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Of all the places where there have been werewolf sightings, central England seems like a strange place for there to be a hotbed of paranormal activity, and yet it just may be. Specifically, the werewolves of Cannock Chase have been frightening the whits out of locals for over 30 years. There have been dozens of werewolf sightings there, both day and night. In fact, paranormal experts believe that there is proof of werewolves in the woods of the Midlands region.
It isn’t just werewolves that are stalking the trees and cemeteries of Cannock Chase. The area seems to be a some kind of portal to the bizarre and a magnet for the unexplained. In addition to the Cannock Chase werewolf rumors, there are reports of UFOs and ghostly children. There was even a bizarre sighting of a what looked like a medical experiment gone wrong, a being that looked like a pig-man. Perhaps all of these creatures, including the English werewolves, are living together in the forest, but whatever is going on, central England appears to be a spooky place.
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…

Some think they are escaped circus freaks, others that they are strange medical experiments gone wrong. Some believe them to be ghosts or demons. What are the terrifying white animals or entities people are seeing in Pennsylvania – and could it be more than one kind of creature? (Mystery Monsters From P.A.)

A couple moves to an old mining town with a dark past… and the darkness apparently hasn’t gone away yet. (The Old Mining Town)

Is it any surprise that something strange might happen in a pub that used to be a church? One of our Weirdo family members tells her story. (Bandit)

One of the best worst poets of all time has taken inspiration from a certain mountain in North Carolina – but even when there for the solitude, he wasn’t alone. (The Phantom Hiker of Grandfather Mountain)

In 1946, a sadistic killer dressed in a white mask terrorized a small town at night. And to this day, the Moonlight Murders killer could still be at large. (The Unsolved Texarkana Murders)

And later, it’s a full chapter from the audiobook,“Suffer the Children: American Horrors, Homicides and Hauntings” by Troy Taylor. It’s a story entitled, “The Most Monstrous and Inhuman Criminal of Modern Times”. It’s a story most certainly not for younger ears or for those who are squeamish.

But first… it began when a teenager made a deal with the Devil in the mid 1970s. That’s when the werewolf sightings began – and some experts say there is proof of their existence. We begin there. (Werewolves of Central England)

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!

The West Midlands, specifically Staffordshire County, is famous for its distinctive red Tamworth pigs that are bred in the area. However, another creature is far more notorious in the area, the Werewolf. There have been dozens of sightings of the supernatural creature over the years.
In fact, Staffordshire County has the most sightings of the mythical beast than any other place in all of Europe.
The Devil is given responsibility for a lot of evil stuff, from curses to the music of Charlie Daniels, but he may also be to blame for the werewolves of Cannock Chase, England. According to local legend everything started getting weird in 1975. That’s when a 17-year-old boy in central England in the mid-70s took out his Ouiji board to test its powers.
He said he would trade the Devil his soul for the power to turn into a werewolf. Shortly after, a friend said that he received a phone call from the teen but could only hear odd guttural noises from him. That same young man was found dead soon after, he had killed himself using a silver knife. Silver is, of course, the only way to kill a werewolf.
Cemeteries are naturally spooky places. They’re filled with dead bodies, eerily quiet, and people often dress in all black when they visit them. It should come as little surprise then that the Cannock County werewolf has been sighted several times in a cemetery.
What is surprising is that the cemetery is the final resting place of thousands of German and Austrian soldiers who fought in World War I and World War II.
A werewolf in town is creepy enough, but the most compelling evidence for the creature is also upsetting. In addition to showing itself to many people in a cemetery devoted to thousands of dead soldiers, evidence has been found near the cemetery that gives compelling evidence of the werewolf’s existence. There have been several pets that have gone missing from homes in the area and stranger still, several mutilated animal carcasses have been found near the cemetery.
Could this be leftovers from the werewolves’ nightly hunting practices?
Werewolves and the night go together like Dracula and blood. After all, legend has it a werewolf transitions from man to wolf when the moon is full. However, the Cannock County monster seems to be an exception to this rule. In 2007, a mailman reported to a local ghost hunting club that he had seen the creature. Stranger still, it happened while the postman was delivering the day’s mail.
The letter carrier said that at first he thought nothing of the creature believing it to be a dog. He was surprised when the animal stood up on its hind legs and ran into the woods like a person. Perhaps werewolves have evolved to exist in daylight as well now?
According to urban myth, after World War II, the governments of England and the United States conducted human experiments similar to the ones the Nazis had undertaken. One such experiment was crossbreeding a human with a pig and, according to the story, it worked. Except he pig-human hybrid escaped and hid in the Cannock Chase woods.
A witness saw the beast and reported that it was seven feet tall and had the head of a pig including a giant snout. If a pig-man was created, couldn’t it stand to reason a wolf-man was also created in these bizarre experiments?
Cannock Chase isn’t just home to werewolf sightings. The area has all kinds of supernatural activity. In the late 1980’s and early ’90s the sky was inexplicably dotted with lights that many thought were UFOs. A police officer even reported seeing an object doing seemingly impossible things in the sky before disappearing.
With both UFO and werewolf sightings in abundance, one has to wonder if there’s a correlation. Perhaps an alien being taking on the form of local lore? It might explain the daytime sightings.
Ouija boards, UFOs, werewolves? It’s seems far-fetched so many supernatural things could be happening in one area. At least one scientific-minded local agrees and has a theory to at least explain the possible werewolves. This “paranormal expert” claims the werewolf isn’t a werewolf at all. Instead the creature could be a “subterranean stone-age throwback.”
Essentially this person thinks ancient cavemen could have survived for years in the mines of the area and have remained primitive, failing to evolve with the rest of humanity. What’s more, the expert claims that there are more than one of the creatures and that there is actually an entire pack of them stalking underground only coming out to eat deer, livestock, and pets.
While werewolves, UFOs, Pig-Men, and theoretical cavemen are frightening enough, the area where the creature has been spotted is also home to other supernatural beings. Witnesses have seen a black-eyed child in the same woods the werewolves supposedly live in. Black-eyed children are a paranormal entity that has been experienced by people the world over. It makes sense if there were to be any in England, Cannock Chase’s woods would be where they’d hide.
Ghost hunters flock to the woods to see for themselves. A few have taken audio recordings capture a girl’s voice. The Cannock Chase woods are not a place go for a pleasant stroll through the trees.
All told, there have been 35 believed sightings of a werewolf and 21 where people came forward to tell their stories firsthand. The reports are terrifying. According to witnesses, the werewolf stands seven feet tall, is covered in hair, looks like a human/wolf hybrid, and has a snout. The fact that so many people report seeing the creature, and at different times of the day, points to the notion that there may really be something out there in the woods.
Paranormal investigators constantly monitor the news in the Midlands for more proof that the creature is real.
The advent of inexpensive video cameras used for action sports has turned nearly everyone into a potential daredevil waiting for an awesome moment to go viral. Two mountain bikers in Cannock Chase got more than they bargained for. In 2009, the cyclists were recording their ride. The video shows a fun day of single track shredding, but it also has an unexpected highlight.
A creature can be seen stalking in the woods for a few seconds of the film. It looks too tall to be a man and walks upright, like a large dog on its hind legs.

BREAK ##1———-
Up next…
Some think they are escaped circus freaks, others that they are strange medical experiments gone wrong. Some believe them to be ghosts or demons. What are the terrifying white animals or entities people are seeing in Pennsylvania – and could it be more than one kind of creature? (Mystery Monsters From P.A.)

And…. a couple moves to an old mining town with a dark past… which apparently hasn’t gone away yet. (The Old Mining Town)

Plus… is it any surprise that something strange might happen in a pub that used to be a church? One of our Weirdo family members tells her story. (Bandit)
These stories and more when Weird Darkness returns…

It seems that every state in the Union has its share of strange mysteries and unexplained phenomena. Indeed, no matter where one goes in the world there are bound to be regional legends and enigmas that defy rational explanation. One place that seems to have a wealth of strange reports is the U.S. state of Pennsylvania, and although it already has a good amount of Bigfoot reports here we are set to look at something altogether more bizarre.
The rivers of Pennsylvania have long had their fair share of mysterious creatures, in particular the Monongahela, which flows for 130 miles from Pittsburgh where it then joins the Allegheny to go on to form the Ohio River, stretching down to the north-central part of West Virginia. Natives of the area have since time unremembered had stories of something fierce and monstrous lurking in these waters, creatures which they called the Ogua. Descriptions of this beast vary, with some saying it is rather like an enormous turtle measuring around 20 feet in diameter, while others say it is more like a giant alligator or serpent, and some have even said that it has two heads, but all accounts share one thing in common, and that is that the thing is highly predatory.
The lore has it that the Ogua would creep forward from an underwater cavern lair to lurk near shore and lie in wait for an unsuspecting animal or even a person, after which it would lurch forward to drag its prey into the water and swallow it whole with its enormous mouth, sometimes using its powerful tail to lash out and stun the victim. At night it was said that the creature would heave itself up onto shore and wallow about in the mud or go off hunting for more meat. It was apparently often seen to snatch deer from the shore, with deer said to be its favorite food, although there are plenty of stories of these things taking pretty much whatever is unfortunate enough to get near them. In the book Wild & Wonderful (and Paranormal) West Virginia, by Denver Michaels, there is an account written of by a witness in the 1700s, which reads: ***There is an animal in this country which excites the imagination of all who have had the opportunity to view it; being amphibious it resides in the water during the daytime, but at night repairs to the land in quest of its prey; which are deer. They lie in the deer paths undiscovered, behind an old stump, until the deer, unaware of its enemy, passes over him; this creature immediately seizes him, and entangling him in its tail, which is 15 feet in length, and not withstanding all the deer’s exertions to free itself, draws him in the water, where he drowns and devours him. Some of our men lately discovered one of the formidable creatures early in the morning with its prey, of which they informed some of the company who were nigh; they soon came up with him and killed the giant beast with clubs. The monster weighed 444 pounds. They lurk in deep underwater caves with no bottom and their head resembles a giant turtle. Woe to any man who chances upon one of these formidable predators unarmed. The Indians call them Oguas.***
Sightings of these beasts have continued all the way up into modern times, with two notable sightings occurring in 1983. One was from a fisherman who claimed to have seen a reddish brown creature with “razor-sharp teeth and a long, flat tail that whipped the water into foam,” and another was from a fisherman named John Edward White, who in the summer of that year had a rather bizarre encounter while fishing for catfish on the river. Things began to get strange when there were inexplicable ripples on the water surface, followed by the sight on countless small fish leaping from the water in an effort to get away from something down below. As the startled fisherman looked on in confusion an enormous fin then burst forth from the water, followed by a long tail that swept across the surface to thrash at the water before disappearing back down into the depths.
Although sightings today of the Ogua remain rare, the legends still continue, and we are left to wonder what this could possibly be. It has been theorized that this is just pure folklore and an urban legend, a story told to frighten children in the old days to keep them from straying to far and trying to go into the river. There is also the possibility that these creatures could be particularly large snapping turtles, some oversized catfish, or an out of place intruder such as a crocodile. It is hard to say for sure.
Interestingly, in the Monongahela River there is said to lurk a half-man, half-fish monstrosity called “Monongy,” which was apparently sighted quite frequently by British forces during the French and Indian War (1754-1763), even attacking them, and has been allegedly seen in the river all the way up into present day. A particularly intense wave of sightings of these “gill-men” occurred throughout the 1930s all the way up to the 1950s, during which sightings were so common that the Pittsburg Police actually launched an intensive investigation into the phenomenon, with a whole task force devoted to dealing with the deluge of sightings. As recently as 2003 there was supposedly a sighing of one of the creatures and photos taken, which were later mysteriously removed form online, sparking talk of a cover-up.
Adding to giant river monsters and fish-men are various enormous snakes that have allegedly been seen in the wilds of various areas across south central Pennsylvania since at least the 1830s. These outsized serpents are typically said to be up to 20 feet in length and around a foot in diameter, with dark coloring punctuated by bright yellow markings. One notable spate of sightings of such massive serpents allegedly happened in the vicinity of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in April of 1833, and witnesses described how the serpent would move along while holding its head aloft several feet off the ground.
Some creatures reported from Pennsylvania are even more bizarre still. According to paranormal researcher Stan Gordon, on April 26, 2012 a man and his girlfriend were driving at night along a rural road called Mud Creek Road, near the town of Troy, when they had a life-changing, terrifying encounter with something truly outlandish. They at first saw some movement from the side of the road, which the girlfriend took to be a person possibly crawling about on the ground, and they pulled over the car to see if it was someone who needed help. As they approached, what bloomed from the darkness into their headlights was most certainly not a man, nor anything else they could have possibly imagined, and Gordon would write of this: ***They soon realized that this was not a person, but instead a creature that was crawling very low to the ground. As they watched, the creature moved into a squatting position with its back completely straight, somewhat like the stance of a kangaroo. The arms of the creature where held tightly to its body. What looked like long claws that resembled the talons of an eagle were easily visible. The claws were estimated to be about 8-10 inches in length. One claw was shorter than the other three. The creature had a muscular body. The head of the beast appeared to be oversized and shaped like that of a wolf. At the top of its head were two pointed bat-like ears that looked to be about 4-6 inches long. The entire creature, according to the man, was covered with “dull wrinkly dark black skin”. The man described seeing large canine-like teeth in its mouth. The eyes of the creature were about the size of a silver dollar and were shiny black. The man stated that even though he had his high beams directed at the creature, the eyes did not reflect at all. The man said he looked over the body during the 12 second encounter, and for some reason thought the creature should have wings, but none were apparent. In the squatted position, the creature seemed to be about five feet tall. At this point, the creature was in the left lane of the road and about 1-2 feet onto the pavement.***
The creature then allegedly stood up on broom-stick thin legs to a height of 7 feet and turned its attention on the vehicle and the startled witnesses and seemed to only then become aware that it was being watched. As soon as it realized this, there was a “panicked” look that came over its face and it reportedly bounded away in a single great leap said to cover 40 feet to disappear off into the night. As the very frightened witnesses followed its epic jump into the darkened wilderness they were purportedly surprised when some sort of bird like and owl smashed into the windshield, only to go careening off into the woods. Adding to all of this is the weird fact that the thing was reported as seemingly shape-changing during the whole incident, of which Gordon would write: ***The witnesses indicated that this creature appeared to be changing form. The driver said, “Its shape was nothing like when it was squatted”. The woman stated to me that it “shaped into another form.” She thought it was a dark brown color, and looked like a werewolf with a little back hair. She estimated that when it was leaping into the woods, she thought it stood about 9 feet tall. The woman while reluctant to say it said, “I think it was a man changing into a werewolf”. The man after the experience went onto the internet to try to figure out what he saw, and told me that the closest way he could describe the creature would be a gargoyle with no wings. The man commented, “I will never forget what we saw that night”***
Also in 2012 was another report uncovered by Stan Gordon, this time originating from Fayette County, Pennsylvania. On March 18, 2012, the witness was allegedly out with his dog for a nighttime walk near his home when his attention was drawn upward by some sort of whooshing sound like that of enormous wings. As he did he says that he spotted a vast flying creature similar to a “dragon,” which was estimated as being 22 feet long and having a wingspan of around 18 feet. Gordon would report of the thing’s appearance: ***The color was dark, possibly brown and red, similar to auburn brown. At the end tip of the wings there appeared to be talon-like fingers about 3 to 4 in number. The arms of the wing structure appeared muscular. The wings were quite thick, not like skin. There appeared to be a rear fin on both sides of its body, and the creature displayed at arrow head shaped tail. The witness also saw what appeared to be two extended rear legs. The creature had a cone shape around the head and it stopped flat on the base of the neck. The oddest physical feature that the witness mentioned to me was that the mouth and eyes were illuminated with, “a very ominous orange glow”. As the creature flew over a tree at the bottom of the yard and moved off in the distance, the fellow heard a deep-throaty sound, similar to the fog horn on a boat. The entire observation lasted about 20 seconds.***
If none of this is strange enough for you already, then how about a tribe of vicious, mutant albinos marauding through the hills? From the hills of Haycock Mountain, near Sellersville, PA, there have long been tales of a clan of bloodthirsty, inbred albino wild men with inhuman features, pointy ears, and sharp teeth filed to points, and which are supposedly extremely aggressive, known to chase passing cars, throwing rocks, tossing fireworks, and shooting rock salt as they do so, much to the terror of the vehicle’s occupants. According to the lore, these outlandish savages will try to stop people passing through, only to drag them from their vehicles and bring them off to be slaughtered and devoured. At other times they will apparently wait up in trees for passing hikers, dropping down to kill those who wander through.
When human prey is not available they will supposedly raid farms for their livestock or snatch pets, often mutilating them right there on the spot to take the best cuts and leaving the rest of the carcass behind. It is said that they reside in windowless concrete homes buried in the most remote wilderness, and to cavort about by moonlight and engage in pagan rituals, and that the police know about them but are afraid of them and cover it up. Reports of these albino mutant freaks are numerous, with many people claiming to have been chased by the albino cannibals or to have known people who have disappeared in the mountains never to return. One report was given on Weird U.S. by a woman known only as Melissa, who said of the albinos and their alleged lair: ***There’s a place we call Ghost Mountain [actually Haycock Mountain], near an old covered bridge where local legend has it that someone had hanged himself. It’s also said that if you turn your car on and off three times, your car will cease to start. You can really get a sense of bad vibes around that area. There is a house near there where albinos live. The story with them is that if you dare go on their property they will chase you away with a shotgun in hand. A couple of my friends found this out to be true. I never saw the actual albinos myself, but did see the house. It’s pretty strange. You have to go down a dirt road and just before you reach a cool old-timey red covered bridge. On the way to the place down the bumpy dirt road are little doors in the side of a hill, strange tunnel complexes, hobbit holes and other freaky stuff.***
Theories as to what these mysterious predatory albinos could be range from that they are escaped circus freaks, to that they are weird medical experiments gone awry to even ghosts and demons. It is most likely all an urban legend, but it is creepy nevertheless to imagine that there is a tribe of cannibalistic pale creatures dancing in the moonlight and feasting on human flesh up there in the mountains of Pennsylvania, and it definitely seems like a place you would not want your car to break down at. Here we have looked at strange water monsters, flying beasts, roving bands of marauding albino cannibals, and others. It is unsure just how much truth any of these accounts hold, but they certainly seem to point to Pennsylvania being a location infused with the odd.

My boyfriend I were both doing jobs we hated, when we were offered the opportunity to manage a pub. We both had had previous experience and it seemed the perfect opportunity to make a fresh start. The pub was a large building situated in Shropshire; it had started life in the 1930’s as a church, then a social club and finally, a pub.
A doorway behind the bar opened up into a narrow corridor: turn to the right and it led to the cellar stairs, turn left and you accessed the upstairs flat where we would live for the next year. At the top of the cellar stairs, was a bank of switches that controlled the lights for the whole ground floor. At close, we would take it in turns to switch all the lights off and lock up.
Both of us had remarked that we felt uncomfortable walking down the dark corridor to the flat, but assumed it was because the place was unfamiliar. I started to have the feeling that I was being followed as I walked to the flat, and had started jogging to the door instead. Unbeknownst to me, my boyfriend was doing the same. This continued for several weeks, the sensation of being chased increasing until we were running down the corridor.
Eventually, I asked my boyfriend to stand at the flat door and wait for me; however, the feeling of menace still persisted. We discussed it one night, because I was adamant that it was not human, but it was something about waist height, angry and very strong. We were both relieved that the other felt the same and we weren’t losing our minds, but at a loss with how to deal with it.
One day, I was chatting to some of the old regulars who had been drinking there for the past twenty years and knew all the previous landlords and scandal. I told one about being chased down the corridor, and he laughed:
“That’s probably Bandit!”
And told me that the longest serving landlord had kept a huge Alsatian, which slept at the top of the cellar stairs. It was very aggressive and everyone was scared to go behind the bar because it would bare its teeth and threaten them.
It was then that I knew what pursued along the corridor every night and was still defending the bar, decades after its death!

Several years ago, I lived in an old mining town in the southwest. The small town had an interesting history, a mining massacre nearby, Bat Masterson and Kit Carson had lived there at one time as well. So it’s expected that there might be a few ghosts here and there…and there were.
My husband and I moved to this small town because he took a teaching position. Rentals were hard to find but eventually we lucked out and found a small attic apartment in an old converted house. There were three apartments, two downstairs on the main level and then ours in the attic. It was quaint and cozy, each apartment had its own baseboard heat, no AC but plenty of windows.
At first, I didn’t feel anything strange about the little place. Moving in was easy and fast and in no time we were settled in and enjoying our new homestead. As time went on though, I would catch little things, a movement, a shadow, a sound but I played it off as getting use to a new place. The wind was always blowing in that area and it often created unusual whistling sounds.
One evening as we sat watching TV, my husband in his recliner across the small living room and I on the love seat near the kitchen, I noticed the very strong smell of fresh brewing coffee. It was rather late and thought it sort of strange that somebody would drink coffee so late. My husband didn’t smell a thing. It happened several times over the course of two weeks and as if by noticing out loud gave something or someone confirmation of their message, the smells increased. I would occasionally smell a woman’s perfume or other odd smells I could not identify. Then one evening as we watched TV, I smelled a freshly lit cigarette. It was if somebody had just fired one up next to me on the love seat. I sniffed the air and asked my husband if he could smell it. He told me it was probably the neighbor downstairs. I said we couldn’t possible smell that, the windows were shut against the wind and we had no interlocking vent system. He said, “well, you were just outside smoking”. I said, “THAT, was two hours ago”. Now he looked confused but shrugged this entire conversation off and went back to the program.
As we got closer to Spring, the homeowner was in town and wanted to show my husband how to turn on the underground sprinklers. We had to go through our neighbors apartment to get to the basement. The neighbor, John and I followed my husband and the homeowner to the basement but as those two men descended the stairs, John and I stopped inexplicably. I asked John if he always drinks coffee late at night and smokes in the apartment. He looked confused for a moment and then smiled but I also saw fear in his eyes.
He said, “I don’t own a coffee pot and I don’t smoke. Look around my kitchen if you like. I guess you are experiencing things too?”
I started to tell him everything I had seen, heard and smelled and all the while he nodded and gave me a sympathetic but knowing smile.
I heard my husband call me to the basement and as I descended the heavy stone stairs into the stone basement, I felt something I had not felt in years. The oppression in that basement was deafening, threatening and massive. It started to pressure my chest, I could not feel the air in my lungs and my husband saw the distress in my eyes and I could not speak to him either. He rushed over to me and guided me up the stairs and as soon as my feet were firm on the first floor, I could feel myself breath again. This is not the first time I had experienced something like this. Being empathic, I often sense and feel things that others do not. It can be terribly frightening and unsettling.
That evening, I called a friend who is a psychic medium. I asked her to remote read on our residence and she told me a woman is there who always had her friends over for coffee, she is lonely and misses them. I said I am ok with that, I don’t feel any dread off of that. I asked her if she picked up on anything else. She told me that she didn’t want to talk about it on the phone, that we should meet.
The next day, I met with her. I told her all that had happened, all the smells and sounds, the incident in the basement and lately, the feeling something was staring daggers at me from the bedroom door. She listened and then told me she had picked up something dark and warned me to leave as soon as possible.
That evening, as my husband and I slept side by side, our two dogs sleeping one on either side of the bed to protect us…I am not even sure how to describe this waking dream. In my dream, I could not breath. I felt a darkness on me and all around me, my chest being very heavy. But then I woke and it was happening to me. I could see this massive darkness on top of me, silhouetted by the street lights through the window. It was pressing down on me, my heart and chest were burning. I could see it, feel it, smell it and it wasn’t the old lady who’s ghost was yearning for one more afternoon coffee with friends. This thing was from the basement! It had followed me upstairs. I had to muster all my strength and will and I pushed myself up, I screamed out the name of Jesus and said, “you are not welcome here dark spirit. Get out of my house! In the name of Jesus!” As I screamed Jesus’ name, it lifted off of me and disappeared. My husband hit the ceiling, along with the dogs, and he grabbed his gun off the bedside table as his feet hit the floor.
He turned on the light and realized we were alone, he went through the entire apartment as I sat in bed crying and holding our dogs. As he returned to the room, he said, “I’ll look for a new place tomorrow”.

BREAK #2———-
When Weird Darkness returns…
In 1946, a sadistic killer dressed in a white mask terrorized a small town at night. And to this day, the Moonlight Murders killer could still be at large. (The Unsolved Texarkana Murders)
But first.. One of the best worst poets of all time has taken inspiration from a certain mountain in North Carolina – but even when there for the solitude, he wasn’t alone. (The Phantom Hiker of Grandfather Mountain)
That story is up next.

Grandfather Mountain stands above Blowing Rock Highway near Linville. The mountain gets its name from the mountain’s profile, which resembles the head of a bearded old man laying down in sleep. The unique and gorgeous natural environment around Grandfather has long been a draw for visitors to the North Carolina mountains. Grandfather Mountain was operated as a private tourist attraction for many years until 2011, when it was purchased by the State of North Carolina and is now a publicly-owned nature preserve.
The mountain has been a source of inspiration to many, including Shepherd M. Dugger, who praises its beauty in extremely flowery language in his highly odd combination of historical romance and travel guide The Balsam Groves of Grandfather Mountain. Originally published in 1907, Dugger’s book often cited as some of the finest bad writing ever produced by a North Carolina author. But as bad as his prose may be, Dugger is not alone in finding beauty in the woods and trails of grandfather mountain.
Hiking is one of the prime attractions that brings people to the park. The park’s eleven trails cover miles of terrain, and the more difficult backcountry trails take hikers through unique ecosystems that are home to dozens of rare and endangered species. It’s on one of these trails that something even more rare has been seen, the ghost of a lost hiker.
The phantom hiker of Grandfather Mountain is said to be an older man, bearded, with a rough and grizzled appearance. He can be distinguished from a living hiker by the lack of Neoprene and Gore-Tex in his wardrobe. Instead, he’s said to wear old-fashioned workman’s clothes that look like they’re from somewhere in the middle of the Twentieth Century. He wears a rough canvas army backpack and carries a long walking stick.
The phantom hiker is said to appear mostly as the evening is settling in, when most of the day hikers have left or are working their way back. He never says anything, and will never acknowledge any greeting. He simply appears walking along one of the trails in the backcountry, moves swiftly ahead of anyone else he encounters, and then simply vanishes.
No one knows who this mysterious figure is. Some have suggested that he was a hiker who became lost in the the thick woods around the mountain, and fell or was injured and was unable to make his way back out. Others have said he’s just the spirit of a man who loved the mountain so much that he chose to stay there after he died.
This ghostly hiker seems to do no harm. He seems to want little to do with people in general. He only seems to be there, like all the other visitors, to enjoy the natural wonder of Grandfather Mountain.

Texarkana, a small town that straddles the state line between Texas and Arkansas, is also known as The Town That Dreaded Sundown, thanks to the 1976 horror flick of the same name. Set in Texarkana and based loosely on a string of local slayings, the proto-slasher film came out just two years after The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Black Christmas, and two years before Halloween.
Yet the true story behind the “Texarkana Moonlight Murders” is as chilling as anything seen on the silver screen—and made all the more unsettling because the case remains unsolved nearly 70 years later.
The mysterious Moonlight Murders rocked the sleepy southern town of Texarkana in 1946. Police on either side of the state line struggled to work as one while the killings themselves possessed the iconic quality of urban legend. Young couples parked at the end of a lonely country road, savaged after the sun went down.
In fact, some claim that the infamous campfire tale of lovers who catch a report of a hook-handed killer on the car radio only to discover a bloody hook hanging from their back door can be traced to the Texarkana Moonlight Murders.
The killer, described by witnesses as wearing a white mask or sack with holes cut for eyes, was dubbed the Phantom Killer or Phantom Slayer—a name that, like so much about the case, seemed ready-made for drive-in theaters.
Authorities believe he killed five people in ten weeks. Three others, including his first two victims, survived their attacks. The first attack took place on February 22, 1946, on a secluded road outside of town. The Phantom approached Jimmy Hollis and Mary Jeanne Larrey, a young couple parked in their car. He blinded them with his flashlight upon approach, then held them at gunpoint and ordered them out of the vehicle. The Phantom then told Jimmy Hollis to remove his pants and proceeded to beat him severely, fracturing his skull.
The Phantom told Mary Jeanne Larrey to run. When she scrambled toward a ditch, he told her to change course and run toward the road. He then chased her down and sexually assaulted her with the pistol he carried before letting her run away again. In spite of the savagery of their attacks, both Hollis and Larrey survived. Others were not so lucky.
In March, Richard Griffin and Polly Ann Moore were found dead in their parked car at the end of a secluded road. The couple, who had only been dating six weeks, had had dinner with Griffin’s sister and her boyfriend earlier in the night. Griffin, 29, was a veteran who made his living in carpentry and painting. He was shot fatally in the back of the head. Moore, only 17, was living in a nearby boardinghouse with her cousin. She was also fatally shot in the back of head.
A few weeks later, they were joined by another young boy and girl, Paul Martin and Betty Jo Booker. Booker was the Phantom’s youngest victim, at only 15 years old. Martin and Booker had begun dating after a long friendship, dating back to kindergarten. Booker played the saxophone in a local band, and Martin came out to pick her up. Five hours later, Martin’s body was discovered. Booker’s body would not be found for another six, laying two miles from Martin.
In the first week of May, the Phantom Killer attacked what are his last official victims, a husband and wife, in their farmhouse northeast of town. Virgil Starks was killed by two shots to the back of the head, but his wife Katie survived, in spite of being shot twice in the face and having to run down the street to a neighbor’s house to get help.
While the Phantom was on the loose, Texarkana was like a city under siege. Residents armed themselves and curfews were set for local businesses. In spite of the involvement of the Texas Rangers, no conclusive arrest was ever made in connection with the Moonlight Murders.
Theories spread wildly about the Phantom Killer’s identity. The killer’s targeting of couples and lack of other identifiable motives, such as burglary or revenge, led many in the area to believe that the killer was some sort of “sex maniac”. Nearly 400 people were arrested in connection with the killings.
Suspects included a University of Arkansas freshman who committed suicide in 1948, an escaped German prisoner of war, and an L.A. resident who believed that he may have committed the crimes while in a coma.
Many people believe that local man named Youell Swinney—arrested in 1947 for auto theft—was the Phantom. His wife confessed to as much at the time, but by law she could not testify against her husband. She later repudiated her confession. Swinney remained in prison as a habitual offender until 1973, and died in 1994, without ever implicating himself in the murders.
In 2014, James Presley, a Texarkana native, wrote what he considered to be definitive book on the murders, The Phantom Killer: Unlocking the Mystery of the Texarkana Serial Murders: The Story of a Town in Terror. In it, he lays out enough evidence that he claims proves Swinney was responsible for all five Phantom slayings.
Others remain unconvinced. A 1948 cold case involving the disappearance of 21-year-old Virginia Carpenter from Texarkana is thought by some to have been the work of the Phantom Killer, though Swinney was already in prison by that time. And in 1999 and 2000 an anonymous woman contacted surviving family members of the Phantom’s victims to apologize for “what her father had done.” But Youell Swinney never had a daughter.
Regardless of the killer’s true identity, the town he traumatized has never been the same since the spring of 1946. Yet while other towns may have tried to forget such a gruesome legacy, Texarkana embraced it. When The Town That Dreaded Sundown was filmed there in 1976, locals were cast as extras. Every year around Halloween, the movie is screened at Spring Lake Park, near where one of the murders took place.
The Texarkana murders remain unsolved to this day. Whoever hid behind that white mask, chances are that after almost 70 years he no longer “lurks on the streets of Texarkana” as the tagline to The Town That Dreaded Sundown suggests.
Yet his legacy lives on, haunting the country roads of Texas and Arkansas beneath the glow of the moon.

This next story might be a bit too dark for younger listeners or those who are squeamish, which is why I’ve saved it for the last. It’s a chapter from Troy Taylor’s audiobook that I narrated, “Suffer The Children: American Horrors, Homicides and Hauntings”. The story title tells you how brutal it may be… it’s called, “The Most Monstrous and Inhuman Criminal of Modern Times”. Listener discretion is advised.


Troy Taylor’s “The Most Monstrous And Inhuman Criminal of Modern Times” continues in just a moment on Weird Darkness.


The rest of the story, “The Most Monstrous And Inhuman Criminal Of Modern Times” by Troy Taylor is up next on Weird Darkness.


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 darren@weirddarkness.com. 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.

“Werewolves of Central England” by Hugh Landman for Ranker

“Mystery Monsters from P.A.” by Brent Swancer for Mysterious Universe

“Bandit” by Weirdo family member Eleanor, submitted directly to Weird Darkness

“The Old Mining Town” by ADM for MyHauntedLifeToo.com

“The Phantom Hiker of Grandfather Mountain” for NorthCarolinaGhosts.com

“The Unsolved Texarkana Murders” by Orrin Grey for The Line Up

“The Most Monstrous And Inhuman Criminal Of Modern Times” from the book “Suffer the Children” by Troy Taylor

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… “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” – Luke 12:48

And a final thought… “Some of the most beautiful souls have climbed out of the darkest holes.” – Unknown

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

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