“EXECUTION BY URINE” and More Creepy, True, and Horrifying Stories! #WeirdDarkness

EXECUTION BY URINE” and More Creepy, True, and Horrifying Stories! #WeirdDarkness

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IN THIS EPISODE: When you think of methods of execution, what comes to mind? Electric chair? Hanging? Firing squad? Lethal injection? Or perhaps something a bit more historic like guillotine, or even stoning. But I’m guessing the last thing you’d think of for a method of execution would be death by golden shower. (Death by Urination) *** Had Daniel Lambert been alive today, he would’ve carted his more than 700 pounds around in a motorized scooter, as too many morbidly obese people choose to do. But in the early 1800s, such amenities weren’t available, because there was no market for them. Lambert was a true anomaly. And people couldn’t get enough of him. (Daniel Lambert: Fat Man On Display) *** A woman describes how frightened she was when working in a school after hours – so frightened that now, over 23-years-later, she still has trouble sleeping due to the fear she experienced. (Horrible, No-good, Very Bad Schoolhouse) *** An eerie painting spooked many who just saw it. Those who owned it fared worse. Could this piece, painted in 1972, truly be haunted? (The Hands Resist Him: Haunted Painting) *** From murdering children to drinking blood, Peter Kürten was “the king of the sexual perverts” and perhaps the worst serial killer ever. So it’s no surprise he would be tagged with the word “vampire” to describe him. (The Abominations Of Peter Kürten – Vampire Of Düsseldorf)

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

LINKS AND RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THE EPISODE…
Peter Kürten’s head before and after the guillotine: https://tinyurl.com/yagaqlhs
“American Hellhounds” episode (includes Carter brothers/New Orleans vampires): https://weirddarkness.com/archives/6214

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STORY AND MUSIC CREDITS/SOURCES…
(Note: Over time links can and may become invalid, disappear, or have different content.)
“The Abominations Of Peter Kürten – Vampire Of Düsseldorf” by Katie Serena for All That’s Interesting, https://tinyurl.com/ycr8yl2p; and Joe Duncan for List Verse: https://tinyurl.com/y7txms9y
“Death by Urination” by Daven Hiskey for Today I Found Out: https://tinyurl.com/9wftd7z
“Daniel Lambert: Fat Man On Display” by Marc Hartzman for Weird Historian: https://tinyurl.com/yb52ke48
“Horrible, No-good, Very Bad Schoolhouse” by Bettina Marie from Your Ghost Stories: https://tinyurl.com/yctbrebo
“The Hands Resist Him: Haunted Painting” from The Line Up: https://tinyurl.com/y8hfk7vp
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TRANSCRIPT:

Before I begin this episode, I want to give warning. I know I place a disclaimer at the beginning of each show, but for this particular episode, the intro and first story are especially gruesome and describe acts you do not want younger minds within earshot of. Even some adults might want to click the fast-forward button to avoid the details.

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Seduction, theft, threats, burglary, breaking and entering, arson, sexual assault, rape, attempted robbery, attempted murder, and murder: these are all crimes Peter Kurten, also known as the Vampire of Dusseldorf and the Dusseldorf Monster, would eventually be convicted of. Hidden beneath his mild-mannered exterior and gentle demeanor was a diabolical maniac filled with lust and sexual rage. His homicidal murder spree would last nearly two decades as Kurten spread terror in Germany from 1913 all the way until his capture in 1930. Kurten was the monster of all monsters, with zero remorse or empathy. He would kill at will, even in broad daylight, brazenly and with complete disregard. His compulsion for murder was unmatched. While most haven’t even heard of him, Kurten was every bit as brutal as any modern serial killer. A psychiatrist who saw and assessed Kurten would go on record saying, “Kurten is the king of sexual delinquents because he unites nearly all perversions in one person.” He went on say, “That is the dreadful thing: The man Kurten is a riddle to me. I cannot solve it. The criminal Haarman only killed men, Landru only women, Grossman only women, but Kurten killed men, women, children, and animals, killed anything he found!” The depravity and brutality of Kurten’s bloodshed still baffles psychologists today.

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…

When you think of methods of execution, what comes to mind? Electric chair? Hanging? Firing squad? Lethal injection? Or perhaps something a bit more historic like guillotine, or even stoning. But I’m guessing the last thing you’d think of for a method of execution would be death by golden shower.

Had Daniel Lambert been alive today, he would’ve carted his more than 700 pounds around in a motorized scooter, as too many morbidly obese people choose to do. But in the early 1800s, such amenities weren’t available, because there was no market for them. Lambert was a true anomaly. And people couldn’t get enough of him.

A woman describes how frightened she was when working in a school after hours – so frightened that now, over 23-years-later, she still has trouble sleeping due to the fear she experienced.

An eerie painting spooked many who just saw it. Those who owned it fared worse. Could this piece, painted in 1972, truly be haunted?

From murdering children to drinking blood, Peter Kürten was “the king of the sexual perverts” and perhaps the worst serial killer ever. So it’s no surprise he would be tagged with the word “vampire” to describe him.

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

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THE ABOMINATIONS OF PETER KURTEN – VAMPIRE OF DUSSELDORF

The early morning sun was rising over the grounds of Klingelputz Prison in Cologne, Germany, as a man named Peter Kürten entered the execution courtyard on July 2, 1931.

Just shy of 50 years old, he was of average height with neatly combed dark hair and one of those faces that could resemble anyone. In fact, if you looked hard enough, he almost resembled a far more famous German citizen, whose rise to fame just a few months later would vastly overshadow this man’s crimes, effectively hiding him from the pages of history.

Flanked by the prison’s priest and psychiatrist, he was on his way to the guillotine to answer for the heinous crimes he had committed over the past 17 years. His crimes included burglary, arson, attempted murder, rape, cannibalism, and murder. The list of his victims surpassed 30 and could have been anywhere from 35 to 70.

The more one learns about Peter Kürten, the worse it gets.

Known as the Vampire of Düsseldorf and the Düsseldorf Monster, Peter Kürten spent almost 20 years fulfilling his deepest, darkest desires. As a child, he’d been subjected to abuse, beaten by his alcoholic parents, and forced to watch them have sex. Before he even entered his teens he had attempted to drown one of his playmates and had befriended a local dog-catcher who taught him how to torture and kill the animals he caught.

At the age of 13, Kürten formed a relationship with a girl his age, though she resisted having sex with him. To channel his sexual frustrations, Kürten resorted to bestiality with local farm animals. Worse, he admitted to mutilating the animals in an effort to achieve an orgasm. He was forced to end his behavior when a farmer noticed him stabbing a pig.

In the next few years, Kürten stole all of the money in his household and ran away from home to begin a relationship with a prostitute two years his senior. He would then spend a month in jail for petty theft and four years in prison for fraud.

In 1904, Kürten was drafted into the German army, though he soon deserted. He began committing acts of arson, watching from a distance as emergency teams arrived on the scene. Eventually, he was arrested for arson, was discovered to be a deserter, and tried by the military system.

During his imprisonment, his third so far, he claimed he encountered severe forms of punishment and developed deranged erotic fantasies, which caused him to spontaneously ejaculate while remembering them. Finally, in 1913, he was released from prison, and moved to Mülheim am Rhein.

Though his crimes before were awful, the worst was yet to come.

In May of 1913, Peter Kürten’s urges could no longer be satisfied by prostitutes and farm animals. His time in prison hadn’t deterred him from committing crimes, and shortly after his release, he burgled a home in his neighborhood.

While inside the home, he happened upon the homeowner’s nine-year-old daughter. Overcome by the erotic fantasies he had thought up in prison, he strangled her and slashed her throat with his pocket knife. Upon hearing the girl’s blood drip to the floor, he ejaculated.

The next day, he returned to the scene by visiting a tavern across the street. Hearing the locals talk about his crimes was something of a high for him and he reveled in hearing their reactions. Over the next few months, again overwhelmed by the need to see the effects of his crime, he would visit the girl’s grave and touch the soil under which she was buried for sexual satisfaction.

Two months after killing the young girl, Peter Kürten committed the same crime, this time burglarizing the home of a 17-year-old girl. As he had before, he strangled the woman and ejaculated at the sight of her blood.

Though he intended to continue his spree, he was, fortunately, arrested for arson and burglary later that year. He spent eight years in a military prison in Brieg, Germany, before being released in April of 1921.

Upon his release from his fourth period of incarceration, Kürten became engaged to a woman named Auguste Scharf, a shop owner and former prostitute. It was also a perfect match, as Auguste had previously been accused of fatally shooting her former fiancé, whom Kürten had previously posed as to evade arrest.

However, the union was hardly a happy one due to Kürten’s increasing infidelities. Upon realizing that her husband had been sleeping with not one but two of their maids, she encouraged one of them to press charges, claiming Kürten had forced her into having sex. The charge held up in court and Kürten was sentenced to his fifth prison sentence, this time for six months.

After his release, Kürten, of course, picked up his old habits. Over the course of one month, he murdered two people and attempted to murder a third, though she survived her injuries.

Peter Kürten’s preferred method of torture and murder was stabbing, usually with a pair of sharpened scissors. In addition to physical mutilation, he would sexually abuse his victims and strangle them into unconsciousness. He also occasionally returned to the crime scenes, to discuss his crimes with police, under the guise of a concerned citizen.

Over the next several months he attempted to strangle four women, but each of them got away from him. Then, in August of 1929, his killing spree reached an all-time high.

Over the course of the month, he murdered six people. The first was a woman he had stalked for almost a week, whose body he wished to crucify on a decomposing tree, in order to cause a scene for the public. Eventually, he settled for burying her, though he did follow up the murder with a detailed letter to police, including a map to her body.

After writing the letter, in an attempt to throw police off his trail, he switched from his signature pair of scissors to a knife. Additionally, he randomly stabbed three people: an 18-year-old girl, a 30-year-old man, and a 37-year old woman, who all escaped but described their attacker differently, effectively confusing police.

Three days after the random stabbings, Peter Kürten murdered a pair of sisters, one by strangulation, the other by slicing her neck. For the first time, Kürten engaged in cannibalism, drinking the blood of the younger girl as it poured from her neck.

The next month, Kürten murdered two servant girls, this time using a hammer to strike them over the heads. He also stabbed a child, leaving her for dead in an alleyway, in what would be his final murder.

On May 14, Kürten attempted to seduce and murder a 20-year-old woman named Maria Budlick. She made it as far as his apartment before realizing his intentions and fleeing the scene. However, she didn’t report her ordeal to the police, instead detailing the event in a letter to a friend. As luck would have it, she incorrectly addressed the letter and it ended up in the hands of a postal worker, who thankfully passed it onto police.

At the same time that the police were reading Budlick’s letter, Peter Kürten was confessing his crimes to his wife. Incredibly, she had managed to stay married to him and apparently remained completely unaware of his crimes. As Kürten knew there was a reward out for him, he suggested that his wife be the one to turn him in. That way, there would be money left for her after his imminent incarceration.

As soon as he was arrested, Peter Kürten folded and immediately confessed to the crimes while expressing no remorse. In all, he ended up admitting to 68 crimes, including 10 murders and 31 attempted. He justified the crimes, claiming that they were revenge for the horrors that life had inflicted upon him during childhood and that he was simply claiming what was due to him.

Horrified by his confession, police ordered a psychological evaluation, the first ever performed on a sexual serial killer. However, the findings would horrify them even more. Despite his colorful and detailed confession, his admittance of multiple erotic, psychosexual fantasies involving blood, mass murder, and fire, five separate psychologists concluded that he was, in fact, perfectly sane and fit to stand trial.

Peter Kürten’s lack of remorse only presented itself further when a judge asked him about his conscience, questioning if the man felt he had one at all.

“I have none,” he responded. “Never have I felt any misgiving in my soul; never did I think to myself that what I did was bad, even though human society condemns it. My blood and the blood of my victims must be on the heads of my torturers … The punishments I have suffered have destroyed all my feelings as a human being. That was why I had no pity for my victims.”

For 10 days the prosecution and the defense argued about Kürten’s motives, his crimes, his conscience, and his punishment before the jury ultimately reached a guilty verdict. He was found guilty of murder, and awarded nine death sentences to be carried out by guillotine.

Upon laying his head down on the machine, he turned to the psychiatrist and asked a question.

“Tell me,” he asked. “After my head is chopped off, will I still be able to hear, at least for a moment, the sound of my own blood gushing from the stump of my neck? That would be the pleasure to end all pleasures.”

The executioner then dropped the blade.

Following his death, Peter Kürten’s head was removed for forensic analysis and eventually found it’s way to the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum in Wisconsin. I’ll place a link to a photo of it in the show notes if you’re curious what it looks like.

Doctors were sure that something must have been wrong with him, for him to have been so passive regarding his crimes. Shockingly, the exam revealed nothing abnormal about him.

Peter Kürten was simply a deranged serial killer, plagued with erotic visions of death, seeking retribution for a childhood lost.

* * * * * * * * * *

Up next…

When you think of methods of execution, even ancient ones, you probably never think of death by urine.

In the 1800s people just could not get enough of Daniel Lambert and his display. But then, Daniel had plenty to go around as he weighed more than 700 pounds.

A woman describes an incident decades old, that still haunts her.

These stories and more when Weird Darkness returns.

<BREAK>

The Weirdo Watch Parties we’ve been doing have been so successful, we’re bringing Eerie Late Night to the Weird Darkness web site! Now, you can enjoy schlock B-horror and thriller movies, and hilarious horror hosts, on the Weirdo Watch Party page at WeirdDarkness.com. It’s now streaming old horror, classic serials, retro TV commercials, and more – 24/7, every day of the year – and it’s FREE to watch whenever you want. Meanwhile, our next Weirdo Watch Party is Saturday, May 23rd!  Join me, other Weirdo family members, and horror hosts Slash and Foxi Roxi as they present the 1984 B-horror movie, CarnageCarnage is the story of Carol and Jonathan, a newlywed couple, who move into their new house which is haunted by the ghosts of another newlywed couple who committed suicide in the house three years earlier. (Creepy!) You can be a part of the Weirdo Watch Party for free – just visit the page and click the play button to start watching! The chat room is also there, so during the Weirdo Watch Party we can all join in to chat with each other, comment about the film and the horror hosts, and most of the time the horrors hosts jump into the chatroom with us to get in on the jokes and conversation. It’s FREE, it’s FUN, and it helps to promote different horror hosts and show them that we appreciate them keeping the art form alive.  So join us for the 1984 schlock horror film, “Carnage”! Put it on your Google calendar, set a reminder on your smart home device, write it on your home or office calendar with blood – whatever you have to do so you won’t miss the fun!  This time the party is on the Weirdo Watch Party page on  Saturday, May 23rd at 9pm Central (10pm Eastern, 7pm Pacific, 8pm Mountain) at WeirdDarkness.com!

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DEATH BY URINATION

Humans have invented a variety of amazingly cruel and unusual ways to kill or maim one another (often for shockingly arbitrary reasons). And, of course, wars tend to bring out the worst in people; so it’s not surprising that war-time executions can occasionally be among the most bizarre and cruel.   On that note, I was recently reading the first volume of John Masters’ autobiography, Bugles and a Tiger, and came across one of the more bizarre execution methods, death by drowning a person in urine.

This method of execution was used by the Pathans (also known as “ethnic Afghans” and “Pashtuns”).  The women of this group, particularly in the Afridi tribe of the Pashtuns (who today primarily reside in present-day Pakistan and Afghanistan), would occasionally execute people this way, as mentioned by the British John Masters who was stationed in British India when he was 18 in 1933.

“…if they [Pathans] captured any soldiers other than Muslims, and especially if the soldiers were Sikhs or British, they would usually castrate and behead them.  Both these operations were frequently done by the women.  Sometimes they would torture prisoners with the death of a thousand cuts, pushing grass and thorns into each wound as it was made. Sometimes they would peg the prisoner out and, with a stick, force his jaws so wide open that he could not swallow, and then the women would urinate in his open mouth (taking turns) till he drowned. This kind of cruelty was not confined to war, but was as much a part of the Pathans’ normal lives as were their sturdy independence… If a man suspected his wife of the most minor infidelity, he would cut her nose off… The Pathans punished an adulterer by forcing a thick and knobbly thorn twig down his penis.  They rewarded infringements of lesser laws by tearing a man’s tongue out by the roots.”

If that all weren’t cringe-worthy enough:

“It is still customary among some tribes in Assam (northeastern region in India)… to punish an unfaithful woman by tying her to a post with her legs apart over a quick-growing kind of bamboo, and leaving her there until the bamboo grows up into her womb and stomach and she dies.”

Bizarrely, particularly given their stance on women and adultery, there are also a few reports of these “death by golden shower” executions being preceded by the women first gang raping the condemned man before drowning him in their urine.

Lest you go away thinking that it was just the Pashtuns who instituted various cruel punishments, during these various skirmishes that Masters was involved, he gives an account of a lot of cruelty on both sides.  For instance, in one case a wounded tribesman (both his legs broken) was captured. Contrary to an order given by the commanding officer of this battalion (no prisoners), his soldiers brought him in as a prisoner.  The officer was furious and then “ordered the prisoner to be pegged out, face up, in front of the quarter-guard.  There was no shade and the sun temperature was probably about 130-degrees.  The further order was that every man who passed should kick the prisoner in the testicles.”  The prisoner died later that evening and his body was placed in a location where a British soldier had previously been flayed alive by the Pashtuns.

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DANIEL LAMBERT: FAT MAN ON DISPLAY

Had Daniel Lambert been alive today, he would’ve carted his more than 700 pounds around in a motorized scooter, as too many morbidly obese people choose to do. But in the early 1800s, such amenities weren’t available, because there was no market for them. Lambert was a true anomaly. And people couldn’t get enough of him.

Lambert, once known as the fattest man in England, is the first heavyset man believed to make a living by exhibiting his weight.

Born on March 13, 1770 in the parish of St. Martin, at Leicester, Lambert grew up bigger and more powerful than other kids. He enjoyed swimming, and while in the water, he could reportedly carry two men of ordinary size on his back. He enjoyed other sports as well, including cockfighting, dog racing, and fishing.

Lambert’s weight increased steadily as he reached adulthood. By age 23 he weighed 450 pounds. But before decided to become a professional fat man, he held a job as the keeper of the town’s prison. This  position lasted until 1805, at which time the facility closed. Lambert was left with a 50-pound annuity.

By this time Lambert’s size had grown considerably—and so did his reputation. Curiosity seekers wished to see this unusual man for themselves, but Lambert had no desire to put himself on display for anyone. The Book of Wonderful Characters( 1869), by Henry Wilson and James Caulfield, shares this amusing anecdote:

“A gentleman travelling through Leicester conceived a strong desire to see this extraordinary phenomenon; but, being at a loss for a pretext to introduce himself, he first took care to inquire what were his particular propensities. Being informed that he was a great cocker, the traveler thought himself sure of success. He accordingly went to his house, knocked at the door, and inquired for Mr. Lambert. The servant answered that he was at home, but that he never saw strangers. ‘Let him know,’ replied the curious traveler, ‘that I called about some cocks.’ Lambert, who chanced to be in a situation to overhear what passed, immediately rejoined: Tell the gentleman that I am a shy cock.”

Such cases began happening all too often and Lambert realized that he, a former keeper of the prison, was becoming a prisoner in his own home.

In April of 1806, with his funds running dangerously low, he finally chose to embrace the curiosity and allow people to give him money to visit with him. To maximize his potential, he moved to where the most people could find him: London. Lambert had a special vehicle built to carry him to the big city and took up residence in Piccadilly. Spectators were not only impressed with his size, but they appreciated his intelligence and enjoyed his personality. Visiting him became quite fashionable.

Of course, not everyone treated Lambert well. When they were obnoxious, the large man returned the favor.

Wilson offered this example: “A person asking him in a very rude way the cost of one of his coats, he returned him no answer. The man repeated the question with the observation that he thought he had a right to demand any information, having contributed his shilling, which would help to pay for Mr. Lambert’s coat as well as the rest. ‘Sir,’ rejoined Lambert, ‘if I knew what part of my next coat your shilling would pay for, I can assure you I would cut out the piece.’”

For the record, a suit of clothes cost Lambert roughly 20 pounds.

By September, Lambert had earned enough money to end his London exhibitions and returned to a life of sporting events, which included a passion for breeding sporting dogs and fighting cocks. However, he didn’t entirely give up on capitalizing from his girth. Lambert continued to travel to various towns, where “many thousands beheld with admiration his astonishing bulk.”

His tour ended in Stamford in Lincolnshire, where he suddenly passed away on June 21, 1809. No specific cause of death was reported. His specially made casket was six feet, four inches long and four feet four inches wide. It included wheels to help it roll down a slope into the grave.

His tombstone has this epitaph:

“In remembrance of that prodigy in nature,
DANIEL LAMBERT,
A native of Leicester,
Who was possessed of an excellent and convivial mind, and
In personal greatness had no competitor.
He measures three feet one inch round the leg, nine feet four
inches round the body, and weighed 52 stone, 11 lbs.
He departed this life on the 21st of June, 1809, aged 39 years.
As a testimony of respect, this stone was erected by his
Friends in Leicester.”

Despite his death, exhibits of Lambert continued. A wax figure of his likeness was sent to America by 1813. It was eventually acquired by P.T. Barnum and placed on display in his American Museum. A fire in 1865 melted it.

More recently, the town of Leicester celebrated Daniel Lambert Day in 2009, marking the 200th anniversary of his death. The local newspaper called him “one of the city’s most cherished icons.”

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HORRIBLE, NO-GOOD VERY BAD SCHOOLHOUSE

Even though I may be tough, I am often scared of what I can feel, so I take my cues for response from people around me. I also have such a wild imagination that I am fully capable of freaking myself out, which I have owned up to on occassion. What happened here scared the holy crap out of me, but I did not “allow” myself to acknowledge out loud whatever it was, at the moment. I very strongly believe in intention and try not to give in to negative energy. Sort of the awake version of putting one’s head under the covers, hoping “It” goes away when a monster crawls out from under the bed.

This story is not one that has anything I can “prove” to myself by what other people “saw” or experienced with me, but it terrifies me to this day. I could not sleep last night, thinking of it, still scared.

The location and names I will keep for privacy. I hope I make sense explaining it to you. I was already grown up when my parents moved to a tiny desert “base” town in Utah. This story is embarrassing because I was too scared to act or respond.

My mom was the school librarian for 23 years at the little public school, built in the 50/60’s (?) The main building was a kind of an H layout, with some outside “modular” classrooms. The admin office, staff WC/lounge, gym and cafeteria were all by the front, South entrance hall on the center “bar” of the H. My Mom’s library was a couple doors down, on the “outer” side of the lower “leg” or Southeast wing of the H. There were self-locking “exit only” fire doors at the end of each hall, which can be used, but not held open, without setting off the alarms. The entire campus was demolished, the year after my mom retired. I do not know if the new school got built there.

As a visitor, I always went in through the front doors to the office. I may have been in the cafeteria once, but I never really went past the hall where you go from the office around the corner to my Mom’s library. I had entered a few of the classrooms on that wing and the teacher’s lounge during daylight hours.

I had only visited my Mom a few times during school, in her little library. It had a “reading dragon” and a “life sized” statue of a beloved fictional character. I was not personally fond of this odd, adorable statue, but my mom talked to it and dressed it for holidays. The little kids loved it, too, of course. I always felt overgrown and out of place, even in her library. One time I was there to see my sister in law dressed up as Clifford the Big Red Dog for the book fair. Happy thoughts, happy thoughts…

I chalked up my general dislike for the building to the fact that it always stunk like dirty children and rotted wood. I disliked how the school felt, but shrugged it away. Many public schools out west are flat, plain, painted cinder block buildings, with upper inside windows along the halls. The open layout makes it so you can see into most hallways and classrooms from outside or the opposite wings. All my elementary schools had looked, dismally, more or less, the same. Many of them also had given me the same used, unpleasantly familiar, crowded but empty, “old” feeling when I was young. So no biggie: some schools I’d visited were much larger, older and creepier in the poor rural regions of my childhood. (I am looking at you, Middleton Junior High School.) However, I had never been to any of them alone after dark.

When my mom retired I came from the West Coast to help her clean her library and trim the collection. She struggled with tossing anything. I flew to help close her deadline to clear out. I love my mom, and I also hoard books, but I pushed her pretty hard to save what she could and damn the rest. I have worked in Used Books so I am accustomed to the heartache of “Discards”. We filled many boxes of donations. Piles of books lined the halls outside. We also had to pile up the trash there, as we’d be locked out trying to get to the dumpsters. The custodian was on vacation. My mom was worried about how he would react to all the piles of trash bags and recycling in the hall when he got back.

Anyway, on previous visits, I had found the teeny tiny stalls and tinier toilets in the student bathrooms were way too little for my large person to use. So I had avoided going in there since, and I had never been on the “Boy’s” side until I needed garbage bags to help my mom clean that summer day. The custodian supply room was just inside past the doorway to the boy’s side bathroom. Because I have worked as a janitor I have a habit of announcing my femme self when entering a Men’s room. These restrooms had no doors, and were side by side, where the entrance hall met my mom’s wing, opposite the staff lounge.

When I first went in on the boy’s side, I felt what could be the normal, elementary school transgressiveness of being in the (gasp) wrong bathroom, even though we were, for sure, the only ones there. Alas, I have spent way too much time cleaning bathrooms for there to be much novelty in that. With each trip into the “closet” for supplies my feelings grew to a more specific and very VERY unwelcome menacing absolute of something bad watching me and lurking close by. Eventually I just grabbed up a bunch of stuff and decided not to be in there again. This was on my first day of the trip. I felt like a ninny for being scared, even though it was a strong, involuntary, physical response.

That first night we stayed until seven or so, before it was dark. Mom said she wanted to be out by nine and I assumed it was district policy.

The next day was Friday, we barely had time to meet the deadline. Once again, after 3 or 4 pm we were the only people in the whole school. I was a little out of patience with my loving mother when I discovered that, in addition to the treasures of her library, we also needed to clear out two large storage spaces. These unused areas were located across the hall from the bathrooms, between the teachers lounge and office area. Leaving my mom to tearfully catalog a stack of stragglers, I set out to basically toss or recycle twenty years worth of holiday and book fair decorations.

That whole time I was very much aware that I was NOT alone and I worked as fast and as quietly as possible. I did not want to be there in the hall or those storage cubbies after dark, no sir. The lurking feeling got stronger and more ominous, it seemed to seethe down the hall, up to the doorway of the library, coming from the bathrooms. I felt cornered in, followed, and watched in the small storage areas. It was all I could do not to run away back to my mom. After a stern lecture to my coward heart, I gave up on sorting the mess, and just shoveled it all into trash bags. Thus I quickly finished the storage areas.

My mom was tired, and sad to leave her school. We still had a very steep amount of cleaning and at least three sections of shelves to trim. We were up to our eyeballs in dust and books, working until it was dark and only the “emergency” lights lit the halls. She had turned on the real lights right in our part of the hall, though. The evil feeling was still there, but worse. My mom also locked us in, once it was dark, without saying anything. I felt safe enough with her, in the library, even if I felt like something was lurking near us in the empty hall. I felt very much like we were cornered by some angry, vengeful watcher.

Eventually Mom said she wanted to go home. I looked at my watch. It was only 8 pm, we still had an hour; so I said we should grind on. The end of our task was in sight. We powered through and managed to catalog or trim all the relevant materials. All that was left was to load some personal things and donations to take them away. We decided to do it the next day, because the car was full. At least the district’s to-do list was complete in time for her to turn in her keys.

I do remember forcing myself not to look back as I walked to the end of the hall and the lights of the fire exit. I waited, arms full, while Mom locked her classroom door. Mom went around the corner to drop her keys to the office, then hit the hall lights off. I have never in my adult life been more afraid of the dark than in those few moments it took for my mom to come back down that very short hallway. I have huge goosebumps now trying to write this. The dark shadows from the rest of the school seemed rushing to eat us both alive. I mean to say that I could feel with every inch of my being that some thing or many things was angry and present. Like “the predator is actually right beside you about to gobble your ass-NOW RUN” type of physical, animal certainty. My mom moved slow and tired toward me. I tried to be cool and not scream. There was nothing to be seen or heard. I felt like if I showed an inch of fear or acknowledgement, my mom and I would both be done for.

My mom is a tough cookie, but her retirement and gutting her collection had her in an emotional state. I had also further upset her by throwing stuff away, which she had just found around the corner. (Note: I am not much of an actor and a worse liar.) So I did not say anything or run screaming outside.

We left, checked the door behind us, and crammed into the car. Since I was also tired, and I watch way too many movies, I just shook off the horror show feeling. Honestly, everywhere I go in Utah has some level of scary crappy energy. I did not want to complain or to scare my mother. I was just very glad to be done. Also I did not want to admit what a chicken I am.

My mom said something about how she hoped any restaurants might be still open, and I realized my watch was on Pacific time. So we had left the school around eleven thirty, not nine-thirty like I thought.

The next morning we went back to fetch the remaining items. School started that next week. Many of the staff were prepping their classrooms. One of them waved and sent his teenage kid to open the fire door for us, the one we had exited the night before. Everything was too sunny and loudly fine. My mom went into his classroom and after introductions, the kid politely offered to help me carry things to the car. My mom stayed to chat with her colleague.

The boy says casually, as we walked up the hall “So, you were here late last night-did you hear ghosts?”

Trying to be cool, I was all, “Noooo…has that happened to you?”

Then this young kid tells me, all nonchalant, how he has heard ghostly children voices. That people had seen ghost figures, or heard footsteps across empty halls and the empty roof of that wing, for many years. How no one ever stays at the school alone or after dark, even the janitors. I tried not to barf or cry. He sort of smiled kindly at the look on my face and said “it scares my dad too” and that his dad, “won’t be here anymore alone or at night” since the one night “he and another teacher chased some voices that also slammed doors but no one was here.” I felt like someone was pouring ice into my guts. Even the dusty sunlight seemed scary. I could tell he was trying to be nice by changing the subject of conversation. I did not tell him what happened or how scared I was, but he seemed to feel bad for bringing it up.

Needless to say, I packed up fast and with his help made just that one last trip.

Once we were both safe in the car again I brought up what the kid had said. I told my mom how scared I was in the bathroom, and the night before, and just then in broad daylight with other people. In response she just casually threw out how the staff had “all heard and seen creepy stuff FOR YEARS,” especially in the tunnels (WHAT?!) which go from that boys bathroom, under the school, to the other side of the gym. She calmly said that is why “she tries to be out by nine, because she knows she cannot fight whatever ‘It’ is, alone or after dark, since she wouldn’t let ‘It’ into her library.” At this point nothing on this Earth could have got me back in that school.

She is very religious so her matter-of-fact reaction surprised me. Three cheers to my mom, the brave little librarian who apparently educated several generations of kids while terrible lurking nasties crept around their school. (Her beloved fictional character’s statue got moved to the office for that last year. I like to think he helped guard my mom, and then that very last class of students after she left.) I had no idea if Mom coped with that same level of hateful, lurking, carnivorous evil energy for twenty something years, day after day, but DAMN.

I did not know what to say sitting there in the bright summer sun. I just cried. It was a terrible, no-good, very bad weekend. I really hate to visit Utah.

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When Weird Darkness returns…

An eerie painting spooked many who just saw it. Those who owned it fared worse. We’ll learn about the possibly haunted painting titled “The Hands Resist Him”.

Plus, we’ll step into the Chamber of Comments.

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THE HANDS RESIST HIM: HAUNTED PAINTING

There is no doubt the painting is disturbing. It shows a young boy standing next to a girl doll with hollow eyes and a sad, downturned mouth. The doll is holding a strange device with wires coming out of it. The eeriest part of the painting are the many disembodied children’s hands reaching toward the boy through the glass panels of a door just behind him.

But even more disturbing than the painting itself are the stories of what has happened to people who come in contact with it.

It has an ordinary enough beginning. It was painted in 1972 by the artist William Stoneham, who was on a contract to produce two paintings a month for $200 each. In 1974, it was put on display at the Feingarten Gallery in Beverly Hills, California. It was reviewed by the art critic for the Los Angeles Times, Henry Seldis, and purchased by the actor John Marley, perhaps best known for waking up next to that horse’s head in The Godfather.

But then the story gets weird. A few years after the painting was sold, the art critic Henry Seldis, died. Then the gallery owner died. Then, in 1984, John Marley died. The painting disappeared, not surfacing again until 2000, in a bizarre posting on eBay. The new owners were trying to sell it because, they said, it was haunted.

They claimed the boy and the doll in the picture would fight with each other during the night, terrifying their four-year-old daughter. They set up a motion-sensing camera in the room for three nights and claimed they captured the boy in the picture leaving the frame and coming into the room, apparently fleeing in terror.

In what a skeptic might think was a marketing ploy, the owners warned buyers not to bid on the painting if they were “faint of heart,” or “unfamiliar with supernatural events.” More than 30,000 people visited the auction page. Many reported just looking at the painting made them feel ill or upset.

The painting ultimately sold for $1,025 to a buyer in Michigan, who is reportedly keeping it in storage and refusing much, much bigger offers to buy it.

Because of the internet sensation, Stoneham came forward with what inspired him to paint such a haunting scene. The boy, he said, was himself. It was modeled on a photograph taken when he was five. The title comes from a poem written by his then-wife. It reads, in part, “The hands – resist him, like the secret of his birth.”

Stoneham was adopted. The children’s hands, he says, represent other lives; the glass door the barrier between worlds; and the doll his guide between those worlds.

The fame of the “haunted” painting led to commissions for more works, and Stoneham has painted a series of sequels. The most recent, called “The Hands Invent Him,” depicts the scene from the other side of that glass door.

In 2016, Darren Kyle O’Neill published a dramatized account of the notoriously haunted artwork. Entitled The Hands Resist Him: Be Careful What You Bid For, O’Neill’s narrative uses the painting as the basis for a fictional tale about a serial killer known as “The Life swapper.” Unsurprisingly, O’Neill has his own eerie experience with the sinister artwork:

I first saw it online when I was living in Dubai. I printed it out and left it on a side table next to some other documents printed on the same printer with the same paper. Anyway, I went to Italy for a month. When I came back, the air conditioning had gone awry, everything was green mold. The TV, bed sheets, my daughter’s cot and clothing, all of my suits in the closet, and the documents I had printed all green. But right next to them, the only thing that was perfectly untouched was the printout of the painting.”

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We’ll step into the Chamber of Comments in just a moment.

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 work to the Weirdos Art Gallery. You can find all of that and more 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.

(Message from Darren Boyd): Hey Darren, hope you’re doing well. I listen to your show while I’m working and just listened to the episode with the Carter brothers. Thanks for that. It was awesome! Always fascinated by the vampire folklore especially in New Orleans. Keep doing what you do so very well.
REPLY: It was pretty educational for me as well, Mr. Boyd.  I’d never heard of the Carter Brothers vampires until I was putting together that episode!  I have a link to the episode in the show notes for anyone who’d like to listen to that episode again.

(Facebook message from Evan): Hi friend.  I listen to Weird Darkness on Spotify and I love it.  It became my nightly ritual.  But… Lol… When you do the bloopers at the end, the loud beep or tone irks me. It wakes me up. Please soften the beep between bloopers. I really enjoy the show a lot. It’s my favorite!

REPLY: HA! It’s actually the same volume as everything else, but that frequency really does make it sound a lot louder, doesn’t it? Thanks, Evan – I’ll look at that the next time I have bloopers and see if I can change it without compromising the effect. I wouldn’t want to interrupt any more of your beauty sleep!

(Review from Ricardo Cardenas): you guys are the best makes my day go by faster listening to your podcast. I do maintenance and cashier for a travel center. I been working long hours lately your podcast helps me stay awake and get work done. since I been listening to your podcast I finish all my work early. stay weird fam.

REPLY: Thank you, Ricardo! A travel center is busy right now? That’s very surprising – and also good news, if it means things are starting to get back to some semblance of normal! I’m glad you can enjoy your work more since finding the podcast! If only that was the solution for everybody to enjoy their jobs – just listen to Weird Darkness while you’re on the clock and everything will be hunky dory!

(Review from Elsa Curry): Love this podcast. my kids laugh when I start telling them about different episodes, because I get so hyper in the telling!

REPLY: Ha! Well, at least you’re telling them about the stories – not letting them hear them without you hearing them first. Some of those stories, such as the one today about Peter Kurten, are definitely not safe for little ears!

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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Do you have a dark tale to tell of your own? Fact or fiction, click on “Tell Your Story” at WeirdDarkness.com and I might use it in a future episode.

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 Abominations Of Peter Kürten – Vampire Of Düsseldorf” was written by Katie Serena for All That’s Interesting, and Joe Duncan for List Verse.

“Death by Urination” is by Daven Hiskey for Today I Found Out.

“Daniel Lambert: Fat Man On Display” was written by Marc Hartzman for Weird Historian.

“Horrible, No-good, Very Bad Schoolhouse” is by Bettina Marie from Your Ghost Stories.

“The Hands Resist Him: Haunted Painting” is from The Line Up.

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… Psalm 133:1 = How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!

And a final thought… from Stephen M.R. Covey: “When you make a commitment, you build hope. When you keep it, you build trust.”

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

 

 

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