“THE ORIGINAL GHOST HUNTER: HARRY PRICE” and More Terrifying True Stories! #WeirdDarkness

THE ORIGINAL GHOST HUNTER: HARRY PRICE” and More Terrifying True Stories! #WeirdDarkness

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IN THIS EPISODE: In 1986 there was a surge in the number of people entering the Himalayan mountains, and never leaving. Those who did escape reported hearing a loud ringing alarm, so loud they had to cover their ears and run, and even then suffered severe or complete hearing loss. They may not have known it at the time, but they had just come into contact with SCP-6789, also known as Siren Head. (Siren Head) *** The coldest of cold cases for law enforcement in Idaho is the disappearance of Lillian Richey – and it’s also the most baffling, as Lillian disappeared from within her own home. (The Lillian Richey Vanishing) *** Many people consider Harry Price to be the first recognized ghost hunter in modern history. And he made a name for himself rather quickly. But then, if you are the first person to investigate the Borley Rectory, the most haunted building in England, you deserve to have your name remembered. (The Original Ghost Hunter: Harry Price) *** Grocery shopping is such a mundane activity that all families take part in it at some point, so it wasn’t a big deal when 11 year old Michaela and her mom went grocery shopping, picking up dinner for their Sunday night. Little did they know, they had caught the eye of a psychopath.  (The Cheshire Murders) *** A family in Chicago was terrified when voices began emanating from the wall of their little girl’s bedroom! And the story has an odd twist, in that somehow, unbeknownst to me, I, your Weird Darkness narrator, Darren Marlar, and up right smack dab in the middle of it! (The Wall Spoke) *** 
In 1906, Clara Germana Cele, an orphaned 16-year-old girl living in South Africa, had her life changed forever. According to members of the clergy at St. Michael’s Mission in Natal, the girl, known as Germana, sold her soul to the devil, and he immediately possessed her body and began causing havoc. 
(The Possession of Clara Germana)

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TRANSCRIPT FOR THIS EPISODE…
(Scroll to bottom of blog post):

LINKS AND RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THE EPISODE…
Artist Trevor Henderson website: https://trevorhenderson.format.com, Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/trevorhenderson
ABC-7 in Chicago “Talking Walls” video: https://tinyurl.com/y7bqnqjd

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STORY AND MUSIC CREDITS/SOURCES…
(Note: Over time links can and may become invalid, disappear, or have different content.)
“The Possession of Clara Germana” by Jacob Shelton for Graveyard Shift: https://tinyurl.com/y2hq7p84; and Scare Street for Medium.com: https://tinyurl.com/ycscrv2d
“Siren Head” from The Scare Chamber: https://tinyurl.com/y7kk4xcu
“The Wall Spoke” by Rob Schwarz for Stranger Dimensions: https://tinyurl.com/ydd3qff8
“The Lillian Richey Vanishing” from Strange Company: https://tinyurl.com/yb4f7pt2
“The Original Ghost Hunter: Harry Price” by Orrin Grey for The Line Up: https://tinyurl.com/yaalzt4y
“The Cheshire Murders” from The Scare Chamber: https://tinyurl.com/y9xbglqa
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TRANSCRIPT

Beyond the edge of our physical world is a metaphysical realm in which evil, demonic spirits wallow and run wild. This may not be scientifically proven, but we all accept it one way or the other. It’s like an itch at the back of our heads that just won’t let up. That same itch tells us that these spirits will occasionally cross the threshold of the metaphysical realm and find their way into our world, for the sole purpose of taking over our minds and controlling us. And, as with all evil, it’s not for a noble cause.

We continue to hear stories, watch films, and read books about these paranormal occurrences. Despite this, we dismiss it as over-dramatized, Hollywood-induced nonsense. But we just can’t forget that persistent itch.

The belief that evil spirits can possess humans has been terrifying people throughout history. That’s probably why the history of exorcism is littered with horror stories highlighting the practice. Exorcism came to everyone’s attention with the release of the 1973 film, The Exorcistwhich was based on the book, The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty. The author drew from the real-life exorcism of Roland Doe. But exorcism has been part of virtually every religion throughout recorded history. Ancient Babylonian priests performed exorcisms via a voodoo-like rite. Ancient Persians were saved from demonic possession via holy water, and the Bible recounts many times when Jesus Christ himself cast out demons from people who were possessed. One of the most evil cases of demonic possession is of a 16-year-old girl in South Africa in 1906. Her name was Clara.

…I’m Darren Marlar and this is Weird Darkness.

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Welcome, Weirdos – this is Weird Darkness. Here you’ll find stories of the paranormal, supernatural, legends, lore, crime, conspiracy, mysterious, macabre, unsolved and unexplained.

Coming up in this episode of Weird Darkness…

In 1986 there was a surge in the number of people entering the Himalayan mountains, and never leaving. Those who did escape reported hearing a loud ringing alarm, so loud they had to cover their ears and run, and even then suffered severe or complete hearing loss. They may not have known it at the time, but they had just come into contact with SCP-6789, also known as Siren Head.

The coldest of cold cases for law enforcement in Idaho is the disappearance of Lillian Richey – and it’s also the most baffling, as Lillian disappeared from within her own home.

Many people consider Harry Price to be the first recognized ghost hunter in modern history. And he made a name for himself rather quickly. But then, if you are the first person to investigate the Borley Rectory, the most haunted building in England, you deserve to have your name remembered.

Grocery shopping is such a mundane activity that all families take part in it at some point, so it wasn’t a big deal when 11 year old Michaela and her mom went grocery shopping, picking up dinner for their Sunday night. Little did they know, they had caught the eye of a psychopath.

A family in Chicago was terrified when voices began emanating from the wall of their little girl’s bedroom! And the story has an odd twist, in that somehow, unbeknownst to me, I, your Weird Darkness narrator, Darren Marlar, and up right smack dab in the middle of it!

In 1906, Clara Germana Cele, an orphaned 16-year-old girl living in South Africa, had her life changed forever. According to members of the clergy at St. Michael’s Mission in Natal, the girl, known as Germana, sold her soul to the devil, and he immediately possessed her body and began causing havoc.

Now.. bolt your doors, lock your windows, turn off your lights, and come with me into the Weird Darkness!

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THE POSSESSION OF CLARA GERMANA

True stories of exorcisms are incredibly harrowing. Not only do they usually involve young people going through something awful, but those who have been possessed and make it to the other side are never the same once they’re free of the demon. Before we look at Clara’s terrifying ordeal, let’s look at just a few other real demonic possessions.

Anna Ecklund was born in the state of Wisconsin, in 1882. Records do not show what happened to her mother, but it is safe to assume that she died or otherwise disappeared when Anna was very young, leaving her father, Jacob, as the primary caregiver.

Anna seemed to be, by all accounts, a normal girl. She was religious; a devout Christian. This all changed on her 14th birthday. Suddenly, Anna began to have severe issues with going to church and receiving communion. She would have harmful and compulsive thoughts, such as wanting to smash Christian artifacts and harm priests. She was also reported to have experienced signs of depression, as well as hypersexual feelings. Over the next few years, Anna visited a number of doctors, but they made nothing of her behavior, insisting she was fine. At last, the local church got involved, and sent Father Theophilus Riesinger — an authority figure on exorcisms — to Anna’s aid. In 1912, the first exorcism of 30-year-old Anna Ecklund was performed, and Father Riesinger managed to cast away the evil spirits that had taken hold of her body, albeit temporarily.

Two decades later, Anna’s demons returned. At the age of 46, Anna turned to Father Riesinger once more to help rid her of this desperate, evil presence. The second exorcism was a well-documented and terrifying affair. During the procedure, Anna remained repulsed by holy water and would refuse to eat “blessed” food, although unaware that it was blessed. She would curl up in a corner and emit inhuman noises, like a cat’s hissing, and climb walls until she was forcefully restrained to a bed. Being restrained seemed to be the catalyst for the evil spirits to come out in full force. Her unconscious body began to forcefully rise to the ceiling, and the only thing stopping it were the restraints.

Despite her vegetative state, loud voices, wails and groans would escape her body. As if that weren’t enough, her body began to change in appearance. Her eyes bulged violently from her face, her head and lips swelled and her abdomen became inflated. Anna also displayed other recognizable signs of demonic possession, such as the ability to understand and utter foreign languages she had no way of learning, or displaying extraordinary strength. The second exorcism of Anna Ecklund was performed over the course of 23 days, in 3 different sessions. The story of Anna Ecklund was recorded in a pamphlet titled, Begone Satan!

George Lukins was a British tailor who lived in a small town called Yatton, on the outskirts of Bristol, back in the 18th century. He was described as a man of great character and spirit. Which is ironic, because at the age of 44, he was possessed by evil, demonic spirits. As a young man, George would suffer from fits of an alarming nature, always claiming he was fine afterwards. All that changed one night.

After going through another of his fits, he would snarl aggressively and bark like a dog, as well as argue with himself loudly. He was not the same charismatic figure that the Yatton locals had grown accustomed to. He would react violently to any religious recitals. Lukins would also sing hymns backwards and began yelling in languages he couldn’t have possibly known. His condition only worsened with time, and it was soon clear that Lukins was in desperate need of medical attention. The doctors kept a close eye on George, but after a series of mishaps and freak accidents, declared him incurable.

George himself was convinced he was possessed by demons. More specifically, seven demons. Locals were highly concerned about Lukins’ condition, for he was a well-liked figure. A vicar named Joseph Easterbrook, the Reverend of one of the local churches, heard stories and rumors of Lukins’ mishaps, and was determined to help him exorcise the demons. He gathered an entourage of religious clergymen and arranged the exorcism. Easterbrook’s account of the exorcism makes for a vivid reading.

The exorcism began with Lukins singing in an uncharacteristically high voice — one that was most definitely not his own. His voice began alternating between low, gruff, masculine voices and high-pitched, feminine ones, which were incidentally spewing malicious, blasphemous rants and physically threatening the religious men present. Lukins would bark, scream, groan, sing and babble utter nonsense throughout the exorcism, even blurting a Satanic hymn at one point. Easterbrook also mentioned that Lukins would go berserk, requiring at least two men to physically restrain him. Eventually Easterbrook and his men were successful; Lukins woke up, praised Jesus and said that the evil spirits were gone. George Lukins would go on to live a relatively quiet, humble life until his death in 1805.

The exorcism of Roland Doe remains one of history’s most notorious stories of demonic possession. It is also the true story behind the novel and Hollywood blockbuster The Exorcist. It retells the demon-riddled life of a 14-year-old boy, and the paranormal events surrounding it. Roland Doe (a pseudonym given to the boy by the church to protect his identity) was born in the mid 1930s in Maryland, and was an only child.

He was close with his aunt as a child, who introduced him to Ouija boards when he expressed interest in them. In fact, many people speculate that, following his aunt’s death, Roland attempted to contact her through the Ouija board; an incident that opened the door for demons to possess his soul. Soon after, Roland’s house became plagued by weird noises and even weirder supernatural events. Sounds of dripping water that could not be placed were the first indication that something was wrong.

This was tame, however, compared to what followed. Scratching noises, loud and unexplained footsteps heard all around the house, and worst of all, religious hangings and artifacts would fly off and smash against the walls. Words would appear to be carved into his flesh, and Roland would make inhuman noises and levitate in the air. Stories quickly got circulated around of the strange events in the Doe household, and this concerned the local church. Debates on the possibility of Roland being possessed quickly followed, and it was determined that he would require an exorcism.

Two Catholic priests were brought in for what would be a lengthy and arduous affair. His exorcism was performed over an entire month in several sessions. He would reportedly react in an aggressive and unruly manner towards the priests performing the exorcism, and often spoke Latin in what was described as a ‘demonic’ voice. Finally, Roland Doe was free of his demons, thanks to the painstaking efforts of the two priests, one of whom even remarked that Roland Doe later grew up to be a ‘fine, young man’.

This brings us to the terrifying case of Clara Germana Cele, which has a factor different from those I’ve mentioned previously. In the cases of Anna Ecklun, George Lukins, and even Roland Doe of “The Exorcist” fame, they were all unwilling participants in a battle of good versus evil, innocent of wrongdoing and just being the perfect victim for a bloodlusting demonic entity. But Clara… she made a literal pact with the devil and lived to tell about it.

On September 10, 1906, Clara Germana Cele underwent a strenuous two-day exorcism that almost ended her and the priests who were trying to save her. According to reports, the exorcism took place in front of 170 people, with the priests starting in the morning and stopping only for brief lunch breaks before they returned to the hard work of expelling a demon from the girl’s body.

At one point, as Germana allegedly struggled within the clutches of Satan, she managed to snatch a Bible away from one of the men and tried to choke him.

Clara Germana Cele didn’t have a great life before she was possessed. As an orphan in South Africa, Germana was mostly raised by the church. Baptized as a child, the only life she knew was in St. Michael’s Mission in Natal. There she allegedly made a deal with the Devil himself in exchange for her soul, though it’s unclear what she thought she was getting out of the bargain.

Stories about Germana’s possession have taken on near-mythical proportions in retellings. One of the most horrifying things she allegedly did was slither around on the floor like a snake. One witness claimed that during the exorcism, Germana’s body lost all its rigidity and became “rubbery” like a serpent.

It’s not out of the ordinary for possessed people to writhe and squirm across the ground, but some versions of the story say Germana fully turned into a snake.

Many stories about Germana’s possession say she was averse to all forms of religious iconography during the ordeal, but in A History of Exorcism in Catholic Christianity by Francis Young, the author claimed this might not be entirely true. Young stated that Germana not only went to confession while she was possessed, but she also received holy communion.

Either this happened early in her possession, or she was dealing with incredibly strong forces that thought they could withstand the power of the Catholic Church.

Nuns at Germana’s school weren’t sure if she was possessed or merely acting out. That began to change when she started discussing the embarrassing personal stories of people she couldn’t have known. After she allegedly brought up the private life of someone in the church, people began to realize something was happening with the young woman.

After her psychic abilities appeared, so did her penchant for levitation. One account said Germana floated five feet above her bed. Father Erasmus Hörner, one of the priests who later performed her exorcism, recalled, “Germana floated often three, four, and up to five feet in the air, sometimes vertically… and at other times horizontal.”

Witnesses claimed that after Germana’s possession, she was able to converse in and understand multiple languages. According to one of the nuns, the 16-year-old could suddenly speak French, German, and Polish. Becoming a polyglot is a typical trait of demonic possession, so it’s not surprising this was one of the first ways the girl’s demonic hanger-on manifested.

Germana’s abrupt use of multiple languages is likely what tipped off members of the parish.

Once possessed, Germana wasn’t just allergic to religious iconography, she was physically revolted by the sight or feel of anything the church had blessed. Multiple people who worked on her case claimed that when Germana went into a crazed possession trance, the only thing they could do to snap her out of it was to spritz her with holy water.

But the holy water was only a temporary solution – throughout her two-day exorcism, Germana assaulted nuns and acted out wildly every time a Bible or cross went near her.

One of the creepiest parts of the Clara Germana Cele story is her savage treatment of a nun during the exorcism. One of the sisters assisting the priests got more than she bargained for when Germana grabbed her arm and bit down.

The imprints left on the nun weren’t just of Germana’s teeth, but also something that looked like the outline of a snake’s tongue.

The nuns at the school realized something was wrong when Germana began acting like an animal and making strange guttural noises. She spoke to people who weren’t there and even smashed her bed to pieces.

After witnessing the girl ripping at her clothes and making strange noises, one nun said, “No animal had ever made such sounds. Neither the lions of East Africa nor the angry bulls. At times, it sounded like a veritable herd of wild beasts orchestrated by Satan had formed a hellish choir.”

The book Demonic Possession: Extraordinary True Life Experiences by C. Torrington alleged Germana felt like she was cheated out of something by the demon who possessed her. Supposedly after she confessed to Father Hörner about her deal with the devil, she got into a verbal argument with the spirit inside of her.

She allegedly said, “You have betrayed me. You have promised me days of glory, but now you treat me cruelly.”

According to The Devil and Philosophy: The Nature of His Game, Germana recovered from her exorcism and was incredibly embarrassed about the behavior she exhibited while possessed. Rather than hide away in her room and hope everyone would forget the insanity of her two-day exorcism, she asked for forgiveness and dedicated her life to humble pursuits.

It took a while for the clergy at Germana’s school to accept that she was possessed, but if they had listened to her in the first place, they might have saved themselves some trouble. According to their accounts, the girl went to confession and told a priest she wanted to make a pact with the devil. She may not have been clear with her reasoning, but it was something she wanted.

She later went back to confession and told Father Erasmus Hörner that the deal was done.

There are countless examples of people being possessed by evil, demonic spirits. The internet is overflowing with stories of demons wreaking havoc on people’s lives, and evil spirits wandering maliciously, disrupting the lives of poor, innocent souls. Whether you believe there is any real merit to these accounts or not, the truth of the matter is that they dig into one of the deepest horrors known to man; fear of the unknown. As long as stories of these possessions continue to pop-up, the fear of demons will remain. And that little ‘itch’ we were talking about? Yeah, that is never going to go away.

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Up next…

The coldest of cold cases for law enforcement in Idaho is the disappearance of Lillian Richey – and it’s also the most baffling, as Lillian disappeared from within her own home.

In 1986 there was a surge in the number of people entering the Himalayan mountains, and never leaving. Those who did escape reported hearing a loud ringing alarm, so loud they had to cover their ears and run, and even then suffered severe or complete hearing loss. They may not have known it at the time, but they had just come into contact with SCP-6789, also known as Siren Head.

Plus, a family in Chicago was terrified when voices began emanating from the wall of their little girl’s bedroom! Not only that, but this same story has a direct connection to Yours Truly, the head Weirdo, Darren Marlar!

These stories and others are still to come on Weird Darkness.

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This is the last week. Buy anything in the Weird Darkness store during April 2020 and the profits I receive will go towards a charity to benefit those suffering due to COVID-19. There are some really fun designs to go along with our fundraiser too – themes like social distancing, quarantine birthdays, healthcare workers, 2020 graduates, a riff on Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and a design specifically for Weirdo family members – I call it “Social Distancing Bigfoot”. Again, all money I receive for merchandise sales this month, April 2020, is going to a charity that’s helping those affected most by COVID-19. Click the STORE page at WeirdDarkness.com!

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SIREN HEAD

In 1986 there was a surge in the number of people entering the Himalayan mountains, and never leaving. Those who did escape reported hearing a loud ringing alarm, so loud they had to cover their ears and run, and even then suffered severe or complete hearing loss. They may not have known it at the time, but they had just come into contact with SCP-6789, also known as Siren Head.

The SCP Foundation evacuated the area. That night, they sent in a team to learn more about what was creating the alarm sound. Having reached a distance of 10 meters (approximately 32 feet) from the entity, the alarm rang out. In seconds, half of the team was dead, and the rest made a run for it, their radios destroyed by the nameless entity. Those who did make it back to base were deaf. Autopsies of the dead revealed that their brains had exploded. Having seen the creature, the foundation had no choice but to bomb the area, hitting it and allowing a team to restrain him.

The creature was 40 feet tall, humanoid in nature, with an emaciated, almost skeleton like body. His flesh was like that of a mummy, dried and the color of rust. He smelled like burnt skin. His arms were long, as long as his legs, and he had exceptionally large and bony hands. His neck looked like a long thin pole of flesh, and his head was nothing more than two sirens. You can see what appears to be several black wires snake down and around his neck, and into his upper shoulders. Looking at the sirens you could see toothy, lipless human-like jaws, and a long snake-like tongue.

The creature was given the name “Siren Head” and labeled SCP-6789. He was placed into a containment room with a size measuring 68 feet (20.8 meters) in diameter, and the area is equipped with an “anti-sound” device.

Observations have shown that Siren Head can play various types of noises, usually air raid sirens, garbled music, emergency broadcasts, and even conversations. It is also worth noting that his teeth are only visible on certain radio frequencies.

While some may rest easy knowing that Siren Head has been captured and contained, it is worth noting that there have been sightings of another in Tanyard Creek in Arkansas. On July 16, 1995, a man named Chad and his friends were hiking in the woods. Something through the trees was mimicking their voices, and his friends were snatched by something gigantic. Chad escaped with few injuries, but his friends were gone.

Throughout North America, caves are being uncovered with ancient cave paintings resembling Siren Head. These paintings showed him combatting people of the time.

What may be of further interest are the sightings of creatures that very closely resemble Siren Head. One had a head resembling a streetlight, while another was able to transform into various structures in order to blend in with his surroundings. One other sighting showed Siren Head with more than the known two sirens on his head. The witness counted five. In this particular area where he was spotted, the majority of the population was found dead, having suffered burst ear-drums and soft tissues. While most of the bodies were found in their homes, or on the streets, several were never found, leading some to speculate that he was not just killing for sport, but perhaps for food.

Siren Head was created by Trevor Henderson, a Canadian illustrator, artist, and writer. He is most commonly known for his horror related works and has released several books and graphic novels. Some of his most well-known creations are Cartoon Cat, Long Horse, the Country Road Creature, the Bridge Worms, the Man with the Upside-Down Face, the Smile Room, and, of course, Siren Head. You can see some of his other creations on his website and his Instagram, both of which I’ve posted links to in the show notes.

So yes, despite what you’ve heard, Siren Head is not real.

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THE WALL SPOKE

All these calls for social distancing and stay-at-home orders are driving some to boredom, but that might not be the case for those who happen to live in homes where the walls speak.

The strange tale of one such abode appeared back in February 2020, when reports circulated of a Lockport, Illinois family who are (likely still) experiencing strange noises, voices, and music emanating from the walls of their home, particularly those found in their 9-year-old daughter’s bedroom.

“There are voices in the wall and I don’t know what it is,” Brianna Smith told ABC 7of the strange occurrence. Her father, Richard, said the noises, which have been present for the past six or so years, keep them up at night.

At one point, the situation became so annoying that the Smiths eventually contacted the police, who filed multiple reports. Perhaps hauntingly, one officer said that he, too, could hear the sounds in the walls: “Voices and music,” he wrote, “talking about Christ.”

That would keep a person up at night. Fortunately for the Smith family, the origin of their ghostly wall voices has never been much of a mystery. As the officer also shared in his report, along with disembodied voices and music, he also heard a commercial — one for the local Christian radio channel AM 1160.

Even knowing what station it is, that only gets you so far. Richard took the wall apart in an attempt to find out what might be picking up the radio signal, which he believes is likely sent out by one of the six radio towers not far from his home.

But he couldn’t locate anything that would explain it. An engineer sent by AM 1160 also investigated the house’s walls, but found nothing in particular. “I don’t know what is acting as a speaker,” he told Richard.

Under certain conditions, metal can pick up radio waves, and even vibrate to act as a speaker. Ceiling fans and oscillating fans have been known to do so, and back in 1999 New Scientist tackled the phenomenon with a number of anecdotes involving everything from boat masts to water heaters to fence wire.

“If two items of metal are joined and there is some corrosion between them, the junction will act as a diode and ‘rectify’ or demodulate the AM radio signal. This causes an audio-frequency current to flow in the metal.”

You can hear some of the recordings Richard Smith took of their would-be wall radio, which he shared with ABC 7’s I-Team, in a video I will link to in the show notes. “You can hear the commentator or the pastor’s voice in the wall,” he says of one of his examples, “He is praying over someone for healing.” Here is a portion of that news story’s audio from ABC 7 in Chicago: <AUDIO CLIP>

(A side note before I finish with this story. They are right that this is not an uncommon occurrence. At this very moment I live under an FM radio tower in Loves Park, Illinois (WQFL-FM, where I used to do the morning show) and when we first moved in to our house we could hear the station bleeding into just about every FM frequency that wasn’t already being used by another station. That hasn’t changed – so thank goodness for Pandora and iHeart Radio. When I worked at KCNW-AM1380 in Kansas City, Missouri back in the 90s, we received very angry messages from people living near the station – they were complaining (and loudly, I might add) about how our signal was seeping into their phone lines. Now, here’s the crazy thing – are you ready? I, Darren Marlar, your Weird Darkness host, currently work for the radio station talked about in this story – AM1160 in Chicago; I was there during the time all of this was happening too. That means this family was listening to MY voice through the walls of that girl’s bedroom. How freaky is that? Unfortunately, I didn’t know any of this was happening until yesterday when working on this episode, because I work from home so I wasn’t in on the commotion with engineering and management trying to deal with the issue. So – three stations having the same issue, and me working at all three. Perhaps I am the problem! Another irony: all of these stations I just mentioned are Christian radio stations. But then, maybe that’s a good thing. You have to wonder if having your house itself recite scripture and constantly speak about Jesus might just ward off any potential demonic infestations!)

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THE LILLIAN RICHEY VANISHING

Among the creepiest disappearances are ones where the victim apparently vanished from his/her own home. Equally chilling are the cases where there are virtually no clues indicating what happened to this person. The following mystery managed to combine both these elements, making the fate of one otherwise completely normal person very abnormal indeed.
51-year-old Lillian Richey was a resident of Nampa, Idaho. She had lived alone since the death of her husband, but she had a good job at Bullock’s Jewelry, friends, family, and an active social life, so she was far from being lonely or isolated. She was a well-liked woman who had no known enemies or any notable personal problems.
On the night of February 8, 1964, Richey visited a nightclub with an old friend, a California man who was in the area for a cattleman’s convention. About 1:30 a.m., the man (whose name was never publicly revealed) drove Richey home in her own car, borrowing the auto to drive back to Boise. One of Richey’s neighbors saw the car drive away, immediately followed by lights being turned on in Richey’s kitchen. All was quiet and seemingly ordinary.
Around 11 a.m., the California man drove Richey’s car back to her home. He was followed by a friend in another car who would drive him back to Boise. They put the car in the garage, and, as the night before Richey had invited them to breakfast, knocked on her door. They were puzzled when she failed to respond. The front door was unlocked, so they opened it and called to her. Silence. The pair entered, and when they failed to find any sign of Richey, they left a note for her, breakfasted in a restaurant, and went to visit other friends in Nampa.
No one realized something was very wrong until the following day, when Richey failed to show up for work. Calls to her home went unanswered. By late afternoon, her co-workers were concerned enough to contact police.
The hunt was on for Lillian Richey. Everything in and around Nampa was searched. All her friends, relatives, and acquaintances were questioned by police. Searches of her home found nothing unusual. All her belongings were in their accustomed places. After checking her clothes closet, friends believed that the only item missing was the black evening dress she had worn to the nightclub. The wrap she had worn that night was found hanging in the closet, but there was no sign of the evening purse she had had with her. Plane tickets she had purchased to visit a son in Moscow, Idaho later that month were untouched. The house was dusted for fingerprints, but the only ones found belonged to the missing woman.
Naturally, the focus of the inquiry was on Mrs. Richey’s California friend, the last person known to have seen her before she disappeared. He and his friend were interrogated for hours. Their personal lives were heavily scrutinized. They submitted to lie detector tests. In short, the two men were investigated six ways from Sunday. And their stories checked out completely. The police found absolutely nothing to suggest that either of them were anything other than frustratingly innocent.
So if these two men were not responsible for Richey vanishing, who was? The police found nothing to indicate she committed suicide. Or that she had been kidnapped. Or murdered. Or left voluntarily. It was as clue-free a mystery as you could ever imagine. Police spent years chasing down whatever rumors or tips came their way–they even spoke to a man who claimed he had invented a machine that could find missing people–with absolutely no results. Private detectives hired by Richey’s two sons were equally ineffective. It was as if this woman had spontaneously evaporated into thin air.

Although Richey was declared legally dead in 1967, the search for her has never really ended. For years, there were rumors that Richey’s body could be found beneath the Nampa school district office building, which was under construction at the time of her disappearance. In 2018, police took that gossip seriously enough to excavate the office floor and bring in cadaver dogs and ground-penetrating radar, but to no one’s real surprise, nothing anomalous was found.
The vanishing of Lillian Richey is not only Idaho’s oldest cold case, but arguably its most baffling.

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When Weird Darkness returns…

We’ll peer into the life of the man recognized as the first ghost hunter in modern history, Harry Price.

Plus, a mother and daughter doing some grocery shopping end up catching the eye of a murderous psychopath.

These stories and more are up next.

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If you need a little humor to balance out the horror, you have until April 30th to watch all the comedy movies online that are in the Laugh Or Die Comedy Film Festival! Because Weird Darkness is a sponsor of the fest, you also get a great deal! Click on “Laugh or Die” at WeirdDarkness.com and get a third of the price slashed off of an all-access pass! That means you can watch every single movie of the festival for just ten bucks! Again, click on “Laugh or Die” at WeirdDarkness.com, grab your pass, and watch as many films as you want, as many times as you want. But you’d better hurry, because the films and the pass disappear April 30th! Click on “Laugh or Die” at WeirdDarkness.com.

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THE ORIGINAL GHOST HUNTER: HARRY PRICE

There is as much that’s a mystery about Harry Price, perhaps England’s most famous—or infamous—ghost hunter, as there is quantifiable fact. Some of this confusion is due to Price’s own dissembling. For instance, though Price claimed that he was born in Shropshire in 1881, he was actually born in London of that year.

Whatever the truth of his origins, Price left behind a legacy that will be familiar even to many who have never heard his name. Fans of films of the paranormal or readers of Mike Mignola’s Hellboy have likely encountered fictionalized accounts of several of Price’s cases.

An amateur magician and psychic researcher, Price dedicated most of his life to studying paranormal phenomena and debunking Spiritualists. The latter practice made him none-too-popular with many of the believers of that movement, including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. After Price debunked “spirit photographer” William Hope, Doyle led a mass resignation of 84 members of the Society for Psychical Research and continued to hound Price for years.

Unlike many magicians, however, Price was actually open to the possibilities of the paranormal and believed that some spirit mediums were genuinely legitimate. This, among other things, put him at odds with some other members of the Society for Psychical Research (SPR), which he joined in 1920. Price was also a member of the Magic Circle, an organization of stage magicians, The Ghost Club, arguably the oldest paranormal research organization in the world, and the founder of the National Laboratory of Psychical Research, which he founded as a rival to the SPR.

Some of Price’s most famous cases include his investigation of the medium Helen Duncan and a “black magic” experiment atop Mount Brocken in Germany in which an attempt was made to transform a goat into a young man. Price claimed that he participated in the experiment, known as the “Bloksberg Tryst,” “only to prove the fallacy of transcendental magic.”

Price also investigated Gef the Talking Mongoose in the 1930s. Gef supposedly inhabited the farmhouse of the Irving family on the Isle of Man, though Price’s investigations alleged that the hair and paw prints of the mongoose were actually from a dog, and that the talking was produced by hollow walls in the house, which “makes the whole house one great speaking-tube, with walls like sounding boards.”

In 1927, Price claimed that he had come into possession of a box left behind by self-styled religious prophetess Joanna Southcott, which she had left behind after her death in 1814. Along with the box, Southcott had left instructions that it should be opened “at a time of national crisis,” and only in the presence of every bishop of the Church of England. Price opened the box—in the presence of only the reluctant Bishop of Grantham—and found that it contained only a few odds and ends, including a lottery ticket and a horse-pistol.

Followers of Southcott—known as Southcottians—maintain that the box Price opened was a fraud. As recently as the 1970s, a Southcottian group called the Panacea Society claimed to be in possession of the actual box and placed advertising campaigns that pushed to have the box opened under the conditions set forth by Joanna Southcott.

Price’s most famous case was his study of Borley Rectory, which he called “the most haunted house in England.” Price rented and resided in the rectory from May of 1937 until May of 1938, along with a rotating group of 48 “official observers,” recruited through newspaper ads, tasked with reporting any unusual phenomena.

His study, which included a séance held by Helen Glanville, concluded that the rectory was indeed inhabited by several spirits, including the ghost of a French nun who had been murdered on the property. Another spirit was said to claim that he would set fire to the rectory, and that the fire would reveal the bones of a murdered individual.

In 1939, the rectory’s new owner knocked over an oil lamp while unpacking boxes, resulting in a fire that gutted the building. The insurance company would later conclude that the fire was deliberately set. During the blaze, a woman who lived nearby said she saw the figure of a ghostly nun in an upstairs window (and charged Harry Price one guinea for her story). A dig in the cellars of the ruined house conducted by Price in 1943 turned up two bones, which he believed belonged to a young woman. The bones were eventually given proper burial, though not in the parish of Borley, where local opinion held that they were the bones of a pig.

After Price’s death in 1948, the SPR conducted their own study investigating Price’s claims about Borley Rectory. In what came to be called the “Borley Report,” the SPR concluded that Price had faked many of the phenomena or that they were due to natural causes. Meanwhile, psychic researcher John L. Randall claimed that “dirty tricks” had been played on Price by members of the SPR during his residence at Borley.

Whatever the truth of Price’s life and cases, perhaps the greatest legacy he left to the world of paranormal research was his extensive collection of writings on magic and psychic phenomena, which make up the Harry Price Archives at the University of London as well as the Harry Price Library of Magical Literature, housed at the Senate House Library.

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THE CHESHIRE MURDERS

Grocery shopping is such a mundane activity that all families take part in at some point, so it wasn’t a big deal when 11 year old Michaela and her mom went grocery shopping, picking up dinner for their Sunday night dinner. Little did they know, they had caught the eye of a convicted felon, out on parole. That night, Michaela, her sister Hayley, and their mom Jennifer were all murdered in one of the most horrendous cases Connecticut had ever seen.

Michaela Petit was the youngest daughter of Dr. William “Bill” Petit, Jr., 50, and Jennifer Hawke-Petit, 48. Her older sister Hayley was 17, and had just graduated from Miss Porter’s School, a prestigious private school with many notable alumni such as Gloria Vanderbilt, and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. She was set to attend Dartmouth University in the fall, where she planned on following in her father’s footsteps by studying medicine. She was an active fundraiser for multiple sclerosis research, and captained a Walk MS Team called “Hayley’s  Hope.”

Dr. William Petit was an endocrinologist and the medical director of the Joslin Diabetes Center at Connecticut’s Central Hospital. His wife Jennifer was a nurse and co-director of the health center at Cheshire Academy. Jennifer had recently been diagnosed with MS. Michaela attended Chase Collegiate School, and planned on taking over her sister’s charity and renaming it “Michaela’s Miracle.” She loved food, and aspired to one day become a chef.

On the morning of July 22, 2007, the family attended church. It was a relaxing day, and Michaela wanted to cook Sunday dinner. She and her mom went to the local grocery store, to pick up what she needed for the meal. They traveled aisle to aisle, never once suspecting someone was watching them.

That night, after dinner, Mr. Petit lay down on the sofa in the sunroom where he fell asleep while the girls all watched TV after which they went to bed.

Joshua Komisarjevsky had seen Michaela and her mother in the grocery store that night, and had followed them home. That night, Komisarjevsky and his friend Steven Hayes, whom he had met while staying at a halfway house, made a plan to burglarize the Petit family. According to Komisarjevsky, the family had “a very nice house and very nice car and thought it would be nice to be there someday.”

At approximately 3am on July 23 Komisarjevsky and Hayes broke into the Petit family home through an unlocked door in the basement. Leaning against the stairs was a baseball bat, which Komisarjevsky picked up as he ascended the steps. They found Mr. Petit asleep in the sunroom.

Komisarjevsky struck Mr. Petit in the head with the bat four or five times before dragging him down to the basement and bound his wrists and ankles with rope and zip ties. They moved upstairs where they found Mrs. Petit and the two girls each in their respective rooms. They were each bound by their wrists and ankles to their bedposts, and pulled pillowcases down over their heads. The men searched the house, ransacking as they went, looking for cash. They were disappointed with what little they found, until they came upon a check register, indicating they had $40,000 in the bank.

Steven Hayes found two gas cans, and took them to a nearby gas station where he was spotted on surveillance video filling them with $10 worth of gas. He returned to the house and forced Jennifer to accompany him to the bank. She was told she needed to withdraw $15,000 for the men. Jennifer was smart though, and managed to inform the bank teller that men were holding her family hostage, threatening to kill them all. The bank manager called 911 while Jennifer was still busy with the teller, and was still on the line with them after she left the bank. She informed them that Jennifer had indicated that the men were “being nice” and that she believed they only wanted money.

The police responded, setting up a vehicle perimeter around the Petit home, without revealing their presence. Little did they know the horrors that were going on inside.

Joshua entered little Michaela’s bedroom where she had been tied to the bed posts. He proceeded to sexually assault her, taking photos of his acts with his cell phone. At some point her clothing was removed and washed, as they were later examined and had bleach on them. The assault was confirmed when medical examiners found Joshua’s sperm in her body. During his interrogation, he claimed that he believed the girl was 14 or 16.

Steven went on to strangle Jennifer. Unfortunately, her death did not stop him from raping her, claiming Joshua provoked him into doing so. The sound of the thumping and moaning was so great that Mr. Petit could hear it in the basement. He yelled, and received the response, “don’t worry, It’s all gonna be over in a couple of minutes.”

Mr. Petit managed to free himself of his restraints. He escaped, hopping up the basement stairs and to the outside of the house. “I thought, it’s now or never because in my mind at that moment, I thought they were going to shoot all of us.” He crawled to a neighbor’s yard for help. His injuries were so bad, the neighbor didn’t even recognize him at first.

Joshua discovered Mr. Petit had escaped and rushed to tell Steven. He finished up with Jennifer, then together they took the gas cans, dousing her body and the rest of the house with gasoline. They left Michaela and Hayley tied to their beds, and covered them in gasoline as well. They set the place on fire, and fled the scene in the Petit family car. The police that had been nearby watching the house immediately pursued, and the men crashed the car into a police car.

By the time firefighters arrived on scene, the entire house had gone up in flames. They were not able to save the girls; Jennifer died from strangulation, Michaela and Hayley died from smoke inhalation. Hayley had managed to escape her restraints, but was found collapsed near the top of the stairs. Her feet had sustained third and fourth-degree burns. Michaela was found still tied to her bed, with her lower body hanging off. The entire invasion lasted seven hours.

The men confessed, and were both sentenced to death, however since then the state of Connecticut has abolished the death penalty, and both mens’ sentences were turned into life sentences. The details of the case were so unsettling, that jurors were offered counseling to deal with any psychological or emotional trauma they may have experienced.

There is much controversy over the police action/inaction during the invasion. They had orders to set up the perimeter and monitor the situation, but not to engage. They didn’t know the extent of the horrors going on inside.

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When Weird Darkness returns I’ll share a really touching email full of generosity and unselfishness, plus a message from a man who said I scared the crap out of him while he was out hunting. The Chamber of Comments is up next.

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Today’s bonus audio for patrons is: “True Stories of Urban Legends”. We’ve all heard variations on creepy urban legends: the babysitter who keeps getting calls from inside the house; the sound of a hook scraping against a car door; the ghostly hitchhiker who simply vanishes into thin air. These stories, shared at slumber parties and over campfires, had to come from somewhere … and what’s most terrifying is that some are based in actual fact.

In today’s bonus audio for patrons, I share some of the scariest American urban legends and the realities from which they originated.

Find a link to today’s bonus audio, “True Stories of Urban Legends” in the show notes! For just $5 per month you can become a patron at WeirdDarkness.com! As a patron you get commercial-free episodes of Weird Darkness every day, bonus audio, and chapters of audiobooks as I narrate them! But more than that – by helping me pay for expenses, you are also helping to reach people who are desperately hurting with depression and anxiety. Get the benefits of being a patron, and benefit others who are hurting at the same time. Become a patron at WeirdDarkness.com.

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We’ll step into the Chamber of Comments in just a moment, but if you made it this far, welcome to the Weirdo Family. If you like the podcast, please tell your friends/family about it however you can and get them to become Weirdos too! And I’d greatly appreciate you leaving a review in the podcast app you listen from, that helps the podcast get noticed! While you’re listening, you might want to check out the Weird Darkness website. At WeirdDarkness.com you can find transcripts of the episodes, paranormal and horror audiobooks I’ve narrated, the Weird Darkness store, plus you can visit the “Hope In The Darkness” page if you are struggling with depression, anxiety, or thoughts of suicide. And if you are an artist and find inspiration through the podcast, you can submit your artwork to the Weirdos Art Gallery. You can find all of that at WeirdDarkness.com.

Now… let’s step into the Chamber of Comments….

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Here in the Chamber of Comments I answer your emails, comments, podcast reviews, tweets, letters I get in the mail, and more. You can find all of my contact information, postal address, and social media links on the CONTACT page at WeirdDarkness.com. While you’re there, join the Facebook Group, “Weird Darkness Weirdos” and hang out with me and the rest of our Weirdo family! Or drop me an email anytime at: darren@weirddarkness.com.

(Review from Sharks_67 in Australia): Great show, many interesting episodes. Enjoy the stories immensely. Keep up the great work. Was great to hear you mention on the episode on 25 April, the ANZACS. Thanks for the show. Hamo66 from Sydney, Australia.

REPLY: Glad you found the podcast, Sharky!

(Facebook message from Kyle Dugan): Hey just wanted to tell you I’ve been listening to weird darkness almost 2 years now and I absolutely love every bit of it. I wanted to tell you end of last year I was scouting for my elk an on the drive on a dirt road at night I was listening to a story about big foot attacking people. I was planning on sleeping in bed of truck but after hearing you tell that story I had to sleep in back seat of truck with doors locked you had me so worked up lol. Keep it up man thanks!

REPLY: LOL!  That’s great!  Honestly, even without the creepy stories I don’t know that I could sleep in the bed of a truck, exposed to the elements and anyone who wanted to walk up and scare the crap out of me.  I’d be in the locked cab too!  But you don’t have to be scared of Bigfoot.  He’s not real.  What you really need to look for are leprechauns.  Sneaky little devils!

(Email from Steven): Hey Darren I listen to your podcast while at work to keep me motivated during my daily tasks, and i just want to say thank you..thank you for keeping me going throughout my day each day I get to hear another amazing story on your podcast I suffer from depression and anxiety. Today I turned on the podcast and listened all the way through and caught the end of the comments section of the podcast I heard the email from Marcell from Vancouver and how you told him to take care of his family first and that your podcast should be the last thing he should be worried about. I know you have bills to pay and I did hear about you losing 50% of your income and it amazed me that even though your experiencing a hardship you still don’t put your self first and that to me makes you  A Hero… so what I would like to do is pay for Marcell to be a patron for 6 months so he can continue to hear you great stories. I feel anyone who can help support what you do to keep the help for anxiety and depression from ifred  you help so many people and don’t get enough credit for you action. I would love to hear other helping other in this time of need please let me know how I can help marcell by paying for his patronage to your podcast. If every one of the patrons took one person and paid for 1 month that could be a blessing to a stranger and you never know who your going to help. God bless you and thank you for all that you do.

REPLY: I love your heart, Steven!  What a great first email of the day to open and read!  I looked into it, and there isn’t currently a way to gift patronage (paying for a subscription for someone else) or even to give access to certain individuals without payment, which I was hoping I could do.  It doesn’t look like they have plans on making it happen in the near future either.  The only way this would work would be to contact the person you want to gift a patronage to, and give them the money to do it themselves.  Of course, that takes away some of the specialness of it, but that’s the only way I can see making it happen at all.  And yes, I did lose over 50% of my income, and yes, we’ll be tightening our belts, but that doesn’t change the fact that my bride and I are already more blessed than millions on this planet.  I already work at home so the social distancing isn’t much of a factor for me, my bride is retired so it’s the same for her.  I still have my voiceover business and the podcast to help keep the bills paid, my patrons are fantabulous and are a life-saver right now.  I have a roof over my head, food in the fridge, a woman who supports me, and an almighty God who loves me.  I’m good.  We all need to be unselfish during this time.  Even if you’re in a bind yourself, if you see someone you know and love who is struggling, and you can help even the least little bit, then you should.  Before I lost half my income we were able to provide food and necessities for our neighbors and families.  We were able to pay for the person behind us in the fast food drive-thrus.  We were able to tip more than 100% to delivery drivers to show our appreciation for them still working in the public during this upside-down world we’re experiencing.  So now we won’t be able to do all of that as easily now.  But one thing Robin and I have always wanted was to be in a position where we can financially help others.  No multi-million dollar homes, gold-plated sports cars, memberships to Country Clubs, etc.  That’s all rubbish – we want to be able to give things that have long-lasting value, life-changing, even eternal value.  And we can still do that now on a smaller scale, and we hope the day comes where we are once again spreading the love in that way. Until then though, and this is more for everyone listening to the podcast as I read your email during the show: we are all in a position to make a difference right where we are.  Can you “Weird It Forward” and buy a meal for someone in line behind you at the drive-thru?  If you have to go the grocery store for supplies, can you call an elderly neighbor and ask if they need anything too so they won’t have to put themselves in a potentially dangerous situation?  Can you call a friend or loved one just to say hello and that you are thinking about them?  It’s as the saying goes, “You might be the only bible someone reads.”  Even if you’re not religious, hopefully you get the message.  You might be the only kindness someone receives all week – or even all month.  You might be the only hint of humanity not hitting rock bottom.

I’ll answer more of your emails, comments, and more next time! Again, you can find all of my social media and contact information on the CONTACT page at WeirdDarkness.com.

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All stories in Weird Darkness are purported to be true unless stated otherwise, and you can find source links or links to the authors in the show notes.

“The Possession of Clara” by Jacob Shelton for Graveyard Shift

“Siren Head” from The Scare Chamber

“The Wall Spoke” by Rob Schwarz for Stranger Dimensions

“The Lillian Richey Vanishing” from Strange Company

“The Original Ghost Hunter: Harry Price” by Orrin Grey for The Line Up

“The Cheshire Murders” from The Scare Chamber

Weird Darkness theme by Alibi Music.

WeirdDarkness™ – is a registered trademark. Copyright ©Weird Darkness 2020.

If you’d like a transcript of this episode, you’ll find a link in the show notes.

NOW THAT WE’RE COMING OUT OF THE DARK, I’LL LEAVE YOU WITH A LITTLE LIGHT: Proverbs 11:25 = A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.

AND A FINAL THOUGHT: Don’t be afraid to start over. It’s a brand new opportunity to rebuild what you truly want.

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

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