Poltergeist activity is probably the most misunderstood form of paranormal activity, at least in conjunction with haunted houses. The word poltergeist actually means “noisy ghost” when translated from German and for many years, researchers believed that noisy ghosts were causing the phenomena reported in these cases. It was assumed that the things which occurred in a house that was “haunted” by a poltergeist were caused by an outside force. While some cases of real-life “poltergeists” have turned out to be both “intelligent” spirits and the work of human agents, some cases exist that lead researchers to believe that they may actually be combination of the two. But then… what if it’s possible that some locations actually attract both kinds of phenomena?
I’m Darren Marlar and this is Weird Darkness.
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…
Bigfoot, Sasquatch, Yeti, the Abominable Snowman… unexplained and unproven two-legged hairy beasts are seen all over the world. But there is another strange hairy ape like creature in North America that doesn’t get the same amount of press – but is just as mysterious and frightening as the others. (The Mysterious Devil Monkeys of North America)
Haunting the historic Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia are eerie tales of anguished soldiers, an eternal watch dog, and one hideous vampire with jagged teeth and hanging skin. (The Ghosts of Richmond’s Hollywood Cemetery)
We’ll look at several cases of reported poltergeist activity and try to determine if it’s supernatural, human in nature, or possibly a little of both. (Poltergeists)
These stories and more coming up!
But first… it’s the Tina Resch case which started with the claims of a poltergeist haunting… and ended with the death of a child. We begin with that story. (The Tina Resch Poltergeist Case)
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.
Now.. bolt your doors, lock your windows, turn off your lights, and come with me into the Weird Darkness!
STORY: THE TINA RESCH POLTERGEIST CASE=====
Tina did not really have the happiest of upbringings, at the age of just ten she was abandoned by her real mother and ended up being adopted by an incredibly strict family from Columbus, Ohio…
The heads of this twisted family, John and Joan Resch, were absolutely awful to Tina, and she endured many years of abuse from them living in their house…
Until something paranormal starting happening…
Around about the time of March, 1981, locals who knew the Resch family started spreading rumours involving Tina and poltergeist activity. It wasn’t long before the media picked up on this story.
When it hit the papers – investigator William Roll decided to look into the case.
Roll contacted the Resch family directly and they were more than happy to invite him to stay at their house, so he could witness the paranormal activity himself.
He wasn’t to be disappointed, on his first night in the household he witnessed all manner of furniture and kitchenware being thrown through the air by an invisible force. He also witnessed the TV coming on by itself, even though it wasn’t plugged in!
Roll left the Resch household and told the world that the family was telling the truth – there was something paranormal within the house.
The media moved in and started interviewing Tina on a daily basis, but on one visit, the camera recording seemed to catch Tina pushing a lamp off a table and pretending it was a ghost – were the family behind an elaborate hoax?
When quizzed about this incident, Tina insisted that she was sick and tired of all the interviews, and pushed the lamp off the table so that the media would stop harassing her.
When Tina reached the end of her teenage years, the poltergeist seemed to tire of her…and eventually the paranormal activity stopped completely.
The media finally finished with Tina’s life…until 1992…
At the age of 18 Tina managed to get pregnant, and gave birth to a daughter she named Amber. When Amber was the tender age of 3, she was brutally murdered inside Tina’s home.
For some reason Tina was charged with the child’s murder…but she was not even in the house when it happened?
Tina’s boyfriend, David Herrin was supposed to be looking after Amber at the time of her death and he claimed he did not touch the child. After a number of days in the police interview room, Herrin cracked and admitted to sexually abusing the child on numerous occasions when she was alive.
He was immediately given 20 years in prison.
Tina faced the death penalty in court, even though she was nowhere near the child when it died. She tried her best to convince the jury…but in the end had to accept a plea bargain…just to stay alive.
Tina received a sentence of life in prison with an extra 20 years…she is still locked up today.
STORY: THE MYSTERIOUS DEVIL MONKEYS OF NORTH AMERICA=====
Perhaps the most famous and iconic example of any cryptid is Bigfoot, also called the Sasquatch. Yet when it comes to hairy humanoids they don’t seem to be the only game in town. For decades there have been sighted strange, ape-like creatures very different from their Bigfoot brethren and more animalistic, which stalk the wilds all over the United States and have remained unexplained.
The creatures that have come to be known as Devil Monkeys are generally much quite different from typical Sasquatch, to the point that these creatures are considered to be some other type of primate entirely. The creature is usually said to typically stand between 3 to 5 feet in height, and is covered with reddish, dark brown, or black shaggy hair that is noticeably thicker around the neck and shoulders. Depending on the report the creature can be tailless or conversely have a prominent bushy tail. The general shape is more like an ape or other large primate than the Sasquatch’s more human-type build, and indeed Devil Monkeys are often described as moving about on all fours rather than biped ally, although they are also said to have powerful legs that enable them to hop about reminiscent of a kangaroo, able to make amazing leaps of distances of up to 20 feet or more.
The hands are tipped with wicked claws and the face is typically reported as being muzzled and dog-like or similar to that of a baboon, with a large mouth that is said to hold an imposing array of sharp teeth and oversized canines. Devil Monkeys are most often claimed as being able to produce a variety of very loud whoops, whistles, wails, screams, barks, and various other vocalizations, and are rather known for being extremely aggressive, attacking with little or no provocation.
The sightings that began the whole tale of these bizarre Devil Monkeys allegedly occurred in the area South Pittsburgh, Tennessee, in 1934. In this year there was a spate of reports by witnesses claiming that they had seen baboon-like creatures leaping, bounding, and dashing across fields and roads with great speed. At the time is was speculated that people may have been seeing escaped kangaroos, since they were apparently very good jumpers, but since the reports dried up as suddenly as they started no one knows for sure.
While this is all intriguing, the sighting that really put Devil Monkeys on the map didn’t happen until 1959, when a couple by the name of Boyd were driving along a dark and secluded rural road near Saltville, Virginia, along with their daughter, Pauline. At some point during their drive, the monotony of the trees passing by was interrupted by an ape-like beast that barreled out of the wilderness to chase and attack the car without any discernible provocation. Pauline claimed to have gotten a good look at the aggressive creature, saying it looked like a monkey and that “It had light, taffy colored hair, with a white blaze down its neck and underbelly… it stood on two, large well-muscled back legs and had shorter front legs or arms.” Whatever it was apparently left deep scratches and gouges in the vehicle, although none of the occupants were harmed.
Just a few days after this rather frightening incident two nurses were allegedly driving along in the same area near Saltville when they were also attacked by the same creature or something very similar to it. According to the witnesses it viciously clawed and tore at their convertible, actually managing to rip the top clear off the vehicle. They said that they had then begun to scream wildly and that this had frightened the ape-like thing away.
Incidents with these strange creatures continued on into the 1970s, when something like a large, bushy tailed ape with a face like a dog was reported as slaughtering and maiming cattle in Albany, Kentucky. So many sightings of this mysterious beast came in that famed cryptozoologist Loren Coleman actually travelled to the area in 1973 to investigate. While Coleman found no hard evidence of the alleged creature, he came away fairly convinced that something weird was going on, saying, “I interviewed the people, who were very sincere. In the whole context of devil monkey reports, it seemed extremely sincere. You have these reports of hairy, monkey-like creatures with tails, very different from Bigfoot.” Something very similar was reported from the backwater areas of rural Georgia in 1979, when a simian entity was sighted several times that was described as having a muzzled snout and a tail “like a beaver’s, but it’s bushy.”
These are far from the last sightings of the Devil Monkey, and such reports have continued on well into later years. In 1994 a woman in Roanoke, Virginia, was driving down a dark road at around 2 AM when she was confronted by a very scary creature like “a cross between an ape and a wolf,” which materialized out of the night to leap right in front of her. The woman would say it was around 6 feet tall, that it had a wiry and thin frame and cat-like legs, and that it was covered in sleek dark fur. US Game & Wildlife officials dismissed the report as being merely a wolf or feral dog.
Interestingly, also in 1996 a woman by the name of Barbara Mullins was driving along Louisiana’s Highway 12 when she purportedly noticed a large mass sprawled out on the side of the road. She pulled her vehicle over and got out to investigate, but rather than the dead dog she had been expecting to see, she saw that it was in fact a creature similar in appearance to a baboon, which was about the size of a large dog and had thick shaggy hair, pointed ears, and ape-like arms and legs. Mullins managed to get photographs of the mysterious carcass, which have gone on to stir much debate and controversy as to what they actually show. Do the photos show a dead Devil Monkey, a dog, or what? It remains unknown.
In 1997 a simian creature around 5 feet tall, with pointy ears, a short tail, disproportionately long arms, and a face like a baboon was seen in Dunkinsville, Ohio. Yet another incident happened as recently as 2001, in Danville, New Hampshire, where residents were alarmed by unearthly howls and shrieks in the middle of the night unlike those of any known animal in the area. People who actually claimed to have seen the creature responsible for the eerie sounds reported that it was a large primate of some sort with a dog-like muzzle, prominent claws, sharp teeth, and a dark reddish brown coat of shaggy hair. Danville’s own fire chief even apparently saw the beast, and the creature was purportedly seen at least 9 times over a 2-week period, to the point that it caused a minor mass hysteria. Then the reports just stopped.
Even the bustling city of Chicago, Illinois has had its own sighting in January of 2006. On January 12, 2006, one unnamed witness claimed that he had come home to find a “devil-like creature” attacking his family pet, a labrador dog. It was described as “an unusual combination of a monkey, wolf, and devil with long fangs, a monkey-like tail and extremely bright glowing eyes,” and he even claimed to have photographed the incident. Indeed, it was apparently the light of the camera flash that scared the thing off, although the results have left much to be desired, and have proven to be controversial to say the least, with many crying hoax.
In 2009 we have a report from an unnamed wildlife biologist who claimed to have seen a Devil Monkey in rural Louisiana. The witness said that he had seen the creature running through an open field, and that he had at first taken it to be a dog, but he would soon realize that he was wrong. The witness would explain of his encounter: ***At first I guess I kinda thought it may be a dog, but as it got closer I realized I was wrong. The thing, whatever it was, ran on all fours to a spot in the fence were the trees were about thirty feet apart, and leapt over the five-foot fence in one hop. Once on my side of the fence, this thing stood up on two legs! It was only thirty feet from me at that point, and I got a really good look at it. It was about four feet tall, maybe a little bigger. It had really big, yellowish eyes, large pointed ears, and a sparse coat of shaggy fur. It stood on its tiptoes, and had a long, somewhat bushy tail, kinda like a squirrel, but not nearly as thickly furred. The snout was very cat-like… I was close enough to make out thick hairs on the face. I’m inclined to believe that these may have been whiskers. Once it stood, it kept its arms to its sides, much like a human, but slightly bent at the elbows. Its hands had identifiable fingers with noticeable claws. I know I saw something that day that I could not explain, and I am hard pressed to ask others to blindly accept what I say at face value. I am not trying to convince anyone, but rather find answers for myself… in any case, after considering the evidence, I firmly believe that what I saw was indeed a so-called devil monkey.***
Of course as usual there have been plenty of ideas of what the Devil Monkeys could be. For some they are an undiscovered species of primate inhabiting the isolated wildernesses of America. For others they are just misidentified dogs, wolves, coyotes, or even escaped kangaroos. Then there is the idea that these sightings could be the result of exotic escaped monkeys or apes. More out in the realm of the bizarre is that they are mutated experiments, aliens, the Chupacabras, or inter-dimensional beasts. Or maybe this is just all a hoax and an urban legend in the end. No one really knows for sure, and Devil Monkey reports still sporadically come in. Whatever they are, it certainly shows that Bigfoot is not the only mysterious ape-like creature to call North America home.
When Weird Darkness returns… Weirdo family member Danny Rendon tells the true story of “The Horror on Harbor Lights Drive”.
And… for over a century, mysterious lights were seen bobbing up and down along the railroad tracks near Maco Station, a few miles west of Wilmington, North Carolina. To this day no one knows what they were. These stories are up next.
STORY THE HORROR ON HARBOR LIGHTS DRIVE=====
Let me start off by saying this story is mostly true. I saw mostly because memory is a tricky thing. I know what I am about to tell you happened to me. Little details here and there may be off, but for the most part this did happen to me. That’s the biggest problem with repressed memories, they aren’t as clear as regular ones, but they are memories none the less. They say when you mind can not handle a traumatic event, as a defense mechanism it will forcibly forget the memory of it occurring to help you cope with day to day life. Kind of scary isn’t it? Who knows what your seen, what you been through, that you own mind decided you couldn’t handle, and then buried it so far down you could never retrieve it. That could have been me, but lucky for you supernatural enthusiasts I did something my brain couldn’t account for.
One day, back in around 2008 or so, when myspace was still a big thing, I was going through old messages and deleting them. Messaging on Myspace was more like emails than the instant message threads we are used to today. So everytime you messaged someone and they messaged back, it made a whole new thread with every message you had before it. So I would often keep the most recent thread and delete the ones leading up to it. One thread caught my eye. The threads were titled with subjects, just like emails. This particular one had a subject title I didn’t remember writing. Something a long the lines of “YOU WON’T BELIVES WHAT HAPPENED TO ME.” I opened the thread and read a story I had written to my friend. As I was reading it a flood a horrifying memories came back to me. I was left speechless at the fact that I could some how forget.
So let’s back up a little bit, back to when I moved into that house. I was elementary school, and made friends very quickly. Being a bit of a home body I would always invite my friends over. I began to realize by the time late middle school, that my friends wouldn’t want to come around anymore. I probably would of thought it was me if they didn’t always invite me over to do stuff at their place, or public places, but never my house. Rumor around school was that my house was haunted. Friends seeing translucent women in white in my kitchen, to disembodied faces watching them as they slept, to hearing noises and seeing shadows of men in the backyard. I dismissed the rumors. After all, I lived there, I would know if it was haunted. Being a bit of a skeptic, I would brush off what they were saying as them seeing things, or maybe just flat out lying to be a part of the rumors. I have come to believe now that this was it’s tactic. Scare off my friends, so it could have me alone. Make me question my own sanity. Anyway, after my friends stopped coming around, it made it’s presence known to me.
It started small. I would hear a crash in the restroom. When would go to investigate, all the shampoos and conditioner would be in the tub. The skeptic in my chalked it up to cats messing around. Soon I would see small shadows following me. Now to understand how I would see them follow me, you have to understand the set up of my old home. As soon as you as walk in there was the stairs leading up to my room. Opposite to the staircase there was a huge, very tall wall. The previous owners covered this entire wall was gigantic mirrors. So when you left my room to go down stairs you could see yourself in the mirrors the entire way down. I became second nature to just watch yourself move around the house thru the mirrors. That is how I would see these small shadowy figures follow me. I paid these things no mind as I thought it to be a trick of the eye. But the more I dismissed the weird happenings, the more intense they became. Sometimes I would get home and my mom would say “oh? You weren’t here? I was yelling at you to stop making so much noise in your room! It sounded like you were moving furniture.” Of course when I would get into my room nothing would be changed. Sometimes my dad would call me out of my room to ask me who was up there with me because he would swear seeing a dark tall man walk from the bathroom upstairs into my room from the mirrors. If that wasn’t creepy enough my room gained this thick heaviness to it. Almost like the feeling of impeding doom when you were in there too long. I largely ignored this feeling, being a gamer I spent most of my time in my room, as it was where my pc was. That was until one night while tidying up my room and singing. I was purposely singing song lyrics incorrect for fun, when suddenly a voice came from my mouth that wasn’t my own. One that didn’t even sound human. I can’t remember what it sounded like exactly, but I’ll never forget what it said. “I WILL KILL YOUR MOTHER” I stopped sleeping in my room after that.
After a long while of all these things happening I was beginning to think I was going crazy. Three other people lived in that house and I was the only one experiencing anything weird so regularly. It became a daily thing for me to see something fly off a shelf or hear thumping coming from my empty room. But it was only when I was alone. This went on for a while, me not telling anyone because I was sure I was mad, and that if I told anyone they would think I was a liar or insane. I confided to very few people. That’s why the message I had sent on myspace was basically a miracle. It did not tell my friend of anything I have mentioned so far. It told of one single occurrence, one so terrible for me that my own mind thought it better of me to forget it all together.
So since I no longer felt comfortable in my own room, I had taken to sleeping on the couch. The couch sat opposite to the wall of mirrors. Above the couch there was a bar that you could access from the kitchen. I had stayed up a little too late on a school night watching TV. Knowing I would need some sleep I decided to turn off the TV and try. After a few minutes of trying to sleep I noticed something through my eye lids. I opened my eyes, and to my surprise the bar light was on. I am very light sensitive so I was shocked I hadn’t noticed it before. I got up to go to the kitchen, where the switch to bar light was, to turn it off. I treaded lightly so not to wake up anyone at 2 or 3 am. Despite this my foot steps were echoed by heavy thuds. Every step I made a step I would hear a loud thud behind me. I had my eyes glued to the mirror to see what was making the noise but there was nothing. I would step and pounding footstep would follow shortly after. I got to the kitchen, more than a little unnerved to find that all of the light switches were down. But I was sure the bar light was on, be it just barely. There was a dimmer switch attached so the whole set up was pressure sensitive, so I pushed down the bar light switch and went back to laying down on the couch. The whole time hearing my foot steps being echoed on the way back. I shut my eyes tight, scared. That’s when I noticed again through my eye lids that the bar light was on. I opened my eyes in disbelief. I know I had pushed down the switch. Also I would of noticed if the light was still on as I was travelling back to the couch. I rationalized it as me pushing down the wrong switch, and me not noticing the bar light on cuz I was freaked out about the foot steps. So I got up again, and this time pushed all the switches down. I was damn near running and the echoed thuds hadn’t ceased. But when I got back to the couch the bar light was still on. I made one last run to the kitchen and discovered the switch was someone slightly raised. I was so scared, I knew as much rationalization as I could pull out of my ass, nothing could explain what was happening. I turned off the light and headed back to my couch. I decided to put the covers over my head and think of something else until I fell asleep. As much as I tried, the heavy feeling that I usually only felt in my room was upon me. As much as I told myself to ignore it and go to sleep, that if I looked I would regret it, I decided I had to know. So I peeked from the covers and looked straight up. Above me was the banister from the top of the stairs. I could swear I saw a figure, solid and the deepest black I could imagine, leaning over the banister staring down at me. It slowly retreat out of view, so I turned my head to look at it in the mirror. Even in the darkness I could clearly make out a shadowy figure walking into my room. I was freaked out for sure, but a part of me was thinking “oh, I bet it’s my sisters. She had to of heard the noises from earlier and is making sure I am asleep”. My sister is the motherly type, so I wouldn’t put it past her. She would tell on me for anything, so I covered myself back up and tried to pretend I was already sleeping just in case she came to make sure. Moments past and even though I was convincing myself it was my sister, the feeling in the room only got worse. The heaviness only got heavier. So I decided to peek once more. Again, from directly over me, the figure was leaning over the banister looking right at me. I looked at the mirror again, and to my horror, instead of this time disappearing into my room, it started walking down my stairs. Every step it took was a loud thud. The same noise I was hearing earlier. I watched as this figure walked all the way down my stairs. I was still hoping that some how this was my sister and that I was over reacting. So when it got to the bottom of the stairs I closed my eyes and pretended to sleep. My sister is a little clumsy, so usually she would turn on the lights, to my ire, when she would get to the living room on her way to the kitchen to get water or what have you. So I decided I would wait until the lights came on and blame her for “waking me up”. I heard the thuds getting closer and closer to me from the stairs. But the lights never came on, before I knew it the foot steps were way to close to me, it would be well past the light switch by now. I heard the thuds until they were right next to me then they just stopped. A new feeling came over me. I knew I was in the presences of something. Something I could only describe as evil. It’s a feeling I had felt once before when the inhuman voice came out of my mouth a few months earlier to threaten my mother. A feeling I wish never to feel again. I knew if I opened my eyes, I would see something awful. But not knowing was just as scary to me… at least that’s what I had thought. Oh, was I in for a surprise. I opened my eyes to see… nothing. At least not at first. I looked where I thought the foot steps had stopped and saw absolutely nothing. I felt relieved until I looked around and noticed in the mirror the shadowy figure was standing right next to me. I looked at where it should be in reality and nothing. I double took and looked back into the mirror and there it was. Clear as day. Watching me intently. I have no idea why I didn’t scream, but somehow I didn’t. I just quickly hid under the covers and started praying. That upset, what I now believe to be a demon from my research, as it started to try to grab at my thru the covers. I could feel it’s hands, pawing at me, tormenting me, showing me even if I couldn’t see it, I could still physically touch me. I prayed and prayed. I prayed for the protection of me, my family and my house. I prayed that in the lords name the demon would be banished from my home. I prayed for what seemed like hours, but in reality was probably seconds to minutes. Then as quickly as it started, it stopped. The heaviness that plagued me was gone. This aura of tranquility fell upon me and I felt warm and comfortable. I thanked the lord, and somehow, beyond all reason drifted to sleep. Now this is where it gets super weird. All those memories came flooding back to me but, I have no idea when I wrote that myspace message. I would assume I repressed the memory shortly after it happened so I could sleep and cope. But at some point before that happened I had sent out that message. And after reading the message I realized that nothing had happened since then. Big or small. Whatever was tormenting me was just gone now.
STORY: THE MACO LIGHT=====
For over a century, mysterious lights were seen bobbing up and down along the railroad tracks near Maco Station, a few miles west of Wilmington, North Carolina. When anyone approached the lights, they would disappear. The lights were observed many times over many years, and even photographed on occasion. It’s even said that President Grover Cleveland saw the lights while on a whistle stop tour in 1889. The source of these lights has never been determined, but according to legend the light is the ghost of a railroad worker who died on the tracks one night in 1867.
On that tragic night in 1867, a train was rolling along the tracks and the signalman, Joe Baldwin, was sleeping in the caboose. Joe’s slumber was broken by a violent jerk. A veteran railroad worker, Joe Baldwin recognized the motion and immediately knew that the caboose had become detached from the rest of the train.
Joe Baldwin’s heart started racing. He knew that his one car was now stuck on the tracks, and that the main part of the train was rapidly moving away from him and he had no way of contacting it. Joe also knew that his wasn’t the only train scheduled for those tracks that night. A passenger train was due along soon, and if the oncoming train struck the stalled caboose there would be a horrible accident.
Joe Baldwin had a choice to make. He knew that he had to signal the oncoming train to stop. He knew that the only way to do this and be sure the engineer in the approaching train would see the signal was to stand on the platform at the back of the caboose.
Joe Baldwin knew that if the oncoming train hit the stalled caboose at full speed, everyone on board the passenger train could die. He also knew that it takes a long time to stop a speeding train. Even if the engineer saw the light and stopped, there wouldn’t be time enough to slow down and prevent a complete disaster. The chances were good that the caboose was still going to be hit. And if he was on that caboose when that happened, Baldwin knew he didn’t stand much of a chance of walking away from that crash. He could either save his own life, or try desperately to save the lives of those passengers.
Baldwin made the heroic choice. Grabbing his lantern, Joe Baldwin stood on the back of the caboose as the sound of an oncoming passenger train rumbled closer. Joe frantically waved his warning light, trying to catch the attention of the engineer.
Joe’s plan worked. The engineer of the oncoming train saw the light and pulled hard on his brakes. But the momentum of the tons of speeding steel kept the train moving, and the locomotive slammed into Joe’s caboose. Joe’s bravery saved many lives. But not his own. Joe Baldwin was decapitated in the crash.
Joe’s head was thrown by the force of the accident into the murky swamps that surrounded the tracks. It was never found. His headless body was buried with hero’s honors a week later.
For years after that accident, lights were seen moving up and down the track around Maco. Sometimes only one light, sometimes two. People said that it was the ghost of Joe Baldwin, still searching for his missing head.
The Maco light was seen for over 100 years, but has not been seen since 1977. This was the year that the railroad tracks at Maco station were pulled up. Many explanations have been offered for the mysterious slights, including one intriguing geological possibility. Maco stands on top of a geological fault line. Some have speculated that the source of the lights was static electricity produced by the pressures of this fault building up along the tracks, and discharging as light when the tracks reached their capacity. This would explain why the lights haven’t been seen since the tracks were pulled up.
Up next on Weird Darkness, we’ll look at several cases of reported poltergeist activity and try to determine if it’s supernatural, human in nature, or possibly a little of both.
STORY: POLTERGEISTS – SUPERNATURAL MANIFESTATIONS, HUMAN AGENTS, OR BOTH?=====
Let’s take a look at the two different types of cases that are referred to as “poltergeists”…..
Poltergeist cases are the work of actual, intelligent spirits…. while poltergeist-like cases are the work of human agents. What makes this so hard to define is the fact that some cases are a combination of the two…. where haunted locations carry such a charge of energy that they make it possible for ghosts to exist there and for the unconscious energy of the human agent to manifest.
In both kinds of cases, similar phenomena takes places, including: knocking and tapping sounds; noises with no visible cause; disturbance of stationary objects like household items and furniture; doors slamming; lights turning on and off; fires breaking out; rock and dirt throwing; physical and sexual assaults and much more. In some cases, these events can be tangible evidence of ghosts, but in other cases, while the activity is paranormal, it has nothing to do with the spirits.
Leaving out the actual cases involving negative and violent spirits, the current and widely accepted theory behind poltergeist phenomena is that the activity is usually caused by a person in the household.
This person is usually an adolescent girl, and normally one who is troubled emotionally. It is believed that this person may be unconsciously manipulating the items in the house by psychokinesis (PK), the power to move things by energy generated in the brain. This kinetic energy remains unexplained, but even mainstream scientists are starting to admit that it does seem to exist. It is unknown why this energy seems to appear in females around the age of puberty, but it has been documented to occur. It seems that when the activity begins to manifest, the girl is usually in the midst of some emotional or sexual turmoil. It is also possible for young boys, and even adults, to be able to manifest this unknowing ability. The vast majority of people have no idea they are causing the activity and are usually surprised to find there is even a possibility they could be making the strange things happen.
What can be even more difficult for the researcher is when the acts of the spirits and this energy both manifest themselves in a location. It is believed that this can, and does occur, and two of the most famous “haunted house” cases of this century boasted just this sort of strangeness.
One of the world’s most famous haunted house cases was actually a case of where a haunted location assisted a human agent in creating her own activity. There seems to be no question that Borley Rectory was actually haunted… whether you choose to believe researcher Harry Price (and I do) or not. The long history of independent accounts leads us to believe the haunting went on for many years before Price ever got involved.
Briefly, Borley Rectory was a deteriorating old manor house in the English county of Essex. Harry Price got involved in the case in 1929 when a newspaper report told of some of the strange things that had gone on there for many years. He would later write two books about the house and it would go on to be known as “the Most Haunted House in England”.
Price was asked by the paper to investigate and he was told about the history of reported there, like phantom footsteps; strange lights; ghostly whispers; a headless man; a girl in white; the sounds of a phantom coach outside; the apparition of the home’s builder, Henry Bull; and the spirit of the nun who walked in the garden.
Local legend had it that a monastery had once been located on the site and that a 13th century monk and a beautiful young novice were killed while trying to elope from the place. The monk was hanged and his would-be bride was bricked up alive within the walls of her convent.
The stories had been told for many years by scores of reliable and independent witnesses. Price interviewed many of the former tenants and investigated the house thoroughly, even leasing the place for one year for a 24 hour a day vigil. Many of Price’s accounts from Borley would be first-hand, as he claimed to see and hear much of the reported phenomena like hearing bells ring, rapping noises and seeing objects that has been moved from one place to another.
Although troublesome, the ghosts at the rectory had been relatively peaceful until October 1930 when Reverend Lionel Foyster and his wife, Marianne moved into the house. Their time in residence would see a marked increase in the paranormal activity. People were locked out of rooms, household items vanished, windows were broken, furniture was moved, odd sounds were heard and much more.
However, the worst of the incidents seemed to involve Mrs. Foyster, as she was thrown from her bed at night, slapped by invisible hands, forced to dodge heavy objects which flew at her day and night, and was once almost suffocated with a mattress. Soon after, there began to appear a series of scrawled messages on the walls of the house, written by an unknown hand. They seemed to be pleading with Mrs. Foyster, using phrases like “Marianne, please help get” and “Marianne light mass prayers”.
Because nearly all of the poltergeist-like activity occurred when Mrs. Foyster was present, Price was inclined to attribute it to her unknowing manipulations. However, he did believe in the possibility of the ghostly nun and some of the other reported phenomena. The rectory did not fit into pre-conceived notions of a haunted house, which was one of the reasons that it would go on to gain such a reputation. Despite the implications of the phenomena centering around Marianne, Price maintained that at least one of the spirits in the house had found the rector’s wife to be sympathetic to its plight. This was the only explanation he could find for the mysterious messages.
To Price, and to my own thinking, Borley Rectory was actually a catalyst for paranormal activity. There was something about the location itself that seemed to invite energy in and also to act as a storage battery that Marianne Foyster could somehow tap into. The house boasted three different types of phenomena… the ghosts that interacted with the investigators, the possible residual haunting the nun… and the poltergeist-like activity produced by Mrs. Foyster.
Another case that brought together two types of activity seems to be the San Pedro Haunting or the Jackie Hernandez case, that was investigated by Barry Taff, who also investigated the famous “Entity” case.
Taff got involved in the case, along with cameraman Barry Conrad, in 1989 when he was asked to look into a house in San Pedro, California that was allegedly being haunted. The owner of the house was Jackie Hernandez, a young woman with a number of emotional problems.
The investigators were told of strange smells, unexplained sounds, moving objects, apparitions, a glowing cloud that tried to suffocate her (and which had appeared in front of other witnesses) and actually witnessed a peculiar, dripping substance dripping from the kitchen cabinets.
The events in the house grew stronger and even followed Jackie from place to place. Taff began to believe that she was creating the phenomena unconsciously because of her emotional problems and what became a strong romantic attachment to Barry Conrad. It seemed that anyone who might be perceived as threat to Jackie’s relationship with Barry ended up on the end of a violent attack by the “ghosts”.
However, there are problems with the theory that this was strictly a “human agent” haunting. The unexplained lights are certainly odd… and so would be the reports of male apparitions from witnesses and the fact that (as Barry Taff found out later) Jackie’s house continued to be reported as haunted long after she moved out. According to the owners, no subsequent tenants stayed there for longer than 6 months. Could this be merely some left-over “after effect” from Jackie’s presence there? Or something else?
Now, let’s take a look at some famous cases that leave little doubt as to their source!
One of the most famous poltergeist cases in America took place in Macomb, Illinois in 1948. In this case, a disturbed teenager named Wanet McNeil was forced to live with her father after her parent’s bitter divorce. The girl and her father moved to an uncle’s farm, just west of Macomb. Wanet was very unhappy with the situation and her emotions were high. In the weeks that followed, Wanet managed to start fires all over her uncle’s farm with nothing other than the power of her mind. She had no idea that she was causing the phenomena.
The fires began on August 7 on the farm of Charles Willey. They began as small brown spots which appeared on the wallpaper in the house. The spots would appear and then mysteriously burst into flames. This continued to happen day after day and neighbors came to help keep watch and put out fires as they appeared. Pans and buckets of water were left all over the house and when a spot would appear, it would be quickly drenched. Still, the mysterious fires sprang up in front of the startled witnesses and volunteers began standing by with hoses to put out the blazes. The fire chief from Macomb, Fred Wilson, was called in to investigate and he had the family strip all of the wallpaper from every wall in the house. Dozens of witnesses then watched as brown spots appeared on the bare plaster and then burst into flames.
During the week of August 7, fires appeared on the front porch, ignited the curtains in every room, and even engulfed an entire bed. The National Fire Underwriters Laboratory investigated and reported that the wallpaper had been coated with flour paste and no bug repellant was present which might have contained a flammable compound. They had no explanation for what they had seen.
In addition to a number of insurance investigators, the Illinois State Deputy Fire Marshal, John Burgard, also came to the farm.
In the week that followed, over 200 fires broke out, an average of 29 per day. On Saturday, August 14, the fires raged out of control and finally consumed the entire house. Willey drove posts into the ground and made a shelter for his family with a tarpaulin, while McNeil moved himself and his children into the garage. The next day, the barn went up in flames.
On Tuesday, several fires broke out in the milkhouse, which was being used as a dining room. On Thursday, there were two more blazes and a pile of newspaper was found to be smoldering in the chicken house. Later that day, the farm’s second barn burned down in less than an hour.
The family fled to a nearby vacant house, but the fires continued. That same day, the United States Air Force got involved in the mystery. They suggested the fires might be caused by some sort of directed radiation, but had no other explanation for what was going on.
By this time, the farm was swarming with spectators, investigators, and reporters. Over 1000 people came to the farm on August 22! The suggested explanations ranged from fly spray, to radio waves, to underground gas pockets…. with everything else being ruled out, the officials turned to the possibility of arson.
While they had no explanation for the fires that suddenly appeared in front of reliable witnesses, with no possible natural cause, they did realize the puzzle had to be solved… and quickly. On August 30, officials announced the case to be closed. The arsonist, according to officials, was Wanet, a slight, 13-year-old, who apparently possessed some pretty incredible skills…. and an unlimited supply of matches! Supposedly, no one had been looking when she started all of the fires by herself, using ordinary kitchen matches.
Deputy Fire Marshal Burgard and State’s Attorney Keith Scott had taken Wanet aside for a little talk and after “an hour’s intensive questioning,” she had allegedly confessed. Her reasons? Apparently, she was unhappy; didn’t like the farm; wanted to see her mother; and didn’t have any pretty clothes. Forgotten were the witnesses who had seen the brown spots appear, spread and then turn into fires, while Wanet was nowhere to be seen. Also forgotten were the fires that had appeared on the ceilings, which could not have been set with ordinary kitchen matches.
This explanation pleased the authorities but not all of the reporters who were present seemed convinced…. and the hundreds of paranormal investigators who have examined the case over the years haven’t been either. One columnist from Peoria, who had covered the case since the beginning, stated frankly that he did not believe the girl’s so-called “confession”. And neither did noted researcher Vincent Gaddis in his landmark book, “Mysterious Fires and Lights“, who was convinced the case was a perfect example of poltergeist phenomena.
In the end though, the case simply went away. Wanet was turned over to her grandmother; the insurance company paid Willey for the damage done to his house and farm; the reporters had closure for their stories; and the general public was hand-fed a simple solution… which could not possibly have been the truth.
While the media certainly got involved in this case, these were the days before tabloids and tabloid TV. Poltergeist cases and media coverage certainly seem to go hand in hand and in many cases, what began as actual event often deteriorates into trickery. When this happens (and I’ll explain more in a moment) many of these cases are often dismissed as being frauds all along, when this couldn’t be further from the truth.
(Note: According to sources, recent accounts of Wanet McNeill’s activities after the outbreaks in Macomb show that her life never again regained its normalcy. Apparently, her emotional issues continued and later in life she was jailed for a time for both petty theft and prostitution.)
This case became known as a perfect example of a poltergeist haunting which began as genuine… and devolved into trickery, thanks to media attention and the imagination of two little girls.
The case began in Enfield, in North London, in a perfectly ordinary suburban townhouse. It was occupied by a woman named Peggy Harper and her four children; Rose, age 13; Janet, age 11; Pete, age 10; and Jimmy, age 7. The disturbances which would make this house famous began on the night of August 30, 1977, shortly after Janet and Pete retired to the bedroom they shared. The other children slept with their mother in another room of the small home.
The activity was first reported by Janet to her mother. She stated that their beds began bouncing up and down and “going all funny”. By the time that Peggy got to the room, the movements had stopped, leading her to believe that perhaps the children were making it all up. All remained quiet for the rest of the night, but the following evening, the events began in earnest.
Around 9:30 the following night, Peggy was called to Janet and Pete’s room by their excited laughter. This time, they claimed to hear noises coming from the floor. Janet said that it sounded like a chair moving, so Peggy took the only chair with her out of the room and downstairs. She believed this would calm the children down and get them settled for the night. Then, from downstairs, she too heard something odd. It was the same shuffling sound that Janet had mentioned. She hurried up to their room but found both children lying in their beds asleep.
Then, four distinct knocks were heard from the wall which adjoined the neighboring house. This prompted Peggy to turn the lights on once more, but she saw nothing out of the ordinary. Then, a heavy chest of drawers moved out away from the wall about a foot and a half. Peggy shoved it back again, but the chest moved back to its former position. The next time she tried to shove it into place, the chest refused to budge! Shaking with fear, the family left the house and went next door to the neighbor’s house. The neighbors investigated, as did the police.
The officers also reported hearing the knocking sounds, now coming from all different walls. One of the officers was in the living room when a chair suddenly slid several feet across the floor. He examined it closely, but could find no explanation as to how it had moved.
The next day brought more phenomena, like flying toys. The police were unable to help, so the Harpers and their neighbors turned to the press. The Daily Mirror sent out a photographer and a reporter, who stayed in the house for several hours. Nothing happened during their stay, until just as they got ready to leave. Suddenly, both men were assaulted with flying marbles and Lego bricks. A piece of a Lego flew across the room and hit the photographer so hard that it left a bruise which lasted over a week.
The newspaper contacted the Society for Psychical Research about the case and they in turn, contacted Maurice Grosse, a resident of North London and an investigator. Grosse arrived at the Harper house on September 5, exactly one week after the disturbances began. His presence seemed to have a calming effect on the family and for a few days, nothing out of the ordinary occurred.
Then, on the night of September 8, Grosse and three reporters were keeping watch when they heard a crash in Janet’s bedroom. Investigation showed that her bedside chair had been thrown about four feet across the room. Janet was asleep at the time and no one had seen the chair move. However, it did happen again an hour later… and this time one of the photographers captured the event on film!
Shortly after this, Grosse was joined in the investigation by author Guy Lyon Playfair and the two men spent the next two years studying the case.
The case had a couple of aspects in common with standard poltergeist cases, including the involvement of two adolescent girls. In this case, one had already gone through puberty and another was about to. The case also had another feature typical of such cases, personal tension. Peggy had never altogether resolved her feelings surrounding her divorce from the children’s father. After she realized this might have something to do with the phenomena, she came to term with her volatile emotions and the disturbances ceased.
Or rather, they took a short break. When they started up again, they had a somewhat different character. Now, more than ever, they seemed to focus on the two girls, Janet and Rose, and on Janet’s bedroom. Investigators quickly came to the opinion that this new phenomena was more the work of human trickery than the work of a human agent. Two SPR investigators later revealed that reports from the two girls, usually unsubstantiated, seemed very contrived.
In addition, a video camera secretly set up in the bedroom caught Janet bending spoons and attempting to bend an iron bar in an entirely normal manner. She was also seen bouncing up and down on the bed, from where she would later claim she was thrown.
Despite how this case concluded, there seems to be some strong evidence to say that the initial disturbances in the house were genuinely paranormal.
In 1984, a Columbus, Ohio family was plagued by another case of poltergeist phenomena and in spite the claims of skeptics, many researchers believe this was a classic case of genuine activity… at least for a time.
John and Joan Resch first attracted publicity in late 1983 when a reporter from a local newspaper, the Columbus Dispatch, came to their home to chronicle the couple’s extraordinary work with foster children. Over the years, the couple had taken in more than 250 homeless and disturbed children. At the time the article was written, the family consisted of John and Joan, their son, Craig, their adopted daughter, Tina, and four foster children.
Five months later, the Resch family would be in the news again. Apparently, their 14-year old daughter Tina had become the focus for a strange and very frightening series of events. On a Saturday morning in March 1984, all of the lights in the Resch home suddenly went on all at once, even though no one had touched a switch. John and Joan assumed the incident had been triggered by a power surge and they telephone the local utility company. It was suggested that they call an electrician, which they did. An electrical contractor named Bruce Claggett came to the house, thinking that it was merely a problem with a circuit breaker. He was unable to keep the lights from turninff on. Claggett even tried taping the light switches so that they stayed on. Closet lights which operated with a pull string would be turned out, but seconds later, the bulbs would be glowing again. Claggett finally gave up, unable to explain what was going on.
By evening, stranger things were being reported like lamps, brass candlesticks and clocks flying through the air; wine glasses shattering; the shower running on its own; and eggs, rising out of the carton by themselves and then smashing against the ceiling; knives were flying from drawers; and more. A rattling wall picture was placed behind the couch, only to slide back out again three different times.
As the weekend wore on, a pattern began to develop. The intensity and focus of the activity seemed to be Tina, who was even struck by a number of the objects. A chair was seen tumbling across the floor in Tina’s direction and it was only stopped from hitting her because it became wedged in a doorway. The fact that Tina was the object of the activity is important. Family members, neighbors and unrelated witnesses actually saw Tina being hit and smacked by flying objects, which came from parts of the room where she was not located!
Near midnight on Saturday, the Columbus police were summoned to the house but there was nothing they could do. The only respite from the strange events came on Sunday, when Tina left the house for church and then again in the afternoon when she went out to visit a friend. On Sunday evening, three elders from the Mormon Church had been summoned by a relative and, laying their hands on Tina’s head, attempted a prayer blessing to dispel the force which was creating havoc in the house. Unfortunately, it didn’t work.
By Monday morning, the house was a wreck and literally dozens of reliable witnesses, including reporters, police officers, church officials and neighbors, had reported unexplained phenomena in the Resch home.
During an interview, a photographer snapped a photo of the telephone in action and was printed in the newspaper the following day. The publication of the photograph touched off a media furor. Television crews and newspaper reporters from across the country descended on the Resch home, all hoping to witness some other manifestation of the supernatural. The newspaper reports also gained the attention of parapsychologist William Roll, who flew to Columbus to see the events first-hand.
While he was there, a picture flew from the wall in front of him and his own tape recorder flew over seven feet under its own power. Roll was convinced that RSPK was at work.
Skeptics weren’t so sure and wisely began investigating the other photographs on the roll of film shot by the photographer on Monday morning. In one of the photos, Tina’s hands had clearly been in a position to have manipulated the telephone cord and base. Soon, there was other damning evidence as well. During an extended visit by television reporters, a camera that had accidentally been left running recorded the girl grasping a table lamp by its cord and jerking out toward her. At the same time, she let out a cry of horror.
When confronted, Tina admitted that she had faked some of the later phenomena. She explained that she had been bored by the lengthy interviews and irritated by the constant attention. She hoped that the press would leave once they got their story. For the skeptics, the film and the confession were proof positive that the poltergeist had been Tina all along.
Yet not everyone shared that view, including the majority of the supposedly skeptical journalists. Many of them remained sure they had witnessed genuine, unexplained activity. They also pointed out that the skeptics had conveniently forgotten (and isn’t that normally the case?) about the scores of witnesses who would swear that activity had been directed toward Tina, not originating from her. William Roll, a trained scientist and observer, was also convinced of phenomena that he witnessed. He conceded that he had not been observing Tina under “controlled conditions”, but continued to assert that Tina seemed to have demonstrated authentic RSPK.
What caused the manifestations? Researchers believed that it was a case of repressed anger and anxiety seeking release. Apparently, there had been recent problems at home over the fact that Tina, against the wishes of John and Joan, had recently been searching for her natural parents. Also, Tina’s best friend of two years had ended their friendship just two days before the events began. All of this apparently combined to create an outward transference of energy. How exactly? We may never know.
For those who question whether or not, emotional problems can cause poltergeist-like activity to take place should look at what happened to Tina after the TV cameras and reporters went away. According to a 1993 report, Tina, then 23-years old, was awaiting trial in Georgia for the murder of her three-year old daughter. The child had been badly beaten and had died from injuries to the head. What the outcome of the trial was, and whatever became of Tina is unknown.
Several years ago, I was contacted by a young woman who reported that strange phenomena was occurring in her home. She was 18 years old at the time, although the incidents had been taking place since she was 14. According to her letters and follow-up calls, her house was very active and the phenomena included doors opening and closing; cabinet doors banging open; dishes being thrown about and broken; footsteps in the hallways at night; scratching sounds and most disturbingly, violent physical assaults that were directed at Christine. It was no uncommon for her to receive large bruises, cuts and scratches from an invisible source.
After meeting with Christine and her family and arranging an investigation of the house, I was contacted privately by her mother who explained that the strange happenings had begun shortly after Christine became pregnant in high school and starting having problems in school and with her friends. She became even more stressed after having the baby and the events escalated. All of it was centered, her mother explained, around Christine.
The investigation that was conducted did seem to show that the activity revolved around her. Although nothing was actually observed during the initial investigations, we did hear slamming noises and doors closing in a sealed-off section of the house. Kitchen cabinets were also seen during unexplained movement. There was no one else present at the time and we were unable to explain away the sounds. A follow-up trip revealed the photo at the top and the globe of what seems to be energy was actually observed by two investigators. No natural explanations could be discovered for the photo.
A short time later, Christine began to see a psychologist and counseling seemed to have a very positive effect on the situation. The strange phenomena in the house began to dissipate and eventually stopped altogether. Her mother reports that Christine is happy and well-adjusted today and there has been no repetition of the phenomena.
Up next… haunting the historic Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia are eerie tales of anguished soldiers, an eternal watch dog, and one hideous vampire with jagged teeth and hanging skin.
Plus… were Jack the Ripper’s victims killed to cover up a Royal scandal? These stories and more when Weird Darkness returns!
STORY: THE ROYAL RIPPER CONSPIRACY=====
Jack the Ripper represents perhaps the most perplexing enigma in the history of crime.
A Victorian serial killer who killed 5 prostitutes in the Whitechapel area of London in 1888, the Ripper’s identity is as much of a mystery today as it was that blood-soaked Autumn long ago.
Hundreds of books, films and documentaries have speculated on the killer’s true identity, offering countless theories.
Of all these theories, arguably the most influential and famous was first posited by author Stephen Knight in the 1970s. Knight spun an elaborate tale of conspiracy at the very top of British society — the Royal Family.
He claimed the Ripper’s victims were really killed to cover up a scandalous secret marriage between the Queen’s son Prince Albert Victor, then second in line to the throne, and a Catholic prostitute named Annie Elizabeth Crook, who bore Albert’s child.
Knight got much of his information from Joseph Gorman-Sickert, who claimed to be the illegitimate son of painter Walter Sickert, himself a Ripper suspect. Gorman recounted the story to Knight as told to him by his father.
Sir William Gull — a noted physician and purported high-ranking mason, actually committed the murders with the help of accomplices, in order to eliminate everyone who knew of Prince Albert’s secret marriage.
Despite many of the known facts contradicting the story, this royal conspiracy proved immensely popular, inspiring many other authors and numerous films and books.
From Hell’, a best-selling graphic novel by Alan Moore used the Royal Conspiracy as a starting point to weave a wider and deeper tale of madness and esoterica and films starring Christopher Plummer, Michael Caine and Johnny Depp also centered on Knight’s thesis.
Were Jack the Ripper’s victims really killed to cover up Prince Albert’s secret marriage?
Some parts of Knight’s theory seem to be based on real history. Annie Crook was a real person, and she did have a child who was Joseph Gorman’s mother.
However, there is little evidence Gorman’s father was Walter Sickert, beyond his own claims. And Annie Crook didn’t work at a tobacconist as Gorman claimed but was a confectioner’s assistant.
Knight weaves freemasonry into his theory, partially based on supposed ritual aspects to the murders, but also on the famous Goulston Street graffito.
This was a small piece of chalk writing found in an alleyway next to a piece of the bloodied apron of victim Catherine Eddowes. It read — ‘The Juwes are the men who will not be blamed for nothing’.
Knight theorized this was a reference to freemasonry and the murder of Mason Hirem Abiff in Soloman’s Temple by three initiates Jubela, Jubelo, and Jubelum.
However, most Ripperologists think it was probably a piece of badly spelt anti-semitic graffiti and unrelated to the murders.
At the time of the murder’s Gull was 72, and the previous year he had suffered a stroke that had left him partially paralysed. He had recovered, but his frailty makes him a very unlikely serial murderer — especially one as ferocious and violent as Jack the Ripper.
After Knight’s book became an international sensation, Gorman — a man who shunned publicity, claimed he had made the whole thing up, possibly in an attempt to take the spotlight off him.
Whatever his reasons, Gorman’s retraction of his story fatally undermines Knight’s theory, which relied almost entirely on Gorman’s account.
Prince Albert was in Germany for 3 months during the summer of 1884, when, if the birth certificate is correct, Annie Crook’s child was conceived.
If Albert could not have fathered the child, then another central tenet of Knight’s theory collapses.
Although the theory was popularised in the 1970s, gossip that the Ripper was a member of high society was popular at the time of the crimes.
The idea that the Ripper was some slumming member of the upper classes was particularly prevalent amongst the emergent tabloid press of 1888 and exaggerated stories of the Ripper’s murders sold many papers.
Rather than passing on some genuine first-hand knowledge of the crimes, Sickert may have just been recounting hearsay and stories that were going around at the time of the murders.
Ultimately the theory lacks real, verifiable documentary evidence to back it up. It is almost entirely based on hearsay, rumour and speculation — much of which can be shown to be false.
Knight’s theory is a seductive one, and its sensational nature perhaps makes people want to believe it is the truth behind this most famous of unsolved crimes. But it fails on its most crucial points and remains little more, in the end, than a good story.
STORY: THE GHOSTS OF RICHMOND’S HOLLYWOOD CEMETERY=====
In Richmond, Virginia, the word “Hollywood” represents a sprawling, 130-acre field of aging monuments that pre-dates the Civil War by nearly 20 years. Inspired by Boston’s Mount Auburn Cemetery, Hollywood Cemetery was the brainchild of William Haxall and Joshua Fry. They enlisted Philadelphia architect John Notman to see it to fruition; and when Notman began to design the grounds in 1847, he suggested the name “Hollywood” as a nod to the amount of holly trees peppering the landscape.
In less than two decades, the remains of United States Presidents James Monroe and John Tyler would be interred in Hollywood Cemetery, the former in an ominous Gothic Revival tomb dubbed locally as “The Birdcage.” Confederate leaders Jefferson Davis and J.E.B. Stuart also rest in Hollywood.
And while the cemetery has more than enough historical significance to attract visitors, the darker aspects of its existence beckon people through the mazelike roads on a regular basis.
One of the most prominent structures in the cemetery is a 90-foot stone pyramid–designed by Charles Henry Dimmock, built with stacked blocks of James River granite, and dedicated on November 8, 1869 as memorial to the 18,000 Confederate War Dead buried in close proximity. The bodies of the soldiers were brought from numerous battlefields, including many from Gettysburg. The pyramid took a year to construct and was fraught with injuries and accidents, specifically the repeated breaking of the stone-hauling derrick.
Thomas Stanley, a convicted horse thief working as part of the crew, volunteered to climb to the top and place the capstone. So perilous was the feat that Stanley’s early prison release presumably followed. There was never an official confirmation of such, though Stanley’s release box included a penciled notation that read “transferred,” without any indication as to where or when. Romanticists believe that the warden himself opened the gate, told Stanley to leave, and to never come back.
The pyramid is an architectural marvel (despite having no bonding), but the whispers of the dead have made it infamous. There are endless reports that a burst of ice cold air can be felt along the pyramid’s rear wall. Of the 18,000 soldiers buried nearby, 11,000 remain unidentified, and some say their restless spirits are trapped in a spectral loop around the obelisk. Disembodied moans at dawn and dusk have also been reported.
In February of 1862, a two-year old girl named Florence Rees died of Scarlet Fever. The cause of Florence’s death was common in the 19th century; thus, it is not as remarkable as the conspicuous statue keeping watch over her grave. A life-sized, black cast iron Newfoundland dog is situated on the right side, and there are two conflicting explanations for its presence.
The first story suggests that an anonymous shopkeeper, remembering how much Florence had loved the dog perched in front of his store on Main Street when she visited with her father, decided to bequeath the statue as a testament to Florence’s kind heart.
The second story, though not as sentimental, asserts that Florence’s father, Thomas, installed the dog statue at his daughter’s grave to prevent it from being melted down for bullets during the War. Because materials were in short supply, a chunk of iron so large would surely have been pilfered. But Thomas Rees, assuming that no one would dare insult the memory of a two-year old, placed it in Hollywood Cemetery.
There has never been a definitive answer for the dog’s company. Still, those who pay their respects claim to hear random barking near Florence’s final resting place, while those who lean too close to the grave have heard growling. The dog’s position is also said to change, sometimes facing the opposite way, perhaps to protect the little girl beneath.
Arguably the most notorious haunting in Hollywood is that of the Richmond Vampire. The legend can be traced to the factual Church Hill Tunnel collapse on October 2, 1925. The tunnel opened in 1875 and was part of the old Chesapeake and Ohio Railway. Initial construction was nightmarish, due in part to Virginia’s clay soil, which changed with rainfall and caused frequent cave-ins. Years of persistent collapsing forced C&O Railway to seek a safer alternative. The company completed a riverfront viaduct in 1901, after which the Church Hill Tunnel fell into virtual abandonment.
That is, until 1925.
It was in this year that officials decided to restore the tunnel to operational condition. During repairs on October 2, a collapse near the western end trapped a work train. Engineer Thomas Joseph Mason was killed, and others were never found. Three men, including fireman Benjamin F. Mosby, managed to escape through the east end of the tunnel. Mosby, who had been shoveling coal into the firebox of a steam locomotive, was seriously burned by a ruptured boiler.
In the aftermath of tragedy, strange reports arose. A local story alleged that a hideous creature with jagged teeth and hanging skin had emerged from the tunnel collapse and made its way towards the James River. Pursued by a mob, the creature darted into Hollywood Cemetery, where it vanished in the hillside mausoleum of one W.W. Pool. Pool was an 80-year old bookkeeper at the time of his death in 1922. Yet his mausoleum bears the year 1913. The incongruous date supposedly marks his wife’s death. Folklorists, however, believe that Pool himself was the Richmond Vampire, and that the omission of his own birth-death years is proof of his immortality.
The plausible explanation is that onlookers actually saw Benjamin Mosby emerge from the tunnel, his teeth broken and his skin seared and mangled from his injuries. Mosby died the day after the cave-in at Grace Hospital. After eight days of rescue efforts, only the body of engineer Thomas Mason was recovered.
Still, that hasn’t stopped the enduring tale of Hollywood’s vampire. To this day, wary visitors take photos of Pool’s mausoleum, hoping to catch a glimpse of something unexpected emerge from its door.
Beautiful and historic, Hollywood Cemetery is a must-see. Its winding roads and handsome stone monuments make it one of Richmond’s crown jewels. But within its gates reside thousands of anguished soldiers, a faithful Newfoundland, and maybe … just maybe … a vampire.
When Weird Darkness returns… Weirdo family member Alana describes her childhood home where she heard strange footsteps and banging on doors when no one was home, and a crucifix which refused to stay upright. But first… an Australian man tells of a fishing trip where he and a couple of friends come across what appears to be a Yowie or Bigfoot… but more humanlike. These stories are up next!
STORY: THE HAIRY MAN OF THE KOWMUNG RIVER=====
Many yowie witnesses claim the creature resembles a large upright, hair-covered ape or gorilla, but a few describe the animal as being much more human-like. One of the best reports of this type came from Sydney man Gary Jones.
Although he was only sixteen or seventeen years old when he encountered the strange creature in June 1989, he is confident his recollection of its weird appearance is accurate. The encounter happened fifteen kilometres south of Katoomba, NSW, in the heart of the wild Kanangra-Boyd National Park.
The Cropster interviewed him in 2003 and the edited recording can be found below.
“We [Gary and two life-long mates] often go trout fishing in this area called the Kowmung junction, where the Kowmung joins Coxs River just upstream from Lake Burragorang. It takes us six and a half hours to get there – that’s half mountain bike riding and half bushwalking. We stash or bikes in the scrub halfway and walk the rest because it is so steep. The last 1600 feet of the descent takes you about an hour and ten minutes because you have to tack down. It’s very remote and there’s a lot of wildlife down there: dingoes, wombats, ‘roos. In the upper Kowmung you can see platypuses.”
“We got down to the river at about 2.00 or 2.15, fished for about an hour and a bit, and started collecting firewood. So we were going along the river bank just up from the junction and my mate said ‘Check that out!’ or something and, lo and behold, on the other side of the river about thirty metres upstream was a gentleman who was not wearing any clothes and who was basically as hairy as you could possibly imagine. At the beach I’ve seen blokes with really hairy backs … well, if you can imagine the worst case scenario – but all over. And I said, ‘Oh, it’s a bloke’, and we had a short conversation and then walked up to get level with him.”
As well as having such a striking appearance, the hairy creature, which had its back to them, was standing in a most unusual pose: “He had one foot up on the bank and one in the water. He was doing the splits – but one leg was higher than the other. It’s a very steep bank and the water there is about four feet deep. He was sort of reached over, stooping down, drinking out of his right hand. So he had his left shoulder and that part of his back towards us. He didn’t see us because we were behind him and on the other side of the river. And there’s a rapid current flow, the current moves the river stones and it’s quite noisy.”
“We walked up to directly opposite and we were only the width of the river, fourteen metres maximum, from him when he saw us and stood up. There was no hesitation. To stand up from that angle you’d have to be fairly well-conditioned … he showed no strain, no effort. He just stood up, very strong and straight, upright.”
“He was very tall, probably six foot six or seven inches and had long legs. I weigh 100-112 kilos. He would have had 10, 15 kilos on me, but he wasn’t fat. This person was solid and his shoulders were big. He could have been a footballer – really wide shoulders. Very muscly; a short neck.”
Interestingly, Gary did not consider the creature’s arms remarkably long: they seemed no longer, proportionately, than those of a large man.
“Its hair was a very dark brown, the same colour all over, until you got to his face … . Have you ever seen a black dog when it’s been in the sun too long – it gets that reddy tinge to it? That’s what his head and beard looked like. The beard and head hair were matted; it looked disgusting – you know – like some of those dreadlock-type things. The hair on his shoulders [ and torso, arms and legs] was about five to six centimetres long [2 inches] … it was thick cover.”
“The only spots that were not covered with hair were the soles of his feet [which he glimpsed as the creature walked away]. And they were discoloured with dirt and mud, so there was really no way to tell what his skin colour was. Even his buttocks were covered in hair. I didn’t see the inside of his hands, but I’d assume there would be no hair there.”
“He had deep eye sockets. His hair seemed to extend all the way down to his eyes, and his beard all the way up to his eyes. I’d never seen a face like that before. It didn’t look like a monkey or an ape or anything. Quite a long forehead, probably twice the height of my forehead. His head looked more pointed than, say, mine, but all the hair made it difficult to tell.”
“I could see the eyes. They were dark, I couldn’t tell you what colour, but they were set well back. I saw … thickset lips; they were a dark colour.”
“He stood right up and looked right at us. He had no expression – just blank. Didn’t show any fear; made no sound. It was quite weird. And then he turned and took off.”
“Now, the bush was thick forest, but towards the edge there was that prickly native scrub that cuts and scratches you.. A normal person would push past it or go around, but he didn’t even stop – he ran straight through it.”
“If you look at someone who’s done weights. They have wide shoulders and, like, a “V” shape … that’s how it looked [from behind]. And solid buttocks – you know how the buttocks of sprinters get really big? That’s what was like – but with hair all over.”
“Our first instinct was to go across and check this bloke out, but when we rock-hopped across we found we had to struggle up onto the bank [that he had simply stepped up onto]. On the bank where he’d been standing there was a really, really strong smell, like ammonia or urine. The closest thing I’ve smelled was a fox in season, or maybe if you go past the bat cage in a zoo.”
“He had probably a fifty metre head start on us, but we could hear him running in the distance and we followed him up the ridge. That gradient is incredibly steep but he could move uphill very, very quickly. I used to play football and we were all quite fit, but we were buggered after going only about 800 or 900 metres. We didn’t have any chance of catching him. On that slope there are loose rocks underfoot and we could hear them rolling and crashing as it moved away ahead of us. We were puffing and panting and we could hear it puffing and panting in the distance. I couldn’t have run faster than I did in those conditions, we were cut and scratched from the bushes and we weren’t making any ground on it at all.”
“At this stage it would have been 3.15 or 3.30 and as you get up that side, because the sun sets to the west, you’re on the inside of the valley, so it gets quite eerie … so when we got up there on the ridge we could still hear him in the distance. The urine smell was getting very strong. We got to a small clearing and it got worse. And that’s when your mind starts reeling. You think, “What is this thing? It doesn’t smell too good. Are we going back to where it lives? What could happen?”
“It dawned on me that if we kept going it might be dark before we got back to camp and we didn’t have torches. I said, ‘Look, it’s gonna get dark’ and one of my mates said, ‘Yeah, let’s get out of here – we don’t know whether there’s others.’ Walking down, we kept looking over our shoulders thinking, ‘Is that thing following us?”
“On the way down, on the bushes that had cut us – there was his hair. It had stuck on the bushes as if a horse had gone through – big chunks of hair. Just normal hair; it was coarse, a dark brown colour, about five or six centimetres long [2 inches]. It may have come off his arms or legs … even his buttocks were covered in hair. I wish I’d been smarter and grabbed some of it, but we honestly thought it was some feral guy.”
“When we got back to where he’d been standing, there was that really coarse river sand and there were definite footprints. His feet were probably size eleven, not absolutely huge. You could see five toes; there was a definite heel and an arch.”
“It wasn’t until we got back across the river and sat down and chatted, saying, ‘What was it?’ that one of my mates said, ‘It’s a yowie’ and I said, ‘No, I think it’s just a wild man.’”
“For the rest of the trip we were a bit worried, particularly that first night – every stick that broke or any noise outside the tent, we were quite alarmed. We stayed three days. When we were fishing during the day you could hear, on the ridge line, rocks moving, and we all had the feeling we were being watched – felt eyes on us. It was extraordinary … . We felt uneasy, stayed fairly close together.”
“We’ve been back there most years since and every time I’m half expecting to see this person, or hairy man – which we now think might be a yowie.”
Although Gary finally uttered the “Y” word towards the end of the interview, it was clear that he was reluctant to accept that the creature he saw, though wild smelly and hairy, was anything less than fully human. Readers will have noticed that although he sometimes referred to the creature as “it”and “this thing”, he more often used terms like“he”, “him”, “hairy person”, “hairy man” and “wild man”.
When pressed on the matter, he explained that he was, by nature, “… probably the world’s biggest sceptic. I’d heard about yowies [but] I thought this person had sort of left society and become hairy because he wasn’t wearing any clothes … had evolved to become hairy … or it could have been some wild race of man that was undiscovered – because where we were was about as remote as you could get. It was human.”
It is interesting to note that Gary’s mate, an equally credible witness, was left with a slightly different impression: that the creature was distinctly subhuman and was most likely a yowie.
STORY: THE FALLEN CRUCIFIX=====
I have a few encounters to tell you about that have happened at my house. I have been living in my house for 3 years now, which is an old 1940s cottage-style house. The first incident happened within the first 8 months of living in the home. I went for a long walk/run earlier that day through the neighborhood. Nothing strange happened until that night when I woke up in the middle of the night to sounds of a door unlocking. The sound was coming from the kitchen where there is a door to the drive way, the most commonly used door. After hearing a door open and close, I called out for my mother who was the only person in the area who had a key to my house, but received no answer. I started to feel extreme fear and panic as the sounds of footsteps slowly started. My body was paralyzed I tried my best to move but I couldn’t. I was so scared. I managed to throw the covers over my head while the slow growing sense of doom fell upon me. It was a fear I have never felt before, or since. The only thing I could think of that I could do was to scream prayer, but since I am not very active in religion, I did not know any to use. I started to yell “go away” “Jesus will protect me” repeatedly. I don’t recall falling asleep but I must have passed out from exhaustion…. But it wasn’t over. The next thing I knew I was dreaming, well more of a nightmare. I was at the bottom of a large set of stairs that were pitch black half way up. The feeling of doom and extreme fear was back. I could feel it moving closer down the stairs even though I couldn’t see anything. I started yelling “Jesus will protect me” at this point it was making me speak in tongues but I resisted. As abrupt as everything started it all ended it was now the morning. There was a weird calm throughout the house. At first I thought it was all a dream but my voice was hoarse and almost gone from yelling, then I knew it wasn’t all a dream. I do believe ghosts or other supernatural beings can stick to you – the neighborhood I live in is very old.
There was no activity until a year and a half later. One evening I was sitting on the couch reading my book with my cat when I heard a bang from my built in book case. Something told me not to check since my cat was staring at the spot where it came from with such intensity. Soon it was time for bed even though I was curious to see what had fell I wanted to wait. The next morning before leaving for work I checked to see what the fallen item was. It was my plastic crucifix, and it was turned over on its side. This left me with an uneasy feeling; it would take some effort to knock it over since it was a plastic crucifix that is meant to stand upright so the bottom is flat and weighted to make it bottom heavy. I put it back in the same spot and quickly examined it to see if there was a reason for it to fall over but there wasn’t. It has been in the same spot for two and a half years now. After returning from work I checked to see if the crucifix has fallen over again, but it didn’t. But unfortunately, it wasn’t over yet.
The next morning around 5 am was woken up by my cat. Shortly after, I heard a loud lump coming from the living room. This sent chills down my spine I quickly got up and ready for work trying to get out of the house as soon as possible. Right before I left the house I checked out the built-ins where the sound came from. I found the crucifix, again, on the floor. I quickly picked it up, placed it back and ran out of the house. There was no way it could have fell off the shelf without immense force. During the day I recruited my best friends to sage my house and salt the doors. After that evening the house went quite again with no more issues.
Over the last 3 months I have started to see a shadow figure around the house. However, I do not feel the impeding sense of fear/doom I felt with the first incident. This shadow figure also hasn’t moved any items. The first time I saw the shadow it was during the day. I was at the end of the hallway leaving my bedroom when I saw a black shadow pass through into the dining room. No one else was home at the time. The next time was around 10pm, and I was texting in the dark so the only light on was my home security tablet. I felt like the open door was growing darker and I began to get a watched feeling. I quickly put my phone down and rolled over tossing the covers over my head I stared at the light that shined from the tablet on the wall when suddenly all the light blacked out for a moment, I shot up and turned the light on but nothing was there. The most recent time was only a few weeks ago in the morning. The house was bright from the morning sun I was staring down the hallway at the light coming through the bathroom leaving a doorway shaped light on the hallways wall when suddenly all the light disappeared but as quick as it disappeared it a came back. I don’t have a terrified feeling or any sense of doom that comes over me whenever the shadow figure is present.
Thanks for listening. If you like the show, please share it with someone you know who loves the paranormal or strange stories, true crime, monsters, or unsolved mysteries like you do! You can email me anytime with your questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org. WeirdDarkness.com is also where you can find all of my social media, listen to free audiobooks I’ve narrated, visit the store for Weird Darkness t-shirts, hoodies, mugs, phone cases, and more merchandise, 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. Also on the website, 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.
“The Mysterious Devil Monkeys of North America” by Brent Swancer for Mysterious Universe
“The Horror on Harbor Lights Drive” submitted directly to Weird Darkness.com by Danny Rendon
“The Maco Light” posted at North Carolina Ghosts
“The Tina Resch Poltergeist Case” posted at RealParanormalExperiences.com
“Poltergeists: Supernatural Manifestations, Human Agents, or Both?” by Troy Taylor for Prairie Ghosts
“The Royal Ripper Conspiracy” posted at The Unredacted
“The Fallen Crucifix” submitted to Weird Darkness by Alana Pugliese
“The Hairy Man of the Kowmung River” by The Cropster, posted at The Fortean
“The Ghosts of Richmond’s Hollywood Cemetery” by Gary Sweeney for The Line Up
WeirdDarkness® – is a production and trademark of Marlar House Productions. Copyright, 2023.
Now that we’re coming out of the dark, I’ll leave you with a little light… “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster to give you a future and a hope.'” — Jeremiah 29:11
And a final thought… “Happiness is a choice, not a result. Nothing will make you happy until you choose to be happy. No person will make you happy unless you decide to be happy. Your happiness will not come to you. It can only come from you.” — Ralph Marston
I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me in the Weird Darkness.