“THE MAN WHO COULD MAKE DEAD FISH TALK” and 3 More True, Macabre Stories! #WeirdDarkness
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Listen to ““THE MAN WHO COULD MAKE DEAD FISH TALK” and 3 More True, Macabre Stories! #WeirdDarkness” on Spreaker.
IN THIS EPISODE: A child murdering their parents is, thankfully, rare – but when it happens, it grabs headlines. But some of the reasons that a child gives for murdering his or her own mother can be downright shocking and unbelievable. (They Murdered Their Mothers) *** For decades, firefighters at the Chicago Fire Department noticed an eerie hand print that left a permanent mark on a casement, which could not be washed, scraped or removed, despite several attempts. Legends circulated, and many believed that the handprint had a rather macabre history, belonging to a fellow firefighter. (The Ghostly Handprint of Francis Leavy) *** Just the word “lobotomy” brings images of cruelty, inhumane treatment under the guise of medicine, and a procedure that could more appropriately be labeled as torture. We’ll look at a few cases of individuals who had a lobotomy performed on them… and the disturbing results. (The Victims of Lobotomies) *** Ventriloquists don’t have a lot of prestige when it comes to the entertainment industry – on many lists they are just one rung higher than a juggler. But they’ve been throwing their voices at us for centuries. And one man named James Burns was so good at his art, he was tossed into jail for it! (The Man Who Could Make Dead Fish Talk)
SOURCES AND ESSENTIAL WEB LINKS…
“The Man Who Could Make Dead Fish Talk” by Sarah Murden for Georgian Era: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/2nte76b6
“The Ghostly Handprint of Francis Leavy” by Prince Petropia for Paranorms: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/53xwm2wd, and by Adam for Mysterious Chicago: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/yxcvw3td
“They Murdered Their Mothers” by Jessika M. Thomas for Ranker: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/kxprwkyk
“The Victims of Lobotomies” by Jacob Shelton for Ranker: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/3kuhpcxf
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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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STORY: THE MAN WHO COULD MAKE DEAD FISH TALK==========
Let me introduce you to James Burns, better known to his late 1700’s fans as ‘Squeaking Tommy’. So, what do we know about this character? From one of his promotional posters we can see that he carried around with him a small doll, not much larger than his hand. The doll had a broad face, and was wrapped in a piece of linen cloth which Tommy exhibited at pubs on race days, and at fairs, such as the famous Nottingham Goose Fair. He would use the doll as his assistant and projected his voice through it.
It is reported that in June 1789, at Week Day Cross in Nottingham, he used the doll to project his voice and it was so convincing that a child watching believed that the doll was actually talking to her. The child apparently became hysterical and caused her to have fits. The authorities were not impressed by this and Tommy was sent off for a spell in the House of Correction.
Undeterred however, Tommy continued to use his ventriloquists skill around the county.
In early 1790, Tommy called at Mr Barton’s grocers shop just outside Nottingham city centre. He purchased an ounce of tobacco, nothing odd about that, except, as he was leaving, he spotted a young employee with his hand in a large canister on the opposite side of the shop. The young man was getting tea out of it and putting it into a smaller canister. Tommy immediately threw a sound into the bottom of the container, imitating the sounds of a dying animal.
So, as you expect, the young man and Mr Barton stood aghast at the noise and were just about to start rummaging around in the container to find the source. Eventually, Tommy confessed that he was the real cause of the sound but not before enjoying this spectacle.
Another of his pranks is said to have taken place in August 1792. Tommy was traveling with a John Badderly, who was at the time servant to farmer from Car Colston, just outside Nottingham. John was driving a wagon which was full to the brim with hay. Tommy was so skilled at imitating the cry of a child that he was able to project his voice into the middle of the hay wagon causing John to stop several times between Bingham and Newark.
John was so convinced he could hear this sound in the hay that eventually he stopped and began to examine the hay more closely to find out where the sound was coming from and enlisted Tommy’s help to unload the wagon as he could bear this child’s crying no longer. But as you can imagine, there was no child, leaving poor John to reassemble the contents of his wagon, much to Tommy’s amusement and John’s annoyance at being deceived.
Another prank took place in the house of a Mr Hogg, who kept the Milton’s Head Inn, Cow Lane, Nottingham, and who knew nothing of Tommy. A servant girl in the kitchen was about to dress some dead fish, not long having been caught in the river Trent, but obviously dead. Tommy, at the moment she laid the life knife on the fish’s neck, uttered ‘don’t cut my head off’. The girl as you can imagine was extremely startled and quickly removed the knife from the fish and just stood there in shock.
She eventually managed to compose herself, and as the fish didn’t move, she plucked up courage to continue with her work and remove the fish’s head. Tommy uttered rather sharply, but mournfully, ‘what, you will cut of my head?’ The girl was now terrified and threw down the knife and refused to dress the fish.
Tommy eventually settled in Shelford, Nottingham, where, despite being extremely reluctant to settle, found himself a wife and married Elizabeth Munks, on Boxing Day 1794 at the parish church. According to his marriage entry, he was said to have been from King’s County, now County Offaly in Ireland. As to how accurate that is we will probably never know.
But marriage didn’t settle him too much and his travels continued, albeit quite locally, along with his pranks and the final one I have details of, took place in September 1795.
Tommy visited a fish stall in Sheffield and asked the price of a tench. The fish woman gave him the price of the tench, at which point he picked it up in his hand, crammed a finger into its gills and opened its mouth, at the same time asking whether it was fresh, to which the fish woman replied it certainly was, it was in the water yesterday.
Tommy immediately threw his voice into the fish’s mouth and it said, “it’s a damned lie, I have not been in the water this week, and you know that very well!”
The woman, now aware that she hadn’t exactly been telling the truth, was aghast by this outburst, but she struggled to dispute it. She was said to have been much more careful in the future about the freshness of her fish – just in case!
I’m sure there must have been many more, similar tales, but they don’t seem to have survived into history.
Sadly, Tommy’s marriage was to be short lived as he died just two years later on January 7th, 1796 and was buried in the parish church where the couple had recently married.
And if we hear anything from his grave, we’ll know he’s probably just playing another prank on us!
Looks like we got another call to the Darkline!!
You know, I’ve never believed that the Bible had any power behind it – the message within the bible, yes, absolutely, but the actual paper and binding is just paper and binding – but so many people say picking up that book has protected them from demonic influence and attack! I can only hope that having the YouVersion Bible app on my phone is just as effective! Thanks for the story, Jeannene! If you have a true paranormal or creepy story to share, you can do what Jeannene did and call the DarkLine at 1-877-277-5944. That’s 1-877-277-5944.
For decades, firefighters at the Chicago Fire Department noticed an eerie hand print that left a permanent mark on a casement, which could not be washed, scraped or removed, despite several attempts. Legends circulated, and many believed that the handprint had a rather macabre history, belonging to a fellow firefighter named Francis Leavy who succumbed to an accident. (The Ghostly Handprint of Francis Leavy)
But first… A child murdering their parents is, thankfully, rare – but when it happens, it grabs headlines. But some of the reasons that child gives for murdering his or her own mother can be downright shocking and unbelievable. (They Murdered Their Mothers)
RETURN: Every month one email newsletter subscriber is chosen at random to win a Weird Darkness prize pack. You could be my next winner! Sign up for the newsletter for free at WeirdDarkness.com.
STORY: THEY MURDERED THEIR MOTHERS==========
Nothing is quite as shocking to hear about as parents who’re murdered by their children. What could make a person take the life of the person responsible for bringing them into this world? The reasons behind the killings vary greatly. For some murderous children, there does not seem to be any motive behind their crimes whatsoever. Others were unhappy about minor slights, like not being able to keep a pet, but they reacted in the most violent of ways. Still others claim that abuse had taken place in the home and that murder was their only way to escape. No matter the motive, the cases I’m about to share with you will, understandably, be hard to hear. On average, five parents are killed by their children each week in the United States. While the number of parents who kill their children nearly doubles that amount, the statistics are still alarming.
During Mother’s Day in May 2017, 36-year-old Joshua Lee Webb killed his mother, 59-year-old Tina Marie Webb in their home in Colton, Oregon. He also killed the dog his parents had just gotten him. Moments after Webb killed his mother, he showed up at a small local grocery store with his mom’s decapitated head in one hand and a large kitchen knife in the other. Webb then proceeded to stab one of the store employees before being subdued by other employees, who tied him up with duct tape. The police were called to the store and Webb was subsequently arrested. It is still unclear what Webb’s motive was for the violent attack. Webb has pleaded not guilty to the crimes of murder, attempted murder, first-degree abuse of a corpse and first-degree aggravated animal abuse. He was found guilty of murder by reason of insanity and was sent to a psychiatric hospital.
In September 2017, 19-year-old Andrew David Wilson made a call to the police early one morning. Wilson explained that he had just arrived home and found his mother, 51-year-old Lisa Wilson, dead in their Williamston, Michigan home. Police arrived and discovered the mother had been shot once in the back of the head. The investigators quickly realized that no one had been in the home besides Wilson and his mother. It didn’t take long before Wilson confessed that he was responsible for the death of his mom and that the reason behind the killing was because she wouldn’t allow him to keep a puppy. Wilson had brought the dog home several weeks ago but had been informed that it could not stay. Later, as Lisa Wilson slept, her son shot her with a .22 Magnum rifle. Wilson then took a drive to a desolate area and got rid of the gun. Police were able to locate the firearm after Wilson’s arrest. The boy murderer was charged with one count of murder and felony firearm possession.
In March 2012, 16-year old Kit Darrant strangled his mother and stabbed her over 100 times with a butcher knife after the two got into an argument over him coming home late. 35-year old Renette Emile was then covered in sheets and blankets and left in the North Miami Florida apartment for over a week. During that time, Darrant even had a party in his home, with party goers wondering what the horrible smell was in the vicinity, despite Darrant periodically sprinkling laundry detergent on the corpse. Eventually, Emile’s sister became suspicious after not being able to get a hold of Emile and discovered the body in the apartment. Darrant pleaded guilty to the crime and was sentenced to 28 years in prison.
In October 2007, 16-year-old Daniel Petric had gotten into a dispute with his parents in their Wellington, Ohio home. Parents Mark and Susan Petric were against Daniel playing violent video games. They told their son that if they found the games in the house, they would destroy them. The teen enjoyed playing games like Halo 3, though, and would usually just go to a friend’s house to get away with a night of gaming. One evening, Daniel managed to sneak the game home but his mother discovered him, told her husband about it, and they confiscated it, locking it in a safe. A week later, Daniel got into the safe, taking his game along with his father’s handgun. He then proceeded to shoot and kill his mother and shoot and injure his father. During the trial, father Mark, who survived the attack, asked the judge to be lenient with his son. Petric received a sentence of 23 years in prison for his crimes. The defense explained the small sentence was due to the teen’s age and his addiction to the video game.
In September 2017, 51-year-old Lisa Marie Caplan got into an argument with her mother, 71-year-old Sandra Marie Barndt. Caplan went upstairs in the home the two shared together in Palmerton, Pennsylvania and retrieved a crossbow. She then shot her mother in the back of the neck with the crossbow and put a blanket over her. Later, Caplan would text her boyfriend and inform him of the murder. Days went by and the family eventually became concerned when they had not heard from Barndt, so they called the police. Once police arrived, they found Barndt’s corpse with the arrow still protruding from her boddy. Caplan was arrested, found guilty of murder, and was sent to prison. She died less than a year later in prison under mysterious circumstances that have not been released to the public.
In December 2016, 14-year-old Jacob Remaley called 911 saying his dad killed his mom and little brother in their New Stanton, Pennsylvania home. Once the police arrived, Remaley went to his house, retrieved the gun that killed his family members and proceeded to walk down the street carrying the weapon. A neighbor was able to talk Remaley into dropping the weapon and talking to police. The boy then confessed that he grabbed his father’s gun, which was located on top of the refrigerator, and shot mother Dana and little brother Caleb. Remaley confessed that he would have shot his father, as well, if he were home. The teen’s motive remains unknown. He was tried as an adult for his actions. In February of 2020 he finally admitted his guilt but claimed he was mentally ill. Upon hearing the plee, Westmoreland County Common Pleas Judge Christopher Feliciani sentenced Jacob Remaley to serve two concurrent prison terms of 30 years to life. Remaley will be eligible for parole before his 45th birthday.
In March 2016, 22-year-old Tyler Ryan Blansit was at his parents home in Mentone, Alabama while on spring break. The young adult went to school at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Blansit and his mother, 45-year-old Sherry Ann Blansit were in the backyard discussing Blansit’s grades, which turned into a heated argument. Blansit ended up beating his mother to death with a baseball bat. He pled guilty to the murder and was given a 25-year prison sentence.
In November 2013, 19-year-old Rachel Hutson made plans to kill herself in her family’s Chesapeake, Virginia home. Hutson was continually arguing with her parents and felt like ending her life. When her father was out of the house shopping, Hutson began preparing for her suicide. She wrote a note and loaded her gun but then she started thinking about who would find her body. Hutson believed her 58-year-old mother, Susan Lee, would likely discover her corpse. The girl thought that would devastate her mother as Lee was in poor health after suffering multiple heart attacks and kidney failure. It was then that Hutson decided to kill her ailing mother and then herself. She went into her mother’s room and shot her in the head, instantly killing her. Instead of turning the gun on herself as planned, she called her father to talk. She confessed her crime but her father did not believe her to be capable of such a thing. Hutson then snapped a photo of her dead mother and sent it to her father in a text message. Hutson’s father, Donald, talked her out of killing herself while on the phone. She was subsequently arrested for the murder and sentenced to 18 years in prison.
In April 2005, 15-year-old Christopher Dankovich killed his mother in their Rochester Hills, Michigan home. 50-year-old Diane Michele was stabbed 111 times, suffering wounds to her back, chest, head, heart, face, and eyes. The mother and son had recently been arguing after Michele went through the Internet search history on Dankovich’s computer. Dankovich has been looking at porn as well as searching for tips on making homemade weapons. Allegedly Dankovich believed he was on a mission from God to protect children from abortionists and child pornographers. Once Michele discovered Dankovich’s improvised weapons, he stabbed her to death. Dankovich pleaded guilty to second degree murder for his mother’s death. He received a prison sentence of over 25 years.
54-year-old Joseph Nerone stabbed his mother, 84-year-old Elaine Nerone, to death in March 2012. The woman was found in the Chicago, Illinois home she shared with her son. After police discovered the victim, they also found Joseph Nerone covered in blood. When the police questioned Joseph about his mother’s death, he told them that Satan had possessed his body and killed his mother. In 2011, the killer was arrested for battery when he badly beat a neighbor. When arrested for that crime, Joseph claimed that he was God. He is currently being held in a psychiatric hospital.
In July 2017, police were called to a Bel Air, Maryland home after they received a call about a man threatening suicide. Once the police arrived to the address, they discovered the dead body of 56-year-old Donna Zaragoza. She had been beaten with a ball-peen hammer and stabbed in the back and chest area. Upon searching the rest of the house, police found 16-year-old Andrew Zaragoza. The boy had a bloody kitchen knife in his bedroom. He had apparently attempted to kill himself by drinking bleach and cutting himself. The police discovered a letter where the teen admits to killing his mother. Andrew allegedly also sent out a text message which included a photo of his dead mother, saying that his life was over. The teen’s lawyer told reporters that his client had suffered a lifetime of physical, mental, and emotional abuse from his drug-addicted mother. The teen was charged as an adult on numerous charges including first and second degree murder. A jury found him guilty in late January 2019 of second-degree murder and two counts of wearing and carrying a dangerous weapon with intent to injure. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison, with 15 years suspended, for the murder charge, and three years each on the two weapons charges.
And this one is the most brutal of all. No one knows precisely what occurred the night 19-year-old Moises Meraz-Espinoza decided to kill his mother, Amelia Espinoza. Neighbors have disclosed that the mother and son often fought, mostly about Meraz-Espinoza staying out all night. What is known is that, in February 2011, the teen strangled his mother to death. Afterwards, he stabbed her and cut her body into pieces. An expert in rituals spoke at length during the trial stating, “In this case the body was dismembered, flayed, filleted, eviscerated, decapitated, and desanguinated, and the skin from the face, scalp, and head was removed in one piece. The teeth, fingers, toes, and eyes were removed, and several internal organs were absent. This is really the very definition of a ritual killing.” In addition to the expert testimony, it was also noted that satanic imagery was found throughout the apartment and that Meraz-Espinoza kept his mother’s skull and bones inside his backpack, which was covered in pentagrams. The rest of her chopped-up body was stored in the apartment’s freezer. Days after dismembering his mother, Moises Meraz-Espinoza went to the police station and calmly confessed to matricide. A judge sentenced him to 25-years to life in prison, noting that it was the most disgusting and vulgar case he had ever seen.
STORY: THE GHOSTLY HANDPRINT OF FRANCIS LEAVY==========
On April 18th, 1924, it was an ordinary day for the many firefighters working at the Chicago Fire Department. Apparently, ignorance is bliss. Francis Leavy, a firefighter, was cleaning a window at the building. He had been odd all morning. He didn’t talk, didn’t smile or greet his peers, just busied himself with work, with an air of gloominess around himself.
Suddenly, Leavy foretold in a funereal tone, that he was, in fact, feeling that he was about to die that day. We can imagine a group of fellow workers giggling at this grim pronunciation, with a few purple threads of ill omens these feelings often bring.
The phone rang in the most melodramatic manner, a bus conductor announcing that he was noticing flames coming from the Curran’s Hall, a four-story building located many blocks away.
Heroic firefighters jumped into the flaming ruins, fighting the wild flames from both sides of the building. But people were caught on the upper floors, helpless folk with depleting oxygen. They used ladders to access the upper floors, and so far, the rescue mission was going alright. But…
The fire began to show weird properties, it ran down to the lower stories down the stairs, like a liquid flowing down, a common phenomenon in oil fires. The waves of fire soon covered the entire building, the roof crashed first, followed by the walls, causing the death of many, many people who were smashed to the ground under heavy weight, among them, was Francis Leavy.
Several died, while a lucky few were rescued, with heavy injuries. The investigation later determined that it was arson. An insurance fraud perpetrated by a novelties business at the ground floor of the building.
Astoundingly, firefighters noticed a strange phenomenon just the day after this tragedy. A strange hand print remained on the window, and not just any window, it was the same one Leavy was cleaning the other day! They tried everything from window cleaners to chemical solvents, but the prints remained. Eventually, they stopped trying in the memory of the martyr.
Sadly, a careless paper boy threw a morning paper upon the closed window on April 18, 1944, destroying the glass and the handprint.
The story is part of Chicago’s folk mythology.
However, the thing about folk mythology is that it isn’t all true. It doesn’t have to be; whether Resurrection Mary, for instance, is real or not doesn’t make one bit of difference on her effect on Chicago history. And plenty of supposedly haunted places have no real story to back the hauntings up, or the stories that go around are totally false.
So, what of Frank Leavy? Was this story real or not?
Francis Xavier Leavy WAS a real person, and qualifies as a Chicago hero. He lived at 6507 S. Whipple, where neighbors admired his yardwork. And the fire that killed him and six other fireman really did happen in 1924 at Curran’s Dance Hall on Blue Island Avenue. Leavey left behind a wife and two young children whose care was aided by massive drives in the city for aid to the fallen firemen’s kin.
But the ghostly handprint story?
The earliest mention of the story is in ghost books published decades after the fire station in question was demolished, and there was no proof of it whatsoever being real… until 2015. (A photo was eventually found in 2015. It looks a BIT retouched (as newspaper photos often were in the 1930s for the sake of clarity), but the handprint was clearly not only real, but something the fire department venerated.)
So the story may have been collected from oral tradition, it was originally believed by many to be pure myth, but then the photo was found in 2015. Whatever your conclusion, because of the story, thousands of Chicagoans who never would have heard of this heroic fireman otherwise know Leavy’s name, and the sacrifice he made for the safety of the city.
When Weird Darkness returns… Just the word “lobotomy” brings images of cruelty, inhumane treatment under the guise of medicine, and a procedure that could more appropriately be labeled as torture. We’ll look at a few cases of individuals who had a lobotomy performed on them… and the disturbing results. Up next. (The Victims of Lobotomies)
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STORY: THE VICTIMS OF LOBOTOMIES==========
Throughout the history of medicine, there have been few surgical practices more barbaric and cruel than the lobotomy. Famous lobotomy patients range from children of politicians and English lords to singers who were on their way to stardom before finding themselves waylaid by mental illness. The personality, memory, and IQ of lobotomy patients before and after surgery varies wildly, and doctors were not able to fully understand what was happening and why. These true stories about lobotomy patients are at times emotionally draining. When you think about the worst things that happened to lobotomy patients, it’s hard to decide which nightmare scenario is worse. When it comes to hearing true stories about people that received a lobotomy, it’s a bit like playing a twisted game of “would you rather?” So, while you listen to these stories of people who went under the knife to have their brains fiddled with, consider all of the possible outcomes of this strange and dangerous surgery.
Rosemary Kennedy: When Rosemary Kennedy was born, the medical community was still decades away from understanding dyslexia and other learning disabilities. The little sister of John F. Kennedy, Rosemary was misunderstood by her parents who struggled with her deficient cognitive skills. Her father, Joe Kennedy, consulted the Psychology Department at Harvard University, where doctors evaluated Rosemary and concluded that she was developmentally disabled. Her father consented to his daughter’s frontal lobotomy when she was 23 years old. It was thought he was afraid his daughter might embarrass him and his son and hurt their chances in politics. She erupted into aggressive tantrums when she didn’t get what she wanted. In November 1941, Dr. Walter Freeman performed the surgery with Dr. James Watts, and they sliced away at the young woman’s frontal lobe until the left side of her body was partially paralyzed. After the surgery Rosemary was sent off to a mental institution where she had to relearn how to brush her teeth, walk, and dress herself. The bubbly and sometimes volcanically angry young woman was replaced with someone who was unable to talk. In 2018, People published never-before-seen letters from Rosemary before she was lobotomized. The letters were addressed to her caretaker, Dorothy Smyth, an Irish woman who cared for Rosemary for a month-long period when she was 20. Rosemary recounted her adventures in Europe to Smyth, and she ended her letters with sign-offs like “Best Love from your darling Sweetheart.”
Rose Williams: The older sister of Tennessee Williams, Rose was schizophrenic and described by her playwright brother as one of the sweetest, most genuine people he ever knew. In his memoirs, Williams notes that when Rose would go on a date, she “would talk with an almost hysterical animation which few young men knew how to take.” In 1926, Rose wrote a letter to her grandmother describing her depression: “I don’t know what was the matter with me except that I was so nervous that I couldn’t hold the glass to take my medicine in. I stayed in bed all day long and had a big dose of calomel and I feel better but still weak. I just had finished a music lesson, and Miss Butell nearly drove me wild. It makes me nervous as a cat.” By 1943, Rose was beginning to lash out during manic episodes and agreed to undergo a frontal lobotomy. The surgery seemed to reduce Rose to a nearly catatonic state. She remained institutionalized, albeit in a swanky institution thanks to her brother’s fortune. In a post-surgery letter she wrote to Tennessee, she said, “I want some black coffee, ice-cream on a chocolate bar, a good picture of you, Your devoted sister, Xxx Rose. P.S. Send me one 1 dollar for ice cream.”
H.M.: A young man only known by the initials “H.M.” was hit by a cyclist and cracked his skull. From that injury, he began suffering seizures that lasted for around 40 seconds at a time. H.M. sought out Dr. William Scoville, a man who was experimenting with “fractional” lobotomies, which eliminated less tissue and supposedly allowed patients to keep their original personalities. On September 1, 1953, Scoville used a hand crank and drill saw from a local hardware store to remove a bottle cap’s worth of bone from above each one of H.M.’s eyes. He then removed a few key parts of H.M.’s brain. After the surgery, H.M. only suffered about two seizures a year (a vast improvement), and his IQ jumped from 104 to 117, but he couldn’t form any new memories. H.M. was forced to move back in with his parents where he performed odd jobs, despite having to ask multiple times what it was he was doing. It was later discovered that due to the loss of his hippocampus, H.M.’s brain began to understand time differently. According to Sam Kean: “Five minutes lasted, subjectively, just 40 seconds for him; one hour lasted three minutes; one day 15 minutes.” H.M. passed in a nursing facility at the age of 82 from respiratory failure, and his brain was removed immediately following his passing. H.M.’s brain was shaved into 2,401 slices, each of which was mounted on a glass plate and photographed at 20x magnification to form a digital, zoomable map down to the level of individual neurons.
Anita McGee: Dr. Walter Freeman lobotomized Anita McGee, who suffered from postpartum depression, in 1953. Unfortunately, the procedure left her institutionalized for the rest of her life. Her daughter has said, “I personally think that something in Dr. Freeman wanted to be able to conquer people and take away who they were.”
Dave Rubinstein: In the 1980s, the band Reagan Youth bashed out an intense, politically charged form of hardcore that managed to tow the line between brilliant dumbed-down circle pit anthems and trenchant critiques of the racist punk scene that was bubbling over throughout the decade. Unfortunately, the band’s singer, Dave Rubinstein, had a nasty heroin habit and also got into a fight that left him with a head injury. Doctors informed him that he required lobotomy in order to recover. After the surgery, Rubinstein technically recovered, but he was never again the punk rock intellectual that he was while fronting Reagan Youth. He quit singing with the band and threw himself completely into his addiction. In 1993, he took his own life after his girlfriend, Tiffany Bresciani, was murdered by the serial killer Joel Rifkin.
Genevieve Pilarski: In 1944, Gennie Pilarski was admitted to a state psychiatric facility known as the Manteno State Hospital in Manteno, IL, after she and her parents had a disagreement about where she should live post-college. When she was admitted to the facility, a doctor described her as “neat, clean, tidy. Extremely quiet but friendly and agreeable. Cooperative in ward and routine.” He even noted that there were “no signs of active pathology.” For some reason, instead of releasing Gennie on her own recognizance, the hospital staff subjected her to hydrotherapy, repeatedly plunging her into and out of ice water. Afterward, she asked: “Is life a farce?” By May 1953, Gennie had undergone 187 electric shock therapies (two a week) and on February 18, 1955, she was subjected to an “extensive neurosurgery with bilateral extirpation of most of frontal and temporal lobes.” This unnecessary surgery left Gennie “mute, [and] totally dependent on commands for functioning of everything from toilet urges on up.” None of this was reported to anyone, and for the next 45 years, she was shuffled between nursing homes and mental wards until she passed in 1998 at the age of 79.
Randolph Stewart, Earl of Galloway: Born in 1928, the Earl of Galloway was a slightly eccentric child who was eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia. When he turned 23, his parents took the unsuspecting Earl to a hospital in London where he was lobotomized. After the surgery, Stewart spent the next 15 years in the mental wing of the Crichton Royal Infirmary; then in 1970, his parents placed him in the Monastery of the Transfiguration in Roslin. After finally leaving the monastery and marrying a commoner and shop girl, he said, “I was never the same again,” referring to the lobotomy.
Howard Dully: As a 12-year-old boy, Howard Dully was described as defiant and “savage-looking.” His doctor’s notes on him at the time reveal a preteen with some mental issues who seems like he’s trying to test his boundaries with his father and stepmother. From Dr. Walter Freeman’s notes: “He doesn’t react either to love or to punishment. He objects to going to bed but then sleeps well. He does a good deal of daydreaming and when asked about it he says ‘I don’t know.’ He turns the room’s lights on when there is broad sunlight outside.” In December 1960, Dr. Freeman performed a lobotomy on Dully and his entire nature seemed to change. Dully’s stepmother noted that he “[sat] quietly, grinning most of the time and offering nothing.” It took Dully decades to understand what happened to him, and he still suffers from memory loss, but he feels like he’s missing something. “Walter Freeman’s operation was supposed to relieve suffering. In my case it did just the opposite. Ever since my lobotomy I’ve felt like a freak, ashamed,” he said.
Here’s a story from one of our Weirdo family members – Michael Emmanuel Omokhuvie. This is what he wrote in:
My name is Michael, and I am a PhD student in University of Szeged, Hungary.
When I was about 8 years old in 1994, my entire family visited my parents’ village for Christmas festivities. The village is a small village called Ososo, in Akoko Edo local government area of Edo State Nigeria. My parents and I were leaving in the northern part of Nigeria in Kaltungo local government area of Gombe State.
During that Christmas of 1994, my elder brother Andrew (God rest his soul) and I, went to our uncle’s farm to enjoy the fruits in the farm.
One thing you should know about my village is the fact that people use all sorts of magical amulets and talisman to protect their properties from thieves and intruders. Water wells, gardens, vegetable farms and even their livestock. It is believed that some of the talismans have a potency to make a young lady barren for life, if she dare to remove it from a well in order to fetch some water.
On that day that we went to enjoy our evening with our uncle’s cashew, was the day that made me have a rethink about the potency of these talismans. My brother (God rest his soul) being the eldest decide to be the one to climb the tree and get some of the fruits for us. I gave him a little push to get him going up the tree. While he was up there, everything was Ok, such that he selects the ripped cashew and throw it down to me, as i chew on one and keep the other for when we get home. He was also enjoying some of the fruits from up there. we stayed there for about two hours I guess, and when it is almost getting dark, and it was time for Andrew to come down from the tree, he complained to me that he cannot be able to come down because the tree has increased in height. I was surprised, I told him that the tree has not grown any further, that he should just jump nothing will happen to him. He crawled closer to a height that with a little jump, I could touch his feet, and then he starts climbing up again.
I just started shouting at him – Andrew you are almost there just jump don’t go back! But he just climbed back. He said he cannot jump, and when he was back into the tree, he sat on one of the branches, stared down at me and started crying that I should go and call mum.
It is already getting dark and our house is about 2.5 km away from the farm, and I was very scared that I cannot walk back home alone without him. So I also joined him in the cry, and we cried together for a while.
A certain old man was on his way back home from his farm, heard our voices crying, and started calling out in our language that who are those crying? Since most of the village people believe in supernatural and ghost stories, the man started to mutter some incantations to wade away evil children on his path. We didn’t understand what was happening as at that time, we just kept crying out louder and calling for help. The man knew that during this festive season there are a lot of children coming from the city and and cannot understand much of the Ososo language, then he decided to be brave and entered the farm. On reaching the tree, he met me sitting on the dirt and sobbing, then he asked me in a broken English- boy wetin you de do fo hia fo dis kind time? (what are you doing here at this time of the night alone?) I pointed up to the tree as my brother started to talk to him in our language telling him his ordeal.
The man knew what was happening immediately, then he gathered some wood and set up a fire place for me to keep warm and also extend to my brother in the tree as he run to the village to call my uncle to the farm.
At that time, my uncle could not be found so easily as he has already gone for his evening drinking of local alcoholic brews burukutu.
They later found him after looking for about 40 minutes. When they finally arrived, they found me eating the remaining cashew I was saving to eat at home. My mom gave me a warm hug as she rained curses on Andrew for bringing me to the farm at this time of the day.
My uncle went round the tree in three consecutive cycles, made some incantations and dug out something from the root of the tree – a talisman. He spat on it three times and immediately my brother was able to jump down from the tree.
My uncle explained to my mother that if he had jumped down before the charm was removed, he would have jumped to his death.
Till this day, even after Andrew has passed away, I dare not enter anybody’s farm or even harvest mangoes that are hanging outside the farm.
I told only a few people about this happening and most of them didn’t believe me.