Listen to ““WEIRDNESS IN THE WILDERNESS” and 3 More Dark and True Stories! #WeirdDarkness” on Spreaker.
There can be no doubt that our planet holds much great beauty in the form of the many untamed and pristine wildernesses that dot its landscape. Here we can find solitude, myriad wildlife, and natural splendor, but the woods can also be a decidedly spooky place full of both danger and great mystery. Thrumming under the surface of those grand vistas of trees and mountains one can sometimes find strange forces at work, and the woods can seemingly harbor mysteries and strange entities beyond our ability to grasp.
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.
If you’re new here, welcome to the show! While you’re listening, be sure to check out WeirdDarkness.com for merchandise, my newsletter, to connect with me on social media, and more!
Coming up in this episode…
Is it true that the Pentagon has been investigating bizarre creatures, poltergeist activity, invisible entities, orbs of light, and other strangeness at the Skinwalker Ranch? (UFOs, The Paranormal, and the Pentagon)
Dino Bravo is a name that only a die-hard wrestling fan would know, as he never achieved stardom. So when Bravo was murdered, it did not receive much publicity. Which might be part of the reason his murder has never been solved. (The Mysterious Death of Pro Wrestler Dino Bravo)
Locking the doors in your home is usually a good idea – unless it’s an invisible entity locking you out of your own house! Weirdo family member Brenda McDonald talks about the strange experiences she and her family dealt with when moving into a new home. (The Move)
There are numerous bizarre and creepy tales of people who have ventured into the woods to find not only the natural world, but perhaps the supernatural as well. (Weirdness In The Wilderness)
Now.. bolt your doors, lock your windows, turn off your lights, and come with me into the Weird Darkness!
STORY: WEIRDNESS IN THE WILDERNESS=====
Many strange stories from the wilderness seem to involve some sort of bizarre and mysterious entities, and there are quite a few such reports to be found. One odd one comes from the r/AskReddit forum, and concerns the supervisor of a wildland firefighter with the forest service in the U.S. state of Idaho, who sighted what appears to have been some sort of bizarre, shapeshifting entity. In 2004 the witness, an assistant superintendent at the time, along with his crew, had allegedly been in an area called Hell’s Canyon on an emergency call and were told that they would likely be there for the night. The supervisor then went out ahead into the forest along a lonely, unpaved logging road on an ATV in order to scout the area ahead.
As he made his way along the rather decrepit and treacherous remote road, he allegedly came across a bobcat standing there crouched right in the middle of his path. This wasn’t so strange in and of itself, as the area had many bobcats, but the startled witness was surprised when, instead of running off with the approach of the vehicle as a normal forest animal would be expected to do, it rather just stood there staring at him ominously. The witness and the bobcat then stayed there at a brief standoff with gazes locked for a few moments before the animal suddenly let out an ear-piercing scream and scampered up a nearby tree.
Unsettled by this rather odd encounter, the witness continued on his way undeterred, and soon came across a ramshackle cabin overgrown with weeds just off the road right out there in the middle of nowhere, which was strange since it was technically federal land and there should have been no private structures, but there it was. Curious, the witness stopped his vehicle and went to investigate, finding all of the windows tightly boarded shut and the door well secured with chains to the structure itself. It was apparent that someone did not want anyone getting in, or out, of that cabin, and a peek through a crack in the door showed that the interior seemed to have been ransacked by someone or something. There was a distinct, chilly sense of unease that crept up over him, and he glanced around, almost expecting someone to pop out of the brush, but the woods were quiet. Deciding it best to get on his way and not wanting any more to do with that spooky cabin, the witness then got back onto his ATV and got back onto the logging road. The commenter relating the tale explains what happened next thus:
*****Well, here’s where it gets real interesting. Right where the bobcat had been, there stands a native American woman, in a badly tattered nightgown and bare feet. Just standing there. He yells at her, asking if she needs help. She just screamed at him, the same scream as the cat from before, and climbs right up the tree, faster than any human has a right to be climbing. Obviously, he nopes out of there as fast as he can. Unsure of who or what he just saw, he asks a local guy about the cabin. After asking around a little, a local Native American hears them talking and informs them that they saw a pumawha (Excuse the likely butchered spelling). In effect, a skin changer, a warg. Now, I would not believe most people that tried to tell me that. But this was a serious man that did not fuck around about many things. He was dead serious the 2 times I’ve heard him tell it, and I 100% believe he saw what he saw.*****
Quite similar to this account is one that comes from a park ranger himself, who claims that he had a very strange experience out in the wilds of Montana. The weird tale begins when the unidentified witness alleged found a seemingly abandoned cabin out in the middle of the woods, far from any road or town. Next to the isolated house was a shed that seemed to have had a reinforced steel door that rather alarmingly seemed to have been forcefully broken out of from the inside. Looking into one of the windows of the house he was met by the sight of toppled furniture and a bed that looked to have been shredded by some sort of wild animal.
As the ranger examined the house and its shed, he claims that he looked up to see what looked like a Native American man approaching from a clearing, dressed in tattered clothes and looking to be in some sort of trance or daze. The park ranger called out to him, but when he did the mysterious stranger looked up with an expression of surprise and ran off to disappear into the trees. Already creeped out by that house and its weird shed, the ranger decided not to pursue the weird man, instead deciding to come back the following day.
When he did, he claims that he found that same man sitting out in front of the house. Once again, when the ranger approached the man ran, this time into the house and locking the door. The ranger then allegedly tried to talk some sense into the stranger, telling him through the door that he wasn’t in any kind of trouble and asking if he was OK. When there was no response he looked into the window to find apparently no one there at all. As he scanned the interior through the dust streaked window, he says that he heard a sudden loud noise from the back of the house, after which a full grown bear ran right past him to lope off into the forest. Although the ranger admits it all might have been a coincidence, he was still nevertheless deeply unsettled by the experience, and wonders just what was going on with that man and that strange house. He has perhaps not surprisingly not been back to that house since.
More difficult to identify is a case of a witness who claims to have been leading a group on a climb at Mt. Sterling, in North Carolina, when he saw something he can’t quite explain. The climb was apparently a very difficult one, and they were about six miles from the nearest road, but they had finally reached the top and set up camp for the night. After everyone went to bed, the witness stayed up in a hammock reading a book, finally deciding to call it a night at around 10:30 PM. The evening was described as being very bright, with a full moon shining above. As he prepared to go to bed, the witness claims that he noticed something coming up the trail, which he first took to be a bear but turned out to be a darkened humanoid figure. He would say of what happened:
***We were in the middle of nowhere and there was someone hiking up the trail with no headlamp or any gear. I was just frozen, watching this person move closer to our camp. They arrived at the top of the mountain where we were and just stopped. I watched as what appeared to be a man surveyed our camp. I really could only see the outline of him. He stood there for what seemed like 30 minutes but may have been 10. He then turned and sat down under a tree facing our camp. He was sitting up in a way that I knew he wasn’t trying to sleep. He just sat there staring at our camp. I had no idea what to do. I decided to wait it out. I waited, just staring at the man while he stared at my camp. This went on until about 3:30 AM. Then, he stood up, took a moment to survey my camp a few minutes longer and then went back down the trail he came up on. I, to this day have no idea what that was all about but it freaked me out. I was paranoid that we were being followed for the rest of the trip.***
Was this a man, a shadow person, a ghost, or what? Other strange wilderness experiences seem to be connected more with ghosts and other unexplained paranormal phenomena. One Reddit user called tytrim89 gave a rather spooky account of an experience he had while poking around at a remote abandoned town out in the woods of North Carolina that the Army had once used as a training area. The witness said of the location, “They replace the doors and electrical but everything else they let go to shit. Which is very cool because the main house is over 100 years old.” After arriving, the man locked the doors to the jeep they had come in on and went about exploring the grounds, and the witness says of what happened next thus:
***We all end up splitting into small groups and I end up alone (Yay me). My wife and her friend go around back and I stay out front walking around and scanning the woods. They then come back which is when they tell me they heard what sounded like 2 little girls laughing and playing out in the woods. So I start walking around with the flashlight scanning the woods. When we get back….the dome light was on and one of the doors war cracked open on the jeep. I shit you not, this starts to freak everyone out. As we are discussing this we heard the loudest thud come from the house. I compared it to someone dropping a safe on the top floor of the house. This literally shook the house and I heard the base in my chest. Now being prior military I know for a fact it wasn’t artillery or ordinance. The rest of our friends that were in the house beat feet and we got in our cars and left. No one can explain the noise. They were all upstairs and they looked in a bedroom and then went to the next room and the boom came from behind them.***
Another Reddit user called fleetw16 relates a frightening experience that happened as he was working one year as a summer camp counselor. One time they took all of the kids out on a backpacking excursion, and that evening they set up camp, after which he and one of the other counselors went to a nearby clearing around a quarter of a mile away to do some stargazing. As they were lying there, the sound of water suddenly and inexplicably began to pervade the air around them, which was strange because they didn’t know of any river or creek in the area, and the witness described this enigmatic sound:
***As we were laying I heard the beautiful sound of water behind me and I mean beautiful. I’ve never heard water running before and thought to myself “wow this sounds beautiful”. All I could imagine was crisp, clear water gracefully trickling by. I had this image stuck in my head. I had this sudden urge to go find it. Not just an urge but a NEED to find the creek.***
The witness and his friend got up and peered into the thick forest behind them, wondering whether they should go out there or not, and the feeling they got was of a “a playful presence” urging them to go find the source of the sound. After a few minutes of wondering what to do, that lovely sound dancing all about them and pulled by that nagging compulsion, they decided to go find it, but oddly the sound got fainter and fainter the deeper they pushed into the dense brush, and things began to get rather scarier. The witness would say:
***As we were approaching the sound, it became quieter and quieter. We stopped not knowing if we wanted to continue. As we stood there, the noise of trickling water became louder and louder until it sounded like standing next to a river. I then said “let’s come back tomorrow to find it” and we agreed to come back later. When I made that decision the sound of the creek vanished along with the urge to go. There was only silence. The presence I felt earlier suddenly became sinister. It was just this dark feeling of a presence, kind of similar to knowing when someone is watching you. I felt this fear slowly creeping up from my belly.***
The next day, the curious group went back to the site in the assumed safety of broad daylight in order to see if there was a creek there, and they found not a single sign of one, nor anything else that could have possibly explained the sound that they’d heard. They even looked at maps, which confirmed that no rivers or creeks flowed through there. In the end the witness was baffled as to what it could all mean, but seems sure that something very sinister was trying to lure them in that evening, for what dark purpose no one knows. He would say:
***I’m scared to imagine what would have happened if we followed the sound of the water because of the ominous presence we both felt. If I was by myself I would have thought I was imagining it, but my friend thought, felt, and experienced everything I did. I don’t know what it was but it was eerie to say the least. What’s strange is neither of us said anything to each other once we heard the sound of water, and yet we both made the decision to go look for it without asking each other and both heard the sound of water becoming louder and quieter even though there was nothing there. We both felt the sinister presence trying to lure us in.***
Adding to these spooky, seemingly paranormal cases is an account from a park ranger on a Reddit forum for rangers. He claims that he and another ranger had been called out to search for a man in his 20s who had gone missing in the area while hiking. They ventured out and set up camp for the night on a high ridge commanding a view of the surrounding area. Things would get bizarre later that night in the wee hours of morning, when the witness saw a moving light at the base of the cliffs across the valley a few miles away. He told his colleague about it, and they decided that this was likely the very man they were looking for, and that they would go retrieve him when daylight came. The witness says:
***The next morning, we decide to go check out the area and bring this guy home. We get to approximately where I saw the light the night before and start calling his name. Soon, we find his body at the base of the cliff. He had fallen 60 feet on his head. The body was badly mangled. We radio back that it has now become a “recovery” instead of a “rescue.”At this point, the other ranger yells to me to come look at this. Lying 20 feet from the man’s body was his maglite. It seemed odd, but I thought nothing of it until the other ranger reminded me of the light the night before. It kind of gave me the creeps, but I still dismissed it. Before too long, the coroner arrived and inspected the body. After he took the body back to the lab, he said that the man had been dead for at least 48 hours before we found the body. All of the sudden the “oh, shit” alarm went off in my brain. I knew that it couldn’t be possible. I had the coroner review his work. Same result. I tried to find an explanation for the light I had seen–perhaps other hikers. But one Search and Rescue guy had stayed at the only trailhead in the area all night. No one had come or gone. To this day, I have no clue what I saw that night. It freaked me out though.***
Other accounts are even harder to classify, leaving us unclear if we are dealing with some mysterious creature, a supernatural presence, psychopaths, or what, but being incredibly unsettling and creepy all the same. One ranger claims on a Reddit forum for rangers to have been with a co-worker out searching for a missing group of teens when they stumbled across something that is really hard to categorize. The witness says:
***We’d been hiking for most of the day and seen nothing. We’re about 35km into the woods and at this point we start noticing odd things. Sticks carved like spears stuck into the ground, weird carvings in the trees, a child’s stuffed animal hanging from a noose up in a tree. This place was nowhere near any roads, it wasn’t on the regular trails people would go on in the area. The really eerie thing was that everything was freshly-carved. Somebody had been there within a couple of hours of us and made these things. Mind you we’re still looking for these teens. We kept on hiking and eventually made camp for the night still kind of on edge from what we had seen earlier but we settle down anyway and go to sleep. We get up with the sunrise hoping to cover more ground before it gets too hot. We pack up the gear and get ready to go when I notice a bit of shirt that had caught on a small tree and ripped along with some shoe prints. We were thinking: great maybe we’re close by to the teens, when a radio call comes through. The teens had just been found 20 kilometers east of us, and they’re calling everybody back. All those weird things we had seen from the day before came flooding back into my mind, and we wasted no time hiking out of those woods.***
There is also a report from a ranger at Yellowstone National Park on the same forum that is really quite surreal in its bizarreness. The witness says that as he was hiking along a remote, isolated trail about 11 miles from the nearest road at the Lamar Valley, he came across something completely unexpected, startling, and quite morbid out there in the wilds, of which he would say:
***There, in the middle of the trail, is a perfectly severed deer head. No blood, no raggedness at the severance. Perfectly intact. This is weird because I have seen wolf and bear kills, and I used to find cougar kills in SD with radio tracking just after the cougar made them. This was not any of those things. The head was completely uneaten – eyes, tongue, everything intact. Even the ravens hadn’t touched it yet. No caching, no scat. Right smack in the trail, but again, no blood. Even a human doing it made no conventional sense. It was a doe so it had no antlers, plus, why leave it in the trail? Whole thing, even in broad daylight, gave me chills. Just an ocean of waving grass, bison calmly grazing, and a perfectly clean deer head right on the path.***
What in the world killed that deer? Who or what would cut its head off so cleanly and leave it in the middle of a trail out there in the middle of nowhere, all while leaving no footprints or evidence behind? It seems almost like it was intentionally placed there. Why would someone or something do that? Where did the rest of that deer’s body go? Why was there no blood or sign of scavenger activity? It is hard to say, but this is a damn creepy case to be sure. It is certainly not anything anyone wants to come across while hiking around out in the woods alone.
The woods can certainly be a scary place. There are myriad dangers that await the unprepared or careless. Wild animals, the elements, treacherous terrain, all of these can conspire to make short work of the foolhardy, and at night, out there alone the wilderness can be a frightening place indeed. Yet, as we have seen here there are perhaps other, less defined, more mysterious things, and even scarier things that perhaps lurk out amongst the sea of trees. The wild places of our planet are certainly ones of great beauty and solitude, but also a place of danger, and perhaps the wilderness is a realm of not only nature, but also of sinister mysteries perhaps from beyond it.
Coming up next… iIs it true that the Pentagon has been investigating bizarre creatures, poltergeist activity, invisible entities, orbs of light, and other strangeness at the Skinwalker Ranch?
Dino Bravo is a name that only a die-hard wrestling fan or follower of true-crime would know, as he never achieved stardom, and his murder has never been solved. These stories and more when Weird Darkness returns.
UFOS, THE PARANORMAL, AND THE PENTAGON=====
At the end of 2017, The New York Times broke the story of a secretive Pentagon program with a budget of $22 million to investigate UFOs called the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP). The man who exposed the existence of the program, Luis Elizondo, was the former head of the project. Elizondo’s ongoing efforts to investigate the UFO mystery with his new employer, the To the Stars Academy (TTSA), will be featured in a History Channel series premiering May 31 called Unidentified: Inside America’s UFO Investigation.
However, what The New York Times apparently did not know when they published their story is that the program went by a different name at its inception, and the scope of the program was much broader than just UFOs. In fact, according to a senior manager on the project, the investigations included “bizarre creatures, poltergeist activity, invisible entities, orbs of light, animal and human injuries and much more.”
It is unknown whether Unidentified will cover the paranormal aspects of the program. Although Elizondo did work with this paranormal project, he only worked in the UFO division. By the time he was the head of the entire program, the UFO division was all that was left. The rest of the program had been shut down, and you will never guess why. It wasn’t because people inside the Department of Defense (DoD) thought the program was too weird, although some did. It was shut down because of demonic forces.
Don’t worry, demons didn’t attack the Pentagon, but apparently, some people inside the government were afraid the potentially paranormal incidents being investigated could be demonic, especially scary occurrences taking place at a ranch in Utah, and they wanted no part of it. They didn’t want the government messing with demons either, so they lobbied for the program to be ended and it was.
This may sound extremely odd, but according to those involved, it’s true.
The New York Times story that broke the Pentagon UFO program began when an official with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) approached Las Vegas billionaire Robert Bigelow “to visit Mr. Bigelow’s ranch in Utah, where he conducted research.”
That sounds innocent enough, but what the article did not cover is what Bigelow researched at this ranch in Utah. Bigelow was known for his interest in the paranormal and UFOs, and by the time the DIA official had approached him, Bigelow had already spent decades and large sums of money researching the paranormal. Bigelow’s first significant foray into the unknown was an organization created in 1995 called the National Institute for Discovery Sciences (NIDS). Its purpose was to conduct scientific investigations of the paranormal.
The ranch the DIA official wanted to visit is nicknamed “Skinwalker Ranch,” and is the subject of the 2005 book Hunt for the Skinwalker: Science Confronts the Unexplained at a Remote Ranch in Utah. Las Vegas investigative journalist George Knapp co-wrote the book with biochemist Dr. Colm Kelleher, NIDS’ lead scientist.
After hearing rumors about paranormal phenomena occurring in the Uintah Basin in Utah, primarily focused on Skinwalker Ranch, Bigelow bought the ranch in 1996. It was the perfect place to conduct NIDS investigations. The ranchers who owned the property stayed for a while but left because they did not feel comfortable there. If their stories are to be believed, they had good reason to go.
The family, using the pseudonym Gorman, said they had several terrifying experiences. Among them was the sighting of a giant wolf-like creature that attacked cattle, could withstand multiple point-blank gunshots and seemed to disappear into thin air. The incident that caused them to leave for good, however, was when their beloved dogs chased glowing orbs of light into the forest at night never to be seen again.
The NIDS investigators had their share of experiences as well. As detailed in Knapp and Kelleher’s book, the strangest occurred in the middle of the night while two researchers were observing the ranch from the edge of a bluff. As they were packing up to leave at around 2:30 am, one of them noticed a light in the forest below. At first, they thought it might be a reflection. However, as they watched, the light began to grow. Once it became a couple of feet wide, they say it looked like a tunnel opening up, and they saw a creature within. It was large and black with no face. It crawled out of the light and into the dark forest. The light then began to disappear until it was gone.
Kelleher said years ago he felt whatever was going on at the Skinwalker Ranch outsmarted them and anticipated their actions.
John Alexander, a retired Colonel in U.S. Army Intelligence who also spent time working at Los Alamos Laboratories and still does some work as a defense consultant, helped organize NIDS investigations. In a YouTube interview for OpenMinds.tv in 2013, he describes what they encountered at the ranch as a “precognitive sentient phenomena.”
“What we learned was that the events were real and tangible, and definitely occurring,” Alexander explained. “These weren’t figments of someone’s imagination, or folklore or any of these sorts of things.”
“But, as for the etiology, nope,” says Alexander. ”We remained mystified.”
According to a recent interview with Knapp, Investigations into the ranch petered as the paranormal phenomena occurring on the ranch also waned. By the early 2000s, not much was going on. It was during this lull that Bigelow allowed Knapp to begin working on the book. Once the book was published, it brought a lot of attention to the ranch, but paranormal experiences were still rare.
So when the DIA official approached Bigelow in 2007 to visit the ranch, no one thought there would be anything to worry about. However, precognitive sentient forces on the ranch had other plans. Soon after arriving at the ranch, the DIA official had a paranormal encounter that Knapp described as “remarkable, and it made a very big impression on this guy.”
The New York Times says shortly after this visit, DIA officials met with Senator Harry Reid because they wanted to start a research program. It turns out Reid, a friend of Bigelow’s, was kept in the loop regarding Bigelow’s work researching the paranormal because he shared Bigelow’s interest in the topic.
Reid then found bipartisan support from a couple of fellow members of Congress, secured the funding, and got the project launched – all within 2007. Soon after, a requisition for a contractor to conduct research for the program was posted, and Bigelow’s Bigelow Aerospace won it. Bigelow created Bigelow Aerospace Advanced Space Studies (BAASS), lead by Kelleher, to manage the contract.
However, the project was not called AATIP, as The New York Times reported. Per Knapp and documents he obtained, it was called the Advanced Aerospace Weapons System (AAWSAP), and it was set up to investigate not just UFOs, but primarily all of the weird stuff going on at the Skinwalker Ranch, including that list of weirdness at the beginning of this story.
Due to the nature of the project, it was kept as quiet as possible. Few in Congress knew it existed. However, it didn’t take long for religious factions within the government to raise concerns.
“They’re basically high-level people in different intelligence agencies who are fundamentalist Christians; who think that anything involving UFOs and the paranormal is satanic,” says Knapp.
“Certain senior government officials thought our collection of facts on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) was dangerous to their philosophical beliefs,” Elizondo wrote in a post on Medium. “They decided the data was a threat to their belief system.”
Elizondo explained to Den of Geek that by 2008, the negative attention their paranormal investigations received caused them to create a sub-group inside of AAWSAP that only focused on military UFO cases. This was AATIP. When Elizondo joined AAWSAP (the paranormal program), it was to work with AATIP (the UFO division). Eventually, the DIA closed AAWSAP, and only AATIP remained. Elizondo took over leadership of AATIP in 2010.
As for The New York Times, one of the authors of the article, Leslie Kean, told me via email “at the time, our focus was AATIP. This was the name on the documents that we had, and this is what Lue Elizondo had talked to us about in interviews with him, as did others associated with the program.” Elizondo says that since his involvement was primarily with AATIP and the UFO side of things, he did not feel at liberty to share AAWSAP information with them.
Filmmaker Jeremy Corbell has recently completed a documentary titled Hunt for the Skinwalker. He worked with Knapp, who intended to make a film when the book came out in 2005. The footage Knapp obtained back then is a large part of the new documentary.
“That $22 million that was created to study the phenomenon was really inspired wholly by Skinwalker Ranch and what Bigelow had been doing there privately with NIDS,” Corbell told this reporter in a recent podcast interview. “The public is going to see by watching this film that connection very clearly and yes, our Department of Defense, specifically the intelligence organization within the Department of Defense, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), they took this very seriously…Secrets have been kept, big secrets about this ranch for more than, I would say, two decades, and everybody wondered what has been going on there,” says Corbell. “This has been embargoed, this information. All of that has changed, and this story can now be told.”
These stories, although they sound fictional, are accounts from credible sources, and according to Corbell, Knapp, and Elizondo, there are still more shocking revelations to come. Elizondo recently told Den of Geek, “You ain’t seen nothing yet, baby!”
Those of us following this story have been wondering when the time will come for us to find out more. Elizondo says much of what we have been waiting for will be included in the History Channel series Unidentified: Inside America’s UFO Investigation premiering May 31.
STORY: DINO BRAVO=====
Dino Bravo is a name that only a real wrestling fan would know, because he did not have the same popularity in the United States during the 1980’s as Hulk Hogan or Ric Flair. So when Bravo was murdered in his home in Montreal, it did not receive as much publicity as other unfortunate deaths in the wrestling industry over the years. Despite the sad nature of Bravo’s death and the connection to the illegal cigarette trade, Bravo’s murder has never been solved.
Bravo whose birth name was Adolfo Bresciano, made his name in the Montreal territory working as a babyface in the 1970’s. During this time Bravo also had a brief stint with WWE (then WWWF) before the company took a national approach, and Bravo actually had a three month reign with the tag team championships.
Bravo bounced around with promotions at this time, but found his way back to WWE (renamed from WWWF to WWF in 1980) in 1985, but this time with bleached blonde hair. Another interesting fact is that a scheduled headline match between Bravo and the face of the company Hulk Hogan at the Montreal Forum had to be rescheduled due to a fear that Hogan would be booed out of the building, and Bravo would receive a hero’s welcoming.
In the 70’s and early 80’s Bravo was working mainly as a babyface, but during his return to WWE it became clear that he was going to be utilized as a heel. At the 1988 Royal Rumble, Dino Bravo benched 655 lbs. to get heat and claim that he set a new record.
WWE was the promotion built to bring in families, and with that more athletic superstars along with cartoonish characters were now on TV, and the bigger superstars with plain trunks were on their way out. The last events Bravo worked with WWE were part of the European Tour in April of 1992, he would be release shortly thereafter.
Rick Martel revealed on Rick Martel’s Highspots Shoot that he tried to convince Pat Patterson to let him and Bravo team together.
***“Dino tried to stay in the [WWF] but he just couldn’t…Vince didn’t wanna have him back. I remember I called Pat Patterson and I suggested that I team up with Dino – because I liked Dino. I said, ‘I’ll take the bumps and [do] all the moving around and he can do the strong stuff…I’m sure we can make it work, you know?’ He said, ‘No, no…we just think that Dino doesn’t fit anymore in our plans…”***
Newly unemployed and with a family to support, Bravo had to make a decision what was next for him. At this time former WWE guys were going to WCW, but Bravo did not want to relocate his family from Montreal, so he decided to retire from professional wrestling.
At this point Bravo transitioned into the illegal cigarette trade, which became extremely popular in the early 90’s in Canada. According to Reconnassance.net illicit tobacco in Canada still makes up a big portion of the current tobacco market.
***“According to the report, today the overall share of illicit tobacco in Canada is estimated at 17.9% by GfK, with main concentrations in Quebec and Ontario, where illicit tobacco makes up almost a third of the market.”***
If the illegal tobacco market is that big today, imagine how big it was before the federal government was aware of the extent of this criminal activity in the early 90’s. Due to Bravo’s celebrity status (especially in Montreal), he was able to obtain a monopoly in his local market on illegally smuggled cigarettes.
Rick Martel when recalling Bravo’s post-wrestling work mentioned the loyalty he had from Native American groups, and how they were such an asset to his business.
***“[He] went to see the Indians. The Indians had the river so they could pass cigarettes [across] like crazy – or arms – whatever. And the Indians were big wrestling fans, you know? So when they saw Dino they were like, ‘Oh man..!’ They started dealing strictly with him. So Dino had the monopoly with the Indians. He started doing really well.”***
Bravo’s success would not go unnoticed, according to Martel that is when one of the biggest cocaine dealers in the area reached out to partner with Bravo. The deal was that both men would profit from each other’s transactions and become a stronger entity.
Unfortunately the newly minted business relationship would not last as Martel would continue to recall that a deal gone wrong had both partners at each other’s throats.
***“So what apparently happened is they did some kind of agreement…Dino had a $400,000 shipment in some warehouse somewhere and it stayed there for like, three days…and on the third day when the cocaine guy went to pick it up, the police were there. So they were blaming each other. Dino was saying, ‘You should have picked it up [on] the first day and it never would have happened – you shouldn’t have let it sit there…’ There was a lot of heat on Dino. This was a week before he died.”***
$400,000 is a lot of money, could this have led to a “hit” being called on Bravo? Nobody has a definitive answer, but the evidence and timing points to this incident being a precursor to Bravo’s death.
On March 10, 1993, according to the Montreal Gazette Bravo’s wife returned home to find her husband unresponsive as a result of 7 shots to the head and 10 shots to the torso in an execution style killing. Due to the fact that there was no sign of a break in and the fact that Bravo was seated in a chair with the remote in his hand made investigators believe that Bravo knew his killer.
The Montreal Gazette also reported that the murder weapons were .380 caliber and .22 caliber weapons. Which does make it possible that there was more than one killer, and most likely a silencer was used because there were not any reported 911 calls from neighbors after 17 shots were fired at Bravo’s house.
Silencers, shooting the victim from behind, “overkill” to send a message, and the motive from the deal a week prior all point to the Canadian Mob’s M.O. Here is a list of famous hits carried out from the Canadian Mob over the past few decades to compare.
Nonetheless, at the young age of 44, a loving husband and father of a young girl was gone. Still almost 25 years at the night has left fans with more questions than answers.What if Bravo decided to go to WCW? Did his ties to the Canadian Mob lead to his death? What actually happened on that night? It is questions like these that we may never get the answer to.
When Weird Darkness returns… locking the doors in your home is usually a good idea – unless it’s an invisible entity locking you out of your own house! Weirdo family member Brenda McDonald talks about the strange experiences she and her family dealt with when moving into a new home. These stories are up next.
While home on mid-tour leave from deployment a few years ago, I decided to rent a house in a safer neighborhood for myself, my daughter and my grandson. We found a cute rambler further out in the suburbs. The day we moved in, we were moving yard toys through the front door straight through the sliding door to the back yard. As we went through the sliding door, we would close it to keep my grandson from running in and out. The first time out the sliding door, it locked, leaving us to climb over the fence to go back around and inside the house. We didn’t have a key for the fence gate lock yet. The next few times we went through the sliding door, the same thing would happen, the sliding door would lock us out. Finally, we just left it open a bit. I checked the latch and it was not spring loaded. As we kept moving boxes into the house, the third bedroom door would close and lock. The third room being my grandson’s room, I had to take the knob off so that it wouldn’t lock him in the room. I went back to deployment for a few more months with no further incidents. After returning home, I was alone in the house sitting on one corner of the sectional reading. I kept hearing someone snoring loudly at the other end of the sectional. I yelled and told it to stop, and it did. When I went to bed that night, I had just gotten comfortable when I heard the snoring again, this time it was next to me on the bed. I freaked out and went to the couch. My daughter thought it was funny. The very next weekend we decided to have some friends over for a BBQ. As we were preparing food in the kitchen and laughing, I looked up to see a dark shadow speed from the corner of the dining area down the hall toward the bedrooms. At the same time, a metal candle holder sitting on the ledge flew across the living room crashing against the far wall. There were also several pairs of socks on the ledge that flew off too. We were all stunned into silence. We asked a psychic medium to come over and help us figure out what was going on. A male spirit had decided to take up residence in our home. We were told that he was frustrated because he couldn’t drink and have fun so he was being difficult and that he just wanted a family. We were told that the spirit had followed my daughter home. The psychic convinced the spirit to move on to the light thereby clearing our house. That is not the only experience we have had with spirits but now I know that wherever my daughter goes, spirits follow her.
Thanks for listening. If you like the show, please share it with someone you know who loves the paranormal or strange stories, true crime, monsters, or unsolved mysteries like you do! And please leave a rating and review of the show in the podcast app you listen from – doing so helps the show to get noticed! You can also email me anytime with your questions or comments through the website at WeirdDarkness.com. That’s also where you can find all of my social media, listen to free audiobooks, shop the Weird Darkness store, sign up for the newsletter to win monthly prizes, find my other podcast “Church of the Undead”, and more. Plus if you have a true paranormal or creepy tale to tell, you can 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.
“Weirdness In The Wilderness” by Brent Swancer
“UFOs, The Paranormal, and the Pentagon” by Alejandro Rojas
“The Mysterious Death of Pro Wrestler Dino Bravo” by Josh Raibick
“The Move” by Weirdo family member, Brenda McDonald
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… Luke 12:33-34 = “Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
And a final thought… “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” – Steve Jobs
I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me in the Weird Darkness.