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IN THIS EPISODE: (Dark Archives episode with stories from September 04-05, 2018) *** Barbara Forrest and Mary Ashford lived in different centuries, but they died in chillingly similar ways. (The Erdington Murders) *** At more than 1,000 miles from civilization in all directions, Point Nemo is unlike any other place in the world – and in very strange ways. (Eerie Facts About Point Nemo) *** Is it possible to anger a ghost to the point they’ll follow you home to taunt you? (The Green Man) *** In 1921, the term “one-way ride” came into existence – after a man named Stevie was “disappeared” thanks to the Chicago Mob. (The One Way Ride) *** Was the woman found dead in a wych elm tree in wartime England a Nazi spy? (The Hagley Woods Mystery) *** Young Marthe was a troubled young girl already, but her life took a dark, evil turn when she became possessed by a demon. But the strangest part of her story isn’t the possession – but the exorcism. (The Exorcism of Martha Brossier) *** The crew of 309 aboard the USS Cyclops disappeared without a trace – and now, 100 years later, we’re still left with more questions than answers. (The Bermuda Triangle Vanishing of the USS Cyclops) *** Mickey was arrested and charged with slicing the throat of one of his best friends, and he had good reason. After all, his friend owed him thirty-five dollars. (The Confessions of Mickey Sliney) *** A grandfather tells his grandson about the time he lived in a haunted house. (A Strange Haunted Incident in Lincolnshire) *** Wander around one particular U.S. park and you may come across a soldier who lost his head to a cannonball. (The Legend Of Green Eyes) *** Strange dreams happen to us all – but what does it mean if you dream about spiders? (8-Legged Nightmares) *** Police respond to a 9-1-1 call, but they arrive a few years too late. (Ghost 911 Call) *** Vegetable Men, Space Fairies… how bizarre can alien encounters get? (Truly Bizarre Alien Encounters)
MENTIONED LINKS, EPISODES AND EVENTS…
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STORY AND MUSIC CREDITS/SOURCES…
(Note: Over time links can and may become invalid, disappear, or have different content.)
“Eerie Facts About Point Nemo” by Gina Dimuro: https://tinyurl.com/yc258yf8
“The Exorcism of Marthe Brossier” by Mark Oliver: https://tinyurl.com/rlvzjpy
“The Erdington Murders”: https://tinyurl.com/vyocutf
“The Green Man”: https://tinyurl.com/sper8ua
“The One Way Ride” by Troy Taylor: https://tinyurl.com/wsqod6d
“The Hagley Woods Mystery”: https://tinyurl.com/wtxqr7l
“The Bermuda Triangle Vanishing of the USS Cyclops” by Joel Stice: https://tinyurl.com/sksdgpc
“The Confessions of Mickey Sliney” by Robert Wilhelm: https://tinyurl.com/y8o6dehp
“The Legend of Green Eyes” by Kevin Cumming: https://tinyurl.com/wanmrm6
“8-Legged Nightmares”: https://tinyurl.com/vu72y9u
“A Strange Haunted Incident in Lincolnshire” by James: https://tinyurl.com/smff6z6
“Ghost 911 Call”: https://tinyurl.com/wcqlo9z
“Vegetable Men, Space Fairies, and Other Bizarre Aliens” by Brent Swancer: https://tinyurl.com/wu5k6b6
Background music provided by EpidemicSound and AudioBlocks with paid license. Music by Shadows Symphony (http://bit.ly/2W6N1xJ), Midnight Syndicate (http://amzn.to/2BYCoXZ), and Nicolas Gasparini/Myuu (http://bit.ly/2LykK0g) is also often used with permission from the artists.
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I always make sure to give authors credit for the material I use. If I somehow overlooked doing that for a story, or if a credit is incorrect, please let me know and I’ll rectify it the show notes as quickly as possible.
***WeirdDarkness™ – is a trademark and creation of of Marlar House Productions. Copyright © Marlar House Productions, 2019.
“I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” — John 12:46 *** How to escape eternal darkness: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IYmodFKDaM
Marthe Brossier was a celebrity in France in the 1590s. She was a woman possessed by demons and her family took “the act” on tour. They went from town-to-town showing off the Satanic entity that resided within their child’s soul, all before a packed crowd.
It was a thrilling show. Brossier’s eyes would roll back into her head, leaving nothing but vacant white spaces behind. Her tongue, as red as blood, would lash out like a snake’s, and she would convulse on the ground as a deep, demonic voice erupted from within her stomach.
It caught so much attention that King Henri IV himself ordered her exorcism. He had some of the highest priests in the country gather around her, sprinkling her with holy water and reciting scriptures in Latin while the demon in Brossier, tormented by the Holy Scriptures, screamed in agony and pain.
But what Brossier didn’t know was that her exorcism was a sham. The holy water was just ordinary water, and the Latin books the priests were reading were nothing more than an old poem by Virgil.
Marthe Brossier didn’t know her exorcism wasn’t the real thing. Her exorcism was a science experiment – the first time in history that a demonic possession was systematically put to the test . Brossier failed – and in the process, revealed some incredible things about the human mind.
Marthe Brossier was 20-years-old when the demons “possessed” her. She was already thought of as a bit of a strange bird – a woman who would sneak out of her house dressed as a man with, apparently, no interest whatsoever in getting married. To the villagers in her small town, it practically seemed a matter of course when a demonic voice started rising out of her.
Her neighbor, Anne Chevreau , was blamed for the witchcraft. She was an unmarried, middle-aged woman – by the standards of the time, the trademark profile of a witch – and whatever complaint Brossier put against her was convincing enough that Chevreau was thrown into jail.
But the Brossier family didn’t hide their demon child. They took her on the road, traveling from town to town showing her off, and letting everyone see the evil spirit that had taken hold of their girl.
To the Catholic Church, the demons in Brossier’s body were a godsend. The king of France, Henri IV, was on a campaign of tolerance toward the Huguenots, the local Protestants. To the Catholic Church, their rise was a threat – and in Brossier, they had proof had Protestants were in league with the devil.
The voice that spoke through her belly even while her mouth was closed called itself Beelzebub, and it called itself the “Prince of the Huguenots”.
Before, the demon had taken hold of a woman named Nicole Aubrey . The Church would tour her around letting the world hear her declare blasphemies against God in the Huguenots’ names, once saying: “I with my obstinate Huguenots will do [Christ] more evil than the Jews did!”
But Aubrey had been publicly exorcised, and the Church’s favorite demon had been lost. That was why Brossier seemed like a godsend. Once more, the Church had someone who could denounce the Protestants in a demon’s name.
A priest gave her formal certificate of genuine possession, and the Church joined their tours. In front of an awe-struck crowd they would publicly exorcise her – only to have Beelzebub climb back into her body for the joy of another crowd.
Michel Marescot, the personal physician to King Henri IV, was given the task of exposing her. On the king’s orders, Marthe Brossier was brought to the Abbey of St. Geneuesua, to be exorcised, under Marescot’s watch, by the Bishop of Paris himself.
Nearly as soon as Brossier kneeled down with the bishop to pray, the demon took hold of her. She fell onto her back, convulsing and breathing like a wild animal. Her eyes turned back in her head, her tongue flared out, and a dark, gravelly voice from within her stomach shouted vulgar, unprintable words.
The priests put a piece of wood in her mouth to keep her from swallowing her own tongue, then gathered around her, holding a piece of Jesus Christ’s true cross and reading Holy Scriptures to cast out the demon. When she saw the true cross, she began to writhe in pain on the floor, a dark voice within her screaming out blasphemies and death threats.
Marescot alone was not impressed. He wrote a short, simple note: “Nothing of the devil; many things counterfeited; and a few things of sickness.”
Marescot revealed he had switched out the priests’ tools. The piece of the true cross they had used, he explained, was nothing more than an ordinary piece of wood. The real true cross was in her mouth, being used a tongue depressor – and she hadn’t reacted to it at all.
The priests still weren’t convinced. They had seen Brossier do things no human being ought to be able to do. It wasn’t just the strange voice that called out from within her body – while lying on her back, she had leapt up into the air and flown back further than most men could jump standing up.
Denying what he’d seen, one of the priests warned Marescot, was blasphemy. The devil could very well carry him away.
Marescot was unimpressed. “I will take that hazard and peril upon me,” he shot back. “Let him carry me away if he can.”
It was the Archbishop of Lyon, Charles Miron, who found a way to prove Marescot right. Just switching out the piece of the true cross hadn’t been enough to convince his fellow priests, so Bishop Miron took it further. He switched out everything.
For several days, the priests gave Brossier nothing to drink but holy water, never letting on that the water she was drinking had been blessed by a priest. Then they filled a holy water vessel with ordinary water and sprinkled it on her, telling her it was sacred.
Brossier fell for the trap. She didn’t react at all throughout nearly a week of drinking holy water but screamed in agony when the ordinary water was sprinkled on her face.
Every part of Miron’s scheme worked. When he held up a piece of iron and pretend it was from Jesus’s Christ’s true cross, Brossier broke into convulsions. When he read her Virgil’s “Aeneid” in Latin, pretending it was the Bible, she threw herself onto the ground.
Marthe Brossier was a fraud.
For the first time in recorded history, a demonic possession had been exposed through a controlled experiment.
At the time, the story struck the people as a simple one. A woman had lied about a demon, and there was nothing more to it than a simple case of fraud.
There are clues, though, that there might have been something more going on that just a simple lie. And Anne Chevreau, the woman Brossier accused of witchcraft, certainly thought so. The Brossier she knew, she said when she got out of prison, wasn’t a fraud. She was just dangerously mentally ill.
It’s hard to say for sure if Chevreau was right – but Brossier definitely never admitted that she was faking. Even after she was exposed, she went on claiming to be possessed long after anyone deigned to pay her any attention for it.
If she wasn’t faking, it opens up some strange possibilities about the human mind.
Marthe Brossier was capable of seemingly supernatural things. She could do ventriloquists tricks, she could be pricked without feeling pain, and she could leap massive distances while lying on her back. She was performing incredible feats of strength – and if she didn’t think she was lying, these acts probably weren’t rehearsed.
Perhaps, in a way, Brossier really was possessed. But another sort of demon may have had a hold of her: a demon of her own mind.
One Sunday morning in April 1943, during the dark days of WW2, four teenage boys made a terrifying discovery that would baffle the police and remain a mystery for over 70 years.
The boys were searching for birds nests at Hagley Woods, a private estate near Birmingham in England’s Midlands. Climbing up an ancient old wych elm tree, 15-year-old Bob Farmer saw something truly terrible.
Looking down the hollowed out trunk, Farmer noticed a strange object staring back at him from the dark interior. The teenager was horrified when he realized it was a human skull.
A clump of hair hung off the remaining flesh on the forehead, and two crooked teeth gaped out of the mouth. After the boys had a good look at their horrific find, they put it back in the tree and left the woods.
They agreed amongst themselves not to tell anyone about their discovery. They were trespassing in the woods, poaching no less. If they told the police they could be in big trouble.
But one of the boys was so upset by what he saw he told his father and the police were soon called to the area. What they found inside the old tree trunk was bizarre.
The skeleton of a young woman, minus one of her hands. A piece of taffeta was stuffed in the skull’s mouth. Some scraps of clothes with the labels cut out, battered shoes and a gold ring were also found in the tree.
Nearby were the bones of the woman’s hand, scattered next to the tree. The police were troubled by the unusual circumstances of the woman’s death, were sinister forces at work in Hagley wood?
Pathologist James Webster was able to determine the victim had died around 18 months ago, was around 35 years of age with mousy coloured hair, was 5ft tall, had given birth in the past and had irregular teeth.
Webster could find no obvious injuries and concluded she had probably died as a result of the cloth stuffed down her throat. He also believed she had been placed in the tree shortly after death because the space was so tight inside she would not have fitted once rigor mortis had set in.
From Webster’s work, the police managed to create a detailed description of the woman. But nobody came forward and a search of 3000 missing persons cases around the country proved fruitless.
A nationwide search of dental practices also drew a blank. The woman had had dental work done within a year of her death, but there was not a trace of her presence at any surgery.
The flurry of press interest soon faded. The travails of the war were at the centre of most people’s thoughts. The area had suffered 3 years of Luftwaffe bombing and life was hard.
As Christmas 1943 approached, people had forgotten about the strange case of the woman in the tree. Until the graffiti started.
“Who put Luebella down the wych–elm?” the first one said. Then “Hagley Wood Bella”. Soon it settled on “Who put Bella in the wych–elm?”. The graffiti appeared on walls throughout the West Midlands, seemingly by the same hand. Someone, it seemed, knew more than they were letting on.
From then on, the woman found in the old elm at Hagley would be known as Bella, even by the police. But they were never able to find who was responsible for the graffiti and were no closer to answering its question.
Was the writer of the graffiti taunting the police? Had they killed Bella or knew who had?
Folklorist Margaret Murray suggested Bella may have been killed in an occult ceremony, the removal of the hand typical of a black magic execution.
The theory that Bella had fallen victim to a coven of witches was popular for a while, but with the absence of any genuine leads from the police the case eventually went cold.
It wasn’t until 1953, when journalist Wilfred Byford-Jones started to write about the old case in the Wolverhampton Express and Star, that interest was revived. Byford-Jones would soon receive the first solid lead in nearly a decade.
A letter, signed only Anna, offered new details of what had happened to Bella. According to the letter, Bella had been murdered because of her involvement with a Nazi spy ring operating in the Midlands in the early 1940s.
The spy theory seemed more rooted in reality than talk of witchcraft. Hundreds of German spies were captured in Britain during the war, and the Midlands would have been a valuable source of intelligence because of its prevalence of munitions factories.
Was Bella in the wych elm part of a Nazi spy ring?
Journalist Wilfred Byford-Jones received a letter in 1953 from an ‘Anna of Claverly’, claiming Bella had died after getting involved with a WW2 Nazi spy ring.
“Finish your articles re the Wych Elm crime by all means. They are interesting to your readers, but you will never solve the mystery.
“The one person who could give the answer is now beyond the jurisdiction of the earthly courts. The affair is closed and involves no witches, black magic or moonlight rites…”
Byford-Jones was naturally intrigued. Whoever wrote those words clearly had first-hand knowledge of what had happened. After subsequent correspondence, Anna revealed herself to be Una Mossop and told the full story.
Her husband Jack had worked at a local munitions factory in the early 1940s and had come into some money after meeting a mysterious Dutchman.
Jack later admitted to Una that the Dutchman was a Nazi agent. Jack had been passing him information about local industrial sites, which in turn was passed to another agent posing as a cabaret performer at local theatres.
The Midlands had been bombarded by the Luftwaffe in the early 40s and such information would have been invaluable for the Nazis to target their raids where they would do the most damage to Britain’s war effort.
One day Jack met his contact at a pub close to Hagley Wood. He was arguing with a Dutch Woman. He ordered Jack drive them both out to the Clent Hills, but the argument had grown extremely violent and the Dutch agent strangled the woman in the car.
Fearing for his own life, Jack helped carry the body into nearby Hagley Wood, where the pair buried it in the hollow of the old elm tree.
Una’s husband was apparently so traumatized by the brutal murder of Bella that he had a nervous breakdown, tormented by horrific visions of a woman’s skull in a tree. Jack was institutionalized in 1941 and apparently died later that year.
The timescales fitted quite well with Bella’s death. The pathologist had estimated it was about 18 months prior to the bodies discovery, which would have placed it in the middle of 1941.
The information Una gave Byford-Jones was convincing enough that the police and MI5 got involved. According to the journalist, they verified some details of Una’s account but were unable to find any of the remaining perpetrators.
With the involvement of the intelligence services, some have speculated there may have been a cover-up over the investigation of the information. Just 8 years after the war, details of spy rings may have still been classified.
The cover-up theory was also bolstered by the curious fact that Bella’s remains had gone missing, precluding any further forensic examinations.
The story faded back into semi-obscurity. An occasional piece of graffiti would briefly revive interest, but there were no new leads for another 15 years and a book by historian Donald McCormick.
McCormick’s ‘Murder by Witchcraft’, despite its name, built upon the spy ring theory. McCormick had obtained Abwehr files, the records of German Military intelligence.
According to McCormick’s information, A Nazi agent by the name of Lehrer was operating in the Midlands in 1941 and he had a Dutch girlfriend living in Birmingham called Clarabella Dronkers.
Was Clarabella the Bella found in the wych elm? Like Bella, she was about 30 years old and like Bella, she apparently had crooked teeth.
What’s especially suggestive about the identification is that a real Nazi spy was captured in mid-1942 and executed at Wandsworth prison on New Year’s Eve that year. His name was Johannes Marinus Dronkers.
Was Bella this Dutch spy’s wife? The wedding ring found with her body lends credence to the idea. And if Bella was a foreigner, it would explain why no trace of her could be found in England.
It’s possible that some kind of love triangle had developed amongst the agents, or that Bella had grown loose lipped and risked revealing their existence to the British authorities.
Whilst the exact nature of the operation and how this tangle of names and relationships fit together remains unclear, the notion that Bella was involved in some way with a spy ring seems quite convincing.
Further tidbits support the idea. There were several reports in 1940/41 of the Home Guard been alerted to possible agents parachuting into the area around Clent Hill and Hagley Wood.
Furthermore, a former British soldier told author Ian Topham that he saw Nazi files detailing agents that were operating in the Midlands. One operative matching Bella’s description was codenamed Clara, and had parachuted into the area in 1941.
In recent years, newly declassified MI5 files from the war have shed some fresh light on the spy-ring theory.
One file details the arrest and interrogation of a Czech-born Gestapo agent named Josef Jakobs. Jakobs, who had the dubious distinction of been the last man to be executed at the tower of London, was captured after parachuting into Cambridgeshire in 1941.
Found on Jakobs person was a photograph of a young woman. She was a cabaret singer and German movie star called Clara Bauerle. According to Jakobs, she had also been recruited by the Gestapo as a secret agent.
Jakobs information checked out, Bauerle was a German cabaret singer and tellingly, had worked in Birmingham for several years before the war and had even developed a convincing local accent. She would have been an ideal candidate for a spy.
According to Jakobs, she was due to follow him into England, although after his capture he thought it unlikely this had happened. But the timings made sense.
Nothing was heard of Bauerle again after 1941, the year Bella was thought to have died. If she was not Bella in the wych elm, what had happened to her?
It’s not too much of a stretch to see how Clara Bauerle may have been remembered as Clara Bella to English audiences. Perhaps someone had even recognised her from her pre-war days in Birmingham.
The risk of Clara been exposed as a German in England during the middle of the war may have threatened the spy ring she had been involved in. Could it have led to her been permanently silenced and left to haunt those dark woods at Hagley?
One reason that might tend AGAINST the spy theory is the method of death. Bella was found deep in private woodland in an overgrown wych elm tree.
It’s hard to understand why anyone, least of all a foreign spy unfamiliar with the locale, would choose this as a burial site. How would they even know such a tree existed?
There are also loose ends with the spy theory. None of the remaining members of the ring were ever found, despite extensive searches. Even today, with wartime records declassified, very little light has been shed on the putative spy ring.
Recently discovered MI5 documents have prompted the theory that Bella may have been Josef Jakobs’ girlfriend Clara Bauerle, but this idea has some significant flaws.
Pathologist James Webster listed Bella’s height as 5ft, whereas Bauerle was known to be quite a tall woman. And online databases of German musical performers list Bauerle death as 1942, which if accurate would rule her out as Bella.
Other less exotic theories have been suggested over the years. Bella was a prostitute murdered by an angry john or a local barmaid killed by an American GI. More far-fetched was that she was a gypsy killed in an occult ritual.
It’s doubtful we’ll ever know what really happened at Hagley Wood. But perhaps there is still someone out there, by now very old, carrying a dark secret?
A few years ago some graffiti appeared on the 200-year-old Wychbury obelisk at Hagley Hall. In large block capital letters, it read — “WHO PUT BELLA IN THE WYCH ELM”.
Looking at the evidence of the two Erdington murders, a detective might easily conclude he was looking for just one killer. Both victims were young women, just 20 years old. Both women spent their last night dancing. Both women were killed on the same day of the year, May 27. Both bodies were found in the same spot. And, most telling, the prime suspect in both cases was a man named Thornton.
The only problem: The two murders occurred 157 years apart. Adding to this eerie coincidence, both Thorntons were acquitted, and so both murders remain still unsolved.
On May 27, 1974, the body of Barbara Forrest, a nurse at a children’s home, was found in a ditch on the edge of Pype Hayes Park in Erdington, a ward of Birmingham, England. She had been raped and strangled. Suspicion fell on one of her coworkers, Michael Ian Thornton, who lived nearby. Blood was found on his pants and his alibi for the night Barbara disappeared turned out to be false. But this was a decade before DNA was used as evidence. The case against Thornton was entirely circumstantial, and he was acquitted.
Though tragic, this story would never have attracted so much attention if it weren’t for the fact that it was an almost identical repeat of another murder that happened in the same place 157 years earlier.
On May 27, 1817, the body of Mary Ashford was found in a muddy pool in what would later be Pype Hayes Park. There were footsteps belonging to a man in the mud. Mary’s arms were bruised and authorities suspected she had been raped before she was killed. Like Barbara, Mary had spent her last night dancing. Among the men she was seen dancing with was Abraham Thornton, who was arrested.
Thornton admitted to having sex with Ashford after the dance, but insisted it was consensual and that he did not kill her. It was determined that Ashford died of drowning.
Popular opinion was strongly against Thornton at the trial but, as in the case 157 years later, there was no direct physical evidence and Ashford was acquitted of both murder and rape.
Ashford’s brother demanded a new trial, convinced that Thorton was guilty. Thanks to the old style of law at the time, his request was granted. But Thornton pulled out an even older bit of law, dating back to the Middle Ages. He demanded a trial by battle. At that time, the law was still on the books and, amazingly, the judge allowed it. If Thornton lost the battle he would be hanged, but if he won he would be acquitted. Ashford’s brother declined the battle, and once again Thornton went free.
Despite being cleared of blame, public opinion remained heavily against Thornton. Eventually, after quite some time of intense ostracization, Thornton fled to America to begin a new life.
The strange similarities between the Erdington murders continue to haunt locals to this day. Many who believe that the connection between the cases is more than coincidence will cite the two victims’ words just before their slaying. Mary Ashford told a friend’s mother that she had some “bad feelings about the week to come”; Barbara Forest told a coworker she believed “This is going to be my unlucky month. I just know it.” The girls’ predictions would both come eerily true within days.
THE “ONE WAY RIDE”
On July 18, 1921, the Chicago mobster term of a “one-way ride” came into existence. It was not the first time that a gangster was taken on an automobile trip from which he never returned, but no one thought to call it that until Earl “Hymie” Weiss did.
Weiss was a colorful compatriot of North Side mob leader, Dean O’Banion. O’Banion surrounded himself with men who were just as eccentric as he was. Perhaps one of the most engaging was Earl Wojciechowski, the son of a Polish immigrant and better known as Earl “Hymie” Weiss.
Weiss was born on January 25, 1898, the son of Walenty and Mary Wojciechowski, who Americanized their names to William and Mary Weiss. He had two brothers and a sister, Bruno, Frederick and Violet. Two other siblings died as children and his parents separated while he was still young. Weiss began his criminal career as an “auto pirate,” stealing cars and cutting them up for their parts. In May 1919, after two stolen cars were found at 128 North Cicero, Weiss was captured by the police, along with James Fleming and Alfred Marlowe, as they drove up in a third stolen car. They had been chopping up the cars at 317 North Avers, where they kept tools to dismantle car chassis, strip them for parts, and then sell off the stolen license plates. He later became friends with O’Banion and the two of them went into the burglary and safecracking business.
Like O’Banion, Weiss attended Holy Name Cathedral and always wore a crucifix around his neck and kept a rosary in his pocket. Thin and wiry with coarse, dark hair, hot black eyes and a frequent short temper, he was easily the smartest member of the gang and the most arrogant. Many people told stories of his kindness but those who disliked him shuddered in fear at his very presence.
Rumor had it that he was one of the only men that Al Capone was truly afraid of.
Weiss’ frequent mood swings may have been caused by the fact that he often suffered from severe migraines. A sofa was installed for him in an upstairs office at Schofield’s flower shop – O’Banion’s headquarters — and he would sometimes lay there for hours, completely immobilized in the darkness.
When feeling well, Weiss was described as “generous to a fault.” Like O’Banion, he often helped out poor people in the neighborhood, contributing food and money to those who fell short on the grocery bills. He not only paid all his parent’s bills and expenses, but he took care of their friends and neighbors, as well. Weiss made many friends growing up and a number of his classmates from St. Malachy’s School, which he attended as a child, were honorary pallbearers at his funeral. He shared an apartment with a Ziegfeld Follies showgirl named Josephine Libby, who called him “one of the finest men in the world.”
But Weiss, like so many other gangsters of his era, had a dark side. On election days, he worked hard for whatever political party he had been hired to support, clubbing his way from polling place to polling place with a revolver. He seemed to relish beating up the officials while his thugs stole the ballot boxes. One example of his fiery temper occurred in June 1921 when he shot his brother. Fred had just returned from France after his military service and made a comment to his brother about the fact that he had failed to serve his country. Earl whipped out a gun and shot him. The Weiss family tried to cover up the incident and Fred pleaded with his doctor at Washington Boulevard Hospital not to tell the police. Everyone claimed it was an accident. The truth of what really happened did not come out until after Earl’s death, when Fred finally admitted that his brother shot him.
It was Hymie who coined a term that would become one of gangland Chicago’s best-known traditions when he murdered a fellow gangster named Stephen Wisniewski in 1921 – the “one-way ride.” After Wisniewski hijacked some O’Banion booze, Weiss was tasked with teaching him a lesson. He took the gangster for a ride along Lake Michigan and somewhere along the way, Wisniewski was murdered, and his body dumped on the roadside.
Afterwards, Weiss was said to have bragged, “We took Stevie for a ride, a one-way ride!”
The rest, as they say, is history.
THE GREEN MAN
I don’t remember how old I was in this instance, but I think I was around 16 years old, which would be about 12 years ago.
I used to visit a pub in the UK called The Green Man with my father. It was just up the road from my parents’ house so quite convenient for us to get to.
On this particular night when we went in, we were told by the barmaid that a model ship had flown off of the shelf and come towards her. This didn’t seem strange to me or my dad because I had often seen what I’d thought of as ghosts, since I was a young girl. Only brief glances of people and objects, but I’d always shared my sightings with my parents who were very interested.
Anyway, when I heard about the model ship I went into the ladies toilets and for some reason decided to talk to the spirit. I felt sure I could sense its presence and I told it to leave the barmaid alone.
It sounds silly now that I’m older, and almost embarrassing that I thought I could talk to this spirit and reason with it, but I did. The evening carried on as normal after that and a few hours later we went home.
The next morning I woke up to a strange sound. It sounded like the heating running but I couldn’t quite work out what it was. I went downstairs and saw that the whole of the floor had been flooded. The water was coming from the kitchen and onto the hallway floor.
I ran upstairs to inform my still sleeping parents. When we went into the kitchen, the cold tap was running on full and a plant pot had been knocked into the sink, upright, and was blocking the plug hole. The tap wasn’t broken and it turned off easily.
The only conclusion I can come up with is that the spirit from the pub, the spirit I had more or less scolded for attacking the barmaid, had become angry with me. That it had followed me home and flooded our floor. We have cats but they couldn’t have turned the tap on and I believe that if they’d knocked the plant pot into the sink, it would have been on its side.
Years later I have told my mother what I think really happened; it took me so long because explaining that I went into the toilet to talk to a spirit still sounds embarrassing to me.
People often vaguely refer to “the middle of nowhere,” but as it turns out, scientists have actually figured out precisely where that point is. Point Nemo, the most remote location on Earth, is so far removed from civilization that the closest humans to that location at any given time are likely to be astronauts.
Point Nemo is officially known as “the oceanic pole of inaccessibility,” or, more simply put, the point in the ocean that is farthest away from land. Located at 48°52.6′S 123°23.6′W, the spot is quite literally the middle of nowhere, surrounded by more than 1,000 miles of ocean in every direction. The closest landmasses to the pole are one of the Pitcairn islands to the north, one of the Easter Islands to the northeast, and one island off of the coast of Antarctica to the south.
Clearly, there are no human inhabitants anywhere near Point Nemo (the name “Nemo” itself is both Latin for “no one,” as well as a reference to Jules Verne’s submarine captain from 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea). In fact, the location is so isolated that the closest people to Nemo are actually not even on Earth. The astronauts aboard the International Space Station are around 258 miles from their home planet at any given time. Since the inhabited area closest to Point Nemo is more than 1,000 miles away, the humans in space are far closer to the pole of inaccessibility than those on land.
Not even the man who discovered Point Nemo has ever visited it. In 1992, survey engineer Hrvoje Lukatela located the point in the ocean that was farthest away from any land using a computer program that calculated the coordinates that were the greatest distance from three equidistant land coordinates. It is very possible no human has ever passed through those coordinates at all.
As for non-human inhabitants, there aren’t very many of those around Point Nemo either. The coordinates are actually located within the South Pacific Gyre: an enormous rotating current that actually prevents nutrient-rich water from flowing into the area. Without any food sources, it is impossible to sustain any life in this part of the ocean (other than the bacteria and small crabs that live near the volcanic vents on the seafloor).
Because Point Nemo is located in what has been described as “the least biologically active region of the world ocean,” scientists were surprised when, in 1997, they detected one of the loudest underwater sounds ever recorded near the pole.
The sound was captured by underwater microphones more than 3,000 miles apart. Befuddled scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration were at a loss to think of something large enough to create such a loud sound underwater and dubbed the mystery noise “The Bloop.”
Sci-fi enthusiasts, however, quickly thought of one explanation.
When writer H.P. Lovecraft first introduced readers to his infamous titular, tentacled monster in 1926’s “The Call of Cthulhu,” he wrote that the creature’s lair was the lost city of R’yleh in the south Pacific Ocean. Lovecraft gave R’yleh the coordinates 47°9′S 126°43’W, which are astonishingly close to those of Point Nemo and to where The Bloop was recorded. The fact that Lovecraft first wrote about his sea monster in 1928 (nearly a full 50 years before Lukatela calculated Nemo’s location) led some people to speculate that the pole of inaccessibility was, in fact, home to a yet-undiscovered creature of some sorts.
As it turns out, The Bloop was actually the sound of ice breaking off of Antarctica and not the call of Cthulhu. Point Nemo does, however, have at least one other eerie claim to its name. Due to its remoteness and distance from shipping routes, the area around Nemo was chosen as a “spaceship graveyard.”
Because autonomous spaceships are not designed to survive re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere (the heat usually destroys them), scientists needed to select an area where there would be an extremely low risk of any humans being struck with flying space-debris. With a population of zero, the oceanic pole of inaccessibility at Point Nemo offered the perfect solution.
Although a Lovecraftian monster may not lurk in its depths, Point Nemo is surrounded by remains of spacecraft that are, indeed, not of this world.
VEGETABLE MEN ALIENS
Certainly one of the more downright bizarre cases comes to us from the U.S. state of West Virginia, where in July of 1968 a local man by the name of Jennings Frederick was out bowhunting in the rural backwoods just outside outside of Fairmont, West Virginia. At some point he allegedly heard a high pitched, unearthly sound that he would describe as sounding like “a recording running at exaggerated speed.” Curious, Jennings searched about for the origin of this surreal noise, and this was when he would come across a very strange sight indeed.
There in the brush stood a 7-foot tall, semi-humanoid entity, with an exceedingly thin, almost skeletal frame, long ears, and stalk-like arms that were almost like tendrils and which ended in slender, 7-inch long fingers tipped with some sort of needles or thorns, as well as suction cups. The whole of the anomalous creature was described as green and very plant-like in nature, as if it were part animal and part plant. The whole time Frederick watched it that incessant chattering sound reverberated around him, and he suddenly realized that he could make out words within the alien noise, like glimpses of meaning from white noise, which he took to say: “You need not fear me. I wish to communicate. I come as a friend. We know of you all. I come in peace. I wish medical assistance. I need your help.”
As Frederick stood there wide-mouthed in bewilderment, the mysterious being purportedly suddenly lashed out with one of its stalk-like arms with blinding speed to wrap him in an iron grip. The needles or thorns on its fingers then apparently pierced the startled man’s skin and began to draw blood, but rather than the pain he found himself drawn to the thing’s eyes, which seemed to rapidly switch back and forth from red to yellow in a hypnotizing, oscillating cycle that held him in thrall and dulled his senses. After about two minutes of this, the otherworldly plant-monster reportedly let him go and took off in a sprint up a nearby embankment in great 25-foot long bounds, followed shortly after by a deep thrumming noise that Frederick would later speculate to have been the sound of the creature’s space ship.
For years Frederick kept this undoubtedly absurd-sounding story to himself out of fear of ridicule, but in 1976 he would relate it to the paranormal researcher Gray Barker, who would then include it in his newsletter. The story would be brought to even greater attention when it was mentioned in the late Brad Steiger’s 1978 book Alien Meetings. Was this an alien, some sort of cryptid, or what? Whatever it was, the “Vegetable Man” of West Virginia is certainly one of the more bizarre encounters on record.
Vegetable men are weird enough, but there are other encounters with unidentified, often humanoid creatures that are every bit as bizarre. On the evening of November 17, 1974, something well beyond normal was witnessed by several motorists along a lonely stretch of road on Bald Mountain, in the U.S. state of Washington. The first of the witnesses was a man named Ernest Smith, would say of the the entity he caught in his headlights thus: “It was horse-sized, covered with scales and standing on four rubbery legs with suckers like octopus tentacles. Its head was football-shaped with an antenna sticking up…The thing gave off this green, iridescent light.”
Another couple driving by at the time by the name of Mr and Mrs Roger Ramsbaugh also claimed to have seen the creature and its ethereal glow. Interestingly, just three days previous there had been a report of a UFO crashing to earth in the region, perhaps suggesting a connection. The researcher and author Jim Brandon also mentioned in his book Weird America that at the time Lewis County Sheriff William Wister had led an investigation into the reports, but that he had been shut down by the Air Force and NASA, after which teams of men had been brought in to search the area, which Brandon would describe as “a special NASA team, including a heavily armed military unit wearing uniforms with no insignia.” What could this creature have been? Was it just a newspaper hoax on a slow news day? Who knows?
If none of this has been weird enough for you, then how about floating, disembodied alien brains? In August 17, 1971, there was a perhaps even stranger alien encounter from Palos Verdes, California. Witnesses John Hodges and Pete Rodriguez were allegedly headed to their car at 2 AM when they saw off through the trees a faint, mysterious glow emanating from beyond. They got into their car, switched on the headlights, and their suspended in the beams of light from their vehicle were what were described as two large, blueish entities that looked just like disembodied human brains, hovering right in the middle of the road and surrounded by clouds of vapor that seemed to cling to them. The larger one of the “brains” was described as having a prominent red spot like an eye set within it, and this is the one that began to move towards the vehicle for purposes unknown.
The two terrified men understandably got out of there as fast as they possibly could, and it was later noticed that they had 2 hours of missing time. In 1976, Hodges would undergo hypnotic regression after years of being plagued by nightmares and wondering what had happened to them out on that lonely road. Under hypnosis, Hodges revealed that he had dropped Rodriquez off at home and arrived at his own house to find the larger brain waiting for him there, which had then telepathically spoken to him. He claimed that he had then been taken into the brains’ ship to some sort of “control room,” where it was revealed that they were merely telepathic tools being used by other aliens, this time more akin to the “grey” aliens typically described in more mainstream reports, although in this case they stood over 7-feet tall.
These master aliens then apparently claimed they were from a place called “Zeta Reticulii,” and showed Hodges various images of nuclear war and destruction as they explained that the human race had grown too powerful for its own good. He was also shown another planet that had been completely destroyed by another race that had met the same fate, and was admonished that humankind would be the “instruments of their own fate,” telling him, “Take the time to understand yourselves. The time draws near when you shall need to!” Hodges then says that he felt a potent buzzing sensation in the back of his head and found himself back in his own car.
In the years after, he became convinced that these aliens had implanted him with what he called a “translator cell,” and that he received frequent telepathic communications from them through this device, in which they made dire predictions such as an apocalyptic war in the Middle East and the future widespread use of nuclear weapons. Many of the prophecies given by the aliens have turned out to have not come to pass, which sort of raises an eyebrow even further than it already is. Whether you think this story and its “space brains” has any truth to it at all or not, you have to admit it is a damn strange tale all the same.
The United States certainly does not hold the monopoly on such mind-bending weird cases, and almost as absurd as floating brains is a case involving basically floating, sentient bags of jelly, which were apparently witnessed on December 20, 1958 in Sweden. On this day, 25 year-old Hans Gustafsson and 30 year-old Stig Rydberg, were on their way along Route 45 from Höganäs to Heisenberg in the early morning hours along a foggy road that had such poor visibility that the two friends decided to pull over. As they walked about outside the vehicle they soon noticed through the haze that there was some sort of glow emanating from the surrounding forest nearby.
The two decided to hike off into the darkened, glow frosted trees to try and see where the light was coming from, and after penetrating around 150 feet into the woods they allegedly came across the source of the glow, which proved to be far more bizarre than they had anticipated. There before them was a disc-like object resting on two legs around two feet long, the whole of which cast a scintillating glow of ever-changing colors. Even odder than the sight of this apparent flying saucer was what could be seen cavorting about the vicinity, which were 3-foot long amorphous blobs that Rydberg would describe thus: “They were like protozoa, just a bit darker than most, sort of a bluish color, hopping and jumping around the saucer like globs of animated jelly.”
Nowhere on the bodies were any visible limbs or sensory organs, nor any other discernible features, and it was as if they were just pulsating gobs of gelatinous goo that could somehow levitate over the ground. Things got rather tense very quickly when these unusual entities suddenly surrounded the two puzzled men and purportedly began to engulf their limbs within their throbbing masses, described as feeling like “magnetic dough,” while at the same time exuding a terrible stench like “ether and burnt sausage.” It seemed as if the blob-like creatures were trying to drag the increasingly terrified witnesses towards the glimmering disc, and no matter how hard the two witnesses fought back and struggled it did little good.
By chance, Rydberg finally managed to tear himself free and run back towards their car with the alien blobs in hot pursuit. When he reached the vehicle he leaned heavily on the car’s horn, piercing the night with a wall of noise in an effort to draw anyone’s attention to their plight, but which also seemed to have the effect of startling the creatures enough to let go of Gustafsson. The blobs then huddled under their craft, filed inside it, and shot off away into the night sky, leaving behind a screeching whistling blare, that nauseating stink, and two very shaken men who found that they were covered in strange bruises and cuts.
Gustafsson and Rydberg perhaps understandably kept the story to themselves for some time, but when it finally came out it became a minor sensation in Sweden. The two witnesses were also interviewed by police, and although the story was without a doubt off-the-wall, they could find no sign of any hoaxing going on, and even when the two were secretly monitored when they thought they were alone, they did not let on that there was any lying or trickery going on. Gustafsson and Rydberg were also found to be in fine physical and psychological health, and in the end, police concluded that the men really seemed to have been traumatized by what they at least truly believed they had seen, whatever that was.
This particular case of what are commonly referred to as the “Domsten Blobs” was also covered by Steiger in his book Strangers from the Skies, with the author himself referring to the outlandish monsters as “terrible flying jelly bags.” It is difficult to ascertain just what it was that these two men saw, or at least thought they saw, and with no other accounts anywhere near it we will probably never know.
Moving over to England we have the weird case that appeared in Fortean Times in the summer of 1988. The incident occurred near Birmingham in the West Midlands, where on January 4, 1979, a Jean Hingley was out working in her garden. At some point she looked up to see a glowing orange sphere appear to hover over her home, which gradually changed to white and inexplicably caused her dog to collapse to the ground, seemingly paralyzed. Things got even stranger still when some tiny, “fairy-like” entities suddenly came buzzing from down out of the sky to enter the house. The article would describe these beings thus: “They were about 3.5 ft tall, and dressed in a silvery tunic with six silver buttons down the front. They had large eyes like ‘black diamonds’ with a glittering lustre, set into wide white faces with no nose to speak of and a simple line for the mouth. Their heads were covered by transparent helmets like ‘goldfish bowls’, surmounted by small lights. Their limbs were silvery-green, ending in simple tapering points with no apparent hands or feet. They had large oval ‘wings’ which looked as if they were made of thin, transparent paper covered with dozens of glittering multi-coloured dots, like ‘braille dots’. Each ‘being’ was surrounded by a halo, and numerous very thin streamers hung down from their shoulders. They hovered and flew about the room with their ‘arms’ clasped in front of their chests, while their ‘legs’ hung down stiffly. Their wings didn’t flap like those of birds, but seemed to be for display and merely fluttered gently or occasionally folded inwards like a concertina. Their expression – “like a dead person’s face” – never changed during the encounter, which lasted for about an hour.”
These creatures apparently spoke in unison in a low, gruff voice, and would occasionally emit a laser-like beam of light from their helmets, which had the effect of dazzling the witness and creating a burning sensation. The creatures were also quite mischievous and troublesome, knocking objects over, shaking the Christmas tree, jumping on the sofa, banging on walls, and generally making a nuisance of themselves. They would continue this cavorting, occasionally stunning Hingley with their enigmatic laser weapons, until they were called to attention by a sudden beeping noise coming from the garden. The creatures then flitted back outside, oddly carrying with them pieces of mince pie they had pilfered from the kitchen, and entered the large orange craft that had been hovering over the house earlier, which was now sitting upon the ground and sported portholes and two long antenna-like structures that glowed blue.
When the craft was gone, Hingley claimed that she had been incapacitated by an inexplicable pain, and when she snapped out of it she realized that there was a tiny burn mark in her forehead. An inspection of the area turned up what appeared to be 8-foot long tracks like the tracks of a tank’s treads, and additionally it was found that various electrical appliances in the home had been mysteriously fried by some unknown force. What were these fairy-like beings and what did they want? It is unknown.
Another account first came to public attention in an 1968 issue of Flying Saucer Review, and comes from nearby France, where in 1962 a business man was driving along a rural road in Var on a dark and rainy night. As he drove along the desolate stretch of road peering through the torrent of rain, the witness allegedly noticed a group of figures huddled in the middle of the road as he rounded a bend. He at first took these to be people, perhaps in need of help, but would soon find out that these were no human beings. The witness would explain: “My window was down and I leaned my head out slightly to see what was the matter; it was then that I saw beasts, some kind of bizarre animals, with the heads of birds, and covered with some sort of plumage, which were hurling themselves from two sides towards my car. Terrified, I wound up my window, accelerated like a mad man, and the stopped 150-meters [approximately 500-feet] further on. I turned round and saw these things, these beasts, these nightmarish sort of beings, which were heading, with a sort of flapping of wings, towards a luminous dark-blue object, which hung in the air over a field on the other side of the road. On reaching it [the UFO], these ‘birds’ were literally sucked into the underpart of the machine as if by a whirlwind. Then I heard a dull sound (clac!) and the object flew off at a prodigious speed and finally disappeared.”
What were these bizarre bird-like beings? Since no one has seen anything like it it is anyone’s guess. Finally, we leave Europe to come to the South American country of Venezuela, and a very harrowing and strange report from November of 1954. On November 28, 1954, two witnesses by the names of Gustavo Gonzales and José Ponce were driving a truck from Caracas to Petare, Venezuela, when in the early morning hours they came across an enormous glowing orb floating about 6 feet above the ground in front of them. Perhaps unwisely, the men stopped the truck and got out to investigate, upon which they noticed several small, 3-foot high humanoids covered in bristly hair that seemed to be gathering rocks to bring aboard their craft.
Gonzales and ponce approached and decided to try and grab one of the creatures, which turned out to be a bad idea. The small, vaguely ape-like being was apparently vastly strong, effortlessly flinging them off and then proceeding to viciously claw at them. When Gonzales fought back by stabbing it with a knife, his weapon was found to have no effect on it at all. The struggle continued until one of the other creatures put an end to it all by firing off a stunning beam of bright light that knocked the two men to their knees, whereupon the odd beings entered their ship and shot off into the night. Medical examination would show that Gonzales did indeed have a nasty looking scratch mark on his body, and the two men were found to be completely sober. Making the whole case even more bizarre was a report from another witness who also claimed to have seen the creatures and to have even seen the struggle between them and the two witnesses.
These are some of the most outrageous, perplexing, and even downright absurd reports of alien encounters there are, and we are left to wonder just what in the world is going on here. These are singularly peculiar cases that have no other parallel in the sightings records, and which lurk on the very fringes of the weird. What could these creatures be and where did they come from? Why haven’t they been seen more often? Are these hallucinations, illusions, hoaxes, or lies? No one really knows, and these extremely odd encounters continue to serve to stir the imagination.
MICKEY SLINEY CONFESSIONS
Frank Hronister, the butcher boy at Lyons’s butcher shop on Cherry Street in New York City, was working in the rear of the store on November 25, 1891, when Michael Sliney entered the store to speak with his boss, Robert Lyons. Mickey Sliney and Bob Lyons were close friends but that day Sliney was there on business, he and his father owned a coal and ash business and the Lyons family owed them money.
Frank heard Sliney say, “I want the $35 and I want it quick, see!” Lyons said he did not have the money but would pay when he was good and ready. There were more angry words exchanged then Sliney left the store.
After he left, Lyons noticed an envelope near the door. He opened it and found a note in red ink saying “Please send boy up to vestry right away.—Rev. John B. Kane.” Lyons sent Frank Hronister to St. James church to see what Father Kane wanted. Father Kane looked at the note and said it was not his signature, the note was a forgery. When Frank returned to the butcher shop he found the mother of his boss crying over his lifeless body. Robert Lyons had been murdered.
There had been no witnesses to the crime. Robert’s mother had been in the back room when she saw a man staggering against the door, he was covered with blood and blood was streaming from his neck. When she saw that it was her son, she screamed and said, “For God’s sake, tell me who did this.” He replied, “Mother, mother, I’m killed. Mike Sliney did this.” He fell to the floor and died at her feet.
Robert Lyons and been killed with his own meat cleaver, which lay covered with blood by the side of the block. The police went searching for Michael Sliney. When he heard the detectives were looking for him, Sliney turned himself in but said he knew nothing about the murder.
The police were sure that Sliney was the killer, but they were hard pressed to find a motive. “Lyons and I were chums,” said Sliney, “and why should I kill him?” It was hard to imagine Sliney cutting Lyons’s throat over a $35 coal bill. Sliney didn’t know who killed his chum but he had some suspicions. He said Bob Lyons and his mother often quarreled and a few days earlier he struck her in the face. Mrs. Lyons did have a bruised eye but said she fell on an icebox. Sliney also cast suspicion on Bob’s brother Jim. He told reporters, “Bob and Jim were not very friendly. The old woman wanted Jim to have the business, and Bob would not permit Jim to come into the store of late.” Jim denied any bad blood between the brothers.
When the inquest began on December 1, public sympathy was with Mickey Sliney. The bogus note
from Father Kane was shown to be the lynchpin of the case, but it could not be determined who had delivered it. The inquest ruled that Bob Lyons had been killed at the hands of a person or persons unknown, but a few days later Sliney was indicted by the grand jury.
With Sliney in the Tombs awaiting trial, Police Inspector Thomas Byrnes decided it was time to give the prisoner a good questioning. Sliney had been instructed by his attorney to keep quiet until his trial, but Inspector Byrnes, known for his harsh interrogation techniques — “the third degree” — convinced Sliney to talk. Inspector Byrnes did not reveal what was said, but Sliney told reporters that on the day of the murder he returned to the butcher shop because he had forgotten to ask Bob if he could borrow his dress coat. He found Mrs. Lyons and Jim in the shop quarreling with Bob. He saw Jim pick up the heavy cleaver and hurl at Bob. As Bob reeled and fell, Sliney left as quickly as he could.
The police investigated for another three months before arresting Jim Lyons on March 17 and indicting him as a co-conspirator in Bob Lyons’s murder. The two men would be tried separately.
In April Inspector Byrnes went at Sliney again, this time Sliney made a full confession:
“The statements or statement that I have heretofore made relative to myself and Bob Lyons are untrue. I am sorry that I have made them. James Lyons, whom I accused of killing his brother, in the presence of Inspector Byrnes, at Police Headquarters, had nothing whatsoever to do with the murder, and I am very sorry that I made such a statement.”
Sliney said that after refusing to pay the $35, Bob Lyons knocked him down and kicked him in the stomach. Sliney left and spent the afternoon drinking. At 4:00 he went back to the butcher shop and he and Bob went out for a few more drinks, and before parting, Sliney gave him the forged note. After Frank Hronister left for the church, Sliney went back into the butcher shop and asked again for the money. They began to fight and Bob Lyons, who had thirty pounds on Sliney, dragged him toward the chopping block saying, “You ––––, I’ll kill you and make steak out of you.” Sliney broke free and, believing his life was in danger, grabbed the cleaver and threw it at Lyons, hitting him in the neck.
When asked about Sliney’s confession, his attorney, Mr. Levy said, “It does not surprise me a bit. He is crazy.” Jim Lyons’s attorneys, Howe & Hummel, applied for a discharge for their client, but the district attorney refused, saying he believed Sliney was, once again, lying.
When his case came to trial in June, Sliney repudiated his confession. He went back to saying that he saw Jim throw the cleaver at his brother, adding that Jim offered him $5,000 to perjure himself. Jim urged him to say that Sliney killed Bob in self-defense, believing he would be acquitted. Sliney’s lawyer asserted that the murder had been a conspiracy involving Bob Lyon’s mother, his brother, and his wife.
Frank Hronister helped Sliney’s case by testifying that Jim Lyons tried to persuade him to lie on the stand. He told Frank to swear that he saw a red-faced man hand Bob the forged note. Jim told him,“If you don’t do what I tell you I will fix you and that will be the end of you.” He also offered him $500 to do what he wanted.
A handwriting expert testified that he had no doubt that Sliney had forged the note. Bob Lyon’s widow testified that her husband was much larger than Sliney and Sliney could not wear his dress coat as he had asserted. Inspector Byrnes testified that in view of the number of contradictory statements Sliney had made, nothing he said could be trusted.
The jury appeared to believe the conspiracy theory but thought it included Mickey Sliney as well. They found him guilty of first-degree murder. As they filed out, one juror was heard to remark, “Maybe he killed Bob and maybe he didn’t, but he was an awful fool for shootin’ off his mouth. If he hadn’t he’d a been goin’ out with us now.”
Following Sliney’s conviction, James Lyons was released from custody.
Michael Sliney was sentenced to be executed and would have died in the “electrical chair” at Sing Sing prison, but at the urging of Sliney’s friends, Governor Flower convened a committee to investigate Sliney’s mental condition. After reading their report he commuted Sliney’s sentence to life in prison.
GHOST 911 CALL
“My husband recently traveled out of town for work. The first night he was gone, four cops pounded on my door at 9:30 (like crazy pounding). They said a woman in distress called 911, and it pinged to my address. They wanted to know if I knew anything about it, or if I had heard anything. I’d been blow drying my hair and hadn’t heard a thing.
After the cops left, I got nervous and unsettled thinking a woman in distress had recently been on my property. So I checked all my doors and windows and told my two kids to come sleep in my room. I then moved our gun to my side of the bed and eventually fell asleep.
The next day, I mentioned the incident to my neighbor, and a weird look came over her face. I asked what was wrong, and she said she hadn’t wanted to say anything, but that a man had murdered his wife in our home several years before. I did some research online, and sure enough, she was right.
Nothing weird had happened before the night of the 911 ping, and nothing weird has happened since. The logical explanation is that the call was just a coincidence, but I still wonder if it was the spirit of the murdered woman, calling for help that came too late.”
Dreams and their meaning have fascinated people for ages. Ancient people had dream books and dream interpreters and in our modern world, many people still think dreams can provide us with vital information about significant events in our daily lives. Over the years, numerous theories have been put forth in an attempt to illuminate the mystery behind human dreams.
Scientists continue to study dreams and examine to what extent they are linked to our emotions and memories.
Many people wonder if dreams can foretell future events and if dreaming about certain objects, animals or events is significant.
Dreaming about spiders happen to many of us, but what does it really mean?
Dream analysis is highly subjective and from a scientific point of view it’s not easy to explain, but some have attempted to find the truth behind dream symbols. One such person is Cynthia Richmond, board certified behavioral therapist, educator, speaker and author of “Dream Power.
According to Cynthia Richmond, spiders are associated with manipulation. Depending on the rest of the dream, the spider may indicate that the dreamer is being manipulated or that the dreamer is the manipulator.
So, if you dream about spiders you should ask yourself if you are being manipulated and what you can about it.
One way of avoiding dreams about spiders is to deal with the problem outside of the dreaming world.
“The dreamer should ask themselves, ‘Where in my life am I being manipulated or manipulating others?’ and resolve that,” says Richmond. If you want to induce dreams about spiders, Richmond suggests looking at photos of spiders before bedtime and to think about them as you drift to sleep.
Throughout history, there have been many cultural depictions of spiders and these animals had a different meaning to many ancient civilizations. The spider, along with its web, is featured in mythological fables, cosmology, artistic spiritual depictions, and in oral traditions throughout the world since ancient times.
In Ancient Egypt, the spider was associated with the goddess Neith in her aspect as spinner and weaver of destiny, this link continuing later through the Babylonian Ishtar and the Greek Athena, who was later equated as the Roman goddess Minerva. In African mythology, the spider is personified as a creation deity Anansi, and as a trickster character in African traditional folklore. Spiders are depicted in Indigenous Australian art, in rock and bark paintings, and for clan totems. Spiders in their webs are associated with a sacred rock in central Arnhem Land on the Burnungku clan estate of the Rembarrnga/Kyne people.
In Greco-Roman mythology, Arachne was a mortal woman and talented weaver who challenged Athena, goddess of wisdom and crafts, and was transformed into a spider. Spiders are called “arachnids” after Arachne.
Cultures that value the spider may find that dreaming about them represents something aside from manipulation. For example, in a culture where farming is a means of life, spiders can stand for prosperity since they eat pests and represent good growing conditions. On the other hand, in situations where a person is afraid of spiders, such dreams may not be as welcome.
Scientists have discovered that memories of your ancestors can be embedded in your DNA. Your ancestors’ experiences can actually change your personality bequeathing anxiety or resilience by altering the epigenetic expressions of genes in the brain.
It has long been assumed that memories and learned experiences built up during a lifetime must be passed on by teaching later generations or through personal experience.
However, scientists have discovered that it is possible for some information to be inherited biologically through chemical changes that occur in DNA.
So, if you for example dream frequently about spiders, it could because of your ancestors had a good or bad experience with spiders.
Many theories have been put forward as to why we dream. Sigmund Freud proposed dreams exist to fulfill our wishes. His theory has been rejected by most modern scientists. It is often suggested that dreams are a side effect of the sleep cycle. Dreams usually occur during Rapid Eye Movement, or REM, sleep. This stage is thought to serve several functions: to rest a part of the brain (since some areas are active while others aren’t) and to replenish brain chemicals, such as neurotransmitters.
Deirdre Barrett, a psychologist at Harvard University has studied the subjects of dreams and he is convinced there is a connection between dreams and evolution. It is only by taking evolution into account that we can comprehend the world of dreams.
Dreams are highly visual and often illogical in nature, which makes them ripe for the type of “out-of-the-box” thinking that some problem-solving requires, Barrett said. Scientists have found examples of almost every type of problem being solved in a dream, from the mathematical to the artistic.
Before you start panic when you had a dream about spiders and look for people who have been manipulating you, keep in mind that dreams can be influenced by a number of things such as fear, smells, noise and even earth’s magnetic fields.
Not very exciting account but my grandad always said that one of the houses he grew up in as a child was haunted. Back in the 1940’s he said that people weren’t so aware of the paranormal as they are now. It was not like it is today with movies and ghost hunting shows on TV. He moved into a house in the countryside with his parents. His father worked on a farm in Lincolnshire and he said that things would happen all the time in that house. He, and his mum, saw a young man covered with mud walk through the door of their house and through to the other room. His mother went chasing after this man trying to find out who he was, and why he was in their home. They couldn’t find any trace of him. Grandad saw something standing in the door of his bedroom and his mum said that she felt that she was being watched a lot in that house.
Strangest thing was the time My great-grandfather was standing outside talking to himself. Grandads mum rushed out and asked him what the problem was. He said he was just talking to a gentleman about his garden. She asked who the gentleman was, and more importantly where he was. Apparently great grandfather looked shocked because when he looked back the man had disappeared. He always claimed the man must have slipped away… but grandad said that he had been talking to himself. There had been no other man there. Eventually they moved away after my great-grandfather lost his job, but I do believe that my grandfather experienced something strange in that house. He was too much of a serious man to make things up, or even make a joke out of such things.
Wherever there has been great suffering, people are always seeing strange things.”
These are the words of Edward Tinney, former historian and chief ranger at Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park. Tinney, who worked at the park from 1969 to 1986 and also spent time working at the battlegrounds at Shiloh, Tenn., said ghostly sightings at the Chickamauga Battlefield or any Civil War site are not uncommon.
Tinney said the legend of Old Green Eyes, the ghost who is said to haunt the battlefield in various forms ranging from a Confederate soldier to a green-eyed panther, has been a part of Chickamauga Battlefield lore since the last shot was fired at the bloody battle that claimed 34,000 casualties Sept. 19-20, 1863. The tales of Green Eyes and other phantom sightings stem from the soldiers, who lived through the War Between the States, Tinney said.
“Green Eyes is rumored to be a man who lost his head to a cannonball, frantically searching the battlefield at night for his dislocated body,” Tinney said. “History says ghosts in the battlefield such as the Green Eyes tale began happening soon after the war in 1863.
“Those who lived after the war are the ones who started the stories,” he said. “The more you get removed from the war or any kind of pain, the more glamorous it gets.”
Tinney said wherever he has been — whether it is on a Civil War battlefield or in Europe where he fought in World War II — there are incidents and sightings that cannot be explained by human logic.
One of the earliest ghost sightings shortly after the Civil War ended is documented in Susie Blaylock McDaniel’s book “The Official History of Catoosa County.”
Jim Carlock, an early resident of the Post Oak Community, writes in McDaniel’s book about returning home from a centennial celebration on Market Street in Chattanooga in 1876, a mere 13 years after the bloody battle. Carlock writes: “Did you ever see a ghost? They used to see them on the Chickamauga Battlefields just after the war.”
Carlock goes on to write that, while passing through the battlefield (or near it, the exact location is unclear), it was dark and there were no houses nearby when he and his friends spotted something 10 feet high with a “big white head.” He said he and his companions were in a wagon and a Mr. Shields was riding horseback. Carlock said Shields road up and hit the ghost and a baby cried out and the ghost said, “Let me alone.” He said the entity appeared to be a ghostly apparition of a Negro woman with a bundle of clothes on her head.
Tinney said that out of the 34,000 casualties (killed or wounded) at Chickamauga, only 4,000 are believed to have perished during the battle, but the historian estimates close to 70 percent, or 23,800 soldiers perished from their wounds when the fighting ended. Out of the thousands who passed on, many may still be buried on the battlegrounds but the exact number is unclear, he said.
But the Civil War is not the only source of death that may have imprisoned lost spirits at the battlefield. The hill behind Wilder Tower saw the deaths of many soldiers, mainly from typhoid fever, during their training and encampment on the battlefield in preparation for the Spanish-American War, he said.
According to various sources, other tales claim Green Eyes existed before the Civil War and circulated among the soldiers during the fighting, or that the spirit existed as early as the Native American occupation of the land where the battlefield is now located.
Tinney said that during his tenure at the park, he saw something one night that he could not explain, and believes he came face-to-face with the undead inside the battlefield.
The historian said that one day in 1976, about 4 a.m., he went to check on some battle re-enactors who were camping out in the park. He said that while walking near Glen Kelly Road, he encountered a man over 6 feet tall, wearing a long black duster, with shaggy, stringy, black, waist-length hair, walking toward him. From the man’s body language, Tinney feared he was about to be attacked, so he crossed to the other side of the road, he said. When the man became parallel with Tinney he turned and smiled a devilish grin, and his dark eyes glistened. Tinney said he turned to face the man and began to back-pedal, as his companion did as well. At that moment, a car came down a straightaway in the road, and when its headlights hit the apparition it vanished, he said.
Since Tinney’s sighting 27 years ago, several residents have experienced unusual activity in the park they cannot easily explain.
Fort Oglethorpe resident Denise Smith said she encountered a ghostly being with green eyes on a cold foggy night in the park in 1980. Smith said she had just gotten off work at the Krystal Restaurant in Fort Oglethorpe and was taking a shortcut through the park on her way to her home on Cleo Drive. She crept her ’71 Roadrunner slowly through the fog-enshrouded park about a half-mile from Wilder Tower.
“It was raining and foggy, so I was going real slow,” she said. “I was going through the S-curve past Wilder Tower, when I saw something big in the road about eye level, and all I could see were these big green eyes. It was so foggy I couldn’t see a body. I got closer and it just disappeared.”
Smith said she always thought the tale of the ghostly green-eyed beast was a myth and never would have “believed it in a million years,” but now she says she won’t step foot in the park after nightfall.
Green Eyes, in its various forms, is not the only phantom people claim to see in the park. Tinney said there is also a ghost believed to haunt Snodgrass Hill, which saw some of the fiercest fighting and is home to the Snodgrass family cabin, which served as a field hospital to both Union and Confederate soldiers during the battle.
The specter, in the form of a lady in a white wedding dress, known as the “Lady in White,” is searching for her lover, Tinney said.
Other stories of hauntings on the battlefield include visitors’ accounts of hearing gunshots, hoof beats, or smelling the strong scent of alcohol.
Sam Weddle, chief ranger at the park for 11 years, said the National Park Service has no official opinion about the legend of Green Eyes or any of the other ghostly tales that float from the confines of the park.
“There are apparently a lot of local stories circulating that we don’t have any official knowledge of,” he said. “We don’t say ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ we just say we haven’t seen anything yet. We don’t deal with ghosts. We don’t have folders and files on ghosts or Green Eyes.”
Laura Gilstrap, a lifelong Fort Oglethorpe resident, said that when she was 16 years old in 1990, she and about 10 of her friends were enjoying a hayride inside the battlefield when the unexpected happened.
She said around dusk, the group decided to take a break around Wilder Tower. Off in the field near the tower they spied a flaming torch that would disappear then mysteriously reappear again. Suddenly, the kids heard a horse’s hoof beats, and a skeleton in a Confederate soldier’s uniform appeared to dismount from a ghostly horse with green eyes, Gilstrap said. She said the skeleton constantly repeated the name “Amy” before disappearing for good.
David Lester, Civil War enthusiast and re-enactor, said about five years ago, he and some of his fellow re-enactors were camping out at the battlefield as part of “Living History Days,” an event that gives park visitors a first-hand look at how soldiers lived during the war.
Lester said several of his comrades wandered to a neighboring camp to say hello to their fellow soldiers. The men talked with the neighboring campers for several hours before returning to their own camp to sleep for the night.
When day broke, the men went back to the camp to wish them a good morning and see how they were getting along, but they were gone, Lester said. There was no sign of their campfire from the night before, not one trace of any human occupation at the site — only undisturbed land.
On Oct. 20, 2001, three women decided to delve into the ghostly realm of Old Green Eyes and communicate with the phantom first-hand.
Olivia Newton, Terry Kimbrell and Jennifer McElhannon — all members of the Foundation for Paranormal Research, a self-proclaimed non-religious, non-scientifically-oriented investigative group specializing in ghosts and other paranormal phenomena — spent the night near Snodgrass Hill, where most of the Green Eyes sightings are believed to originate. McElhannon reported that she and her partners felt “surrounded” and melancholy throughout their camping excursion that night. The trio reported taking pictures of ghostly mists and colored orbs emanating from monuments in the park.
No distress call, no lifeboats adrift at sea. Nothing. Like it was plucked from the Earth by God himself, the USS Cyclops and all of its 309 crew were gone without a trace.
The Bermuda Triangle has claimed its fair share of vessels over the centuries, but none are quite as baffling to Navy historians as the tale of the 1918 disappearance of the USS Cyclops. The ship never made it to its Baltimore, Maryland destination from the Brazilian port city of Salvador and a century later people are still wondering what peril befell it.
Named for the fierce one-eyed giants of Greek mythology, the USS Cyclops was a beast of a ship. At 540 feet long and 65 feet wide, it was the largest collier in the United States Navy and had a cargo holding capacity of 12,500 tons. Upon the completion of its construction in Philadelphia in 1910, newspaper headlines touted its size, calling it “a floating coal mine.”
When the United States entered World War I, the Cyclops was outfitted with 50-caliber guns and helped to shuttle doctors and medical supplies from Baltimore’s John Hopkins Hospital over to France. At this time, Lieutenant Commander George W. Worley served as commander of the mighty ship.
It was in early January of 1918, that the Cyclops was assigned to refuel British ships off the coast of Brazil. Less than two months later, it would be gone forever.
After arriving in Brazil with 9,960 tons of coal for English ships, the Cyclops loaded its hull with 10,000 tons of manganese ore that would be used for munitions and began making its way up the Atlantic. Its destination was Baltimore and while there were no stops on the schedule when the Cyclops departed Brazil on February 22, it did stop in Barbados on March 3rd.
Commander Worley reported that one of the ship’s engines had become inoperative because of a cracked cylinder. The ship would depart for its Baltimore destination, roughly 1,8000 nautical miles away on March 4, but would never make its scheduled March 13 docking in Maryland.
The USS Cyclops was gone forever without leaving a single clue. It would be lost somewhere in the triangular region bound by Bermuda, Miami, and Puerto Rico. Another victim of the mysterious Bermuda Triangle.
What happened to the Navy shipping vessel has been a source of debate for the past century with no clear answers rising to the surface.
More than 100 ships and planes have disappeared within the invisible lines of the Bermuda Triangle, and the efforts to locate the lost Cyclops were exhaustive. Navy ships scouted the route that the Cyclops was believed to have taken and crews radioed day after day for any sign of contact. All of it proved fruitless.
Several theories about what happened to the ship and its men emerged in the weeks and years following its disappearance.
The possibility of an attack by German U-boat was brought into question, but not a trace of debris was ever found. Others claimed that rough seas could have sunk the ship that was already overloaded with its heavy manganese ore cargo. That could have been a possibility, but no storms were reported and there were no distress calls from the ship.
Like other disappearances in the Bermuda Triangle, some speculated that the Cyclops was sucked down into the ocean’s depths by a giant sea monster or supernatural phenomenon. Of course, the Navy didn’t give much consideration to this and instead turned its focus to the ship’s commander.
One of the more intriguing theories concerning the ship’s disappearance revolves around its commander. Lieutenant Commander George W. Worley was born in Germany as Johan Frederick Wichmann and changed his name after coming to the United States. Worley was reportedly disliked by his crew because of his frequency for berating his men and punishing them for the most minor offenses. Speculation arose that he was pro-Germany during the war and may have turned the Cyclops over to the Germans, though no German records have ever been found to back up this theory.
There have been moments where it looked like the mystery of the fate of the Cyclops might finally be revealed, but they never panned out.
In the 1960s, a Navy diver believed that he had located its wreckage off the coast of Virginia, which would have backed up a rumored sighting of it in this area by a molasses tanker, but the search turned up nothing.
For the Navy and those who had relatives aboard the ship, the USS Cyclops remains a tale of tragedy that ends with a question mark.
“I just want her to be found,” said Marvin Barrash, the great-nephew of one of the men who was lost with the ship. “I want the 309 to be at rest, as well as the families.”