“THE MAN WITH X-RAY EYES” and More Strange, Disturbing, and True Stories! #WeirdDarkness

THE MAN WITH X-RAY EYES” and More Strange, Disturbing, and True Stories! #WeirdDarkness

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IN THIS EPISODE: If you could choose a superpower, what would it be? Invisibility? Flight? Super strength or speed? What about X-ray vision like Superman? Would you believe there was a man in the 20th century who did have x-ray vision, without technology to do it? He had a few other superpowers as well! (The Man With The X-Ray Eyes) *** All families have their ups and downs. However, when you find a clan where an infanticide trial is arguably the least worst thing to happen to them, it’s safe to say you’ve found one very special household… the Mabbitt family. 
(The Confusing Disappearance of Luella Mabbitt) *** It was the slaying that shocked Australia. Sometime on the night of December 26th, 1898, Michael Murphy and his two younger sisters were slaughtered as they traveled back from Gatton in southeastern Australia. Their murders prompted a massive investigation—yet the crime remains unsolved to this day. (Australia’s Unsolved Gatton Murders) *** A woman moves into a home where the past three residents went insane. What could possibly go wrong? (The House With The Unfortunate Past) *** Bartholomew Roberts, better known as the infamous pirate Black Bart, operated in the Caribbean and the Atlantic Ocean from 1719 to 1722. He was easily the most successful pirate of the Golden Age of Piracy, having been known to have captured over 400 ships in his day. But could it be true that he was actually forced to become a pirate against his will? (Was Black Bart Forced To Become a Pirate?)

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

LINKS AND RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THE EPISODE…
VIDEO of Kuba Bux from 1938: https://weirddarkness.com/archives/6546

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Become a patron: http://www.WeirdDarkness.com/WEIRDO
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STORY AND MUSIC CREDITS/SOURCES…
(Note: Over time links can and may become invalid, disappear, or have different content.)
“Australia’s Unsolved Gatton Murders” by Orrin Grey for The Line Up: https://tinyurl.com/yapybysk
“The Confusing Disappearance of Luella Mabbitt” from Strange Company: https://tinyurl.com/y88xoa95
“The Man With The X-Ray Eyes” by Marc Hartzman for Weird Historian: https://tinyurl.com/y9ok2wnz
“The House With The Unfortunate Past” by Dar77 from Your Ghost Stories: https://tinyurl.com/y85t95qe
“Was Black Bart Forced To Become a Pirate?” by Ellen Lloyd for Ancient Pages: https://tinyurl.com/yc7doxlj
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.
“I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” — John 12:46
Find out how to escape eternal darkness at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IYmodFKDaM
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TRANSCRIPT:

<Audio Clip From Movie Trailer For “X: The Man With X-Ray Eyes” from 1963>

That’s the movie trailer from the 1963 science fiction film, “X: The Man With The X-Ray Eyes”, directed by Roger Corman. Back then it won a Silver Globe Award at the International Science Fiction Film Festival. But that was 1963 when everyone knew x-ray vision without machines was science-fiction. But if you go back only thirty years, people believed a man truly could have x-ray eyes. And that man’s name was Kuda Bux.

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…

All families have their ups and downs. However, when you find a clan where an infanticide trial is arguably the least worst thing to happen to them, it’s safe to say you’ve found one very special household… the Mabbitt family.

It was the slaying that shocked Australia. Sometime on the night of December 26th, 1898, Michael Murphy and his two younger sisters were slaughtered as they traveled back from Gatton in southeastern Australia. Their murders prompted a massive investigation—yet the crime remains unsolved to this day.

A woman moves into a home where the past three residents went insane. What could possibly go wrong?

Bartholomew Roberts, better known as the infamous pirate Black Bart, operated in the Caribbean and the Atlantic Ocean from 1719 to 1722. He was easily the most successful pirate of the Golden Age of Piracy, having been known to have captured over 400 ships in his day. But could it be true that he was actually forced to become a pirate against his will?

If you could choose a superpower, what would it be? Invisibility? Flight? Super strength or speed? What about X-ray vision like Superman? Would you believe there was a man in the 20th century who did have x-ray vision, without technology to do it? He had a few other superpowers as well!

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

* * * * * * * * * *

If you were a kid reading comic books in the mid-20th century, chances are you saw ads in every issue selling x-ray vision glasses. If they worked, you could’ve been like Kuda Bux, known as “The Man with the X-Ray Eyes.”

Bux, a Pakistani magician born as Khudah Bukhsh in 1905, mystified many with his ability to seemingly have eyeless sight in the mid 1930s. He also walked on hot coals, allowed himself to be buried alive for up to three hours, and could stop his heart and pulse on command.

But it was his x-ray vision that was of special interest to many who’d been studying such possibilities at the time, including French writer Jules Romains. Psychic researcher Harry Price described Romains’ beliefs in his book, Confessions of a Ghost Hunter:

“As somnambulistic subjects can apparently guide themselves with remarkable ease, with their eyes closed or even bandaged, they may ‘acquire a prodigious delicacy of sensation, and know how to make use of a thousand signs which a man in a waking state passes by without notice. Their hearing, touch, and smell undergo hyperaesthetic change and manage sometimes to take the place of sight.’”

Bux demonstrated his talents by blindfolding himself with surgical bandages, tape, cotton wool, a mask, and dough covering his eye sockets. His face was completely covered, except for his nose. He then proceeded to read anything put in front of him. The Man with the X-Ray Eyes even demonstrated his skills by riding a bicycle through the busy streets of London with his blindfolding method in place.

In 1935, he performed several tests for Price and other researchers at the University of London Council for Psychical Investigation. Price was allowed to select any book off a shelf and flip to any page. “I put my finger on a paragraph,” Price wrote, “and asked him to read it aloud. This he did at once, almost as quickly as the reader is perusing this page. There was no sign of hesitation. Other books were placed in front of him, some with large print and some with small. He read them all.”

Bux continued to impress the council with similar feats.

His blindfolding method was key to his abilities. Bux wouldn’t allow a bag to simply be placed over his head. According to Price, this was because Bux claimed that he “sees through, or by means of, his nostrils.” This explained why his nose was always in the clear.

It sounds a bit absurd, but Romains postulated a similar notion regarding eyeless sight. As Price explained:

“Romains states it is necessary to leave the nostrils free in order that his blindfolded or blinded subjects shall distinguish colors. He says that ‘the nasal mucosa is sensitive to light and to different colored regions of the spectrum. This function is sharply distinct from smell.’ He continues: ‘The part played by the nasal mucosa leads us to the following question: is the unknown organ of extra-retinal vision situated in one part of the body? Localized in a single one or diffused through many?’ Kuda Bux answers that, in his case, the ‘unknown organ’ is situated in his nose.”

Despite that, Price and his team concluded that Bux was an extraordinary showman, but did not possess x-ray vision.

“During our test Bux would not allow us to adopt measures that absolutely precluded his seeing down the side of his nostrils and, although we witnessed a clever performance, all we learnt that afternoon was how extremely difficult it is to blindfold a person, using ordinary methods,” Price wrote.

Regardless of Price’s conclusion, Bux continued to perform his x-ray feats for audiences. However, three years later, at a demonstration with 300 people at a hotel, he was offered $10,000 if he could read with an ordinary bag over his head. The offer was made by Joseph Dunninger, a magician and president of the Universal Council for Psychical Research. Bux declined, saying his “soul” only provided this power to read through obstacles if it were done his way.

The show went on, and Bux prepared his blindfolds in his usual fashion, which on this occasion included napkins from the hotel. He then read words on a blackboard, from newspapers, and more. The audience was amazed.

Yet as a newspaper article described it: “But always the nose of Kuda Bux stuck out of the wrappings, and he tilted his head; back in a way that might suggest to the skeptical that there was a slight gap in the dough down the left side of his nose through which he might be reading.”

A reporter asked if he could read a card he placed inside a napkin—one just like Bux had used in his blindfolding.

“No, the napkins must be in contact with my body,” the magician replied.

He ended the demonstration and removed the bandages, dough and napkins. The curious reporter grabbed one of the discarded napkins and pressed it to Bux’s head.

“I place it in contact with your forehead,” the journalist said. “There’s no dough in the way now, only one of the several napkins through which you read before. Can you read the name of the bank in this blank check that I take out of my pocket?”

Bux said he could not. The show was over.

A psychologist attending the performance, who had been impressed up until then, suddenly grew disappointed. “My goodness,” he exclaimed, “Then this is only some sort of sleight of hand trick.”

Still, it was quite a trick. Dunninger explained to a newspaper how it worked:

“Reading while ‘blindfolded’ is more than three centuries old, and has been discarded by most magicians plying professions today. It is extremely simple and can be accomplished by most persons with some practice. The reading is done down along the side of the nose. The depression in the eyes and the bridge of the nose allows just enough space for one to peer down at the object as held in the so-called mystic’s hands.”
If you would like to watch Kuba Bux perform a few tests (or tricks) in a 1938 video, I’ve placed a link in the show notes.

* * * * * * * * * *

When Weird Darkness returns…

All families have their ups and downs. However, when you find a clan where an infanticide trial is arguably the least worst thing to happen to them, it’s safe to say you’ve found one very special household.

Also, it was the slaying that shocked Australia. Sometime on the night of December 26th, 1898, Michael Murphy and his two younger sisters were slaughtered as they traveled back from Gatton in southeastern Australia. Their murders prompted a massive investigation—yet the crime remains unsolved to this day.

These stories and more, coming up.

<BREAK>

If you’ve been in the Weirdo family for a while, you know that every June I take a few days to help raise funds for an amazing organization that I truly believe in – Food for the Poor. But the children and families in Haiti and Guatemala are in an absolute emergency right NOW and can’t wait for a fundraiser next month. COVID19 hit us hard, we’re still dealing with – but it hit the poorest areas of Latin America and the Caribbean even harder, and they’re expecting it to get even worse. They’ve been forced into quarantine like we have, but unlike us they have NO government assistance, NO food bank, NO shelters, and their cabinets were already empty and they were already hungry before coronavirus arrived. In fact, Haiti had the highest rates of childhood malnutrition in the western hemisphere, and nearly four million people – more than one in three Haitians – were estimated to be in need of urgent food assistance. And that was BEFORE the coronavirus pandemic. Most children would only receive one small meal each day, and that was provided by the school they attended. Those schools are now closed – locked up due to the quarantine – so those children are not receiving any meals at all. If there is any way you can, please partner with me, partner with Weird Darkness, and partner with Food For The Poor to literally save the lives of these children and families. They are no longer just hungry – they are starving. All it takes to save a life is a one-time tax-deductible donation of just $37. Just $37… given one single time. That single gift will feed a child in Haiti or Guatemala for a full 6-months. If you can give $74, you feed two children for six months. If you’ve been especially fortunate during this trying time, maybe you can see your way to giving a single one-time gift of $185 – that brings emergency food relief to a whole family for a full six months. Maybe you’d like to go a step further and set up a monthly pledge of $10. That sounds minuscule, we’d probably never notice ten dollars a month missing from our checking account or debit card, but that’s $120 which feeds three children. Again, any amount you choose to donate as a one-time gift or pledge monthly, whatever works best for you, is going to make a huge impact. Please give now, as you listen to this episode of Weird Darkness. Click the “Emergency Food Relief” banner at WeirdDarkness.com. Or if you’d rather donate by phone, the number is 855-901-4673. That’s 855-901-4673. Or click the “Emergency Food Relief” banner at WeirdDarkness.com.

* * * * * * * * * *

The small town of Gatton, which in 2011 had a little less than 7,000 residents, lies some 60 miles west of Brisbane in Queensland, Australia. In the late 19th century, it was a popular waypoint for rail and road traffic traveling east to the coast, or west to the fertile region of Darling Downs.

The Murphy family owned a farm about 8 miles outside of Gatton, and 29-year-old Michael was home for the holidays that fateful December in 1898. On the afternoon of the 26th, Michael borrowed a one-horse sulky cart from his brother-in-law William M’Neill to take his sisters Norah, 27, and Theresa “Ellen”, 19, to a dance at the Divisional Board Hall in Gatton. Before they arrived, however, Michael received word that the dance had been canceled, so he turned the sulky around and headed home with his family. No one made it back alive.

The next morning, the Murphy family awoke to find that Michael, Norah, and Ellen were missing. M’Neill set out looking for them. He followed the road into Gatton on horseback, keeping an eye out for the crooked tracks of his sulky, which had a wobbly wheel from an earlier accident.

He soon found the distinctive tracks, which veered off the road and into a wooded pasture. The sight did not arouse suspicion just yet. Even as the three figures came into view, M’Neill presumed they were sleeping. It wasn’t until he saw the ants crawling across their bodies that he realized what had happened.

The scene was grisly, and decidedly strange. Michael and Ellen lay back-to-back within a few feet of one another, while Norah lay nearby on a neatly spread rug soaked in blood. All three had their legs carefully arranged with the feet pointing to the west, one of the many odd details that remain a mystery.

The two women had their hands tied behind their backs, while Michael’s hands appeared to have been tied and then untied again, possibly to access a purse found near his body. Speculation later arose as to whether Michael’s hands had been untied by the killer, by M’Neill himself, or by some other visitor who stumbled across the bodies before the police secured the crime scene.

At a glance, it appeared as if all three of the Murphys had been bludgeoned to death. In Norah’s case, her skull was so badly damaged that her brain protruded. Post-mortem examinations revealed that Norah had also been strangled, and that Michael had been shot in the head before being struck; the blow from the blunt instrument partially disguised the bullet hole. In addition, the women may have been raped, possibly with the brass-mounted handle of a riding whip.

The sulky stood nearby, at an angle to the bodies. The horse had been shot in the head and its dead body lay between the shafts of the sulky. A distraught M’Neill raced toward Gatton, stopping first at the Brian Boru hotel where he told patrons of the murder. He then pressed on to alert local police.

A crowd of people left the hotel and hurried to the crime scene as M’Neill sought authorities. Even after M’Neill alerted police, a subsequent communication breakdown within the department led to additional delays. By the time investigators finally arrived at the pasture in full force—nearly two days after the bodies were discovered—spectators had completely contaminated the area.

Police collected more than 3,000 statements in weeks after the slaying. Yet their investigation was plagued by mistakes and accusations of incompetence. After inconsistencies arose between reports from the crime scene and the post-mortem examination, Chief Inspector Stuart ordered the bodies to be exhumed and re-examined. The examination uncovered previously missed evidence, including a bullet lodged in Michael’s skull.

Such errors led to rumors ranging from corruption within the police force to sinister interference from the Murphy family. While numerous individuals were suspected, no one was ever changed in the attacks. Anger over the perceived mishandling of the case led in part to a Royal Commission in 1899, which investigated the methods of the Queensland police force.

For many amateur detectives, the most likely culprit is a man known variously as Theo Farmer, Thomas Furner, and Thomas Day. Day was employed by a local butcher in December 1898, and was reportedly lurking near the murder scene on the night of the killings. Some suspect that he was also responsible for another murder just a few weeks before, when 15-year-old Alfred Stephen Hill was killed in nearby Oxley. The boy’s pony was shot in the head, much like the Murphy horse.

In 1900, Day was admitted to the Sydney Hospital under the name Thomas Furner, where he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. It is said that he left behind a suicide note admitting that he was present during the Gatton Murders, and stating that he couldn’t sleep due to nightmares of seeing the victims’ heads being bashed in.

Such a claim only compounds the mystery. Was Day the actual killer, or did he witness the slaying committed by another hand? More than a hundred years later, the Gatton Murders case is haunted by unanswered questions.

* * * * * * * * * *

The Mabbitt family – described by one newspaper as from “good old farmer stock” – lived just outside of Delphi, Indiana. They seemed like an ideal family. The father, Peter Mabbitt, was both wealthy and respectable. The children were all attractive, intelligent, and popular. The belle of the family was 23-year-old Luella, who, naturally, had many suitors. Her favored beau was a man ten years her senior named Amer Green, but–for what may well have been very good reasons–her father disapproved of him. So strong was Mr. Mabbitt’s dislike for Green that he was able to persuade Luella to write her lover a “Dear John” letter.
Unfortunately, Green did not take his dismissal well. On August 6, 1886, William Walker, the swain of Luella’s twin sister Ella, rode to the Mabbitt house and called Ella out for a chat. As the two were talking, Green appeared, demanding that Luella come out as well. When Ella told him her sister was asleep, Green lost his temper, snapping that if he didn’t get to see Luella, he would “tear the house apart.”
Luella–whether reluctantly or not is not recorded–went out to see Green. The two talked quietly for a few minutes, and then they walked off together. After a moment, Walker drove off, and Ella went back to the house, little guessing that this would be the last time she would ever see her sister.
When Luella failed to return that night, her family was naturally alarmed. Equally inevitably, their first thought was to hunt down Amer Green. The local police questioned both Walker and Green, but neither of them claimed to have any idea what had happened to Luella. A massive search was made of the area, without finding any trace of the missing young woman. Peter Mabbitt hired a private detective, and offered a substantial reward for any information about his daughter, but no clues emerged. It was as if Luella had simply evaporated into the air.
When Amer Green quietly slipped out of town, that only hardened local certainty that he knew exactly what had become of Luella. On August 12, a mob of the lynching variety was soon assembled around the Green home. They dragged Amer’s mother out, placed a noose around her neck, and demanded that she tell them where her son had gone. She either couldn’t or wouldn’t say. Eventually, the frustrated crowd let her go and left. As the prime suspect in the disappearance was unable to be found, police did the next best thing. They arrested Mrs. Green. William Walker was tossed into jail as well, apparently only because he had the bad luck to be on the scene the night Luella vanished.
As it turned out, Amer wasn’t the only member of his family with an alleged penchant for murder. His brother William had been accused of killing one Enos Brumbaught, and he too had fled justice. Pinkerton detectives eventually managed to track the pair down in Texas. They were arrested in July 1887 and brought back to Indiana.
In the meantime, the mystery of the whereabouts of Luella Mabbitt had finally been solved…maybe. In February 1887, a body was discovered in the Wabash River. It was so badly decomposed as to be unrecognizable, but Ella Mabbitt and her mother believed that these were Luella’s remains–largely, apparently, on the grounds that the corpse’s teeth resembled Ella’s. Peter Mabbitt, on the other hand, was unconvinced. A physician who examined the body believed the teeth were of someone much older than Luella, and, furthermore, the corpse was that of a man! The uncertainty about these remains only ensured that the Mabbitt Mystery was even more muddled than before.
Meanwhile, Amer Green, from his cell in the Carroll County jail, continued to insist that Luella was alive and well and living in Texas with a man named Samuel Payne. He refused to say any more than this, intimating that all would eventually be made clear.
If Green truly did have evidence that Luella was still among the living, he was soon to regret keeping it to himself. Locals were convinced he was a murderer, but lacking a verified body or any other hard evidence that Green–or anybody else–had murdered Luella, it was looking increasingly unlikely that he would ever be convicted. The men of Delphi began to say that if the law could not punish Amer Green, well, they would have to do so themselves.
On the night of October 21, 1887, some two hundred men quietly marched through the streets, surrounding the county jail. They broke their way in and confronted the sheriff, demanding the keys to the prison. When he refused, some of the mob overpowered him, and the others used sledgehammers to break the locks leading to the cells. They went straight to the cell containing Amer Green. At gunpoint, he was seized and tied up. He was led outside and forced into a covered wagon. It drove off, with the bulk of the crowd following.
The wagon drove to the woods of Walnut Grove, about eight miles away. It was soon joined by a large caravan of carriages, wagons, and men on horseback. Green was taken out of the wagon and ordered to confess his guilt.
Green maintained the stolid calm of a man who knows he’s doomed. He quietly maintained that Luella was in Fort Worth. When asked why, if this was the case, she didn’t come home and resolve the mystery, he replied, “She would if I had the time to send for her.” He claimed that Luella had been desperate to leave her home for some time, and on the night she vanished, he had merely assisted in her desire to run away.
Among the crowd was Peter Mabbitt. He stepped forward and begged Green to tell the truth. What had he done with Luella?
“I loved her better than my own life,” Green retorted. “That is the reason I went away with her. I loved her better than you did and all the times she has been away I have cared for her.”
His words were not enough to convince a mob bent on murder. A rope was tied around a branch of a walnut tree and the other end wrapped around Green’s neck as he stood in the wagon seat. The wagon lurched forward, leaving the condemned man dangling in the air.
When it was clear that Green was dead, the crowd soon dispersed, leaving the body hanging in the tree. Before the coroner took charge of it the next day, thousands of people came to gawk at the grotesque sight. Someone took a photograph of the hanging corpse, which was–I kid you not–turned into a postcard. (Copies can be found online, but I strongly urge you not to try to find them.) The men responsible for Green’s lynching were never punished. To this day, Green’s ghost is said to haunt the grove where he died.

Green’s death was not the end of the mystery. Detectives went to Fort Worth in an effort to track down this elusive “Samuel Payne.” Somewhat to their surprise, they found a Mrs. Orr, who claimed to have lived next door to Payne and a woman who said she was his wife. “Mrs. Payne” was a pretty woman in her early twenties, who told Mrs. Orr that she was originally from Indiana. Unfortunately, the couple had since left town for parts unknown. If this was, as Amer Green insisted with literally his dying breath, Luella Mabbitt, she was never heard from again.
This was not the end of the Mabbitt family tragedies. In 1890, Luella’s 17 year old sister Minnie became pregnant. Upon hearing of the news, the baby’s father, one Charles Spilter, promptly washed his hands of her. Not knowing where else to turn, Minnie sought the help of her brothers, Oris and Mont. They helped her check into an Indianapolis hotel under the name of “Mrs. Minnie Jones,” where she gave birth to a daughter she named “Merle.”
Soon after this, the body of a baby girl was discovered in Eagle Creek. A coroner determined that she had died of strangulation soon after birth. Two women from the hotel where Minnie had stayed identified the baby as Merle. A buggy weight that had been used to weigh down the tiny corpse was determined to have come from the livery stable where Mont Mabbitt worked. It was also learned that on the night Minnie checked out of her hotel, Mont took out one of the stable’s buggies. Minnie, Mont, and Oris were all arrested.
Minnie soon confessed all. She stated that she had believed her brothers would place her baby in an orphanage. She last saw the child when her brothers drove her in the direction of Eagle Creek. Mont took Merle from her and left their carriage. Oris and Minnie drove off for a while, and when they returned, Mont was waiting for them…alone. The three then returned to the city. “No one told me the baby was dead,” said Minnie. “But I knew it was.”
During her trial, the beautiful young Minnie won everyone’s sympathy. It was universally believed that she was but a helpless child, completely under the control of her brothers. She was acquitted of murder, much to the approval of those in the courtroom. Eventually, Oris and Mont–who both argued that they had never intended to murder the baby–were also set free.
In the legal sense, this was the end of the Mabbitt saga. The lingering question of just what, exactly, became of Luella Mabbitt was never resolved. For many years after that fateful night in August 1886, there were periodic “sightings” of the supposedly murdered woman. In February 1916, her sister Ella told a reporter, “For all I know, my sister may have not been murdered and may be living today.”
If such was the case, Amer Green must rank as one of the unluckiest men in Indiana history.

* * * * * * * * * *

Coming up…

A woman moves into a home where the past three residents went insane.

Could the pirate Black Bart actually have been forced to become a pirate?

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

<BREAK>

In April of 2020 all profits from the Weird Darkness store went to the International Foundation for the Research and Education of Depression. I did the same for this month, May 2020. My plan was to give 50% of all profits to the cause beginning in June, but I talked it over with my bride and she agrees with me – that’s not enough, it doesn’t feel right. So we’re extending the 100% donations indefinitely. Until further notice all profits I receive from the Weird Darkness store are being donated to the International Foundation for the Research and Education of Depression. It’s that simple. If you purchase anything from the Weird Darkness store – face masks, tshirts, hoodies, mugs, tote bags, phone cases, stickers, magnets, wall hangings, clothes for your kids, laptop cases, pillows, buttons, whatever… any item, any graphic design. 100% of the profits I receive go to helping those who struggle with depression and anxiety. If you look through the designs and don’t see anything you like, use the search bar and look for something else – there are thousands of designs still on the site that aren’t on my page specifically, but if you start the search on the Weird Darkness page, they are still partially credited to me. So if you’ve always wanted an excuse to go shopping for Weird Darkness junk, now you have one. You can check out the merchandise anytime by clicking on STORE at WeirdDarkness.com.

* * * * * * * * * *

The following true story is written from the perspective of a female, so don’t let that throw you.

Let me begin by filling you in on my first house. The year was 1996 and I was pregnant with my first child, my ex husband and I had been living with his parents far too long and with a baby on the way we knew we simply had to get a place of our own. It had seemed that with the monthly income we made, this would be an almost impossible goal. That is until we were made aware of an old house that his grandmother had owned, that had just been sitting and unoccupied since the incident.

Story goes, my ex husband’s grandma, uncle & aunt had purchased an older home inside the city limits; after the state had bought their home on the range in order to lay down the interstate and place a rest area back in the 1950’s. So with their new lump of money, the three of them relocated to their new home.

All I was told was that, Ilene (the Aunt) had been attacked and sexually assaulted by three men one evening in the alleyway behind the house. This unfortunate event took a toll on her and she quickly lost her mind, being forced by the state to be placed into the local insane asylum. Basically her last days were spent in the house. Shortly after being admitted she took her own life.

Some time later the grandmother took a fall down the front steps and required around the clock nursing care, and so she was also admitted into a nursing home. Shortly after her admittance, she passed away.

In the end the only one left in the house was the uncle, who reportedly was already mentally unstable and I imagine that all of this was too much for him to bare; apparently he attempted to take his own life in this house by slashing his wrists. He was not successful and was also admitted into a facility for his own safety.

So here sat this house, with it’s tragic history all shut up for years, when we decided to try and talk the uncle into letting us live there dirt cheap. He seemed all too happy to have visitors and almost excited that someone wanted to live in his home, a home that at one point had meant so much to him and his family.

I have a rich past of dealing with the paranormal and unexplainable, so the history of the house didn’t really affect my decision. I just knew that I was having a baby and desired to have my own place.

I felt the place just needed some sprucing up and thought that by having some young people and the arrival of a new baby inhabiting it, would be just what the house needed.

My ex husband worked the night shift at a local restaurant around that time, and would sleep during the days; which wouldn’t leave much time to get the place ready for moving in. I figured that while he was at work, in order to kill two birds with one stone I would go and clean it up and give a fresh coat of paint. The first night I decided to head over there and paint, I remember there being a very unwelcoming feeling about the place when I pulled up. I didn’t let it stop me and grabbed my gear and headed inside.

Once inside, I began to wonder if we had made a bad decision about moving into the house. But I have always believed that once you start something you should finish it and stick it out, no matter what! So I took a couple of deep breaths, cleared my mind and started in on the painting.

I knew I was not alone, and that was fine. I kept hearing odd noises in different parts of the house. I was determined to get the painting done and was not going to let it deter me. That is until I begin to hear voices and hissing of sorts. I began to feel uneasy with that, but still I held true to the task. I was in the living room and on the other side of the wall was the bathroom, which still had one of those metal chairs in the shower used for people who cannot stand up and take a shower on their own. I heard some scuffling in the bathroom and then what sounded like the metal chair being sat in abruptly or moved, so I stop painting and listen some more. I hear the bathroom door shut and some more hissing.

Standing there not moving, still facing the wall with paint roller in hand I’m just kind of waiting to see what comes next. I refused to look away from the wall in fear of maybe seeing something I would rather not see. I knew in that moment that the spirit or whatever was, was in the room with me, very near me. At that point I figured that if I showed no fear, it would not do much. The next thing I knew, right next to my ear I hear a whisper saying ‘Dawnelle’. It knew my name! I dropped that roller right in the paint pan and left that place as quick as I could; all the lights still on, doors unlocked and radio playing!

You would think I would have decided to revoke the decision to move in at that point, but the situation at my inlaws was less than desirable, I felt it just had to happen. Besides would could REALLY happen, how bad could it truly get?! So I decided it would be best NOT to tell my ex of what had happened that night.

I simply told him that the pregnancy had me feeling exhausted and that I thought it would be best if we finished painting the house on his days off.

We lived a total of three years in the house with only a handful of occurrences.

One evening while my husband was at work, I was up late and very pregnant feeling the need to do some deep cleaning as the due date of the baby was very near. Us mothers refer to this as the nesting instinct. There I was standing in the kitchen, when I heard voices coming from the basement. It sounded strange; like that of a radio station that wasn’t well tuned. But it just kept on talking and then stopped. I walked over to the door that led to the basement and locked it. I decided that it would be a good idea to just keep that door locked at all times. I would hear the voices in the basement often, but that was about it. I never mentioned it to my ex husband.

One morning while lying in bed I happened to notice a set of faint handprints on the ceiling above me.

I just thought huh, that’s an odd spot for handprints; considering that the ceilings were so tall. But didn’t think too much about it.

On another occasion we were heading to bed and had made it to the bedroom when the television turned on all by itself. My ex husband and I just looked at each other and he walked over and shut it off.

One night I was awakened by yelling coming from the living room. As I laid there listening, it was obvious to me that the television had once again turned itself on and seemed like the volume was all the way up.

I found myself once again laying in bed and staring at the ceiling and happened to notice that there were now a few sets of handprints. It seemed like, each time I would look at that ceiling there would always be more sets of handprints.

In the dining room, there was always this big stain that no matter what I did, what company I hired to clean the carpet; the stain would always reappear. I found it rather peculiar. So I went and asked the uncle where exactly in the house did he cut his wrists and he told me the dining room. After repeated attempts at getting rid of the stain, it became apparent that the sting was there to stay. I placed a throw rug over it as a solution to the problem.

Voices in the basement, the television randomly turning on by itself and unexplainable handprints; were all that we had to deal with. Not so intolerable, right.

Well some time after our first child was born, the Uncle in the middle of the night called me up desperately asking me to get him out of the nursing home was in. So he came to live with us in his house. We had been living there for over a year at that point. The paranormal activity, seemed to cease once he was living with us.

I became pregnant with our second child when our first born was a year old. The pregnancy went accordingly, but around the time I was 7 months along I had an accident.

It was winter time and the front steps were covered in ice. I had pleaded with my ex husband to make the stairs ice free several times, but he neglected to do so. We were going somewhere and I was heading down the stairs, when suddenly my feet slipped! In hopes of protecting the baby I grabbed a hold of the stair rail and sort of aimed my body in a way to land on my back. Mind you these were the very stairs that his grandmother had met her demise. I was rushed to the hospital and the baby and I were placed on 24 hour observation. Thankfully we were alright, according to the ER doctors. However the remainder of my pregnancy became extremely difficult. I had planned a natural birth, but turned out as an emergency C- section.

When our second baby was merely 2 months old, my ex husband’s Uncle decided to kick us out and take everything from us. We ended up moving out of that house then and never returned. However when my second child was about 10 months old, I started getting very sick; not being able to hold down any food or any liquids and a very drawn out sickness that no one could pinpoint engulfed my life. After the whole run around with numerous visits to the ER, specialists and painful suffering; 2 years later the problem was finally found. Turned out that when I fell on those stairs during my second pregnancy, the jolt of the baby’s body had crammed my spleen up against my pancreas and up against my spine; in results killed my spleen, 60% of my pancreas and severely damaged my spine. I nearly died because of that one fall and it has ultimately stole my physical health since I was 22 years of age, it caused a sort of spiral affect and since then I have known nothing other than surgeries and great physical pain. Looking back I wish that I would just stayed at my in laws instead of moving into that house, at least I would still have had my health.

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Having excellent navigation skills, courage and charisma, when his vessel was captured, Bartholomew Roberts eventually became the most successful pirate of the Golden Age.

The Golden Age of piracy spans between the 1650s to the 1730s. It was an intriguing and ruthless period in history when ships and the men and sometimes women who sailed them turned the oceans into an adventurous drama.

Bartholomew Roberts’ life was colorful and exciting. Between 1719 and 1722, he captured as many as 400 ships, including many superior warships! This made him the most wealthy and feared pirate of the Golden Age.

“It was his death and the trial of his crew in 1722 that symbolized the end of piracy’s golden age.”

Born in 1682 in Wales, Bartholomew Roberts whose original name was John Roberts, went to sea at the age of 13.

Preparing for marine life, he continued sailing and in 1719 he earned a position as the second officer on board the ship Princess under Captain Abraham Plumb. His ship was captured by Welsh pirate Howell Davis.

Roberts was enslaved and forced to bemuse one of the pirates. However, this did not bother him much because he soon realized this traded suited him well. Roberts was an attractive, tall man who enjoyed nice clothes and expensive jewelry. As a pirate, he had an opportunity not only to be famous but also rich.

“Pirate crews needed frequent replenishing. Most pirates were volunteers, but casualties from combat, disease, accidents and occasional desertions took their toll. So pirates took every opportunity they could to acquire new men. Since able seamen, maritime carpenters, coopers, and navigators were preferred, it was sensible for pirates to seek recruits from among the crews of the ships they took as prizes.

Pirates did not like risking injuries to themselves or their prizes, so the captains or owners of ships that ran or fought were frequently punished. For the rest of the men, pirates tried persuasion first.

In truth, merchant crews were often overworked, underpaid and unhappy. Other arguments might include praise for the democratic life of piracy, the promise of better food, clothing and accommodation, liquor and, of course, wealth. For the potential recruits to accept these reasons, the pirates themselves would need to be better dressed and nourished than them, which argues against the popular image of pirates as gaunt and ragged vagabonds.

Of course, if time was short or their arguments unconvincing, the pirates would then resort to force in order to fill out their crews.”

Bartholomew Roberts once said: “In an honest service there is thin commons, low wages, and hard labour. In this, plenty and satiety, pleasure and ease, liberty and power; and who would not balance creditor on this side, when all the hazard that is run for it, at worst is only a sour look or two at choking? No, a merry life and a short one shall be my motto.”

Time revealed Roberts’ boldness was one of the reasons he became more successful than other pirates.

Captain Howell Davis liked Roberts and so did the rest of the crew. Once Davis discovered Roberts was an excellent navigator, he took consulting in him. In time, once Roberts gained Davis’ trust, the Captain was able to confide information to Roberts, keeping it hidden from the rest of the crew.

In June 1719, Davis and some of the pirates were killed in an ambush, and Roberts was selected as the new Captain.

Roberts new life as a pirate was entering another stage. Once he and his fellow pirates had avenged Davis’s death by destroying the harbor, they headed for the coast of South America to look for booty.

Roberts was cunning and fooled many. He discovered 42 ships and their escorts were waiting at Saint’s Bay off northern Brazil. Pretending he was just part of the convoy; he sailed into the bay and took one of the ships without anyone noticing. His eyes were set on the richest of the ships that he also captured quickly before the escorting ships had a chance to catch him.

In June 1720, Roberts, who was later also known as Black Bart captured 22 ships in the harbor and then, he and his crew continued to the Caribbean, where they captured dozens of vessels.

Roberts who called himself the “Admiral of the Leeward Islands” had a couple of flags associated with him. One was a black flag bearing a skeleton, representing death, that held an hourglass in one hand and crossbones in the other. Another black flag with a white figure, representing Roberts, holding a flaming sword and standing on two skulls. Below were the words ABH and AMH, standing for “A Barbadian Head” and “A Martinico’s Head.”

Roberts hated the governors of Barbados and Martinique because they had sent pirate hunters after him. Whenever Roberts encountered ships from either place, he showed them no mercy.

Roberts was a very successful pirate, but he could be extremely cruel. On one occasion, he ordered to burn Porcupine, a ship full of slaves because its Captain had refused to pay the ransom.

In February 1722, Captain Challoner Ogle who commanded the warship Swallow put a stop to Roberts’ piracy. Ogle and his crew engaged in a fierce battle against Roberts and his pirates.

Roberts was killed by grapeshot, which struck him in the throat while he stood on the deck. His men fulfilled his wish and quickly threw his body into the sea.

The life of Bartholomew Roberts, the greatest pirate of his generation had come to an end.

Roberts’s pirates were helpless without their Captain. They had only energy to fight for one hour after his death. Then, they surrendered and were later put on trial.

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We’ll step into the Chamber of Comments in just a moment. But first, a quick reminder!

Our next Weirdo Watch Party is this coming Saturday, May 30th!  Join me, other Weirdo family members, and horror hosts Slash and Foxi Roxi as they present the 1984 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 a 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 start watching! In fact, there are always horror movies hosted by horror hosts streaming on the page all the time, not just during our scheduled watch parties! 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 our next Weirdo Watch Party as we view the 1984 paranormal horror film, “Carnage”! Put it on your calendar, smart home device, or phone’s alarm clock so you don’t miss it! It’s this coming Saturday, May 30th at WeirdDarkness.com. Again, that’s this Saturday May 30th, 9pm Central (that’s 10pm Eastern, 7pm Pacific, 8pm Mountain) on the Weirdo Watch Party page at WeirdDarkness.com!

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 Erick Montiel): Hello Darren my name is Erick. I just wanted to say that I love your podcast and I love all that you do from the found raisers to the store. That being said I believe your podcast could be so much better if you talked more about stories from around the world a little bit more, I would love to see stories about spooks outside the USA and other English speaking countries, the Filipino folklore like many others is filled with awesome monsters, I would like to see a little bit more of the Asian and pre European legends of the Americas in your show. This is just a suggestion though but I truly do believe it can make your show better.

REPLY: Hi, Erick! Thanks for the email!  To be honest, I don’t know why stories outside the Western world aren’t shared more often.  I check numerous websites, I receive dozens of newsletters, I get lots of emails with stories, and for some reason almost all of the stories are based in the Americas and Europe. Maybe the rest of the world just doesn’t tolerate the paranormal and scares the ghosts away so they run to America where they aren’t bullied as much!  HA!

(Email from Brad Dunshee): Hey man, first of all, I dig the content–it’s definitely one of my “go to’s”. Keep it up!  Secondly, I *really* appreciate you using your platform to raise awareness of mental health, depression, etc. There’s no doubt in my mind that you’re changing lives out there–not just entertaining. I’m lucky in this world to have great mental health, but had a bout in adolescence that was downright scary (depression; I’m in my forties now)–I flat out know that had I had this as a resource growing up, it def. would’ve helped tremendously. Kudos to you, keep up the great work, and thanks again!

REPLY: Thanks, Brad.  Yeah, I think when you and I were back in high school (I’m 51), they just didn’t recognize depression like they do now.  Heck, it’s still not recognized by many doctors because it affects everyone differently.  But at least people are a bit more understanding about it once it is diagnosed.  I’m glad you grew out of yours, that’s truly a blessing!  It’s also kind of a good thing you went through it and came out of it because now you might be one who can recognize someone who is suffering and assist in getting them some help.  You could be one of the few people in a person’s life that DOES understand what they are going through!  Thanks for the great email, Brad!

(Email from Kayla Ireland): Hi Darren I’m Kayla from London England, I listen to your podcast daily and it’s keeps me going, I work the nightshift for a supermarket home delivery. Of an afternoon I take care of my horses and dogs and help my friend at her farm. Thanks for being awesome! – Kayla

REPLY: Glad you found the podcast, Kayla!  Sounds like you’ll be a great candidate for our Weird@Work thing once we get that back up and running once the Plague of 2020 is finally over.  Wait… you have supermarket home delivery… at night?  I need to move to London!!!!

(Email from DJ): Dear Darren, I want to thank you for your stories. My friend Shanna turned me on to Weird Darkness on Spotify. And working 10 hour shifts in a noisy factory can get to you. So I listen to you and crank up the volume. If it wasn’t for you and your stories I honestly don’t know where I would be right now. Eight months ago I lost my husband and I have been so depressed. But listening to your podcasts it takes my mind off of my troubles. And sometimes gives me a laugh. And I know that you have heard this before but your voice is soothing. I have been sharing your stories with my children and they love them as well. And if my husband was still here he would too. You really are a life saver. May God bless you!!!!!

REPLY: Hey, DJ. I am so very sorry for your loss. I cannot fathom the pain of losing a spouse and I pray I never have to, or at least won’t have to for a very long time. I’m touched that you’ve decided to let me know how much the podcast has meant to you over the last few months and how it has helped you escape your troubles; that’s what I hoped it would do from the very start and it’s a good feeling to know it’s fulfilling its purpose. I also hope that the depression you are feeling is only temporary due to the tragic loss you’ve experienced, and while you’ll always miss your husband, that the pain of the loss will diminish and the joy of life will return.  If it doesn’t, please don’t hesitate to ask for help!  As you’ve heard numerous times while listening to the podcast, you are not alone.  God bless, and I’ll be praying for you and your kids tonight, DJ. And while I’m at it, for all Weirdo prayer warriors who might be listening, maybe you can pray for DJ and her family tonight as well.

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.

“Australia’s Unsolved Gatton Murders” by Orrin Grey for The Line Up

“The Confusing Disappearance of Luella Mabbitt” from Strange Company

“The Man With The X-Ray Eyes” by Marc Hartzman for Weird Historian

“The House With The Unfortunate Past” by Dar77 from Your Ghost Stories

“Was Black Bart Forced To Become a Pirate?” by Ellen Lloyd for Ancient Pages

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… Genesis 50:20 = You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

And a final thought… I’m strong because I know my weaknesses. I’m wise because I’ve been foolish. I laugh because I’ve known sadness. – Ziad K. Abdelnour (And if you’re listening, Ziad – sorry for butchering your name, which I’m sure I just did.)

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

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