“HIGHWAY VANISHINGS DOWN UNDER” and More Bizarre But True Stories! #WeirdDarkness
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Listen to ““HIGHWAY VANISHINGS DOWN UNDER” and More Bizarre But True Stories! #WeirdDarkness” on Spreaker.
IN THIS EPISODE: When Lottie Chettle identified herself to the court, and gave her occupation as “barber”, a rather astonishing thing happened. People laughed. Why? The story is a strange one! (The Victorian Female Barber in Court) *** Sometimes the sour attitude of a mother-in-law can not only break up a marriage, but it can lead to murder. (A Day of Blood) *** We’ll look at a murder that was described quite well in an editorial in Truth magazine saying: “There have been murders in the hot blood of passion, assassinations prompted by wrong, by jealousy, by greed of gain but this is none of these. It is simply the crime of a vile-tempered bilious wretch, far too many of whose like are still at large, perpetuated not only on a victim who had more case to feel aggrieved at them than he at her, but perpetuated with every suggestion of premeditation.” Why did William Sindram murder Catherine Crave? (Shot Down Remorselessly) *** There have been so many accidents and mysterious disappearances on one particular stretch of road in Australia that it has earned an ominous nickname… “The Highway of Death”. We’ll look at the infamous length of asphalt named Flinders Highway. (Highway Vanishings Down Under) *** UFO stories are a dime a dozen. Even stories of UFOs crashing have become humdrum for many. But what if I were to tell you that there was a UFO crash in Missouri that was so fantastic that a local pastor was asked to come and pray over the three dead alien bodies found at the crash site? (The Cape Girardeau UFO Crash) *** “What people sometimes don’t get about science is that we often have phenomena that remain unexplained,” said an astrophysicist at MIT. Turns out he was referring to unidentified flying objects. (Unsolved UFO Sightings)
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.)
“Unsolved UFO Sightings” by Tia Ghose for Live Science: https://tinyurl.com/y84u8xew
“The Cape Girardeau UFO Crash” by Billy Booth for Live About: https://tinyurl.com/yb7258n8
“The Victorian Female Barber in Court” from London Overlooked: https://tinyurl.com/y745rd62
“A Day of Blood” by Robert Wilhelm for Murder By Gaslight: https://tinyurl.com/yxvns28t
“Shot Down Remorselessly” by Robert Wilhelm for Murder By Gaslight: https://tinyurl.com/y63hjald
“Highway Vanishings Down Under” by Brent Swancer for Mysterious Universe: https://tinyurl.com/yaznnuea
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 always make sure to give authors credit for the material I use. If I somehow overlooked doing that for a story, or if a credit is incorrect, please let me know and I’ll rectify it the show notes as quickly as possible.
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Welcome, Weirdos – I’m Darren Marlar and 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…
When Lottie Chettle identified herself to the court, and gave her occupation as “barber”, a rather astonishing thing happened. People laughed. Why? The story is a strange one! (The Victorian Female Barber in Court)
Sometimes the sour attitude of a mother-in-law can not only break up a marriage, but it can lead to murder.
We’ll look at a murder that was described quite well in an editorial in Truth magazine saying: “There have been murders in the hot blood of passion, assassinations prompted by wrong, by jealousy, by greed of gain but this is none of these. It is simply the crime of a vile-tempered bilious wretch, far too many of whose like are still at large, perpetuated not only on a victim who had more case to feel aggrieved at them than he at her, but perpetuated with every suggestion of premeditation.” Why did William Sindram murder Catherine Crave?
There have been so many accidents and mysterious disappearances on one particular stretch of road in Australia that it has earned an ominous nickname… “The Highway of Death”. We’ll look at the infamous length of asphalt named Flinders Highway.
UFO stories are a dime a dozen. Even stories of UFOs crashing have become humdrum for many. But what if I were to tell you that there was a UFO crash in Missouri that was so fantastic that a local pastor was asked to come and pray over the three dead alien bodies found at the crash site?
“What people sometimes don’t get about science is that we often have phenomena that remain unexplained,” said an astrophysicist at MIT. Turns out he was referring to unidentified flying objects.
Now.. bolt your doors, lock your windows, turn off your lights, and come with me into the Weird Darkness!
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UNSOLVED UFO SIGHTINGS
Crashes in Roswell, New Mexico, and flashing lights over New Jersey — for decades, people around the world have looked up at the skies and reported mysterious unidentified objects (UFOs). But are these sightings signs of alien visitation? And are they truly unexplained? A recent New York Times investigation found that the Pentagon had, for years, funded a program to answer just that question. The program found several reports of aircraft that seemed to travel at high speeds and have no signs of propulsion, the Times reported. While the vast majority of UFO sightings, when investigated, have turned out to be the result of ordinary Earthly phenomena, such as weather balloons, flares or rockets, some still leave experts scratching their heads — and looking to the skies for little green men. From white Tic Tacs to flashing lights, here are some of the most mysterious UFO sightings out there.
The Times investigation highlighted one of the most intriguing UFO sightings, which was captured on video. In 2004, two Navy F/A-18F fighter jets (also called Super Hornet or Hornet) encountered a mysterious flying object near San Diego. The object seemed to be traveling at high speeds, was surrounded by a glowing halo and was rotating as it moved. According to audio from the event, one of the fighter pilots exclaimed, “There’s a whole fleet of them.” One of the Navy pilots who witnessed the bizarre event, Cmdr. David Fravor, recalled that the object looked like “a white Tic Tac, about the same size as a Hornet, 40 feet [12 meters] long with no wings,” Fravor told The Washington Post. As his plane approached the UFO, the mysterious object accelerated “faster than I’d ever seen anything in my life,” Fravor said. Fravor, for his part, is convinced that the source of the object was extraterrestrial, he told The Washington Post.
In 1981, a 55-year-old farmer in Trans-en-Provence, France, reported hearing a strange, high-pitched sound before seeing a flying saucer nearby. The lead-colored UFO took off almost immediately, he said. What makes this sighting unique is that the farmer immediately contacted local police, who took soil and plant samples, according to a report of the incident. Experts from France’s UFO-investigating body said the chemical evidence was consistent with heating of the soil and pressure from a heavy object. They also found traces of zinc and phosphate and evidence of abnormalities in the plants nearby. However, skeptics said the smooshed plants could have been caused by tires, and cars had been heard traveling in the area around the same time as the farmer’s sighting. Because there was a military base nearby, another explanation is that the French military was testing an experimental craft.
In general, some of the most reputable or credible sightings come from those who are in the skies all day long: pilots and members of the military. The National UFO Reporting Center (NUFORC) logged one such sighting in 2013, Vice reported. Late in the evening in 2013, the man, a former commercial pilot, fighter pilot and astronaut, was looking at the sky with his family in Athens, Texas, when he noticed what looked like an orange, glowing fireball. “When I looked up into the sky, I saw a fairly large, orange, glowing orb moving rapidly overhead [at] right about 90 degrees of elevation,” the man reported to the NUFORC. After a few minutes, a group of three similar objects followed the same flight path. Three minutes later, two more objects flew along that same route. The objects gave off no sound and seemed to glow from atmospheric heating, the man reported. He and his family attempted to record the objects using their iPhones, though the grainy, dark video was difficult to decipher, he said. “They moved much faster than orbital satellites (International Space Station, for example) or airplanes, but much slower than meteors and did not change brightness as a meteor would upon entering the atmosphere,” the man said in his call. “I have no explanation for what we saw.”
Another report from the NUFORC came from an airline captain who was flying between Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon, when he noticed glowing blue lights over Mount Shasta in California that appeared much brighter than the stars typically do in the area. “The two lights were approximately an inch apart in the windscreen and the size of normal stars,” the captain noted in a report. Then, “one of the ‘stars’ just dimmed out over about a 10-second time span followed by the other one dimming out completely in about 10 seconds also.” The lights were stationary, so they were not falling stars or satellites, he said. “We were flying in crystal-clear skies and were not flying though any clouds whatsoever. These two lights were not following the typical west-to-east orbital path as most satellites do and were just sitting there kind of like ships hiding in plain sight,” the captain reported to the NUFORC. The lights also appeared to be far above the level of the plane, which was flying at 38,000 feet (11,580 m).
For every unexplained sighting, there are dozens that turn out to be military flares, weird cloud formations, weather phenomena or elaborate hoaxes. For instance, GEPAN’s (France’s Group for the Study of Unidentified Aerospace Phenomena) database suggests that only 7 percent of all supposed UFO sightings are truly unexplained. In the 1940s, the U.S. Air Force began investigating UFO sightings, and that program, called Project Blue Book, logged more than 12,000 reported sightings before it was shuttered in 1969. Most of those Project Blue Book sightings were ultimately explained. While a few remained unexplained, the people involved in the program were skeptical that these cases were true alien sightings or completely unknown physical phenomena. “If more immediate, detailed, objective data on the unknowns had been available, probably these, too, could have been explained,” a report in the Project Blue Book archive noted. However, the fact that human factors are involved — in particular, personal impressions and interpretations, rather than accurate scientific data — it’s likely impossible to eliminate all unidentified sightings.
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THE CAPE GIRARDEAU UFO CRASH
It’s usually easy to comment on the validity of UFO crash cases, as there is an inherent problem with almost all of them. The problem is that if there was at one time physical proof, as in the often discussed alien bodies, that evidence was either quickly scooped up by the military or carted off by some other governmental agency.
One case that reads like a great Sci-Fi script allegedly occurred in 1941 in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. The case was originally brought to public information by investigator Leo Stringfield in his book, “UFO Crash / Retrievals: The Inner Sanctum” (which I will place a link to in the show notes).
The crash details of this case are very much like the Aztec, New Mexico Crash of 1948 and were sent to Stringfield by Charlette Mann, who had received a confession from her grandmother on her death bed.
Her grandfather was Reverend William Huffman, who was pastor of the Red Star Baptist Church. Huffman claimed that he was summoned to pray over crash victims outside of Cape Girardeau, Missouri in 1941.
Huffman was driven to the woods outside of town, which he recalls as being a 10-15 mile trip. The scene was surreal-policemen, fire department personnel, FBI agents, and photographers. The mass of emergency crewmen were all viewing what appeared to be a crash site.
He was soon asked to come and pray over the dead bodies. As he moved through the scene, his attention was drawn to a strange craft.
Huffman was shocked he was looking at a disc-shaped object. He quickly took a look inside, and first noticed what appeared to be hieroglyphic-like writings. He could not understand the meaning of the strange writing.
Even more strange were the bodies, not human as he expected, but small alien-looking bodies with large heads, big eyes, only a hint of mouth or ears, and totally without hair. He was sworn to secrecy by military personnel after performing his Christian duties.
As much as he tried, Huffman was not able to keep the details of what he had seen from his wife, Floy, and his sons. This family secret would be kept for quite some time until Charlette heard the story from her grandmother in 1984. The details were given as her grandmother lay dying of cancer at Charlette’s home.
Charlette had heard parts of this family secret before but never had gotten the whole story until her grandmother related the account to her over a period of a couple of days.
Charlette was intent on getting all of the details of the cases, it being her last chance to do so. Her grandmother was undergoing radiation therapy and was living her last few days.
Charlette would be surprised when more details of the crash were given to her from a member of her grandfather’s congregation. The gentleman, thought to be Garland D. Fronabarger, had given Reverend Huffman a photograph taken on the night of the crash.
The photograph showed one dead alien being held up by two men, as they posed it for the shot.
“I saw the picture originally from my dad who had gotten it from my grandfather who was a Baptist minister in Cape Girardeau Missouri in the Spring of ‘41. I saw that [picture] and asked my grandmother at a later time when she was at my home fatally ill with cancer so we had a frank discussion.
She said that grandfather was called out in the spring of 1941 in the evening around 9:00-9:30, that someone had been called out to a plane crash outside of town.”
The case of the Cape Girardeau, Missouri crash is certainly interesting enough. If the validation of the crash rested solely on the shoulders of Charlette Mann, the case could be called authentic, as Charlette is well respected by all who know her, and she has sought no financial gain.
Yet, more details and corroborating testimony would be extremely important to finally put the crash case in the “authentic” category.
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Up next, the murder of Catherine Crave – why did William Sindram murder her?
And when a woman took a man to court and told the judge what she did for a living, everyone laughed at her. We’ll tell you why, when Weird Darkness returns!
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 through the rest of this 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 – myself included. So through the rest of this month we’re continuing the fundraiser. If you purchase something from the Weird Darkness store this month, May 2020, whatever portion usually comes to me will be going to the International Foundation for Research and Education of Depression. You can check out the merchandise now by clicking on STORE at WeirdDarkness.com.
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SHOT DOWN REMORSELESSLY
In January 1881, Adolph Sindram was a boarder at the home of Mrs. Catherine Crave on Charlton Street in New York City. Catherine was the second wife of a Frenchman named John B. Crave and gladly took over the responsibility of mothering his five children. She was a kind woman, loved by the children and esteemed by all who knew her.
The house on Charlton Street was larger than the family needed, so they took in boarders and lodgers. Adolph Sindram, one of her boarders, approached Mrs. Crave to ask if his brother William could share his room. Adolph was an amiable and agreeable young man, well-liked by the other tenants of the house. He told her that William worked as a printer as he did. She thought Adolph’s brother would be a welcome addition to the house and agreed to let him share the room with an appropriate increase in the rent.
But William’s temperament was the opposite of his brother’s. He was irascible and sullen by nature with a tendency to become irrationally violent. He had once assaulted his father with a knife, and later, after his father’s death, he broke into his mother’s house and stole some money. He was completely self-centered, spending most of his time concocting schemes to make money without working. At Charlton Street, he was surly and disagreeable to all who lived there.
He was also behind in the rent. The last week in January 1881, Catherine Crave told William he had a week to either pay up or move out. Instead of trying to raise the rent money, William spread stories about Catherine, impugning her morals before she married John Crave, and accusing her of swindling him. The stories came back to Catherine, bringing her to tears. She sent her son Emil to evict William immediately; William packed his bag and left.
William was back the following day, and as he stealthily climbed the stairs, he attracted the attention of Catherine’s daughter Henriette who thought there was an intruder in the house. When she saw who it was, she told William to leave. He told Henriette to shut up and pulled a revolver from his pocket. Catherine heard the commotion and started downstairs to ask William what he wanted.
“Come down and I will show you what I want,” William said.
“Run upstairs, mother, he has a pistol and he is going to shoot,” Henriette shouted.
Catherine ran upstairs, opened a window and shouted for help. William followed her upstairs and when he got close enough to touch Catherine, he raised the revolver and shot her in the temple. She fell to the floor and William ran downstairs and outside. Catherine’s calls for help had attracted a crowd and a bystander caught William as he ran out and held him for the police. Catherine, still alive, was taken to the hospital where the doctors said she had no chance of recovering.
The people of New York City were appalled by this unprovoked attack on a good woman. An editorial in Truth, summed up the crime this way:
“There have been murders in the hot blood of passion, assassinations prompted by wrong, by jealousy, by greed of gain but this is none of these. It is simply the crime of a vile-tempered bilious wretch, far too many of whose like are still at large, perpetuated not only on a victim who had more case to feel aggrieved at them than he at her, but perpetuated with every suggestion of premeditation.”
Though the physicians who treated Catherine Crave were correct that her condition was fatal, she remained alive for another five months. During that time William D. Sindram was held in the Tombs and that July, following Catherine Crave’s death he was indicted for first-degree murder. Sindram’s trial for murder was not held until December. While awaiting trial in jail, Sindram wrote at least ten letters to John Crave and to District Attorney Lyon.
The letters to John Crave were quite offensive and hurtful with statements such as, “Write to me how your dear wife felt when the Coroner told her she would have to die. She was a wicked old hag.” To the district attorney, he wrote that he would absolutely not be pleading insanity because he did not want to be compared to Charles Guiteau who assassinated President Garfield in September 1881 and claimed he was insane at the time. Sindram also told the district attorney that he did not fear the gallows “…and would, therefore, disappoint the public, which had no interest in a hanging when the victim was not afraid to die.”
Taking insanity off the table left Sindram’s attorneys with very little to work with. They could not deny the murder but tried to reduce the charge to manslaughter claiming that Sindram had not planned the murder but acted in a fit of passion. The district attorney argued that Sindram had gone to the house, armed with a revolver, intending to kill Catherine Crave. The letters, which would probably be used by the defense if insanity were the plea, were read by the district attorney as evidence of Sindram’s character. The jury had little trouble returning a verdict of guilty of first-degree murder.
William Sindram was hanged in the yard of the Tombs prison on April 21, 1882. True to his word, he went to his death without fear and remained stoic to the end.
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THE VICTORIAN FEMALE BARBER IN COURT
On the 28th of February 1894 a case was brought before Court no. 9 of the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court of Justice in the Strand. The plaintiff, Charlotte “Lottie” Chettle, a young woman in her early twenties from Swansea, was bringing a claim against Arthur Wicks, a self-styled barrister, for breach of a promise of marriage. She was hoping to recover damages.
When Lottie identified herself to the court, and gave her occupation as “barber”, a rather astonishing thing happened. People laughed. And the urgent question—Why did they laugh?—is the subject of this story.
Before the Victorian era the female barber did in fact feature in London lore. Her image, though, was not especially flattering, at least not if the popular seventeenth-century ballad of the five “mad Shavers” of Drury Lane—all women, and all guilty of violent and disorderly conduct—is anything to go by. And although girls of respectable families are known to have been apprenticed to barbers, it is likely that they were hoping to find husbands by freely consorting with their gentlemen customers.
Certainly in the early years of the nineteenth century the woman who shaved for money was a lowly and disreputable figure, and using her services tended to raise eyebrows. The antiquarian John Thomas Smith, in his 1815 work on the sights of the capital, relates how he had once crept into the dark interior of Seven Dials in order to be shaved by a woman who plied her trade in Great St Andrew Street. The experience obviously made quite an impression on him, as he recalled a “slender” woman with a “strapping soldier” of a husband, who sat smoking a pipe and keeping a watchful eye on what was going on. The writer definitely felt that he had taken a walk on the wild side!
Conservative Victorian tastes must have found the whole business fraught with suggestions of indelicacy. More robust sensibilities probably worried less, which is why the female barber was a common sight on the stage. No doubt Miss Fitzwilliam—who played the pretty Barbara Sharp at the Lyceum in Wellington Street, and was dubbed a “Figaro in petticoats” by a Daily News theatre critic—and Miss Cooper—who played a similar role at St George’s Hall in Langham Place—had the men in their respective audiences in raptures.
And so it was that when Lottie Chettle announced in court that she was employed in a barber’s shop, there was laughter. Women like Lottie, even as late in the century as 1894, were still regarded with amusement, as if only a man was even capable of shaving another man. The attitude is well illustrated by the anecdote of Edward Cleathing Bell, a solicitor who, finding himself about to be shaved by the widow of a recently deceased barber, spluttered in protest that “he would never submit to be taken by the nose”—a technique for raising a face to meet the razor—“by a woman”. Later a close-shaven Mr Bell was forced to concede that his tormentor had in fact “discharged the office uncommonly well”. How condescending! Other examples of Victorian men surprised by the dexterity of women with razors abound.
Arriving in London from her native Wales in the early 1890s, Lottie had been employed by a Louisa Grosse, the proprietress of the Lady Barbers’ Association at 65 Chancery Lane. This late Victorian salon enjoyed a degree of celebrity. The original owner, a man by the name of William Thornton, had started the business by advertising for respectable young women willing to learn a trade that would earn them between 17s and a guinea a week. He received over a hundred applications, and whittled these down to three. Along the way he had to deal with an outraged mother who “would allow her daughter to be a barmaid” but “couldn’t see the morality of her getting her living as a barber”!
Mrs Grosse’s establishment was in a tenement, New Stone Buildings, which comprised business premises and solicitors’ offices. Located in the heart of legal London, the address sounds decidedly grand. In fact it was rather dreary, and we know this because when Karl Marx’s daughter Eleanor was living there in a top-floor flat, a Russian writer-friend described the “dim gaslight of the endless staircase” which had “entirely preserved the Dickens spirit of commercial slums”. Working in this unprepossessing building, poor Lottie Chettle became entangled with the unscrupulous Arthur Wicks. At this point we could tell an interesting story of cynical deception and empty promises of marriage that ultimately cost Wicks £300 in damages. However, the real point is that nobody other than Lottie’s prosecuting counsel, Edward Abinger, took her seriously. Such was the fate of the Victorian female barber.
But an even sadder story is that of little Nellie Wick. (No connection with Lottie Chettle’s seducer—his name ends with an “s”.) Born Ellen, she was the daughter of a professional barber, Edward, who made a name as a public performer. Calling himself Professor Teddy he entertained audiences with his prodigious speed and dexterity. In 1887 at the Royal Aquarium in Westminster, which was a music hall of sorts, he won £100 by shaving eleven bold individuals in three minutes thirty seconds, seeing off a rival by a margin of only five seconds. Then in a bravura solo display he shaved another three wearing a blindfold. In later years he would go one stage further by shaving with a blindfold and with one hand behind his back.
Nellie had two brothers, and really one wonders what sort of childhood Professor Teddy allowed his offspring to have. They worked alongside their father—and their mother, who was also a shaver—at his Globe Toilet Saloon at 418 King’s Road in Chelsea. Even the youngest, a three-year-old boy, was employed lathering the customers. But it was Nellie who was most readily exploited, for, in addition to her precocious technical skill, she had a childish feminine appeal. Certainly the reporter for The Pall Mall Gazette who was sent to write a piece on the Professor found himself spellbound: “Little Nellie is a sweet-faced mischievous-eyed little bird of four, with hair the colour of old gold and eyes as blue as the Neapolitan sky, and with a joyous laugh that charms the heart of all her acquaintances.”
But other details are more obviously disturbing. Nellie’s fingers—the tools, as it were, of her trade—were tiny and plump. She had to stand on a chair to reach the face she was shaving. She had a favourite pair of razors with tortoise-shell handles. She had been taught such professional phrases as “Hold your head over, sir, please” and “That’s right, sir, thank you”.
The Gazette published its article in August 1889, by which time Nellie had already stunned London by shaving five men in twelve minutes at the Globe Toilet Saloon. But the bigger stage was the Royal Aquarium, and, alongside assorted adult entertainers, she wielded her razors to the accompaniment of a band playing “The Voice that Breathed o’er Eden”, which, as The Leeds Times pointed out with ill-concealed irony, was “a hymn for marriage” and “not for shaving”. Interestingly, in order for Nellie to perform at the Aquarium, her father had to get a permit from a local magistrate.
The years went by, and Nellie continued to perform. She travelled if not the world then certainly England and Wales. Inevitably she was used to endorse products, as the following advertisement, printed in The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News in 1920, demonstrates: *****RAPID SHAVING. Some years ago, lit’le Nellie Wick shaved 10 men in ten minutes with a “Mab.” This remarkable feat would have been impossible with any other razor. For safe, rapid and easy shaving, try the little keen-bladed “Mab.” 25 years’ Reputation… “MAB” Co. 73J Newhall St., BIRMINGHAM.*****
Her young life was an odd blend of stage-hall fantasy and mundane reality. Another reporter, hoping for an interview, found the “chatty little” father but not “the young lady” herself, for the very good reason that she was at school. The Professor had nothing to say about his daughter’s education. But he proudly told the reporter that she was in the shop every evening, shaving her regulars. There was a future for her in shaving, he said. “Many a barber with a good connection would give me three pounds a week for her services now,” he went on. “And as for tips—well, there!”
But in fact the wretched Nellie had no future. For in 1907 her career came to an abrupt end. The family business had moved to Wellington Street in St Pancras, and Nellie lived round the corner in Arlington Road. And there she succumbed to pulmonary tuberculosis. She died in hospital one winter’s day, or night, in January, and was buried in the parish cemetery in a common grave. She was twenty-one, and had been shaving men for the best part of her short life.
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A DAY OF BLOOD
Adolph Stein was a 35year-old Polish immigrant living in Cedar Rapids, Iowa when he met Lizzie Loering, a widow with two little children and $30,000 in assets. After a whirlwind courtship, the two were married in June 1880.
Stein had been prominent in political circles in Cedar Rapids, but earlier that spring he was indicted for illegally selling liquor. He decided to move his new bride to Iowa City and open a saloon there with his wife’s money. Lizzie’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Hess packed up and moved to Iowa City as well.
Before long, the marriage turned sour. There were several opinions as to what had gone wrong. Lizzie’s mother, who was always present, had never liked Stein and Lizzie, began to share her mother’s opinion. Together they made Stein’s life miserable. The saloon had acquired a bad reputation, and Stein took to drink. Some said that Stein had been determined to marry money and had only married Lizzie for her $30,000. He treated her badly, and when he turned violent, she left him and moved back with her parents.
Stein was determined to get Lizzie back, and a few weeks after she left, he attempted to abduct her. He was caught trying to force her into a carriage against her will. Lizzie filed for divorce then, and the police ran Stein out of town. Before leaving, Stein said that he would not live without Lizzie.
Lizzie’s divorce became final on November 4, 1881. The following morning, Lizzie’s mother, Mrs. Hess, ran from her house screaming, with blood running from a gash in her throat. Dr. Shroder, who was across the street on another call, saw her come out the door and ran to her aid. He bound the wound with a handkerchief and left her in the care of others while he went into the house.
As Dr. Shrader entered the front door, Adolph Stein came into the room from the kitchen door with a revolver in his hand. He raised his arm and said, “It’s all over now.”
Without paying any attention to him, Dr. Shrader rushed past him into the other room where he found Lizzie on the floor dying. She had a terrible gash in her throat and multiple stab wounds in her chest. As the doctor knelt to help her, she took a few short gasps and breathed her last.
From the front room, he heard Stein fall to the floor, and at first, he thought Stein had turned the revolver on himself. He found Stein lying dead on the floor of the front room, but he had no wounds. A postmortem examination determined that he had poisoned himself with belladonna.
“The horror of the deed threw a chill over the entire city, and the remembrance of it will not pass away for many years,” said the Chicago Tribune.
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When Weird Darkness returns…
There have been so many accidents and mysterious disappearances on one particular stretch of road in Australia that it has earned an ominous nickname… “The Highway of Death”.
Plus, we’ll step into the Chamber of Comments!
If you’ve been with me for the full run of four-and-a-half years doing this podcast, you know that twice a year (June and December) I take one week to concentrate on saving the lives of families in Haiti, Guatemala, and other areas of the Caribbean and Latin America through an organization called Food For The Poor. I’m not paid to raise funds for them – I do it because I believe in what they do. Food For The Poor has been essential in saving lives by providing food and clean water in the poorest areas of the planet. You’d think it couldn’t get any worse for these people, but then COVID-19 struck. Yes, coronavirus itself struck people down, but that’s not the worst of it – it is also devastating those who are trying to help, and those who were financially helping. Suddenly now the volunteers have dwindled because there are so many in quarantine or who are sick from the virus. The donations have shriveled up because businesses and individuals who have been generous have had a sudden halt on their income. Haiti and Guatemala are at emergency levels now. As you could probably guess, there is no government stimulus package or safety nets for these people – the threat of starvation and famine was already real – now it’s imminent. And even the very very few who were working before to eke out a meager life, they are now forced to remain at home due to the quarantine, and they don’t have work-from-home type jobs like many of us do. They are forced to stay at home, with no food for their children, and no hope to earn money in order to buy food. Unemployment has sky-rocketed, those who worked as street vendors or day laborers, the only jobs most could find, have no income whatsoever now. Most children received only one meal per day – and that meal was provided by the school they attend. Now those schools have also been forced to close due to the pandemic, so those children now have zero meals per day. While many parts of the modern world are slowly beginning to see a light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel, Haiti and Guatemala (who were already worse off before the pandemic than we ever were during it) are now in a crisis situation… ten-fold. They are now in a situation where entire villages could completely disappear from existence due to starvation. The reason I’m bringing this up before June is obvious. We can’t afford to wait until then; the need is too dire, they’ve asked if we could please start early. So – I’m asking YOU, my Weirdo family, to join me NOW. I know I mentioned recently that I lost half my income thanks to this pandemic – but I still have a full pantry and fridge, and somehow by the grace of God my bills are paid, so I upped my monthly giving to Food For the Poor. But I’m not asking you to do the same unless you feel led to do so. All I’m asking is that you make a one-time tax-deductible donation of just $37. That’s it. Just $37… once. That one-time donation will feed a child in Haiti or Guatemala for a full 6-months. That sounds like science-fiction, but it is reality, thanks to the way Food For The Poor works. It buys food in bulk, uses local organizations to distribute the food, uses local volunteers to help, etc. $37 feeds a child for a full 6-months. If you can give a one-time gift of $74, you feed two children for six months. If you can’t give the full $37 right now, what about pledging to give just over three bucks a month? That still counts – and who is going to miss three bucks a month? However you can do it. Feed one child for six months with a gift of $37 or just over $3/mo, or feed two kids with a gift of $74 or about $7/mo. You can do the math. A monthly gift, a one-time gift, whatever works best for you. But please give today. Click the red “Emergency Food Relief” banner at WeirdDarkness.com. You can give online right now, it only takes a moment. Or if you’d rather donate by phone, the number is 855-901-4673. That’s 855-901-4673. The important thing is that you do it as soon as possible – the need is great, and the situation is that dire. Call 855-901-4673, or click the “Emergency Food Relief” banner at WeirdDarkness.com.
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HIGHWAY VANISHINGS DOWN UNDER
Meandering across a portion of Queensland, in northeast Australia, is a stretch of road called the Flinders Highway, which spans 500 miles between Townsville and Mount Isa. The highway passes though some phenomenal scenery and some desolate expanses of Outback, and it seems like just any other secluded remote road. Yet, this strip of road has accrued quite a sinister reputation for the large number of accidents and mysterious disappearances that have occurred here, earning it a more ominous nickname: “The Highway of Death.”
The spate of high-profile unsolved murders along this slash of forbidding road began in 1970, when two young girls, 7-year-old Judith MacKay and her sister Susan, were raped and murdered by stabbing and strangulation at Antill Plains Creek off the Flinders Highway. In 1972 two teenage girls named Robin Hoinville-Bartram and Anita Cunningham mysteriously vanished in the area, and Robin’s body was later found under a rail bridge at Sensible Creek, near Charters Towers, with bullet holes to the head. No sign of Cunningham has ever been found despite intense search efforts, and she remains listed as missing.
The deaths and disappearances did not end there. In 1975, a young 18-year-old woman named Catherine Graham, was found dead at a place near the highway, also at Antill Creek, raped and killed by blows to the head with a rock. A few years later, in 1978, the bodies of three people, Karen Edwards, Gordon Twaddle and Timothy Thompson, were found with gunshots to the head not far from Mt. Isa, and in more recent times there have been vanishings here that have left authorities completely baffled.
One of the more well-known such strange vanishings along Flinders Highway is that of a Perth native named Tony Jones, who in 1982 was out backpacking and hitchhiking in the area of Antill Plains Creek as part of a 6-month hiking excursion across Australia, when he simply stepped off the face of the earth for no apparent reason. His last known communication was a call he made to his father and girlfriend on November 3 from a phone box in Townsville, telling them that he was on his way to Mt. Isa. He would never arrive, all activity on his bank records ceased, and no trace of Jones has been found since.
In the following years there were some leads, such as an anonymous letter to police from a writer claiming to know where the body was, but these led nowhere. There was also a prisoner at the Townsville Correctional Centre by the name of Michael James Laundess, who claimed to have brutally killed a man near Mt. Isa at around that same time, but no connection or evidence were ever found, and Laundess died in prison to take any secrets he had to the grave with him. There was also a witness who claimed to have seen Jones with another man, and even gave a description for a police sketch, but the mysterious individual remains unidentified and this lead has also hit a dead end. Interestingly there was a conspiracy that the sketch looked an awful lot like police superintendent Mervyn Henry Stevenson, suspected of corruption, but this was never actually substantiated and he was never officially questioned on the disappearance.
In later years we come to some other strange disappearances near a town called Charters Towers, just off the Flinders Highway. The first was in 2017, when 26-year-old Reece Kearney stopped at a gas station to fill his motorcycle and then drove off down the highway to never return. Then there was the case of Jayden Penno-Tompsett, who vanished into thin air at Charters Towers in January of 2018. Jayden had just been passing through on his way to Cairns on New Year’s Eve, along with his friend Lucas Tattersall, and they decided to visit a place called the Puma Roadhouse along the way. When the two left, Jayden was described as being very agitated and unruly, cryptically saying that there was a warrant out for his arrest, and the two men got into an argument, after which Jayden pulled the car over on a back road and stormed off into the night. This would be the last time he would ever be seen.
An extensive search was mounted, but this was somewhat stalled by the fact that Tattersall was unfamiliar with the area, and the monotonous outback scenery meant he was not totally able to identify the exact area where Jayden had gotten out of the car with confidence, but authorities believe it was a place called Stockroute Road. Tattersall, who was the last to see Jayden alive, was not found to be suspicious and has never been considered a person of interest in the case, but other than that there has been no headway made on the case at all, and Jayden Penno-Tompsett has never been found.
In total there have been 12 such killings and disappearances along the “Highway of Death,” all without resolve, but in later years there have on occasion been some tantalizing leads in some of these cases. For instance, in 2014 a known incarcerated killer by the name of Andy Albury allegedly confessed in prison to a killing spree along the highway between 1970 and 1980, but there was no evidence to corroborate these claims. There was also the confession of suspected child serial killer Arthur Stanley Brown, who was charged in 1998 of murder and was long thought to be possibly connected to the rape and murder of Judith and Susan Mackay, and was implicated in a string of other unsolved killings. Unfortunately, he died in prison in 2002 at the age of 90, and we will never know for sure.
In total at least 12 vanishings and deaths have occurred along this stretch of rural highway, none of them solved, despite the leads and clues, leading to whispers that it is actually cursed. Interestingly, the highway is also said to be a magnet for traffic accidents, although this may or may not have any connection at all. As of yet, none of these crimes have been conclusively solved, and whatever killed or took these people remains shrouded in darkness. With its long stretches of wilderness and nothingness, the road is perhaps a fitting place for such macabre accounts, and a perfect playground for a serial killer. Yet, for now the killings and vanishings seem to have stopped, and we are left to wonder whether the killer or killers have all been apprehended, or if they are just biding their time, waiting for a chance to pounce again. In the end we are left with a very beautiful, yet spooky expanse of highway, that holds to it a series of strange deaths and mysteries that may never be solved.
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We’ll step into the Chamber of Comments in just a moment – a quick reminder though, our next Weirdo Watch Party has been postponed for a week due to Slash getting sick as a dog. Get it? Slash is a werewolf! Sick as a dog! Never mind. Anyway, we’re pushing it back one week – so it is now rescheduled for Saturday, May 30th! Join me, other Weirdo family members, and horror hosts Slash and Foxi Roxi as they present the 1984 B-horror movie, Carnage: the story of Carol and Jonathan, a newlywed couple, who move into their new house which they discover is haunted by the ghosts of newlywed couple who died in the house three years earlier. 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 sometimes 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 what they do. So join us for the 1984 paranormal horror film, “Carnage”! Be sure to update your calendar, smart home device, or phone reminder with the new date! Saturday, May 30th! This time we’re hosting it on the actual Weirdo Watch Party page at WeirdDarkness.com. Saturday May 30th, 9pm Central (10pm Eastern, 7pm Pacific, 8pm Mountain) at WeirdDarkness.com!
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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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Review from Arynnea): Amazing! After moving an hour away from my work, I started looking for podcasts that would keep me interested and make the time pass quickly. This podcast has done just that! The stories, some fictional and some nonfiction, are all captivating in their own way. If you like crime, ghosts, and things that are out of the ordinary, this one is for you!
REPLY: Thank you for the very nice review, Arynnea!
(Review from Larushka): Don’t Listen Alone! Oh my I love this podcast, I began listening about three years ago and I have been hooked ever since, just don’t listen when by yourself or at night you might not get to sleep at all!
REPLY: Now that’s a great compliment, Larushka – thank you very much!
(Email from Louis Rocha): Mr. Marlar, I feel your podcast is hands down the best I’ve found. You have a great voice and uncanny ability to project the true essence of the situation in the story. You help me get through my day at work and I really appreciate that. I also really appreciate that you do things to help those that need help and, you recognize people who do great services for society. Whether it be someone stocking groceries in this chaotic time or someone who chose to protect our country by being in the military, you always express gratitude. That my friend shows me your heart is absolute Gold! I’ve shared Weird Darkness with friends on Facebook and a couple of them have thanked me for telling them about it. I am so glad I found your podcast. Take Care and GOD bless you and your wife. Enjoying being a Weirdo in Austin Texas where we try keeping it weird!
REPLY: Thank you, Louis! And yeah, I hear Austin is just a hotter version of Los Angeles, but just as many Weirdos! So I guess you’re in the right place as long as you don’t mind the heat! God bless!
(Review from WeaponOfFaith): “Thank you for what you do, Darren. I came across your podcast a few weeks ago and I immediately showed it to my wife. We fell in love with it! Everything about it is engaging and professional. Your stories are interesting. Your read is professional. You have a soothing voice that we fell asleep to while listening to the podcast. And we also love how you provide “light” (scripture) at the end of the “darkness” podcast. Keep on keeping on, brother!”
REPLY: You are very welcome Weapon of Faith. It always makes me smile when someone tells me that not only do they listen, but they are listening along WITH someone else, making it a duo or group activity. That really is heartwarming. And if you can use it as a bonding experience to bring you and your wife even closer – heck, I’ll take that! Imagine… Weird Darkness… recommended by 4 out of 5 marriage counselors who listen to podcasts!
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!
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.
“Unsolved UFO Sightings” is by Tia Ghose for Live Science
“The Cape Girardeau UFO Crash” is by Billy Booth for Live About
“The Victorian Female Barber in Court” from London Overlooked
“A Day of Blood” and “Shot Down Remorselessly” were both written by Robert Wilhelm for Murder By Gaslight
“Highway Vanishings Down Under” is by Brent Swancer for Mysterious Universe
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… 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10 = For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.
And a final thought… an Irish proverb: A good friend is like a four-leaf-clover: hard to find and lucky to have.
I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me in the Weird Darkness.