“THE GIRLS WHO TURNED GREEN” and 4 More True Stories! #WeirdDarkness

THE GIRLS WHO TURNED GREEN” and 4 More True Stories! #WeirdDarkness

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IN THIS EPISODE: 7-year-old Maria went missing in 1957, and while her body was later found, her murder was never solved and the case went cold – until 50 years later when the case was finally solved and closed. But it turns out everybody was wrong. (A Cold Case Finally Solved… Then Unsolved) *** If you take State Route 375 through Nevada you will pass by the infamous Area-51. But of course they are not going to let you in, even if you ask nicely. But State Route 375 isn’t called the Extraterrestrial Highway just because of one area you can’t visit – there’s a lot more to it than that. (The 98-Mile Extraterrestrial Highway) *** Hikers sometimes get lost in the woods, as do children of course. But those on bikes almost never disappear; but there is one tragic case of a fat tire rider who couldn’t be found. (The Vanished Mountain Biker) *** Chlorosis was a frequently diagnosed disease during the 19th century that gave the skin of the afflicted a greenish tinge. As a cure, doctors told young women to get married and reproduce. As you can probably surmise, the cure was not in the least bit effective. (The Girls Who Turned Green) *** In 1910 two witnesses see a pair of lights that transform into radiant beings with “human form.” You might dismiss the report as misidentification of ball lightning or some other natural explanation – but in 1952 those radiant humanoid beings of light were seen again! (Close Encounters of the Fairy Kind)

Find a full or partial transcript at the bottom of this blog post.

BOOK: “The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries” by W.Y. Evans-Wentz: https://tinyurl.com/y3kwqflr
VIDEO: John Tessier (Jack McCullough) questioned by police: https://tinyurl.com/y5lc53dl
BOOK: “Foosteps in the Snow” by Charles Lachman: https://amzn.to/2D5wXsk
BOOK: “The Cold Vanish” by John Billman: https://tinyurl.com/y6jjeyto
“A History of Elves” episode: https://weirddarkness.com/archives/6970
“The Deadliest and Most Haunted Road in Britain” episode: https://weirddarkness.com/archives/6975
CHURCH OF THE UNDEAD: “God, Ghosts and Aliens”: https://weirddarkness.com/archives/6859

Become a patron: https://WeirdDarkness.com/WEIRDO
Visit the Weird Darkness store: https://WeirdDarkness.com/STORE
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(Over time links can and may become invalid, disappear, or have different content.)
“Close Encounters of the Fairy Kind” by Nick Redfern for Mysterious Universe: https://tinyurl.com/y5vvkpkc
“A Cold Case Finally Solved.. Then Unsolved” from Mystery Confidential: https://tinyurl.com/y2zrhdpa
“The 98-Mile Extraterrestrial Highway” by Alexandra Schonfeld for Newsweek: https://tinyurl.com/y5ubmo6e
“The Girls Who Turned Green” by Fiona Zublin for Ozy: https://tinyurl.com/yamqxtoh
“The Vanished Mountain Biker” by John Billman, an excerpt from his book “The Cold Vanish” https://tinyurl.com/y6jjeyto, posted at Outside Online: https://tinyurl.com/yxplwqzm
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Stories and content in Weird Darkness can be disturbing for some listeners and is intended for mature audiences only. Parental discretion is strongly advised.

Welcome, Weirdos – I’m Darren Marlar and this is Weird Darkness. Here you’ll find stories of the paranormal, supernatural, legends, lore, crime, conspiracy, mysterious, macabre, unsolved and unexplained.

Coming up in this episode of Weird Darkness…

7-year-old Maria went missing in 1957, and while her body was later found, her murder was never solved and the case went cold – until 50 years later when the case was finally solved and closed. But it turns out everybody was wrong.

If you take State Route 375 through Nevada you will pass by the infamous Area-51. But of course they are not going to let you in, even if you ask nicely. But State Route 375 isn’t called the Extraterrestrial Highway just because of one area you can’t visit – there’s a lot more to it than that.

Hikers sometimes get lost in the woods, as do children of course. But those on bikes almost never disappear; but there is one tragic case of a fat tire rider who couldn’t be found.

Chlorosis was a frequently diagnosed disease during the 19th century that gave the skin of the afflicted a greenish tinge. As a cure, doctors told young women to get married and reproduce. As you can probably surmise, the cure was not in the least bit effective.

In 1910 two witnesses see a pair of lights that transform into radiant beings with “human form.” You might dismiss the report as misidentification of ball lightning or some other natural explanation – but in 1952 those radiant humanoid beings of light were seen again!

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, 24/7 streaming video of Horror Hosts and classic horror movies, you can find my other podcast, “Church of the Undead”, plus you can visit the “Hope In The Darkness” page if you are struggling with depression, anxiety, or thoughts of suicide. And you can also shop the Weird Darkness store where all profits go to support depression awareness and relief. You can find all of that and more at WeirdDarkness.com.

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

W.Y. Evans-Wentz was born in Trenton, New Jersey in 1878 and developed a deep interest in the world of the paranormal at a young age. It was an interest that he never lost. Indeed, it stayed with him until his death, in 1965. As well as being a respected anthropologist, Evans-Wentz was someone who was also fascinated by Buddhist teachings and beliefs. Evans-Wentz was a prestigious writer and publisher, having published, in 1927, an English version of widely acclaimed and still extensively read, The Tibetan Book of the Dead. As for his own books, they were as notable as they were varied, one of the most revered being The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries. It’s a book which is packed with fascinating accounts of old, supernatural encounters between the people of Ireland, Wales, Scotland, the Isle of Man, and Brittany, and magical entities that have variously been referred to as elementals, fairies, goblins, sprites, and the “wee folk.” I’ll place a link to the book in the show notes. One story collected by Evans-Wentz stands out.

The story was personally shared with Evans-Wentz by a colleague at England’s Jesus College at Oxford University – a university which Evans-Wentz studied at as a young man. The story told to Evans-Wentz was as bizarre as it was undeniably sensational. The man in question was Irish and a former resident of County Kerry, one who had chosen Oxford University as his place of education. According to the curious story told to Evans-Wentz, it was in the first week of December 1910 that the man and a friend were heading home from a night out in the Irish city of Limerick. Given that it was a fair distance away, and darkness was already on the land when they went out – never mind during their return – they chose to travel on horseback, something which would make the journey to Limerick, and home again, an easy one. It turned out, however, that fate had other things in store for the two twenty-three-year-olds. Very strange and unforgettable things.

It was as they approached Listowel – a 14th century market town in County Kerry – that the pair couldn’t fail to see a powerful, brilliant light at a distance of around half a mile from them.  Suddenly, the light was joined by another one that was practically identical in appearance, and also in size, which was somewhere in the order of around six feet in height. As the two men sat on their horses, and stared in amazement at these curious displays of light, they saw something incredible happen: within the flames that were contained within the two lights, they could see a pair of what were described as radiant beings with “human form;” the flames having transformed into the entities. The lights then moved towards each other and unified as one. The figures within, Evans-Wentz was told, then strode out of the lights and towards the two men. Incredibly, they seemed to be glowing. In other words, the brilliance they gave off was not a reflection from the balls of light that surrounded them. No, they were radiating the glowing eeriness themselves.

Such was the brightness, the two friends were unable to make out if their visitors of the night were male or female, or one of each. But, they were clearly humanoid and had noticeable halos around their heads. Not surprisingly, they quickly headed home, their galloping horses getting them there in a timely fashion.

Now, we get to the next part of the story: note that the two witnesses saw a pair of lights that transformed into radiant beings with “human form.” This issue is very similar – if not practically identical – to a story told by Contactee Orfeo Angelucci in the 1950s. It was the night of May 23, 1952 and as he drove home from work, not long after midnight something very strange happened. As he drove down Victory Boulevard, Angelucci was shocked and amazed to see slightly above his line of vision, a red, glowing, oval-shaped object that was “about five times as large as the red portion of a traffic light.” It seemed to carefully maintain its distance from Angelucci’s car, as if beckoning him to follow – which he did. He drove across a bridge spanning the Los Angeles River, and looked on, mesmerized, as the object came to a halt, hovering over the intersection at a “lonely, deserted stretch of road called Forest Lawn Drive.”

Without warning, the red-colored ball suddenly shot away at high speed – but not before two, smaller, fluorescent green objects, about three-feet in diameter, flew out of it and headed directly for Angelucci. They hung, magically, only a few feet above his car for a few minutes, after which something dramatic allegedly occurred. Emanating, apparently, from between the two green balls of light, said Angelucci, was the sound of “a masculine voice in strong, well-modulated tones and speaking perfect English.” Stressing that he should not be afraid, the disembodied voice explained to a shocked Angelucci that he was in direct communication with “friends from another world.” Angelucci was also told: “Man believes himself civilized, but often his thoughts are barbaric and his emotions lethal. We do not say this as criticism, but state it only as fact. Thus it is best to approach all planetary visitors with friendly, welcoming thoughts.” Angelucci went on to have other encounters of the Contactee variety and became a well-known figure in 1950s-era Ufology.

There is no doubt that there are notable parallels between both stories. Some might say that the two events – 42 years apart – were caused by the very same phenomenon. But, there is another connection that just might get to the heart of the matter. Just like W.Y. Evans-Wentz, Orfeo Angelucci was born in Trenton, New Jersey. In light of this, I have to wonder if Angelucci may have taken a deep interest in the writings of someone who just happened to be a local author (namely, W.Y. Evans-Wentz) and, subconsciously, weaved parts of the Evans-Wentz saga into his own. At the very least, it’s a theory to ponder on…

Up next…

7-year-old Maria went missing in 1957, and while her body was later found, her murder was never solved and the case went cold – until 50 years later when the case was finally solved. But it turns out everybody was wrong.

If you take State Route 375 through Nevada you will pass by the infamous Area-51. But there’s a lot more than that if you travel the 98-mile stretch dubbed the Extraterrestrial Highway.

These stories and more when Weird Darkness returns…


How would you like to see the very first episode of a horror host’s show?  If your answer is YES, then join us for our next Weirdo Watch Party as horror host Professor Will Shivers from the Staying Scared Show brings his kooky concoctions of creepiness with the 1962 horror film, “Carnival of Souls”. As always, the Weirdo Watch party is always free, and while you watch the film you can jump into the chatroom with me and other Weirdo family members to trade snarky comments about the film – sometimes the horror hosts get in on the chat too! So again – join me as horror host Professor Willie Shivers presents 1962’s “Carnival of Souls!” Again, the Weirdo Watch Party is Saturday August 8th at 9pm Central Time – that’s 7pm Pacific, 8pm Mountain, 10pm Eastern on the Weirdo Watch Party page at WeirdDarkness.com.

It was December 3rd 1957 when seven-year-old Maria Ridulph went missing on a street corner in Sycamore, Illinois and five months later Maria’s remains were found 100 miles from Sycamore in Woodbine, Illinois. It wouldn’t be until more than 50 years later that the case had what was initially thought of as closure – this turned out to be false closure.

The case was seemingly solved in September 2012 when the police would convict a murderer for the abduction and murder of Maria. This would then be overturned in March 2016 and Maria’s neighbour Jack McCullough would be declared an innocent man in April 2017.

To date the murder remains unsolved and the mystery of Maria Ridulph continues to baffle the Chicago area…

It will more than likely forever be a cold case.

Seven-year old Maria Ridulph was playing with best-friend Kathy on the first snowfall of the year; when a mysterious man offered Maria a piggyback ride…

Maria’s friend Kathy was the last to see Maria Ridulph alive and the last she saw of Maria was a strange man hoisting her on his back and trotting off down the street. Kathy had gone inside to get some gloves to fight against the harsh cold and when she came back outside on the street, both the man and Maria were gone.

Kathy afterwards went to the Ridulph house to tell them that Maria was missing. Initially the family thought that Maria was hiding and sent Maria’s older brother Charles out to search for her.

It was an hour later that the Ridulph family realised that something was up, and the police were notified beginning a police search and the FBI being called in. Soon, it seemed like the whole of Illinois was searching for the missing seven-year old.

And while Kathy was elated some 54 years later at the news that the man was finally apprehended, she must now continue with the inner torment that she watched someone in plain sight “take away my best friend”.  At the time of the abduction the sun was setting, and it was near dark as the two girls were playing “duck the cars.” Investigators pin this time down as around 6.30 pm.

The man was called “Johnny” (or so he told the little girls).

According to Kathy; “Johnny” was 24 and not married. Kathy stated that “Johnny” had blonde hair, bad teeth and a high-pitched voice.

Going back to a time before Amber alerts and faces on the back of milk carts, the search for Maria had even caught the attention of FBI Chief J Edgar Hoover, USA President Eisenhower and garnered national media attention – somewhat unprecedented in those days for a missing child (at least in comparison to today). There were various public appeals from the Ridulph family and widespread investigations across Illinois which including all known sex offenders, transients and another man that had previously offered piggyback rides to children.

Maria was later found by mushroom-picking tourists almost half a year after that fateful piggyback ride; Maria was found wearing a shirt, undershirt and socks. At this point Maria was decomposed and skeletal. Maria had to be identified by her parents because of her familiar brown-socks.

It was not until 50 years later that an autopsy could determine the cause of death as being that of Maria being stabbed in the throat several times.

John Tessier was at the top of the suspect list from the very beginning of Maria’s disappearance.

A neighbour of the Ridulph family, and one of seven children, John was considered an outsider and had been described as “creepy” by the community. In 1957 Tessier passed a lie detector test and the file was closed with the report noting: “No further investigation is being conducted regarding the above suspect.”

At the time the police did not have a schoolbook photograph and therefore Kathy was not asked to identify John Tessier.

John was born in Northern Ireland in 1939 to a British sergeant – John moved to the USA at the age of seven and grew up in Illinois. Between the Maria case, John lived a fairly quiet life. Serving in the military for thirteen years where he rose to the rank of captain, he was also a police officer and worked in security. It was in 1982 where John first fell afoul of the law when he was charged with statutory rape which was later down graded into a misdemeanour.

In 1994 John Tessier changed his name to Jack McCullough. Apparently a tribute to his deceased mother.

The case was actually re-opened as a result of John’s own mother who believed John to be guilty.  Eileen Tessier said in 1994, while on her deathbed, that John had killed a number of little girls and asked John’s half sister Janet to tell someone. Another of John’s sisters Mary confirmed that she had heard her mother say: “He did it”.

John however had a fragmented and broken relationship with his mother, which includes incidents of threatening and violent behaviour from the mother and John had chosen not to attend her funeral when she died. There is every possibility that the “confession” was made by John’s mother out of either spite or in a drug-induced delirium.

Janet in the meantime had made multiple attempts to get law enforcement to investigate her own half-brother, constantly contacting state police to look into John.

It wasn’t until 2008; when Janet sent a lengthy email to the Illinois State Police, did they decide to re-open the cold case.

State Police reviewed the evidence and found testimony from neighbours of John’s seemingly erratic and strange behaviour around young girls (which included giving another young girl a piggyback and refusing to put the girl back down); which probably did not sit well next to the previous conviction and rape charges. John is just one of the many “outsiders” targeted by law enforcement as a perfect suspect. That being said; there were definite factors that could have had John fingered.

Everything seemed to go against John upon the re-opening of the case when Kathy personally picked out John from a picture line up and stated: “that’s the man”.

Despite all of this, John had a strong alibi. John Tessier was enlisting in the United States Airforce in Rockford, Illinois on the day in question.

It was confirmed by recruitment officers that they had spoken with John at that time. A collect call was traced in Rockford, Illinois which was 40 miles from the abduction site and an un-used train ticket to Rockford was found in John’s possession.

The timeline recommended by state investigators was one where Tessier kidnapped Maria and then drove (the unused ticket) to Rockford in time to make the call at 6.57 pm and meet with the same recruiting officers at 7.15 pm. Under this timeline it was determined that Maria was kidnapped at 6.20 pm.

John was called in for questioning with the police. The interview was videotaped and can be seen on the CBS News website, I’ll place a link to it in the show notes. It highlights some of the discrepancies in John’s (now Jack) initial story and his seemingly hostile manner.

Maria’s body was then exhumed but there was no DNA evidence that could be found on Maria’s remains and nothing to link John using forensics.

With different inmates testifying that John had discussed killing Maria to them (with two different accounts of the cause of death – neither similar to Maria’s actual death) and with the details of John’s alibi withheld during trial, it seemed that John Tessier was doomed at trial.

John was convicted by a jury for the abduction and murder of Maria and given a life sentence. He was sentenced at 73 years old; so was set to die in prison as a guilty man.

Acting as a lawyer for himself John filed a petition against his murder conviction. This was dismissed as frivolous.

It wasn’t until the new State’s Attorney Richard Schmack reviewed the evidence extensively that he discovered that for Tessier to kill Maria was impossible, this included reviewing the collect call and the distance from Rockford to Sycamore.

In April 2016 the murder charge was dismissed without prejudice and on 12th April 2017 John Tessier was officially declared an innocent man and released from prison.

The Maria Ridulph murder had gone from unsolved to cold to solved and back to unsolved.  And now we remain back at unsolved.

And while there was a feeling of tremendous relief for the likes of Kathy, the last witness to see Maria alive, and the remaining Ridulph family at the conviction of John, there is a large sense of injustice that John Tessier was convicted when all evidence seemed to point away from him.

Maria Ridulph’s murder had been the oldest solved cold case in the USA and is now just that “unsolved.”

Johnny is now living in a retired community centre where he once worked and is currently in the process of suing law enforcement for the unfair conviction.

William Henry Redmond was a ‘carny’ with an ability to make young girls vanish in his presence. There was numerous stories of girls seemingly going missing whenever Redmond was around which included a ten-year-old in Ohio and an eight-year-old in Pennsylvania (and yet no convictions).

A likely sounding suspect; Redmond is now dead, and the evidence appears entirely circumstantial, with very little to go on against Redmond except that he looked like Kathy’s description of Johnny and has a suspicious history around children.

The case is one of the most famous unsolved murders in American history and has been subject to many depictions in culture which include a CNN web series called “Taken” and a true-crime book released in 2014 by Charles Lachman called “Footsteps in the Snow”. I’ll link to the book in the show notes.

Otherwise known as State Route 375, the Extraterrestrial Highway is about 98 miles long and runs from Tonopah to Alamo in the heart of Nevada, and is chock-full of UFO and alien history. If you are wanting to avoid traffic, this is actually a great weekend vacation trip; few people make their way across the E.T. Highway each day—only about 200 people in total, we are told. So this makes for minimal traffic and plenty of opportunities to stop along the side of the road and take it all in without dealing with any crowds. The most famous attraction along this route is, of course, Area 51, it is the most inaccessible to the public and is completely off-limits to tourists. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t things to see on the Extraterrestrial Highway. Instead of moping that you can’t see the dead aliens and crashed flying saucers inside Area 51, you can check out other out-of-this-world stops, from the Little A’Le’Inn, the only business in Rachel (the closest town to Area 51) to the Alien Research Center. So strap on your seat belts, because we are about to take a trip down Route 375, which Nevada officially designated “the Extraterrestrial Highway” in 1996. There are four main things to keep an eye out on as you start your journey: an E.T. highway road sign, E.T. Fresh Jerky, the Alien Research Center and the Little A’Le’Inn. Over the years, many UFO sightings have been reported in the area, especially around what we know as Area 51. The road stops along this highway give visitors a look at this otherworldly history. From east to west you will start at the “cleanest place to drop your toxic waste in Area 51,” aka E.T. Fresh Jerky. That’s just their polite way of saying it’s the last real restroom before you hit the rest of the route, so it might be worth a quick stop. Of course, it’s more than just a bathroom. Visitors are sure to leave their mark by signing the counter, which is filled with thousands of visitors’ names. As is the case with many of these stops, you can pull out your wallet and buy some alien gear. In addition to T-shirts and other souvenirs, visitors are offered a variety of free samples of E.T. Jerky along with other snacks, including “Martian Poop”–flavored soda. Talk about a thirst quencher. You might be on the lookout for the Extraterrestrial Highway sign. When you find it, you’ll notice it’s covered in stickers left behind by previous visitors. So why not add your own? Even the Nevada tourism office suggests this. It’s a rite of passage. Next stop? The Alien Research Center. The giant silver building with a larger-than-life alien plopped out front is rarely open but still worth the photo op. When it is open, you can find more alien T-shirts and knickknacks. This part of the Nevada desert is scattered with Joshua trees, which is something unique from this planet to take a peek at. This is not an official road stop but something to keep your eyes on as you cruise down the highway. In addition to the E.T. Highway sign, look for the open range signs indicating that cattle are roaming free nearby. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a glimpse of one of these animals, as it is not uncommon for them to hang out in the middle of the road. At this point you’ve made it to Rachel, aka the UFO Capital of the World, as well as the closest town to Area 51. The tiny town, which can be considered the unofficial headquarters of the E.T. Highway, was named after the first baby born within “city” limits. Just 54 people call Rachel home. There is only one open business in Rachel: the Little A’Le’Inn. The restaurant and bar has an actual flying saucer dangling from a truck out front. You can’t miss it. Aside from serving up food and drinks, Little A’Le’Inn is covered with images of UFO sightings from around the world, along with more UFO and alien memorabilia. It’s restaurant is almost a museum in and of itself. The ceiling at the Little A’Le’Inn is covered with currencies from all over the world, which goes to show how many people have traveled far and wide to see what this UFO business is all about. The bar, so we’ve heard, is often filled with characters, from bikers to nearby military personnel and people from various corners of the world. What would a bar in the Little A’Le’Inn be without a themed drink, like Alien Amber?  At this point you’ll reach the prized destination for all who travel the route… Area 51. But like I said, it is not a tourist attraction and is heavily guarded and fenced in. Area 51 has remained top secret for decades. It was not even formally acknowledged by the government until 2013. Even the airspace above Area 51 is restricted, unless you have specific permission… so stop the car on the shoulder, take a look from there, then get back in your car and keep going. Heck, even doing that might get you on a government watch list – you never know nowadays. Finally… the end of the E.T. Highway is a small mining town called Tonopah, which has a historic mining park for visitors to check out. Though it’s not full of aliens and glowing saucers, it’s still a worthwhile stop to wrap up your trip. A majority of respondents to a 2019 Gallup poll said they have not seen a UFO. But 16 percent said they had, and 68 percent said they think the U.S. government knows more about UFOs than it reveals. So look up: Maybe you’ll catch a glimpse of some of that extraterrestrial magic… especially if you’re cruising the 98-mile stretch of road in Nevada known as the Extraterrestrial Highway.

Hikers sometimes get lost in the woods, as do children of course. But those on bikes almost never disappear; but there is one tragic case of a fat tire rider who couldn’t be found.

Chlorosis was a frequently diagnosed disease during the 19th century that gave the skin of the afflicted a greenish tinge. As a cure, doctors told young women to get married and reproduce. As you can probably surmise, the cure was not in the least bit effective.

These stories are up next on Weird Darkness.


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Hikers go missing with frequency; it stands to reason, there are many of them out there. Runners, too. Berry pickers and mushroom hunters. David Paulides, founder of the North America Bigfoot Search, is obsessed with disappeared game hunters. Children, of course, get lost in the woods. Skiers occasionally go missing but are usually found when the snow melts. But cyclists, not so much. Mountain bikers and touring riders vanish about as frequently as golfers.

Long-term mysterious vanishings of touring cyclists with as few clues as Jacob Gray’s are so rare that Robert Koester, a.k.a. Professor Rescue, the foremost academic on search and rescue (SAR) statistics, lists only “lost mountain biker” in his seminal 2008 book Lost Person Behavior. Koester is certified as a Type 1 SAR incident commander and holds a Ph.D. in search theory from the University of Portsmouth, in England. “All cases of mountain bikes were resolved out of 189 incidents,” he told me. But mountain bikers did—do—go missing, as opposed to missing touring cyclists, who don’t even get a category.

But of course it happens. Our Amelia Earhart is a cyclist named Frank Lenz, who in 1892, at the age of 24, lit out from Pittsburgh to circumnavigate the globe on his Victory “safety bicycle.” He wouldn’t be the first to do it, but Outing magazine sponsored his trip so he could chronicle the adventure while demonstrating the high-tech wonders of the newfangled safety bicycle. Two years into the trip, Lenz fell off the edge of the earth somewhere in the Ottoman Empire. You can imagine how slowly no news traveled then. When his family expressed concern, Outing Magazine sent another famous cyclist, William Sachtleben, to Turkey to find him. He didn’t, but came back with the information that his probable fate was Lenz (ticked) off a Kurdish chief, and the warlord had him killed. At the time, Sachtleben’s rescue attempt was considered on a par with the famous hunt for David Livingstone:

Koester’s statistics missed a 2014 Canadian vanish that is as confounding as any I’ve heard of. It’s easy to miss the Canadian missing—the country is huge and quiet. They like to take care of their own and not broadcast their troubles. I only learned about the case because his identical twin brother, Marcel, contacted me after he read the article I’d written for Outside magazine that focused on a missing runner, Joe Keller. Marty Leger, from Halifax, Nova Scotia, was 30 years old when he went for a routine ride at a popular trail network at Spider Lake. There isn’t anything extremely remote about the area—the trailhead is even in a residential area. But it’s the Canadian Maritimes, so wildlands are never not close.

May 29. Marty was riding a new black Santa Cruz Heckler. He planned to ride singletrack for a couple of hours and return home around four in the afternoon. He didn’t. First his family went looking for him. Then the Royal Canadian Mounted Police—RCMP—mounted a search that included nearly 500 people. Volunteers, dogs, and helicopters searched a search zone that was 30 square miles. The search for Marty Leger was one of the largest in Canadian history. Not a granola-bar wrapper was found, let alone a fat-tire bicycle.

“With a bike, you can cover more ground… so you can likely get yourself out,” Marcel says. “Also, you tend to have to stick to the trails when biking.” Marty almost certainly went off-trail, perhaps in an attempt to take a shortcut. “I am not surprised they didn’t find his bike, because if they would have found it, they would have found him. I cannot imagine him leaving his new bike. It was maybe his third ride on it.” All cyclists will understand that; what’s harder to understand is not finding a mountain biker.

“A body ended up being discovered roughly a year after he went missing,” Marcel says. “It was someone else who had gone missing before Marty. He was found within the search area, so clearly it would have been very possible for them to simply not see Marty or his bike. They had a lot of people searching, but it only takes one person to miss him and then cross off that area. Everyone who searched for him tried so hard day after day, but they had a radius they needed to look at based on age, weight, time of day, weather, and how long since he’s been reported missing. And there’s a good chance Marty was out of that radius when the search started.”

“What’s your theory about what happened?” I asked him. “My best guess is that he got off trail and got lost,” Marcel says. “Once he realized he was lost, he found the nearest dirt road and tried to follow that until he hit a highway or a neighborhood. He likely went as far as he could and tried to sleep the night off and go back at it in the morning.” This happens a surprising amount in Canada, where logging roads and ATV trails web and spiral and sometimes go for hundreds of miles. “My guess is that he tried hard to get out and covered a lot of ground, but unfortunately, that likely put him out of the radius they were searching. It was cold that night, and he was wearing shorts and a T-shirt. So I’m thinking he went to bed and hypothermia set in and he simply didn’t wake up.” Trying to apply logic to a case like this one is painful.

According to Marcel, it’s possible the trail got too technical for Marty and he fell hard and succumbed to injuries. That’s certainly possible, but if he’d fallen so hard that he was badly injured, it doesn’t make sense he’d have stumbled or crawled far from the trail; at least the bike would have been located. “I have a hard time believing he got hurt badly—he rode very conservatively, never did jumps or crazy lines he could not handle,” Marcel says.

Marty had only ridden the area one time previously, and it’s not believed he intended to ride very far. He brought a map, but it was found in the car, so perhaps he was comfortable enough with his intended route without it. The area is bordered on one side with a highway, but all other directions are dense wooded areas. The army was eventually called in, and, Marcel told me, even the soldiers had a hard time bushwhacking through some of it.

“I keep telling myself it would be easier if it was a heart attack or car accident—at least we could be angry at something,” he says. “Not knowing if or how much he suffered at the end is what haunts me. It might have been a quick ending, but the thought of him being really hurt and yelling for help will stay with me for a while. I try not to focus too much on the fact that he disappeared and more so just think of him as gone.” The family likely will never know what happened. “There is no getting past it or moving on,” Marcel says. “No being OK with it or getting over it. Closure isn’t an option, unfortunately.”

His is a case of double-negative indemnity. “The fact that we are identical twins makes it a bit more complicated. Not only do I see him every time I look in the mirror, but I’m also a constant reminder to my friends and family that he is gone. Whenever they see me, they most likely see both of us.” In 2018, their father took his own life. “He just could not make sense of Marty simply disappearing,” Marcel says. “He really needed closure. My dad was not a depressed man before this.”

What people don’t think of are the social pressures for the family after a loved one disappears. “For the first few years, we all lived in fear of leaving the house,” Marcel says. “We all knew we would at some point run into someone we know and they would ask, ‘How’s it going? Any news? Did they find anything? How did he get lost on a bike ride?’”

It occurs to me that I asked Marcel those same questions. “There’s also small things people would likely not think about that much,” he says. “I have a hard time answering the phone. I never liked the phone much before, but when you get two phone calls—Marty and for my dad—and on the other end is panic and news that will crush you and change your life forever, it’s not easy to answer the phone comfortably anymore. Also, being in the woods alone is almost impossible now unless I’m very familiar with the trails or with other people. I also overpack now to be sure I’m OK if anything happens.”

In the 1890s, 16 percent of those admitted to St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in London received the diagnosis of chlorosis. The disease entailed a host of symptoms, including anemia, amenorrhea, lack of appetite, pica (the urge to eat things one wouldn’t normally eat, like wax) and fatigue. But the most unusual — and the one that gave the disease its name — was the greenish tinge that the skin of the afflicted acquired.

Nowadays, if you Google “chlorosis,” all you’ll get are links to plant diseases. The plants have an iron deficiency, although the disease manifests as a loss of green, not an excess of it. Scattered human cases remain, but what was once an epidemic has largely disappeared. In the 1980s, hematologist William Crosby published a paper titled “Whatever Became of Chlorosis?”

For centuries, chlorosis was a constant — though the diagnoses behind it shifted with the societal and medical norms of the time. First described in 1554, it was known until the mid-1700s as the “disease of virgins,” and the best cure was thought to be intercourse (bloodletting was also a popular treatment).

“Chlorosis was absolutely seen as a women’s disease, which meant, as it still often means today, that it got little attention and was easily dismissed with absurd cures,” says Anna Scanlon, director of the writing center at Illinois Wesleyan University and an avid researcher of chlorosis. Other treatments included telling women to conceive, exercise or abandon education. While there were physicians who believed that men could also contract chlorosis, such cases were thought to be extremely rare, and those men diagnosed with it were usually described as effeminate. The disease was predominately associated with the upper classes until the mid-19th century, when the medical establishment realized that poor women could also lack adequate nutrition and exposure to sunlight.

Boarding schools catering to the daughters of wealthy families were thought to be breeding grounds for chlorosis, much as they have been thought to be hotbeds of anorexia in modern times. The two diseases, it turns out, have much in common: Both have been strongly associated with femininity and thought to be diseases of the body and of the soul, born at least in part from the turbulence of adolescence and the restrictiveness of women’s societal roles. Treatments for chlorosis largely reinforced ideas of the time about what women should be: married, reproducing and not focused on education. “Women were prescribed marriage as a cure because they were considered unmarriageable if educated,” Scanlon says. “So it was essentially a way to kill two birds with one stone: Stop her from receiving an education and restore her to her proper place in society while also stopping the progression of the disease.”

So what did happen to chlorosis? The answer is likely threefold: the symptoms were shunted to a different diagnosis, hypochromic anemia; treatments became more effective by focusing on diet rather than on virginity; and doctors with young female patients no longer expected to find chlorosis everywhere they looked.

Much about the disease remains mysterious. It’s unknown, for example, whether the afflicted always turned green. A 1980 paper on the disease in the British Medical Journal suggested that “possibly many saw greenness because they believed they ought to,” and that the moniker “green sickness” might have been due to the women involved being metaphorically green (i.e., inexperienced).

Another reason chlorosis may have disappeared: There were bigger, flashier diseases to worry about. “Public health lost interest in chlorosis as larger concerns arrived on the forefront,” says Scanlon, such as “shell shock associated with the First World War, influenza and the pandemic of 1918.” Adolescent girls not getting their periods — even if it did turn them green — took a back seat and then faded away.

I’ll answer your emails, comments and reviews in the Chamber of Comments when Weird Darkness returns!


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Here in the Chamber of Comments I answer your emails, comments, podcast reviews, 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, you can join the very active “Weird Darkness Weirdos” Facebook Group, and hang out with me and the rest of our Weirdo family! And you can drop me an email anytime at: darren @ weirddarkness.com.

(Email from Stormwatcher): Dear Darren, I absolutely love your podcasts.  Weird Darkness is chock-full of fascinating historical facts and delightfully spooky stories.  Recently I was listening to WD and you talked about The Church of the Undead.  I’m a believer but also have an avid interest in horror, the paranormal and the unknown.  I often pondered how I could live for Jesus yet be so drawn to the world of darkness.  So I was ecstatic to listen to Church of the Undead.  I loved hearing about the paranormal incidents in the Bible. Your voice is amazing and in your episode about the haunted road in the UK, your English accent was spot on when you were quoting the ghost hunter.  I don’t want to write a book here but I absolutely must mention that your support of help for the depression is commendable.  I have dealt with depression in the past and it’s great that you’ve brought forward so many sources to help people.  God bless you, Darren.  Keep up the good work.   Much love, Stormwatcher

REPLY: Thanks for the email, Stormwatcher… I’m guessing that’s not your real name, although if it is I have to commend your parents for hanging one of the coolest names ever onto their offspring. I’m glad to hear you sat in for a service of the The Church of the Undead. It’s still brand new. In fact, the episode you are referring to, “God Ghosts and Aliens” (which I’ll link to in the show notes), so far has only 221 downloads. But I’m really happy to have you as a part-time parishioner! As for the English accent on the most dangerous and haunted road in Britain episode – you are waaaaay too kind. But thank you all the same!

(Email from Jonathan B.): Good evening Mr. Marlar, I heard you talk about some of your comments concerning last week’s Creepy Pasta on “A History of Elves”. I have been a Patron for well over a year now and have always liked nearly every episode you aired, including last week’s Creepy Pasta. I must say it was challenging to listen to, but terror should not be easy to hear. Terror is supposed to be just that, terror! Horror takes your greatest fears and manifests them in the written word, narration, or visual stimulation. If someone has a problem with anything you narrate in that genre, they should likely not listen to your show. You start every episode with a disclaimer if that is not enough for the rest of your listeners; maybe they cannot handle real horror. Please continue narrating horror, true crime, and macabre; I will continue listening if you continue keeping it weird. Although I am pagan, keep on placing your Bible verses at the end of every show. I may not be able to sign off with the words, “another weirdo in Christ” I certainly respect your faith and those of others. Keep it weird, Jonathan B.

REPLY: Thanks for encouragement, Jonathan – and you’re not the only one with that opinion…

(Email from Ashley regarding the episode “A History of Elves” which I’ve linked to in the show notes): Hello Darren! I was just listening to one of your newer episodes “A History of Elves”, wonderful episode and I want to thank you for working in the Norse Pagan attachment to Elves. I was in listening bliss up until the Chamber of Comments… appalled would be a word to describe my feeling after the episode completely ended. I cannot for the life of me wrap my head around the fact that someone not only ripped apart your work but you as a person, then on top of that claimed to be a “Christian”. Darren… there is zero darkness in you. I am so sorry that people feel the need to be that cruel. No Christian has the right to tell you that you aren’t “Christian enough”. Perhaps instead of writing emails, they should open a Bible and get to know Jesus a bit more (and this is coming from a Pagan). God is love and only he gets to judge. The amount of time you give to charities and organizations is more then I’ve ever heard any podcaster do, and I listen to a lot of podcasts. People need to understand this podcast is called WEIRD DARKNESS – you know what you are signing up to listen to. As grown capable adults we have the ability to not listen to a particular episode if something is going to be a trigger. I’ve listened to your podcast from the first episode until present day and you’ve only grown and gotten stronger as a podcaster. You have funny, you have history, education, dark stories, etc. That mix is what keeps me coming back for more. The fact that you felt the need to APOLOGIZE and think that you need to go back, instead of being proud of the growth made over the years, shows what kind of person you are. I guess what my long pointless email is getting at is… don’t let anyone dime your shine. Don’t question the content that you choose, this is your art and I’m here for it. Perhaps, a suggestion I may have is when an episode gives you that questionable feeling, just a quick content warning at the beginning. A lot of my (darker) podcasts do that to avoid the negativity that people feel the need to spread. The few people that don’t want to hear it, shouldn’t outweigh the thousands that are going to miss out. Keep being awesome, Ashley

REPLY: Thank you so very much for the incredibly uplifting thoughts! I really appreciate that! And you are absolutely right – God is love, and only HE gets to judge how Christian someone is or is not. That’s a lessen I’ve had to learn myself, as I used to be the person doing the judging. It just took a while for me to grow out of it. I can’t believe you’ve been with me since the first episode – if that’s from when I uploaded the first episode, on that day, that means you’ve been listening for almost five years now. You truly are a loyal Weirdo! Now… I have to go look up what “don’t let anyone dime your shine” means… that’s a new phrase for this getting-older Gen-Xer.

I’ll answer more of your emails, comments, and letters next time! Again, you can find all of my social media and contact information on the CONTACT page of the website, or drop me an email at darren @ weirddarkness.com.

Thanks for listening. If you like the podcast, please share a link to this episode and recommend Weird Darkness to your friends, family, and co-workers who love the paranormal, horror stories, or true crime like you do! Every time you share a link to the podcast it helps spread the word about the show, growing our Weirdo family in the process – plus, it helps get the word out about resources that are available for those who suffer from depression. So please share the podcast with others.

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.

“Close Encounters of the Fairy Kind” by Nick Redfern for Mysterious Universe

“A Cold Case Finally Solved.. Then Unsolved” from Mystery Confidential

“The 98-Mile Extraterrestrial Highway” by Alexandra Schonfeld for Newsweek

“The Girls Who Turned Green” by Fiona Zublin for Ozy

“The Vanished Mountain Biker” by John Billman, an excerpt from his book “The Cold Vanish” which I’ve linked to in the show notes

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… Philippians 2:14-15 = “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.”

And a final thought… “Instead of complaining about your circumstances, get busy and create some new ones.” – Unknown

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

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