“MURDER WITHOUT MOTIVE” and 5 More Disturbingly True Stories! #WeirdDarkness
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IN THIS EPISODE: They found the first body stuffed inside the church library’s closet. Then a second body turned up. It’s the creepy case of Theo Durrant – better known in San Francisco as the Demon of the Belfry. (Demon of the Belfry) *** In 1989 a man anonymously claimed he had worked at Area 51 where alien technology was being reverse-engineered for the Pentagon. It sounded like the crazed thoughts of a madman at the time. But now, thirty years later, it does not seem so absurd. (Bob Lazar, The Pentagon, And UFOs) *** One of our Weirdo family members tells the true story of a young child told not to be sad when her grandfather passes away… before anyone knew he had died. (The Old Woman In The Basement) *** Some very strange things have been taking place in Sedona Arizona – including ghosts, UFOs, and even people supposedly seeing living dinosaurs. (Strangeness at the Bradshaw Ranch) *** Is it possible that the reason Jack The Ripper was never caught, is because he was only visiting London at the time and then returned to his home in Missouri, USA? (Was Jack The Ripper From St. Louis?) *** It’s a story called “Murder Without Motive”. It’s a chapter from the upcoming audiobook I’m narrating called “Suffer The Children: American Horrors, Homicides, and Hauntings” by Troy Taylor.
TRANSCRIPT FOR THIS EPISODE…
Find a full or partial transcript at the bottom of this blog post.
MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE…
BOOK: “Suffer The Children: American Horrors, Homicides, and Hauntings” by Troy Taylor: https://amzn.to/2YNrSdk.
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(Over time links can and may become invalid, disappear, or have different content.)
“Murder Without Motive” by Troy Taylor: https://amzn.to/2YNrSdk
“Was Jack The Ripper From St. Louis?” by Troy Taylor: http://bit.ly/2HG5QUh
“Demon of the Belfry” by Orrin Grey: http://bit.ly/2JJbsiO
“Bob Lazar, The Pentagon, And UFOs” by George Knapp and Matt Adams: http://bit.ly/30IC60u
“Strangeness at the Bradshaw Ranch” by Brent Swancer: http://bit.ly/2JI4Dhz
“The Old Woman In The Basement” by Weirdo family member Ashley Delia, submitted directly to WeirdDarkness.com
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Headlights flashed across Denver’s Berkley Park as the automobile slid through the gloomy night, rounding a curve that led to the lake. The surface of the water looked black in the pale light of the moon. As the car neared the water, its headlights winked out. If there had been anyone in the park to listen that night, they would have heard the crunch of gravel beneath its tires. They would not have seen much, though. The dark-colored automobile blended with the shadows until suddenly, the red flare of brake lights appeared and then vanished. The dull murmur of the engine fell silent.
A slight figure emerged from the driver’s side door. A coat was wrapped tightly around the person on this chilly, October night. A hat was pulled low on the figure’s head. They hurried around to the trunk of the car and it popped open with a small squeal of hinges. The figure bent over and stayed that way for a moment. Then, with a sigh of effort, stood up with a bundle in their arms. It was large, nearly as large as that of the figure, and was wrapped in what appeared to be a bed sheet.
The figure stumbled once, twice, and then slowly walked toward the lake. Carefully navigating the large stones around the edge of the water, the figure eased down toward the darkness of the lake. As they started to bend over, the moon emerged from behind the clouds and illuminated the scene. If anyone had been watching, they would have seen the pale face of an attractive woman, struggling to maintain her balance as she picked her way toward the lake. With a grunt, the woman placed the bundle on the ground at her feet. As she did so, the sheet fell away and revealed what it had been wrapped around.
It was a young girl. A tangle of sandy-colored hair could be seen above a face that had been battered and bruised. Her lip was split. Dried blood was smeared across her cheek. The girl was silent and still – her face frozen in death.
The woman quickly pulled the sheet away and the girl’s body rolled over onto the sand. She was dressed in what appeared to be a school uniform – a white blouse and plaid skirt. But there was no time to look. The woman forcefully lifted the girl into her arms again. She walked out to the very edge of the water – the toes of her feet chilled by the icy lake – and then shoved the corpse away from her, lifting her as far as she could. The body splashed into the blackness and sank beneath the surface. A moment later, a pale hand appeared, then some clothing, a white face, and a floating knot of hair.
It was done. The woman hurried away from the lakeshore toward her car. The rear compartment was closed with a thunk and the door opened and closed. When she started the engine, the lights of the dashboard turned her face into an eerie mask.
It was the face of a killer. It was also the face of the dead girl’s stepmother.
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.
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Coming up in this episode of Weird Darkness…
They found the first body stuffed inside the church library’s closet. Then a second body turned up. It’s the creepy case of Theo Durrant – better known in San Francisco as the Demon of the Belfry.
In 1989 a man anonymously claimed he had worked at Area 51 where alien technology was being reverse-engineered for the Pentagon. It sounded like the crazed thoughts of a madman at the time. But now, thirty years later, it does not seem so absurd.
One of our Weirdo family members tells the true story of a young child told not to be sad when her grandfather passes away… before anyone knew he had died.
Some very strange things have been taking place in Sedona Arizona – including ghosts, UFOs, and even people supposedly seeing living dinosaurs.
Is it possible that the reason Jack The Ripper was never caught, is because he was only visiting London at the time and then returned to his home in Missouri, USA?
It’s a story called “Murder Without Motive”. It’s a chapter from the upcoming audiobook I’m narrating called “Suffer The Children: American Horrors, Homicides, and Hauntings” by Troy Taylor.
Now.. bolt your doors, lock your windows, turn off your lights, and come with me into the Weird Darkness!
* * * * * * * * * *
MURDER WITHOUT MOTIVE
On Wednesday afternoon, October 15, 1930, 10-year-old Leona O’Loughlin was reported missing from her home in Denver, Colorado. On an ordinary morning, Leona walked to school with her friend, Betty Scott, who lived across the street, and then returned home when school had ended. But on this day, she was nowhere to be found and, to make matters worse, her family learned that she had not been in class all day. With most children, it would have simply been assumed that they had skipped school – but not Leona. For one thing, she was an obedient child, did well in school, and was supposedly happy at home. For another, her father was a well-known detective in the Denver police department and had a lot of enemies.
Leona, it was initially believed, had been kidnapped.
But the real story was a lot worse. It began nearly two years earlier when Leona’s father, Leo O’Loughlin, married Pearl Millican, a divorced woman with a young son named Douglas. Pearl was a vivacious woman, who attracted a lot of attention. She was a tall, slender redhead with big, dark eyes and a brilliant smile.
A reporter later wrote that she was “famous in her Denver neighborhood for her good looks.”
She and Douglas moved into the neighborhood when she married Leo in January 1929. He had been sharing the house with his own child from a previous marriage – pretty, blue-eyed Leona – and with his bachelor brother, Frank. Leo’s first wife, Maude, had passed away in 1928.
The modest house on Tremont Street soon became a volatile place. Pearl and Leo’s marriage was troubled from the start. Within months of the wedding, they were fighting so bitterly that on at least three occasions, Pearl stormed out of the house with Douglas in tow, loudly threatening divorce. She didn’t return for several days.
She also had problems with her brother-in-law, Frank. After one terrible argument between them, a mysterious fire broke out in Frank’s bedroom closet, destroying most of his clothing. Pearl insisted that she had not started the fire. In fact, she blamed “spontaneous combustion” for the blaze. Frank had had enough of his brother’s new wife, however. He refused to have anything else to do with her and stopped eating meals with the rest of the family.
On Tuesday evening, October 14, the house was quiet. The family had enjoyed a peaceful weekend together and it had been a tranquil start to the week. Pearl had even prepared a special supper for the family. There are conflicting accounts of what she prepared. Some say the main dish was lamb chops, others say fish, but all agree that it was accompanied by roasted potatoes and a large bowl of rice, which Pearl was careful to place directly between her husband and her stepdaughter.
Leo, a large, burly man, helped himself to two heaping portions of the rice. At Pearl’s urging, Leona also heaped some onto her own plate. But when Douglas – after eating meat and potatoes – held out his plate for some rice, his mother told him that he’d eaten enough and refused to let him have any. Pearl stayed away from the rice altogether.
Soon after dinner, at almost 7:00 p.m., Leo left for central headquarters. He had been assigned to the night shift – but this particular shift would be a short one. He returned home around midnight with what he thought might be a case of food poisoning. His stomach was hurting badly, and his boss had sent him home. He went to bed but slept poorly. He was still having cramps and nausea the next morning but decided to tough it out. He went to work around 7:00 a.m. By mid-morning, though, he was feeling so sick that he had to return home.
He slept through most of the day and when he awoke, Pearl told him that she had some troubling news – Leona was missing. Normally, the little girl arose, ate breakfast, told her stepmother goodbye, and then went off to school in the company of Betty Scott. That morning, Pearl had not seen Leona at all.
Leo was concerned, but not overly alarmed. It was very possible that Leona had simply left the house without telling anyone. It was strange that she was not yet home from school, but it didn’t seem to be anything to get too excited about.
Although still feeling sick, he telephoned the Cathedral School and asked if Leona had stayed late. The nun who answered told him to wait while she checked. She was back a few moments later with unsettling information – Leona had not been in class all day.
Leo rang off the line and put in another call to Betty Scott’s parents. They told him that Betty had waited as long as she could for Leona that morning but had eventually gone off to school without her. Now a little frightened, the anxious detective telephoned around the neighborhood. No one had seen his daughter.
By then, Leo was seriously worried. He knew that children often ran away from home, but, as far as he knew, Leona was perfectly happy. It wasn’t like her to pull such a stunt. She was a good girl. She never caused any trouble. It’s true that things around the house had not been great between Pearl and himself, but he tried to make sure that Leona was protected from all that. Besides, Leona liked her stepmother and there had never been any trouble between the two of them.
As sick as he felt, Leo rushed back to headquarters and met his partner, Detective Clarence Jones. He told Clarence what was happening. He wanted to report Leona missing and put out a description. He was sure that she had not run away from home. Clarence suggested taking it up with their captain first. Albert T. Clark, captain of detectives, listened attentively. He didn’t believe there was any cause for panic – perhaps, he suggested, the child was just playing hooky – but he did order his dispatchers to spread the word about Leona.
In those days, Denver did not have a two-way radio system. Patrolmen and detectives called in at regular intervals from various patrol boxes and as each one did, the dispatchers gave them Leona’s description, adding that she had disappeared either late the night before or early that morning. The dispatchers also stressed the fact that she was the daughter of a fellow officer and that O’Loughlin would appreciate their efforts.
The first call to come back to Captain Clark was from Clarence Jones, Leo’s partner, who had gone out looking for Leona after he realized how worried his friend was.
It was a disturbing report. Going door-to-door in the O’Loughlin’s neighborhood, he had come across a neighbor, Amos Johnson, who told him that while lying awake the previous night, he heard a “muffled scream,” followed immediately by the “racing hum of an automobile.” He was certain that the noises had come from the direction of the O’Loughlin house.
Things now seemed much more serious to Captain Clark. What had seemed to be a routine incident now took on a more sinister aspect. The previous decade had seen more than its share of sensational child abductions and kidnappings and it now seemed as though Leona had been snatched from her home – perhaps by someone with a grudge against her detective father.
Captain Clark acted immediately. He instructed the police telephone operators to spread a general alarm through the state and notify all other law enforcement agencies. Then he called the police identification bureau and requested a list of all the offenders arrested by Leo O’Loughlin within the past few years. He wanted special attention paid to any arrests that he made while a member of the vice squad. Clark feared that the kidnapping might be retaliation by one of the many bootleggers that Leo had locked up since Prohibition had become the law of the land.
The general alarm brought into action an army of officers, including District Attorney Earl Wettengel’s investigators, the Colorado Highway Patrol, sheriffs from more than 60 Colorado counties, and several federal agencies.
Then the captain put out a call for Leo and Clarence Jones to report back to headquarters. He also sent out a request that Mrs. O’Loughlin also come to headquarters, too. But there was a problem — by mid-afternoon, Leo’s abdominal pains had become so severe that he had been forced to return home. He collapsed into bed in agony. Now it seemed that Pearl was also ill. Both were suffering from abdominal pains. Captain Clark ordered an ambulance to the O’Loughlin home and he quickly followed.
When he arrived, the police surgeon, Dr. H.B. Culver, told Clark that both the O’Loughlins appeared to be quite sick, possibly from something they had eaten the night before. He suggested that they not be disturbed, but Captain Clark had questions he needed to ask.
“When did you see Leona last?” he asked Leo. “Yesterday, before I went to work,” the detective replied. “Didn’t see her this morning?” “No,” he answered. Pearl, who also appeared to be in pain, spoke up. “I saw her last about midnight. She’d gone to bed early. I left about seven and went over to a friend of mine, a hairdresser. I stayed there several hours but I came back once, after ten, to get a heating pad I had promised her. I didn’t disturb the child then. Later I picked up Leo at headquarters after he got through with work. When I got home I looked in Leona’s room. I am sure she was asleep in bed. However, a bureau partly obscured my view.”
Captain Clark returned to headquarters, where he explained the case to Robert F. Reed, chief of police. “The child’s gone,” he told him. “The O’Loughlins are very ill – the thing looks mighty peculiar.”
“Give it the works,” said Reed. “I’ll help you all I can.”
The disappearance of Detective O’Loughlin’s daughter – along with the mysterious illness plaguing the husband and wife – made front-page news the next day. The deluge of imaginary sightings, false reports, and wild stories began. They came in from all over the state. Crime reporter Ray Humphreys wrote, “Leona was seen in this mountain town and that; she was a captive of a gypsy band in southern Colorado; she had been spirited away by killers of the Leopold- Loeb type; she was ‘spotted’ in Kansas, New Mexico, Nebraska, and Utah. But each ‘tip,’ run to earth by investigators, proved a dud.”
Psychics, fortune tellers, and the usual assortment of crackpots kept the police switchboard humming with a variety of bizarre “solutions.”
Only one presumably reliable sighting came in – a National Guard official named C.I. Mosier swore that he’d seen the bound and gagged little girl in the back of a gray Ford near Golden, Colorado. The car, he reported, had Arizona plates and was driven by a man who was “about 23-years-old, six feet tall, weighing about 135 pounds, with dark hair and a swarthy complexion.” State troopers managed to track down the suspect’s vehicle, only to discover that the supposedly tied-up child in the backseat was actually a small pile of suitcases with a sweater tossed on top of it.”
Captain Clark and most of the other detectives couldn’t get past the idea that Leona had been kidnapped by some crook who had a grudge against her father. It seemed the most likely cause of her disappearance. Detective O’Loughlin had been very active in police work and it seemed reasonable to believe that some criminal might use his daughter to get revenge. But who could this criminal be? No one had any solid ideas – so the search for Leona continued to go nowhere.
Meanwhile, Leo’s health continued to decline. By Friday morning, he was so sick that he was rushed by ambulance to St. Joseph’s Hospital. He was more closely examined by Police Surgeon Culver and by physicians at the hospital and suspicions about his condition began to grow. Captain Clark wanted answers. What was wrong with his detective? What had he eaten that had made him so sick? And, strangest of all, why wasn’t Pearl as sick as her husband was?
Leo was still in the hospital when his missing daughter was found.
A call came into police headquarters from a grocer named William McLeod. He owned a store near Berkeley Park on the northwest side of Denver and was out for an afternoon walk by the lake when he saw a small body, wearing a girl’s school uniform, floating facedown in the water. He immediately notified the police. Within minutes, a small fleet of official vehicles, including a car driven by Coroner George Bostwick, was on its way to the scene. The body was quickly identified as Leona O’Loughlin.
Coroner Bostwick’s preliminary examination indicated that the girl had not drowned. She had apparently been beaten on the head with some sort of blunt instrument, then suffocated to death before she was dumped in the lake. She had been dead, he believed, for two days – not long before she had been reported missing.
Officers searched the scene but found nothing useful – no footprints along the shore, no clear tire marks, no weapons, nothing. There was no way to tell where the body had been thrown into the lake. It could have drifted to the spot where William McLeod had spotted it from anywhere.
Leo was in such poor condition that the doctors thought it best to withhold the news from him. Pearl was the first to be informed. Captain Clark sent two of his detectives to escort her down to headquarters. They told her nothing. Captain Clark delivered the news. “We’ve found Leona,” he said.
“Oh! Is she dead?” was Pearl’s response. Clark was surprised by her reaction. “Yes – she’s dead,” he replied. “Dead – out in Berkeley Park Lake.”
“Poor little dear,” said Pearl and her eyes filled with tears. But that was all. Despite her strange reaction, suspicion did not immediately fall on Pearl. Captain Clark again asked her when she had last seen Leona and her answer was the same – in bed, asleep, after midnight, she assumed it was her, it looked like her, even though the bureau had blocked her view. But Clark still believed that the child had been killed by Leo’s gangland enemies – at least for a little while longer.
The public demand for a solution to the crime had been loud before and now it was worse. While the whole city of Denver had been wild about Leona’s disappearance, the whole state of Colorado, it seemed, now that her body had been found, was clamoring for her killers to be caught and punished. The police were again deluged by false leads, tips, anonymous letters, and telephone calls.
Coroner Bostwick and Dr. B.B. Jaffa, Manager of Health, reported that Leona had apparently been alive when she was thrown into the lake. The blows to her head may have stunned her but they wouldn’t have killed her, they said. The autopsy stated that she had died from drowning.
But this didn’t answer the most desperate question: Who killed Leona? And why?
It was suggested that the authorities try and drain the lake to search it for clues, but this was impossible. The lake was fed by a natural spring. No matter how quickly the water was pumped out, the level didn’t change. That plan was abandoned in favor of thoroughly dragging the lake, but no weapons or clues were found.
And then came the additional report from the coroner, which contained the analysis of the contents of Leona’s stomach – it had been laced with ground-up glass. Dr. Frances McConnell, a toxicologist at Denver General Hospital, determined that she had eaten the glass with her evening meal and had died a short time later. Based on the condition of the food in the child’s stomach, Dr. McConnell believed that Leona had been dead about 48 hours when her body was found. She was found on Friday afternoon, so she must have been killed on Tuesday night – she had been fed ground glass, beaten, and then thrown in the lake to drown.
When this report made it to Captain Clark’s desk, he realized that he had been looking in the wrong place for Leona’s killer. And that realization was driven home by another startling report. This one came from the hospital where Leona’s father – Clark’s detective – was alive and suffering. In an effort to figure out the cause of Leo’s illness, his stomach had been pumped. It, too, was found to contain a quantity of ground glass.
When Leo was questioned, he recalled that, at dinner on Tuesday evening, he and his daughter had been the only ones to eat the rice that had been served. Very quickly, Clark’s murder investigation shifted from a hypothetical gangster looking for revenge against the detective to the person who’d prepared the meal – Pearl.
Under orders from the district attorney a squad of detectives was sent to the O’Loughlin house. From his hospital bed, Leo told them to “Tear the house down, if necessary.” It wasn’t necessary. In the kitchen – mostly on the sink board and on the floor – they found particles of crushed glass. In the basement, from the bottom of the washing machine, they took a quantity of fine sand. It would later be matched to the same sand found at Berkeley Lake. Leo recalled that he had seen Pearl washing clothing on the morning after Leona disappeared. He had wondered – in the middle of the chaos surrounding the missing child – why his wife would be worried about laundry. In his illness, he had forgotten to ask or to mention this to anyone.
But those were not the only things detectives found. In the trunk of the O’Loughlin’s car, they found a tire iron stained with what appeared to be dried blood. A few strands of blond hair – a match for Leona’s in length and color – were stuck to the spot.
Detectives picked up Pearl and brought her into headquarters for questioning. But she stuck to her story, which really wasn’t much of a story at all.
She had last seen Leona the night before going to visit her hairdresser friend. Leona had been in bed. She thought she had seen her still there after she returned with her husband after he had left work. That was all – there wasn’t anything else to tell, she insisted.
She knew nothing about any ground glass. The bloody tire iron? She had never seen it. She told Captain Clark, “I don’t believe any ground glass was found in my home. Nor in Leona’s stomach. Nor in Leo’s.”
She was not defiant, angry, or defensive. She played the part of the falsely accused and did so very well. Her attitude of innocence was so convincing that even some of the most hardened reporters began to believe her. A few detectives began to think they had the wrong woman. Pearl’s relatives rallied around her.
Soon, only Captain Clark and District Attorney Wettengel believed in her guilt. They ordered her held in custody. The newspapers were shocked. There were still plenty of people who believed her guilty, but the majority of the public, fed a daily dose of smiling photos of a pretty woman, insisted that the police were wasting their time with Mrs. O’Loughlin while the real killer had an opportunity to escape.
“I can’t understand all this!” Pearl sobbed to reporters from her jail cell and the public cried along with her. The tire iron and the crushed glass had been planted, many suggested. Pearl was obviously being framed.
Even Captain Clark was beginning to have doubts until a quiet, older gentleman from Fort Collins, Colorado, showed up at the station. His name was David O’Loughlin and he was Leo’s father and the dead girl’s grandfather. He had a terrible story to tell.
Six weeks earlier, he told Captain Clark, Leo, Pearl, and the kids came to his home in Fort Collins for Sunday dinner. After they left, David, who liked to satisfy his sweet tooth with a few spoonfuls of sugar, took some from his bowl. As soon as he put it into his mouth, he knew something was wrong. “I thought someone put some sand in my sugar,” he said.
Curious, he took another spoonful and stirred it into a cup of warm water. “Some of it didn’t dissolve,” he explained. “When I looked at this closely I saw it was glass – pounded up, ground glass, maybe – and not sand.”
Hoping to get to the bottom of this, he had not disposed of the sugar in the bowl. Detectives retrieved it from his home and turned it over to a chemist, who confirmed that the substance was a mixture of sugar and crushed glass.
And there was more. When news that crushed glass was found in two different O’Loughlin homes, Pearl’s own sister, Marybelle, came forward to testify that on the night of October 10, Pearl had stopped by her home with some food scraps for Marybelle’s pets – a cat and a dog. Later that night, the cat went into convulsions and died. The dog also became sick and died two days later. Curious, the family’s veterinarian autopsied the dog and found crushed glass in its intestines.
Pearl continued to protest her innocence, but she was soon taken into custody and held without bail. District Attorney Wettengel questioned her many times, looking for a motive in the murder and attempted murders. “You knew the elder O’Loughlin had a comfortable fortune that would go to his sons, Leo and Frank, if he died. And Leo owned his home. And if Leo died, the grandfather’s money and Leo’s would go to Leona. And if she died…”
“Why, Mr. Wettengel, that’s utterly ridiculous!” Pearl interrupted. “It’s really silly!”
But it wasn’t silly. It was a bit convoluted, though. The theory was that Pearl was after Leo’s insurance money — $3,200. It wasn’t a fortune, even by the standards of the time. Leo said that he’d changed the beneficiary of his policy from his wife to his daughter the week before Leona died. So, with Leona out of the way, Pearl could next kill Leo and get the insurance cash. However, the district attorney also believed she wanted David’s money. His estate was the real plum, said to be worth about $35,000. But if it was her father-in-law’s money Pearl wanted, she needed to kill him first, so Leo would inherit, then kill Leo. Apparently, she gave up on murdering Dennis after the glass in his sugar bowl didn’t kill him but decided to try the method to kill Leona and Leo. Or that was the theory anyway.
It was theorized that Pearl laced the family’s dinner with glass, causing everyone except her own son, Douglas, to become ill. When Leona didn’t die soon after eating the rice containing the glass, Pearl took the girl to the lake, hit her on the head a couple of times, and threw her in, leaving her to drown. Or maybe she suffocated her first, hit her on the head for good measure, and threw her into the lake. Either way, the police were convinced that Pearl had murdered Leona.
All the evidence against her was circumstantial, though. What they really needed was a confession and the authorities resorted to several different tactics to try and get it. Shortly after her arrest, for example, she was brought to the city morgue and interrogated next to Leona’s corpse – a method that managed to draw a few melodramatic tears from her, but no confession. Police also planted a female informant in her cell but had no luck. Aside from a few tantalizing hints – at one point, Pearl said, “I could tell you things, but I won’t” – she was tight-lipped about the murder.
From the beginning, Pearl had let it be known that she knew all about police tactics. She hadn’t been the wife of a city detective for two years for nothing. She knew about trick questions and the way that words were twisted around by interrogators. Further, her friends stated, she was an enthusiastic reader of detective magazines and it showed. She’d often demand that detectives “Go get the read murderer” instead of pestering her. “I’m innocent!” she declared.
Finally, by the night of October 22, Captain Clark – his patience at an end – subjected Pearl to a brutal six-hour grilling and when it ended, he announced, “she cracked. She admitted responsibility.” In truth, her exhausted “confession” consisted of little more than a few vague remarks. “I’ll take the blame. I’m the one that has to suffer,” Pearl mumbled. Her lawyer intervened before police got her to sign a confession, but she was charged with first-degree murder. Two days later, Pearl insisted she was innocent and claimed the confession was made under duress. She told Captain Clark she had only “made the statements to get away from you and get some sleep.”
Public opinion remained bitterly divided about her guilt. While one newspaper painted a picture of a monster, another portrayed her as a hapless housewife who was wrongly accused. Some even attacked Leona. One family friend said that the girl had not been murdered at all. Leona was, they claimed, “impulsive,” “quick-tempered,” and “queerly morbid,” who resented the uniform she was forced to wear to school. Leona, the anonymous witness said, had committed suicide. Of course, this theory doesn’t explain her head wounds, cause of death, or the fact that 10-year-old girls don’t often kill themselves because they don’t like their clothing.
Pearl’s trial began on November 28. An enormous crowd of curiosity-seekers turned up at the courthouse for a glimpse of Pearl who basked in the attention. While in jail, she had been more concerned about her appearance than her upcoming trial. She had once told Captain Clark. “I want the pink dress that goes with the pink coat I wore when I came down here. I want some silk nightgowns because I could never get used to the one furnished by the city. Above all, I want my vanity case with powder, rouge, mascara, and lipstick. You’ll find it in the upper drawer of the dresser in my room at home.”
As she was escorted into the courthouse, she flashed a dazzling smile at the cameramen who pushed and shoved near the entrance. “Go ahead boys, take my picture if you want to.” Pearl called out. Seated at the defense table, she made sure to keep her skirt hiked above her knees, giving the men on the jury a good look at her shapely, silk stocking-clad legs.
During the week-long trial, the prosecution built a strong circumstantial case against her, exhibiting, among other damning pieces of evidence, the bloodstained tire iron from the trunk of the O’Loughlin’s car and the crushed glass that had been removed from Leona’s stomach.
Pearl was ably defended by prominent Denver attorney, John Keating, who persuaded the judge to keep out any testimony about her confession because it had been made under duress. Pearl, Keating argued, had absolutely no motive for the crime. It was her traditionally reviled place in the O’Loughlin home that had led to her persecution. “Everyone is prejudiced against a stepmother,” he told the jury. “There had been a mad rush to convict Pearl O’Loughlin. Everyone said ‘The stepmother did it. Get that stepmother,’ and the police and everyone else went after the stepmother.”
Despite his skill, though, Keating could not repair the most damaging part of Pearl’s story – where she had been on the evening of October 14 – when, according to expert witnesses, Leona had been murdered and dumped in the lake. She claimed that she had gone to her hairdresser’s house for a permanent wave, left briefly and went back again, spending most of the evening there. However, the hairdresser testified that Pearl only came to her house once that night around 10:30 p.m., not wearing stockings and generally looking disheveled. At trial, Pearl also claimed that she had taken a friend to the doctor that evening, but the friend said it was a different night they had visited the doctor. In fact, Pearl’s friend insisted that she hadn’t seen Pearl anytime during the three weeks before Leona’s death.
It took the jury less than two hours to convict her.
Leo, who recovered from his brush with death, testified against his wife at trial. He filed for divorce the day after Pearl was convicted. The handsome, newly single detective received scores of letters from female admirers. But, he told one reporter, “Since my last experience, I am no longer matrimonially inclined.”
Leo did marry again, however, although it also ended in divorce. He died in 1956 at the age of 68. His father, Dennis, had passed away in 1936, so if it had been his money that Pearl was after, she would have gotten it if she had just been a little more patient.
Pearl had been sentenced to life in prison at hard labor but after two decades behind bars, she was paroled from the Colorado State Penitentiary on June 30, 1951. During her time behind bars, she worked as a prison trustee and as the housekeeper of Warden Roy Best and nanny for his children.
Pearl – narcissistic and possibly psychopathic to the end – never testified at her trial but she did tell “her side of the story” to the Rocky Mountain News in 1950. She said Leona came downstairs “acting silly” on the night she died and told Pearl she had mistakenly taken some sedative tablets belonging to Leo that were on the bedside table. Pearl put the girl in the car to get help, but Leona died before they could get to a doctor, so she panicked and put the body in the lake. “I thought I had to get rid of her,” Pearl said.
Of course, this story does not explain Leona’s head injuries, the bloody tire iron, or the crushed glass that was found in the little girl’s stomach. I think we can dismiss it as just another of Pearl’s “stories.”
After her release from prison, she moved to California and continued to work as a housekeeper, just as she had done while in prison. She died in San Diego in 1987 at the age of 88, bringing her strange story of murder to an end.
But it does not end without questions. Why did Pearl O’Loughlin do the things that she did? Why did she choose crushed glass as a murder weapon? It had killed two family pets, so had she assumed she could kill a person in the same way? Perhaps – and it had almost worked. Leo was sent to the hospital after consuming the glass and perhaps Leona might have become just as sick. Or perhaps she did. Perhaps this is why Pearl took her out to an isolated spot, beat her, and then left her to drown in the lake. Perhaps Leona was so sick that Pearl feared Leo would realize what had happened and so she made the girl “disappear” so that vengeful gangsters could be blamed for her death.
But the bigger question is why she did any of it at all? She had an unhappy marriage, but this is not a reasonable excuse for murder – at least for a sane person. Had she decided to kill her husband and stepdaughter to escape from her life? If so, why try to kill her father-in-law, too? Was it all really, as the prosecutor claimed, about money?
We’ll never know and perhaps that’s what makes this story so scary. Pearl O’Loughlin seemed to be a happy, well-adjusted housewife with an ordinary life. But, obviously, she wasn’t. It’s often said that we can never know what goes on behind the closed doors of our next-door neighbors. But as this case has proven, we may not know what’s going on inside the mind of the person who is sleeping next to us.
That’s something that just might keep you awake tonight.
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When Weird Darkness returns…
Is it possible that the reason Jack The Ripper was never caught, is because he was not a resident of England, but only visiting London at the time – and then returned to his home in Missouri, USA? It is an interesting theory that we will explore in just a moment.
Many of you have been asking for an earlier Weirdo Watch Party so you could participate too – so this one is for you! Put it on the calendar – Friday night, July 24th – 7:30pm Central (that’s 5:30pm Pacific, 6:30pm Mountain, 8:30pm Eastern). Arachna from Beware Theater is hosting the Bela Lugosi classic “The Human Monster” from 1939! You don’t need to buy a ticket, it’s always free to join the Weirdo Watch Party – just set a reminder on your mobile device, online calendar, smart home device, write it in blood on your refrigerator, whatever you have to do so you don’t miss it – and this one is early enough that you can get to bed at a decent hour! Join us as Arachna brings us Bela Lugosi in “The Human Monster” – again, it’s July 24th at 7:30pm Central – that’s 5:30pm Pacific, 6:30pm Mountain, 8:30pm Eastern – on the Weirdo Watch Party Page at WeirdDarkness.com!
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WAS JACK THE RIPPER FROM ST. LOUIS?
In the year 1888, the city of London, England was terrorized by a killer who called himself “Jack the Ripper.” The madman prowled the streets of the Whitechapel District in East London and slaughtered a number of prostitutes, carving his way into the historical record as the first “modern serial killer.” As the years have passed, the Ripper has held the morbid curiosity of professional and amateur sleuths, armchair detectives and crime buffs alike. Having eluded capture in the 1880s, his identity has been debated ever since and scores of suspected have emerged, with a number of Americans among them. Many St. Louisans have been surprised over the years to find that one of the suspects lived in St. Louis and died there 15 years after the murders in London stopped.
Suspicion by police officials that Dr. Francis J. Tumblety may have been Jack the Ripper came about in 1913, years after the murders took place. Inspector John Littlechild, head of the Special Branch in England, surmised that Tumblety might have been the killer. As he told a journalist, “his feelings toward women were remarkable and bitter in the extreme, a fact on record. Tumblety was arrested at the time of the murders in connection with unnatural offenses and charged at Marlborough Street, remanded on bail, jumped his bail and got away to Boulogne. He shortly left Boulogne and was never heard of afterward. It is believed that he committed suicide but certain it is that from the time the “Ripper” murders came to an end.”
And while not all of Inspector Littlechild’s facts were correct, he did make an interesting case toward the American doctor being the fiendish killer.
Francis J. Tumblety was born in Canada in 1833 and moved with his family to Rochester, New York, at a very young age. Although uneducated, he was a clever man and became wealthy and successful as a homeopath and a mixer of patent medicines. There is no record as to whether these “snake oil” cures worked or not, but it is certain that Tumblety held no medical degree. He did claim to possess “Indian and Oriental secrets” of healing and he was described as charming and handsome, so it’s not surprising that he made quite a bit of money in this questionable field.
When not charming customers, Tumblety was said to have been disliked by many for his self-aggrandizing and his constant boasting. He had a penchant for staying in fine hotels, wearing fine clothes, and making false claims about himself. Often these tall tales got him into trouble, and he left town on more than one occasion just a step ahead of the law.
In the late 1850s and early 1860s, Tumblety was living in Washington, D.C. and from this period, the first stories of his deep-seated hatred for women began to surface. During a dinner party one night in 1861, Tumblety was asked by some guests why he did not invite any single women to the gathering. Tumblety replied that women were nothing more than “cattle” and that he would rather give a friend poison than see him with a woman. He then began to speak about the evils of women, especially prostitutes. A man who was in attendance that evening, an attorney named C.A. Dunham, later remarked that it was believed that Tumblety had been tricked into marriage by a woman who was later revealed to be a prostitute. This was thought to have sparked his hatred of woman, but none of the guests had any idea just how far the feelings of animosity went until Tumblety offered to show them his “collection.” He led his guests into a back study of the house, where he kept his anatomical “museum.” Here, they were shown row after row of jars containing women’s uteruses.
In 1863, Tumblety came to St. Louis for the first time and took rooms at the Lindell Hotel. As he recounted in letters, his flamboyant ways did not appeal to those in St. Louis and he claimed to have been arrested in both the city and in Carondelet, an independent city at that time, for “putting on airs” and “being caught in quasi-military” dress. His biggest flaw – in those troubled times in St. Louis – were his apparent southern sympathies.
In 1865, he was arrested on the serious charge of what amounted to an early case of biological terrorism. Federal officers had him arrested after he was allegedly involved in a plot to infect blankets, which were to be shipped to Union troops, with yellow fever. The whole thing did turn out to be a case of mistaken identity (an alias of Tumblety’s was remarkably close to a real doctor involved) but it’s likely that he would not have been suspected if not for some actions on his part. Tumblety was taken to Washington and imprisoned until the confusion over the plot could be cleared up and he was later released.
In the 1870s and 1880s, he made frequent trips to London, which is how the rumors about him being Jack the Ripper got started.
Although there has been much debate over the years as to how many victims that Jack the Ripper claimed, and just when the murders began, it is generally believed that the first killing occurred on August 31, 1888. The victim was a prostitute named Mary Ann Nichols. Her death was followed by those off Annie Chapman and Elizabeth Stride on September 8. On September 30, the Ripper claimed Catherine Eddowes. Organs had been removed from the bodies of both Chapman and Eddowes, including the latter woman’s uterus.
Just prior to the start of the murders, Dr. Tumblety had come to London and had taken lodgings in Batty Street, the heart of Whitechapel, and within easy distance of the murder scenes. It is on the record that he was watched closely by the police, especially after an incident involving a pathological museum. During the Annie Chapman inquest, the police began to suspect that the Ripper might be a doctor. One medical examiner believed that the killer had expert anatomical knowledge. He was basing his theory on a witness that claimed the killer was hunting for women’s uteruses to sell to an unknown American. This bizarre bit of testimony came about because Tumblety did indeed visit a pathological museum in London and had inquired about any uteruses that might be for sale. He apparently wanted to add them to his collection.
On November 7, Tumblety was arrested, not for murder, but rather for “unnatural offenses,” which was usually a reference to homosexuality. He was later released on bail, although when exactly that was has been a matter of debate for many years. According to some records, he was released on November 16 but according to others, he was let go on November 8. The entire theory of whether he was Jack the Ripper hinges on the date that he was released from jail.
The reason for this is that on November 9, the Ripper claimed his last victim. Her name was Mary Kelly and she was mutilated in ways that cannot be imagined in her own bed. She was butchered beyond recognition and a number of her organs were removed, including her heart and uterus.
If Tumblety was actually released on November 8, then he could have easily killed Mary Kelly. One account of the days following the murder states that he was arrested on suspicion of her murder on November 12, was released without being charged, and then vanished from Whitechapel. On November 24, it is alleged that he took a steamer to France and then sailed from France to New York. Scotland Yard detectives were said to have pursued him to New York and while they kept on eye on him, had no evidence to arrest him. They eventually gave up and went home.
Those who do not believe that Tumblety was the Ripper give a different accounting of the days after Mary Kelly was killed. According to these sources, Tumblety was not released on bail until November 16. As Inspector Littlechild wrote, he was then believed to jump bail and escape to Boulogne with the police pursuing him. From there, he booked passage to New York, where police staked out his lodgings. He escaped them, however, and vanished. He was not, as far as recorded, further pursued for his part in the killings. With that said, it would have been impossible for Tumblety to be the Ripper. If he were the killer, then someone would have had to copy and exceed his previous work on Mary Kelly while the doctor was still in jail. Most would agree that this seems highly unlikely.
But our story is not quite over.
Regardless of what is written about the last days of Tumblety in London, all will agree that after his escape he did end up in St. Louis. He also traveled for a time, avoiding Washington but visiting Baltimore, New Orleans, and St. Louis. He continued to live in hotels and established no permanent residence in any of the cities. In April 1903, though, Tumblety checked himself into St. John’s Hospital and Dispensary at 23rd and Locust Streets in St. Louis. The hospital provided care for indigents.
According to accounts, Tumblety was suffering from a long and painful illness, although what it may have been has never been specifically identified. Some have suggested that it may have been a debilitating case of syphilis, the contraction of which might have been cause for his hatred of women, especially prostitutes. Whatever it was, though, Tumblety remained at St. John’s until his death on May 28, 1903.
However, he was certainly not an indigent when he died. Court records showed that Tumblety left an estate of more than $135,000, some of which St. John’s managed to recover. The hospital asked for about $450 to cover the room expenses and medical tests for a man who was clearly not poor. The rest of the estate, except for costs to a St. Louis undertaker, went to Tumblety’s niece, Mary Fitzsimmons of Rochester, New York.
Aside from the hospital, there was one other claim to Tumblety’s estate. The additional claim was quite strange, especially in light of Tumblety’s clear prejudices on the subject. The challenge to a will that Tumblety had written on May 16 came from an attorney in Baltimore named Joseph Kemp. He claimed that Tumblety had written an earlier will in October 1901 that left $1,000 from his estate to the Baltimore Home for Fallen Women — in other words, a halfway house for prostitutes.
The claim was thrown out of court, but it does provide an interesting final note to the life of a man who has been suspected of being the most famous killer of prostitutes in history.
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A young child is told not to be sad when her grandfather passes away… before anyone knew he had died.
And some very strange things have been taking place on Bradshaw Ranch in Sedona Arizona.
These stories and more when Weird Darkness returns.
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One of the most popular destinations in the state of Arizona is the town of Sedona, which over the years has accrued a reputation as quite the mecca for New Agers and paranormal researchers from all over the country as well as droves of tourists every year. Arizona, and in particular this area is rather well-known for a high concentration of UFO sightings and for the mysterious energy vortices said to dot the landscape here, where earth energies crackle and which are believed to confer all manner of health benefits, as well as said to aid in meditation and self reflection. It is largely because of these alleged magical vortices that a bustling business of spiritual healing tours and metaphysical medicine outfits have sprung up here, and one can already see that Sedona is already a rather strange and unique place in an already rather unique and strange state. However Sedona is also the home to a very unusual patch of land where there have long been reported all manner of high strangeness, from UFOs, to ghosts, to dinosaurs, and more.
Go off the beaten path for while, off down a remote unpaved, rough dirt road just 12 miles outside Sedona in the Verde Valley, and you will be met with the site of a rather large, abandoned ranch, now inaccessible and blocked of by an intimidating gate plastered with signs from the U.S. Forest Service warning away trespassers. The desert scrub and wilderness area around the ranch is as remote and uninhabited as you can get, and the now uninhabited ranch itself has devolved into a feral place overgrown with weeds and partially devoured by the landscape. It was obviously once an expansive and successful ranch, so what is this place and why is it just sitting out there forgotten to be slowly reclaimed by the ravenous wilderness around it? For that we have to go back to the beginning, back to 1945.
It was in 1945 that a Hollywood stuntman and actor named Bob Bradshaw moved out to the Sedona area, where he opened a modest business in the form of a photography shop. With his Hollywood connections, Bradshaw also had a hand in many of the Westerns that were en vogue at the time and which favored the deserts and canyons of the area for sets, with over 50 full length features made in this vicinity over the years, and which helped to revitalize the area. With his new found influx of cash and good-standing amongst the locals, in 1960 Bradshaw purchased a 140-acre parcel of land out in the Verde Valley at a place that was then known as Bitter Creek, and this ranch and its old adobe house would also go on to become a popular place to shoot movies, such as the 1967 Elvis Presley film Stay Away Joe and others.
In the 1990s, Bradshaw’s son, John Bradshaw, turned the land into a more functional, actual working ranch, and it also became popular as a recreation spot for camping, horseback riding, and other outdoor activities. At the time this was a secluded place of natural beauty, with a veneer of Hollywood laid over it, but things would begin to take a turn for the strange beginning from 1992, when a series of escalating strange phenomena began to creep across the ranch.
It supposedly began with John Bradshaw’s wife, Linda, who claimed to begin seeing mysterious orbs of light in the sky over the ranch, as well as sudden bright flashes with no discernible cause and streaking mystery lights. This was perhaps to be expected because the region was already long known as a hotspot for UFO sightings, but things would escalate quickly and further branch out into the weird. As if UFOs and anomalous lights in the sky were not odd enough, Linda claimed that odd comets would move across the property shooting beams of light, and that the place was crawling with barely glimpsed shadow people and other entities. Her and her son would also claim to have had a rather far-out encounter with actual aliens on the property, which she would see outside of her window one evening and describe thus:
***Strolling past the window were four short-statured aliens wearing tight-fitting one-piece uniforms of a light tan color. They were what are typically called the Zeta Reticuli (also known as the Grays), only these appeared to be a bit more ashen-colored, almost white. Once the beings were out of sight and the witnesses recomposed themselves, the three of them jumped into their car and sped to the house where I was sleeping. I remember so vividly how my son vigorously shook my arm to wake me up. I can still hear the trepidation in his voice as he said, “Mom, wake up. They’re here!” I raised up and said, “Who’s here?” He exclaimed, “The aliens, Mom.”***
The next day she allegedly went out to investigate the area where the entities had been seen and found tiny footprints in the ground, which they took video footage of. On top of aliens there were also sighings made of large, hairy Bigfoot-like creatures on the property, in particular one Linda nicknamed “Big Girl,” which was seen frequently, and other less discernible creatures. Even stranger than these sightings were accounts of spotting what were described as actual dinosaurs at the ranch, with Linda herself claiming one time to have seen a 5-foot-tall bipedal lizard with a long tail standing on a dirt path one evening. These apparent “dinosaurs,” purportedly left large, reptilian tracks that were sometimes found on the property as well.
Linda recorded these and all manner of other strangeness at the ranch, such as livestock and other animals falling ill for no apparent reason or the manes of her horses torn off, and after several years of this in 1995 compiled it all into a book called Merging Dimensions: The Opening Portals of Sedona, along with UFOlogist Tom Dongo. The book also features numerous photos that were captured at the ranch, with many of the strange phenomena not seen until the film was developed. UFOs, aliens, Bigfoot, Shadow People, living dinosaurs, what in the world is going on here? Linda Bradshaw believes that all of these disparate phenomena are the result of some sort of inter-dimensional doorway that has for whatever reason opened up at the ranch, and through which spew all manner of entities. She would say of her theory:
*****I believe these openings have always been on our plane and they’ve perhaps been the portals to allow others in, but if one were to ask my opinion of my experiences regarding this magical place, I would say that not only are they being allowed in, but they are coming in in great numbers. I would also love to say that only compassionate beings of light are scooting through these portals, but this does not always seem to be the case. I have come face to face with a few decidedly nasty beings.*****
The ranch subsequently became a haven for paranormal researchers, and it was featured on numerous TV programs, with orb and UFO activity commonly caught on film at the location. Readings taken at the ranch also showed the anomaly that it had a much stronger magnetic field than the surrounding area, by some estimates around 500 times greater, although why this is or what connection it has to the purported phenomena no one knows.
In May 2003 the mystery was deepened and conspiracy theories were spawned when the U.S. government suddenly and without explanation purchased the ranch and quickly had it locked off from the rest of the world. Locals claimed that there were frequently military personnel seen around the area, and in addition to the signs keeping people out were also armed guards said to patrol the area and turn people away in no uncertain terms. Unverified reports exist of hikers being confronted and turned away by heavily armed guards with no visible identification or insignia, or even more ominously chased off the property by either guards or all terrain vehicles that are all black with no noticeable markings. Dongo said of this in his book Mysterious Sedona:
*****A machine gun, usually an M-16 (or in some cases semi-automatic pistols) is then leveled at the hikers. By the tone of the voice of the “soldiers” the hiker(s) is left with no doubt that he will be shot on the spot if he does not turn around, retrace his steps, and rapidly leave the area. Those looking for hard evidence of these claims won’t find it. There are plenty of stories of suspicious activity, missing persons, and aliens and UFOs spotted in conjunction with soldiers, but no substantiated evidence exists to prove these theories. Military activity in the area could very well be routine training exercises and those hikers asked to turn around may be done for their own safety.*****
It seems odd for this to be the case with just a ranch out in the middle of nowhere, so why is this? Well, that depends on who you ask. For some it is because the U.S. Forest Service is looking to preserve valuable Native American archeological sites in the area, but of course considering all of the strange phenomena reported from here and the rumors of portals and vortices, there are others who think that the government confiscated the land in order to cover it all up.
It is hard to say just what is going on with all of this, but Bradshaw Ranch has continued to be a hotspot for the paranormal nevertheless, with hikers and tours that skirt the property often coming back with myriad tales of the weird. A very strange experience supposedly happened during the filming of a 2013 episode of Discovery Channel’s show Uncovering Aliens, with this episode focused on the ranch. According to the report, at some point a man named Steven Jones wandered away from the crew and onto the actual property of the ranch. When he returned half and hour later he was apparently in a daze, and he claimed that he had heard disembodied voices all around him and that he had missing time, and making it all the more bizarre was that his watch had reportedly stopped working. This was not put in the final episode, but it probably should have been. What happened to him out there? No one knows, and it just adds to the rest of the lore on this very strange location.
What is going on at Bradshaw Ranch? Is this all just kooky conspiracy tales, tall tales, and fiction? If any of it is real, then is it as Linda Bradshaw says, and there is perhaps some sort of interdimensional phenomenon at work here? If so, then why does it congregate to this one place? It is interesting to note the extremely wide range of different types of phenomena reported from here. Orbs, spook lights, UFOs, Bigfoot, aliens, dinosaurs, and others, all of them coexisting in this one patch of high strangeness, gravitating to this place for inscrutable reasons. Why should that be? Also worthy of note is that although the ranch had been there for years before Bradshaw even came along, why is it that the disturbances did not begin until 1992? What activated it, if any of it even exists at all? Why did the governement buy up the land and then prohibit access? Whether this is all urban legend, conspiracies, interdimensional portals, or something even stranger, Bradshaw Ranch certainly inhabits its own little corner of the strange in a state already steeped in the bizarre.
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OLD WOMAN IN BASEMENT
I have a story from my youth to tell you… its not about me personally its about my cousin, we will call her Sam. to give you some back story on this particular event, when I was in the 8th grade (that would make me around 14/15) we lost my maternal grandfather to a heart attack. he was traveling home from Arizona and was supposed to pick us up form school as it was the start of our spring break, well he was a no-show and we called around to my aunts and uncles to see if they had heard from him, no one had heard from him; my grandma was in Florida visiting her sister and she had not heard from him either. well as the day went on we only got more worried and started to call his friends (none of them had heard from him either). it wasn’t about 2 in the morning when the state police showed up at my aunts house, they were there to inform her that my grandfather had passed away in his hotel room in Effingham Illinois. (here is where I pause this story to tell you that is the aunt who is the mother to the cousin “Sam” that this story is about, I have to tell you that my cousins paternal Grandfather had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and they gave him only months to live.) well when the police showed up to her house she asked if they had informed any of my other aunts or uncles and they radioed out to see if the other units had made it to my other family members houses at which pint they hadn’t, so my aunt told them to call them off, and her and my uncle would drive to my uncles house and then go from there and inform the rest of the family. they got to my house at about four in the morning and informed my mom who let my brother and I sleep the rest of the night as she didn’t want to wake us to tell us the terrible news as my brother and I were very close with my grandfather, while when we did wake and she told us the news she said my aunt asked that we be there when she told my cousin “Sam” who was in the second grade at the time. so we drove the hour or so to their house to tell her, it was a hard thing to tell to someone so young, but when we told her she didn’t cry at first she sat in the corner and just stared at us, confused… finally she said “well that’s not right?” and it was our turn to be confused… asking her what she meant we just stared in disbelief when she said to us that the little old lady in the basement told her that her grandpa was going to die and that she should not be sad because it was his time… with that the lady walked away and vanished. (I should add that the house they live in is a brand new house just built the year they moved in so no one had died in the house and as far as we know it was not built on a burial ground.) well as that went we all just kinda brushed it off and got on with the preparations for my grandfather… i don’t remember a lot from that week as I was very upset at losing one of my best friends. well we all got thru that and were getting on with life when my 4 months later my aunt called to say that her father-in-law passed away the night before, we all knew it wouldn’t be long but it was still sad and we felt bad for my uncle because he was very close with his father, at the funeral for him my aunt told my mom and I that Sam had come to her on the night that he passed and said the lady in the basement came back to tell her that her grandpa was again going to die and this time she knew it was going to be her Grandpa Moon. well twenty minutes later they got the call that he in fact passed away… needless to say I still wont go into there basement and I am 28 years old now.
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When Weird Darkness returns…
The creepy case of Theo Durrant – better known in San Francisco as the Demon of the Belfry.
Plus… in 1989 a man anonymously claimed he had worked at Area 51 with alien technology – and now people are finally starting to believe him.
These stories are up next!
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Thirty years ago, on May 15, KLAS-TV’s 5 p.m. newscast aired a live interview with an anonymous man who made some extraordinary claims. Bob Lazar, who was being called “Dennis” at the time to protect his identity, alleged that the U.S. military was secretly studying alien technology out in the Nevada desert near a base that is now well known all over the world as Area 51.
In the 1989 interview that started a whole new conversation, the claims sounded like Hollywood Sci-Fi. Months later, when his identity was revealed, Bob Lazar said he worked at a secret facility near groom lake, where alien technology was being reverse-engineered, meaning taken apart to figure out how it worked and whether the Pentagon could duplicate it.
The premise seems less absurd now. In a new documentary about Lazar, he describes in detail the spacecraft he worked on 30 years ago.
“The craft that I worked on, that when it’s going to travel a long distance, that is how it operates. It puts its belly to the target and then brings all of the amplifiers to power, and you know it shoots off in that direction It doesn’t fly as it would in a science-fiction movie. It flies with the belly, the bottom, forward,” Lazar said.
If that description of a spacecraft tilting sounds familiar, take a look at the so-called Gimbal UFO. The Pentagon released a video in 2017. Naval pilots encountered a fleet of the unknown craft off the coast of Florida in 2015, and have since had dozens of similar encounters.
The spike in UFO incidents prompted a recent policy change by the Navy, which announced it wants to encourage its pilots to report future incidents.
Pentagon officials reluctantly admitted to the New York Times 17 months ago that the military had secretly studied UFO incidents, in part so it might figure out the technology.
“In the Gimbal video, there’s a mechanistic turn against the wind without deceleration, and so we have a craft without rotors, without heat signatures, without plums, without tail fins, and certainly no tail number, moving in a way that is counterintuitive to our aeronautics,” said Jeremy Corbell, the director of the “Bob Lazar, Area 51, and Flying Saucers” documentary. “When Bob saw it, he said it has to be a gravity propelled craft. That it does mimic the propulsion system, Bob Lazar described.”
Along with directing the Lazar documentary, Corbell also broke the story about another now-famous UFO incident: The 2004 Tic Tac encounter.
The navy pilot who engaged the Tic Tac, Black Aces Commander Dave Fravor has said he doesn’t believe the astonishing craft was made on earth, and that the propulsion might be anti-gravity.
When Lazar was shown the Tic Tac video for the first time, it immediately reminded him of the sport mode, which was his name for the craft stashed in the desert.
“No question in my mind, that’s the way the craft operated,” Lazar said. “It’s the exact same propulsion system.”
Former Pentagon Intelligence Officer Lue Elizondo was in charge of ATIP, the secret Pentagon study. He told the I-Team one goal of the project was to determine the physics of UFOs; how they can achieve the seemingly impossible.
The military came to believe the craft relied on special meta-materials; stuff that can’t be made with known technology. Lazar made similar claims decades ago and was ridiculed. Now the Pentagon is on the same page.
“The study of UFOs did not end in 1969 with Project Blue Book. That was a lie, and it was an admitted lie by our own Pentagon,” Corbell said. “We are living in a world where it is understood that there are craft technologically advanced from an unknown origin that are performing maneuvers that far exceed human technology. It’s been going on a long time, and our government has been studying it.”
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DEMON OF THE BELFRY
Although William Henry Theodore Durrant was called Theo by friends, the handsome and well-liked Sunday School superintendent soon earned a more sinister nickname: “The Demon of the Belfry”.
Theo Durrant worked for the Emmanuel Baptist Church in San Francisco. On April 13th, 1895, members of the church were preparing for that Sunday’s Easter service when someone opened a closet in the church library and discovered the mutilated body of a young woman. She had been strangled to death and stabbed, her wrists cut so deeply that her hands had practically been severed from her body. Cloth from her undergarments had been stuffed down her throat with a stick, and later examinations revealed that she had probably been raped.
Initially, investigators expected the body to belong to 20-year-old Blanche Lamont, who had gone missing 10 days before, and who had last been seen entering Emmanuel Baptist Church in the company of Theo Durrant. However, the body proved to be that of 21-year-old Minnie Williams, also a member of the church’s congregation and a former romantic partner of Durrant’s. The night before, she had been seen in a heated discussion with Durrant. A passerby would later attest that Durrant’s “manner was not becoming to a gentleman.”
After the discovery of Minnie Williams’ body, a thorough search of the church was conducted, and the body of Blanche Lamont was found in the belfry. While Williams’ body had been mutilated and mostly clothed, this one was completely naked and almost serene, posed with the hands folded across the chest. Like Minnie Williams, Blanche Lamont had been strangled and likely raped.
Theo Durrant had courted both of these girls in the past–for a period, even at the same time. He and Minnie had been seeing each other for some time when he made an overtly sexual advance that worried Minnie. He met Blanche in 1894 and broke it off with Minnie for the new girl. Theo proposed to Blanche only a few months later. She thought he was joking, and later found out he had been engaged to another woman the whole time, cementing her decision to say no.
Thanks to his history, Theo immediately became the prime suspect in both murders, and police picked him up in short order. Around the same time, Blanche Lamont’s aunt, with whom she lived, received a package in the mail containing Blanche’s rings. The package bore the name George King, the church’s choir director, but when police showed the rings around local pawn shops, one of the pawnbrokers recognized them, and said that a man matching Durrant’s description had been in trying to sell them a few days before.
Throughout his trial and up to his death by hanging, Theo Durrant maintained his innocence in connection to both murders. However, the many eyewitnesses who saw him with each girl shortly before their deaths and Durrant’s easy access to the areas where he left the bodies made it easy for a verdict to be reached.
Indeed, Durrant’s case did not look good. According to SFGate, the accused was compared to “Jack the Ripper, the Marquis de Sade and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” throughout the trial. The jury found him guilty within five minutes of deliberations—though, by some accounts, they worried that the speed of their decision might appear to be too rapid, so they finished their cigars before returning to the courtroom and delivering the verdict.
Throughout the trial, people flocked to the courtroom, many of whom came to catch a glimpse of the “handsome killer.” One woman was dubbed the “Sweet Pea Girl” by the press, as every day she brought Durrant a bouquet of those same flowers. He is said to have sometimes worn one in his lapel.
During the trial and in its aftermath, a number of salacious stories surfaced relating to Durrant’s dark side–though whether they are true or not remains unknown. Some claimed that he frequented the brothels on Commercial Street, where, according to one account, he once brought a pigeon or a chicken and slit its throat during sex, letting the blood run over his and the sex worker’s bodies. Such acts certainly sound like the work of a “Demon of the Belfry.” Whether they are true or simply lurid exaggerations in the face of real-life brutality may never be known.
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If you made it this far, welcome to the Weirdo Family! Please share a link to this episode in your social media to help spread the word about the podcast, and if you could, please recommend Weird Darkness to your friends, family, and co-workers who love the paranormal, horror stories, or true crime! Maybe they’ll become a Weirdo family member too! And I’d greatly appreciate you leaving a review in the podcast app you listen from, that helps the podcast get noticed! And thanks in advance for doing so!
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.
“Murder Without Motive” is a chapter from the upcoming audiobook I’m narrating called “Suffer The Children: American Horrors, Homicides, and Hauntings” by Troy Taylor. The book is already available in print and for Kindle – I’ve placed a link to the book in the show notes.
“Was Jack The Ripper From St. Louis?” by Troy Taylor
“Demon of the Belfry” by Orrin Grey
“Bob Lazar, The Pentagon, And UFOs” by George Knapp and Matt Adams
“Strangeness at the Bradshaw Ranch” by Brent Swancer
“The Old Woman In The Basement” by Weirdo family member Ashley Delia
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 can find a link in the show notes.
Now that we’re coming out of the dark, I’ll leave you with a little light… Proverbs 29:23 = “A man’s pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor.”
And a final thought… “You can’t see it now, but that thing you didn’t get will someday be the best thing you never had. Let go of it; better is coming.” – Mandy Hale
I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me in the Weird Darkness.