“NO ONE NOTICED SHE WAS DEAD” and More True and Macabre Stories! #WeirdDarkness
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IN THIS EPISODE: Joyce Vincent was a 38-year-old woman from London with a family and friends. So why did it take over two years for people to realize she had died? (No One Noticed She Was Dead) *** A castle in Scotland is so cursed that it has continued for several generations. (The Centuries Old Curse of Fyvie Castle) *** Year after year a 1950 photo from a German newspaper has continued to circulate amongst Ufologists and UFO enthusiasts. The story claims to show a short extraterrestrial humanoid standing next to two full-sized men. So why hasn’t Germany admitted to the photo’s validity? (The Little Green Man That Refused to Die) *** “The call is coming from inside the house.” These eight words have been uttered by countless children, and mark one of the most popular urban legends of all time. This legend, unfortunately, is rooted in a real unsolved murder case from 1950. (Who Killed Janett Christman)
TRANSCRIPT FOR THIS EPISODE…
(Scroll to bottom of blog post):
STORY AND MUSIC CREDITS/SOURCES…
(Note: Over time links can and may become invalid, disappear, or have different content.)
“The Babysitter Urban Legend” analysis by David Emery for Live About: https://tinyurl.com/y982kbmo
“Who Killed Janett Christman” by T.J. Greaney for Columbia Tribune: https://tinyurl.com/y8mbbhyq
“No One Noticed She Was Dead” by Kara Goldfarb for All That’s Interesting: https://tinyurl.com/ycwa7w8r
“The Centuries Old Curse of Fyvie Castle” by A. Sutherland for Ancient Pages: https://tinyurl.com/y7dch3qz
“The Little Green Man That Refused To Die” by Adam Gorightly for Chasing UFOs Blog: https://tinyurl.com/yaxm455z
Weird Darkness opening and closing theme by Alibi Music Library. Background music, varying by episode, provided by Alibi Music, EpidemicSound and/or AudioBlocks with paid license; Shadows Symphony (http://bit.ly/2W6N1xJ), Midnight Syndicate (http://amzn.to/2BYCoXZ), and/or Nicolas Gasparini/Myuu (https://www.youtube.com/user/myuuji) used with permission.
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“I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” — John 12:46
Find out how to escape eternal darkness at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IYmodFKDaM
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A married couple were going out for the evening and called in a teenage babysitter to take care of their three children. When she arrived they told her they probably wouldn’t be back until late, and that the kids were already asleep so she needn’t disturb them.
The babysitter starts doing her homework while awaiting a call from her boyfriend. After a while the phone rings. She answers it, but hears no one on the other end — just silence, then whoever it is hangs up. After a few more minutes the phone rings again. She answers, and this time there’s a man on the line who says, in a chilling voice, “Have you checked the children?”
At first, she thinks it might have been the father calling to check up and he got interrupted, so she decides to ignore it. She goes back to her homework, then the phone rings again. “Have you checked the children?” says the creepy voice on the other end.
“Mr. Murphy?” she asks, but the caller hangs up again.
She decides to phone the restaurant where the parents said they’d be dining, but when she asks for Mr. Murphy she is told that he and his wife had left the restaurant 45 minutes earlier. So she calls the police and reports that a stranger has been calling her and hanging up. “Has he threatened you?” the dispatcher asks. No, she says. “Well, there’s nothing we can really do about it. You could try reporting the prank caller to the phone company.”
A few minutes go by and she gets another call. “Why haven’t you checked the children?” the voice says.
“Who is this?” she asks, but he hangs up again. She dials 911 again and says, “I’m scared. I know he’s out there, he’s watching me.”
“Have you seen him?” the dispatcher asks. She says no. “Well, there isn’t much we can do about it,” the dispatcher says. The babysitter goes into panic mode and pleads with him to help her. “Now, now, it’ll be okay,” he says. “Give me your number and street address, and if you can keep this guy on the phone for at least a minute we’ll try to trace the call. What was your name again?”
“Okay, Linda, if he calls back we’ll do our best to trace the call, but just keep calm. Can you do that for me?”
“Yes,” she says, and hangs up. She decides to turn the lights down so she can see if anyone’s outside, and that’s when she gets another call.
“It’s me,” the familiar voice says. “Why did you turn the lights down?”
“Can you see me?” she asks, panicking.
“Yes,” he says after a long pause.
“Look, you’ve scared me,” she says. “I’m shaking. Are you happy? Is that what you wanted?”
“Then what do you want?” she asks.
Another long pause. “Your blood. All over me.”
She slams the phone down, terrified. Almost immediately it rings again. “Leave me alone!” she screams, but it’s the dispatcher calling back. His voice is urgent.
“Linda, we’ve traced that call. It’s coming from another room inside the house. Get out of there! Now!!!”
She tears to the front door, attempting to unlock it and dash outside, only to find the chain at the top still latched. In the time it takes her to unhook it she sees a door open at the top of the stairs. Light streams from the children’s bedroom, revealing the profile of a man standing just inside.
She finally gets the door open and bursts outside, only to find a cop standing on the doorstep with his gun drawn. At this point, she’s safe, of course, but when they capture the intruder and drag him downstairs in handcuffs, she sees he is covered in blood. Come to find out, all three children have all been murdered.
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Teenagers have been scaring each other silly with this urban legend since the late 1960s, though most people nowadays are probably more familiar with it as the plot of the 1979 horror film “When a Stranger Calls” (or the 2006 remake of the same title). The scenario is plausible enough to give goosebumps to anyone with a sense of what it’s like to be young and inexperienced and alone in a big house caring for someone else’s children. “The most frightening aspect of this legend is that the babysitter is not in control at any time,” writes folklorist Gail De Vos. “[T]he caller multiplies the anxiety that the babysitter is already feeling as the responsible person in the household. The possibility that this could actually happen is never far from the mind of any babysitter.” Never mind the unlikelihood that police would be able to trace a phone callthat lasted no more than 20 seconds at most, or that an officer could be dispatched to the house so quickly. Although framed as a cautionary tale, the main purpose of the story is to frighten us, not to give us actionable information. Which is too bad, because what most people don’t know is that this 1960’s urban legend is based on the real life 1950’s murder of a real life teenage babysitter named Jannet Christman. And her murder is still unsolved 70 years later.
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.
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, streaming video of Horror Hosts and old horror movies, 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 in any art form, you can submit your work to the Weirdos Art Gallery. You can find all of that and more at WeirdDarkness.com.
Coming up in this episode of Weird Darkness…
Joyce Vincent was a 38-year-old woman from London with a family and friends. So why did it take over two years for people to realize she had died?
A castle in Scotland is so cursed that it has continued for several generations.
Year after year a 1950 photo from a German newspaper has continued to circulate amongst Ufologists and UFO enthusiasts. The story claims to show a short extraterrestrial humanoid standing next to two full-sized men. So why hasn’t Germany admitted to the photo’s validity?
“The call is coming from inside the house.” These eight words have been uttered by countless children, and mark one of the most popular urban legends of all time. This legend, unfortunately, is rooted in a real unsolved murder case from 1950.
Now.. bolt your doors, lock your windows, turn off your lights, and come with me into the Weird Darkness!
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WHO KILLED JANNETT CHRISMAN…
Ann Cornett remembers it vividly. It was a Sunday morning, and her family was preparing to head off to church services. Amid the preparations, the phone rang, and as her mother listened to the voice on the other end, she uttered a soft groan and her face went pale.
Ann’s father turned the radio to KFRU. As church time approached and then passed, no one in the room budged.
Less than 30 minutes later, the stunned group heard a knock at the door. A Columbia police officer said he wanted to interview 13-year-old Ann. He wanted to know about a recent excursion some girls from Jefferson Junior High School had taken to the University of Missouri Francis Quadrangle to pose for photos.
The officer asked whether anyone had harassed or stalked the girls that day. Ann said, “No,” nothing aside from the usual hollers of “hubba-hubba.” Then, the officer asked for a photo Ann had taken. The photo was of her friend Janett Christman, posing on a stone bench in the quadrangle. The girl was shown squinting slightly in the sun and wearing a black poodle skirt and bobby socks. Smiling through a smear of red lipstick, Christman’s legs are outstretched and her figure, recalled Cornett, was noticeably more developed than other girls her age.
The next day, March 20, 1950, that photo appeared on the front page of the Tribune. Janett Christman had been murdered while baby-sitting. An intruder raped, beat and strangled her using an iron cord.
“It was the day when my little world fell apart,” Cornett, now Anderson, said recently. “I couldn’t sleep, I would cry and cry and cry.”
For Christman’s classmates, the murder — still unsolved — has hung over their heads like a dark cloud.
Some, like Maribeth Buescher Jackson, said she couldn’t stay home alone for decades afterward. “I was always so afraid,” she said. Others said parents went to great lengths to shield them from reading the newspaper or learning the details of the crime.
The murder marked a sort of end of innocence for Columbia. In a town of 31,000 where many doors were often left unlocked, hardware stores began to sell out of deadbolts and latches. In a town where people knew each other’s names, postal carriers reported that women refused to open their doors to receive packages. Baby sitters became impossibly scarce on Saturday nights.
“The town and the schools were just traumatized,” said George King, a classmate who now lives in Florida. “They didn’t do a lot of counseling back then like they do now. It was just kind of hushed: Kids didn’t know what to say, what to do. There was a lot of hurt. Everybody was frightened to death, quite honestly.”
The night of March 18, 1950, was an ugly one. Gusting winds blew rain and sleet around, and few people ventured outdoors in mid-20-degree temperatures. There was an eighth-grade party that night, but Janett Christman did not attend. The girl had agreed to baby-sit the 3-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Ed Romack. She told friends she needed the money to make the last payment on a new burgundy-colored suit she had purchased for Easter. Janett’s parents owned Ernie’s Café and Steakhouse and lived above the shop.
The small, one-story Romack home sat perched on a slight hill on Stewart Road just outside of what was then Columbia’s western limit. Before leaving for a card game at 7:50 p.m., Ed Romack showed Christman how to load and fire his shotgun. He also instructed her to turn on the bright porch light before answering the door if anyone came calling.
Little Greg, her 3-year-old charge, liked to sleep with the radio turned on and wouldn’t cause her much trouble, she was told.
The inclement weather meant things were fairly quiet for police, but at 10:35 p.m., Officer Roy McCowan received a jarring phone call. A girl was screaming hysterically on the other end, and McCowan heard the words “come quick.” The connection, however, broke off before the girl could identify herself. At that late hour, the test board at the telephone company was not staffed, and the call couldn’t be traced.
At about 1:35 a.m., the Romacks returned home to find the front Venetian blinds open and the porch light illuminated. Both the front and back doors were unlocked, and a side window was broken open. Christman lay in a pool of blood on a shag carpet by the family piano.
It appeared the 135-pound girl put up a valiant fight against her attacker. Investigators found evidence of a struggle that stretched from the phone in the kitchen through the hallway to the living room at the front of the house. There were wounds on both sides of her head, including puncture marks that appeared to have been made by a small metal instrument. Her face appeared to have been scratched by fingernails, and the cause of death was ruled asphyxiation; the apparent weapon an iron cord that had been ripped. A sheriff’s deputy would later characterize it as “an inside job” because of the assailant’s apparent familiarity with the house.
The Boone County Sheriff’s Department arrived in short order and had primary jurisdiction in the matter. Bloody fingerprints were taken, and Sheriff Glen Powell ordered bloodhounds brought in from Algoa Correctional Center. The hounds tracked a trail from the home through heavy underbrush to the corner of West Boulevard and West Ash Street but lost the scent there.
Police Chief E.M. Pond asked the public to report anybody who acted strangely, missed work or showed up with visible scratches in the days after the murder.
But it didn’t take long for the investigation to hit some snags. Although the murder took place in the county, city police played a muscular role in the investigation, much to the chagrin of Sheriff Powell.
Paul Cheavens, who later served as police chief for 21 years, joined the force the week after the murder as one of four new patrolman hired to quell public panic. One of his first assignments from Pond was to sit in the Romack house from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. for 12 consecutive nights on the off chance the perpetrator returned to the scene.
“It was not a pleasant duty at all,” said Cheavens.
Cheavens’ presence in the house was one of several things that led to tension between the two law agencies. In the days after the murder, a member of the Carpenters’ Union said he was beaten while in police custody as a suspect in the case; dozens, possibly hundreds, of suspects were interviewed and then excluded from consideration by police, including one student who erroneously confessed to the crime. Often this occurred without consulting Powell.
“There was very little cooperation between the two agencies at that time,” said Cheavens. “I was outside the city limits when I was in” the Romack “house. In retrospect, I had no business out there.”
Pond ordered all officers to 12-hour shifts. He changed the emergency number from 3132 to the easier-to-dial 112 and deputized a number of prominent downtown businessmen to watch the streets at night.
Tribune columnist Warren Dalton, then owner of Suzanne’s and president of the Junior Chamber of Commerce, recalled being given a badge and deputized. Dalton remembers one night at about 2:30 a.m., Pond and a group of men came across a suspicious character on Westwood Avenue.
“The chief jumped out of the car, and the man ran between two buildings,” Dalton said. “The chief shot, but he missed him. He ducked around the building, and we never caught him. He was running as fast as he could.”
But Dalton, too, was discouraged that the investigation never seemed to gain real traction.
“I don’t know whether it was a thorough investigation or not,” Dalton said. “That’s a question: whether they followed all the leads they had and as quickly as they could. You always heard a lot of rumors at that time.”
But even so, Powell soon focused his investigation on one man: Robert Mueller. Mueller was a friend of Ed Romack and had been over to the family’s house on multiple occasions.
According to testimony later introduced to a grand jury, Mrs. Romack felt frightened and uncomfortable around him and said he had run his hand across her dress two days before when they were alone. Ed Romack, too, submitted damning testimony saying that Mueller had once told him he admired Christman’s “well-developed form.” He had known she would be baby-sitting in the Romack home that night because he had asked her to baby-sit at his own home.
Romack also told police that Mueller, at one point, told him plainly: “I might have done it and then forgotten it.”
Mueller carried a mechanical metal pencil that had a round “punch” end that generally matched the puncture wounds on Christman’s head.
But the case against Mueller became problematic. On May 4, the sheriff brought Mueller to the farmhouse of Deputy Sheriff Julius Wedemeier for an all-night questioning session. The next day, apparently unsatisfied with his answers, Powell took him to Jefferson City to undergo a lie-detector test. The prosecuting attorney was not told about the questioning, and the sheriff did not request an arrest warrant for Mueller. It was later alleged that Powell kept the prosecuting attorney out of the loop because he was worried about his ties to the police chief.
On May 24, Judge W.M. Dinwiddie empanelled a grand jury to examine the matter. Releasing findings on June 17, the grand jury did not return an indictment of Mueller and, instead, excoriated the police and sheriff’s departments for not working together.
“In the opinion of the grand jurors, much of the effort expended has been wasted and dissipated because of the failure to correlate the information available,” read the jury report. The report continued to blame “petty jealousies” that fueled an “almost complete lack of cooperation between the various law enforcement agencies.”
Soon afterward, Mueller joined the Air Force and left Columbia. He later attempted to sue Powell and two deputies for violating his civil rights during the questioning but lost the case. He died in 2006 at the age of 83.
Glen Powell’s nephew, Wayne Powell, who was 15 at the time of the murder, said his uncle remained convinced of Mueller’s guilt the rest of his life. He believed Mueller had used family connections to obscure evidence and beat the charge.
“It really bothered him. I think up until the day he died it bothered him,” Powell said.
When the 60th anniversary of the murdered approached, Mary Beth Brown, a manuscript specialist at the Western Historical Manuscript Collection at MU, had done extensive research on it. Her work and that of amateur historian Joan Sorrels constitute the basis for much of this story.
Brown has explored possible links between the murder and that of another girl, Marylou Jenkins, who was killed two blocks away from the Romack home in 1946. Jenkins was strangled with an extension cord, and Floyd Cochran, a trash hauler, admitted to the murder and was sentenced to death. He recanted his confession before his execution. Brown also has researched a string of other rapes and Peeping Tom incidents that occurred between 1946 and 1950 in Columbia.
Brown, who has a longstanding interest in unsolved murders, gave a presentation at MU titled “Murder Mystery and Mayhem” that examined several notable cases, including that of Christman. More than 70 people attended, she said, a record for such events.
Afterward, she was surprised to be surrounded by women in their 70s all wanting to know what else she could tell them about the Christman case. These were her classmates, and they hadn’t forgotten.
“It really piqued my interest,” Brown said.
One of the women who vividly remembers Christman is Carol Haley Holt. In an interview, Holt recalled spending long afternoons singing with Christman as Janett accompanied her on the piano.
Several days after the murder, Holt said she was called out of class at Jefferson Junior High by the principal and asked to accompany him to Christman’s locker. She was told to gather up the books and gym clothes there and make the half-mile walk to Ernie’s to return the clothing to Christman’s mother, Lula Mae.
“It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life,” Holt said. “I couldn’t talk, and she probably couldn’t, either.”
For all the intervening years as Holt got married, had four children, had grandchildren and became widowed, she said the image of Janett Christman laying on that bench has stayed “engraved” in her mind. Even today, she holds out hope that someone might have answers about what happened that night.
“Can’t say I think about it every day, but, yes, I think about what she missed and the tragic way it happened,” said Holt. “I think about it and wonder: ‘How much did she suffer?’ I’d like to find out who did this and how could they do this to her, this girl who had never in her life done anything to anyone.”
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When Weird Darkness returns…
Joyce Vincent was a 38-year-old woman from London with a family and friends. So why did it take over two years for people to realize she had died?
A castle in Scotland has been cursed now for several generations.
And is there any validity to a 1950 photo of a green space alien in a German newspaper?
These stories are up next.
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, Carnage. Carnage 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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NO ONE NOTICED SHE WAS DEAD
Picture this: you walk into an apartment that is on the messy side with piles of unopened mail by the door and a sink full of dishes. There’s a glow from the television playing BBC1 and a pile of wrapped Christmas presents waiting to be sent out.
This was the state of the apartment that belonged to Joyce Vincent when officials from a north London housing association entered it. Vincent was there too. However, she was almost entirely unidentifiable. Her body was mostly decomposed, as she had been dead for just over two years.
Vincent lived in London in a bedsit, a type of social housing in the United Kingdom. The officials who came to her apartment on Jan. 5, 2006 were there to repossess it due to unpaid rent. Though, it’s estimated that she died sometime in December of 2003.
Neighbors didn’t really know her, thus didn’t really notice her absence. The only detectable thing was a bad smell, which they attributed to garbage bins below the apartment.
Vincent was found on the floor, clutching a shopping bag. Because her remains were mostly skeletal, she was only able to be identified through dental records. It also had been too long to determine a cause of death, though police suggested she died of natural causes after a criminal investigation ruled out any foul play. Vincent reportedly had asthma and it’s been speculated that she may have had an attack.
With a cause of death essentially placed, only one question remained: how could someone be dead for two years and no one take notice?
Not that anyone deserves to die and go unnoticed for several years, but it was particularly strange that nobody seemed to know Joyce Vincent had passed away. She was 38 years old, she worked for most of her life, she had family and friends, and wasn’t known to be on drugs or in any legal trouble.
Carol Morley, a filmmaker who read about Vincent in the news, was so perplexed by the story that she decided to make a documentary title Dreams of a Life on it. In doing so, she tracked down people like ex-boyfriends and old colleagues of Vincent who could possibly shed some light on her mysterious death.
Martin Lister had dated Joyce Vincent for three years and kept in touch with her sporadically until 2002. He only learned of her death when he saw Morley’s ad for people connected to Vincent. The revelation shocked him as he told Morely that she was a hard worker who had great jobs.
Lister was also surprised that she had been living in public housing.
“You look back and think, I wish I’d asked more, wish I’d understood more,” he told Morley.
As more people came forward and more details emerged, it seemed that Vincent’s life was shrouded in mystery.
She had worked for the big accounting firm Ernst & Young until she quit in 2001 without giving a reason. Colleagues recalled conflicting stories about her departure. Some said she was traveling with a group of 20 people, others said she had been headhunted for another job.
An article from the Glasgow Herald reported that friends categorized her as someone “who walked out of jobs if she clashed with a colleague, and who moved from one flat to the next all over London. She didn’t answer the phone to her sister and didn’t appear to have her own circle of friends, instead relying on the company of relative strangers who came with the package of a new boyfriend, a colleague, or flatmate.”
It was also revealed that Vincent spent time between her departure from the firm and her death in a home for refugees of domestic violence.
As for family, she was the youngest of five sisters but the only one living in the U.K. Her father worked as a carpenter and her mother died when she was just a child.
Vincent had apparently isolated herself from her family in the years before her death, presumably because of the man she had chosen to date.
While the amount of time that went by after Joyce Vincent’s death continues to be baffling, it’s become clear that the life she seemed to lead didn’t always match up with what was happening beneath the surface.
It’s an ironic and coincidental tale. In the age of social media, where everyone is so connected, the idea that a seemingly average person could remain dead for over two years without anyone raising a question sounds crazy. But at the same time, just as people have a tendency to post their best selves on social media, it’s possible Joyce Vincent did this in real life. Nobody knows what happens behind closed doors.
Joyce Vincent’s story is as sad as it is strange. People like Martin Lister who knew her and found out about her death wished that they’d had stayed in contact and checked in with her more often. It serves as a reminder that person-to-person communication still has its place and is important.
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THE CENTURIES OLD CURSE OF FYVIE CASTLE
Fyvie Castle is located about 30 miles (50 km) north-west of Aberdeen, Scotland. It’s an ancient structure because its foundations were laid before the Norman Conquest in 1066. Since the 14th century, only five prominent families had been in possession of this haunted building.
An individual known as Thomas the Rhymer (c. 1220 – 1298) is related to the castle, but he is shrouded in myths, legends, and superstition. According to Peter of Langtoft’s early 14th century ‘Chronicle,’ Thomas was a poet who foretold prophecies.
His prophecies foretold only unfortunate events, disasters, confusion, and bloodshed. He traveled much and visited many landowners, but he was never welcomed.
Thomas’ inevitable visit was also awaited in the Fyvie Castle, according to James Murray, the 19th-century editor of the five ancient manuscripts.
When Thomas finally appeared before the front of the castle, his arrival was accompanied by a violent storm, wind, and rain that surrounding trees lost all their leaves, and the massive gates of the Castle slammed shut with a bang. While the violent storm was raging on all sides, there was one place close to where Thomas stood, and strangely, in this place, there was no wind to shake a pile of grass or his hair!
Irritated that the Castle’s gates should have slammed shut directly in his face, Thomas uttered a most ill-omened curse related to the three mysterious ‘weeping stones.’
The stones had been initially taken from a nearby property belonging to the church, and therefore, they would act as evil omens to Fyvie Castle as long as they remained part of the building.
Unfortunately, all attempts to find the stones failed. Only one of them has been found and is now kept in the castle. It stands in a wooden bowl in the charter room of the castle. Usually, the vessel is dry, but sometimes it strangely fills with water. Whereabouts of two other stones are unknown, and therefore, the curse remains.
According to Thomas the Rhymer’s bizarre prophecy (or curse) – ‘no heir would ever be born in the Fyvie Castle, and as records confirm, it has been true since 1433. Besides, the castle would never pass from a father to his eldest son.
Indeed, among the Forbes-Leith family, who was the last private owner of the Fyvie, no first-born survived to inherit it!
Since 1984, Fyvie Castle has been in the hands of the National Trust of Scotland.
But before it happened, the residents of the old Scottish Fyvie Castle were plagued by terrible noises and unexplained happenings.
The puzzle, which dates from the night of October 27, 1601, has so far defied any rational explanation.
In 1592, Alexander Seton, 1st Earl of Dunfermline, married Dame Lilies (or Lilias) Drummond, who was a daughter of Lord Patrick Drummond, another noble related to the ruling house of Stuart. Dame Lilies was a handsome woman, and for nine years, she and her husband were contented together.
They had five daughters, four of whom survived to marry influential noblemen. However, Lilies was not as strong as her appearance suggested, and on May 8, 1601, she died at the age of 30 at her husband’s house in Fife, in eastern Scotland, and was buried there.
Her husband married his new woman – Lady Grizel Leslie – only six months after the death of his wife, Lilies.
On the night of October 27, the married couple occupied their temporary bedroom, at the top of the spiral staircase located in the older part of the castle, because their new quarters in the so-called Seton Tower were under construction.
That night they could not sleep because of heavy noises coming from outside their bedroom. Seton decided to investigate but did not find anything unusual until the dawn when he and his servant discovered an inscription with the name ‘D. Lilies Drummond’ carved upside down on the window sill, with 7-centimeters high letters. The inscription, apparently made recently, was placed more than 50 feet (15 meters) above the ground on the old defensive wall of the castle.
The mystery of the text was never solved, but various suggestions were put forward. The precision of the carved inscription ruled out any prank of the members of his household.
And why was the name of his first wife written upside down?
Perhaps one of Seton’s masons carved the inscription, because of respect for the dead Lilies Drummond? If so, why was it necessary to do it upside down?
To carve text on the window sill, it would be necessary to erect scaffolding, but it would also take much time. One night did not give enough time to do it. Moreover, the Seton couple did not hear hammer noises but only – deep sighs.
The inscription introduced other strange incidents in the Fyvie Castle. The 17th-century records mention a luminous ‘Green Lady’ who was believed to be Dame Lilies, but a portrait of Lilies, dated to 1676 that hangs in the castle, does not match the description of the ghost seen in the castle.
Colonel Cosmo Gordon was the fifth owner of the Fyvie and took over the castle in 1733, and the green apparition was seen many times; the Gordons considered her as a death omen. On one occasion, when Cosmo was in bed, he was terrified by unseen hands, and another time, a strong wind suddenly appeared inside the castle and blew the bedclothes off him, and in other bedrooms occupied by his guests. All outside was surprisingly quiet.
Just before Colonel Gordon’s death, the apparition appeared in his room, and he believed it was an omen of his death. He was right because a few days later, his younger brother saw the same apparition and bent the knee as a gesture of respect. The following, gloomy December morning, Cosmo Gordon died.
Yet another owner of the Fyvie was Lord Leith, who bought and investigated diverse phenomena related to the castle in 1889 and died in 1925. Leith examined the ‘weeping stone’ that proved to be a porous sandstone that absorbed humidity. Still, he was not able to explain the mysterious carving or frequent apparition of the ‘Green Lady.’
Lord Leith’s motto was remarkable:
“Never combat the supernatural and meet it without fear, and it will not trouble you.”
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THE LITTLE GREEN MAN THAT REFUSED TO DIE
Photos of little green (or silver) men have long been a fixture in ufology and, like everything else, these artifacts get dusted off and trotted out after a period of time has elapsed and run through the grinder again. One such retread that has continued to make the rounds—decade after decade—is a photo that first surfaced in the German newspaper Neue Illustrierte on April 1st, 1950, with the title “Der Mars-Mensch” which showed a strange looking little feller apparently from another planet—Mars, in this case. The accompanying article claimed that the Martian had been in a saucer crash that occurred in “Death Valley.”
A few days later, Neue Illustrierte copped that the Martian story was an April Fool’s prank, but that didn’t stop the photo from spreading through the UFO subculture in the years to follow. Since then the photo—sometimes referred to as “Silverman”—has appeared in numerous UFO books, often including the false narrative that it depicted an alien who had survived a saucer crash.
Saucer scholar Isaac Koi compiled a timeline of the Silverman photo and the publications in which it appeared. The first book to feature this freaky photo was Major Donald Keyhoe’s Flying Saucers from Outer Space (1953). Keyhoe described it as “two men in trench coats, each holding an arm of a queer, shiny figure about three feet high. Two girls standing nearby seemed to be awestruck by the little man…Eyewitness G-Man McKennerich, from Phoenix, reports “I was astounded by the importance of this great moment. For the first time I was seeing a being from another world. At the same time I was equally amazed by the desperation of this Aluminum Man. His body was covered with a shiny metal foil. The observatory in Phoenix presumes this is for protection from cosmic rays…”
Conflicting narratives surround the Silverman photo, some of which identified the trench-coated gents as U.S. government agents (G-Men), while other accounts described them as German scientists, and that “Silverman” was not necessarily silver-skinned, but outfitted in some sort of aluminum spaceman suit.
In Space-Craft from Beyond Three Dimensions (1959), W. Gordon Allen referenced that the creature in the Silverman photo had crawled out of a crashed saucer:
A “saucer crewman” very much like the moon man (or spirit) described by Swedenborg in his writings about the inhabitants of different planets of the solar system…This photograph is from Germany (note trench coats and North European types), but the “saucer crewman” is from a UFO that crashed near Mexico City; the corpses were sent to Germany for study…
In 1967, a concerned citizen sent a copy of the Silverman photo to FBI headquarters in D.C. inquiring if the trench-coated men were FBI agents, to which J. Edgar Hoover responded: “I can assure you the photograph you mentioned does not represent employees of this Bureau.”
Most recently, Harold Povenmire in UFO’s and Alien Abduction Phenomena: A Scientific Analysis (2016) published a colorized version of the Silverman photo as the real deal, although what “scientific analysis” he conducted is unclear. Thanks to Povenmire, this new iteration of the Silverman photo soon began worming its way through social media, as a new generation of believers clicked and shared to their heart’s content.
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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 Babysitter Urban Legend” analysis by David Emery for Live About:
“Who Killed Janett Christman” by T.J. Greaney for Columbia Tribune:
“No One Noticed She Was Dead” by Kara Goldfarb for All That’s Interesting:
“The Centuries Old Curse of Fyvie Castle” by A. Sutherland for Ancient Pages:
“The Little Green Man That Refused To Die” by Adam Gorightly for Chasing UFOs Blog:
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… Galatians 6:9 = Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
And a final thought… from Mary L. Bean: The days you are most uncomfortable are the days you learn the most about yourself.
I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me in the Weird Darkness.