“PSYCHIATRIST SAYS DEMONIC POSSESSION IS REAL” and 3 More True, Strange Stories! #WeirdDarkness

PSYCHIATRIST SAYS DEMONIC POSSESSION IS REAL” and 3 More True, Strange Stories! #WeirdDarkness

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Listen to ““PSYCHIATRIST SAYS DEMONIC POSSESSION IS REAL” and 3 More True, Strange Stories! #WeirdDarkness” on Spreaker.

IN THIS EPISODE: Robert Ressler came up against a lot of resistance, but his dedicated focus on the minds and motives of serial murderers created what we know today as criminal profiling. (The Man Who Created Criminal Profiling) *** Different peoples build their identity around different facets of their culture: the Italians around their food, the Greeks around their architecture, America around expanding waistlines. The Isle of Man, however, has pinned its identity today on low tax rates, motorcycle races and, oh yes… mermaids and fairies. (Catching Mermaids on Man) *** Would you be willing to eat your meals off the chest of a corpse, in the process, taking on their sins as your own? That’s the gruesome job of a sin eater – and there were people willing to do it even into twentieth-century. (Would You Become a Sin Eater?) *** Dr Richard Gallagher is a New York psychiatrist and a psychiatric professor. He has spent twenty-five years viewing exorcisms – and he says ‘fallen angels’ target the devout AND those who’ve meddled with the occult. He says it outright – being possessed by a demon can and does happen, and he has seen it all too often. (Psychiatrist Says Demonic Possession Is Real)



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BOOK: “Demonic Foes: My Twenty-Five Years as a Psychiatrist Investigating Possessions, Diabolic Attacks, and the Paranormal” by Dr. Richard Gallagher: https://amzn.to/2YSlhBJ

BOOK: “20 Commonly Asked Questions About Demons” by Daniel C. Okapara: https://amzn.to/3fCEsFD

BOOK: “Demonic Possessions Extraordinary True Life Experiences” by C. Torrington: https://amzn.to/3fEzoAx


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(Note: Over time links can and may become invalid, disappear, or have different content.)

“Psychiatrist Says Demonic Possession Is Real” by Sheila Flynn for Daily Mail: https://tinyurl.com/y7yb5x26

“The Man Who Created Criminal Profiling” by Fiona Guy for Crime Traveller: https://tinyurl.com/ybeh2zke

“Catching Mermaids on Man” from Beachcombing’s Bizarre History Blog: https://tinyurl.com/y9uat6zq

“Would You Become a Sin Eater?” by Lisa A. Flowers for Ranker: https://tinyurl.com/yco9cv44

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In 2015, a British court sentenced John Thomson-Glover to three years in prison for hiding cameras in a school to film pupils when they were undressed. The judge described him as ‘essentially a good man, brought low by the demons that possess him’. Of course the judge did not mean that Thomson-Glover was literally a victim of demonic possession and, if he had been, he should not have been held responsible for his actions.
Demonic possession is often used metaphorically like this – indeed, we are more likely to encounter the idea in this sort of context than in any other. Yet the potency of the expression relies on the long tradition of belief in actual demonic possession. The phenomenon can be traced through history and around the world, and for many religious groups the idea of demonic possession, as a literal and terrifying event, is very much alive. It has changed little over the centuries, except for one way. It’s no longer just the religious who take it seriously. Now a licensed psychiatrist and college professor says without equivocation that yes, demonic possession is real.

I’m Darren Marlar and this is Weird Darkness.

* * * * * * * * * *

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…

Robert Ressler came up against a lot of resistance, but his dedicated focus on the minds and motives of serial murderers created what we know today as criminal profiling.

Different peoples build their identity around different facets of their culture: the Italians around their food, the Greeks around their architecture, America around expanding waistlines. The Isle of Man, however, has pinned its identity today on low tax rates, motorcycle races and, oh yes… mermaids and fairies.

Would you be willing to eat your meals off the chest of a corpse, in the process, taking on their sins as your own? That’s the gruesome job of a sin eater – and there were people willing to do it even into twentieth-century.

Dr Richard Gallagher is a New York psychiatrist and a psychiatric professor. He has spent twenty-five years viewing exorcisms – and he says ‘fallen angels’ target the devout AND those who’ve meddled with the occult. He says it outright – being possessed by a demon can and does happen, and he has seen it all too often.

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

* * * * * * * * * *


He’s heard the voices speak in ancient Greek. He’s heard them speak in Latin. Dr Richard Gallagher says they converse in Chinese, Spanish, French; that they’re wildly smart and manipulative.

The voices and the languages come out of people, he says, but they’re not actually human.

They’re demons. They’re real, and so is evil, he says. Demonic possession exists, and he has seen it firsthand.

‘They’re fallen angels,’ Dr Gallagher tells a reporter. ‘This is what I literally believe. They’re extremely bright; they’re much brighter than humans. They’ve been around for millenia – so they speak all languages.

‘I’ve heard them speak Chinese; I’ve heard them speak ancient Greek, which I studied,’ says the former Princeton Classics major. ‘I’ve certainly heard them speak and understand Latin.’

The spirits do it, the psychiatrist says, ‘probably to freak you out or to show off – to boast.’

The most striking thing about Dr Gallagher, before he starts to describe demons, is his imposing 6’5 frame as the psychiatry professor stands in the doorway of his office in suburban New York. He is reservedly polite in the small space, where greeting cards sit on a table and family photos adorn a window ledge, and he beckons to a low couch adjacent to a desk laden with files and papers. The window is bookended by shelves of psychiatry and medical journals and books.

In his 60s now, Dr Gallagher’s long limbs are clad in a blue blazer and khakis. He is extremely guarded about his own details, saying only that he has ‘a family’ and siblings – he estimates he’s treated 25,000 patients over the years. Not one who walked through his door was actually possessed.

Instead, the cases he’s seen of possession and ‘oppression’ – which is different and involves demons harassing an individual rather than taking control of them, he says – have all been referred to him, usually by exorcists. He’s not even sure how it started a quarter century ago.

‘I didn’t volunteer, particularly, to get involved in this stuff, evaluating people for possession, demonic attacks,’ says the New York native, who has written a forthcoming book about the subject and his experiences called Demonic Foes: Experiences of a Psychiatrist in the World of Exorcism.

‘I was just asked to do it, and maybe people thought I was open-minded or whatever. Probably people knew that I was a practicing Catholic, but I never volunteered for it – and, you know, slowly, I just began [to be thought of as] sort of an expert.’

The first case he saw involved a victim of ‘oppression,’ a Hispanic housewife and mother from the American West who was being assailed by demons. She was an incredibly devout and charitable Catholic, Dr Gallagher claims, but that exact holiness can sometimes open the door for an attack by evil.

‘She and her husband both swore that she would be lying in bed, and all of a sudden, she would have the feeling of being assaulted by evil spirits, and bruises would appear on her body – so I needed to do a medical workup,’ Dr Gallagher says. ‘I needed to make sure she didn’t have some clotting difficulty or something like that. I needed to asses her psychiatrically.

‘She appeared to a very wonderful, devout, charitable person,’ he says, calling this woman and her husband ‘salt of the earth people.’

‘I just came to believe their story, and I can’t say I knew a lot at the time about cases which a lot of people, including myself, tend to call a case of “oppression.”

He explains: ‘In possession, an evil spirit controls that person, takes them over – whereas with oppression (people use different terms for it, some people use the term “vexation”) … that indicates an attack by an evil spirit on an individual, but the evil spirit can’t or doesn’t take over their personality.

‘It’s not random at all; there’s almost always a discernible cause. The most common cause … is someone has turned to evil or the occult. And paradoxically, it’s often when they try to get away from that that the demonic world feels they have a hold on that person. That person may have actually even promised themselves to Satan or some kind of evil, and then they, in a sense, they’re getting punished for trying to move out of that. That’s the most common reason people get attacked.’

He adds: ‘A lot of it depends on their internal intention. Are they kind of really, really committed to the occult, as opposed to just kind of playing around with a Ouija board?

‘There are a couple of other categories of people who can get attacked – very holy people. And there are many stories of saintly people throughout history that had demonic’ problems,’ he says.

When it came to the middle-aged housewife from the West, he says he believes she was oppressed by evil ‘precisely because she was so holy and was doing incredibly charitable work with people.

‘I think she was attacked because the demon didn’t like her level of sanctity.’

He says: ‘All her medical tests were negative; her bloodwork was all normal. She didn’t appear to have any other medical or psychiatric illness … She just did not appear to be a psychiatrically troubled person at all.

‘She had children, she had a normal family – and so I remember, when the priest said to me: “Dr Gallagher, that’s what I thought, but we wanted to make sure that we checked her out medically,” I said, “Well, Father, you know I’m pretty sceptical.” And he said, “That’s the type of person we wanted.”

‘So then he continued to send me things; he and his colleague, who was an ex-Marine, who had also become a prominent exorcist … I actually became very good friends with them. They’re both deceased now, but I miss them terribly.’

Before that first case – and his relationship with exorcists and the demonic world – he says he was unaware of the intricacies of possession and oppression.

He grew up a devout Catholic, one of five children born to an Irish-American lawyer and his homemaker wife. Dr Gallagher attended weekly Mass with his family and studied at renowned Catholic high school Regis in New York City before being accepted to Princeton.

‘I didn’t know what I wanted to be,’ he says. ‘I probably wanted to become a lawyer, a professor or something. I did like helping people, you know – so when I was at Princeton I had a number of roommates who were pre-med, and I just got interested, intrigued by the idea of becoming a doctor. And I’ve also read a lot in my life, so I got interested in psychoanalytic ideas, and it just kind of dawned on me that helping people, as well as becoming a professor, would be interesting if I did it as a professor of psychiatry. So that’s what I decided to do.’

He laughs: ‘I’m the black sheep who became a psychiatrist in an Irish Catholic family.’

Following Princeton, he played semi-professional basketball in France and taught English at a French high school. Then he trained as a resident in psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine, and he is currently on the faculty at New York Medical College and Columbia University Psychoanalytic Institute for Training and Research.

It was as his career progressed, however, that his acquaintance with the world of evil spirits intensified. He says he’s seen about four cases a year, though he’s heard of hundreds more, especially at meetings of the Europe-based International Association of Exorcists.

He mentions the case of another US housewife, though he does not specify her location. This woman – he gives her the pseudonym of Catherine – ‘as a teenager had dabbled in satanic rituals, and she had kind of promised herself, in some fairly foolish way, to evil spirits,’ he says. ‘She did a few grisly things, which I’m not going to go into, but she also, with a couple of friends, they did minor satanic rituals and she became possessed.

‘She was certainly violent when the evil spirit took over, and she had a variety of signs of possession. It took multiple, multiple people to hold her down during exorcism.’

He adds: ‘She had a very odd symptom, which is similar to a case in the gospels, where she selectively couldn’t hear certain things … If you said to her: “Catherine, did you go to the store today?” Shey’d say “yes.” “What’d you buy?” “Meat and potatoes.” If you said, “Catherine, did you go to church today?” She would say, “What?” “Catherine, did you go to church or did you pray today?” “Did I what?”

‘Her sense of hearing was blocked. So we had the bright idea – I was with a fellow psychiatrist, we were assessing her – and we had the bright idea, why don’t we write it on a piece of paper?

‘So we wrote it on a piece of paper: What did you do this morning? And she said, “Well, I drove the car to the gas station, I had to fill up the gas tank.” “Catherine, did you pray today? Did you go to church?” and hold it up on a piece of paper.

‘Do you know what she said to me? She said, “Dr Gallagher, why are you doing this?” I said, “What do you mean?” “Why are you showing me a blank piece of paper?”’

‘Now the obvious motive there was to prevent her from being able to talk about anything spiritual, get the help that she needed, get the solace and spiritual support she needed.’

The evil spirits take hold of people, he says, because they truly hate God and humans.

‘We have the ability to love and turn to God; they don’t. They made their choices, and they hate the image of God in human beings,’ he says. ‘They truly seem to hate human beings. I mean, not only do they want to destroy us spiritually, alienate us from God, but they seem to take almost a sadistic pleasure in destroying us as creatures who can still turn to God, to their enemy, creatures who can also still love, which they don’t seem capable of anymore. They’ve rejected the whole idea of goodness and love in a kind of perverted way.’

He says the demons exhibit extraordinary powers such as personal knowledge and near clairvoyance. On one occasion, a demon told him how his mother had died – ovarian cancer. That evil spirit also knew ‘how 15 other people’s parents died, too. It wasn’t just me.’

On another occasion, a demon told him exactly what a priest was wearing though the clergyman was nowhere near Dr Gallagher and the possessed person speaking. In a different case, Gallagher was also personally addressed.

‘I had a demon say to me: “How’s that book going? It won’t do any good” … that’s when I was first thinking of writing a book. So I’ve had demons come and they’ve said they hate me, but again, I think they hate all Christians … they certainly put more of their energy in saying how they hate the exorcist. That’s their real target, not me.

He tells another story of a woman in her 30s, a member of a Satanist cult who was thinking about leaving – which is when the evil spirits took over her body.

This woman ‘was in the back of a car once, and I was with the exorcist, and she went into a trance,’ he says. ‘She was unequivocally possessed … and I heard her in the back seat of the car.

‘She came out with some vile stuff – “Leave her alone you f*****g priest”, that sort of thing, and this went on for about five minutes. Then she came out; she had no remembrance of it at all.’

He continues: ‘I never went to her exorcisms, because I was busy … but the priest would invite me to come to the exorcism. It wasn’t around here. And I’m on the telephone line, this is a landline, with the priest at the time, and he says, “You know, Rich, can you make this exorcism session?” And then, during that phone conversation – and this woman was hundreds of miles away … that same voice came in on the phone and it said “Leave her alone, leave her alone, you f*****g priest. She’s ours, she’s not yours.” And I did hear that. That was creepy.’

He says that, despite his work and beliefs regarding demons and possession, he has ‘never felt particularly harassed or discriminated against, because Americans tend to be kind of a tolerant, pluralistic people.

‘In the larger society, it’s not a fringe belief,’ he says. ‘This is actually a mainstream belief. Opinion polls show that probably about 60 percent and upwards – probably about 70 percent of America – believe in the devil, and the majority of Americans … believe in evil spirits and demons have some ability to directly attack human beings.

‘People will sometimes say to me, “How do you feel about talking about a fringe belief?” I say, “It’s not a fringe belief. I’m more mainstream than skeptics. The other thing about skeptics is, the extreme skeptics, they’ve never seen a case.

‘They come up with all kinds of cockamamie theories … they say, “Well, you know, this person heard Latin babbled as a kid.” But it’s kind of absurd. The demon is speaking fluent Latin and is understanding fluent Latin, and many of these people are not even Catholic, didn’t even go to church as a kid.’

He adds: ‘I understand believing in evil spirits is not a very comforting belief, and it has implications that, you know, we don’t want to accept. Having said that – and there’s plenty of alternate theories; I don’t think that those theories usually hold water – and when you’ve seen some of these cases, you realize that this is clearly not something that could be explained by psychopathology or trickery or anything like that.’

And, despite having witnessed evil and his interactions with demons, he says he’s not particularly worried that they’ll come after the psychiatrist himself; he’s bolstered by his faith and the faith of others.

‘I have a lot of people praying for me,’ he says.

‘I’m not seeing the devil everywhere,’ he explains, adding: ‘I always tell people it’s an equal mistake to see the devil everywhere as to deny the devil exists.’

The book Dr. Gallaher was writing was actually released under the title “Demonic Foes: My Twenty-Five Years as a Psychiatrist Investigating Possessions, Diabolic Attacks, and the Paranormal” by HarperOne Press. I’ll place a link to the book in the show notes if you’re interested.

And if you’re interested in knowing more about demons, I narrated the book “20 Commonly Asked Questions About Demons” by Daniel C. Okapara and I’ll place a link to that in the show notes as well.

* * * * * * * * * *

Up next…

Robert Ressler came up against a lot of resistance, but his dedicated focus on the minds and motives of serial murderers created what we know today as criminal profiling.

Also, different peoples build their identity around different facets of their culture. The Isle of Man has pinned its identity even today on mermaids and fairies.

These stories and more when Weird Darkness returns.

* * * * * * * * * *

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* * * * * * * * * *

Mapping the minds of killers is no small undertaking. Robert Ressler was the man who developed psychological profiling at the FBI Behavioural Science Unit in Quantico, Virginia. Along with his colleague John Douglas, he was involved in some of the highest profile serial killer cases in American history, including John Wayne Gacy, Ted Bundy, and Jeffrey Dahmer.

Robert Ressler became fascinated by the act of murder and how one individual can take the life of another at an early age. He was a 9-year-old boy in Chicago, Illinois at the time of the 1946 ‘Lipstick Killer’ case where two women and a young girl were abducted and murdered in the city. Young Ressler and his friends created their own detective group to catch the culprit. The case was dubbed the ‘Lipstick’ case due to a message scrawled at one of the crime scenes. The killer appeared to be appealing for help to forcibly stop his murderous spree as he was unable to stop himself.

William Heirens was arrested at age 17 and confessed to each crime, although today there are some serious doubts over the validity of his confessions. For Ressler, this case sparked his lifelong intrigue into the minds of serial killers and the opportunities psychological profiling presented.

The questions of why they did what they did…was it an irresistible urge they could not control?…or, do they make the active choice to kill? were questions he could not put aside. These were the questions he spent a lifetime trying to answer.

After graduating from Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1962 and a Master of Science degree in 1968, Ressler joined the US Army as a military investigator and learned how to catch criminals.

During his time in the Army, he served as a Criminal Investigation Supervisor and Military Police Operations and Intelligence Officer where he was awarded a number of medals and awards for his outstanding service. Upon leaving the Army at the rank of Major he joined the FBI in 1970. Robert Ressler had a desire to combine psychology with criminal cases in an attempt to gain an understanding of the mind of criminals.

The motives of a killer became his focus. He was determined that if we could have a better understanding of the motives behind a murder, we would have a better understanding of such crimes and the people who commit them. The notion of psychological profiling was born.

At that time, psychology was not as well received as it is today, particularly not in a criminal sense. Evidence and forensics were the center of attention not theories and possibilities regarding the minds of murderers.

Ressler pressed forward regardless and continued to focus his attention on serial killers, calling his methods criminal profiling. In 1974 he received a promotion to Supervisory Special Agent and was assigned to the Behavioural Science Unit at Quantico.

William Webster was the head of the FBI at that time and sat down to listen to Ressler’s ideas. Webster believed in him and believed his ideas for chasing killers through psychology were worth investing in. The basis of profiling for Robert Ressler was the creation of a psychological portrait of a murderer and a dedicated program was set up to do just that.

By 1978, Ressler had built up a team within the Behavioural Science Unit. They began to apply psychological theory, victimology and crime scene analysis across difficult criminal cases to generate a profile of the person responsible.

Alongside fellow criminal profilers John Douglas and Roy Hazelwood, the experience was being gained in a new method of catching criminals. Upon reflection, police officers and criminal investigators had been using profiling techniques for many years without realizing it. The visual analysis of a crime scene, the logical sequence of events, the presence or absence of certain characteristics; all have been used to help understand a criminal and their motives.

In 1985 with the support of Robert Ressler, the Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (ViCAP) was developed and based at Quantico.  A system which would collect and collate information on violent crimes across the country allowing connections between crimes and criminals to be made.

Robert Ressler has spent many hours exploring the minds of those who kill. In an ambitious project with John Douglas in the late 1970’s, a series of interviews were carried out with some of the worst serial killers known in American history.  The aim was to gain information on their lives and their personalities to see what could be matched with their crimes and how they carried them out.

In total, they interviewed 36 serial killers and the data from this study formed the basis of their theories on organized and disorganized killers with personality types and behavioral traits also being gleaned from the information discovered during those interviews.

When the case of John Wayne Gacy broke in Chicago, Illinois in 1978, Robert Ressler offered his assistance to the local investigators realizing that this was an opportunity to test some of his psychological profiling theories.

John Wayne Gacy was responsible for the murders of at least 33 young men between 1972 and 1978. Operating in and around Illinois, Gacy would lure his victims back to his home where he would strangle them to death.

He buried 26 victims underneath his house and a further 3 victims in his garden.  The remains of his final victims are thought to have been dumped in a nearby river. John Wayne Gacy was a community-spirited man, often dressing up as a clown to entertain the local children, earning him the nickname Killer Clown once his murders were discovered.

Serial killers who are organized tend to show planning, forethought, and cunning and are able to maintain full control over their lives and how they appear to those around them.  A profile which very much fits the character and activities of John Wayne Gacy.

Gacy was put on trial in February 1980 charged with 33 murders.  He claimed he had multiple personality disorder and could not be held fully responsible for his actions.  The jury, however, felt he was sane and found him guilty of all 33 charges.  John Wayne Gacy was sentenced to death for his crimes and he was executed by lethal injection in Illinois at aged 52 years old.

Gacy’s claim in his trial that it was, in fact, his alter-ego who had committed the murders, highlighted to Robert Ressler that even the most organized of criminals can become dissociated from their crimes.  It confirmed a controlled man who can function normally in society can also be the most dangerous.

Robert Ressler had the opportunity to interview Ted Bundy directly, one of the first criminal investigators to do so, and found him to be one of the most intelligent and narcissistic criminals he had ever come across.
Theodore Robert ‘Ted’ Bundy kidnapped, raped and murdered as many as 36 young women between 1974 and 1978 across Colorado and Florida.

Just before his execution in 1989, Bundy confessed to 30 murders but the true count of his victims remains unknown. There has even been speculation for many years that 15-year-old Ted Bundy may have been responsible for the disappearance of 8-year-old Ann Marie Burr, who lived in the same Tacoma, Washington neighborhood in 1961.

The very popular and now well-known book “The Stranger Beside Me” by crime writer Ann Rule, who knew Bundy personally, describes a sadistic man who enjoyed holding power over women and inflicting pain on others. Bundy used his intelligence, good looks and charm to lure his victims who had no reason to fear this well-spoken and polite man. He also appeared to be very good at targeting victims who were the most vulnerable.

Robert Ressler reported he still felt uncomfortable years later about the conversations he had with Ted Bundy, never feeling he was able to understand Bundy and in fact felt concerned Bundy understood more about him than the other way around. Bundy offered to come to the FBI and teach classes about his crimes and motives, an offer which the FBI refused. According to Robert Ressler, Ted Bundy was a ‘master of his game.’

In February 1975 Ted Bundy was tried for the kidnapping and assault of Carol DaRonch, one of the few women who had been able to escape Ted Bundy alive.  Found guilty he was sentenced to one-to-fifteen years in prison.

Now known to authorities, connections began to be made to a number of unsolved homicides. In 1977 he faced his first murder charges and elected to defend himself. During a preparation hearing at Pitkin County courthouse in Aspen, he managed to escape and continued on the run for eight days before being recaptured.

While awaiting the start of his trial, Bundy made a second escape in 1978 which saw him travel to Florida and attack four young female students, killing two of them, at Florida State University. From there he went onto kidnap and murder 12-year-old Kimberly Leach before he was recaptured by police and returned to his prison cell.

Ted Bundy received the death penalty three times over for these murders and in 1989 he was executed in the electric chair at Florida State Prison.

In 1991 police made a discovery in a small Wisconsin apartment that shocked them to the core.  A quiet 31-year-old man by the name of Jeffrey Dahmer had been killing men and keeping their body parts.
32-year-old Tracy Edwards had accompanied Dahmer back to his home that evening unaware of his new friend’s intentions. Edwards had fled the apartment reciting a terrifying tale to police of being captured and held by Dahmer and subjected to abuse.

Returning to the apartment with the police, Dahmer was found rocking and in a state of dissociation just as Tracy Edwards had left him hours earlier.

Upon searching Dahmer’s apartment, attending police realized they had a serial killer on their hands and he had been operating for some time. After Dahmer’s arrest, Robert Ressler was asked to interview him with the idea of testifying for his defense, based on an insanity plea by his lawyers. Ressler was intrigued by this case, the details of which seemed incomprehensible and unlike any case he had seen before.

Jeffrey Dahmer had killed and dismembered 17 men and boys between 1978 and 1991 in Wisconsin.  He had taken photographs of many of his victims remains and had engaged in necrophilia and cannibalism, keeping his victim’s body parts all over his apartment.

Robert Ressler was very surprised at the demeanor of Dahmer and his willingness to openly talk about his crimes, his motivations and feelings and the reasons why he committed the horrific acts that he had.

He felt Jeffery Dahmer was not of sound mind at the time of his crimes. He lived in a fantasy world where he wanted to have a compliant and submissive partner.

Dahmer, according to Ressler, was emotionally driven to commit his crimes and once an individual was in his apartment he was unable to stop himself from trying to achieve his aim and keep this person with him. Dahmer invited Ressler into his mind and opened the door to a hidden world of thoughts, feelings, and emotions behind his killings which Ressler was able to access for the first time. Dahmer said he felt like he was watching himself during the crimes which is a clear indication of dissociation often due to personality disorder.

Jeffrey Dahmer’s trial began in January 1992 in Milwaukee where he pleaded guilty to all charges against him.  His defense team argued Dahmer was insane and could not be held responsible for his actions.  A number of psychiatrists and psychologists testified in Dahmer’s defense, advising of borderline personality disorder and schizotypal personality disorder.

The prosecution disagreed and called in forensic psychiatrist Dr. Park Dietz who testified he did not believe Dahmer was insane or that he was suffering from mental illness at the time of his crimes. In February 1992, Jeffrey Dahmer was found to be of sound mind and found guilty of the 15 murders he was charged with.

He was sentenced to life imprisonment (the state of Wisconsin had abolished the death penalty in 1853) with no chance of parole.  He was sent to Columbia Correctional Institution in Portage, Wisconsin and after spending the first year in solitary confinement, he was beaten to death along with another prisoner, Jesse Anderson,  in 1994 by fellow prisoner Christopher Scarver.

Jeffrey Dahmer was Robert Ressler’s first example of an organized killer who lost control in a psychotic episode and it changed the direction of his psychological profiling in the future. The mind and motivations cannot always be categorized so easily and clearly. The case of Dahmer also highlighted how the most brutal and horrific of killers could be the man next door, a family member, a friend or a colleague.

Without the work of Robert Ressler and his colleagues, the insights we have gained into the minds of those who kill may never have moved forward. Ressler retired from the FBI in 1990 after 20 years of service. He continued to provide teaching and education in the field of criminology, psychology and psychological profiling. He also authored a number of books on the subject. Robert Ressler died in May 2013 of Parkinson’s disease at age 76 years.

Criminology, specifically forensic psychology and psychological profiling have developed and grown into a field in its own right with the potential to provide us with understanding and knowledge into that question Robert Ressler had as a 9-year-old boy: what makes a man kill his fellow man? If this question can ever be fully answered the possibilities for preventing a criminal from becoming a serial offender, or even intervening before they act at all, becomes an ever closer possibility.

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Different peoples build their identity around different facts: the Italians around their food, the French around La France, the Poles (at least in times gone by) around their Catholicism. The Isle of Man, between Britain and Ireland, meanwhile, built its identity, at least in early-modern times, around a belief in the wonderful (phantom dogs, water bulls and, as Beachcombing will soon demonstrate, merfolk). The rest of Europe got all enlightened, revolutionary and ‘with-it’: taking the long slippery slide that leads to social democracy, universal but mediocre healthcare, a do-gooding parasitical political class and obscene tax levels.  But the Manx pinned their identity, instead on pixies and related beliefs that the English were already giving up in the twelfth century. Hence ‘magical Man’, an island famous today for low tax rates, motorcycle races and fairies.
Anyway, to the source. This text appears in a rare book on Man written by an English resident in the island toward the beginning of the eighteenth century. The book was written as a kind of tour guide, but fails miserably as the author keeps getting distracted by the ‘magical’ beliefs of the locals that he is skeptical about but that he cannot resist reporting. Interestingly, he almost admits to being a reluctant convert to the fairy faith having seen ‘fairy circles’ and fairy footprints in the snow.
The event here dates to the 1650s about eighty years before the book was published. It is just within living memory then, but deep within the period when ‘Manks man’, as our author insists on calling the locals, would have been able to people the past with bold eye-witness events. Beachcombing is going to risk ridicule by suggesting that the following sentence contains the first ever explicit reference to mysterious beasts needing peace and obscurity – a favorite of later nineteenth-century marvel literature and twentieth-century cryptozoology. Certainly the account has a strangely rational entrée.
In the time, said they, that Oliver Cromwell usurped the protectorship of England [1649-1658 at the broadest], few or no ships resorted to this island [of Man], and that uninterruption and solitude of the sea, gave the mermen and mermaids (who are enemies to any company but those of their own species) frequent opportunities of visiting the shore, where, in moonlight nights, they have been seen to sit, combing their heads, and playing with each other; but as soon as they perceived anybody coming near them, they jumped into the water, and were out of sight immediately.
But human curiosity naturally got the better of the good Manx folk.
Some people who lived near the coast, having observed their behavior, spread large nets, made of small but very strong cords, upon the ground, and watched at a convenient distance for their approach. The night they had laid this snare, but one happened to come, who was no sooner set down, than those who held the strings of the net, drew them with a sudden jerk and enclosed their prize beyond all possibility of escaping.  On opening their net, and examining their captive, the largeness of her breasts, and the beauty of her complexion, it was found to be a female; nothing, continued my author [i.e. informant?], could be more lovely, more exactly formed, in all parts above the waist, resembling a complete young woman, but below that, all fish, with fins, and a huge spreading tail. She was carried to a house, and used very tenderly, nothing but liberty being denied. But though they set before her the best provision the place afforded, she could not be prevailed on to eat or drink, neither could they get a word from her, though they knew these creatures were not without the gift of speech, having heard them talk to each other, when sitting regaling themselves on the seaside.
Beachcombing presumes the Merfolk spoke Manx, a language that died out in the 1970s.
They kept her in this manner three days, but perceiving she began to look very ill notwithstanding, and fearing, some calamity would befall the island if they should keep her till she died, they agreed to let her return to the element she liked best and the third night set open their door; which, as soon as she beheld she raised herself from the place where she was then lying, and glided with incredible swiftness, on her tail, to the seaside. They followed at a distance, and saw her plunge into the water, where she was met by a great number of her own species, one of whom asked what she had observed among the people on earth; nothing very wonderful answered she, but that they are so very ignorant, as to throw away the water they boil their eggs in. This question, and her reply, they told me, was distinctly heard by those who stood on the shore to watch what passed.
What is perhaps most interesting is the importance of belief in the creatures for the eighteenth-century Manx: As I had not yet attained a thorough knowledge of the superstition of these people, nor the passionate fondness for everything that might be termed, the wonderful, I was excessively surprised at this account, given with so serious an air, and so much, and solemnly averred for truth. Indeed, the locals were not happy at our author’s skepticism: I perceived they were not a little disgusted at my want of Faith…
Beachcombing hates baroque capitals and has ‘normalized’ the English in this passage. However, he left that final word in its virgin F-form.
Mermaid stories have never done anyone any harm and Beachcombing hopes to come soon to Barnum’s monstrosity and Carmichael’s Hebridean mermaids.

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When Weird Darkness returns…

Would you be willing to eat your meals off the chest of a corpse, in the process, taking on their sins as your own? That’s the gruesome job of a sin eater – and there were people willing to do it even into twentieth-century.

We’ll also step into the Chamber of Comments.


We were really hoping things would be somewhat back to normal this month, but we’re all still social distancing and self-quarantining, so I’m going to extend the fundraiser another month. Last month all profits from the Weird Darkness store went to the International Foundation for the Research and Education of Depression – because this COVID-19 pandemic has caused depression to skyrocket both in new cases as well as in those who were already diagnosed but struggling more now being cooped up inside. In fact, I’ll admit it, it took a while but the last week I have really been feeling it. Even with my meds which normally take care of my depression almost entirely, this last week has been really trying. So the rest of this month we’re doing to the fundraiser again – in fact, if you order anything in the Weird Darkness store between now and Friday, May 15th, you’ll get it up to 35% off – so you’re saving money on the item and the portion I receive from that sale will be going to COVID-19 depression relief. Then, Saturday thru Monday, May 16-18, you can still shop in the Weird Darkness store and everything will be up to 30% off. After that it all goes back to full-price. But no matter when you shop, if you do it within the month of May 2020, whatever portion usually comes to me will be going to the International Foundation for Research and Education of Depression. And I just saw today that they are offering face masks now so you can cover your face and still look weird if you want to! You can check out the merchandise now by clicking on STORE at WeirdDarkness.com.

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Dying before you’ve had a chance to be absolved of your sins is a huge predicament to find yourself in but, once you’re dead, there’s no going back (as far as most people are concerned, anyway). How, then, does a spirit go about acquiring a get-out-of-hell-free card? In 18th- and 19th-century Scotland and Wales, the doorway to deliverance came by way of Catholic “sin-eaters.” The term is as literal as it is figurative: sin-eaters were tasked with actually eating a meal off a corpse’s chest. In doing so, they symbolically consumed the sins of the deceased – thereby taking them on themselves. However, rather than being seen as a selfless and heroic act, eating someone’s sins was looked upon with horror, and the sin-eater was basically ostracized (at least until they were needed again) for being a rancid, crime-accumulating plague.

Death, as everyone knows, is a profitable industry that’s as reliably eternal as… well, death itself. So is the Church, of course, but back in the day, the latter was really serious about eliminating industry competition. As OMGFacts explains it:

“The Roman Catholic Church viewed Sin Eaters as competition — an obstacle to its efforts to establish a monopoly on the sin-absolving industry. That meant Sin Eaters had to avoid church authorities at all costs or face execution.”

It didn’t stop there, either – authorities apparently employed fascist-like techniques for ensuring 100% domination in the form of doling out “harsh punishments” to families who sought the services of Sin Eaters. (Fortunately, however, these repercussions were hard to enforce, as sin-eating ceremonies were often performed clandestinely/under the radar.)

Even though sin-eaters were looked upon with abject horror, they still provided a valuable service, and people knew it. That’s why, as Wikisource explains it, “each village had its [own] official sin-eater to whom notice was given as soon as a death occurred. He at once went to the house, and there, a stool being brought, he sat down in front of the door.”

All of this had to be done right under the nose of the execution-happy Church, of course, so being “on call” also meant potentially risking one’s own hide for some quick cash.

In addition to alcohol (typically served in the form of wine or brown ale), the sin-eater was required to consume “Funeral Biscuits” or “Death Cakes,” which were basically just exalted terms for the crusts of bread. As Wikisource describes it,:

“The sin-eater [was] taken into the death-chamber, and a piece of bread, and possibly cheese, [was] placed on the breast of the corpse by a relative, usually a woman. It was afterwards handed to the sin-eater, who ate it in the presence of the dead. He was then handed his fee, and at once hustled and thrust out of the house amid execrations, and a shower of sticks, cinders, or whatever other missiles were handy.”

At other times, the woman of the house would pour out a glass of wine for the sin-eater and “hand it to him across the coffin with a ‘Funeral Biscuit.'” The bottom line: some sin-eaters were treated better than others, and some (albeit very few) even managed to get themselves a full meal. But all ended their work days newly burdened with the crimes of the dead.

Forget using a piece of toast to mop up some egg: using a sin-eater to mop up someone’s sins was infinitely more effective. As Atlas Obscura puts it:

“The family who hired the sin-eater believed that the bread literally soaked up their loved one’s sins; once it had been eaten, all the misdeeds were passed on to the hired hand. The sin-eater’s own soul was heavy with the ill deeds of countless men and women from his village or town… Usually, the only people who would dare risk their immortal souls during such a religious era were the very poor… To those who believed in the powers of this ritual, sin-eaters were doing a necessary but distasteful job, literally becoming a bit more evil as they performed their task.”

So much for the verse, “It’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

The sin-eater was basically the psychic toilet of the town: his duty was to take on and contain the filthy sins of others. However, unlike today’s sanitation workers, who tend to make pretty decent wages, sin-eaters received almost nothing for their trouble. As OMG Facts puts it:

“The Sin-Eater served a dual purpose: he saved the departed from hell, but also prevented them from wandering the Earth as ghosts. In other words, he performed a service for both the living and the dead, which is a pretty big client base. Considering that, it’s even more outrageous that he got paid squat to do it: about half a shilling per job, which is the equivalent of a couple dollars by today’s standards.”

At best, in other words, the sin-eater got a free meal out of the whole thing. And maybe a free night of drunkenness, too, which he probably sorely needed, considering the increasingly heavy psychological burden he was carrying.

The last known official sin-eater, Richard Munslow of Shropshire, died (and was buried in semi-disgrace) in 1906, which still seems like a fairly contemporary era by sin-eating standards. However, Munslow’s legacy, along with the merit of being a sin-eater in general, has since been more or less redeemed. In 2010, the BBC reported that Shropshire had raised £1,000 (about $1,280.00) to restore the grave of Munslow. A service was performed over the burial spot, though the Reverend Norman Morris, who officiated, also pointed out that he had “no desire to reinstate the ritual that went with it.”

Sin-eating didn’t just clear a soul for takeoff into heaven: it also prevented the soul from becoming an eternally earthbound ghost. As Week in Weird puts it:

“It was said that with the deceased’s sins absorbed by the sin-eater, they had no reason to rise from the grave and wander the Earth in discontent.  Forgiven, and resting peacefully, they could remain in the grave to the ease of all those left behind.”

Remain in the grave ’til Judgment Day or ascend outright: their choice. But since the sin-eater’s much-feared and “unransomable soul” was left to “wander in the wilderness” in its free time, it essentially ended up performing the function of a wayward ghost, anyway.

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We’ll step into the Chamber of Comments in just a moment, but first I wanted to let you know that 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 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!

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.

(Email from Shanna): I have just found your podcast a week ago. I work 10 hrs day and only listen to you.  I just want to thank you for what you do. Help with depression,  you keep people entertained, and you tell wonderful stories. You have helped me with my depression with your stories and how much you actually care.  So thank you for that Darren.

REPLY: You’re very welcome, Shanna!

(Email from Terri) Hey  Darren,  I just  wanna  say  I  listen to your  pod cast  everyday  at work on my phone.  I clean a  pharmaceutical  building  everyday  so  it  helps  the  time pass. I  am sure  you hear this  all the time  but  you  are an amazing  story teller. And your  voice  is  soothing and it  just  fits the mood. I love that you leave  scriptures  at the  end of your  stories to remind us  of the light. God  is  amazing. I just  wanna  tell you  that you  are doing  an amazing  job.  And  I’m  sure you hear it all the time.  But  it’s  true. Thank you  for  all you do. –Terri

REPLY: Thank you, Terri! I’m glad you like the podcast, and I like the idea that I’m helping you clean a building every day. My bride used to have her own cleaning company – she even cleaned a dentist’s office regularly so I know how much hard work and attention to detail has to go into cleaning that most people don’t know about. And especially now it’s even that much more important to have a cleaning person that understands how to kill germs, bacteria and viruses! You should be wearing a cape, Terri! You’re a superhero!

(Email from Louie Salmorin): Good Day Darren, I am writing this while listening to “Haunted Children and Children Who Haunt” but I love the show in general, been listening to your podcast for a couple of years now and been sharing it with my friends and co-workers. Such a great way to pass the time when working and informative too!. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK Sir.. stay safe. by the way i am listening to you half a world away here in The Philippines. Thank you.!

REPLY: Thanks, Louie! Half a world away is right – I had to ask my Amazon Echo what day and time it was there – you’re a full 13-hours ahead of me! I should start asking you for sports scores so I could bet on them thirteen hours before they happen and make a fortune! That’s how time zones work, right?

(Email from Josh Roebuck): Hey Darren my name is Josh I’m a Canadian truck driver who has been working non-stop during this epidemic I just wanted you to know for the past 2 to 3 months I have been listening to your weird Darkness podcast I look forward every Thursday when I’m on the road for your new episodes. I think what you do is amazing and if more people took their time out of their lives to do the things that you do this world would be a whole lot less dark. I wanted to share a little story of something that happened to me I was listening to your podcast one night on the road I work midnight shift and I believe it was the episode on the Wendigo; anyways as I was driving along I was probably about 20 minutes into the episode when I seen the strangest creature standing on two hind legs just off of the highway; to this day I don’t know what I seen. Anyways thanks for what you do Darren stay weird!

REPLY: As a truck-driver I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of creepy things, my friend – and that’s without leaving truck stop parking lot! Thanks for the email, and I’m really glad to hear I’m keeping you company on the road, buddy.

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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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!

Want to receive the commercial-free version of Weird Darkness every day? 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 – even before the authors and publishers do! But more than that – as a patron you are also helping to reach people who are desperately hurting with depression and anxiety. You get the benefits of being a patron, and you also benefit others who are hurting at the same time. Become a patron at WeirdDarkness.com.

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.

“A Peeping Tom’s Inner Demons” from the book “Demonic Possessions Extraordinary True Life Experiences” by C. Torrington. I’ve placed a link to the book in the show notes.

“Psychiatrist Says Demonic Possession Is Real” by Sheila Flynn for Daily Mail:

“The Man Who Created Criminal Profiling” by Fiona Guy for Crime Traveller:

“Catching Mermaids on Man” from Beachcombing’s Bizarre History Blog:

“Would You Become a Sin Eater?” by Lisa A. Flowers for Ranker:

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… Matthew 6:25 = Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?

And a final thought… from John C. Maxwell: The greatest mistake we make is living in constant fear that we will make one.

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



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