“THE ALIEN ABDUCTION OF TIM CULLEN” and More Dark, True Horrors! #WeirdDarkness

“THE ALIEN ABDUCTION OF TIM CULLEN” and More Dark, True Horrors! #WeirdDarkness

Listen to ““THE ALIEN ABDUCTION OF TIM CULLEN” and More Dark, True Horrors! #WeirdDarkness” on Spreaker.

IN THIS EPISODE: Tim Cullen’s life changed forever after a chilling dream in 1978. It wasn’t long after that he had bizarre encounters with UFOs, was abducted by aliens, and found a strange piece of metal embedded in his arm. Were these encounters real? If so, what secrets lie within the alien implant removed from his body? (The Alien Abduction of Tim Cullen) *** The life of Martha Place took a dark turn in 1899. Convicted of a brutal murder, Martha faced a horrifying punishment… she was about to become the first woman to be executed by the electric chair. (The First Woman in the Electric Chair) *** We’ll look at a double-murder case where real crime collides with reality TV, resulting in real-life horror. (The Wife-Swap Murders) *** Steve’s childhood was marked by inexplicable and spine-chilling encounters. Eerie breathing sounds, a manifestation at his bedside, being pushed down the stairs… all without a rational explanation. Even moving away wouldn’t bring his paranormal tormenting to an end. (The Entity That Follows) *** The urban legend of “The Licked Hand” is a chilling tale that has been whispered around campfires and shared at sleepovers for generations, tapping into our deepest fears of invasion and vulnerability. But this isn’t just any ghost story; it’s a timeless warning about the dangers lurking in the darkness, waiting to infiltrate our homes and lives… and it even has a bit of truth to it. (Licking The ‘Humans Can Lick Too’ Urban Legend)

SOURCES AND REFERENCES FROM THE EPISODE…
“The Alien Abduction of Tim Cullen” by Marcus Lowth for UFO Insight: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/2p9xv3u2
“The Wife-Swap Murders” by Rayven Crawford for Unspeakable Crimes: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/5n93fc8e
“Licking The ‘Humans Can Lick Too’ Urban Legend” by Jacob Shelton for Graveyard Shift:https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/2p8bbakk, and UrbanLegendsAndHorror.com: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/y39ytjpk
“The First Woman in the Electric Chair” by Troy Taylor: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/ydbd6ae8
“The Entity That Follows” by Marcus Lowth for UFO Insight: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/ykycurch
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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Originally aired: April 10, 2024

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.

INTRODUCTION=====

The alien abduction case of Tim Cullen in Yuma, Colorado, is intriguing not only due to the alleged abduction itself, but the apparent recovery of an alien implant. Furthermore, in the run-up to the strange events, Tim appeared to predict the encounter through several strange dreams. After initially forgetting about the events that summer’s evening in 1978, a chance injury and subsequent discovery of a strange piece of metal in Tim’s thumb suddenly brought forth the full details of that evening, as well as other memories that had remained locked away in his subconscious for two decades. While we should indeed take the encounters with a little pinch of salt, the apparent repeated alien abduction of Tim Cullen is one that thrust both himself and the subject of alien abduction and alien implants into the national and international spotlight. Just what might have happened to Tim during his adult life, and if he has received multiple visits from alien entities from elsewhere, remains unknown. It is certainly an interesting case, though. And one very much worth an examination all these decades later.

I’m Darren Marlar and this is Weird Darkness.

SHOW OPEN=====

Welcome, Weirdos – 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…

The life of Martha Place took a dark turn in 1899. Convicted of a brutal murder, Martha faced a horrifying punishment… she was about to become the first woman to be executed by the electric chair. (The First Woman in the Electric Chair)

We’ll look at a double-murder case where real crime collides with reality TV, resulting in real-life horror. (The Wife-Swap Murders)

Steve’s childhood was marked by inexplicable and spine-chilling encounters. Eerie breathing sounds, a manifestation at his bedside, being pushed down the stairs… all without a rational explanation. Even moving away wouldn’t bring his paranormal tormenting to an end. (The Entity That Follows)

The urban legend of “The Licked Hand” is a chilling tale that has been whispered around campfires and shared at sleepovers for generations, tapping into our deepest fears of invasion and vulnerability. But this isn’t just any ghost story; it’s a timeless warning about the dangers lurking in the darkness, waiting to infiltrate our homes and lives… and it even has a bit of truth to it. (Licking The ‘Humans Can Lick Too’ Urban Legend)

Tim Cullen’s life changed forever after a chilling dream in 1978. It wasn’t long after that he had bizarre encounters with UFOs, was abducted by aliens, and found a strange piece of metal embedded in his arm. Were these encounters real? If so, what secrets lie within the alien implant removed from his body? (The Alien Abduction of Tim Cullen)

If you’re new here, welcome to the show! While you’re listening, be sure to check out WeirdDarkness.com for merchandise, to visit sponsors you hear about during the show, sign up for my newsletter, enter contests, connect with me on social media, hear my other podcasts including “Church of the Undead” and a sci-fi podcast called “Auditory Anthology,” listen to FREE audiobooks I’ve narrated, plus, you can visit the Hope in the Darkness page if you’re struggling with depression, dark thoughts, or addiction. You can find all of that and more at WeirdDarkness.com.

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

STORY: THE ALIEN ABDUCTION OF TIM CULLEN=====

Before we turn our attention to the alien abduction encounters of Tim Cullen and the eventual discovery of the alien implant, we will turn our attention to just under two months before the incident, and a strange and intense dream Tim experienced.

Tim Cullen’s story begins with a bizarre and unsettling dream he had during the night of April 2nd, 1978, in which he was involved in a horrific traffic accident. Despite the very intense nature of the dream, Cullen didn’t think too much about it.

A week later, however, on April 9th, he was driving along the highway with his friend, Ken Ruberg, and the dream suddenly surged back into his mind. Only seconds later, the car rolled over multiple times. Ultimately, the crash resulted in Tim suffering a broken neck.

Ruberg, who had come out of the accident largely unhurt, managed to free his friend from the vehicle before waving down a passing motorist who took the pair to the hospital. These events, incidentally, were exactly as Tim’s dream had played out.

It was while he was recovering in hospital that he had a second intense and strange dream, this time of an encounter with a UFO. He was soon released from the hospital, although had to return regularly for medical check-ups. It was as he was returning home from one of these check-ups, at around 11 pm on May 30th, 1978, with his wife, Janet, who was five months pregnant at the time, that things would take an even stranger twist.

As the pair were driving on Highway 59 Tim noticed a strange, slightly glowing object that passed directly in front of their vehicle a short distance away. The object disappeared temporarily behind a hill before appearing once more a moment later.

The object continued on its way as Tim brought the car to a stop. Then, it headed toward them, eventually changing their direction, traveling “under the power and telephone lines and hovered over a pasture”. He estimated it was around 100 feet in length, 10 feet tall, and approximately 20 feet wide.

He would later state that the object “didn’t make any noise” and that there were “two diffused lights that shone at the back” of it, one of which was yellow, and the other was red. He and Janet remained where they were and simply “stared” at the bizarre aerial object until it disappeared into the distance. After taking a moment to gather themselves, the couple went on with their journey.

Tim would state two decades later he didn’t think to look at the clock at the time, meaning that it is uncertain if there was any missing time during the encounter, although both witnesses had no sense of missing time. Nor did they have any type of memory of being in a strange room or craft. That said, Tim also offered that the more he thought about it, the more he recalled that he did “have an odd feeling” at the time he and Janet decided to go on with their journey, it “didn’t really register” with him and he put it out of his mind.

In fact, 20 years after the encounter, many more details came flooding back to Tim.

At some time during 1998, Tim hit his thumb with a hammer while he was at work, eventually going to see a doctor as he suspected he had dislocated it. He visited Dr. Mark Hubner at the Yuma Clinic, who proceeded to take an x-ray of the injured digit. When he examined the X-rays, though, the doctor asked Tim about the piece of metal in his arm. At that very moment, a rush of details and realizations came to him.

Firstly, he had a realization that the object was a solid vehicle, potentially from another world. Furthermore, he was now certain that they had experienced missing time, which was the reason the conversation about deciding to go on with their journey following the sighting was so disjointed. Even more remarkable, he had sudden memories of further encounters that occurred years later.

In 1980, for example, around two years after the initial encounter, Tim, at almost the same location, would encounter an almost identical craft. He recalled that two “diffused yellow lights” appeared on the object that then started blinking. At the time, he could recall realizing that the same events that had happened in 1978 were about to unfold again.

The craft began to approach but instead of stopping over the top of him, it simply moved away, eventually disappearing behind a nearby hill. At this point, Tim scrambled back inside his car and returned home to Yuma as quickly as possible.

There was a further encounter a little over a decade later in 1994 when he, his wife, and their three daughters were traveling around 40 miles to the south of Yuma when they noticed a strange object in the distance with a strange “strobe light” coming from it.

Tim recalled that the object “hovered off the road” in front of them, as he eventually brought their car to a stop. All five of them watched the object for around five to 10 minutes before it finally started in motion and disappeared to the north.

Of course, as well as the memories and details that suddenly came forward in Tim’s mind, was the knowledge of what the strange piece of metal in his left forearm actually was – an object widely known as an alien implant. Of course, he didn’t reveal that to Dr. Hubner. Instead, he simply returned home and began researching as much as could on the subject on the Internet.

He eventually learned of Roger K. Leir and his apparent work with alien implants. After making contact with Leir, the two men communicated over the next 12 months before Tim finally traveled to Thousand Oaks in California. Leir would remove the alleged alien artifact on February 5th, 2000.

The object, which was encased in a strange, reddish-brown membrane and was the shape of a melon seed, was around 7 centimeters long and 4 centimeters wide. More ominously, around it were “several long preceptors” which Leir discovered had been connected to nerve endings in his arm. When Leir discovered a metal core to the object, he held a magnet to it. Almost immediately, it jumped from the table to the magnet that was around half an inch away.

Although it was not determined what the object was, given Tim’s encounters with UFOs, it was considered likely it could be of extraterrestrial origin.

Following the discovery and the reporting on it, Cullen began to receive a lot of attention from both the media and UFO organizations looking to explore his claims. And it was attention that Cullen appeared to be rather comfortable with. He was always happy to speak of his encounters, and, unlike many other abductees, was more than happy for his real name to be used in newspaper articles and news stories.

The implant was eventually sent to a company named Digital Instruments in California for further study. However, the results of these studies were largely unclear, although there was little doubt that the implant was certainly very strange.

It was determined, however, that the membrane around the device when it was removed was also discovered on other alleged alien implants removed by Leir. Cullen would offer in subsequent interviews that this membrane could protect the otherworldly device from foreign object rejection by the body.

He would elaborate that understanding this membrane could be “a huge medical breakthrough for doctors who want to use biological, metal, or implants of other materials” which could, ultimately, “save many lives in the future”. If there is any truth or accuracy in these claims, Cullen could very well be correct.

There is much to contemplate with the Tim Cullen alien abduction case. If Cullen was a repeat abductee, and just how long did these abductions stretch back? Furthermore, although he recalled three separate incidents starting in 1978, could there be many more encounters that remain buried deep in Tim Cullen’s mind?

Perhaps most intriguing of all, what should we make of the strange metallic implant recovered from his left arm? Was this device really placed there by aliens? And if so, when, and for what purpose? Was this implant some kind of tracking device allowing these potential alien visitors to locate Tim whenever they needed to? Was it feeding some kind of data back to those who implanted it? Might it even have been able to control Tim’s thoughts and feelings, perhaps some kind of sleeping mind-control technology?

Cullen himself would offer that he was determined to speak as much as he could about his encounter as “someone has to put a face to the alien stories”, which would, hopefully, result in more people who have experienced such events coming forward. He would state further that “the more people we can find with implants, the more evidence we’re going to have” which would, eventually, “get rid of the stigma” surrounding such matters.

Ultimately, Tim Cullen would assert that “the truth needs to come out”.

BREAK=====

Coming up… The urban legend of “The Licked Hand” is a chilling tale that has been whispered around campfires and shared at sleepovers for generations, tapping into our deepest fears of invasion and vulnerability. But this isn’t just any ghost story; it’s a timeless warning about the dangers lurking in the darkness, waiting to infiltrate our homes and lives… and it even has a bit of truth to it.

Plus… We’ll look at a double-murder case where real crime collides with reality TV, resulting in real-life horror.

But first… the life of Martha Place took a dark turn in 1899. Convicted of a brutal murder, Martha faced a horrifying punishment… she was about to become the first woman to be executed by the electric chair. That story is up next!

<COMMERCIAL BREAK>

STORY: THE FIRST WOMAN IN THE ELECTRIC CHAIR=====
On March 20, 1899, officials at Sing Sing Prison in New York had an unusual situation on their hands. Before that day, 11 men had been executed by electric chair, but they now had the first woman in the state’s history in the execution chamber – a convicted murderer named Martha Place.
She had been found guilty of the brutal murder of her 17-year-old stepdaughter, Ida. And while most were satisfied that Martha’s sentence matched her crime, it posed a problem for those tasked with carrying out her sentence. Used to dealing with men – who had a portion of their head saved for the electrode — they weren’t sure how to work around Place’s long, thick hair, or how to protect her modesty while attaching electrodes to her ankles.
With Martha Place seated in the chair, her executioners wondered what to do next…
She had been born Martha Garrettson on September 18, 1849, and grew up in Millstone, New Jersey. Her life took a dark turn when she was 23, though, when she was struck in the head by a moving sleigh. Her brother later remarked that she never fully recovered from her injuries.
He was right. Her misfortunes soon began to pile up. Though she married and had a son, her husband abandoned his family and later died. Poverty-stricken, Martha was subsequently forced to give her only child up for adoption.
She eventually found work in Brooklyn as a housekeeper for a widower named William Place. In time, the two of them married and Martha became the stepmother to William’s young daughter, Ida. But the marriage was not a happy one and it wasn’t long before the troubled woman became deeply jealous of her stepdaughter. She believed that William loved his daughter more than he loved her and her jealousy eventually turned to hate, especially after Ida turned into a beautiful young woman.
On the morning of February 7, 1898, an argument broke out between William and Martha. Ida, of course, took her father’s side. When William left for work, Martha turned on her stepdaughter. Their tension escalated and then Ida stomped out of the room and slammed a door in Martha’s face.
Martha was now enraged. She took a bottle of acid from her husband’s office, shoved her away into Ida’s bedroom, and threw the caustic liquid into her face. She’d later say that she left Ida’s room after that but at the autopsy that followed the girl’s death, doctors stated that while Ida was writhing on her bed in pain, Martha had covered her with bedding and smothered her.
When Ida went silent, Martha went to the cellar, took an ax, and waited for her husband to come home. She claimed this was self-defense – knowing William would attack her when he discovered what she’d done to his daughter – but whether it was or not, she struck him with it when he came through the front door.
As William stumbled out into the street, covered with blood, and calling for help, Martha fled to the kitchen and tried to kill herself by turning on the gas. The police arrived before she could succeed, though, and arrested her.
Soon afterward, the sensational trial of Martha Place began.
When she went on trial in July, journalists turned her murder trial into a sensation. They reported every detail, spending many column inches describing Martha’s face, her expressions, and her strange reactions. “Her face is not pleasant,” noted one reporter. “She looks like a woman who has spent most of life fretting and worrying.” Another described Martha as being stoic and having the kind of face that “reminds one of a rat.” It was said that her face didn’t change during the murder trial, except when William testified. Then, “her thin lips parted in a sardonic grin, and she fixed her eyes upon him.”
The jury found Martha guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to death. Her attorney reached out to the new governor of New York, Theodore Roosevelt, in hopes of having her sentence commuted. But Roosevelt refused. “My sympathies in criminal cases are for the wronged and not the wrongdoer,” he replied.
Martha’s trial had been sensational enough, but her sentence was even more so. The electric chair was still a relatively new method of execution. Until her sentencing, it had never been used on a woman before.
Since the electric chair had never been used on a woman, Martha was still convinced that Governor Roosevelt would give her a last-minute reprieve, but he did not. So, on March 20, 1899, she put on a black dress she’d made herself, and made her way to the execution room.
As she was seated in the chair, the executioners finally decided to clip her thick, graying hair, just as they would with a man. Instead of exposing her ankles, though, a slit was cut in the bottom of her dress so that the electrodes could be attached to her ankles.
Before the switch was thrown, Martha uttered her last words: “God help me.” Then, her executioner sent 1760 volts of electricity through her body.
Seconds later, Martha Place was dead at the age of 49.

STORY: LICKING THE ‘HUMANS CAN LICK TOO’ URBAN LEGEND=====

Have you heard the “humans can lick too” legend? The story about your friend’s neighbor who had someone lick their hand one night and they thought it was their dog? This incredibly simple story manages to be one of the creepiest urban legends because it speaks directly to one of our most basic human fears – someone invading our privacy. But this story isn’t about someone reading your email or swiping your debit card, it’s about the main character letting their guard down around an unknown person; it’s about the chaos of the outside world creeping into your home.

Along with “The Licked Hand” being one of those historic legends that’s still scary, it also manages to feel contemporary. That’s probably because it’s always being retold by people who can’t help but update something to feel modern, to make it hit home.

You’ve probably heard this story at a sleepover or while sharing stories around a campfire. Or maybe you’ve read it while you stayed up late reading creepypastas. Whatever the case, some variation of this story is likely lodged in your brain box.

If you haven’t heard this story, however, it goes something like this:

***

A 13 year old girl was left home alone one night when her parents went out for a meal with friends. The parents thought that she was too old for a babysitter so they decided she could stay home alone as long as she locked all the windows and doors as soon as they left. Usually she would have objected to being left alone, however her parents had bought her a beautiful German Shepherd dog just weeks before. The reason for such a gift was because the girl had been suffering from nightmares for years, having the dog sleeping in her bedroom helped her feel at ease.

When her parents left, she went around the house making sure that all of the windows and doors were locked, as per her orders. She found that the basement window would not lock, so she locked the door leading into the house instead and thought nothing more about it.

The time was 8pm and she was to go to bed at 10pm, this was enough time to watch a film so she put on one of her favorites and settled down to watch it. The dog came and lay by her feet for the length of the film.

Feeling happy that she’d coped well with being alone at night, she decided she better head up to bed. Turning off all of the lights on her way upstairs she saw nothing unusual in her home. Once upstairs she brushed her teeth and changed into her nightwear. She snuggled under her duvet and dropped her hand to the floor to feel for her dog. Sure enough he assured her of his presence with a loving lick, she smiled and drifted to sleep.

In the midst of the night she was woken by a dripping sound, rolling her eyes she assumed she hadn’t turned the tap off properly in the bathroom. Trying to ignore it, she felt for the dog and received the lick that she was used to receiving and fell back to sleep. Only about half an hour later she woke again to the dripping and annoyed that it kept waking her she slumped to the bathroom to turn the tap off properly. Leaving the light off in order to not blind her eyes that were still half asleep, she tightened the tap and returned to her room. Feeling for her dog, she was greeted by the usual lick.

Tremendously tired, she fell back to sleep and didn’t wake until her parents returned home. The lights from the car shone through her bedroom window and she was pleased that they were home. One thing shocked her though, the dripping sound was still relentlessly going. Worried that perhaps the tap had broken, she walked to the bathroom to investigate fully. She turned on the light and her scream pierced the silence.

Her parents ran up the stairs to investigate her troubled scream and they just stood staring into the bathroom. There was their beautiful dog, skinned and hanging in the shower. It’s blood dripping to the floor. On the mirror was the words “Humans can lick too, my dear”…

***

The story of someone being tricked by a demented home invader isn’t some newfangled creepypasta written by a modern young person; it’s been around since at least the 19th century. The first recorded version of the story appeared in 1871 in The Diary of a Victorian Squire by Dearman Birchall.

Birchall’s version isn’t as gory, but it’s still very creepy:

“[One of the guests] told of a clergyman who was aroused in the middle of the night by his wife who said ‘John, dear, I am sure there is a robber under the bed, I hear him moving. Do get up and see.’ John replied, ‘Oh its only the Newfoundland dog. I just put my hand out and he licked it.’ Next morning all the jewelry and many other effects had disappeared.”

In “The Diary of Mr. Poynter” from 1919, M.R. James explores what can happen in the “humans can lick too” scenario when the person having their hand licked decides to investigate what’s just below their bed.

Much of the story deals with a man named James Denton trying to match curtains to a particularly strange type of fabric. When Denton dozes off in his reading chair one night, however, he wakes to something truly terrifying:

“He felt on the back of it just the slightest touch of a surface of hair, and stretching it out in that direction he stroked and patted a rounded something. But the feel of it, and still more the fact that instead of a responsive movement, absolute stillness greeted his touch, made him look over the arm. What he had been touching rose to meet him. It was in the attitude of one that had crept along the floor on its belly, and it was, so far as could be collected, a human figure.”

After discovering the person crawling along the floor of his room, Denton runs as fast as he can, and the person gives chase. He barely makes it to a secured room with his life intact.

A classic campus-based version of “The Licked Hand” takes the story to college and rewards the main character for not being overly curious. In this version, a student gets back to their dorm room, and for a variety of reasons, they don’t turn on the lights.

In the film Urban Legend, for instance, the main character hears her roommate having what sounds like an intense sexual encounter, and leaves the lights off for privacy. In other instances, one roommate stays in to study while the other goes out to party; when the latter returns to their dorm, they leave the light off so as not to disturb their sleeping friend.

But while the details of the story change, the ending is always the same. The morning after, the student wakes to find their roommate slain and the phrase “Aren’t you glad you didn’t turn on the lights?” written in their blood.

Something that sticks out after reading multiple variations of “The Licked Hand” is how it’s one of the few stories that can happen to anyone, regardless of gender, race, age, etc. The people affected in this story can be teenage babysitters, early 20th century dandies, college students, or old married couples.

The reason this piece of contemporary folklore works is because it can apply to almost any setting.

While it’s likely that the story as told and retold never actually happened, there have been instances of people hiding in homes for hours at a time, waiting for the right moment to strike. The most famous example of this is the slaying of Marine Hedge by Dennis Rader (better known as BTK).

On April 27, 1985, Rader severed the phone lines for Hedge’s home, broke into her house, and snuck into her bedroom closet. He waited patiently in the closet for hours until Hedge came home. He continued hiding until after she went to bed; then, Rader exited the closet and strangled her.

Out of all the pieces of contemporary folklore that exist, why does this story continue to grow and spread? It’s not the most outlandish urban legend (that would be the one about the person dressed like a clown statue), but it may be the one that hits closest to home.

According to Snopes, in their breakdown of the enduring legend:

“This legend is a hair-raising cautionary tale about the dangers of living away from home… we fear being vulnerable in an unsafe world. The more unsafe we perceive the world around us to be, the more tales like this get told.”

Put another way, this story reminds its audience that it doesn’t matter how safe you think you are, horror might still be waiting for you – quite the sobering realization, especially for a younger audience who may still consider themselves invincible or protected from the dangers of the world.

According to Trevor Blank, a professor at SUNY Potsdam who studies modern folklore, urban legends, like “The Licked Hand,” have so many different versions because, even at their most outlandish, they feel like they could actually happen to us.

Commenting on the popularity of the Slender Man creepypasta, Blank states:

“The story provides a platform for youths to test ideas and cultivate meaning not just from collecting these stories, but from sharing them with other people, or writing their own versions and sharing them with other people. So they get to experience the story; they hear the motifs, but often create their own iterations, which also helps them to kind of flex their own creative muscles and imagine a darker side of the world – the side of the world that you are running away from as a child but are constantly being pulled into as you enter adulthood, facing these dark realities of the world and leaving innocence behind.”

In other words, understanding through fiction that the world can be cruel and harsh helps us better navigate cruelty and harshness when we ultimately face it.

In her Thrillist article “Spreading Fear: How ‘The Licked Hand’ And Other Scary Stories Move Around The Country,” Kelsey McKinney quotes numerous professors, anthropologists, and folklorists who study the history and importance of urban legends (though they don’t much like that term).

One in particular, Dr. Joseph M. Stubbersfield, “a research fellow in the propagation of narratives and cognitive bias at Durham University in the United Kingdom,” believes these stories spread as a way to give our species an evolutionary edge. McKinney writes:

“Dr. Stubbersfield points to two key characteristics that determine whether a story spreads far and wide. The first is whether it carries social information, to which we are especially susceptible. “Greater intelligence in primates likely evolved because being able to keep track of complex social relationships in groups gave individuals an advantage,” he says. Knowing, in the example of “The Licked Hand,” that your dog could be a person or, more granularly, that you should never take your safety for granted could be an evolutionary advantage.”

A recurring element in most versions of this story is that the main character experiences terror alone. Aside from the first known version of the story from The Diary of a Victorian Squire, every other version requires the lead character to be alone before the intruder slays their dog and licks their hand.

This isolation is especially resonant with Millennials, who, according to a Forbes article by Caroline Beaton, spend significantly more time alone than previous generations. Because of this, a story that reminds individuals to be wary, even when they feel safe, can be beneficial to large groups of people who spend lengthy amounts of time by themselves.

This makes the online availability of these tales important, especially in their modern-day creepypasta format: if people no longer gather around campfires to share these spooky stories, then the internet is the next best platform.

STORY: THE WIFE-SWAP MURDERS=====

Real-life horror is one thing… but when it intersects with reality television, you’ve got a story you can’t help but take notice of. Imagine the shock and sorrow when families who’ve once opened their homes to television audiences, inviting us to peek through the keyhole at their domestic lives, are later thrust into the grim headlines for tragic reasons. Perhaps the most jarring example involves the Stockdale family, whose brush with TV fame took a dark turn. Known for their appearance on a 2008 episode of Wife Swap, their story culminated in a grim 2017 incident that left two family members dead at the hands of one of their own, Jacob Stockdale.

Jacob Stockdale fatally shot his mother and brother on June 15, 2017. Both family members died instantly from gunshot wounds to the head, and 25-year-old Jacob intended to then die by suicide; however, he ultimately survived after emergency responders rushed him to the hospital.

Jacob’s two other brothers and father were not home at the time of the murders, and there exist very few speculations about why Jacob turned on his family members. While Jacob was transported to the hospital, the family hoped for his recovery.

The morning of the murders, a 911 call was made to the local police department in Beach City, OH. When the 911 operator answered the phone, the caller quickly hung up. This raised concerns for the department, and officers were dispatched to the Stockdale home.

Upon arrival, officers heard one gunshot and rushed into the house. They found Jacob near the bodies of his mother and brother with a wound to his head. They determined Jacob was the assailant and transported him to the city hospital.

In the early 2000s, reality TV was on the rise, and the Stockdale family decided to participate in the experience. The television show Wife Swapwas popular with viewers; each episode showcased two families with different philosophies who swapped wives for a week.

On the April 23, 2008 episode, the Stockdale family switched wives with the Tonkovic family. Laurie, the Tonkovic matriarch, was easy-going and laid back, which was a shockingly different from Jacob’s mom, Kathy.

Jacob struggled with his strict upbringing, telling Laurie that his mom and dad would tell him that he would “burn in hell” when Laurie tried to loosen the rules and have some fun. The Stockdale family claimed they wanted to protect their four boys from bad influences and banned them from several activities.

Jacob’s mother, Kathy, didn’t believe in video games or dating, and her children had to work hard to earn such privileges as listening to the radio. Kathy forbade any foul language, and the siblings were rarely allowed to make their own decisions. The family was also kept in relative seclusion and didn’t often have contact with the outside world.

In October 2018, Jacob submitted himself to the Stark County Sheriff’s Office after he learned of his indictment by a grand jury. The arrest brought some closure to the Stockdale family, but Jacob’s trial wouldn’t begin until two years later.

Jacob pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity and was placed in a mental institution for observation. Jacob stayed at the mental institution until his trial but struggled to remain confined, attempting to escape on several occasions.

In November 2019, Jacob devised a plan to escape the mental hospital where he was being held. Jacob knew stacks of books would be transported in and out of the hospital and decided his best plan of action was to flee by hiding behind the stacks of books as they were being removed. Jacob was ultimately caught before he could escape the building.

A month later, he attempted escape once again, this time with a more obvious approach: He tried to blend in with a group of people leaving the institution but was quickly discovered before he could make it out of the doors.

While Jacob was under observation at the institution, Dr. Arcangela Wood determined Jacob was clinically sane when he committed the murders. According to Wood, based on reasonable psychological certainty, Jacob did not have a severe mental illness when he was charged.

Wood also found no disease or defects in Jacob and noted that he was aware of the wrongfulness of his actions. Due to Wood’s report, Jacob was deemed able of standing trial, as Wood believed Jacob was capable of understanding court proceedings.

Jacob’s trial was slated to begin in early 2021 but was pushed back due to COVID-related delays. During his stay in the institution, Jacob’s family asked the judge for leniency in Jacob’s sentencing.

Jacob eventually pleaded guilty to the murders of his mother and brother. He did not receive the death sentence but did receive a total of 30 years behind bars.

An Ohio judge sentenced Jacob to serve two 15-year sentences consecutively – 15 years for each death. While Jacob never shared his motives with the jury or the media, several theories have circulated.

Jacob’s Wife Swap mom, Laurie, believed a lack of free will may have caused Jacob to snap. She claims that, due to the boys’ inability to make their own decisions, Jacob felt the strict lifestyle catch up to him.

Jacob’s mother and brother left behind siblings, children, family, and friends who adored them. According to Calvin, Jacob’s older brother, their brother James was a catalyst for fun in the Stockdale family, and their mother was a passionate parent and grandmother.

After Jacob received his sentence, the Stockdale family has stayed relatively quiet regarding the Wife Swap murders, and due to their reclusive lifestyle, updates on the family’s healing are scarce. However, they have stated that they continue to mourn the loss of their younger brother and their family matriarch as they attempt to move on from the tragedy.

BREAK=====

When Weird Darkness returns… Steve’s childhood was marked by inexplicable and spine-chilling encounters. Eerie breathing sounds, a manifestation at his bedside, being pushed down the stairs… all without a rational explanation. Even moving away wouldn’t bring his paranormal tormenting to an end.

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STORY: THE ENTITY THAT FOLLOWS=====

The following story is written in first-person, so as to not be confused please know that I’m just narrating the story. It is written by UFO Insight’s Marcus Lowth. Here is what he wrote…

Like almost all other researchers and writers of strange and mysterious events, I am often approached by people who have themselves experienced the most bizarre happenings and wish to discuss them. This can be people I already know who bring up such events during conversation, or simply someone who reaches out from afar with an email or a message on social media. And while some people are happy for you to write about these events, many others are not so keen, and almost shy away from the events.

The following account is one that arrived with me through a conversation several years ago, sometime around 2017. Myself and the person involved – Steve – had bumped into each other by chance after having worked together at a local newspaper office several years previously. As I had time to kill, I accepted his offer to go for a pint in a nearby pub.

After catching up, he suddenly said to me, “You’re into all that paranormal stuff aren’t you? Don’t you write about it?” I confirmed both of these questions, which led him to offer his tale. He was happy for me to write about it if I wished, but I was not to name them. And he made it very clear that, as the events now seemed to have stopped, he had no desire to investigate them or get to the bottom of just what was at the center of what proved to be some unsettling and disturbing encounters.

With that in mind, although the details of the accounts remain exactly as told to me, every other detail such as the locations and certainly the person’s name have all been changed.

The strange and mysterious encounters of Steve go back to when he was very young, sometime around the mid-to-late seventies, when he lived with his family – his mother, father, and brother – in Newcastle in the northeast of England. Although he can’t remember precisely when these strange events started, he does have a clear memory of the first time he reacted to them causing his parents to rush into his room.

Steve claimed he was only around three or four years old at the time and was in his bed going to sleep. It was dark outside, and given he was in bed around 7 pm, it must have been during the winter when the encounter took place. On this particular night, as he lay in the darkened room, the only light coming from a small glass window at the very top of his bedroom door, he suddenly became aware of a strange sound. It was faint, at first, but was getting gradually louder, as if whatever the source of this noise was getting much closer. In fact, within only seconds, the sound appeared to be coming from next to his face. And of more concern, it sounded very much like breathing.

At this revelation, Steve suddenly called out loud for his parents, screaming their names (mum and dad) over and over again for what seemed like an age and was probably no longer than ten seconds. They each burst into his room, both frantic as to what was the matter. Steve can’t remember the exact words that spilled from his mouth, but he got across quite clearly to his parents that there was “someone in the room” and he could “hear them breathing”.

His parents rushed to his bed, his father flicking the light on as he did so. Steve recalled him scanning the room looking for the apparent intruder. There was, though, nobody there. Steve insisted he had heard someone close to his bed, with the breathing sounds appearing to come from right next to his head. His mother did her best to calm him down, insisting that what he had heard must have been the house settling. His father stated she was right, and after several minutes they urged him to return back to sleep, offering they were only in the next room.

Although Steve heard no further sounds or witnessed anything strange that night, it would be far from the only such encounter.

Steve would hear the strange breathing-type sounds on and off over the next year or so. For the most part, however, if he simply ignored them, they ceased. As did the strange presence that always accompanied the sounds. One particular evening, however, when he was somewhere between six and seven years old, they didn’t stop. In fact, they progressed into something much more real.

As usual, the sounds had been faint at first before growing louder as whatever was behind them approached him. He lay there silent for several seconds, the breathing sounds appearing to be right next to his ear, wishing desperately for them to stop. This time, though, they didn’t. Not only did the breathing continue, it began to get all the more intense.

Steve continued to lie as still as he could, shutting his eyes tight hoping the act would force the noises to stop. It was then that he felt a sudden push to the face as if someone had pointed their finger right into his cheek and pushed his face to one side. He immediately opened his eyes, fully expecting to see someone there but he was alone.

Then, he noticed movement near his bedroom door. By the time he had turned his attention to the doorway, all he could see was the head and shoulders of what appeared to be a man. After a second, they too disappeared.

Rather than call out, he simply remained silent. He was uncertain if this was through fear or if it was because he was fairly certain the presence had vanished and would not return, at least for the rest of the night. He eventually fell asleep. The incident, however, was just the first in an escalation of bizarre and strange events that Steve would find himself in the middle of over the coming months and years.

Several days passed without incident, perhaps even a week. Then, one evening while he lay in bed, he noticed the ever more familiar sound of someone breathing. And, as usual, it began to grow in volume and intensity until he was certain there was an invisible presence right next to his face. With the memory of what had happened several nights before fresh in his mind, he braced himself for an invisible digit to push at his face any moment. However, this didn’t happen, and for around a minute the breathing sounds simply continued, as if there was someone simply knelt by his bed, watching him.

Then, as he looked on in horror, the face and shoulders he had witnessed several nights earlier suddenly appeared right in front of him. Although it was only visible for around a second or two, he could see that the face belonged to a man, around 50 years old, with grey hair and a twisted kind of face. He could make out some kind of old-fashioned suit on the shoulders but then it simply faded off into nothingness. By the time he refocused on the spot where the man’s face was, the manifestation had disappeared. And, at the same time, the breathing sounds stopped.

Once more, despite the terrifying and surreal nature of the events, Steve simply remained still in his bed. He knew his parents wouldn’t believe him, and so he resisted the urge to call out for them. Instead, he remained in his bed, simply staring at the ceiling and contemplating just what was happening to him.

Once more, things settled down for a time. Aside from the odd incident of hearing the breathing sounds over the next few months, and even then, they stopped only seconds after they first began. However, the unsettling encounters would begin again. And this time, they would be of such an intensity that his parents would be forced to become involved. And, in turn, Steve would have to tell them just what had been happening for the better part of three years, at least.

What made this incident stand out more, and certainly take Steve by surprise, was that it happened in broad daylight as opposed to the night. And, for the first time, he would encounter this mysterious entity outside of his bedroom.

It was a Saturday and Steve had stayed in bed to around 10 am, and then played with his toys for another hour or so. At around 11 am, he decided to venture downstairs and ask his mother to make him a slice of cheese on toast. He was not thinking of the strange breathing sounds or who, or what might be behind them. So, when he suddenly heard them as he walked out of his bedroom, he was all the more shocked. He continued to along the landing, the breathing sounds staying with him, as if whatever was making them was right behind him and following him.

Eventually, he came to the top of the stairs and stopped. He stood there at the top of the stairs, the breathing sound continuing behind him. He wasn’t sure how long he remained there, perhaps three or four seconds, the sound of heavy breathing continuing right over his shoulder. He wasn’t sure what to do. Should he call out to his mother (his father was working overtime until the afternoon), or should he turn around and see who was there?

Before he could make a decision, he felt a sudden push right in his back and found himself toppling down the stairs. Before he could come to his senses, he was lying at the bottom of the stairs in the hallway, his legs, arms, and back all aching from bumps he had sustained on the way down. As he looked back up to the top of the stairs, he could see a shadowy figure turn around and walk away out of sight. The next thing he knew, his mother had come in from the kitchen, alarmed at what had happened to her son.

His mother was almost screaming, asking Steve what had happened and if he was OK. Although it took him a few seconds, he managed to pull himself up from the floor. Despite the harrowing and surreal nature of the events that had seen him plummet from the top of the stairs, Steve was not frightened, or even physically hurt. However, he found himself breaking into floods of tears which caused his mother to hug him tightly, repeatedly asking him what was wrong.

Before he realized what he was saying, Steve was telling his mother about the strange breathing noises, the finger he had felt push his face, the manifestation of the old man beside his bed and in his doorway, and that he had felt someone push him down the stairs after hearing the ominous breathing sounds only moments before. He also told his mother that he knew the sounds were real and not simply the house settling or anything else.

Things settled down over the coming months. There were no other incidents at all, and for a time, Steve thought things had come to an end.

Then, rather out of the blue, his parents would suddenly make the decision to move to Yorkshire. Although he and his brother were told this was because of an opportunity for better work in a factory near Sheffield, Steve suspected it was because of the strange events he had suddenly divulged to his mother.

When they arrived in their new surroundings – a typical three-bedroom semi-detached property on the outskirts of Sheffield – it appeared as though the move might have worked in leaving this most mysterious and mischievous entity behind. However, only several months after the move, things began again. And like the last incident in Newcastle, the encounters were more intense than ever.

The first few months in their new home were without incident. And while he would not speak with his mother (or his father) again of the strange encounters, he would find himself in silent stares with his mother, as if she were asking him if anything had happened recently, and his look would tell her that it hadn’t. Then, without warning one evening, things began again.

He was somewhere between eight and nine years old and he was lying in his bed at night. On this particular evening, it was quite late, probably around midnight after Steve was reading comics with his flashlight. Now, with his flashlight and comic on his bedside locker, he suddenly noticed the all too familiar breathing sound once more. This time, though, instead of getting steadily closer, the sound was right next to him. And this time, he suddenly felt extreme terror – more terror than he had felt in any previous encounter with this most mysterious presence.

Then, before he knew what was happening, things turned decidedly dark and terrifying.

As he lay listening to the breathing sounds, waiting to see what would happen, he felt a sudden heavy weight on the top of him. He could feel a knee pressing onto his leg, and another one pressing down on his stomach making it difficult for him to breathe. Of more concern, however, was the tightening he could feel around his throat, as if a pair of invisible hands were wrapped around his neck and was tightening.

He attempted to cry out to his parents – to anyone who might listen and come to his aid. However, try as he might, the vice-like grip prevented him from doing so. As all this was happening, the sound of heavy breathing continued, only now it was much more animated and excited, as if it was enjoying the pain it was causing him.

Steve began to think he was about to pass out and possibly die. Then, just like that, the grip was released and the weight on top of him appeared removed. At the same time, the sound of heavy breathing began to fade away, as if the presence was disappearing into the distance. Then, it was no longer audible at all and the presence was no longer felt. Steve, lay there, contemplating just what had happened.

He would have told his mother of the encounter, but over the coming months and years, he never encountered the strange events again. He no longer felt the bizarre presence in his room and did not hear the sound of strange breathing. It was as if the presence – whatever it was – suddenly ceased to exist. Steve, though, would never forget the encounters for as long as he lived.

The encounter of Steve is without a doubt one of the strangest on record, as well as one of the most unsettling. Just who this mysterious presence was is not known, nor is it why it decided to follow the family on their move from Newcastle to Sheffield. As much of a mystery is why the encounters suddenly stopped as quickly as they had begun.

Although he remained alert – even to the day on which he told me of the bizarre incidents – in case the encounters began again, he never once heard the strange breathing, nor did he see or even sense the strange presence. And while he had contemplated whether he had imagined the whole thing, he knew that he hadn’t.

After the events suddenly stopped, he never once spoke to his parents about the strange incident again (both of them had passed away at the time he told the story to me). And although he and his brother remain close, Steve is quite certain that he still remains completely unaware of the strange encounters that happened under the roofs of the houses in which he grew up. Whether Steve’s brother also experienced any strange encounters remains unknown. The two brothers have never spoken about them, so we have to assume that whatever the entity was, it was Steve who was its main focus.

With that in mind, we might expect to be able to file this case away as a poltergeist encounter, due to the fact that the focus of the strange activity was a young child (Steve). However, there are many details synonymous with poltergeist cases that are missing here. Indeed, we might suspect that this is more of a haunting than a poltergeist case – only a haunting of a person rather than a property or a room.

Indeed, due to the desire of Steve to leave the incidents very much in the past, it is unlikely that any more information will be forthcoming in this case. Nor will we likely find out just what entity was behind them. Was it a ghost? The manifestation of someone who once lived, perhaps even in the same house in Newcastle? Or might if have been what we would largely recognize as a demon, or even an entity from another realm of existence? One thing is certain – the case of Steve is one of the strangest and spine-tingling that is (now) on record.

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 and follow me on social media through the Weird Darkness website. WeirdDarkness.com is also where you can find information on sponsors you heard during the show, listen to FREE audiobooks I’ve narrated, get the email newsletter, and find my other podcasts. Also on the site you can visit the store for Weird Darkness tee-shirts, mugs, and other merchandise… plus, it’s where you can find the Hope in the Darkness page if you or someone you know is struggling with depression, addiction, or thoughts of harming yourself or others. And if you have a true paranormal or creepy tale to tell of your own, you can click on TELL YOUR STORY. You can find all of that and more at WeirdDarkness.com.

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

“The Alien Abduction of Tim Cullen” and “The Entity That Follows” by Marcus Lowth for UFO Insight

“The Wife-Swap Murders” by Rayven Crawford for Unspeakable Crimes
“Licking The ‘Humans Can Lick Too’ Urban Legend” by Jacob Shelton for Graveyard Shift, and from UrbanLegendsAndHorror.com

“The First Woman in the Electric Chair” by Troy Taylor

WeirdDarkness® is a registered trademark. Copyright, Weird Darkness.

Now that we’re coming out of the dark, I’ll leave you with a little light… 2 Kings 17:39, “Rather, worship the LORD your God; it is he who will deliver you from the hand of all your enemies.”

And a final thought… “Aim at nothing and you’ll hit it every time.”

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

 

 

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