When a horror film says that it’s based on true events that’s usually a bunch of hokum. But the strange thing about A Nightmare on Elm Street – the film Freddy Krueger, a sleep demon with razors on his fingers – is that it’s actually based somewhat in fact. Krueger is one of the most well known monsters from 1980’s horror, but the inspiration for his exploits is more horrific than anything he committed in the films.
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…
We’re used to seeing someone on television or in movies die from a gunshot or stabbing, knowing they were just pretending – that the gun was using blanks, or the knife was using a retractable blade. But what we don’t often hear are the times that those prop weapons end up killing someone for real. (Death By Movie Prop)
How can a little girl disappear in a big crowd of people with no one seeing anything? Was it a case of stranger danger or did someone she know betray her trust? We’ll look at the case of Beverly Rose Potts who went missing in 1951, never to be seen again. (Peril in the Park for Beverly Potts)
Part medicine, part honey, part cannibalism… who or what was the mellified man? (The Mellified Man)
They say that tragedy can change a person forever… and that couldn’t be more true for one man who went from being considered lucky, to becoming deranged after a horrible accident, (The Hidden Wounds of Mr. Schultz)
Famous last words. Humphrey Bogart said, “I should have never switched from Scotch to martinis.” Winston Churchill’s last words were simply, “I’m bored with it all.” But sometimes what a person says on their deathbed can be shocking or outlandish – even if they aren’t a celebrity. We’ll look at a few unexpected deathbed moments. (Deathbed Moments)
Children dying in their sleep while having terrible nightmares. It’s not just a movie plot from a Wes Craven film – it really happened, and inspired the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. (The Terrifying True Syndrome That Inspired A Nightmare on Elm Street)
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Now.. bolt your doors, lock your windows, turn off your lights, and come with me into the Weird Darkness!
STORY: NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET=====
In 1984, Wes Craven introduced the world to one of the most iconic horror films of all time: A Nightmare on Elm Street. His creation of Freddy Krueger as a demon who kills teens in their dreams was heinous, terrifying and literally ripped from the headlines.
Craven found inspiration for the landmark horror film through an article that was published in the L.A. Times. He recounted the story of a refugee child from the Cambodian genocide, who was terrified to sleep for fear that he would be attacked in his dreams and never wake up.
“When he finally fell asleep, his parents thought this crisis was over. Then they heard screams in the middle of the night,” Craven told Vulture. “By the time they got to him, he was dead. He died in the middle of a nightmare.”
The story Craven described wasn’t an isolated incident: dozens of Southeast Asian refugees in America died for unknown reasons in their sleep during the 1980s. The mysterious deaths were usually among young men in their 20s and 30s from the Hmong ethnic group, and affected a large enough segment of this population to alarm public health experts.
The people suffering from this puzzling ailment were typically refugees from Laos, a small, landlocked country in Southeast Asia. The Hmong minority group had been persecuted in Laos after they were recruited by the CIA to fight North Vietnamese soldiers during the Vietnam War. More than 30,000 Hmong soldiers helped the U.S. fight communism in the northern highlands where they lived, but died at a rate 10 times higher than their American counterparts.
In 1975, the Vietnam War ended, and Laos became a communist country. The new leadership there viewed the Hmong as traitors for their work with the United States. Many survivors from the war fled their homes after the war to become refugees in Thailand or the U.S.
It was a “forced migration under the most trying of conditions,” says Dr. Khatharya Um, Associate Professor at UC Berkeley and author of Southeast Asian Migration: People on the Move in Search of Work, Refuge, and Belonging. “It was a very long journey and a very treacherous journey.”
The group’s troubles did not end with resettlement, as they often remained traumatized by their experiences back home. “These are people who had endured a great deal and had been subjected to a great deal,” Um says. Hmong refugees in the U.S. suffered from high rates of poverty and soon, a mysterious ailment seemed to befall them.
Like Freddy Krueger’s targets in A Nightmare on Elm Street, many of the afflicted were teenagers and young men. Headlines such as “Mysterious Fatal Malady Striking Hmong Men” and “Night Deaths of Asian Men Unexplained” ran in the L.A. Times throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s, any one of which could have sparked Wes Craven’s imagination.
One 1981 article describes the scene of a Laotian refugee who relocated to the U.S. from a refugee camp in Thailand with his family. But shortly after settling in his new country, 47-year-old Yong Leng Thao died in his sleep with his wife beside him, in tears. He was the fourth Hmong man to die while sleeping in nine months—and the 13th nocturnal Hmong death recorded since 1978, according to the article.
Investigators could find no medical explanation for the deaths, but many community members attributed the deaths to chemical nerve agents that refugee soldiers of the Vietnam War would have been exposed to. That theory was not supported by doctors, however.
“Nerve gas doesn’t act this way. There’s no evidence,” said Dr. Larry V. Lewman, county medical examiner, in the L.A. Times article. “Secondly, if it was nerve gas, why does it affect only males and why only during the night?”
Other Hmong believed they were being punished by the spirits of their ancestors for leaving their homeland. Their anxiety centered around “the inability to do right by your ancestral spirits because you’re not there, or because you don’t have the right things to perform the right rituals,” says Dr. Um. “I do think that for many of the Hmong of that generation, the traditional explanation remained salient, if not more salient, than explanations related to cardio-vascular problems.”
The fatal ailment, later classified as Sudden Unexplained Nocturnal Death Syndrome (SUNDS), has been investigated by the Center for Disease Control at length. However, the wave of SUNDS deaths among Southeast Asians, particularly the Hmong group, is still unexplained.
Dr. Um suggests the years of stress that the Hmong endured could be a factor in the disease. “Was that a reflection of what kind of stressors that come with being forcibly removed from a familiar world to a completely alien and sometimes even hostile context?” she asks.
The threat of this mysterious death sentence given to Hmong refugees may be even more frightening than the fictional serial murderer that it inspired.
When Weird Darkness returns…
How can a little girl disappear in a big crowd of people with no one seeing anything? Was it a case of stranger danger or did someone she know betray her trust? We’ll look at the case of Beverly Rose Potts who went missing in 1951, never to be seen again.
But first, movie props – supposedly harmless to the actors using them. But sometimes even the fake weapons can be deadly. Coming up next.
STORY: DEATH BY MOVIE PROP=====
You might cringe while watching a violent movie in which characters are stabbed, shot, strangled, or otherwise grievously harmed, but at least you can tell yourself it’s just movie magic, right? But sometimes, a fake weapon can prove to be just as fatal. There have been numerous people slain by fake weapons, including actors ended by prop weapons and even kids who lost their lives trying to pull seemingly harmless pranks, proving that even toys and innocent jokes can sometimes be fatal.
Actor Daigo Kashino (also called Daigo Naito), 33, was killed when he was stabbed in the stomach with a prop samurai sword during rehearsal for a play in Tokyo in February 2016. Oddly enough, no one saw what happened. They heard Kashino cry out, then saw him bent over in apparent pain. Kashino had appeared in the Japanese TV show Love Shuffle, and was a voice actor in the anime Detective Conan: The Raven Chaser.
Raphael Schumacher, 27, was an actor in an experimental theater work in Italy in February 2016, according to CNN. In this particular play, audience members walked around the space and discovered different scenes. In Schumacher’s scene, he gave a monologue before putting his own head in a noose. It wasn’t until a med student in the audience noticed him shaking that it was discovered he had accidentally hanged himself. Schumacher was taken to a hospital, where he remained in a coma until he was declared brain dead. Others involved with the play stated that Schumacher’s scene was supposed to be a shooting, but it was the actor’s own idea to change it to a hanging.
Daniel Hoevels, 30, was injured while acting in a play in a Hamburg theater in 2008. Hoevels’ character committed suicide by slitting his own throat with a knife. When Hoevels went to act out the scene, he ended up slicing his own throat for real. It turned out that the property manager who bought the knife forgot to blunt the blade. Hoevels received stitches, and later declined to press charges against the forgetful prop manager.
One of the most infamous film set tragedies was the death of actor Brandon Lee, 28, in 1993. Lee, the son of actor Bruce Lee, had a starring role in goth cult classic The Crow. The scene in question depicted a group of gang members fatally shooting Lee’s character after he walks in on them murdering his fiancée the night before the couple’s wedding. A series of mistakes led to a dummy cartridge getting stuck in the barrel of the gun, unknown to the prop crew. When actor Michael Massee fired the gun at Lee, the dummy round fired just as a real loaded gun would. The bullet struck Lee in the stomach, hitting his aorta. He died in a nearby hospital following hours of surgery. The film was completed using Lee’s stunt double and CGI.
In 1984, actor Jon-Erik Hexum accidentally shot himself in the head. Hexum had a role on CBS’s Cover Up. When he was told about some production delays, he jokingly picked up a prop gun, put it to his head, and pulled the trigger. Though the gun had been loaded with blanks instead of real bullets, the impact fractured his skull and drove a shard of it into his brain. Hexum was only 26. His final words were, “Can you believe this crap?”
Though many real-dead-body-in-a-Halloween-haunted-house stories are merely urban legends, one was tragically real. Brian Jewell, 17, was performing at a haunted hayride in New Jersey in 1990. His scene was set at a gallows, from which Jewell was meant to appear to hang from a prop rope. Jewell typically delivered a monologue as the cart drove by, but when he did not during one particular show, the driver became worried and discovered that Jewell had inadvertently hanged himself.
And in 2001, a 14-year-old Michigan teen named Caleb Rebh also died in a strikingly similar manner. He was a scare actor at a haunted hayride. He was meant to startle guests at a tree, from which a prop skeleton was hanging by a noose. Rebh got the idea to put the noose around his own neck and thought it would be safe to do so as his feet would theoretically remain on the ground. What Rebh didn’t predict was that the branch would snap back, pulling the rope tight around his throat. Those who saw him struggling to breathe at first thought it was just part of the show.
Mexican actor Antonio Velasco Gutierrez died while filming an action sequence at a hotel in Cuernavaca for the low-budget film Revenge of the Scorpion. In the scene, Valasco’s character was to be shot by actor Flavio Peniche’s character. Peniche was given a gun loaded with real bullets, as opposed to blanks. Gutierrez died later at a nearby hospital. The prop master, who was apparently known as “The Brush,” fled the scene.
Tucker Thayer was on the tech crew for a performance of the musical Oklahoma at his Utah high school. The students used a real gun loaded with live blanks in the show. Thayer was alone when, while handling the gun, it discharged and he was fatally shot. Thayer’s parents sued for negligence, as the gun was never supposed to be handled by students, especially without supervision.
An up-and-coming rapper named Keaway Lafonz Ivy, 21, was shot in 2015 while filming a music video in Washington, D.C. Ivy, who went by his stage name, Kealo was shot in the chest by Lafonzo Leonard Iracks, with what was meant to be a prop gun. Iracks fled the scene, but was soon after arrested.
STORY: PERIL IN THE PARK FOR BEVERLY POTTS=====
Beverly Rose Potts was born on April 15th, 1941 in Cleveland to parents Robert & Elizabeth Potts. She also had a sister Anita who was 22 years older. The Pott’s youngest daughter was born 2 months premature and spent the first few weeks of her life in an incubator. Being so tiny with pink skin, Elizabeth Potts lovingly nicknamed her baby girl “rosebud”.
Beverly Rose Potts was enjoying the end of summer. She would soon be entering the 5th grade and lived in a modest home on Linnett Ave. just a few blocks from Halloran Park. Halloran Park was a 11.5-acre park that had opened in 1945 and was a popular area for the local townspeople. Beverly, however, was known to easily lose track of time while playing at the park. Just the day before her disappearance, she arrived home much later than she had been told to while playing with her cousin Amber. It was for this reason that Beverly Rose was grounded by her parents from going to the park.
Halloran Park was very dark at night and generally considered unsafe after hours. It hosted a vagrant community at dark and a lot of partying going on with debris regularly left behind. Perhaps a valid reason of the danger of the night was the park actually had no lights in it. The only light was the nearby streetlights and they were often overshadowed by large trees. There were also some reports of molestations of 2 girls in May at the park and a few “sex attacks” near the Potts residence but the accounts of them are quite vague. It appears Halloran Park was the last place that a 10-year old girl should be at night alone.
It being the end of summer, a treat would soon be happening at Halloran Park. This was said to only happen once during the summer and is called a “Showagon”. It is basically a mobile traveling stage that is compared to a talent show with children being involved. Beverly enjoyed it very much and for this reason her mother agreed to suspend her grounding and let her go to the Showagon concert. The date it was to be in Halloran Park was August 24th, 1951. Beverly Rose Potts was looking forward to the show and was told by her mother she could stay until the show was over that night.
When that day arrived, Beverly planned to attend the concert with her friend & neighbor Patsy Swing. Patsy’s parents arrived at the Pott’s home and most of the family were going to watch a baseball game that night on the television. However, around 7 pm Beverly and Patsy left for the park on their bikes, only a few blocks from the Pott’s home. Not long after the girls arrived at the park, a large crowd was forming. Reports say as many as 2000 people attended the event that night. The girls decided it would be difficult to navigate the area with their bikes so they decided to bring their bikes home around 7:30 pm. They did that and arrived back at the park to make it for the show, which was to start at 8 pm. The next thing that is known for certain is that Patsy arrived back at her home at 8:55 pm. Beverly, however, wasn’t with her.
Patsy expressed to her father that she was upset that Beverly didn’t want to come back with her. What was unknown to Beverly’s parents at the time was that Patsy had to be home by 9 pm, whereas, Beverly had permission to stay until the end of the concert which reports state ended around 9:40 pm. At 10 pm and no sign of Beverly, the family went out on foot and started frantically searching for their daughter. They phoned police, but accounts said it took 3 phone calls for them to arrive. Police arrived around 12:30 am and began a thorough search of the Pott’s residence to no avail. Beverly Rose Potts was now missing.
As you can imagine, Beverly’s family was in an absolute panic. By the next morning there was a full-scale search. It is referred to as the “biggest search in Cleveland history”. Thousands helped in the search with city workers scouring parks, streams & fields. At first around 1500 tips a day were called in but nothing of them resulted in anything significant.
There really seemed to be very little in sightings of Beverly during the actual Showagon event. Several people did report seeing a girl matching Beverly’s description talking to 2 young men in a battered 1937 Dodge black coupe. No one saw the girl enter the car. An acquaintance of Beverly’s, a 13-year-old boy named Fred Krause, claims he saw Beverly leaving the park around the same time hundreds of others were leaving. He believed it was Beverly because of her “duck-like” gait and rather distinctive walk. If it was Beverly he saw, she was walking toward the area of her home and would be there in just a few minutes.
Another fact about Beverly that is widely reported is her extreme shyness, especially with men as well as being very cautious towards strangers. It is thought highly unlikely that she would willingly go with a man she didn’t know. Given the last time Beverly was seen was in a large crowd of people, and no one saw any type of a struggle or any screams, there is speculation perhaps Beverly was abducted by a woman or someone she knew. Beverly was already doing some babysitting jobs and she could have been lured to go with someone with the promise of a job or asking her to run an errand.
Beverly’s family had an uneasy relationship with the press during the disappearance. Reporters were intrusive at the Pott’s home and were eventually asked to leave. There were many strangers and reporters camped outside their home but appeared more as spectators than having a general concern to what the family was going through. The family for that reason did not want to talk to the media stating they had no regard for their family. The family all did take lie detector tests and were quickly ruled out as having anything to do with the disappearance. Police determined Beverly had a good home life and would have no reason to leave on her own.
As the search continued for Beverly, there was a report that police did take seriously. Ten days after the disappearance, a factory worker taking a break near the Cuyahoga River saw a 5 ft. long bundle floating. He said it resembled a body. Several others reporting seeing the bundle as well. The man phoned police right away and the river was dragged and divers were employed, but the bundle was gone and is said likely to have floated into Lake Erie.
Police were continuing to do everything they could think of to try to find Beverly. When school started, they even interviewed Beverly’s classmates but nothing significant came of that. About 3 weeks after Beverly disappeared, police conducted an attic to basement search of all homes on Linnett Ave. but once again it was fruitless.
In addition to some compelling suspects, this case seemed to have an abundance of people who would take credit for the crime and then later recant. Or who were found to have been lying. This only served to devastate the family further and waste law enforcement resources.
After having experienced countless prank phone calls, the Pott’s were forced to disconnect their phone. In early November of 1951, Robert Potts received a call at his work with someone demanding to know why his home number wasn’t working. He said he had a ransom demand but only if their home number was reinstated. After it was reinstated, the caller said Beverly was still alive, but very sick and demanded $25,000 for her return. He insisted that Beverly’s mother Elizabeth Potts bring the money. A detective dressed like Elizabeth and went to meet the possible kidnapper, but sensing a trap, the man fled. The detective chased and captured him. The ransom caller was named Frank Dale Davis and was said to not being involved in the kidnapping but needed cash to pay off debts. He was convicted of fraud and sentenced to 5 years in prison.
Another very bizarre encounter took place in late November of 1951. A man named Tom phoned Beverly’s friend Patsy’s father, Lester Swing, and claimed he had Beverly. He said he hit her with his car in August. He thought she was dead and put her in his car, but she was just stunned and had amnesia. He said he would release Beverly in downtown Cleveland only if Lester dressed Patsy in the same clothes as Beverly was last seen in and stood her by the magazine stand at the May Company department store. Police used a decoy and Tom didn’t like it. The caller rescheduled for 2 weeks later and Patsy was used this time. They were able to catch the caller who was Stephen Tyukody. He was cleared of any involvement in the actual disappearance and it is unknown why he made the phone calls.
In 1955, Harvey Lee Rush, a drifter and Cleveland native told police he killed Beverly after luring her to a bridge with candy. However, Rush claimed he killed Beverly in 1952 but she disappeared in 1951. He later recanted his confession saying he only confessed to get extradited back to his home town.
In 1973 there was a report that Beverly’s body was buried in the basement of what was then an auto body shop. It was searched but nothing significant was found.
In 1994 a letter was discovered under the carpet of a Cleveland house from a woman who said she caught her husband disposing of Beverly’s body in the furnace. The woman was tracked down and said it was false. She had written it as a revenge fantasy against her abusive husband.
In 1980, 2 retired Cleveland detectives, James Furst & Robert Shankland, revealed that in 1974 they received a tip from a local attorney. This attorney said a client of his revealed his brother confessed to abducting Potts. Detectives did a 3-month long investigation even interviewing the client’s brother. The man readily admitted to living near Halloran Park in 1951. He said he had a habit of picking up and molesting children there but didn’t remember abducting Beverly in particular. He said he had “flashes” of memory involving someone named Beverly. The detectives were convinced this man was guilty but the prosecutor’s office wouldn’t pursue charges in the case due to lack of evidence.
Another man questioned was William Henry Redmond, an Ohio native and former carnival worker, who was indicted for the 1951 murder of 8-year-old Jane Marie Althoff. In prison, Redmond was said to have told his cellmate that he killed 3 other young girls. When questioned about the Potts case by authorities, Redmond wouldn’t make a statement either way. He was in the general area at the time and had a record of child molestations dating back several years.
There were also 4 letters sent to Brent Larkin of the Cleveland Plain Dealer in 2000. They were said to be from a sick, elderly man who wanted to confess to molesting and murdering Potts before he died stating “50 years is long enough to live with what I’ve done”. He pledged to turn himself in at Halloran Park on 8/24/01, the 50th anniversary of her disappearance. He said he would send the reporter a sealed brown envelope upon his death that included most of the details of the death including a rare coin Beverly had in her change purse at the time of her abduction. However, shortly before the anniversary the reporter received a final letter stating the writer had to go into a nursing home and would be unable to turn himself in. The writer’s identity was never discovered and it is now believed to be a cruel hoax.
So sadly, all of these leads and confessions at the end of the day didn’t further the case at all. Beverly’s family went through such torment between the not knowing, the cruel calls and false confessions. In some ways, Beverly’s mother Elizabeth died the day her daughter went missing. According to her daughter Anita, Elizabeth was devastated and started heavily drinking and died of cirrhosis of the liver just 5 years after her daughter’s disappearance. Beverly’s father would die in 1970 and her sister Anita would continue to try to find answers for her sister’s disappearance until her death from cancer in 2006. There is a headstone for Beverly near her parents grave but sadly it is empty.
Beverly Rose Potts will always remain a beautiful 10-year-old girl. Her youth frozen in time, her disappearance quite possibly forever a mystery. Such a tragic case with so many unanswered questions. Beverly was within a few minutes of arriving at her home before she seemingly encountered peril in the park.
Coming up on Weird Darkness…
Part medicine, part honey, part cannibalism… who or what was the mellified man? (The Mellified Man)
They say that tragedy can change a person forever… and that couldn’t be more true for one man who went from being considered lucky, to becoming deranged after a horrible accident, (The Hidden Wounds of Mr. Schultz)
And… sometimes what a person says on their deathbed can be shocking or outlandish. We’ll look at a few unexpected deathbed moments. (Deathbed Moments)
These stories when Weird Darkness returns.
STORY: THE MELLIFIED MAN=====
The human race has always been obsessed with the afterlife and the concept of rebirth. Humans possess a fear of death, but also possess a fascination that revolves around death. A person sacrificing his life to save others is not unheard of. It might be rare to see such selflessness today, but people dying such noble deaths were more prevalent in previous eras.
The tale of the Mellified Man is closely linked with choosing death for the betterment of others. Put simply, a “Mellified Man” was a human mummy made into confections. Although in modern times, we do not believe that the human flesh has medicinal properties, some ancient medicinal traditions believed that human corpses or mummies could be used as medicine.
“Mellification” is an ancient word meaning to introduce honey into some other substance, and the first look one might think of a human fossil that has been discovered. Alternatively, one might think of a tragic story of a man getting trapped in sugar or honey by accident. However, a Mellified Man is closer to the concept of body donation and organ donation than an accident that left us with a mellified mummy.
This article will take you through the outlandish ideas of ancient medicine that normalized the eating of preserved human flesh to cure many diseases. You might be disgusted by the concept of eating sweetened mummified flesh, but this is part of our weird history, and is worth knowing about.
A Mellified Man is a human corpse, steeped in honey and stored in it for a hundred years. While the entire concept of a Mellified man sounds cruel and incredible, it is recorded in Chinesemedical records that men in the middle east used to submit themselves to be mummified in this way, to make a healing concoction for people. This, however, happened around the end of their lives, so one hopes that the people who turned into Mellified Men had lived a full life without problems.
The whole process was about donating their body for the greater good. Usually, the people who donated their bodies apparently did so around the age of 80. Though body donation is still considered a suitable choice today, this donation for modification involved more self-sacrifice, and was tougher.
This is because the donor would stop eating normal food and go on a honey diet completely until they died. This was very difficult because the person had to live through the early stages of the mellification process.
There is no doubt that honey is a wonder liquid. The golden substance is not just a sweetener but is popular for its medicinal properties. Different schools of medicine used honey as a base for healing concoctions, and as a preservative.
The viscosity of honey and its anti-bacterial properties make it a great preservative. The pH of honey is very acidic, which is unfavorable for bacterial growth. Therefore, it is not a surprise to find that Chinese and Arabic medicine used honey as a mummifying agent. This was not just limited to these two cultures, as the benefits of honey were commonly known. Even the Romansused honey to preserve meat for weeks.
There are excerpts in Chinese medicinal books from the 16th century, and even earlier, that focus on the body of a Mellified Man as a miraculous remedy. The parts of the Mellified Man were eaten as a rare medicine that was thought to have the power to heal difficult injuries. One could heal broken limbs or other severe wounds by eating the Mellified Man.
But the process of making a Mellified Man was a lengthy one. Maybe that is why it was also a highly expensive remedy. Even though you had to only eat a small amount of the mummy’s flesh, the demand for such a remedy was also high, which drove the prices up further.
The creation of a Mellified Man was the result of a self-mummification process. This process was very difficult and started well before the person’s death. It began with the candidate submitting themself to the process in old age. The donors had to eat only honey, and would even bathe in honey.
The bodies became so saturated with honey after a certain time that the donors would excrete only honey and even sweat honey instead of water. Ultimately, the bodies would reach a point of over-saturation that would lead to their death. At this point of death, their corpses would have an extremely high concentration of honey throughout.
In the next phase, their dead bodies would be placed inside stone coffins filled with more honey. The date of storing them inside the coffins would be noted and marked. The coffins would rest for a hundred years. After a gap of hundred years, the coffins would be opened, and the Mellified Man could be used as a medicine.
The principal source for information on the Mellified man was the “Bencao Gangmu”, a 16th century Chinese medical text. However, the writer states that all accounts of this process are only hearsay, and there is no physical proof that a Mellified Man existed.
However, the text does mention the recipe to create a Mellified Man, and this has led to speculation that if the recipe exists, the practice of such corpse medicine must also have existed. Besides this, harvesting corpses for medicinal purposes is not something unheard of. Ancient medicine frequently dealt with human corpses and the possibility of the two concepts being interlinked with healing purposes cannot be dismissed.
Moreover, the use of honey as medicine on its own and as an embalming liquid was a popular technique. The use of honey in the mummification process have been observed in several different ancient cultures. Instances of corpses being administered as medicine have also been observed.
Physicians in different countries and different eras have been known to try using mummies as medicine. However, this was typically done for very rare diseases. Moreover, the practice of using corpse medicine has obviously been discontinued with modern medicine. While medical science still needs corpses, today these are used for medical study, rather than being drowned in honey and then eaten.
STORY: THE HIDDEN WOUNDS OF MR. SCHULTZ=====
On Friday, May 11, 1877, Winnebago County, Illinois would experience one of the worst disasters it had suffered up to that time. While constructing a new courthouse, the time came to lower the new dome onto the limestone walls. The men were all in place as they lowered the elaborate piece onto the walls. Folks in town had been fascinated with the whole process and they lined the streets. Suddenly, there was a loud cracking sound. No one could believe it when the walls began to crumble under the weight of the dome.
Men and limestone blocks tumbled everywhere. Townsfolk worked together for days to dig out men both alive and dead. Newspapers from those days were filled with the graphic descriptions of the wounds suffered by the men.
They laid the bodies of the dead on the lawn and rushed the injured to the City Hotel where they were treated by the doctors gathered there. One of the injured men was Charles Schultz (not to be confused with the famous cartoonist). He had serious injuries including a bad head wound. His friends and family all said that he must be the luckiest man they knew.
Though Charles’ wounds healed quickly, his wife Elizabeth grew worried about him. There was something different about Charles after the accident. The news articles through the years gave clues to these changes. Charles was arrested numerous times for drinking, for fighting, and for disturbing the peace.
The drinking and violence increased until finally in 1884, the decision came that something must be done with Charles. There must have been an incident with the family because it was given as the reason for his “confinement”. Authorities were concerned about Charles’ hurting someone, especially his family members. The correlation between personality changes and brain injuries was years away. But it was easy to see that Charles had changed after his accident. The people who knew Charles before the accident no longer referred to him as lucky.
Charles was escorted to the Winnebago County Poor Farm and Hospital on North Main Street. He was confined to a wooden cage in the basement area. It was an area used only for the most “demented” patients.
John Atkinson was the Superintendent of the Poor Farm in 1884. He had held the position since 1876. It was a prosperous time for the Poor Farm. Atkinson had earned the reputation of a kind, patient keeper. But the treatment of the insane was archaic during this time and consisted more of confinement than treatment. In the daytime during warm weather the inmates were confined in large wooden cages outside. They were brought inside and locked in large wooden cages during inclement weather and during the night.
Superintendent Atkinson’s day began early and by 5:00a.m. on May 12, 1884 he began his rounds of waking the inmates. He worked his way from the top floor where most of the residents were just there because of their financial situations. He saved the basement patients for last. Atkinson unlocked the main door and began to make his way to the first cage which housed Charles Schultz. Atkinson was surprised to see Charles standing by the cell door. The fact that Charles did not move when Atkinson greeted him alarmed the superintendent. He rushed back to his office for the keys to the cells.
When he opened the door to Charles’ cell it was obvious why he hadn’t answered. Charles had a noose made from cloth wrapped around his neck. His beard had hidden this fact from Atkinson at first. Lifting his beard, Atkinson saw the black bands that proved his fear to be true.
Atkinson backed out of the cell and called the coroner. Coroner McCaughey arrived in short order. Schultz’s body had been cut down by Atkinson and his assistant. They laid him on a small bed inside his cage.
McCaughey would later testify that Schultz must have planned his suicide from the day he arrived. He ripped strips from the bedding. Then Charles took the time to weave these strips together to form a rope. When confronted with the fact that it was too thick to fit through the small opening above the door, Charles had removed a piece of wire from his mattress. He used this to attach the woven rope to the doorway. Charles then placed the noose around his neck, climbed on his bed and hurled himself from the bed. One of his feet was still on the bed when Atkinson cut him down.
The headlines from the day carried the story under the head line “Schultz Shuffles off this Earthly Coil with a Coil of Rope.” Charles was laid to rest in the Poor House Cemetery. His wife Elizabeth married again and stayed in the area with her new husband. One can only hope that she and Charles’ children remembered their father the way he was before the horrible accident that changed his life and theirs forever.
STORY: DEATHBED MOMENTS=====
How to spend your last moments is a decision we all have to make eventually. The time in which we approach the threshold of the unknowable is our last chance to speak words we always wanted to say, right old wrongs, or use our dying breaths to reveal long-hidden secrets. Many leave this world in quiet reflection, but some go out in grand style.
***After Ashraf’s Khan’s daughter got married, she had three children. The children had been born with a number of ailments, including the inability to feel pain, but her husband assumed that they were simply the victims of a genetic disease. Then, on her deathbed, his wife confessed that he was not their father at all. Her own father had impregnated her all three times, and DNA tests soon confirmed the unbelievable story. Her husband did not go to the police immediately because he wanted to keep acting as the children’s father despite not being related to them. Ashraf Khan was also out of the country in Pakistan, and only returned four years later, when he was arrested for incest. The maximum sentence for incest in the UK, where the children lived, was two years. Three counts means that Khan will serve six years in prison despite being 81 and in poor health. Despite the life-changing news, the children said they have even more respect for the man they still call “father.”
***King Edward VIII, against the wishes of his family, abdicated his throne in order to marry Wallis Simpson, an American socialite who had been divorced twice already. Simpson, despite being engaged to Edward VIII, was in love with a man named Herman Rogers, the husband of one of her friends. While Rogers himself was already happily married, he did become a friend of Simpson and gave her away at her wedding. Roger’s wife eventually died, but he quickly remarried. Simpson called him “the only man she ever loved,” and her anger over his new marriage soon began to make Simpson and her now ex-royal husband’s marriage crumble. When Edward contracted throat cancer, Simpson was rarely at his bedside. Edward was heard calling out for his wife on his deathbed, who was not ultimately there for him when he died.
***The Nazis not only invaded much of Europe, they plundered whatever valuables they could find to finance their war. Sometimes they lined their pockets with literal gold. Ever since the 1945 discovery of looted Nazi riches in a salt mine near the town of Merkers, Germany, rumors have circulated that more undiscovered Nazi gold might be hidden across Europe. One Nazi soldier claimed on his deathbed to have played a part in hiding a train filled with stolen gold in Poland, which at the time had been part of Germany. Two amateur archaeologists took him at his word. They investigated the area he directed them to and found evidence of an armored train buried beneath the surface. Yet when weeks of digging brought up nothing but dirt and a natural ice formation, the deathbed confession seemed to have proven nothing but a tall tale—or, as the two archaeologists claim, a simple case of them digging in the wrong location. Regardless of the truth of the matter, the confession ended up doing a great deal of good for the town where the train was supposedly buried. The media frenzy brought in about $200 million to the locals, meaning that the Nazi confession did lead to a different kind of treasure.
***Andrew Jackson was a controversial figure even in his time. Although he claimed to be a president for the people, many accused him of acting as a tyrant. Whatever his motives for his acts during his presidency, though, Jackson’s last wish was for him to be buried as an everyman, and not an emperor. As he lay dying, one of his friends told him that they had obtained the sarcophagus of Roman Emperor Alexander Severus. A great admirer of the former president, his friend believed that having the ornate coffin become Jackson’s tomb would make it a pilgrimage spot for Americans. Jackson, however, thought that being laid in such an extravagant coffin would be abandoning his political beliefs. He wanted only to be buried in a plain manner. Although thousands did end up attending his funeral, in the end, the sarcophagus was given to the Smithsonian Institute instead of housing the remains of one of the United States’ most hotly debated presidents.
***Many people know Chopin as one of the greatest classical music composers of all time, but what most don’t know is that he had a tragically short life. After contracting tuberculosis, Chopin’s health degraded until he died at 39 years old. While laying in bed waiting for his approaching death, Chopin was very well aware of the possibility of being accidentally buried alive. It was a real risk at the time, and he was terrified of it. On his deathbed, Chopin devised a relatively simple plan to avoid that gruesome fate. He ordered his sister to have the surgeons cut out his heart after his presumed death, ensuring he actually did meet his end on the operating table. She honored his bizarre wish, and Chopin’s heart was cut out, then placed in a jar of cognac to be preserved. Due to his final wish, modern doctors were able to diagnose his cause of death. Chopin’s heart still exists, quite well-preserved, with a fibrous material covering it that led doctors to pinpoint pericarditis, a complication of tuberculosis, as the cause of his premature death. That, of course, is assuming that Chopin’s fears weren’t justified, and it wasn’t cutting out his heart that really did him in.
***Oscar Wilde had a reputation for most of his life as a decadent pleasure-seeker. He scorned traditional societal values, and was notorious, even feared, as someone who would “corrupt” those around him. A sexual relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas and an ensuing feud with his father, the Marquess of Queensbury, led to him being imprisoned for sodomy, which was illegal at the time. But while Wilde was known for bucking traditional values, he retained a deep interest in the Catholic faith since his childhood. He had even considered becoming a priest at one point. During his imprisonment, Wilde engrossed himself in Biblical study and claimed to have a spiritual renewal. Soon after his release, he applied for a six month retreat held by the Society of Jesus. They rejected it. And Wilde spent the next few years exiled in France, poor, depressed, and falling into alcoholism. Yet when Wilde lay on his deathbed, he requested to be received into the Catholic church. This time a priest did receive him, and gave Wilde his Last Sacraments.
***John Wiseman was dying of complications from smoking. He was in pain, hooked up to machines, his heart and lungs failing, and doctors could no longer even operate on his bleeding ulcers because his intestines had become too soft to sew back together. He was on his deathbed with the knowledge that he only had hours left to live. Wanting to bring about something good from his situation, he decided to make a video warning others about the dangers of smoking. He told others about his pain and how he wished that no one else would start smoking. His sister recorded it and uploaded it on Facebook to share with the world. She also shared her own message about how smoking doesn’t just hurt just you, but your family.
***Einstein died as he lived. He was a man of science, but also of the philosophy of human existence. His last days were spent absorbed in his work. The day he died, Einstein had been finishing a speech for an Israeli Independence Day event. The contents of his speech stressed that he was human above all. But the great desire of Einstein was to create a unifying theory of everything. It was a battle he was ill-equipped for, since at the time, not all the fundamental forces had even been discovered. Einstein’s quest dragged him further away from his contemporaries, as he had rejected many of their ideas in favor of what he saw as more promising answers for the unifying theory. It occupied his thoughts even at the end, where he set aside his speech and asked that his notes be brought to him, so he could ponder the mind of God even as he went to meet whatever awaited him beyond the threshold of the reality he had struggled to comprehend.
***Aldous Huxley is best known for his sci-fi dystopian world book Brave New World. After the book’s success, Huxley traveled to Hollywood to attempt to become a screenplay writer. His silver screen aspirations proved less than fruitful, and his focus quickly became less material and more spiritual in nature. He wound up traveling down the rabbit hole, as it were, into how psychedelics like LSD could unlock higher planes of existence. Interested in mysticism, he documented his experiences in his book, Doors of Perception. When Huxley was on his deathbed dying from cancer, he asked his wife to give him a large dose of LSD. The doctor allowed it, since Huxley was so far gone at that point that it would make little difference in his death. He even offered to administer the injection himself, since his wife’s hands were not steady enough to inject him. (She did calm down enough to inject it herself, though.) As for Huxley’s last trip, so to speak, those with him as he passed said that the convulsions common during the final moments did not happen as usual, and his death was the most serene they’d ever seen under the circumstances.
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 email@example.com – and you can find the show on Facebook and Twitter, including the show’s Weirdos Facebook Group on the CONTACT/SOCIAL page at WeirdDarkness.com. Also on the website, if you have a true paranormal or creepy tale to tell, click on TELL YOUR STORY – or call the DARKLINE toll free at 1-877-277-5944. That’s 1-877-277-5944.
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 Terrifying True Syndrome That Inspired A Nightmare on Elm Street” by Thad Morgan for History.com
“Peril in the Park for Beverly Potts” by Crystal Dawn for LostNFoundBlogs.com
“Death By Movie Prop” written by Juliet Bennet Rylah for Graveyard Shift
“The Mellified Man” by Bipin Dimri for Historic Mysteries
“The Hidden Wounds of Mr. Schultz” by Kathi Kresol for Haunted Rockford
“Deathbed Moments” by Mike Lawrence for ListVerse
Again, you can find link to all of these stories in the show notes.
WeirdDarkness™ – is a production and trademark of Marlar House Productions.
Now that we’re coming out of the dark, I’ll leave you with a little light… “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” — 1 Corinthians 10:31
And a final thought… “I have learned that to be with those whom I like is enough.” — Walt Whitman
I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me in the Weird Darkness.