listeners and intended for mature audiences only. Parental discretion is strongly advised.

SHOW OPEN=====

Welcome, Weirdos – I’m Darren Marlar and this is Weird Darkness. Here you’ll find stories of the paranormal, supernatural, legends, lore, the strange and bizarre, crime, conspiracy, mysterious, macabre, unsolved and unexplained.

Coming up in this episode…

If you’re looking for some creepy places to visit this Halloween season, you can’t get much creepier than cemeteries and graveyards. I’ll share some of the most haunted ones that you might want to check out if you have ice in your veins. (The World’s Most Haunted Graveyards)

It’s one of the most gruesome ways movie and television villains dispose of their victims… the acid bath. The body being tossed in a tub, barrel, or bin, slowly dissolving into soup – leaving no evidence behind. But the truth of acid baths is far more gruesome – even more so those who choose to use the method to get rid of a body. (Acid Bath Horrors)

The scenery may be beautiful when driving this road, but locals have nicknamed it la carretera de la muerte (the highway of death). We’ll look at Mexico’s La Rumorosa Highway. (The La Rumorosa Hauntings)

Many considered Edward Rulloff to be a genius – a man ahead of his time. Others had quite the opposite opinion of him, thinking him a fraud or a conman. But nobody expected they would also be adding the word “killer” to his description. (Genius, Conman, Killer)

But first… in 1972, Defiance, Ohio was the location for one of the best true werewolf stories most people never talk about. We’ll begin with that story. (Welcome to Werewolf Central)

If you’re new here, welcome to the show! And if you’re already a member of this Weirdo family, please take a moment and invite someone else to listen. Recommending Weird Darkness to others helps make it possible for me to keep doing the show! And while you’re listening, be sure to check out WeirdDarkness.com where you can find the show on Facebook and Twitter, and you can also join the Weird Darkness Weirdos Facebook group.

Now.. bolt your doors, lock your windows, turn off your lights, and come with me into the Weird Darkness!

 

STORY: WELCOME TO WEREWOLF CENTRAL=====

Midway through 1972, Defiance, Ohio became what can only be termed “Werewolf Central.” Over the course of a hysteria-filled two months – July to September of Seventy-Two – sightings of a rampaging, hair-covered man-beast, with a pronounced muzzle and dressed in rags, were made. The local media quickly picked up on the sinister saga, as did the town’s police, who even opened an official file on Defiance’s very own equivalent of Nessie, the Chupacabra and Bigfoot. To say that Defiance was gripped by terror would not be an understatement. Many of the sightings of the creature were made around a series of old railroad tracks, and usually late at night.

A couple of guys working on the tracks – Ted Davis and Tom Jones – had an encounter of the very close kind. A close call, one might say. Davis told the local newspaper, The Blade: “I was connecting an air hose between two cars and was looking down. I saw these huge hairy feet, then I looked up and he was standing there with that big stick over his shoulder. When I started to say something, he took off for the woods.” For weeks, people were on edge: the Defiance Dogman was major news. And then, like a definitive specter of the night, it was no more. The legend, however, never really died away. The monster may be long gone, but memories of those days and nights of the early seventies still persist among those who lived through that brief, turbulent time of terror.

The Cleweekend says: “The Werewolf of Defiance is one of the those local legends that sounds like the beginning of a classic horror movie. Two railway workers, hooking up train cars late at night. One looks over to see a towering werewolf, fangs bared who proceeds to attack the hapless victim. Hollywood as it might sound, that’s the story that Ted Davis reported to police in 1972. The werewolf may have attacked him with a club rather than his claws, but otherwise the story sounds like so many other tall tales. Except that Davis wasn’t the only one seeing dogmen in the wild. Another employee of the railway also reported a wolfman stalking the rails. Then a week later, a grocer driving home sees a lycanthrope in his headlights.”

Astonishing Legends had the following, important to say about the wolfish madness: “Chief Donald Breckler said to the news media, ‘We don’t know what to think. We didn’t release it (to the news media) when we got the first report about a week ago. But now we’re taking it seriously. We’re concerned about the safety of our people.’ ….A slight panic began to enter the town and several newspapers, including The Toledo Blade and the Defiance Crescent-News, covering the strange sightings. In general, it was agreed that the werewolf was large (at least 6ft) and humanoid in some way (some reports even said it was wearing jeans). It was also reported as being bipedal but severely hunched over. Newspapers did report, interesting enough, that none of the events happened during a full moon.”

Cryptozoologist Colin Schneider had his view on it all: “The Crescent News, the local newspaper, and the Toledo Blade, ran a total of four articles about the incident. The longest of the articles focused on the local police force’s investigation into the incident. Headed by Donald Breckler, the police chief at the time, the police searched extensively for the ‘werewolf.’ Although the general public thought that it to be a bored teenager’s prank, Chief Breckler considered the club-wielding, animal-faced assailant was a threat to the community. Eventually, after days of looking and no results, the search soon ended.” And, by September 1972, the whole thing was over.

But then, you can never be too sure with canines and cryptids… they both seem to have a knack for finding their way back even if they’ve been gone for a while.

 

BREAK=====

When Weird Darkness returns…

It’s one of the most gruesome ways movie and television villains dispose of their victims… the acid bath. But the truth of acid baths is far more gruesome – even more so those who choose to use the method to get rid of a body.

But first… If you’re looking for some creepy places to visit you can’t get much creepier than cemeteries and graveyards. I’ll share some of the most haunted ones that you might want to check out if you have ice in your veins. That story is up next on Weird Darkness.

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STORY: THE WORLD’S MOST HAUNTED GRAVEYARDS=====

Cemeteries always have that creepy feel to them but these just have too much history behind them to ignore.

Resurrection Cemetery: Housing the famous Bloody Mary (or Resurrection Mary as the locals call her) this cemetery is in Chicago, Illinois. Believed to be haunted by a girl called ‘Mary’ who lost her life in an argument with her boyfriend and was killed by a hit-and-run driver while trying to hitchhike home from the cemetery. Her body was left by the roadside and she’s been in the area ever since, perhaps to avenge her death or settle things with her boyfriend. The name Bloody Mary has passed in and out of folklore but this blonde-haired ghost has appeared in front of locals to the cemetery more often than most ghosts trying to hitch a ride from passing drivers. Local cab drivers have even refused fares passing through the area.

Boothill Cemetery: Located in Tombstone, USA the Boothill cemetery got its name because the souls resting there were buried with their boots on. Boothill is the resting ground of notorious outlaws like Frank McLaury and Billy Clanton and given their violent life, it’s no surprise that the area is full of poltergeist stories. From fast-moving shadows and strange lights to whispers from the unmarked graves and apparitions chasing visitors, Boothill has a reputation and not a peaceful one. A journalist who visited the area to cover the story stepped on an unmarked grave and had a voice hiss “It was nice of you to do that” in his ear.

St. Louis Cemetery No. 1: This New Orleans cemetery is home to over 700 tombs and 100,000 souls of the dead. Given its immense size, this cemetery always has an eerily quiet atmosphere as dusk starts to fall. The locals nicknamed it “The city of the dead” and while there are countless reports of vague figures showing up there are a few known figures who seem to stay in the area. Marie “The Voodoo Queen” Laveau was born in 1801 and became the most feared Voodoo practitioner in New Orleans history. Her ghost is repeatedly seen in the cemetery and those not showing respect to the dead have been scratched and shoved to the ground. The tomb of the Voodoo Queen was visited so frequently by visitors to ask for her blessing or forgiveness that the section had to be closed to the public.

The Old Burying Point: Salem, Massachusetts has one of the oldest cemeteries in America and with the area’s… turbulent history it won’t surprise anyone that the area has a fair share of hauntings. A lot of activity surrounds the gravestone of John Hathorne. A vicious judge during the Salem Witch Trials with over 400 reports of spirits seen running with anger towards the site of the grave.

Stull Cemetery: Some paranormal investigators consider Stull one of the most haunted spots in the world and it’s considered one of the seven gates to hell. Located in Douglas County, the cemetery sits next to a deceased Evangelical community that passed on long ago. As the Church was deserted, local witches and occult groups made the sanctuary their own and legend has it they were trying to open the door to hell. Eventually, both the church and the neighboring tree that witches were hanged from were bulldozed but the landmark still attracts a lot of paranormal activity and on the Spring Equinox, locals continue to see stairs emerging from the earth below.

Highgate Cemetery: Heading over to the United Kingdom now, Highgate is one of the most haunted places in London. In the 1800s the city was overpopulated and with such a high death rate, graves were crammed between buildings and dug into the street itself. Illegal funerals and shallow graves were so common, is it any surprise that souls buried at the time are still restless? Built in 1839, Highgate Cemetery was the place for the rich and powerful to be put to rest to separate them from the shallow graves of the poor. But as the years went on and the cemetery’s fortunes waned, the pristine landscapes turned to an overgrown jungle and the luxurious buildings began to tumble down. That’s when the stories started. Locals and visitors say the spirits of well-dressed noblemen glare at them through gaps in the fence. Tombstones have reportedly exploded, watches have stopped working and visitors have been chased as the spirits seem to be angry that their resting place has not been maintained.

Rookwood Cemetery: Close to Sydney, Australia Rockwood Cemetery has over 1,000,000 souls buried there and is the largest operating Victorian cemetery to this day. Aside from the victims of war and atrocities being buried in Rookwood, two well-known spiritualists The Davenport brothers were buried there. In life, they were said to work as a link between the living and dead and that doesn’t seem to have changed in death.

Bachelors Grove Cemetery: Bachelor’s Grove, Chicago was made for a settlement established by just four men. Established in 1840 with just 82 graves. As gang member bodies started being unceremoniously dumped there in the 1920s the grounds were quickly abandoned as the ghost stories started to emerge. Aside from the usual ghost orbs seen in most cemeteries, the locals report phantom vehicles. What would have been exotic gangland cars at the time have been silently driving around the graveyard. In the 1980s and 1990s, the reports became so frequent that paranormal researchers began to arrive and continually communicated with spirits like The White Lady who carries an infant between the graves looking for… something. In 2012, Bachelors Grove cemetery was featured in an episode of Ghost Adventures.

STORY: ACID BATH HORRORS=====

Tales of human remains dissolving in acid fill us with a special dread. Given that homicide investigations need bodies, acid baths will always be a hit among murderous fiends. In some cases, unfortunate people accidentally dissolve themselves in acid. Acid steals our identity and reduces us to undifferentiated organic matter—reminding us that eventually we return to nothingness.

***“(It was) the most horrific thing I’ve ever encountered in police work—in my life”, noted detective Jeremy McCord, about the night in November 2016 he entered the residence on Knoxville’s Goldenview Lane. Inside, McCord discovered blood-smeared walls and the stench of death mingled with chemicals. Body parts were scattered around in plastic containers containing acid. In a pot on the stove, a woman’s head boiled. “The smell is never going to leave me.” Tennessee charged Joel Guy Jr, 32, with the double homicide of Joel Guy SR, 61, and Lisa Guy, 55. Prosecutors allege he stabbed and dismembered his parents over Thanksgiving Break because they were tired of bankrolling his shiftless lifestyle. After hacking apart the bodies, Guy Jr allegedly placed the remains in an “acid-based solution in an attempt to destroy evidence”. Multiple space heaters, which raised the temperature to 93 degrees, were set up to speed decomposition.

***In December 2013, a Cairns man was found guilty of murdering his wife and dissolving her body. Klaus Andres, 70, admitted to disposing the body of his wife, Li Ping Cao, in a wheelbarrow full of acid. He then poured her remains down a storm drain outside his home in Brimstead. The only thing police recovered: Cao’s prosthetic teeth. Andres met the single mother online. After a visit to her home in China, the Australian and Cao married and moved to Cairns. When confronted about her disappearance, Klaus initially claimed Cao accused him of having an affair, and went back to China. CCTV footage showed Andres using her Commonwealth Bank card to purchase 60 liters of acid. Even with this “enormous amount of acid,” Detective Sergeant Brad McLeish determined it took several days to dissolve Cao’s body. Andres forged his wife’s signature so her Centrelink payments transferred to his account.

***In June 2016, a 23-year-old man dissolved in a boiling pool of acidic water in Yellowstone. Caleb Scott and his sister, Sable, ventured 200 meters off trail to “hot pot”—or illegally take a soak in the national park’s thermal baths. Sable caught cellphone footage of Caleb accidentally tumbling into the four-by-ten foot pool, while he attempted to test the water temperature. She went for help, but never saw her brother again. “In very short order, there was a significant amount of dissolving,” noted deputy chief ranger Lorant Veress. Search and rescue were called in, but lightning prevented them recovering Caleb’s remains. The following day, Caleb, his flip-flops and wallet had completely dissolved into what are not only Yellowstone’s hottest, but most acidic waters. Since 1890, at least 22 people are known to have died from hot spring related injuries in Yellowstone, which is set above a “geological active supervolcano”.

***In April 2018, a Mexican rapper admitted to dissolving the bodies of three film students in acid. Christian Palma Gutierrez, 24, raps under the name QBA, and has over half-a-million views on his YouTube channel. The students, ranging from 20 to 25, were kidnapped on March 19 from a Tonala rank. Investigators believe the Jalisco New Generation cartel mistook Javier Salomon Aceves Gastelum, Jesus Daniel Diaz, and Marco Avalos for members of a rival organization. When Gastelum died under torture, the cartel opted to dispose of the other two. This is not the first time QBA dissolved victims of Mexico’s fastest growing cartel. He received 3,000 pesos ($160) per week as a “cook”, disposing of bodies in acid baths in water tanks at a cartel safehouse. After soaking the bodies for 48 hours, QBA opened the valve and dumped remaining oddments in the fields. Authorities charged QBA with aggravated kidnapping.

***You know what they say about good intentions. In August 2017, a pair of vigilantes committed one of the most gruesome crimes ever recorded in Montana. Operating on a rumor that an acquaintance had sexually assaulted a young girl, Tiffanie Rae Pierce, 24, and Augustus Standingrock, 27, broke into a Missoula home and proceeded to slaughter its inhabitants. Standingrock stabbed Jackson Wiles, 24, to death. Pierce slashed the throat of 15-year-old Marilyn Pickett. The vigilantes hacked apart the corpses and dissolve them in acid. A neighbor, who heard the victims’ screams, alerted police. In the basement, authorities stumbled upon a vat of liquidating remains. In April 2019, Judge James Wheelis sentenced Pierce and Standingrock each to two life terms. Beyond the count of deliberate homicide, Pierce faced an additional charge of attempted homicide for an earlier incident, during which she barged into a house and stabbed a woman eight times.

***In July 2015, three advanced mathematics students dissolved Eva Bourseau’s body in a plastic trunk acid bath. The 23-year-old art history student’s body was discovered by her mother in a plastic bin at her apartment in Toulouse. Investigators believe the three men, aged between 19 and 23, ventured to Bourseau’s residence to collect a drug debt. “There was a fierce outburst of violence, one marked by the use of brass knuckles and a crowbar,” alleges Prosecutor Pierre-Yves Couilleau. Inspired by events from the TV series “Breaking Bad”, the trio left her to dissolve in acid. They returned to the scene of the crime several times, covering the stench of disintegrating flesh with air freshener. When Bourseau’s mother failed to hear from her for two weeks, she went to the apartment. Police indicated the victim’s body had been breaking down for approximately 10 days, and was in “advanced stages of decomposition”.

***In August, 2018, a North Carolina woman received a sentence of 20 years, when a Texas jury discovered she tried to cover up a murder by dissolving the the victim in acid before feeding it to alligators. Four years prior, Amanda Hayes and her husband Grant Hayes were convicted of the murder of Grant’s ex-wife, Laura Ackerson, 27. Grant received a life sentence. Amanda initially got 13 to 16 years. After killing Ackerson at the couple’s Raleigh apartment, Amanda and Grant attempted to dissolve Ackerson’s remains in muriatic acid. When that proved too slow, the couple dismembered Ackerson with a power saw, packed her remains in a cooler, rented a U-Haul, and drove to Amanda’s sister’s house in Texas. On January 4, 2011, investigators found Ackerson’s torso and lower leg floating in Oyster creek. A dive team later found some, but not all, of Ackerson’s remains in the alligator-infested waters.

***When a suspicious neighbor requested a welfare check on a Laredo apartment block in February 2019, police came upon an “overwhelming scene”. Inside, they found the remains of three-year-old Rebecka Zavala disintegrating in a five-gallon bucket of acid hidden in a bedroom closet. Rebecka’s parents, Monica Dominguez and Gerardo Zavala-Loredo, admitted to trying to dispose of the body. They claimed the toddler drowned while unsupervised. Both pled guilty to tampering with evidence of human corpse. Zavala-Loredo received a 14-year sentence. Texas authorities charged Dominguez with violating parole from a previous conviction for an incident in which her nine-month-old incurred six bone fractures. With additional charges of endangering a child and abuse of a corpse, she received 20 years. The couples’ remaining children were taken in custody. Neither parent was charged with murder. The coroner could not determine a cause of death given the damage the acid caused to Rebecka’s remains.

***In September 2021, East2West news reported that a Bolshoi Theatre ballerina may have been chopped up and dissolved in acid. In 2014, Olga Demina, 25, went missing. She has long been presumed dead. Her “manager”, Malkhaz Dhzavoev, 40, has been the prime suspect in her disappearance. He allegedly threatened to release “sexually compromising” photos unless Demina paid up. Demina’s mother claims “she was completely at his mercy” and sold her Peugeot and took out loans to pay off Dhzavoev. Despite the payments, the photos emerged online. In 2017, on an Interpol warrant, officials extradited Dhzavoev from Germany, where he posed as a Kurdish refugee. He is currently being held in Moscow. According to law enforcement sources, while behind bars, Dzhavoev admitted that he dismembered the dancer and dissolved her in acid. “Sulfuric acid does not the have to dissolve everything to zero”. A search for any evidence of Demina’s demise continues.

***Also in September 2021, a Belgian court announced that a single tooth of Congo’s first prime minister will be returned to Africa. It is all that remains of Patrice Lumumba. On January 17, 1961, Lumumba and two associates, Joseph Okito and Maurice Impolo were taken from prison and executed by firing squad in a forest outside Lubumbashi. The next evening, brothers Gerard and Michael Soete exhumed the corpses, hacked them to pieces, and dissolved them in sulphuric acid. Gerard notes that they needed to get “drunk, stone drunk” over the two-day corpse disposal, during which they “did things an animal wouldn’t do”. While the Belgian court ruling only mentions one tooth, Gerard claims to have taken two home as a trophy. While admitting to “undeniable responsibility in the events that lead to Lumumba’s death”, the Belgian government refuses to accept full responsibility and offered a pardon citizens involved in the assassination.

BREAK=====

Coming up… The scenery may be beautiful when driving this road, but locals have nicknamed it la carretera de la muerte (the highway of death). We’ll look at Mexico’s La Rumorosa Highway.

Plus… Many considered Edward Rulloff to be a genius – a man ahead of his time. Others had quite the opposite opinion of him, thinking him a fraud or a conman. But nobody expected they would also be adding the word “killer” to his description.

These stories are up next on Weird Darkness.

<COMMERCIALS>

STORY: LA RUMOROSA HIGHWAY=====

Winding through the Sierra de Juárez Mountains at an elevation of 4,042 feet between Tecate and Mexicali, in Baja California, Mexico, is a treacherous pass called La Rumorosa. It is undoubtedly a beautiful yet haunting stretch of road meandering through spectacular vistas of surreal rock formations like the surface of some alien world, and here there are also various archeological sites and cave paintings by the ancient Kumiai people, but it is also a forbidding and dangerous place to be. Featuring countless hairpin turns, twists, steep grades, high winds, and perilous sheer drops along the entire 24-mile route, the once 2-lane road is considered to be one of the most dangerous in the world, a fact made abundantly clear by the husks of rusting car wrecks littering the rocks below. Indeed, drivers have often nicknamed it la carretera de la muerte (the highway of death), making this a sought-after road trip for those who want a challenge, but not for novices or the faint of heart. This wind-lashed road is also well known as a haunted and even cursed place, with numerous tales of the paranormal and other strangeness orbiting it.

Many of the ghostly tales revolve around the many people who have lost their lives on this expanse of deadly road, and perhaps the most famous of these is what is locally called El Trailero o Camionero Fanatasma, or “The Ghost Truck Driver.” The story starts with the harrowing experience of a truck driver named Francisco Vázquez, who was said to have been headed towards Mexicali to see his wife, who was expecting a child, when he lost control of his rig on one of the road’s deep turns and went careening into some rocks. Although shaken, the driver crawled from his overturned vehicle to find that he was miraculously free of injury. He then decided to walk off looking for help and would never be seen again. Three days later the truck was found but no sign of Francisco ever was. However, this is not the end of the story.

Some years later, a young man was supposedly driving through the area when he was flagged down by a man by the side of the road. Since this was pretty much the middle of nowhere, he stopped to provide assistance, and the man introduced himself as “Francisco Vázquez.” He then told the young man that he had crashed and did not want to leave his truck behind until help arrived, so he asked the young man to see his wife to let her know he was OK. The young man agreed, and Francisco handed him a piece of paper with his wife’s address on it, and he was shocked to find that this stranger’s hand was as cold as ice. He got back on the road and when he reached Mexicali, he looked for the wife as promised, but she did not live at the address he had received. He asked around town, and was finally shown a house where the woman was said to now live. When the young man knocked on the door a woman answered who confirmed that he was Francisco’s wife, but she went pale when the man told her that he was alright because her husband had died 5 years before. The shocked young man went back out to the same spot along the road, but Francisco was gone. It is said that to this day, El Trailero o Camionero Fanatasma wanders along that same stretch, waving down drivers and asking them to go see his wife, and the common advice it to just keep on driving, because one sinister aspect of the legend is that anyone who does not fulfill their promise to visit the wife will drop dead.

There are numerous other specters thought to be the victims of accidents along the road, including the ghost of a nurse who appears in people’s passenger seats, the apparition of an old woman who will ask people for a ride only to vanish, another old lady who will guide trucks through the pass, and that of a young man on a bicycle who is said to have been hit by a car here. Numerous others will appear as shadow figures, glowing wraiths, or merely disembodied voices whispered into the ear, and there are countless stories of seeing ghosts along the road. In fact, there are so many wraiths and ghosts ambling about along the road that they are often blamed for causing many of the many accidents along the lonely stretch. The area is also known as a hotspot of UFO sightings, to the point that there is now an annual UFO Camp held here, which began in 2018.

One rather infamous strange story surrounding La Rumorosa is that it was the source of a sort of curse on the production of the James Bond film License To Kill, starring Timothy Dalton, which filmed a car chase portion along the road. According to witnesses, there were all manner of strange occurrences on set while they were there, including shadow figures lurking about at night, freak accidents or malfunctions of equipment, and others. Actor Timothy Dalton was allegedly almost killed when a truck he was driving narrowly missed going over the edge of a cliff when another rogue truck that shouldn’t have been there crashed into him, a man fixing telegraph poles two miles from where they were filming was hit and injured by a missile that went astray from the set, and a truck moved by itself and parked itself somewhere else. According to Second Unit Director Albert Wooster, a stuntman was photographing some of the explosion scenes on his own camera, and when the pictures were developed one showed a mysterious flaming clawed hand reaching from the fire, something that none of the other cameras had picked up. Adding to this were far more accidents and mishaps that would have been expected, and it seems that whatever forces might reside there did not appreciate the film crew’s presence.

In recent years, the road has been widened and is considered to be safer than it once was, but the tales of supernatural phenomenon along La Rumorosa certainly persist. Is there anything to such tales or is it all superstition and myth? If there is something to it, then why should these forces be drawn to this place and what drives them? For now, La Rumorosa remains a curiosity and focal point of local legend that will probably never be truly understood, that road stretching off into the distance and past the reality we think we know.

STORY: GENIUS, CONMAN, KILLER=====

Edward H. Rulloff was considered by many to be a genius, a man of great intellect, ahead of his time, ready to revolutionize the study of philology. And just as many thought him a fraud and a conman. He was well versed in medicine, law, and language and an educator respected by his students. He was also a thief and a swindler who had trouble leaving a city without a run-in with the law. When an 1870 burglary in Binghamton, New York went bad, leaving three men dead, the public would face the paradox of the “Man of Two Lives.”

The early morning of August 17, 1870 Gilbert Burrows, a clerk at Halbert’s dry goods store in Binghamton, New York, rushed from the store into the street to sound the alarm – Fred Merrick, another clerk, had been shot dead during a burglary. The store had been robbed before and Burrows and Merrick were serving as night watchmen to prevent it from happening again. About 2:30 a.m. the clerks were awakened by three men who had broken into the store. A fight ensued and one of the burglars started shooting. Merrick had a pistol and tried to shoot back, but the gun jammed. He was shot in the head at close range. Burrows ran out of the store and the burglars escaped.

Later that morning, two corpses were found floating in the Chenango River not far from Halbert’s store. Three men had been seen fleeing the store and heading into the river. Apparently, two of the burglars had drowned trying to get away.

Police began to round up suspicious individuals and before noon had three suspects in custody. One was a mysterious man, respectably dressed, carrying a satchel and an umbrella. He refused to stop when approached by the police and escaped them by running across a railroad track just before a train passed, blocking the road. They eventually found him crouching in the outhouse of a nearby farm.

The man first told the police his name was Charles Augustus then later said he was George Williams. He was taken to see the two drowned men but did not recognize either of them. The bodies had been on public display all morning and hundreds of curiosity seekers had passed by. Among them was Judge Ransom Balcom who instantly recognized the suspect and said to him: “You are Edward H. Rulloff; you murdered your wife and child in Lansing in 1845.”

Then he turned to the coroner’s jury assembled near the corpses and said: “This man understands his rights better than you do, and will defend them to the last.”

An 1871 biography of Edward Rulloff was entitled The Man of Two Lives. This was an understatement. Rulloff—also known as James Nelson, E. C. Howard, James Dalton, Edward Lieurio, etc.— had been a doctor, a lawyer, a schoolmaster, a photographer, a carpet designer, an inventor, and a phrenologist. Most notably, Rulloff was a philologist, who could speak Latin, Greek and six modern languages and was working on a manuscript, Method in the Formation of Language, which he believed would revolutionize the field. The dichotomy of Edward Rulloff’s life was the fact that he financed his research by theft and did much of his philological work in prison.

Rulloff started both sides of his life early, working in a law firm and spending two years in the penitentiary for theft, both before age twenty. In 1842 he moved to the town of Lansing in New York’s Finger Lakes region, where he taught school and began studying botanical medicine with Dr. Henry W. Bull. A year later he married Harriet Schutt, but the marriage was in trouble from the start. Rulloff was extremely jealous and accused her of having an affair with Dr. Bull. The birth of their daughter, Priscilla, kept them together for a time, but Rulloff wanted to move west and Harriet did not.

Then on June 23, 1844, Harriet and Priscilla disappeared. Rulloff said she had left him but the people of Lansing were suspicious. By the time an investigation was launched, Rulloff had left town. Police searched his house and found Harriet’s clothing and no evidence that she had moved out. When Rulloff returned to Lansing he said that he had moved the family to Ohio. This story was not believed and when Rulloff slipped away again, he was pursued, captured, and charged with murder.

The problem with the charge of murder was the lack of corpses. The police believed that Rulloff had sunk the bodies in Lake Cayuga, but repeated dredging had turned up nothing. In 1846 he was brought to trial anyway. Rulloff directed his own defense and tried to focus on the lack of evidence, but the jury was predisposed to convict him of something. He was found guilty of abduction, and sentenced to ten years in Auburn Prison.

On the day of his release in 1856, a warrant was issued against Rulloff for the murder of his wife. Rulloff argued that it was double jeopardy, and rather than argue this point, the district attorney charged him instead with the murder of his daughter. Rulloff was tried again and convicted again. This time he appealed, but the verdict was upheld.

While awaiting sentencing in the Ithaca jail, Rulloff began tutoring Albert Jarvis, the son of the undersheriff, in Latin and Greek. He also became close with his mother, Jane Jarvis, who did not believe that Rulloff was a murderer. In 1857 Rulloff escaped from jail. It was fairly obvious that he had inside help since, in addition to a chain around his ankle, there were eight locks between the cell and the outside. Al Jarvis remained a friend and associate of Rulloff for the rest of his life, and Jane Jarvis would later secretly visit when Rulloff was living in Brooklyn.

Rulloff was recaptured and sentenced to hang. He appealed again and this time succeeded and a new trial was ordered. Tired of waiting for justice, the people of Ithaca formed a lynch mob, ready to storm the jail but Rulloff was transferred to Auburn before any damage could be done.

Prosecutors decided there was little hope of success in trying him again for murder without corpses and there was no interest in prosecuting him for escaping jail, so Rulloff was extradited to Erie, Pennsylvania, where he was wanted for jewel theft. Rulloff was not prosecuted there either. Though nearly everyone in Western New York believed Rulloff was guilty of abduction, theft, assault, fraud, jail-breaking, and murder, he was now a free man.

Rulloff moved to New York City and was soon joined there by Al Jarvis. He spent his time working on his book and robbing stores with Al and other accomplices. They specialized in stealing “sewing silk,” an expensive item that was easy to conceal and hard to identify. In 1861 Rulloff was arrested in Poughkeepsie and sentenced to two years in Sing Sing. In prison, Rulloff met Billy Dexter and on his release, Billy joined the gang.

Though Al and Billy preferred to work without Rulloff—he had an unfortunate knack for getting caught—he was with them in Binghamton that night in 1870, robbing Halbert’s dry goods store. Through the contents of their pockets, the drowned men were identified as Al Jarvis and Billy Dexter and traced to the Brooklyn apartment where Rulloff had been living under the name Edward C. Howard. Rulloff was charged with the murder of Fred Merrick.

Edward Rulloff’s murder trial received extensive press coverage and over 2,000 people a day came to watch in a courtroom built for half that many. The prosecution introduced witnesses from Brooklyn as well as the eye-witness Gilbert Burrows. Rulloff once again directed his own defense, claiming that he was not in Binghamton the night of the murder and that whoever committed the murder acted in self-defense and not premeditation. The jury deliberated for four and a half hours; the issue of debate was not guilt but the degree of the crime. Most wanted first-degree murder, but some were pressing for second-degree or manslaughter. In the end Edward Rulloff was convicted of first-degree murder and he was sentenced to hang on March 3, 1871.Appeals moved the hanging date back two and a half months. While awaiting execution, the case became a subject of national debate. Some said it was wrong to take the life of such a learned man who may be on the verge of a great intellectual breakthrough. Horace Greely, owner of the New York Tribune wrote:

“In the prison in Binghamton there is a man awaiting death who is too curious an intellectual problem to be wasted on the gallows.”

Others, however—including some academic philologists—believed that Rulloff was an intellectual fraud. In a letter to the New York Tribune, Mark Twain satirized Greely’s position saying:

“If a life be offered up to the gallows to atone for the murder Rulloff did, will that suffice? If so…I will bring forward a man who, in the interest of learning and science, will take Rulloff’s crime upon himself and submit to be hanged in Rulloff’s place.”

Outside of court, the people of New York ascribed multiple murders to Rulloff. Rulloff claimed that Al Jarvis and Billy Dexter drowned because they thought the river was shallow enough to walk across and neither man could swim, but the public saw their deaths as murder by Rulloff to prevent identification. He was also still accused of the murder of his wife and daughter, and now accused of killing his sister-in-law and her child who died while under Rulloff’s medical care shortly before Harriet disappeared.

Before his execution, Rulloff confessed to killing his wife by smashing her skull with a pestle he used to grind medicine. He did not confess to killing his daughter, Priscilla, or anyone else. It was reported that Priscilla did not die but was raised by Rulloff’s brother.

Edward Rulloff was hanged on May 18, 1871. Before his death, he requested that his body be put in a vault so it would not be desecrated, but his request was not honored. Before his lawyer could claim the body, it was placed on public display and the owner of a local art gallery made a plaster death mask. His lawyer gave the body to Dr. George Burr of the Geneva Medical College who promised to bury the body in a private cemetery if he could keep the head for study. After the body was buried it was dug up and stolen by medical students. Edward Rulloff’s brain still exists as part of the Wilder Brain Collection at Cornell University.

SHOW CLOSE=====

Thanks for listening. If you like the show, please share it with someone you know who loves the paranormal or strange stories, true crime, monsters, or unsolved mysteries like you do! You can email me anytime with your questions or comments at darren@weirddarkness.com – and you can find the show on Facebook and Twitter, including the show’s Weirdos Facebook Group on the CONTACT/SOCIAL page at WeirdDarkness.com. Also on the website, if you have a true paranormal or creepy tale to tell, click on TELL YOUR STORY.

All stories in Weird Darkness are purported to be true (unless stated otherwise) and you can find source links or links to the authors in the show notes.

“Welcome to Werewolf Central” by Nick Redfern

“The World’s Most Haunted Graveyards” from RealParanornalExperiences.com

“Acid Bath Horrors” by Abraham Rinquist for ListVerse

“The La Rumorosa Hauntings” by Brent Swancer
“Genius, Conman, Killer” by Robert Willhelm for Murder By Gaslight

Again, you can find link to all of these stories in the show notes.

WeirdDarkness™ – is a production and trademark of Marlar House Productions.

Now that we’re coming out of the dark, I’ll leave you with a little light… “A man who lacks judgment derides his neighbor, but a man of understanding holds his tongue.” — Proverbs 11:12

And a final thought… “When you look for the good in others, you discover the best in yourself.” – Martin Walsh

I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me in the Weird Darkness.

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