“THE GIRL WHO FELL IN LOVE WITH THE DEVIL” and 4 More Dark Stories! #WeirdDarkness

THE GIRL WHO FELL IN LOVE WITH THE DEVIL” and 4 More Dark Stories! #WeirdDarkness

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IN THIS EPISODE: “It was a terrible sight… I have seen horrible sights, but never anything like this.” Those were the words of the local undertaker after seeing the results of a triple murder laying before him in 1932 Pennsylvania. (The Axe Murders of Lykens) *** Have you heard of the poor girl who was bullied and pushed down into a sewer by those whom she thought were her friends? I’ll tell you the story. And while this episode is not a creepypasta episode, so all the stories are supposed to be non-fiction, that is… true, I will be sharing this urban legend anyway – because when it comes to urban legends, sometimes it’s best to err on the side of caution and simply assume they are true. (The Urban Legend of Carmen Winstead) *** A gypsy once told Leonarda that all of her children would die before her.  A different fortuneteller  told her that she faced either a future in prison or in a criminal asylum. And the reason she gave for becoming a serial killer is something you’d hear out of a bad direct-to-video horror film. And that’s a tiny sample of this woman’s insanely dark life – which began even before her birth. (The Woman Who Made Soap) *** Ireland’s Loftus Hall is considered by many to be the most haunted location on all the Emerald Isle. But the most infamous story of Loftus Hall begins not with terror, but with romance… with a beautiful young girl falling madly in love with… the devil. (The Girl Who Fell In Love With The Devil) *** Weirdo Family member Brad Hicks describes the experience as “cool… and creepy as hell”. We’ll tell you his story. (The Thing In The Light)

TRANSCRIPT FOR THIS EPISODE…
Find a full or partial transcript at the bottom of this blog post.

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STORY AND MUSIC CREDITS/SOURCES…
(Over time links can and may become invalid, disappear, or have different content.)
“The Axe Murders of Lykens” from Pennsylvania Oddities: https://tinyurl.com/yyfjhgok
“The Urban Legend of Carmen Winstead” by Paul Middleton, edited and added-to by Darren Marlar: https://bit.ly/31iaGj1
“The Woman Who Made Soap” by Romeo Vitelli for Providentia: https://tinyurl.com/y4tjelur
“The Girl Who Fell In Love With The Devil” by Laura Allan for Ranker: https://tinyurl.com/yxb939jt
“The Thing In The Light” by Weirdo Family member Brad Hicks
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TRANCRIPT:

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…

“It was a terrible sight… I have seen horrible sights, but never anything like this.” Those were the words of the local undertaker after seeing the results of a triple murder laying before him in 1932 Pennsylvania.

Have you heard of the poor girl who was bullied and pushed down into a sewer by those whom she thought were her friends? I’ll tell you the story. And while this episode is not a creepypasta episode, so all the stories are supposed to be non-fiction, that is… true, I will be sharing this urban legend anyway – because when it comes to urban legends, sometimes it’s best to err on the side of caution and simply assume they are true.

A gypsy once told Leonarda that all of her children would die before her.  A different fortuneteller  told her that she faced either a future in prison or in a criminal asylum. And the reason she gave for becoming a serial killer is something you’d hear out of a bad direct-to-video horror film. And that’s a tiny sample of this woman’s insanely dark life – which began even before her birth.

Ireland’s Loftus Hall is considered by many to be the most haunted location on all the Emerald Isle. But the most infamous story of Loftus Hall begins not with terror, but with romance… with a beautiful young girl falling madly in love with… the devil.

Weirdo Family member Brad Hicks describes the experience as “cool… and creepy as hell”. We’ll tell you his story.

While you’re listening, you might want to check out the Weird Darkness website. At WeirdDarkness.com you can sign up for the newsletter, 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!

Rome’s Museo Criminologico [Criminological Museum]  may not be to everybody’s taste, but it’s definitely worth seeing. The museum’s collection features photographs and memorabilia from some of the most gruesome forensic cases in the long history of Italy.  And this story is about to get gruesome. From Renaissance murders to the Mafia, this museum has it all.

It was there that I first learned about Leonarda Cianciulli, a.k.a. the “Soap Maker of Corregio,” and her bizarre criminal career.  While almost unknown outside of Italy, Leonarda’s career as a serial killer is still unparalleled in many ways, both for her unique method of concealing bodies and her rather odd motive for killing.

Born in 1894, she was raised in one of the most poverty-stricken regions of Italy.  Her mother, Emilia di Nolfi,  had become pregnant due to rape and was later forced to marry her rapist,, Mariano Cianciulli, when she realized she was pregnant.   By most accounts, Emilia’s daughter, Leonarda’s early childhood was a grim one.   Her father died when Leonarda was young but her mother’s later remarriage did little to ease the situation at home.  Due to emotional abuse by her mother, she would make two suicide attempts. Leonarda compounded her woes by marrying a man of whom her parents disapproved; they had a more prosperous suitor in mind.   She would later claim that her mother had placed a curse on her as a result of her 1914 marriage of Raffaele Pansardi and the tragedy she later endured seems to bear that out.

Along with being imprisoned for fraud and later seeing her house destroyed by an earthquake, she also lost three of her children in childbirth and another ten as children.  Of her seventeen pregnancies, only four survived to adulthood and she was especially protective of all of them as a result.  Despite these troubles, she and her husband eventually settled in the town of Corregio, near Naples, and Leonarda apparently settled into a normal life as a shopkeeper and part-time fortune teller.

A long-time believer in the supernatural, she had once consulted a Gypsy fortuneteller who, among other things, predicted that all of her children would die before her.  A different fortuneteller  told her that she faced either a future in prison or in a criminal asylum though Leonarda seemed not to take that warning seriously.   Her neighbors would later describe her as a gentle soul with a fondness for poetry.  Nobody suspected what would be coming next.

For Leonarda, everything changed in 1939 when Benito Mussolini began drafting young men to prepare for Italy’s entry into World War II.   Il Duce’s popularity had slipped during the 1930s and the prospect of Italy entering the war on the side of Nazi Germany alarmed most Italians.  Leonarda became mentally unbalanced at the thought of her favorite son, Giuseppe, being drafted and possibly dying in combat.  The prospect of losing Giuseppe apparently led to her decision to carry out human sacrifices to preserve her son from death.  As she would later state during her testimony, killing others would keep her own children safe by providing God with other deaths in place of her own children.  Since she had four remaining children, she would need to sacrifice four others to keep them safe.

Her first victim was a 50-year-old spinster named Faustina Setti.  Recruiting Leonarda as a fortune-teller and matchmaker, Faustina paid her 30,000 lire to find a suitable husband.  Telling her that she knew of a good marriage prospect in a nearby village, Leonarda persuaded Faustina to write letters and postcards to relatives that she would later post from out of town to reassure them she was fine.  She also instructed Faustina not to tell anyone about her marriage plans.  On the day Faustina was to leave Corregio, she visited Leonarda’s home for the last time. There, Leonarda gave her drugged wine and then chopped her body into nine pieces with a hatchet.  According to the official statement she gave to police afterward:

I threw the pieces into a pot, added seven kilos of caustic soda, which I had bought to make soap, and stirred the whole mixture until the pieces dissolved in a thick, dark mush that I poured into several buckets and emptied in a nearby septic tank. As for the blood in the basin, I waited until it had coagulated, dried it in the oven, ground it and mixed it with flour, sugar, chocolate, milk and eggs, as well as a bit of margarine, kneading all the ingredients together.  I made lots of crunchy tea cakes and served them to the ladies who came to visit, though Giuseppe and I also ate them.”

After pocketing the money Faustina had brought with her, Leonarda selected fellow-villager Francesca Soavi as her next victim.   After telling Francesca that she had found her a job a school in Piacenza, Leonarda persuaded her to keep the job offer secret.  She also persuaded Francesca to write a series of letters and postcards that would be mailed at a later date.  Copying the murder of Faustina Setti almost exactly, Leonarda drugged Francesca and dismembered the corpse with an ax on September 5, 1940.  She also pocketed her life savings (only 3,000 lire this time). Once again, no suspicion attached to her, so Leonarda was free to find another victim.

It was this last victim who would prove to be her undoing.  Virginia Cacioppo was a former soprano who had sung opera professionally at La Scala in Milan.  She was also wealthier than Leonarda’s other victims with more than 50,000 lire in cash and jewelry.  After Leonarda lured Virginia to her house with the promise of finding her a job with a mysterious impresario, she was killed like the other victims.  In a last, ghoulish touch, Leonarda added cologne to the soap she made from Virginia’s remains to make it more appealing to friends and neighbors.

Virginia Cacioppo’s sister-in-law became suspicious and began investigating her disappearance.   When she learned that Virginia had last been seen entering Leonarda’s shop, she went to the police superintendent.  Following an investigation, Leonarda Cianculli was arrested for murder.  She was unusually open with the police and described her crimes and how she disposed of the bodies in ghoulish detail.  Since World War 2  was still underway, putting her on trial for the murders was hardly a priority though.  It was not until 1946 and Italy’s defeat that the trial of the “Corregio Soap Maker” finally began.

And it was quite a trial.  Though her son Giuseppe had been arrested as a possible accomplice, he was later freed.  Leonarda’s detailed confession of the murders, complete with descriptions of what she did with the bodies afterward generated international publicity.  During her testimony, she was quick to correct the prosecutor on any details which she regarded she considered inaccurate.  At one point, she proudly pointed out that she “gave the copper ladle, which I used to skim the fat off the kettles, to my country, which was so badly in need of metal during the last days of the war.”  She also described her reason for the murders, including her desire to help her son with human sacrifice.  Whether she truly believed what she had said in court or was hoping to avoid prison through an insanity plea, the graphic details of her crimes attracted a fair amount of public attention in a country still recovering from war.

Found guilty by the court,  Leonarda Cianculli was sentenced to thirty years in prison and three years in a criminal asylum.   While in prison, she wrote her memoirs, which translated, reads “Confessions of a Bitter Soul”. Unrepentant to the last, Leonarda died of a stroke on October 15, 1970.   As she would later insist, “I did not kill for greed”… which I’m sure we can all agree flies into the face of common sense after killing three people and stealing their life savings.

“It was a terrible sight… I have seen horrible sights, but never anything like this.” Those were the words of the local undertaker after seeing the results of a triple murder laying before him in 1932 Pennsylvania. That story is up next when Weird Darkness returns.

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I haven’t talked about Best Fiends in a while, have you been playing it? It’s still the best bathroom break game you’ll ever play. C’mon, you know that’s where you play mobile games! Well, that and during commercials while watching the news. I really like Best Fiends because it seems like every time I open it up to play, they’ve got something new – new levels to play on top of the thousands of levels they already have, new events taking place all the time, new themes, and new characters every month! My favorite character is still BAM. He may not be the best character in every situation, but watching him clear the board when he explodes is just too satisfying! I’ve actually had a few Weirdo Family members email me to say they’ve been playing after finding out about it from me, and it has been a great distraction from the year 2020! It’s hours of fun at your fingertips – and if you are on the road, or traveling for business, having a constant internet connection is practically impossible – but Best Fiends doesn’t need an internet connection. During Robin and I’s 25thwedding anniversary vacation to Tampa, I was playing Best Fiends on the plane at 30,000 feet. It’s absolutely free to download, so you should at least give it a try – it will quickly become your favorite mobile game. In fact, over 100-million downloads have already taken place – it’s that popular! You can find it in your Apple App Store or Google Play. Look for Best Fiends – that’s like the word FRIENDS, but without the letter “R” – BEST FIENDS!

[The following is a story that might need an additional disclaimer, as it involves the brutal death of young ones. Listener discretion is strongly advised.]

The quiet borough of Lykens in upper Dauphin County, Pennsylvania was thrust into the spotlight in 1932 when Barney Godleski, an out-of-work miner, slaughtered three of his four children in a drunken rage, in the basement of his home on the 600 block of East Main Street.
On the morning of July 14, 1932, ten-year-old Helen Godleski awoke with visions of a nightmare inside her head. The night before, she thought she had heard the screams of her sister, Lillian, who slept in the same bed, and her father’s reassuring voice, “Lillian bumped her head and hurt herself, but she’ll be alright.” Helen wasn’t sure if that had actually happened, or if she had only dreamt that it had happened, but in the morning, daylight revealed that her sister Lillian’s pillow was splotched with blood, and Lillian was nowhere to be seen.
Helen followed the bloody trail down the stairs. In the kitchen she found her father holding a rag to his throat. It would have been obvious to anyone, except maybe a ten-year-old child, that Barney Godleski had attempted to slit his own throat. Desperate to keep his daughter from asking questions, he ordered her to go to the store for matches. “Hurry, I want to smoke,” he said.
When Helen returned, her father had another request. He wanted Helen to find James Heldt, the undertaker, and bring him to the Godleski house. Helen obeyed, and when the undertaker arrived, Godleski told the undertaker that he had murdered three of his children with an axe. Heldt appeared skeptical, until Godleski said, “Go into the cellar and see for yourself.”

Heldt had no desire to go down to the cellar, and he immediately summoned Justice of the Peace James Golden and Chief of Police C.J. Witmer, who arrived at the home and found Barney Godleski sitting calmly at the kitchen table, holding the axe and butcher knife he had used to commit the ghastly crime. He admitted to killing his children, but refused to provide any explanation.
Chief Witmer, accompanied by Undertaker Heldt, James Golden, deputy coroner George Wren, and former justice of the peace J.A. Barrett, discovered one of the bodies on the floor near a drain, and the other two bodies stuffed into the woodbin. These were the bodies of Paul Godleski, age 8, Lillian, age 6, and Alberta, age 4. Paul’s body was the most mangled; his head had been almost completely cut off.
“It was a terrible sight,” said Heldt the following day. “I have seen horrible sights, but never anything like this. When the little girl came to my office about 9 o’clock yesterday morning and told me that her father wanted to see me, I didn’t have the least idea what he wanted. I hadn’t heard of any deaths in the family, so I was a little surprised to have him call me.”

One can only imagine what the undertaker must have thought after Helen came to see him. The Godleskis were known to be a happy family, and Barney a model citizen who never drank liquor or got into trouble. It was widely gossiped, however, that Barney’s wife, Lucille, had once spent time in a sanitarium battling drug addiction, and it was generally known around Lykens that little Lillian Godleski had undergone a surgical procedure at the hospital in Ashland just a few weeks earlier. Otherwise, as far as anyone knew, the Godleskis were a healthy, happy clan.
Godleski handed over the weapons to Chief Witmer and was taken into custody. Later that morning he was given a preliminary hearing at the office of Justice of the Peace Golden and transported to the Dauphin County Jail. Helen, the sole surviving child, was placed into the care of a neighbor. Meanwhile, Lucille Godleski was in Mount Carmel, unaware that anything was amiss. She had left Lykens to begin work as a waitress in a restaurant, lodging at the Marble Hotel under the name of Lucy Sincavage. Sincavage was the maiden name of Barney’s mother.

While in jail, Godleski was questioned for three hours by County Detective John H. Yontz. He freely admitted his guilt, but steadfastly refused to provide a motive. He said he wanted to make a statement to District Attorney Carl B. Shelley, and once inside the district attorney’s office, he began to talk freely about what he had done.
According to Godleski, on the night of the murders, he had gone to a bar in Williamstown for a drink and had goten into a quarrel that left him in a bitter mood. He returned home around midnight. The four children were sleeping in their beds. He sat at the kitchen table, brooding over domestic troubles. He had been out of work for months, and his wife of twelve years had left him on Tuesday to find work in Mount Carmel, where she had grown up.
Godleski said that the trouble had begun four years earlier, when his wife discovered that he was having an affair. “Since that time she has been extremely jealous,” he said, and during every argument since then, his wife made constant reference to his indiscretion. He and his wife had taken their daughter, Lillian, to the Fountain Springs Hospital on June 18 for an operation, and on June 30 Lucille began looking for work to help out with the medical expenses. She had told her husband that she would take the children once she was able to find a job.
Godleski stated that on Tuesday afternoon, July 12, a man who lived across the street, John Lubold, took him to Williamstown to see a former neighbor by the name of Wrobel, who he found at a local tavern. The men drank and talked, and although Godleski refused to reveal what he had been told by Wrobel, by the time he returned home he had made up his mind to kill his children and then take his own life. He began with Paul, taking him out bed and killing him in the basement with a butcher knife. Then he came back for Alberta. After killing two of his children, Godleski fell asleep for two hours. When he woke up at daybreak, he murdered Lillian, and attempted to dispose of the bodies by hacking them to pieces with an axe. However, after lopping off his son’s head, he lost his nerve. He added that he had no intention of killing Helen. Finally, he attempted to take his own life with the butcher knife. “I decided to take the coward’s way out, then I changed my mind,” Godleski told the district attorney. “I’ll take my medicine.”
So why was Helen’s life spared?
“Daddy didn’t kill me because he liked me,” bragged ten-year-old Helen to police officers. “I kept house for daddy since mother left us and daddy often said that I was a good little mother and that he was proud of me.” Helen told authorities that on Tuesday afternoon her father said that he had to go out of town on business, and instructed her not to wait up for him. “He told me to put Alberta, Lillian and Paul to bed and go to bed myself.”
“Lillian and I sleep together in daddy’s room and Paul and Alberta sleep in another room,” the young girl explained. “Some time during the night I believe I was dreaming about someone crying. I woke up and found Lillian was mumbling about something and daddy was standing beside her. I couldn’t understand what she was saying. It sounded like she was gargling. I asked daddy what had happened. He said Lillian bumped her head on the bedpost… I didn’t think anything was wrong and I went back to sleep.”
Helen said that, after arriving at the undertaker’s shop, Mr. Heldt told her to wait there until he came back. When Helt returned, he told Helen that her father had killed her siblings, and that he had been taken into police custody. “I love my daddy and I hope that nothing happens to him,” said Helen to the police officers, who then instructed them to feed him well. She even gave them a list of the foods that he liked to eat.

“I have been expecting it for more than a year,” said Lucille Godleski, after learning of the tragic news. She had been located eating lunch at a restaurant in Mount Carmel, by a messenger who managed to lure her back to Lykens under the pretense that one of her daughters had fallen ill. Only after checking into a hotel in Lykens was she told about what had happened to her children.
“I feared that Barney was insane for several years, that is why I left. The trouble started several years ago when I was sent to a hospital in Toledo, Ohio, as a drug addict. I was there for seven months until I was cured, and when I returned home I found another woman in the house.”
Lucille claimed that she had been trying to find a home for her children for more than a year, and had tried to get her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Sienkiewicz, to adopt them. “I knew sometime he would harm them,” she said. “My father objected so they stayed at home. Now I have only one. I hope they hang Barney for killing my children. He has it coming to him. He treated me cruelly for several years. He chased me from my home and children, and now he has killed them.”
While public sentiment was firmly on Lucille’s side, there are many parts of her story that don’t seem to add up. For instance, if she was so certain that Barney was insane, and if he had been as abusive and cruel as she had claimed, then how could she in good conscience abandon all four of her children? Those who knew Godleski best vouched for his character; his former employer called him a “model employee”, and friends labeled him a “devoted father” and an “ideal husband” who never touched alcohol. So who knew the real Barney, and who knew the real Lucille? If walls could speak, the Godleski home might be able to answer these questions.

Barney and Lucille were just teenagers when they met. He was from Shamokin, she was from Mount Carmel. When he accepted a position in the coal mines of Williamstown, their future seemed bright. The young couple bought a home in Lykens, made many friends, and were soon blessed with four bright, beautiful children. By all accounts, the ballad of Barney and Lucille Godleski should have been a Coal Region success story. But, somewhere along the way, things went horribly wrong. Twelve years later, Barney Godleski, now 31 years of age, had traded his spacious home on East Main Street for a cramped cell on F-tier of the Dauphin County Prison. He would die inside this very cell.
Shortly after five o’clock on the morning of July 22, 1932, the body of Barney Godleski was found hanging in his cell after a prison guard was alerted to a noise that sounded like a “death struggle” on the uppermost tier, Tier F. The guard raced to the cell, lit a match, and discovered the body dangling from the steel bars, with a noose made from the sleeves of a blue shirt. The warden and the prison’s night watchman cut down the body and the coroner, Howard Milliken, was notified.
“We’ve been expecting it,” said one of the inmates who was interviewed by a Harrisburg newspaper. “He didn’t want to live.” Only a week earlier, Godleski had attempted to hang himself with a belt, but his attempt failed after the belt broke. The coroner, after examining Godleski’s body, said that his head was heavily bruised, and speculated that Godleski had attempted to kill himself during the night by ramming his head into the steel bars of his cell. When that failed, he used his shirt to hang himself.
“Barney had taken off his shirt,” said Edward Albright, the guard who discovered the body. “One sleeve he tied around his neck, the other around the bars at the rear of his cell.”
According to prison staff and inmates, Godleski had been exhibiting bizarre behavior ever since his arrival. He refused to speak to anyone unless his back was turned, and he refused to sleep on his cot, preferring the cold cement floor. “He told us he was afraid he’d fall off and hurt himself,” explained one of the prison officials.
Ironically, it was Lucille Godleski who made the funeral arrangements. Her anger had given way to pity. “I thought this would happen,” was the only thing she said, when asked about the suicide of the man she had wanted to see hang only a week earlier. She ordered the body taken to the home of her father, Frank Sienkiewicz, who was now living in Dornsife. The funeral was held the following morning at St. Anthony’s Church in Brady (Coal Township) and his body was laid to rest at St. Patrick’s Catholic Cemetery in Trevorton, alongside the graves of the very children he had murdered.

It’s fair to say that the deaths of the Godleski children put tremendous strain on the families involved. Just one month after the funerals of her husband and three of her children, Lucille Godleski was arrested for disorderly conduct, thrown in jail, and fined five dollars after causing a scene in Harrisburg. According to Paul Mowery, who was a bookkeeper for the Keystone Broadcasting Company, Lucille had shown up at the radio station offices at the Governor Hotel, insisting that she had been offered a contract to appear on the station and talk about the murders. When Mowery told her that he was not aware of such a contract, she became “indignant and boisterous”, and when police arrived she began shouting profanities, and claimed that prison officials had cheated her out of her “right” to kill Barney Godleski.
In February of the following year, Lucille’s father suffered a stroke while a patient at a hospital in Philadelphia, where he had gone to receive treatment from a lingering illness. Frank Sienkiewicz, who worked for many years as a miner in Shamokin, was only 56 at the time of his death. Lucille’s mother, Stanislawa (Stella) Sienkiewicz, passed away in March of 1934 at the age of 53. They are also buried at St. Patrick’s Cemetery in Trevorton. Four months after Stella’s death, a son named Henry was fatally injured in an explosion at the Alaska Colliery near Mount Carmel.
Unfortunately, there are no records describing whatever became of Lucille and Helen. An obituary for Stella Sienkiewicz states that she had a daughter, Lucy Gladeskie, who lived in New York at the time of her death in 1934. Did she marry a man named Gladeskie, or was this simply a newspaper misspelling of Godleski? If she did go to New York, did she take her lone surviving daughter Helen with her? If anyone out there knows the answer to these questions, I would love to find out how their story ends.

Coming up next…

Ireland’s Loftus Hall is considered by many to be the most haunted location on all the Emerald Isle. But the most infamous story of Loftus Hall begins not with terror, but with romance… with a beautiful young girl falling madly in love with… the devil.

Plus, Weirdo Family member Brad Hicks describes the experience as “cool… and creepy as hell”. We’ll tell you what he meant by that.

These stories and more when Weird Darkness returns.

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This coming Saturday is the very first episode for a horror host who is just starting out, and we’re having a Weirdo Watch Party to give him support – and of course, to have fun! This Saturday, August 8th horror host Professor Will Shivers launches the new show “Staying Scared” while hosting the 1962 horror flick, “Carnival of Souls”. The Weirdo Watch party is free, and while you watch the movie with us, you can jump into the chatroom with me and other Weirdo family members to trade snarky comments about the film – and Professor Will Shivers says he DOES plan to be in the chatroom with us for this, his premiere episode! It’s this Saturday August 8th at 9pm Central Time – that’s 7pm Pacific, 8pm Mountain, 10pm Eastern on the Weirdo Watch Party page at WeirdDarkness.com.

There are plenty of haunted places in Ireland, but none quite so haunted as Loftus Hall. The Loftus Hall haunting legend tells of a poor girl’s imprisonment – as well as a visit from the Devil himself – and ends with hauntings so vivid that, according to lore, spirits appear vividly in photographs. Because the hall has cycled through numerous owners over its vast history, determining who may still roam its ancient corridors poses a particularly eerie challenge.

Loftus Hall, though it may be one of Ireland’s many houses marked by the Devil, is still a lovely piece of architecture. Despite its dark history, the Hall elicits visitors from around the globe with its unique design and furnishings. Of course, ghost hunters have ventured there as well, many of whom have met with a seemingly paranormal welcome.

While the story behind Ireland’s most haunted house may span hundreds of years – and may be touched by elements of crime, danger, and tragedy – the tale continues to be engrossing for those who love a few shivers up their spines.

The most infamous ghost story of Loftus Hall begins not with a tragic demise but with a visit from the Devil himself. The legend claims that, during the Tottenham family’s residence in the 1700s, a terrible storm struck the coast. A ship washed up on the peninsula, and one young man who survived the ordeal found his way to the Hall, where he begged for shelter. The Tottenhams invited him in, and he remained as their guest for several weeks. During that time, he became quite close with the family’s youngest daughter, Anne.

While playing cards one night with the young visitor and several other guests, Anne dropped some of her cards. Upon leaning down to pick them up, she saw that the stranger had cloven hooves in place of feet. When she screamed in fright, the stranger revealed that he was actually the Devil in disguise.

As if to prove his identity, he transformed into a ball of fire and blasted through the roof, leaving a hole in his wake. From that moment on, the house supposedly experienced many strange phenomena. Some suggest the Hall’s eerie occurrences are due to a continued satanic presence.

Loftus Hall’s most infamous legend goes on to claim that, following the Devil’s departure, Anne was both traumatized and heartbroken, and her mental state soon collapsed. Her family, embarrassed by her erratic behavior, confined her to her chambers, where she remained until her passing around 1775.

Sadly, Anne was confined even after her ultimate end. Following her interment in a Wexford cemetery, locals were concerned she would somehow escape, and her tomb was soon sealed with cement to prevent this gruesome possibility. While these locals may have sought to prevent the Devil – or grave-robbers – from reaching her remains, they perhaps fretted Anne would somehow rise from the grave.

Mysteriously, the hole in Loftus Hall’s roof through which the Devil allegedly made his fiery escape does not stay repaired. The Tottenhams attempted to patch the rift directly following the Devil’s exit, but it simply fell through again.

The family conducted an exorcism meant to drive the Devil away, but as the hole persisted, his presence seemed to linger. Eventually, the family acquiesced the hole’s presence, leading many modern-day visitors to photograph the gap. One owner of the Hall fully accepted the rift, claiming the Devil could come and go as he pleased.

Visitors to the Hall can still observe the anomalous section of the ceiling. One portion appears offset from the rest, as if it still strains to fall through again.

One alternative to the infamous Loftus Hall legend claims the shipwrecked visitor who fell in love with Anne intended to marry her; however, when he asked her father’s permission, Tottenham turned the man away due to his low status. Anne allegedly never recovered from the heartbreak of the stranger’s dismissal, leading her parents to lock her away and fabricate a devilish tale to save face.

Another theory proposes Anne became pregnant with the stranger’s child. To hide the illegitimate pregnancy, the Tottenhams shut Anne away until she could deliver. According to this theory, Anne tragically passed during either pregnancy or childbirth. The tale of the Devil’s visit was then invented to explain away the ordeal.

Loftus Hall stood abandoned for many years. Even then, the grounds still attracted much morbid attention. In the early 20th century, the Loftus family – responsible for the estate’s title – disseminated and went bankrupt, leaving the hall to the Benedictine family.

The Hall would change hands frequently, even acting as a school and a convent for periods of time. Many were afraid to attend Mass there, however, due to the Hall’s devilish reputation. In 1983, the estate was purchased to serve as a hotel, but the new owner perished in the Hall, once again leaving it vacant. Soon after, Satanists allegedly began to gather there to hold meetings and rituals. These sessions continued for around a decade, and locals knew to avoid the area.

In 2011 the Hall was purchased, and its new owners began plans to refurbish it to its former glory. The new owners were well aware of the Hall’s paranormal history and attraction, leading them to admit curious ghost-hunting parties for investigations.

During the Hall’s renovation in the 1870s, the owners reportedly made a startling and gruesome discovery: the skeletal remains of an infant hidden inside the walls. The child’s identity and parentage remain unknown, though some believe the discovery supports the theory of Anne’s pregnancy. The remains were even discovered in the tapestry room, where Anne was locked away for many years. 

The circumstances surrounding the child’s fate are still unclear, whether they passed from natural causes, during birth, or – according to some theoriests – from a nefarious deed at the hands of the Tottenhams.

Perhaps due to this infamy, many claim the tapestry room is the most haunted room in Loftus Hall.

The first building to stand on what is now Loftus Hall’s estate was constructed around the year 1200. This house, built by Raymond Le Gros, was originally called “the Hall at Houseland.” However, this building did not last. In 1350, the Black Plague was at its height, and the Le Gros family elected to tear down the old hall to replace it with a new one further down their peninsula – away from the all-consuming reach of the plague.

This new building was called Redmond Hall, or simply, “the Hall.” After centuries, the structure eventually transformed into the infamous Loftus Hall. Even at its inception, the estate was surrounded by disease and tragedy.

Because of its rich history imbued with tales of otherworldly phenomena, Loftus Hall has attracted much attention from paranormal groups. In 2015, the team behind the popular show Ghost Adventures visited the Hall and included their experiences in the Halloween episode of the show’s ninth season.

A 2016 TV special called Irish Ghost Hunters toured the house and claimed to experience many strange phenomena. Novice ghost hunters have also made the pilgrimage to the area to film and write about their own adventures.

The house has also attracted attention from professional filmmakers. One project began filming in 2012, and another was announced back in 2006. Small, independent films have also been made about the Hall due to its infamous reputation. The 2017 film The Lodgers was even filmed on the estate.

Ireland sports many haunted houses, but Loftus Hall is one of the most infamous and has frequently been called the most haunted house on the island. Over the years, reports of several resident ghosts have surfaced – one of whom may even be the Devil himself.

Visitors often report an uneasy feeling or strange sounds both outside and inside the Hall. While many houses could claim similar phenomena, the truly unique aspect of Loftus Hall is its extended history – tales of its spirits have persisted for centuries.

In the late 1700s and early 1800s, the Hall’s residents reported many strange and seemingly unexplainable incidents, which they attributed to a ghostly or demonic presence. They even hired a priest, Father Thomas Broaders, to investigate the predicament.

Broaders performed an exorcism on the house which supposedly proved successful – even the priest’s own headstone mentions the event. Given the purported hauntings that have persisted since that time, however, many believe the likelihood of his success is slim.

Even before the recorded history of Loftus Hall itself, its land may have been a site for paranormal and spiritual activity. Legend claims that, long before the construction of any large hall, the land was a spiritually significant location for the druids of the area.

Wexford, the county in which the Hall resides, was filled with tombs and standing stones for thousands of years before the Loftus family had ever seen its soil. Druids – a high-ranking class in ancient Celtic cultures – were very in tune with nature and revered the land as sacred.

Reports of ghostly phenomena have persisted ever since Anne Tottenham’s passing. Many claim to hear horses inside and around the house, even when none are present. People have claimed to hear voices, witness poltergeist activity, and even suffer panic attacks on the grounds. Even alleged photographic evidence seems to corroborate the existence of at least two spirits.

In 2015, a young Englishman named Thomas Beavis took a photo of the Hall. When he later viewed the picture, he noticed the ghostly shape of a young girl with an older womanstanding next to her. He initially attributed the sight to a window reflection but disregarded this explanation upon closer inspection.

The photo quickly went viral online and has yet to be debunked or proved as a hoax. When asked about the photo, Beavis said, “The girl could be the spirit of Anne Tottenham still walking around Loftus Hall. It could have been some strange occurrence because of a supernatural power, but I don’t know. Normally, I am a guy that believes in what he sees, but with this, I still don’t understand what’s going on in that photo.”

Loftus Hall’s centuries-long history is thick with darkness and tragedy. The estate’s land was the site of many conflicts in the late 12th century, and many lives were lost on the spot where the Hall now stands.

In the mid-1600s, the Irish Confederate conflicts brought repeated brawls on the Hall. Even then, a handful of people staved off onslaughts from nearly 100 soldiers. Not until 1666 did Henry Loftus gain ownership of the Hall and grant its current title.

Anne Trottenham’s mother, Anne Loftus, also passed in the house. Even before the Trottenhams’ ordeal, the house had already seen its share of sickness, conflict, and tragedy.

In recent years, Loftus Hall has been refurbished and opened for visitors. For a fee, guests can take a 45-minute tour to learn about the estate’s history, as well as its infamous hauntings. Perhaps you’ll catch a glimpse of Anne Tottenham or one of the Hall’s numerous other alleged spirits. The Hall also offers Halloween tours and, if you are truly brave, paranormal lockdowns on certain occasions.

This happened years ago. My best friend and I were driving around the small town we lived in. Me in the passenger seat and him driving. We would do this all the time. 

When we were bored or just didn’t want to be at home, we would “cruise” around and tell jokes, parody songs we loved, and tell each other ghost stories. That night was jokes and laughing.

We had already been driving around for an hour or so that night and it was near midnight. We had turned down main street heading west after just leaving the only convenience store in town.
My best friend was Jimmy. Crazy and side splittingly funny 99% of the time. No different that night. We had gone a block down main and he yells, “RIGHT TURN!” And swing the wheel hard down a street that had an old feed store on the right, and an old video store with an alleyway behind it on the left.

At the entrance of the alley was a simple street light. We got onto the street and he stopped laughing instantly with eyes wide. I saw the creature a split second after he did.

It was on the right hand side near the feed store. We thought it was a dog, but it was built strange…..

Long front legs and rather short back legs. Which seemed even stranger when it took two quick jumps and ended up under the street light.
Heres why that is strange. That creature took two jumps right? Two jumps and cleared over 55 feet from where it was standing to where it stopped and turned to look at us.

It looked SIMILAR to a dog. A dog like head and body except for a heavily muscled front legs and very short back legs. So short that there didn’t seem anyway that it could jump like that.

We both piped up “what the HELL is that??” Just as we said that it ran jumped into the alley with us right behind it.

There was no way possible for this thing to get out of the alley. No exit at the other end. We were literally a split second behind it……it was gone. Just gone. We raced down the alley thinking it actually made it to the end. Nothing.

We looked everywhere in the general vicinity and still nothing.

We then drove to the supermarket parking lot to discuss what we had just seen and try to rationalize it and identify.
Now, this was before the internet and Google. The only description I can give you is this, remember the demon dogs from Ghostbusters?
The gate keeper and key master? It was built like that, only a little slimmer.

We sat and talked for a time and the local town cop who was a friend pulled up to chat and kill time.

We were hesitant to tell him but excited at the same time. As Jimmy described it, the cops eyes widened and he got fidgety and nervous. He didn’t say much as to what it was or what he thought it was.
“You saw it!! DIDN’T YOU??” Jimmy almost yelled it at him.

Our police officer friend proceeded to tell us where he saw it and when. The opposite end of the alley and about 20 minutes before we did. And it was the same situation. He saw it, chased it, lost in a split second after it jumped into the alley.

Haven’t seen anything like that again, and never had a decent explanation about what we saw…..cool and creepy as hell…..

When Weird Darkness returns…

Have you heard of the poor girl who was bullied and pushed down into a sewer by those whom she thought were her friends? I’ll tell you the story. And while this episode is not a creepypasta episode, so all the stories are supposed to be non-fiction, that is… true, I will be sharing this urban legend anyway – because when it comes to urban legends, sometimes it’s best to err on the side of caution and simply assume they are true.

Plus, I received some nasty reviews on Apple Podcasts about the show last month that I’ll share with you inside the Chamber of Comments.

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The pandemic has hit all of us in ways we never expected, but I’m sure we would all agree that the poorest members of society were hit harder than most. And when the limited help dries up, which is inevitable, many will find themselves tumbling into unmanageable debt, drastically behind on essential bills and being hounded by collectors  – a huge sinkhole of debt opening up right beneath them, sending them plummeting into poverty. But my friends at CAP have a unique solution to bring relief to these souls. Christians Against Poverty (aka CAP) not only provides the immediate financial need – but they also provide resources and training so the family or individual can climb out of poverty and stay out of poverty. The financially struggling are provided the tools and education to build a more solid financial future. Your one-time gift of $40 can provide emergency aid for a single person; $80 helps a couple living together, or you can give a one-time gift of just $120 to bring aid to an entire family. Help someone in poverty immediately AND in the future with a single gift to CAP. Make your donation now at CAP1160.com, that’s C-A-P-11-60-dotcom, you can also find CAP on the Hope In the Darkness page at WeirdDarkness.com. This is the only week I’m asking this of you – so please give today. CAP1160.com.

There is an urban legend about a 17-year-old student in Indiana by the name of Carmen Winstead, who was killed when she was pushed into an open sewer by five girls at her school whom she thought were her friends. At the time, the school was having a fire drill. Carmen was new to the area, her father had recently lost his job and had to move to another state in order to find new employment, and the relocation mid-term had been hard on Carmen, who had to leave her friends behind and attend a new school in Indiana.
Carmen had a hard time making new friends at the school as no one was particularly interested in befriending the new girl and initially she would spend the majority of her time alone walking from class to class and spending her breaks alone speaking to no one. Eventually however, she started hanging around with a group of five other girls, whom she considered to be her friends, however she soon discovered they had been talking about her behind her back and spreading vile rumors about her around the school.
When she confronted them about it, they took to bullying her everyday, making her life a complete hell. One day, after the bullying had become to much for her, she had decided to stay behind after school and tell the head teacher what had been going on, but she was killed before being able to do so. After lunchtime, the school announced that they would be having a fire drill, and when the alarm bell went off, all the students made their way out into the yard where roll call would be taken. The five girls saw Carmen standing near an open sewer and decided to embarrass her in front of the other students, they crowded round her, called her names and pushed her around, until she finally tripped and fell down into the sewer. The five girls thought this highly amusing and were giggling when the teacher called out Carmen’s name, and one of them replied that she was down in the sewer. The teachers looked down the manhole and could see Carmen’s body lying at the bottom among all the sludge, and they called the police. Before long her body was recovered. Her neck had broken when her head hit the ladder, and her face was badly damaged when she finally hit the concrete at the bottom.
The students were all questioned, but as no one except for the girls who pushed her had seen anything, all guilty parties managed to lie their way out of it. They all told the same story, that she had lost her balance and had fallen in, and the death was eventually ruled an accident.
Several months later many students at the school started receiving emails and messages on their MySpace accounts titled ‘They Pushed Her’, which told the truth of what had really happened that day. Carmen had not accidentally fallen into the sewer, but had been pushed. The emails did not disclose the identities of the guilty parties involved, but rather threatened that there would be horrible consequences should they not confess. Many thought this was a horrible prank to be played on those with the memory of the tragedy still fresh in peoples minds, but the five girls involved in Carmen’s school were by now extremely worried that someone knew what had happened and was threatening them. A few days later one of the girls involved in Carmen’s death was at home taking a shower, when she began hearing a strange cackling sound that appeared to be coming from the drain, and quickly exited the bathroom in fear. That night when her mother went to her room to say goodnight she found her daughter’s room empty, and after calling all of her friends and their parents, eventually called the police. They scoured the area and eventually found her, dead and disfigured and left to be found… in the sewer. Then another girl was found. One of the five friends, in fact. And another… and another… until all five girls had somehow met the same fate. Dead and disfigured at the bottom of sewers with their necks broken and their faces torn off from the fall.
While you would think that would be the end of it, Carmen is apparently still not satisfied. According to the urban legend, over the years she has become a twisted entity whose sole purpose is to have the truth of her death known. Not content only with the deaths of the guilty parties, today she will visit anyone who does not believe the story and tell it to others. So you know now why I’m telling it to you – and why you should share this episode… just in case. Because, whether it be by a drain, toilet or shower, Carmen will come and get you in the night as you sleep, and you will wake up in the sewer hearing her cackling before you meet the fate of the others she has killed down there. Unless of course you believer her story… and share it with others.

We’ll step into the Chamber of Comments in just a moment, but a quick reminder: if you’re looking to decorate the walls of your home office, bedroom, dorm, living area, etc., all room décor in the Weird Darkness store is on sale for 30% off this Thursday and Friday, August 6th and 7th. Check out all the posters, wall art, pillows and tapestries and save 30% if you purchase them this Thursday and Friday. And of course, all profits I receive go to research and education on depression. Check out the weird and dark home décor by clicking on STORE at WeirdDarkness.com.

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 Ian): Hi, listening from the other side of the pond and just want to say what a great job you are doing in keeping us all entertained or creeped out depending on the subject! Like you and so many of your listeners I have battled the black dog for many years and applaud your support for all fellow sufferers, please don’t ever let those who have little understanding of this illness distract from this valuable message, it means so much to know that we are not alone wherever in the world we may be. I eagerly await the next episode and thanks again for the hours of entertainment.  –Ian

REPLY: You are very welcome, Ian – I am the lucky one here, it is a privilege to entertain those of you who somehow find me fun to listen to.

(Review from podscoff): No creepypastas please! We like the real stuff my guy, I consider myself and my wife weirdos for sure and proud to, however we’re not too big on the pastas of the creepy persuasion.  We are amazed at your abilities as a journalist to scoop up all the facts and nitty gritty details about whatever your content is in that particular episode. You’ve helped me through so much keep it up sir.”

REPLY: Thanks for the review, podscoff – I love that even though you were asking me to stop doing something, you gave me five stars anyway.  That’s classy, and I appreciate it.  I probably won’t be dropping creepypastas anytime soon, as enough people seem to like them that I’d anger more people than please if they were to disappear.  Sorry.  And you are also giving me way too much credit when you call me a journalist.  I don’t dig up the stories, all I do is share stories others have written – the authors I give credit to towards the end of the show are the ones who deserve all the credit when it comes to the content, the investigations, interviews, writing, all of it.  I’m just a guy who appreciates what they do and narrates it so others can appreciate it too.  It is very rare that I’ll write something myself.  When I do, you’ll hear me credit myself at the end of the show just as I do with the everyone else.

(Email from Aron): Hello, I’ve been listening to your podcast for the last year.  I love your stories, they always keep me on the edge of my seat and never disappoint. I’m a paramedic and often have to drive long distances to take patients from one hospital to another. Your podcast keeps me company and make the hours of driving fly by.  I really appreciate that you always talk about depression and IFRED. as someone who had depression, anxiety and PTSD its always nice knowing that there are people out there like me. Keep on what your doing and I’ll keep looking forward towards your next episode.

REPLY: Thanks Aron. I love the thought that Weird Darkness is playing in a vehicle that speeds to the rescue whenever called – that makes my day! You say you “had depression” – which sounds like you’ve somehow either grown out of it or had it cured in some way, and that is amazing if true! As a paramedic, I think you’re going to like what we’re planning for our hope for depression fundraiser this year – my hope is that it will increase awareness so people will get help, and hopefully make your job easier by having fewer people harming themselves because they feel hopeless. We’re working on the skeleton of it right now, you can get a sneak peek at DarknessChallenge.com. Thanks for everything you do, Aron!

(Castbox review from Nick Hoffman): podcast is close to perfect, gets ruined/turned off at the lame bible verse.

REPLY: Sorry you feel that way, Nick – but I am glad you listened that far into the podcast – that means that in most cases, after more than an hour you gave up listening in the last twenty seconds. I’m okay with that – and glad to have you listening.

Now for the angry reviews I told you about… and they are all from the same person. Check this out…

(Apple podcast review on July 22nd from someone that calls themselves “YouTube Is Fascit”): Literally have to get through two separate sets of commercials to even start the first dang story. It’s ridiculous. I’d love to rate five stars but at this rate I’m barely subscribed as it is. It’s not relaxing, it’s loud and absolutely irritating. I’m talking to you Darren.

(Apple podcast review on July 24th from YouTube Is Fascit): Good stories sometimes great but overloaded with commercials.

(Apple Podcast Review, one star, on July 31st from, again, YouTube is Fascit): “Each episode littered with tons of commercials which will disturbingly force you awake if you’re falling asleep. If you want to get annoyed give this dude a sub. If you love being disturbed by sudden loud commercials give this dude a sub. If not for either, find another podcast. It’s not for you. Not for me either until this money-hungry dude gets a grip and learns to respect his subscribers on a base level of decency.”

REPLY: Well, Fascit… I would reply politely to you as I do everyone else, but I see you’ve left three negative posts within nine days, yet have never reached out to me personally with your issue, which is what an upright individual would do. You obviously kept listening after the first negative review, as you felt the need two days later to leave another, more terse review. You kept listening… because seven days later you left yet another negative review. So if you leave a fourth negative review after today, I can only assume you are still listening and now are just enjoying the attention. I don’t know what I’ve done to warrant such anger, and if you want to contact me personally we can discuss it, but this will be the first and last time I acknowledge your existence in the Chamber of Comments – and I’m only doing so now in order to let you know that I’m on to you.

So we don’t leave the chamber with a bad taste in our mouths, let’s end with a positive one…

(Review from GettoGelfling): Weird darkness is awesome. It gets me through many hours at work and many of dog walks. I’m a new fan but definitely hooked.

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.

“The Axe Murders of Lykens” from Pennsylvania Oddities

“The Urban Legend of Carmen Winstead” by Paul Middleton, edited and added-to by Darren Marlar

“The Woman Who Made Soap” by Romeo Vitelli for Providentia

“The Girl Who Fell In Love With The Devil” by Laura Allan for Ranker

“The Thing In The Light” by Weirdo Family member Brad Hicks

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… “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves…” — Colossians 1:13

And a final thought… “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” – Robert F. Kennedy

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

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