“BORLEY RECTORY: THE MOST HAUNTED HOUSE IN THE UK” and More Strange True Stories! #WeirdDarkness

BORLEY RECTORY: THE MOST HAUNTED HOUSE IN THE UK” and More Strange True Stories! #WeirdDarkness

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IN THIS EPISODE: Though it’s been shuttered, Willard Asylum still stands as a creepy memorial to those who once walked its halls. (Willard Asylum) *** The bond between grandfather and granddaughter is so strong, it even affects the little girl’s sleep. (The Inconsolable Child) *** It had long straggly hair, long fingers, and long arms… and it ran faster than humanly possible. What was it? (Long Haired Entity) *** Artists depict them as children, even toddlers, with wings. Innocent, cute, loving. But the angels called “cherubim” in the Bible may not have been the little angels we depict them as. (Biblical Cherubim – Sweet Angels Or Dangerous Creatures With A Hidden Agenda?) *** The story of the Beale Treasure is one of mystery.  The booklet from the 1880s detailed circumstances in which an immense treasure was buried, and included coded messages left on how to find the secret stash of gold, silver, and other jewels. But was it a legitimate opportunity to become wealthy, or someone’s idea of a practical joke? (Lost Treasure and the Beale Cipher) *** Borley Rectory was reputed to be the most haunted house in the UK. It’s thought that the rectory was destined to be a haunted house from the start due to the events that had occurred on the site many centuries before. (Borley Rectory: The Most Haunted House in Britain) *** Of all of the many strange things that one can see out on the road at night, one that is certain to startle anyone is a car blinking out of existence in an instant right before one’s eyes… and there are stories coming in from all around the world. (Baffling Cases Of Cars Vanishing Into Thin Air) *** A family experiences strange occurrences all at the same time while in the car – but even stranger, they weren’t all in the same car or in the samelocation. (The Glowing Ball) *** Ghosts can terrorize, but can they also protect? (Stewart The House Spirit) *** In 1990, Danny Rolling left University of Florida students cowering over the course of three days, and murdered five in the process. (The Gainesville Ripper) *** April 26, 1865, in New York a photograph was taken that became the most controversial photo of President Lincoln ever taken. (The Forbidden Portrait of Abraham Lincoln) *** Birthed from troubled pasts, Henry Lucas and Ottis Toole were lovers and deranged serial killers whose crimes would change American laws and TV. (The Confession Killers)
SOURCES AND ESSENTIAL WEB LINKS…
“Willard Asylum” by Wyatt Redd for All That’s Interesting: http://bit.ly/2TH1LDR
“Biblical Cherubim – Sweet Angels Or Dangerous Creatures With A Hidden Agenda?” by Ellen Lloyd for Ancient Pages:http://bit.ly/2z7C6dT
“Borley Rectory, The Most Haunted House in Britain” from Ghost-Story.co.uk: http://bit.ly/2Mp58hE
“Lost Treasure and the Beale Cipher” by Jenny Kile for Mysterious Writings: http://bit.ly/2Z0qtEQ
“The Inconsolable Child” by Jack Mesko, submitted to WeirdDarkness.com: http://bit.ly/2NdSwJV
“Long Haired Entity” from PhantomsAndMonsters.com: http://bit.ly/2KGxKAZ
“Baffling Cases Of Cars Vanishing Into Thin Air” by Brent Swancer for Mysterious Universe: http://bit.ly/2Nfm5uU
“The Glowing Ball” by Taylor B., submitted to WeirdDarkness.com
“The Gainesville Ripper” by Matt Gilligan: (link no longer available)
“The Forbidden Portrait of Abraham Lincoln” by Troy Taylor: http://bit.ly/2KStFbV
“Stewart The House Spirit” from YourGhostStories.com: http://bit.ly/2KOPtoQ
“The Confession Killer” by Mark Oliver for All That’s Interesting: http://bit.ly/31P6uG6
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PARTIAL TRANSCRIPT…..

In October 1930, Reverend Lionel Foyster, his wife Marianne, and their adopted daughter Adelaide moved in to Borley Rectory. This was the beginning of the most famous period in poltergeist history. It was referred to as “the most extraordinary and best documented case of haunting in the annals of psychical research.”

I’m Darren Marlar and this is Weird Darkness.

SHOW OPEN==========

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

Coming up in this episode…

Though it’s been shuttered, Willard Asylum still stands as a creepy memorial to those who once walked its halls.

The bond between grandfather and granddaughter is so strong, it even affects the little girl’s sleep.

It had long straggly hair, long fingers, and long arms… and it ran faster than humanly possible. What was it? 

Artists depict them as children, even toddlers, with wings. Innocent, cute, loving. But the angels called “cherubim” in the Bible may not have been the little angels we depict them as.

The story of the Beale Treasure is one of mystery.  The booklet from the 1880s detailed circumstances in which an immense treasure was buried, and included coded messages left on how to find the secret stash of gold, silver, and other jewels. But was it a legitimate opportunity to become wealthy, or someone’s idea of a practical joke?

Of all of the many strange things that one can see out on the road at night, one that is certain to startle anyone is a car blinking out of existence in an instant right before one’s eyes… and there are stories coming in from all around the world.

A family experiences strange occurrences all at the same time while in the car – but even stranger, they weren’t all in the same car or in the same location.

Ghosts can terrorize, but can they also protect?

In 1990, Danny Rolling left University of Florida students cowering over the course of three days, and murdered five in the process.

April 26, 1865, in New York a photograph was taken that became the most controversial photo of President Lincoln ever taken.

Birthed from troubled pasts, Henry Lucas and Ottis Toole were lovers and deranged serial killers whose crimes would change American laws and TV.

But first… Borley Rectory was reputed to be the most haunted house in the UK. It’s thought that the rectory was destined to be a haunted house from the start due to the events that had occurred on the site many centuries before.

If you’re new here, welcome to the show! While you’re listening, be sure to check out WeirdDarkness.com for merchandise, my newsletter, enter contests, to connect with me on social media, plus, you can visit the Hope in the Darkness page if you’re struggling with depression or dark thoughts. You can find all of that and more at WeirdDarkness.com.

And this month we’re celebrating Weird Darkness’ birthday… this month makes seven years of Weird Darkness as a podcast. And to recognize our birthday, every October we ask you to make a donation to our Overcoming The Darkness fundraiser. Every dollar we raise through donations and the Weirdling Woods painting auction will go to organizations that help people who struggle with depression. You can learn more about the fundraiser and what we’re doing with it on the Hope in the Darkness page at WeirdDarkness.com.

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

STORY: BORLEY RECTORY

The UK’s Borley Rectory was built by the Reverend Henry D. E. Bull in 1863 near the river Stour, Essex. However the rectory burnt down in a fire started in mysterious circumstances in 1939.

The rectory was likely destined to be a haunted house from the very beginning. The foundation for the rectory was an age old Priory on land that contained a 12th century Church, Caretaker’s House and other buildings. A.C. Henning, the rector in 1936, discovered that the Doomsday Book told of a Borley Manor prior to 1066, so he concluded a wooden church was probably also built around that time. The foundations contained underground tunnels and a complex of vault rooms. The Rectory had 20 rooms and was 3 stories high.

The most popular story to the background of Borley was that in 1362 Benedictine Monks built a monastery on the site which would later hold the rectory. Legend told of a nun from the Bures convent, 7 miles southeast of Borley falling in love with a monk from the monastery. They had decided to elope to be together, but the elders discovered their plans. A friend of the monk was to drive a carriage to help them escape. On the fateful night they were captured by the elders. The coachman was beheaded, the monk hanged and the nun was bricked up alive in the walls of the vaults beneath the rectory. Their ghosts have haunted the site ever since.

Reverend Henry D. E. Bull became rector of Borley in 1862. He built a large, brick building the next year. Bull added a new wing to the already rambling building in 1875. The first reported paranormal sightings at Borley were reported by P. Shaw Jeffrey who witnessed stone throwing and similar poltergeist activity whilst visiting the rectory during 1885.

Unexplained events scattered throughout the early years of the rectory. A former headmaster of the Colchester Royal Grammar School reported seeing a ghostly nun several times during 1885. A series of pastors and their families who have lived at the rectory have all reported sightings of the nun. It was reported that during dinner parties guests saw the nun’s pale face in the window looking in. It got so bad that they eventually bricked up the window.

Henry Bull died in the Blue Room of the rectory May 7, 1892. He was succeeded by his son, also named Henry. The younger Bull was called “Harry” to avoid confusion with his father. On July 28th, 1900, three Bull daughters reportedly saw a figure on a path, which later became known as the “Nuns Walk”, to the rear of the rectory. They were joined by a fourth sister to help greet the stranger, but the apparition disappeared. Harry also told of seeing the nun, together with the phantom coach in which she had eloped.

She was also seen wandering the grounds around the Rectory, in and out of the bushes, dressed in grey. There are reports of the Monk and Nun passing across the grounds. Several people said they observed “A lady in grey cloak” and “A gentleman with a sort of bald head, dressed in a long black gown.”

On June 9, 1927 Harry died in the “Blue Room” of the rectory. Earlier, he had said he had “communications with spirits,” and that he would throw moth balls after his death. The rectory was empty for several months after Harry’s death. During the autumn of 1927, and while it was still empty, a local carpenter named Fred Cartwright said he saw a nun four separate times by the gate.

Reverend Guy Eric Smith and his wife moved to Borley on 2nd October, 1928. Soon after, he heard whispers and moans, including the words “Don’t Carlos, don’t.” Henry D. E. Bull had been given the nick name of “Carlos”. While living in the rectory, the Smiths apparently heard the loud ringing of the doorbell; experienced small pebbles being thrown, heard footsteps , noticed keys disappear and lights being turned on. A horse-drawn coach was also claimed to have been seen coming through the gates of the rectory.

During October 1930, Reverend Lionel Foyster, his wife Marianne, and their adopted daughter Adelaide moved in to Borley Rectory. This was the beginning of the most famous period in poltergeist history. It was referred to as “the most extraordinary and best documented case of haunting in the annals of psychical research” by Henry Price.

At least two thousand Poltergeist phenomena were experienced at the Rectory between October 1930 and October 1935 during the tenancy of Lionel and Marianne Foyster. In later years, Mrs. Foyster came up with explanations for how many of these paranormal events could have happened naturally. However there were some phenomena that she was never sure about, including various writings that appeared on the walls and on slips of paper that mysteriously appeared out of nowhere.

During the first year of their tenancy, Lionel described many unexplained happenings including; bell ringing, the appearance of Harry Bull, glass objects appearing out of nowhere and being dashed to the floor, books appearing, and many items being thrown, including pebbles and an iron. After an attempt at exorcism, Marianne was thrown out of bed several times.

The Foysters lived at the Rectory for 5 years before leaving, and contrary to popular belief they were not frightened away from the rectory. They left only because Lionel’s ill health made it impossible for him to continue his work. After the Foyster’s left, the house stood empty for a couple of years, but the phenomena continued. Although the presence of Marianne seemed to precipitate the most paranormal activity, unexplained events occurred at Borley both before and after the Foyster residency.

Price said “Every person who has resided in the rectory since it was built in 1863, and virtually every person who has investigated the alleged miracles, has sworn to incidents that can only be described as paranormal.”

Price was given the opportunity to study the haunting further when no one could be found to live in the rectory. He leased the rectory for a year, and advertised in The Times for “responsible persons of leisure and intelligence, intrepid, critical and unbiased”, to form a team of investigators who would spend several nights in the abandoned building. The lease began in June of 1937 and little, if any, poltergeist activity was witnessed during this year-long study. The most common occurrence was the movement of objects out of their documented locations, and the sounds of footsteps.

A mysterious coat appeared, but no sightings of the nun were observed. Some witnesses felt a sudden chill outside the Blue Room, and certain parts of the house were consistently colder than others.

After Price’s study group left the rectory, the house was eventually purchased by Captain William Gregson and his family who were the last people to live in the rectory. The rectory burnt down on the 27th February 1939 when Gregson overturned an oil lamp whilst stocking some bookcases. Witnesses who watched the blaze spotted ghosts in the windows. The site was demolished in 1944.

During 1944 LIFE magazine researched an article on Borley Rectory. Whilst photographing the final demolition of the rectory, the photographer took pictures showing a brick rise from the rubble in the doorway. Sceptics say that it was merely a brick that had been thrown by a nearby workman and accidentally captured by the photographer.

The following photograph was taken by David Bamber in 1996 near the graveyard at Borley Rectory. What appears to be the ghost of a monk is seen walking at the back right of the photo.

Smiths contacted the Daily Mirror in June of 1929 asking for help. The newspaper, in turn, approached psychic investigator Harry Price. The Daily Mirror sent a reporter named C.V. Wall to the rectory June 10, resulting in the first published report of paranormal activity. Wall listened to the tales of the Smiths, and saw a “mysterious light” in the window during his visit.

On June 12, Harry Price arrived at the rectory for the first time, accompanied by his secretary, Miss Lucie Kaye, and by the reporter. They witnessed stones and other objects being thrown across rooms. Wall later said that he had seen the nun.

Price returned for a second visit 27th June. Various phenomena were reported, including the appearance of a Catholic medallion and other articles. There was also incessant bell ringing.

By 14th July, 1929, the Smiths moved out “owing to the lack of amenities and the nuisance created by the publicity of thenewspaper reports.”

BREAK

When Weird Darkness returns… Though it’s been shuttered, Willard Asylum still stands as a creepy memorial to those who once walked its halls.

Plus… It had long straggly hair, long fingers, and long arms… and it ran faster than humanly possible. What was it? (Long Haired Entity)

These stories and more coming up!

<COMMERCIAL BREAK>

STORY: WILLARD ASYLUM

The area surrounding the shores of Seneca Lake, New York is breathtaking by any measure. Every year, thousands of tourists pour into the Finger Lakes region to take in the changing of the leaves as the green of summer makes way for the hues of autumn.

And if you stray too far from the tourist attractions, you may stumble across a certain building that has its own sort of beauty. The Willard Asylum for the Chronic Insane was once a stunning example of mid-19th-century architecture.

Now the sprawling grounds sit abandoned for the most part. Though nature has begun to reclaim the halls, they still seem haunted by the lost souls who once walked them.

Willard Asylum was meant to rescue mentally ill people from county facilities where they were usually kept, often chained up or in cages. At Willard, the idea was that patients could be treated and trained to find productive work so that they could rejoin society.

This was a new concept at the time the facility opened in 1869, and the effect it had on the patients was obvious from the beginning.

The first patient was a woman named Mary Rote, who came from just the kind of situation Willard was built to save people from. Rote was suffering from dementia and had spent 10 years in a county poorhouse chained to her bed. It wasn’t until she arrived at Willard Asylum by steamboat that her chains were finally taken off.

The experience left her physically deformed and disheveled. But at Willard, the staff made sure that she was dressed and groomed every day. They treated her like a human being instead of an animal. Almost immediately her mental state and overall health improved.

Willard was trying something different and it worked. But the facility was still a product of the times and today, many of the asylum’s practices would still be considered horrifying.

In practice, Willard was as much a prison as a hospital. Patients were kept until the administrators decided they could leave. Many never did. At a time when understanding of mental health was very crude, not everyone who found themselves locked in the asylum was really insane.

One of the asylum’s most famous patients was Joseph Lobdell who was committed for “a rare form of mental disease,” as his doctor put it. While he had been born a woman, he felt himself to be a man.

Today, being transgender is no longer considered grounds for commitment to a mental institution. And Lobdell was certainly not insane. Yet he spent 10 years at Willard before being transferred to another mental hospital, where he remained until his death.

While Lobdell is gone, the signs of what patients like him went through can still be seen. The rooms where patients received treatments like electric shock therapy remain. And while the floor is giving out, many of the rooms where the patients spent their days remain.

The bowling alley built in Willard during the later years is also still there with several decaying pins remaining at the end of the lanes. It was one of the few places that the patients could partake of the activities they enjoyed outside the walls.

You can also see what happened to the patients who ended their lives at the asylum. The morgue is still largely intact, with the autopsy tables in place next to the drawers where bodies were kept. The crematorium remains as well.

The corpses that weren’t cremated ended up in the asylum’s cemetery. They’re there as well, each grave marked not by a name but by a numbered metal plaque.

In those days it was seen as shameful to have one’s family name appear in the graveyard of a mental hospital. As such, out of respect for the patients’ families, none of the graves were marked with surnames.

Today, efforts are underway to find out who is buried in the graves and replace the numbers with names. But the process has been slow because of the lack of records.

A better memorial to those who died at Willard might be found in the attic instead. In 1995 – the same year it closed – hundreds of suitcases were discovered in the attic. They had been left behind by patients who never left, their belongings left unclaimed. It turns out the staff had been reluctant to throw them out.

Instead they were stowed away and forgotten for decades. Now, they’re being carefully opened and the items inside are being documented.

They paint a vivid portrait of the former patients of Willard Asylum and the things they felt they needed to bring with them for their stay. Many contained personal keepsakes or things that the patients were reluctant to let go of.

Other suitcases have more practical items like shoe polish or toothpaste. They’re the sorts of things anyone would pack when going for an extended hospital stay.

But in some of the suitcases, there are photographs of loved ones or even of the patients themselves. Like the people who died at Willard Asylum, they were locked away and forgotten by the outside world.

STORY: LONG HAIRED ENTITY

I was walking home from a friends house in Huntington Park in Hamlin, NY. On my way home I saw something running in zig-zags from one side of the road to the other at unhuman speeds. After that it was gone, the next year in school in my photo class me and my friend got to talking about aliens and such and he told me a pretty terrifying story. Well he used to live in Huntington Park and there are fields throughout the park where there are playgrounds and such. Him and one of his friends saw lights flashing in the sky and heard a siren sounds (similar to police). They were shooting fireworks towards the lights in the sky, all of a sudden they look up and saw this thing standing about 60 yards or so from where they were. He said it had long straggly hair, long fingers, and long arms. All of a sudden it started running towards them with it’s arms going in a circular motion and ran the 60 yards in about 3 secs. As soon as they saw it start running they ran into my friends house locked the front door (doorknob and padlock) and their garage where the main door was connected to. They then ran into his bedroom but forgot to shut the door, they were scarred to death, they then argued to who was going to shut the bedroom door he lost and got up to shut it. He then heard all the locks coming undone extremely fast, then the door opened heard it walk into the house. Then heard something glass breaking, and heard the door slam. He shut the door and they stayed awake all night. In the morning his mom asked him why was there a broken bowl in the kitchen, he told her it wasn’t them but didn’t bother telling her the story because she wouldn’t have believed them. After he told me this story I was like no way and told him my experience and we came to the conclusion it was the same type of being running at the extreme speeds that no human would be capable of. – NUFORC

BREAK

Coming up…

The story of the Beale Treasure is one of mystery.  The booklet from the 1880s detailed circumstances in which an immense treasure was buried, and included coded messages left on how to find the secret stash of gold, silver, and other jewels. But was it a legitimate opportunity to become wealthy, or someone’s idea of a practical joke?

Plus… The bond between grandfather and granddaughter is so strong, it even affects the little girl’s sleep.

But first, Artists depict them as children, even toddlers, with wings. Innocent, cute, loving. But the angels called “cherubim” in the Bible may not have been the little angels we depict them as.

These stories and more when Weird Darkness returns.

<COMMERCIAL BREAK>

STORY: CHERUBIM

Often depicted in Christian art as adorable little children with wings, the Cherubim are mentioned frequently in the Bible. In the traditional definition, they are thought to be angels and their origin is shrouded in mystery.

However, examination of the Scriptures reveal that the Cherubim were far from as sweet as modern artists depict them. Their innocent look is misleading. Their nature and acts show the Cherubim were hostile, aggressive and without mercy.

Certain Biblical passages even suggest that the Cherubim were “programmed” and acted on “orders”. As special guardians, the Cherubim knew exactly what had to be done when God’s work and sacred places were endangered.

Do the Cherubim offer proof of highly advanced technology in the Bible? It’s a very controversial theory, but some think it may actually be so. How else can we explain some very odd descriptions on these peculiar creatures mentioned in the Holy Book?

Is it possible the Cherubim are something entirely different than we have imagined?

In this article we will try to unravel the identity and motives of the Cherubim. We will look closer at Biblical passages that reveal something astonishing.

The interpretations of the Cherubim vary. They are often said to be symbolic mythological creatures. Many consider them also to represent something spiritual, incorporeal. The Cherubim have wings and possess the ability to fly, but their movements are unusual.

According to Prophet Ezekiel, the noise of the Cherubim wings resembles the sound of “great waters” or the God’s speaking voice.

“And when they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of great waters, as the voice of the Almighty, the voice of speech, as the noise of an host: when they stood, they let down their wings.” (Ezekiel, 1:24)

One of the most interesting accounts dealing with the Cherubims’ assigned protection roles is described in the Genesis. It is written that the Cherubim guarded the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden.

So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life. (Gen. 3:24)

When Adam and Eve reached the Garden of Eden’s entrance gate they saw a Cherub with sword of fire in his hand. Adam and Eve were terrified as they thought the dangerous creature was going to kill them. But the Cherub did not kill the couple. Instead he went to heaven and asked God what should be done with these frightening servants.In her book, The Yahweh Encounters, Ann Madsen Jones puts forward a controversial theory suggesting Adam and Eve were confronted with sophisticated technology.

“The word “sword” is a designation of some kind of weapon or device, and the word “flaming” as defined by the original Hebrew, meant “to lick out” like the flames of fire. According to the Holy Scriptures, the Lord put the Cherubim and a flaming sword which revolved, at the east of the garden, as sentinel to protect the Tree of Life. This rotating sword could have been a laser gun, or a revolving light which terrified Adam and Eve, combined with a monitor which could see and report everything they did in the garden. When the Cherub pitied Adam and Eve, he went up to the heaven to speak to God, indicating that Yahweh was not located on the earth at the time,” Jones writes.

In Psalm 17:10 it is written that God rode upon a Cherub and they soared the skies. Obviously, the Cherub could not have been a small little child with wings, but rather something heavy capable of carrying him.

10He rode upon a cherub and flew;
And He sped upon the wings of the wind.
11 He made darkness His hiding place, His canopy around Him,
Darkness of waters, thick clouds of the skies.
12 From the brightness before Him passed His thick clouds,
Hailstones and coals of fire.
13 The Lord also thundered in the heavens,
And the Most High uttered His voice,
Hailstones and coals of fire. (Psalm 18:10-13)

According to Jones, the name Cherubim is “mysterious because the original Hebrew for Cherubim suggests that Biblical people did not know precisely what they were. No words in The First Book of Adam and Eve, or in the Bible, preclude the Cherubim at the garden gate from being sophisticated technological devices or robots.”

We also encounter a curious description of the Cherubim in the Book of Exodus and a passage dealing with the construction of the Ark.

17 “Make an atonement cover of pure gold—two and a half cubits long and a cubit and a half wide. 18 And make two cherubim out of hammered gold at the ends of the cover. 19 Make one cherub on one end and the second cherub on the other; make the cherubim of one piece with the cover, at the two ends. 20 The cherubim are to have their wings spread upward, overshadowing the cover with them. The cherubim are to face each other, looking toward the cover. 21 Place the cover on top of the ark and put in the ark the tablets of the covenant law that I will give you.22 There, above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the covenant law, I will meet with you and give you all my commands for the Israelites. (Ex. 25: 17-22)

In Exodus, God asks for material needed to construct the Ark and here it becomes clear the Cherubim are not beings of flesh and blood, but some kind of objects made of gold.

If one studies Biblical passages in detail, it’s possible to find several curious references to the Cherubim.

So what were (or are) the cherubim?  We can glean only so much from the Bible – and we may never know… at least not this side of eternity.

STORY: INCONSOLABLE CHILD

My father in law went bald at a fairly young age. Rather than be bald, he insisted on wearing a wig. My younger daughter, despite only being 18-months old, was only too aware of this fact, and took great pleasure in pulling it off his head every opportunity she got. The two of them would laugh hysterically at this and both were endlessly entertained. As a result, they began to form a strong bond.

We had traveled to Pennsylvania to spend 4th of July weekend with my sister and her family. We had all gone to bed when around 11pm my daughter woke up crying and repeating over and over “no, no, no”. This was unusual because she almost always slept through the night without incident. This night however, was different. She was inconsolable . This went on for about 2 hours. Finally, around 1am, she finally fell back to sleep. Relieved we soon followed suit.

The next morning the incident was briefly discussed and then forgotten. Later that day we packed up and went home. The 2 and a half hour ride home passed without incident and it seemed all was fine. When we walked in the door of home the phone was ringing. My wife picked it up and her face went white. She immediately left telling me on her way out the door that her father had died. Later, she told me had had a heart attack and passed at the hospital. around 11 pm the night before. He was pronounced dead at around 1am. This time frame matches the exact moment my daughter was in distress. Some would say it was merely coincidence, but having been there with her and knowing their relationship I know it was more than that.

STORY: BEALE CIPHER

The story of the Beale Treasure is one of mystery.  It was first brought to the public’s attention in 1885 by way of a pamphlet published by James B. Ward.  The fifty cent booklet detailed circumstances in which an immense treasure was buried, and included coded messages left on how to find the secret stash of gold, silver, and other jewels.  If a person solved the codes, he would supposedly be led to all that was hidden.

The following full title of pamphlet certainly captured interest at the time; The Beale Papers, containing authentic statements regarding the treasure buried in 1819 and 1821, near Bufords, in Bedford County, Virginia, and which has never been recovered.  Today, since no confirmation of the treasure has ever surfaced (other than the Beale Papers), some people believe the buried treasure was just part of a tale.  Others, however, feel there is something real, yet to discover.   No one knows for sure.

The Beale Papers relate how a safe box, which contained three coded messages and two letters written by a gentleman named Thomas J. Beale, was left with another man named Robert Morriss in the spring of 1822.  The first letter in the box told of the discovery of gold, some 250 to 300 miles north of Santa Fe.  The gold was found by a group of men led by T.J. Beale.  In efforts to ensure this treasure stayed safe (while they continued on other adventures), this group of thirty men decided to transport the treasure back to Virginia (where they were familiar), and bury it.  Two trips were made to deposit the treasure; one in 1819 and the other in 1821.

The letter also explained the unintelligible notes placed within the safe box were codes.  When used with a key, that was later to be sent (but never was), these would reveal the exact location of the buried treasure, the contents, and names of Beale’s party.  The second letter in the box was a short note, stating again, that one of the coded papers included names of the men involved.

Included also within the Beale Papers pamphlet was a copy of a letter sent by Beale to Mr. Morriss in May, 1822. This letter was sent from St. Louis soon after leaving the box in Mr. Morriss’ care.  The letter gave further instructions concerning the opening of the box.  It informed Mr. Morriss to remove the lock, if after 10 years, Beale, or any of the men, did not return. It mentioned a key would need to be used in order to understand the full meaning of the papers kept in the box, and that this key would be sent in June of 1832 by someone instructed to do so in St. Louis.

Neither Beale, nor any other man, returned.  After waiting until 1845, longer than needed, Mr. Morriss is said to have opened the box and learned what it contained.  Unable to ever decode any of the papers, Morriss passed the responsibility on to the ‘author’ of the tale in the pamphlet.

It has been suggested J.B. Ward, instead of acting as agent for the story, is the actual author of the work. Inconsistencies noticed, and analysis of the various letters, involved in the story, seems to support this theory.  This is not fact, though.

No matter whom Mr. Morriss passed the box and letters on to, the pamphlet opens with the person giving up his quest for the buried treasure.  Even though he reveals in the papers how he ‘accidentally’ decoded one of the three coded messages that told of the vast worth of the treasure, and was excited by such, he says that he “is compelled, however unwillingly, to relinquish to others the elucidation of the Beale Papers…”.  His hopes were for someone else to solve the codes and find the fortune, so he could rejoice with them.  He had already spent over twenty years (the best years of his life) attempting to locate the buried treasure and could not spend any more time on the matter.

The one code in which the author cracked was accomplished by using the Declaration of Independence as a Key.  The three coded papers all consisted of sets of numerous numbers.  The second paper in the series, when taking the first letter of the matching numbered word in the Declaration, provided a letter for the following decipherment (without mistakes):

“I have deposited in the county of Bedford, about four miles from Buford’s, in an excavation or vault, six feet below the surface of the ground, the following articles, belonging jointly to the parties whose names are given in number “3” herewith; The first deposit consisted of one thousand and fourteen pounds of gold, and three thousand eight hundred and twelve pounds of silver, deposited November, 1819.  The second was made December, 1821, and consisted of nineteen hundred and seven pounds of gold, and twelve hundred and eighty eight pounds of silver; also jewels, obtained in St. Louis in exchange for silver to save transportation, and valued at 13,000.  The above is securely packed in iron pots, with iron covers.  The vault is roughly lined with stone, and the vessels rest on solid stone, and are covered with others.  Paper number “1” describes the exact locality of the vault, so that no difficulty will be had in finding it.”

The other two papers written with sets of numbers (giving the exact location and names), when applied to the Declaration in the same manner as the second, does not provide any coherent messages.

Numerous searchers, of course, have hunted for the treasure ‘four miles from Buford’s’ and have come up empty.  Many have also attempted to decipher the remaining two codes.

The mystery of the Beale Papers continues.  Was it all a hoax?  Is there a treasure yet to be found?

These questions may remain unanswered until the final two codes are able to be deciphered.  And this leaves one of the biggest questions; Do the sets of numbers actually reveal a message or, if it was a hoax, or they randomly picked and offer nothing?

Obviously, analysis has been done to determine if the numbers are ‘random’.  What they suggest is inconclusive.  And so, the possibility exists the codes (and the entire story) are actually hiding ‘something’ and this is what I will be investigating in my spare time.

The Beale Papers contain a message to those who want to explore the Beale Mystery (or any mystery/treasure).  It is as follows:

“Again, never as I have done, sacrifice your own and your family’s interests to what may prove an illusion; but, as I have already said, when your day’s work is done, and you are comfortably seated by your good fire, a short time devoted to the subject can injure no one, and may bring its reward.”

To phrase it another way… to realize no fantasy for riches is worth sacrificing true treasures for, may be the real reward of the Beale Papers.

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When Weird Darkness returns…

Birthed from troubled pasts, Henry Lucas and Ottis Toole were lovers and deranged serial killers whose crimes would change American laws and TV.

And… of all of the many strange things that one can see out on the road at night, one that is certain to startle anyone is a car blinking out of existence in an instant right before one’s eyes… and there are stories coming in from all around the world.

These stories are coming up.

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STORY: THE CONFESSION KILLERS

Henry Lucas and Ottis Toole weren’t just a murdering team. They were lovers.

The two men met in 1976 at a soup kitchen and hit it off from the very first day. They moved fast. Before night fell, Lucas was back at Toole’s home, sharing a bed with a man he’d just met.

Their lives had run along parallel lines. Both men were raised by abusive mothers who, frustrated that they didn’t have daughters, had forced their sons to wear dresses. Both men had suffered horrible sexual trauma before they’d turned ten and by the time they’d met, both men were murderers.

Lucas served ten years in prison for the murder of his own mother. She was a prostitute and, when Lucas was a young boy, she would forced him to sit in the room and watch while she serviced her customers.

He lost an eye when he was ten because she ignored an infection for so long that it had to have it removed. She’d given him a miserable and hard life — by the time he’d reached puberty, Lucas was passing his spare time torturing animals and sexually assaulting his own brother.

He was 23-years-old when he killed her. The two had gotten into an argument and she physically confronted her son. She struck Lucas across the face and, in the heat of the moment, Lucas hit back.

“All I remember was slapping her alongside the neck,” Henry Lucas would later tell the police. “When I went to pick her up, I realized she was dead. Then I noticed that I had my knife in my hand and she had been cut.”

Toole’s childhood was even harder. He was assaulted by almost every person he thought he could trust. His mother dressed him up as a girl, his older sister raped him before he’d turned ten, and his father – the worst of them all – prostituted him to a neighbor when he was only five years old.

Toole was already a serial arsonist and a suspect in four murder cases by the time he’d met Lucas. His first victim was a traveling salesman who tried to pick him up for sex. Toole lured the man out into the woods and then ran the man over with his own car. It was the first time he’d ever killed anyone, but murder for Toole would become addiction.

Henry Lucas and Ottis Toole traveled across 26 states, massacring as many people as they would find. They preyed upon hitchhikers, prostitutes, and migrant workers. They would pick them up and lure them off to a quiet area where they would be murdered.

Murder, for them, was just a way for a young couple to bond. They would talk about it openly. Lucas claims he would even coach Toole on the best ways to get away with it. “He was doing his crimes all one way,” Lucas would later say. “I started to correct him in his ways, in doing the crime where he wouldn’t leave information.”

Their crimes were horrible. Often, they would sexually assault their victims before they killed them and mutilate them beyond recognition afterward. Lucas would tell people they didn’t feel the slightest moment of guilt, usually before joking about that time he’d crossed two state lines with someone’s severed head in his backseat.

Toole had a penchant for eating their bodies. It was something he and Lucas were caught talking about in a private conversation recorded over a prison phone. The way he talked about it, it sounded like something worth being nostalgic about.

“Remember how I liked to pour some blood out of them?” he asked Lucas. “Some tastes like real meat when it’s got barbecue sauce on it.”

The relationship fell apart when Lucas started seeing Toole’s 12-year-old niece, Becky Powell. He would later say that he liked having someone young to look up to him, and there was no one better for that than a small child. He grabbed her, ran off, and left Toole alone. Toole was so upset about it that he allegedly killed nine people just to blow off steam.

Lucas and young Becky Powell didn’t make it very far, though. Powell would soon learn just how dangerous of a man Lucas really was after the pair got into an argument while living on a ranch in Ringgold, Texas. There, Lucas lured Becky out into an isolated field, murdered her, dismembered her body, and scattered the pieces in a nearby field. Then, for no reason other than a twisted urge, he lured the woman who owned the ranch out to the same field, killed her, and stuffed her body into a drainage pipe.

It would bring an end to his rampage. Lucas was arrested shortly after, while Toole was separately imprisoned for burning a 64-year-old man alive. At long last, the killer couple was behind bars.

Originally, Henry Lucas was only arrested for possession of a deadly weapon, but he was just too eager to incriminate himself for every crime he could. He talked about his murders to anyone who would listen, especially the police.

Toole was a bit more reluctant, but after Lucas started taking police officers on guided tours of their murder sites, he confessed. By his count, they’d murdered 108 people — including Adam Walsh, the son of future America’s Most Wantedhost John Walsh. Toole insisted he was the young boy’s murderer, even arguing with the police when they didn’t believe him, telling them, “Oh, no, I killed him, too, there’s no doubt about that.”

Lucas ended up confessing to literally thousands of murders, although it’s generally accepted that he wasn’t telling the truth about all of them.

As he would later admit, confessing to crimes just won him extra privileges. The police would drive him out to the scene of the crime and even let him get fast food on the way. For a man already on death row, confessing to murder was just a way to spend some time outside.

There’s no telling how much of Lucas and Toole’s story is true. Their impact, though, endures. The police closed 213 cold cases based on their confession. Four films and two documentaries have been made about their sprees, including the critically acclaimed Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. And Toole’s alleged murder of Adam Walsh led to the creation of “America’s Most Wanted” and a rewriting of countless child protection laws.

Only three of their murderers have been definitively connected to them. But regardless of how much truth there really is in their story, Lucas and Toole left a horrible scar on America from which we still haven’t recovered.

STORY: VANISHING CARS

Many unexplained mysteries center upon the roads and highways that stretch out across the land, from strange creatures lumbering out from the murk and unidentified flying objects, to ghosts, phantom vehicles, and everything in between. One species of weird phenomena joining the ranks of odd things that one may encounter upon dark, lonely roads of the world is that of vehicles that just seem to abruptly vanish into nothingness, simply there one moment and gone the next.

Cars vanishing into thin air without warning and right before people’s eyes seem to be actually a more common phenomenon than one might at first think, if various reports are to be believed. Indeed “Glitch in the Matrix” type threads quite often feature bizarre accounts of this happening, such as one report from a poster called “pixelpants” on one such forum on reddit, who gives his or her experience thus:

“…I was gathering up my dishes from lunch and saw a silver car being driven by a woman pull into my driveway. I was kind of surprised because a) I live at the end of a street and b) there’s nowhere to turn around here. The minute I saw her pull in to the driveway, I walked outside, figuring she might be lost or just looking for a place to turn.

It takes all of 10 seconds to walk from where I was, to the outside. Even if by some odd chance she happened to back out of that narrow space, I would’ve seen her car continue down the road until she had enough of an area to back into and go straight.

But I walked outside and saw nothing. Absolutely nothing. She would’ve had to have had stunt-driver-level skills to try and turn around and speed off that fast, and even then, you’d have seen a trail of dust or smoke.

I’m just a bit shaken and a bit freaked out by it all. And before you ask, I’m not on any hallucinogens or anything that would make me see something. I get plenty of sleep. It’s just absolutely the weirdest thing. I’ve never seen this car or the woman driving it. My neighbor’s out here mowing his lawn as non-chalant as can be…”

Just about as bizarre is an account relayed by another poster, who claims to have been on his way out of a one-way exit from his place of employment when something very strange happened as he pulled up to the stop sign. He claims that this road was technically for right-hand turns only, but that he would sometimes illegally go straight ahead to enter a road just across the street if no one was looking. On this occasion he says that a large black SUV suddenly pulled up behind him at the stop light, and he describes what happened next thus:

“…I get a bit nervous because I feel funny about people watching me ignore the right turn only sign and sometimes I just end up taking it instead of going straight for lack of judgement. Nobody is coming from either side and I really contemplate just turning right but last minute I just decide to go straight as I usually do and the car behind me could deal with it. So I hit the gas and start across the street and I see that the car is actually doing the same thing as me. Once we both are onto the road (it’s a quiet road with mostly trees and maybe one or two houses further down), it’s following behind me. I’m keeping my eyes on my rearview mirror at this car for whatever reason and in all honesty I BLINKED and the car was gone. Broad daylight, no driveways they could have turned into, just trees. I even looked to see if they had pulled over or something but no, the car was nowhere in sight. It literally just disappeared. And trust me, I searched through every possibility in my head about where it could have gone and there’s just no way. Weirdly enough, I don’t actually remember seeing anyone in the driver seat. I don’t know if the window was tinted or what but that’s something that kind of baffles me as well…”

Off the very same thread is yet another unusual case, and this time the phenomenon was witnessed by two people. The witness, calling himself “whorl,” told of his peculiar experience:

“…So, I was driving home from school with my friend on my usual route, and at one point, we have to drive over a highway. There’s a big hill kinda thing and right after the hill is a stop light which usually causes a lot of traffic. To the left is a dirt road separated from the street by a ditch. Anyway, as we’re waiting in a long line of cars to get past the stoplight, my buddy notices a car driving on the dirt road in the opposite direction we’re facing. I’m already a little weirded out at this point because first of all, I would have seen the car as we were going over the hill, and second of all, I had no idea where it could possibly be going, as the dirt road ends at the highway I just crossed over. I’m gonna point out now that it was a pretty distinguishable car, white and kind of old-timey. I don’t know enough about cars to name a model or anything. At this point the light had turned green, and I made a left, looking back to see where the car was. It was not on the dirt road, nor in the line of traffic. I looked at my friend and disbelief and he just muttered, “what the…” I have no explanation for this, and it was pretty unsettling…”

Adding to these various accounts of vehicles mysteriously disappearing into thin air in plain view is an account that appeared on ThoughtCo. and was relayed by a witness calling himself “Mike.” He claims that in January of 2012 he met up with a friend in Clayton, Victoria, Australia, and that he had then headed home later that evening. At the time it was nearly midnight, and Mike claims that there were no other cars out on the road going in either direction, but that as he approached the shopping street he noticed that there was a vehicle that seemed as if it were fast approaching him from behind. He would say of the strange sequence of events that unfolded:

“…As I came up to the Chelsea shops along the road, I noticed in my rear and rhs mirror a vehicle slowly catching up to me, but still at a distance. I thought it odd that he would be slightly speeding, especially through the shopping strip as it has lit up road signs indicating 60 kph which change to 40 during the day. (We have a very low speed tolerance of 3 kph over the limit, and you cop a fine if caught.)

I could make out from the street lights that it was a four-wheel drive and towing a trailer. By the time we had reached the end of the shopping strip, the traffic lights at the intersection still remained green. At this point, as we passed through the intersection I was expecting the vehicle to be passing me, but glancing in my right-hand side mirror I couldn’t see the vehicle and thought it was in a blind spot, so I looked over my shoulder and couldn’t see it at all. Now, one might think he turned right at the intersection, but at his speed being 60ish or more, I don’t think he would be able to turn this 90-degree corner in such a vehicle and towing a trailer, and he had just begun to gain on my right-hand side by this time. I couldn’t comprehend what had just happened. One minute the vehicle has gained on me and the next gone!

Could I have disappeared these in my mind, or is there simple logic behind it all and just coincidence?…”

What is going on with reports like these? If they are honest accounts, then what did these people see? Are these just hallucinations, misidentifications, or mistakes of perception? Is it perhaps that some illusion has come into effect to merely make it seem as if the vehicle has phased right out existence? This has been recorded from time to time, such as the remarkably popular video of the vanishing car on YouTube that seems to warp right through a chain link fence during a police chase to drive off the face of the earth, yet was later explained as having just managed to slip through a gap in the fence and down an incline, which combined with the darkness to create the illusion that it had simply ceased to exist. Is something like this happening with the cases we have looked at here as well? Or is this indicative of something more mysterious, such as ghosts, time slips, or visitors from parallel dimensions briefly bleeding into our own through some thin spot? Whatever the case may be, of all of the many strange things that one can see out on the road at night, one that is certain to startle is a car blinking out of existence in an instance right before one’s eyes.

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Coming up…

In 1990, Danny Rolling left University of Florida students cowering over the course of three days, and murdered five in the process.

Plus… A family experiences strange occurrences all at the same time while in the car – but even stranger, they weren’t all in the same car or in the same location.

But first… Ghosts can terrorize, but can they also protect? A woman tells us the story of a spirit in her home. That story is up next on Weird Darkness!

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STORY: STEWART THE HOUSE SPIRIT

In my mother’s country of birth, it is believed that every home has a spirit protecting it. You could call it a guardian angel or intelligent haunting, it doesn’t matter. They’re always there. It was my belief that if you feed the house negative energy, they won’t protect you in your home (like in a case of a robbery or something), and if you feed your spirit positive energy, then you will be safe.

I have been living in my parent’s home until recently and these are a few experiences I’ve had in my parent’s home growing up over a total of 19 years.

My mother is a flight attendant and comes home rather late into the night. Several times when coming home, she would open the door and hear me laughing from down the hall in the bathroom. I was 5 at the time so she thought it was weird for me to be out of bed at that time of night. She creeped into the hall to see me sitting on the floor of my bathroom, staring at something in the shower (right out of her view), and laughing like I couldn’t even breath. She had called out to me several times to which I didn’t respond until she shook me. I just looked at her and told her she scared away Stewart. It happened almost every month until I was the age of 10.

Some nights, I would wake up and look into the hallway from where I laid in my bed (my parents were always paranoid so I slept with the door open) and I would see a man standing at my doorway. He was tall, taller than the doorframe (I’m guessing 7ft or so) and he would just stand there. He would lean down, poking his head into my room and making sure I was in my bed. He would usually smile at me and then move down the hall to my brother’s room to check on him, and then moved into the hallway to my parent’s room. Sometimes I would follow him into my parent’s room (when I was younger) and watch him stand over my sleeping parents before disappearing in front of my eyes. When this first started happening to me, I would wake my parents and tell them there was a strange man in the house, but later I learned it would send my parents into a panic so I stopped.

Growing up, I began naming this spirit Stewart. He would only laugh when I call him that and do his usual rounds around the house.

Stewart would sometimes like to play pranks on my mother, making her drop glasses if she made something he wanted to eat. So when we make something good, we would leave out a small plate for him. Sometimes, a small portion of the food would be gone.

On nights where I couldn’t fall asleep (or wasn’t sleeping right), I would hear my music box go off. Note that I’m a pretty short Asian girl and these music boxes were on the highest shelf in my room. Hadn’t been touched since I was 3. Stewart’s favorite one to set off is my Cinderella Castle music box/snowglobe that sings “A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes”, only because I think he knows I’ve always wanted to be a princess.

My current boyfriend is also sensitive to spirits. When I first brought him to my parent’s house, he found Stewart to be a very kind spirit (like a stocky dad who always smiles and laughs at his children’s antics). He’s had a couple of experiences with Stewart but that would be for another time.

To this day, when I sleep over or when I come to visit my parents, I will see Stewart and he will check on me in my bedroom before checking on everyone else. I’ve never felt safer than in that home.

STORY: THE GLOWING BALL

I’ve always had a fascination with the unknown, whether it be Paranormal, extraterrestrial or other. Although I was curious I was also heavily sceptical even when growing up. My father was the opposite as he would always make jokes about the ghost hunter shows we watched together. When I was 10 I played little league football and my father would always take me to my games. One night we were driving back from one of my games. My mother had come to my game as well but she drove her own car home because she came after work. My brother had rode with her. It was a clear night, not a cloud in the sky, and the moon was full so the road was illuminated well. We were taking a backroad shortcut home and drove through a heavily wooded area which blocked the moons light. The trees were so thick, without our headlights it would have been near pitch black. I was flipping through the radio stations and stopped just in time, if I had looked up a second later I’d have missed it. I looked up ahead at the road, when a glowing ball of light came flying out of the woods from the right side of the road. It flew out right front of our car and disappeared into the trees to the left side of the road. It took no more than the a couple of seconds to cross us and vanish. It was so fast, my father didn’t even slow down. I was scared stiff. My father didn’t slow down and didn’t say a word, so I’d wondered if he’d even seen it. We sat quiet for the next 10 minutes of the drive, when finally my father looked at me and said, “did you see that too?” I was relieved that I wasn’t seeing things but shocked because of how sceptical Dad is of things. The weirdest part is when we got home my mother had told us that she was driving home and the silhouette of a man ran out into the road and waved his arms frantically. She slammed on her brakes so hard her head got jerked down near her lap and my brother almost fell into the floor board of the car. When my mother looked up after stopping, there was no one there. We hadn’t told her what we saw before she told us. I still to this day do not know what I saw.

STORY: GAINESVILLE RIPPER

America’s college campuses are viewed as safe places where young people have the opportunity to learn, create, and discover what kind of adults they will become. Every so often, though, violent acts remind us of the vulnerability of college campuses and the young adults who call them home.

In 1966, Charles Whitman climbed to the top of a tower at the University of Texas and picked off 15 victims with a rifle. In 1978, one of the most infamous serial killers in history, Ted Bundy, savagely attacked five women on the campus of Florida State University, killing two of them.

But not all campus attacks are so widely known. You may find the story of Danny Rolling less familiar: Over a three-day period in August 1990, Rolling terrorized the University of Florida in Gainesville and brutally murdered five students.

Rolling was born in Shreveport, Louisiana in 1954 and, as is often the case with multiple killers, endured an abusive childhood, primarily at the hands of his police officer father. Rolling was constantly in trouble with the law as a youngster, and his lawlessness continued into adulthood: He was arrested for crimes ranging from robberies to spying on women getting dressed; he had trouble holding down a steady job; and he spent time in prison. In May of 1990, Rolling got into an intense fight with his father. During a physical altercation, Rolling’s father lost his eye and ear.

Rolling then traveled to Florida, spending time in Tallahassee and Sarasota before ending up in Gainesville, where, in August, he pitched a tent in a patch of woods near the University of Florida. It was in Gainesville that Danny Rolling launched a murder spree, terrifying the large student population of the town.

On August 24, 1990, Rolling broke into an apartment shared by Christina Powell, 17, and Sonja Larson, 18. He murdered both young women with a hunting knife, mutilating their bodies and posing them lewdly before he left. The next day, Rolling broke into the apartment of 18-year-old Christa Hoyt. He burglarized her apartment and waited for Hoyt to come home. When she returned, Rolling attacked her, raping and killing the young woman. Rolling decapitated Hoyt, and left her severed head on a shelf facing her headless body.

On August 27, two days after the murder of Christa Hoyt, Rolling broke into yet another apartment in Gainesville, this one belonging to Tracy Paules and Manny Taboada, both 23 years old. Rolling struggled with Taboada, a 200-pound former high school football player, but eventually killed him, then raped and killed Paules. Like his other victims, Rolling posed Paules’ body. Students in Gainesville were understandably shaken by the deaths, and, with the killer still at large, fear was palpable in the town. The University of Florida shut down for a week, guns sales soared in Gainesville, and roommates slept in shifts and added extra locks to their windows and doors.

Meanwhile, Danny Rolling had left town. 10 days after his last murders, on September 7, police arrested Rolling in Ocala, Florida – about 40 miles from Gainesville. The officers in Ocala picked up Rolling for robbing a grocery store, and they had no idea they had a serial killer in their custody. Rolling sat in jail in Ocala until January 1991, when investigators from Gainesville started to look into prisoners who had been arrested in other parts of Florida after the student murders.

A dentist had removed one of Rolling’s teeth while he was in custody in Ocala. The Gainesville task force ordered a DNA test on the tooth and found that it was consistent with DNA evidence left at the scene of one of the murders in Gainesville. Rolling denied he committed the five murders, but, after more investigation, he was charged for the crimes. At the start of his trial in 1994, Rolling unexpectedly pleaded guilty to the Gainesville murders, telling the judge, “There are some things that you just can’t run from.”

Rolling bragged that his goal was to become a well-known serial killer like Ted Bundy, who had terrorized Florida (and many other states) over a decade earlier. He was diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder and borderline personality disorder and, after his trial, was sentenced to death for the murders in Gainesville. Investigators also believed Rolling had committed the triple murder of a family (which included an eight-year-old boy) in Shreveport in November 1989, but he was never charged with those crimes. While in prison, Rolling created many pieces of art, and he co-wrote a book about his life and crimes, titled The Making of a Serial Killer.

On October 25, 2006, at the Florida State Prison in Starke, Danny Rolling was executed by lethal injection… he was 52.

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When Weird Darkness returns, a photograph was taken on April 26, 1865, in New York that became the most controversial photo of President Lincoln ever taken. I’ll tell you why, up next.

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STORY: THE FORBIDDEN PORTRAIT OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN

On April 26, 1865, the body of Abraham Lincoln was making a cross-country trip from Washington, D.C. to Springfield, Illinois, where he would ultimately be buried. The body of the fallen president made a tumultuous journey, drawing crowds that numbered into the hundreds of thousands to see the body. It was in New York that a photograph was taken that became the most controversial photo of the president ever taken — a postmortem photograph of Lincoln in his casket.

When the Lincoln Funeral Train arrived in Albany, New York, news of the disquieting incident that occurred with a photographer reached the ears of Edwin Stanton. As was the usual, General Townsend, who was in charge of the Funeral Train, had telegraphed Stanton when leaving the city to let him know that all was well. But his telegram did not mention what had taken place while Lincoln’s remains were on view at City Hall. When Stanton learned of the incident by reading newspapers later that night, he became enraged and dispatched an angry telegram that threatened to ruin the reputation and military career of the man he had personally chosen to command the funeral train.

Stanton wrote: “I see by the New York papers this evening that a photograph of the corpse of President Lincoln was allowed taken yesterday at New York. I cannot sufficiently express my surprise and disapproval of such an act while the body was in your charge. You will report what officers of the funeral escort were or ought to have been on duty at the time this was done, and immediately relieve them and order them to Washington. You will also direct the provost-marshal to go to the photographer, seize and destroy the plates and any pictures and engravings that may have been made, and consider yourself responsible if the offense is repeated.” Stanton ordered Major Eckert at the War Department to make sure that it was sent and hand-delivered to Townsend that very night.

Stanton had assumed, no doubt, that close-up images had been made of Lincoln’s face. That was not an unusual custom in the nineteenth century. But Stanton was likely thinking about the condition of Lincoln’s body. By the time he was photographed in New York, he had been dead for nine days. Mortuary science of the era could not preserve his body indefinitely. The undertakers attended to the body aboard the train, but there were limits as to what they could do. Stanton undoubtedly feared that horrific images depicting Lincoln’s face in a state of gruesome decay would be distributed to the public.

Stanton’s telegram did not reach Townsend until the morning of April 26 and he was stunned by its contents. And knew how angry Stanton had to be. It was Townsend himself who had allowed Lincoln’s corpse to be photographed. He decided, before others could report the details of what he had done, to confess and accept the consequences. He immediately telegraphed Stanton and took responsibility for the well-meaning blunder. Stanton calmed down and left Townsend in command. The train was on the move, in the middle of a complicated cross-country journey, and no one on the train possessed greater organizational skills than Townsend. He sent him a reply and filled the man with guilt by stating that the taking of photographs had been expressly forbidden by Mrs. Lincoln. Stanton added, “I am apprehensive that her feelings and the feelings of her family will be greatly wounded.”

Townsend was upset that it appeared he had disobeyed an order from the martyred president’s widow, but even so, he had not admitted to all he had done. It was bad enough that he had allowed the photographs. It was even worse that he had posed in the pictures while standing next to President Lincoln’s body. Stanton might have considered this perceived attempt at personal publicity unforgivable. But Townsend did not see it that way. The remains had been arranged at City Hall at the head of a stairway, where the people could ascend on one side and descend on the other. The body was in an alcove, draped in black, and just at the edge of a rotunda formed of American flags and mourning drapery. The photographer was in a gallery 20 feet higher than the body and forty feet away from it. There was no equipment to make the camera seem closer than it was in those days. It offered a distant view. Townsend stood at one end of the coffin and Admiral Davis stood at the other. No one else was in view. The effect of the picture was taking in the scene as a whole, not offering the features of the corpse.

General Townsend was not the only one worried about the situation. The man who had photographed Lincoln, Thomas Gurney, proprietor of one of Manhattan’s most prominent studios, T. Gurney & Son, was also concerned. He had taken unprecedented, newsworthy and commercially viable photographs. No other American president had been photographed in death and no one – not the famous Mathew Brady nor Alexander Gardner not any of the photographers along the funeral train route – had succeeded in photographing the president in his coffin.

Gurney hoped to gain publicity by distributing prints of the photograph to the press as newspaper woodcuts and to reproduce the photo for sale to the public. On April 26, Gurney sent an urgent telegram, not to Stanton, but to a man he thought might be more sympathetic, assistant secretary of war, Charles A. Dana, Gurney also reached out to Henry Ward Beecher, the widely-known clergyman, abolitionist and author, as well as Henry Raymond, the famous editor of the New York Times. He asked them to lobby Stanton and prevent the seizure and destruction of the glass-plate negatives. They agreed and Beecher and Raymond both telegraphed the War Department. It earned Gurney a temporary reprieve, of sorts. A telegram from the War Department arrived at Gurney’s studio, saving the negatives from destruction for the time being, but only if Gurney surrendered all the glass plates and agreed to abide by Stanton’s decision once he determined whether or not to smash them.

Gurney surrendered the glass-plate negatives, plus all of the photographs that he had already printed from them. He had no choice. In the aftermath of Lincoln’s assassination, emotions in the country were running high. Scores of people had been arrested, shot, stabbed and lynched for making Anti-Lincoln statements. During this turbulent time, Gurney had no legal avenue to pursue. If he failed to surrender them voluntarily, the War Department would have raided his studio and seized them. He complied.

The next day, an army general notified Stanton from New York that the offending images were in government custody.
Stanton’s suppression of the photographs did not succeed entirely. He had wanted to prevent Gurney’s images from surfacing in any form, but the photographer had already gotten the prints into the hands of a few artists. At least two newspapers printed front-page interpretations of the scene and Currier & Ives published a fine engraving based partly on Gurney’s work. But Gurney’s negatives were never seen again. Perhaps Edwin Stanton had them brought to his office in Washington and, after viewing them, smashed them into pieces. Perhaps he put them away in some secret place, where, to this day, they languish in some dusty and forgotten War Department file box, never to be seen again.

Stanton could not resist preserving one image of Lincoln’s corpse for himself. Almost a century after the president’s death and burial, a sole surviving photographic print made from one of Gurney’s negatives was discovered by a student in an old archive. It was traced back to Stanton’s personal files. Perhaps he saved it for history. Or perhaps he never intended for it to be seen and to remain his private memento – a vivid reminder of the spring of 1865.

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! And please leave a rating and review of the show in the podcast app you listen from! You can email me anytime with your questions or comments at darren@weirddarkness.com. WeirdDarkness.com is also where you can find all of my social media, listen to audiobooks I’ve narrated, shop the Weird Darkness store, sign up for monthly contests, find other podcasts that I host, and find the Hope in the Darkness page if you or someone you know is struggling with depression or dark thoughts.

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Also on WeirdDarkness.com, if you have a true paranormal or creepy tale to tell, you can click on TELL YOUR STORY. You can find all of that and more at WeirdDarkness.com.

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

“Willard Asylum” by Wyatt Redd for All That’s Interesting
“Biblical Cherubim – Sweet Angels Or Dangerous Creatures With A Hidden Agenda?” by Ellen Lloyd for Ancient Pages
“Borley Rectory, The Most Haunted House in Britain” from Ghost-Story.co.uk
“Lost Treasure and the Beale Cipher” by Jenny Kile for Mysterious Writings
“The Inconsolable Child” by Jack Mesko, submitted to WeirdDarkness.com
“Long Haired Entity” from PhantomsAndMonsters.com
“Baffling Cases Of Cars Vanishing Into Thin Air” by Brent Swancer for Mysterious Universe
“The Glowing Ball” by Taylor B.
“The Gainesville Ripper” by Matt Gilligan
“The Forbidden Portrait of Abraham Lincoln” by Troy Taylor
“Stewart The House Spirit” from YourGhostStories.com
“The Confession Killer” by Mark Oliver for All That’s Interesting

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

WeirdDarkness™ – is a production and trademark of Marlar House Productions. Copyright, Weird Darkness, 2022.

Now that we’re coming out of the dark, I’ll leave you with a little light… “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” — Hebrews 10:23

And a final thought… “Practice the pause. When in doubt, pause. When angry, pause. When tired, pause. When stressed, pause. And when you pause, pray.” — Tobymac

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

 

 

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