“DEEDS DONE BY THE DEAD” and More Creepy, Dark, and Bizarre Stories! #WeirdDarkness

DEEDS DONE BY THE DEAD” and More Creepy, Dark, and Bizarre Stories! #WeirdDarkness

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IN THIS EPISODE: Mrs. Elizabeth G. Wharton was a pillar of society in Baltimore, Maryland in the late 1800s. That is, until she was accused of murdering General William Scott Ketchum. (The Baltimore Borgia) *** For every legitimate and fascinating find by geologists, there seems to be a fraudulent find somewhere else trying to fool the masses. This has been a problem since geology became a thing – and one of the most fascinating of these true tales is the one about Baringer’s Lying Stones. (The Lying Stones) *** A strange, ape-like creature with glowing eyes in England might really be, as some believe, a specter of the night. (Man-Monkey of the Night) *** It’s hard to understand how human sacrifice has ever been a reality in any point in history – but what if you were to learn that evidence of it showed up in London, England… in 2001? (Torso In The River) *** A would-be geisha murders her lover… but the events leading up to and during the death make for a fascinatingly dark story. (The Murderess Geisha) *** Most people, when they think of the end of their lives, want to feel that they have accomplished something of significance. To leave a lasting legacy. But it is much more rare for someone to accomplish something significant – after they are dead! (Done By The Dead) *** When it comes to spectral animals, we’re more than familiar with black dogs or hell hounds, ghostly cats, horses carrying a headed or headless phantom, even a ghost bear rumored to haunt the Tower of London… but have you ever heard of the American Southwest’s ghost camels? (America’s Ghost Camels)

SOURCES AND ESSENTIAL WEB LINKS…
“Man-Monkey Of The Night” by Nick Redfern for MysteriousUniverse.com: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/bdhdevrr
“Done By The Dead” by Kyle D. Walter for ListVerse.com: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/y62afnj6
“America’s Ghost Camels” by Kathy Weiser-Alexander for LegendsOfAmerica.com: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/2p979beb
“The Baltimore Borgia” by Robert Wilhelm for MurderByGaslight.com: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/y2whacb9
“Torso In The River” by Richard Hoskins for MysteryConfidential.com: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/bdd5u543
“The Murderess Geisha” by Dr. Romeo Vitelli for Providentia: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/yzy4v3wy
“The Lying Stones” by Brent Swancer for MysteriousUniverse.com: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/2p854d9e

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TRANSCRIPT:

DISCLAIMER: Stories and content in Weird Darkness can be disturbing for some listeners and intended for mature audiences only. Parental discretion is strongly advised.

SHOW OPEN=====

Welcome, Weirdos – I’m Darren Marlar and this is Weird Darkness. Here you’ll find stories of the paranormal, supernatural, legends, lore, the strange and bizarre, crime, conspiracy, mysterious, macabre, unsolved and unexplained.
Coming up in this episode…
Mrs. Elizabeth G. Wharton was a pillar of society in Baltimore, Maryland in the late 1800s. That is, until she was accused of murdering General William Scott Ketchum. (The Baltimore Borgia)
For every legitimate and fascinating find by geologists, there seems to be a fraudulent find somewhere else trying to fool the masses. This has been a problem since geology became a thing – and one of the most fascinating of these true tales is the one about Baringer’s Lying Stones. (The Lying Stones)
A strange, ape-like creature with glowing eyes in England might really be, as some believe, a specter of the night. (Man-Monkey of the Night)
It’s hard to understand how human sacrifice has ever been a reality in any point in history – but what if you were to learn that evidence of it showed up in London, England… in 2001? (Torso In The River)
A would-be geisha murders her lover… but the events leading up to and during the death make for a fascinatingly dark story. (The Murderess Geisha)
Most people, when they think of the end of their lives, want to feel that they have accomplished something of significance. To leave a lasting legacy. But it is much more rare for someone to accomplish something significant – after they are dead! (Done By The Dead)
When it comes to spectral animals, we’re more than familiar with black dogs or hell hounds, ghostly cats, horses carrying a headed or headless phantom, even a ghost bear rumored to haunt the Tower of London… but have you ever heard of the American Southwest’s ghost camels? (America’s Ghost Camels)
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!
Now.. bolt your doors, lock your windows, turn off your lights, and come with me into the Weird Darkness!

STORY: AMERICA’S GHOST CAMELS=====

In 1848, the importation of camels for military purposes in the southwest was suggested to the War Department by Henry Wayne, a Quartermaster Major. Two years later, Secretary of War and Mississippi Senator Jefferson Davis, tried to persuade the Senate to look into the use of camels for the U.S. Army.

During this time period, the southwest territory of the United States was greatly expanding, and it was thought that camels could be used to carry at least twice the amount of weight as horses or mules, and might also be used in tracking and pursuing Indians, as they could travel without water or rest for much longer than horses. It was also suggested that the camels might carry the mail and that fast camel passenger trains might be developed to run from Missouri River points to the Pacific Coast.

Initially, the Senators voted the idea down, but after California newspapers began to promote the idea, they finally agreed in 1854, passing a bill to appropriate $30,000 for the camel experiment.

Some 72 camels arrived in the country in the early part of 1857 and were put to work carrying supplies in the southwest. However, though the camels proved to be well-suited to travel through the region, their unpleasant disposition, a habit of frightening horses, and tendency to wander off during the nights made them very unpopular among the soldiers. Still, they continued to be used until the Civil War broke out, at which time; they were sold at auction or turned loose into the desert.

For years afterward, wild camels continued to be spied roaming in the desert, especially in Arizona. Along with these real sightings, a number of legends and tales began regarding these ugly beasts of burden. The most popular is the tale of a camel known as the Red Ghost.

In 1883, a woman was found trampled to death and, on her body and a nearby bush, were clumps of reddish fur. Large hoof prints were found in the area, but locals were perplexed. A short time later, a large animal careened into a tent in which two miners lay sleeping. Though they were unable to identify the beast, again, large hoof prints and tufts of red hair were left behind. After more incidents occurred, the locals finally recognized the large animal as a camel. Soon, people began to report seeing the camel, which one rancher said carried a rider, though the rider appeared to be dead. The next report came from a group of prospectors who saw the camel and, while watching him, spied something falling from its back. As the beast moved on, the prospectors went to see what had fallen and discovered a human skull. For the next several years, numerous others spied the camel, who by this time had been dubbed the “Red Ghost,” carrying its headless rider. However, in 1893, when an Arizona farmer found the red camel grazing in his garden, he shot and killed the beast. By this time, the large camel had shaken free of its dead rider but still bore the saddle and leather straps with which the corpse had been attached.

There was much speculation as to who the mysterious dead rider the camel had carried for several years might have been. One tale alleges that the rider was a young soldier who was afraid of the camels, and therefore, was having much difficulty in learning how to ride them. In order to teach him how, his fellow soldiers tied him to the top of the beast, determined that he would get over his fear. They then hit the camel on the rump, and the beast took off running. Though the soldiers pursued the camel and his rider, the red beast easily outpaced them and escaped into the desert. Neither the camel nor his helpless rider was ever seen again.

Though the abandoned beasts of the Camel Corps roamed for decades, they soon disappeared altogether. In 1907, a prospector reported that he had seen two wild camels in Nevada, and other reports continued to come in sporadically. However, in April 1934, the Oakland Tribune reported: “The Last American Camel Is Dead.” The camel, dubbed “Topsy,” was last seen trekking across the desert of Arizona into California. When she made her way to Los Angeles, she was taken to Griffith Park to live. However, sometime later, she became so crippled with the paralysis, the zoo attendants were forced to put her down.

Seemingly, all the “real” army camels have long passed. However, legends continue to abound of people sighting a giant red camel carrying a headless rider in the deserts of Arizona. It sounds as if “Red Ghost” may very well be living up to his name.

Yet another legend of a ghostly camel also persists. This camel belonged to a prospector named Jake, who had purchased three camels from the Army at the public auction. Though his camels were every bit as ornery as the soldiers had described them, he spent much time caring for them and had nothing but praise for his beasts of burden.

After Jake hit pay dirt, he led his gold-laden camels into town to sell his ore. Afterward, he headed to the local saloon to celebrate. Unfortunately, in the crowd was a man named Paul Adams, who listened with much interest to Jake’s story of his gold find. When Jake left to return to his mine, he didn’t go directly to his claim, knowing that he might be followed. Though he was careful and took a circuitous route, the man named Paul Adams followed him. When Jake encamped for the night, Adams, thinking that he was at the mine’s location, murdered him. Trying to protect his owner, one of the camels attacked Adams, and for his efforts, was shot by a scoundrel, but not before he had viciously bit him.

Adams then began to search in earnest for Jake’s mine until one night, the ghost of Jake riding upon the dead camel approached his camp and chased the scoundrel all the way into town, straight to the sheriff’s office. Frightened beyond belief, Paul Adams then made a full confession.

Whether Jake and his loyal camel continue to roam the desert is unknown.

BREAK=====

Up next… most people, when they think of the end of their lives, want to feel that they have accomplished something of significance. To leave a lasting legacy. But it is much more rare for someone to accomplish something significant – after they are dead! That story is up next.
<COMMERCIAL BREAK>

STORY: DONE BY THE DEAD=====

Life is short. We have only a certain number of years to make an impact on the world before Fate snatches us away. But some figures of history have continued to shape the world, even after they leave it behind. Some have made great intellectual achievements, others have journeyed across the oceans, and a few have even eluded attempts at post-mortem kidnapping.

***The state of Illinois is famous for being the home of both “Honest Abe” Lincoln, and massively successful organized crime gangs. These two divergent traits converged in 1876, when a group of counterfeiters in Chicago hatched one of the most bizarre ransom schemes of all time. Led by “Big Jim” Kennally, the gang decided to steal the body of Abraham Lincoln (buried in Springfield, Illinois) and use it as a bargaining chip to demand the release of their imprisoned engraver, Benjamin Boyd. But Kennally’s underlings made a critical error by inviting a government informant, Lewis Swegles, to help snatch the body. After failing to lift the 500 pound coffin, the group fled Lincoln’s tomb empty-handed when they heard a policeman’s gun misfire outside. Arrests followed soon after. Perhaps the most interesting part of the story is that Lincoln indirectly stopped the theft of his own body. Swegles, the informant, reported to the Secret Service, a federal agency formed originally not to protect the president, but to combat counterfeiting. Which president signed the legislation that created the Secret Service? None other than Abraham Lincoln.

***Lincoln was not the first president to be the victim of an attempted grave robbery. After George Washington’s death in 1799, he was promptly buried among his family members at Mount Vernon, as specified in his will. But the federal government had plans to move him to a public memorial in the city that bears his name. Despite Martha Washington’s approval, the project was delayed by Congressional inertia and so he stayed in the decaying family vault. This nearly ended in disaster in 1830. A grave robber broke into the Washington family crypt, hoping to steal the dead president’s skull. Nobody is sure who did it or why, but some sources indicate it was a disgruntled employee. A gardener at Mount Vernon had been fired by Washington’s heir, John Augustine Washington, and wanted revenge. Fortunately or unfortunately, many of the coffins had rotted away and several Washington skeletons were mixed together on the floor. The robber took the wrong skull and was apprehended soon after. George and his family were transferred to a new tomb at Mount Vernon. But Congress requested the remains again, with Washington’s Tomb in the Capitol finally under construction. But John Washington refused to give up the body, and it stayed at Mount Vernon. Washington’s Tomb in Washington remained empty.

***The British philosopher Jeremy Bentham was not a man afraid to think and say some pretty controversial stuff. He firmly believed that all human action should be focused on maximizing “the greatest happiness of the greatest number”. That may sound simple, but this belief led him to conclusions about religion, criminal justice, and gay rights that were highly unusual for the era. Bentham also considered it his duty to advance human happiness, post-mortem. Bentham’s will, written shortly before he died in 1832, left detailed instructions to achieve that goal. Bentham’s body was publicly dissected for the sake of science and then mummified. Nobody really knows what his exact motivation for that was. His will envisions his friends having regular social gatherings with the corpse. Eventually though, the body ended up in the possession of University College London, where it remains on display today.

***Marcus Tullius Cicero devoted his life to preserving the republican institutions of Ancient Rome. Naturally, this made him numerous enemies among those wanting to destroy Rome’s traditional institutions and seize power for themselves. Following the assassination of the dictator Julius Caesar, Rome was in total chaos, divided by numerous factions fighting for control. Mark Antony hoped to position himself as Caesar’s successor. Cicero of course wanted a return to the good old days, when Rome was ruled by wise and selfless men. In the Roman Senate he delivered a series of speeches denouncing Mark Antony and calling for a return to Rome’s old traditions. Antony was so outraged that he ordered Cicero to be murdered. He gave special instructions to the assassins to cut off Cicero’s head and hands. The body parts were then nailed to the speaker’s podium in the Senate, as a macabre warning to all Antony’s enemies.

***Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, portraying the author’s fictional journey through hell, purgatory, and heaven, was recognized as a masterpiece almost immediately. Its influence on later Italian literature was so immense that Dante has been called the Father of the Italian language. So it’s only natural that his hometown of Florence would treasure the remains of the great poet. There was only one problem. Italy in those days was a pretty nasty and chaotic place, and Dante had been exiled by the Florentine government. He was in Ravenna in 1321 when he died, and was buried there. Florence’s leaders had second thoughts soon after and wanted Dante to come home. In 1519 the Florentines sent a delegation with papal permission to take the body home. But after digging him up, they found Dante’s coffin was empty. The friars at Ravenna had cleverly hidden his bones in their monastery. The delegation went home empty handed. In 1781 a mausoleum in Ravenna was built to publicly honor the dead poet, where his body remains today. But the city of Florence still hasn’t given up. In the Basilica of Florence there is an empty tomb that patiently awaits Dante’s final homecoming.

***Albert Einstein is universally acknowledged to be one of the most towering scientific minds of all time. It’s not surprising then, that people would want to figure out exactly how his magnificent brain worked. After he died in 1955, his brain was taken out, sliced up, and distributed among scientists to study. Sounds creepy, right? To make matters worse, it’s not entirely clear that anyone named Einstein wanted this to happen. The ambitious doctor who performed the autopsy took the brain out before telling the family. Nevertheless, Einstein’s son consented to the idea after some initial anger. Numerous scientific papers have since been written about the alleged peculiarities of Einstein’s brain. But other scientists insist that every human brain is in some ways unique, and what caused Einstein’s genius is probably unknowable. As with most issues in science, the debate is likely to continue.

***Gene Roddenberry’s life was an adventure by any definition. After flying B-17 bombers during World War II, he became a Hollywood screenwriter and created Star Trek, one of the most successful media franchises of all time. But one ambition always eluded him. He never personally made it to the starry sky above that he dreamed and wrote about. That is, he never made it while he was alive. He finally got the chance in 1992 when a portion of his ashes flew aboard the space shuttle Columbia and then returned to earth. 5 years later another portion of Roddenberry’s remains was launched into earth orbit by a private company. However, by 2002, that spacecraft came crashing back to earth and disintegrated upon reentry.

***Whilst mystical, the Catholic Church is also a human institution, and thus is affected by the ambitions and even the madness of human beings. One 9th century pope, Formosus, could not even escape the political controversies of the day after he was dead. It all started when Formosus was still a cardinal under Pope John VIII. Formosus and John were on opposite sides of a dynastic struggle, so John had him excommunicated on various trumped-up charges. After John’s death his successor Marinus restored Formosus to his previous position. A few years later, Formosus himself became pope. Unfortunately for him, the political enemies made before and during his papacy didn’t give up after Formosus died. His successor, Stephen VI, literally dug up his corpse and metaphorically dug up the old accusations against him. The body of Formosus, dressed in his papal vestments, was put on trial. Stephen found the “defendant” guilty, and declared his entire papacy retroactively void. Formosus’s vestments were torn off and his body thrown into the Tiber River. Subsequent popes alternated between condemning or supporting Stephen’s bizarre actions, and the chaos continued.

***Christopher Columbus died in Valladolid, Spain in the Old World. His wish was to be buried in the New World, but there were no churches considered suitable to house his remains. When the Cathedral of Santo Domingo (in Spain’s Caribbean Empire) was complete, Columbus was moved there. But when Spain lost control of Santo Domingo in 1795, he was moved to another part of the Spanish Caribbean, Havana, Cuba. About a century later, Spain lost Cuba as well, and Columbus was moved back across the Atlantic. Today he rests in the Cathedral of Seville, Spain. Or does he? The story gets more complicated in 1877, when workers in the Santo Domingo cathedral found a lead box filled with human bones. The box was labeled with Columbus’s name in Spanish. Subsequent DNA testing has confirmed the remains in Seville are of Christopher Columbus, but it’s entirely possible that part of the body was left in Santo Domingo. It would be fitting if Christopher Columbus had two graves, one in the Old World and one in the New.

***Nearly three centuries after Columbus, a British explorer named James Cook was sent by his government to explore the unknown. He mapped huge areas of the world that had previously been shrouded in mystery. But his voyages ended in gruesome fashion in Hawaii. Relations between the British and the native Hawaiians were good at first. They believed Cook and his men were gods…until one of them died. Relations quickly soured after that. The Hawaiians stole one of his boats. Then, a battle erupted on the beach and Captain Cook was brutally beaten and stabbed to death. Nevertheless, the Hawaiians were still in awe of the man they had just killed. They cooked his body to remove the flesh, believing that a man’s power lay in the bones. After about a week, Captain Cook’s skeleton was returned to his crew, who buried it at sea. But, there have been strange rumors that some of his bones were kept in Hawaii, treasured as sacred relics by the natives of the island and perhaps even used to make weapons.

BREAK=====

Up next on Weird Darkness…
Mrs. Elizabeth G. Wharton was a pillar of society in Baltimore, Maryland in the late 1800s. That is, until she was accused of murdering General William Scott Ketchum. (The Baltimore Borgia)
For every legitimate and fascinating find by geologists, there seems to be a fraudulent find somewhere else trying to fool the masses. This has been a problem since geology became a thing – and one of the most fascinating of these true tales is the one about Baringer’s Lying Stones. (The Lying Stones)
These stories and more coming up.

<COMMERCIAL BREAK>

STORY: THE BALTIMORE BORGIA=====

Mrs. Elizabeth G. Wharton, widow of Major Henry W. Watson, was a pillar of Baltimore society in 1871. She owned a large house on Hamilton Place, where she lived with her daughter Nellie and two domestic servants. She was active in the Episcopal Church and other charitable organizations and moved in the most highly respectable, wealthy, and influential circles.

She was planning a trip to Europe in July 1871, and that June, Mrs. Wharton entertained several houseguests. On June 23, General William Scott Ketchum, an associate of her late husband and a longtime family friend, arrived at her house intending to stay a few days. The following day, the general was taken sick and was attended by Dr. P.C. Williams.

As General Ketchum lay ill, Mr. Eugene Van Ness, Mrs. Wharton’s friend and financial advisor, called to spend the evening. She served him a glass of beer, which she said contained a few drops of gentian, a strong tonic to aid digestion. Soon after, Mr. Van Ness became violently ill and had to remain in her house. His physician, Dr. Chew, was summoned to his bedside.

General Ketchum died on June 28, and his sudden death along with the unexpected illness of Mr. Van Ness raised suspicions of foul play. Ketchum’s friends had his remains removed to Washington, where Professor William Aiken of Maryland University analyzed the contents of his stomach. Dr. Aiken reported that General Ketchum’s stomach contained twenty grains of tartar emetic, a toxic compound—fifteen grains are sufficient to cause death. The police determined that Mrs. Wharton had purchased sixty grains of tartar emetic on June 26.

Unaware that General Ketchum has died, Eugene Van Ness was still bedridden at Mrs. Wharton’s home. His doctor prescribed a milk punch which Mrs. Wharton prepared. His wife became suspicious, and before Van Ness could drink the punch, she poured it out and found white sediment in the glass. She had it analyzed and found it was tartar emetic as well.

A warrant was issued against Mrs. Wharton for the murder of General Ketchum and the attempted murder of Mr. Van Ness. Deputy Marshal Jacob Frey managed to catch Mrs. Wharton before she left for Europe, and he put Elizabeth and Nellie Wharton along with their two servants under house arrest. At first, it was believed that the servants were responsible, but on July 15, the Grand Jury indicted Elizabeth Wharton, and she was held in jail without bail.

Mrs. Wharton owed General Ketchum $2,600, and between his death and the time of her arrest, she visited his son and tried to convince him that the debt had been paid and that Ketchum was holding government bonds of hers worth $4,000. Her financial situation was considered to be the motive of the murder.

Others, however, believed that Mrs. Wharton was affected with “poisoning mania” because four people had previously died mysteriously in her household. Her husband and son, both heavily insured, had died several years earlier; her son was exhumed, but no poison was found in his body. Her sister-in-law, Mrs. J. G. Wharton, alleged that her husband and son had been poisoned by Mrs. Wharton. She believed that Elizabeth Wharton had murdered her husband—Elizabeth’s brother—because of a $2,500 debt.

Mrs. Wharton’s attorneys asserted that she could not get a fair trial in Baltimore and were granted a change of venue. On December 4, 1871, the trial of Elizabeth Wharton for the murder of General William Scott Ketchum opened to a packed courtroom in Annapolis, Maryland. Eighty-nine witnesses were subpoenaed to testify for the prosecution or defense; the majority of these were physicians and chemists who would give expert testimony.

The defense challenged the assertion that the substance in General Ketchum’s stomach was correctly identified and proposed that he may have died from a natural cause, such as cholera morbus or spinal meningitis. The technical testimony on both sides continued for weeks, and more than one newspaper commented on how tedious the trial became. At the trial’s end, the Baltimore Sun said, “Her trial has occupied forty-two days, in which time theories of chemistry and medicine have been exhausted, as well as the law and the practitioners of all three of these learned professions.”

The case was given to the jury on January 24, 1872, and they deliberated throughout the night. At one, they appeared deadlocked at four for conviction and eight for acquittal, but by 10:00 the next morning, they were in agreement and returned a verdict of not guilty.

Mrs. Wharton was acquitted of the murder of General Ketcham, but she was not yet free. The prosecution intended to try her for the attempted murder of Eugene Van Ness and released her on $5,000 bail until the trial the following April.

The Van Ness trial was continued several times and was not held until January 1873. It lasted nearly a month but did not generate the same excitement as her first trial.  The jury deliberated from January 31 to February 3 before announcing they were hopelessly deadlocked. The trial ended in a hung jury.

In April, the prosecution announced that they would stet the cases, meaning that it was not closed, but they would not pursue it at that time. Mrs. Wharton was never retried.

STORY: THE LYING STONES=====

Throughout history there have been mysterious things found in the ground. From inexplicable archeological oddities to impossible fossils and other anomalies, there have been many tales of amazing discoveries along these lines. However, there have also been those waiting on the periphery to fake such findings, and at times this has gotten out of hand to ruin reputations and muddy the waters on what is real or not.

Back in his day, Johann Bartholomew Adam Beringer was considered a genius, at the top of his field and well-respected in the academic community. Born in 1667, from a young age he showed an amazing talent in the sciences, quickly excelling at school to earn his doctorate in medicine at the University of Würzburg, in Würzburg, Germany in 1693, and going on to be appointed as a professor at the university just a year after that. He would then go on to hold prominent positions including chief physician to the Julian Hospital and Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the University, as well as the keeper of the botanical garden, which was a huge deal at the time considering that medicine in that era was heavily dependent on botanical knowledge; many medicines based on plant products. He also had many well-respected members of the social elite as patients, including serving as an advisor and Chief Physician to the Prince Bishop of Wurzburg. Throughout his meteoric rise through the ranks of medicine and academia, Beringer pursued other studies of the natural world, including the study of what was called oryctics, meaning “things dug from the earth,” and “petrifactions,” which we would know today as fossils and ancient buried artifacts, and this was the area in which he would become best known, although not in a good way.

In 1725, Beringer was actively looking for strange or unusual rocks and fossils at the nearby Mount Eibelstadt, and to do this he had hired three local teens by the names of Christian Zänger, and brothers, Niklaus and Valentin Hehn. The boys would go out and dig around on the mountain, bringing back any interesting rocks they could find. For the most part this were just odd rocks and curiosities, which Beringer would inspect and put into his collection without much fanfare, but on May 31, 1725, the boys would bring back something truly remarkable. On this day they presented Beringer with one stone shaped like what looked to be a gleaming sun, and two stones that bore engravings that looked like worms. Beringer was in shock, as this was an incredible find the likes of which he had never seen before, and so he told the boys to go out and see if they could find more of these bizarre stones. He would not be disappointed.

Over the next several weeks, the boys brought in more of the anomalous stones, which came in all shapes and sizes, including creatures such as birds, lizards, spiders, as well as less definable beasts that weren’t known to exist, as well as celestial objects like suns, moons, and comets. Even more astounding was that some of the stones were inscribed with the Hebrew name of God in Latin, Arabic, and Hebrew characters. The excited Beringer came up with a theory as to what the meaning of this groundbreaking discovery might be, finally coming to the conclusion that these stones had been carved by none other than God himself, calling them “capricious fabrications of God,” and surmising that their origins were divine, a sort of first draft for life on earth during His creation of the earth. To us today, this seems like a pretty big leap to make, but at the time there wasn’t a lot of scientific agreement on what fossils even actually were or what produced them, and creationism was still the main belief of society, so Beringer believed that this would be a groundbreaking theory that would absolutely blow everyone’s minds. He got one of his graduate students, a Georg Ludwig Hueber, to help him start writing a book on the findings titled Lithographiae Wirceburgensis, or “Würzburg Lithography,” which would include Beringer’s theories on the stones and hundreds of illustrations and engravings. Unfortunately, although he didn’t know it yet, Beringer was being had.

A professor of geography at the university by the name of J. Ignatz Roderick and the university librarian Johann Georg von Eckhart, had been jealously watching Beringer’s rise to fame and glory for a long time, and considered him to be an insufferable, arrogant know-it-all whom they despised. In order to put him in his place, they had concocted a bit of a prank, in which they had created various bizarre shapes in pieces of limestone and placed them on the mountain to be found, in the end planting nearly 2,000 of the carved stones in and around Mount Eibelstadt. After that, they had brought one of Beringer’s young assistants in on it, who led the other boys to the “fossils” on the mountain. In order to keep the ruse as secret as possible, only one of the boys knew about the hoax, there were real fossils mixed in with the fake ones to throw off the scent of a hoax, and it had all gone perfectly to plan. Indeed, it had gone too perfectly.

As Beringer worked on his Lithographiae Wirceburgensis, Roderick and Ekhart started to think that perhaps their prank had gone a bit too far. They had wanted to show Beringer some humility and put him in his place, but not necessarily completely destroy his entire career and reputation, which they were certain would happen if he were to go through with publishing the book. They felt so bad about the impending train wreck, in fact, that they tried to suggest to Beringer that he was being duped and that he should not publish, but Beringer would have none of it. To him, Roderick and Ekhart were merely jealous of his amazing discovery and were trying to derail his book, saying “our idiomorphic stones are not the handwrought products or fraudulent recent artistry, as some persons have shamelessly pretended.” Beringer rather ironically was convinced that the two hoaxers were jealously trying to delegitimize his book and discredit his work, when in fact they were trying to save him, and he was so confident that he was right that he went through with publishing what would ultimately prove to be the downfall of his career.

Shortly after publication, it soon became clear after much criticism of the findings that indeed he had been pranked. Beringer realized this and went about collecting as many copies of the book as he could so that they might be destroyed, something he would spend years doing. He also brought the hoaxers Roderick and Eckhart to court in an effort to clear his name over what were now being called the Lügensteine, or “lying stones.” Although the whole fiasco didn’t really completely obliterate his career, it definitely tarnished Beringer’s credibility and reputation. He would publish more books and papers, but was never taken quite so seriously ever again and was a bit of a laughing stock for the remainder of his life. Roderick and Eckhart perhaps came out of it even worse, losing their positions at the university and being outcast from the academic community. To add insult to injury, after years of trying to recall copies of the book and erase it from the face of the earth, even in death Beringer would not be able to escape the shadow of his misstep, with a second printing of Lithographiae Wirceburgensis appearing in 1767 and an English translation in 1963, both of which no doubt had him rolling over in his grave. It is in the end a very curious case of an archeological hoax that went to far, which haunt us to this day, and an interesting historical oddity that shows that even scientists in high positions can be duped from time to time.

BREAK=====

Coming up… a would-be geisha murders her lover… but the events leading up to and during the death make for a fascinatingly dark story. (The Murderess Geisha)
But first – it’s hard to believe that human sacrifice has ever been a reality in any point in history – but what if you were to learn that evidence of it showed up in London, England… in 2001? (Torso In The River)
These stories and more when Weird Darkness returns!

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STORY: TORSO IN THE RIVER=====

It was 4pm on the 21st September 2001.

Under the bright lights of the famous Globe Theatre where Shakespeare produced some of his most gruesome and bloodiest plays, life would exceed the absurdities of drama — a mutilated torso had washed up from the river covered in a red cloth. Police investigators would discover it was a child’s torso (they named him Adam) and the ethnic origins were sub-Saharan African.

Police initially linked the remains to a religious sacrifice and the African mythology of Muti-based ritualism.

Muti reflects the idea of South African ritual killings for a kind of pseudo-scientific medicinal purposes. However; this would send the Metropolitan Police of London on a bit of a wild goose chase where they investigated heavily in South Africa and even had the help of Nelson Mandela; who made an international appeal for information. Gaining Mandela’s help was a major coup for the Met Police but may have covered up the embarrassment of being 1000s of miles out geographically.

It wasn’t until further forensics carried out that the Met could link Adam specifically to West Africa, as opposed to the initial belief that Adam was from Southern Africa. This was as a result of the poison found within Adam’s intestines. Trace minerals identified that Adam may have come from an area near Benin (not the country but the region in Nigeria also called Benin). The forensics were remarkably specific in identifying Adam’s birthplace.

Adam was poisoned and paralysed before his murder with his blood drained of blood and the specific plant extracts found were Nigerian in origin. In sacrificing Adam’s throat was slit, his blood was drained and his head and limbs were removed. Remember that we are talking about a boy no older than 7 years old here.

The stomach contents found within Adam indicated that he had only been in the UK a few days — and it was believed that Adam had been trafficked from Africa to Germany and then to the UK; where he was murdered in what may have been in an extremely painful and gratuitous manner.

The main purpose in the mutilation of Adam is to harvest parts for medicine in Muti related murders however there may be a spiritual sacrifice to the Juju entities also involved. In any event, the discovery of Adam lifted the lid on related Muti sacrifices which had occurred across Europe in the early 2000s.

In the aftermath of the Torso case Kingsley Ojo was arrested for human trafficking. Kingsley to this day denies any involvement in the Adam case however he was named under the alias as “Bawa” as the man that shipped, for lack of a better word, Adam from his care-giver Joyce Osagiede, from Germany to the UK — where his remains were later found.

In 2004 Kingsley (then 35) was charged with bringing false papers into Britain, using a forged driving licence and heading a substantial network of bringing children to the UK to work as slaves or prostitutes. However; according to Scotland Yard they do not believe he killed Adam — but it seems he holds the key to whoever may have been involved. It is now believe that Kingsley is in Nigeria after being deported from the UK.

A further interesting point is that within the domicile of Kingsley, found in a plastic bag was a mixture of bone, sand and flecks of gold similar to what was found in Adam’s stomach. They also found a snuff film, however, it was a shared accommodation and Kingsley denied owning either the concoction of gold and body parts or the snuff film and there was not enough evidence to charge Kingsley directly with the discovered torso or the murder of Adam.

Joyce is an interesting case as she was the carer for a boy named Patrick Erhabor (possible surname of Oghoho) and she may hold the most information with regards to Adam. A tip-off and raid of her flat in Glasgow led to police finding a pair of Orange shorts similar to the cloth that was wrapped around the discovered torso. Joyce was also deported back to Nigeria and huge questions remain regarding her mental state. If she was the caregiver of Patrick who emerged to be Adam in the Thames, then people in future may want to steer clear of living their children with this incompetent moron.

While living in Nigeria, Joyce and Kingsley have refused co-operation on the case and have denied direct involvement in the torture, murder or ritualism of Patrick or Adam.

Although it is believed that the Torso was belonging to that of Patrick Erhabor and investigators from the BBC even tracked down witnesses in Hamburg who were familiar with the young boy; there is no definite proof or conclusion to this case and there is nothing to conclusively determine that Adam is Patrick Erhabor.

The word Juju is ominous around many African communities and the idea of human sacrifices in sociological history is a long and painful one and thankfully, is something that is totally archaic and repugnant to modern humanity. Ultimately despite the mystery and intrigue of the case what we should not forget is that a young child suffered needlessly and that there was a spate of related sacrifices in the UK AND “witchcraft” related murders of young children with links to African superstition.

The Adam case was around the time of Victoria Climbié — a young girl that was beaten to death by her caregivers as they believed she was possessed by witchcraft. In prosecuting those responsible for the death of Adam; there should be a clear and harsh message that religious beliefs do not supersede the law and human decency. It is a tragedy that nobody has yet been convicted or identified to be behind the murder and that Adam’s death may have been in vain. The story is a truly devastating one.

For now the case remains frozen solid and there have been no further developments mentioned since 2013. I fear this matter will remain closed as all of the potential suspects have scarpered to Africa or that the evidence to arrest anyone is flimsy at best.

STORY: THE MURDERESS GEISHA=====

On May 18, 1936, Sada Abe strangled her lover, Kichizo Ishida, to death. After laying with the body for several hours, she took a kitchen knife and severed his genitals. Wrapping them in a magazine cover, she used his blood to write Sada, Kichi Futari-kiri (“Sada, Kichi together”) on his left thigh and on a bed sheet. She then carved her name on his left arm, got dressed, and walked out of the room in the Tokyo inn where they had been staying. Sada instructed the staff not to disturb Ishida and left the inn.  Shortly afterward, she went to see a politically prominent former lover, Goro Amiya, and apologized to him repeatedly. He had no idea what she was talking about but she was well aware that his political career was about to be ruined by the adverse publicity surrounding her involvement with him.

She was right.

Born to a well-off Tokyo family in 1905, Sada Abe (or Abe Sada depending on the naming tradition used) was doted on by her mother who encouraged her to be free-spirited and independent. At the age of fifteen, she was raped by an acquaintance. While her parents supported her through the investigation that followed, Sada was never the same afterward.

As she became more uncontrollable, her father sold her to a geisha house in Yokohama although family members would later disagree as to why. While Sada later maintained that she was punished for her promiscuous behaviour, her sister would state that she had been perfectly willing. Becoming an accomplished geisha was a mark of distinction for Japanese women of the time and Sada had often expressed her wish to pursue this lifestyle.  Still, whatever Sada believed about the glamorous life of a geisha, the reality was very different.

After contracting syphilis from a client, she turned to prostitution and began working in Osaka’s brothel district. Being a licensed prostitute posed more problems than she was prepared to deal with and she eventually drifted towards unlicensed prostitution (with all the usual dangers). After both her parents died, she became even more unrestrained. A raid on the brothel where she was working in 1934 led to her becoming the mistress of a well-connected friend of the brothel owner. A string of other lovers followed as she tried to get out of prostitution entirely. In 1936, Sada became an apprentice in a restaurant while trying to start a new life. This was how she met Kichizo Ishida.

Despite being the owner of the Yoshidaya restaurant where Sada worked, it was really Ishida’s wife who ran the business. The 42-year old Ishida was a frequent womanizer who was bored with his marriage and it didn’t take long from him to notice his free-spirited apprentice. Sada in turn, despite already being involved with Goro Omiya at the time, didn’t hesitate when the handsome Ishida approached her (she would later say that “I never met such a sexy man”). Their lovemaking bouts were legendary and often lasted for days. Whatever Ishida’s plans, Sada found herself falling in love with him (possibly for the first time in her life). Just being his mistress wasn’t enough for her, she wanted to be his wife and the idea of sharing him another woman infuriated her.

Sada grew more despondent as Ishida lost interest and she began drinking heavily. Inspired by a play that she had seen featuring a geisha threatening a lover with a knife, Sada bought a large kitchen knife and threatened Ishida with it at their next meeting.  Ishida was amused by her threats and took her off to an inn in the Ogu red light district for their next lovemaking marathon. What happened next is mainly based on Sada’s testimony. After two days of lovemaking, she took the obi off her kimono and began strangling him. He found the erotic asphyxia enjoyable and told he to do it while he was sleeping. On the morning of May 18th, she strangled him to death (whether intentionally or not is open to debate) and would later say that she felt a “sense of clarity” on realizing that he was dead. After cutting off her lover’s genitals, she put on his underwear and left the inn at 8:00 am. The mutilated body was found by a maid some time later and the hunt for Sada Abe began.

There was a nationwide panic due to lurid media accounts describing the deranged Sada being at large. Reported sightings came in from all over Japan. Goro Omiya got swept up in the media frenzy thus dooming his promising political career. As for Sada herself, she never left Osaka and managed to check into a local inn under an assumed name.  It was while she was reportedly making plans to commit suicide that police got a tip on her location.   On May 20, police came to her hotel room and she gave up immediately. Ishida’s severed genitals, still wrapped in a magazine cover, were found in her handbag.

News of Sada’s capture was reported nationwide and even announced in Japan’s National Diet. Given the political upheavals of the time, the bizarre sex scandal made for a welcome diversion and the public ate up every detail of the testimony that she provided during her interrogation.  Meanwhile, police continued interrogating Sada Abe to get some sense of why she had killed Ishida and severed her genitals.   In the statement she made, Sada said of  Ishida that “I loved him so much, I wanted him all to myself. But since we were not husband and wife, as long as he lived he could be embraced by other women. I knew that if I killed him no other woman could ever touch him again, so I killed him…..”  Asked why she cut off his genitals, she replied “”Because I couldn’t take his head or body with me. I wanted to take the part of him that brought back to me the most vivid memories.”

Not surprisingly, the public was fascinated with the case, both within Japan and beyond. While murders due to jealousy were hardly uncommon, the strange story of the geisha-turned-harlot who killed out of love mesmerized Japanese society (and you thought the Lorena Bobbitt case was memorable).   Her trial began on November 25th, 1936 and crowds gathered for hours before the courthouse even opened to catch a glimpse of her (she wore a bizarre conical hat when entering and leaving the courtroom to hide her face). Eager reporters relayed as much of her sensational testimony as government censors allowed (even one of the three judges who tried her case later admitted to being sexually aroused by the explicit details). Considering the conservative nature of Japanese society at the time, Sada’s testimony, which became a bestseller afterward, was explosive. One leading newspaper described the fascination with the case as “Sada mania” and many of the young women who watched the case were called “Sada fans”.

The media furor didn’t focus on Sada alone.  Goro Omiya had been investigated by the police for his possible involvement in the murder but was finally released. He resigned from his political and academic posts and disappeared from public view.  Kichizo Ishida’s wife was devastated by her husband’s death (although she could hardly have been unaware of his womanizing) but managed to keep the restaurant going.  Ironically, the Yoshidaya restaurant flourished thanks to the publicity of the case. Even the inn where the murder had taken place attracted eager customers (many couples specifically asked for the room where Ishida had died).

Any hope for a lengthy trial was squashed when Sada Abe simply pleaded guilty to the charges against her. Despite her plea, numerous witnesses were called (including Sada’s sister) and Ishida’s severed genitals were presented as evidence.  There was no question of the verdict, only the sentence that she would receive. Sada had been hoping for the death penalty so that she could join Ishida while the prosecution asked for a ten-year sentence.  That she was only sentenced to six years came as a surprise to everyone in the courtroom. In handing down the sentence, the judge explained his decision by stressing the role that Ishida had played in the events leading up to his death. He also discussed Sada’s mental state at the time since, despite Sada’s objections, her lawyer insisted that she had been insane at the time of the murder. The judge concluded that the sentence would be enough time for Sada to rehabilitate herself in prison and start a new life upon release. Since she never committed another crime, he was probably right.

Sada’s time in prison would represent the most stable period of her life. She would later describe the prison staff as “loving and caring people” and actually felt herself part of a community. Despite setbacks (especially on the first anniversary of Ishida’s death), she was able to function and even studied Buddhist philosophy while in prison. Due to her being a model prisoner, her sentence was later commuted and she was released on November 10, 1940. Unfortunately, her notoriety kept her in the public eye for the rest of her life.

Even living under an alias, Sada found that public fascination with her case made starting a new life impossible. Since she left prison without any real income, she lived with her sister and brother-in-law for a time but wartime rationing forced her to support herself. Under the name “Yoshii Masako” she went to work as a maid but was fired when her employers learned her true identity. A “serious man” then asked her to become his mistress and she reluctantly accepted. This relationship ended after several years when his family learned who she really was.

Although Sada realized that her name had become “poisonous” and was distressed that the public thought of her as a “sex pervert”, this would change over time as postwar attitudes concerning sexuality became more liberalized. Still, there were few occupations that were open to her as a notorious woman living alone and the stigma of her past continued to haunt her. She sued the author of a scandalous book based on supposed interviews with her (this was settled out of court) and even published her own autobiography in 1948. After years of living in semi-anonymity and working in pubs and restaurants, Sada finally managed to drop out of sight. Last seen in 1970, nothing else is known about her life . Occasional later rumours of her committing suicide or entering a convent sprang up but nothing was ever confirmed and there is no known death date  (though flowers continued to be left on Kichizo Ishida’s grave until 1987).

Despite her disappearance, the fascination with Sada’s case never really ended. Her life has been the subject of non-fiction books, novels, psychoanalytic essays, and movies. The 1976 erotic classic, The Realm of the Senses is probably the best-known of the three films made about her life. The film’s explicit sex scenes (and its gruesome ending) caused it to be banned or censored in countries around the world but it introduced viewers to a bizarre case that is still largely unknown outside of Japan. Whether Sada Abe is a feminist icon or a notorious murderer (and she has been described as both), her case represents an important test of the changing sexual mores of Japanese culture. Whatever her final fate, Sada Abe will be remembered.

BREAK=====

Coming up on Weird Darkness… a strange, ape-like creature with glowing eyes in England might really be, as some believe, a specter of the night. That story is up next.
<COMMERCIAL BREAK>

STORY: MAN-MONKEY OF THE NIGHT=====

It is a dark, cold, and wind-swept night in early 1879. The location: the fringes of a centuries-old little village in central England. A man is crossing a large, stone bridge that spans an ancient canal. His only company on that night is a faithful horse, which is dutifully pulling behind it a battered, aged, wooden cart. After a busy day spent moving furniture, the man is tired, hungry and thirsty. He decides to make a welcome stop at the village’s pleasant inn, for a pint or two of beer and a hot meal. Unfortunately, and before he can do so, fate intervenes. And it does so in just about the most traumatic and horrific way possible. The man is barely halfway across the bridge when, suddenly, out of the thick bushes and trees that surround the bridge, and which dominate the canal, a large, chimpanzee-like beast – sporting wild, glowing eyes – leaps out of the darkness and charges in his direction. For a moment, he is paralyzed to the spot; gripped by overwhelming cold fear. At the very last moment, however, the infernal monster swerves to one side and makes a mighty leap aboard the cart, terrifying the poor horse in the process.

The crazed, shaggy, man-monster stands tall and imposing, its legs spread wide and its arms waving towards the heavens in wild fashion. The man quickly gathers his wits, grabs the horse’s whip and proceed to beat the beast to a pulp. At least, that is what he tries to do. To his eternal terror, the whip passes right through the body of the ape-like thing that is raging before him. In his state of near-hysteria the man can only conclude that he missed the animal, so he strikes it again. Once more, the whip has absolutely no effect – other than to demonstrate that the monster is one of spectral, rather than flesh-and-blood, proportions. Before he can decide what to do next, the monster leaps off the cart, and races towards an old, dusty path that leads down to the shadowy canal below. In seconds, it is out of sight.

The man takes a deep breath and calms his fraught horse. And he carefully scans the area. Thankfully, the monster does not return. At least, not tonight it doesn’t. He has just had an encounter with a highly dangerous monster that is destined to quickly become known as the Man-Monkey. It’s time to calm those fraught nerves, and to share the traumatic experience with a few friends, over a couple of flagons of old English ale. The story I have just told is not one of fiction. In fact, far from it: it is all too terrifyingly real. The date was January 21, 1879. The location was Bridge 39, which spans the centuries-old Shropshire Union Canal. The village was Ranton – situated in the English county of Staffordshire – an ancient hamlet which dates back approximately 1,000 years. And the pub, in which the scared-witless soul told his story to an audience of frightened locals, was the 17th century-era Hand & Cleaver Inn. Since that fateful night, more than two dozen reports have been made of this strange and sinister creature – which can best be described as something akin to a spectral, ghostly Bigfoot.

Since that fateful night, more than two dozen reports have been made of this strange and sinister creature – which can best be described as something akin to a spectral, ghostly Bigfoot. The first person to ever investigate the saga of the Man-Monkey was a 19th century writer named Charlotte Burne. She was a woman with a deep passion for, and an extensive knowledge of, Staffordshire history and legend. She quickly paid Ranton a visit. In doing so, she soon gained the confidence of the people of the village, and even spoke with the local police about the macabre mystery. It was the latter conversation that led to something notable. The village’s solitary police constable confided in Burne that sightings of the Man-Monkey had begun just three weeks earlier. Not only that, the encounters kicked off just two days after a local man drowned in the canal – and only around fifty feet from where the large bridge continues to stand to this very day, and barely a stone’s throw from the darkness where the Man-Monkey first emerged. It’s intriguing to note that, at the time, there was a belief in the area that people who died in violent fashions were destined to return in the forms of monstrous beasts. More than a few of the village folk in the area believed such a scenario.

SHOW CLOSE=====

Thanks for listening. If you like the show, please share it with someone you know who loves the paranormal or strange stories, true crime, monsters, or unsolved mysteries like you do! And please leave a rating and review of the show in the podcast app you listen from – 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.
“Man-Monkey Of The Night” by Nick Redfern for MysteriousUniverse.com
“Done By The Dead” by Kyle D. Walter for ListVerse.com
“America’s Ghost Camels” by Kathy Weiser-Alexander for LegendsOfAmerica.com
“The Baltimore Borgia” by Robert Wilhelm for MurderByGaslight.com
“Torso In The River” by Richard Hoskins for MysteryConfidential.com
“The Murderess Geisha” by Dr. Romeo Vitelli for Providentia
“The Lying Stones” by Brent Swancer for MysteriousUniverse.com
Again, you can find link to all of these stories in the show notes.
WeirdDarkness™ – is a production and trademark of Marlar House Productions. Copyright, Weird Darkness.
Now that we’re coming out of the dark, I’ll leave you with a little light… “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” – Luke 6:27-28
And a final thought… “Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” – Robert Brault
I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me in the Weird Darkness.

 

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