“FACTUAL FRIGHTS FUELED FAMOUS PHANTOMS” and 4 More Terrifying True Stories! #WeirdDarkness

“FACTUAL FRIGHTS FUELED FAMOUS PHANTOMS” and 4 More Terrifying True Stories! #WeirdDarkness

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IN THIS EPISODE: Weirdo family member Jason Miller tells us about the incident that initially piqued his curiosity about all things dark and strange. (What Got Me Interested in the Paranormal) *** A hot-shot New York advertising executive mysteriously vanished in the middle of Wyoming – leaving his car running, and clothes scattered everywhere. What happened to Don Kemp? (The Mysterious Disappearance of Don Kemp) *** I’ll tell you about the scariest movie I’ve ever seen. It’s not a horror movie, nor is it a psychological thriller. It’s a documentary, and the reason it is so horrifying is because it has happened to me. We’ll look a little closer at the film, “The Nightmare”. (Nightmare Documentary) *** When a famous person dies, their fans mourn the loss. The news spreads nationwide, sometimes worldwide depending on the popularity of the performer. But just because they’ve gone from this mortal coil, doesn’t mean they won’t come back as ghostly entities. And in some cases, their ghosts are just as famous as they were when they were still alive. 
(Living Dead Celebrities) *** Horrible hauntings are everywhere. But do you know the secret, gruesomereal-life stories behind some of the most famous spooky sites? (Factual Frights That Fueled Famous Phantoms)

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

LINKS, EPISODES, AND PAGES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE…
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STORY AND MUSIC CREDITS/SOURCES…
(Over time links can and may become invalid, disappear, or have different content.)
“Living Dead Celebrities” by Rebecca Shortall: http://bit.ly/30l4Ls7
“Factual Frights That Fueled Famous Phantoms” by Harrison Tenpas: http://bit.ly/2Hhkktg
“What Got Me Interested in the Paranormal” by Weirdo family member Jason Miller
“The Mysterious Disappearance of Don Kemp” by Melissa Brinks: http://bit.ly/2TOzWJA
“Nightmare Documentary” by Jacob Shelton: http://bit.ly/2ZhjDGg
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TRANSCRIPT:

Stories and content in Weird Darkness can be disturbing for some listeners and is intended for mature audiences only. Parental discretion is strongly advised.

Folklore tends to link real-life horrors with eerie paranormal occurrences. Whether it’s a cold-blooded murder, a terrible fire, or a tragic suicide that features in these violent stories behind ghosts, they’re all said to leave behind some spiritual mark. Even if you don’t believe in paranormal activity, these true background stories are sure to send a chill down your spine. Do you know the bloody real-life events that inspired The Amityville Horror? Have you ever considered what ax-wielding angry spirits might be lurking in Lizzie Borden’s home? And why do homes designed by Frank Lloyd Wright seem particularly prone to ghostly activity? Listen on to discover the freaky, frightening true stories behind some of the most notorious hauntings of all time.

I’m Darren Marlar and this is Weird Darkness.

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

Coming up in this episode…

Weirdo family member Jason Miller tells us about the incident that initially piqued his curiosity about all things dark and strange.

A hot-shot New York advertising executive mysteriously vanished in the middle of Wyoming – leaving his car running, and clothes scattered everywhere. What happened to Don Kemp?

I’ll tell you about the scariest movie I’ve ever seen. It’s not a horror movie, nor is it a psychological thriller. It’s a documentary, and the reason it is so horrifying is because it has happened to me.

When a famous person dies, their fans mourn the loss. The news spreads nationwide, sometimes worldwide depending on the popularity of the performer. But just because they’ve gone from this mortal coil, doesn’t mean they won’t come back as ghostly entities. And in some cases, their ghosts are just as famous as they were when they were still alive.

Horrible hauntings are everywhere. But do you know the secret, gruesome real-life stories behind some of the mostfamous spooky sites?

While listening, be sure 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, watch old horror movies, find my other podcast – “The Church of the Undead”, plus you can visit the “Hope In The Darkness” page if you are struggling with depression or dark thoughts. You can find all of that and more at WeirdDarkness.com.

By the way, Weird Darkness is in the running to be voted “Best Horror and Crime Podcast” by Podcast Magazine – but I need your votes to make that happen! I have a link below in the show notes to take you to the voting page, and you can vote as often as you’d like, so please come back every day and vote again! And thanks in advance for doing so!

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

The Amityville House Hosted A Mass Murder: Immortalized in the hit Amityville Horror film franchise, this house in the quiet New York village of the same name supposedly hosts frightening specters. Still standing on Ocean Avenue with its iconic, eye-like windows, this home was the site of the infamous mass murder of the DeFeo family. In 1974, Ronald DeFeo, in an alleged state of demonic possession, shot his entire family to death as they slept. In 1976, George and Kathy Lutz, along with their three children, moved into the house. But they only stayed 28 days before they’d had enough. Aside from the typical bumps in the night, they encountered flies swarming the home, green slime oozing from the walls, and crucifixes turning upside down on their own. A Catholic priest was brought in in an attempt to cleanse the house, but he was told by a disembodied voice to “Get out!” It’s impossible to say whether that message was from the spirits of the slain DeFeos, or something more sinister. Regardless, the Lutz family decided to move out immediately.

Tortured Slaves Were Imprisoned In LaLaurie House: Located in the French Quarter of New Orleans, the 19th century charm of LaLaurie House belies a grim and bloody history. The house was home to Madame Marie Delphine LaLaurie, a prominent member of New Orleans high society. Legend has it that Ms. Laurie’s home caught fire in 1834, revealing in its destruction her evil hobbies and pastimes. Local folklore says that the home’s attic contained slaves held in small cages or nailed down to tables; shackled prisoners with their eyes and ears removed, fingernails ripped out, and mouths sewn shut; people flayed alive with open, festering wounds; and victims whose bones had been broken and reset to resemble grotesque, animal-like shapes. Considering the horrible acts that took place in LaLaurie House, it’s no wonder the building is considered to be one of the most haunted places in the region. Now remodeled as luxury apartments, occupants and visitors have reported hearing anguished screams bouncing off the walls, as well as seeing apparitions of slaves walking the balconies and yards.

The Lizzie Borden Home Was The Site Of Brutal Ax Murders: This one is likely not much of a surprise to anyone. There is an incredibly dark nursery rhyme that goes, “Lizzie Borden took an axe, and gave her mother forty whacks/when she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one.” This grim pair of couplets has been echoed by generations of children, and the century-old murders they detail took place in the house that still stands in Fall River, Massachusetts.  On August 4th, 1892, Lizzie Borden informed her maid of a grisly discovery: her father, dead on the sofa, bludgeoned and mutilated by hatchet. Her stepmother Abby was found upstairs, a victim of the same brutal fate. Since Lizzie was the only person home during the murders – and she reportedly had a rocky relationship with her father and stepmother – she was immediately a suspect in the crime. Evidence, however, proved scant and Borden was ultimately acquitted, with no one else ever being charged. The Borden House stands today as a bed and breakfast, where guests can stay in the master bedroom belonging to the slain couple. But they may not be alone: visitors have reported hearing creaking floors, seeing unexplained shadows, and event smelling a faint floral scent – maybe the lingering perfume of the late Abby Borden.

The Black Dahlia Murder Might Have Happened In John Sowden House: In the trendy neighborhood of Los Feliz in Los Angeles looms a hulking, Mayan-inspired building created by the legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The exterior has a brooding quality to it, but it’s the history of the home – and what may still be in it – that gives passersby the creeps. Commissioned and built in the 1920s by retired artist John Sowden, the house was purchased by Dr. George Hodel in 1945. Hodel was an acclaimed physician in the field of venereal disease, and his practice catered to many of Hollywood’s elite. The doctor was also rumored to host hedonistic sex parties in the labyrinth-like home, and was said to beat his children in the basement. But that’s not the most sinister act rumored to have taken place below ground in the Sowden house. In the early 2000s, Hodel’s son Steve claimed that his father had been behind the infamous Black Dahlia murder – the unsolved death and mutilation of Elizabeth Short – and that it took place in the basement of the John Sowden House.  While under investigation for the murder of Elizabeth Short, George Hodel fled the U.S. and spent his remaining days in Asia. Subsequent residents of the Sowden House have reported eerie occurrences in the home, including the sound of chains rattling, disembodied voices, and apparitions that appear to be Mr. Hodel himself.

Tuberculosis Patients Haunt Waverley Hills Sanitorium: Built in Louisville, Kentucky in 1926 to treat tuberculosis patients, the Waverly Hills Sanatorium saw thousands of deaths during its years of operation. Before medicines were developed to treat the disease, treatments ranged from crude to outright barbaric. With fresh air thought to be an effective remedy, patients were often left out in the elements, regardless of the season, or else placed in “sun rooms,”where their lungs would be exposed to ultraviolet light. There were bloodier treatments as well: the muscles and ribs of some patients were removed to allow the lungs to expand, or balloons were surgically implanted to expand the lungs by force – often with disastrous results.  Deaths occurred at a high rate, an estimated one per hour at the height of the epidemic. Waverly Hills had to develop an effective method of disposing of the bodies, which they did with a literal body chute – a tunnel below the grounds that brought the deceased to a nearby railway, out of the sight of the living. This “death tunnel,” along with the rest of the hospital, is said to be a hotspot for paranormal activity. Since the hospital was closed in 1982, visitors have reported hearing footsteps and disembodied voices, seeing strange shadows, and even encountering a young ghost named “Timmy,” who is said to roll a ball around on the building’s upper floors.

A Hanged Woman Appears In Sauer Castle: With its towering, gothic architecture – complete with a widow’s walk – Kansas City’s Sauer Castle certainly conjures the image of the classic haunted house. This historic structure overlooking the Kansas River is said to be one of the state’s most haunted locations.  Built by New York businessman Anton Sauer, the castle was home to his wife and 12 children, one of whom died in infancy and was buried on the property. Local rumors suggest the entire Sauer family was buried on the property, but that’s just one of many bizarre tales attached to the home – it’s also said that a woman hanged herself in the castle’s tall tower, and that it holds buried bodies in a secret tunnel that leads to the river.  With a long, dark history, it’s no wonder that neighbors of Sauer Castle (now fenced off and crumbling) report strange lights and voices coming from the home. But perhaps the spookiest story of all is the local legend that every Halloween a man and woman can be seen dancing in the tower.

The Taliesin Massacre Destroyed Frank Lloyd Wright’s Life: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin is a home he built in Spring Green, Wisconsin as a personal refuge. Having been exiled professionally from Chicago after fleeing to Europe with the wife of a client, Wright retreated to Spring Green in an effort to re-establish his practice.  Taliesin was built in 1909, and Wright’s previously wed lover Martha “Mamah” Cheney moved in in 1911. Mrs. Cheney was said to be unusually strong willed and stubborn, and in August of 1914, she abruptly fired a loyal servant. Julian Carlton, the disgruntled employee, entered the home and doused gasoline around two rooms where Mrs. Cheney, her children, and some guests were having lunch. Surrounding the home’s terrified occupants with a literal ring of fire, Carlton then ran into the flames, striking the victims with a hatchet and killing seven. Frank Lloyd Wright was said to never be the same after the terrible event. As the site of a brutal massacre, it’s no surprise that Taliesin is said to be haunted. Visitors have reported windows and doors opening and closing by themselves, along with a vision of Mrs. Cheney herself – though she does not appear angry, just restless and lost.

Ghostly Children Appear In The Villisca Ax Murder House: On June 9th, 1912 in Villisca, Iowa, one of the most heinous unsolved crimes in U.S. history unfolded. J.B. Moore, his wife Sarah, and six children (four of their own and two of their friends) were brutally murdered. As the family and their guests slept that hot summer evening, an intruder (or intruders) crept into their home and, one by one, bludgeoned each victim to death with an ax.  Though there was no shortage of suspects in the Villisca Ax Murders – ranging from a state senator to a railway transient – no one was ever convicted. Perhaps it’s this injustice that keeps the Moore family around the house today. Now a tourist attraction, the Villisca Ax Murder house offers guided tours of the historical crime scene. But potential visitors should beware: patrons have reported hearing children’s voices, and seeing falling lamps, moving ladders, and flying objects.

A Mob Hit Happened At Kreischer Mansion: On New York’s Staten Island sits Kreischer Mansion, a stately gothic structure built by brickworks magnate Balthasar Kreischer in the 1800s. This sprawling home was actually one of two twin mansions Kreischer built atop Kreischer Hill for his two sons; its mate was torn down during the Great Depression. Balthasar Kreischer passed away just one year after the mansions were built, and shortly thereafter, the family’s factory burned down, causing their fortune to suddenly go up in smoke. Kreischer’s elder son Edward took his own life in the still remaining mansion with a single bullet to the temple. But the violence in Kreischer mansion did not end there: in 2005, a local mafia boss ordered the property’s caretaker to carry out a hit at the home, and he did just that. The killer then dismembered the body and burned it in the basement’s furnace. Local lore suggests this history of tragedy and bloodshed has a left a mark on the mansion. Neighbors have reported strange lights and voices coming from the house, although the ghost of Robert McKelvey, the mansion’s Mafioso victim, has yet to appear.

Lemp Mansion Inhabitants Committed Suicide: In 1838, Johann Adam Lemp – one of the first Americans to develop German lager – settled in St. Louis, Missouri and began building his ill-fated empire. By the late 1800s, his Falstaff lager was sold all over the U.S. But then Prohibition rolled around, and in 1922 the brewery was sold off for a fraction of its previous worth.  Unspeakable tragedy seemed to follow the Lemp family, and by 1950 four different Lemp descendants had taken their own lives in the mansion, all succumbing to fatal gunshot wounds. By the 1970s, the Lemp family had completely died out.  According to some, the walls of Lemp Mansion still tell the tragic tales of the family who built it. Said to be one of the most haunted places in America, the mansion now houses a restaurant and bed and breakfast, where guests have reported hearing voices, seeing glasses break and candles light themselves, and hearing a piano in the bar play.

The Sallie House Was The Site Of Surgery Gone Wrong: By the Missouri River Bluffs in Atchinson, Kansas sits the spectacularly haunted Sallie House. The house is said to still be occupied by its namesake, a young girl named Sallie who died in the home. Local legend describes a backstory that might explain her lingering presence. Accounts of Sallie’s death vary, but the popular consensus seems to be that in the early 1900s a young girl came to the home – then occupied by a doctor and his family – seeking treatment for appendicitis. The girl, in severe stomach pain, panicked when she saw the surgical tools surrounding the operating table, and the doctor was forced to hold her down and apply the ether necessary for anesthesia. Sallie died during surgery, and her last memories would be those of sheer terror, believing she was about to be subjected to grisly torture.  Sallie’s imprint of horror is said to still stain this quaint, two-story home. Full-bodied apparitions have been reported, along with objects flying through the air. The voice of a young girl, thought to be Sallie herself, has even been recorded by several paranormal investigators.

When Weird Darkness returns…

Weirdo family member Jason Miller tells us about the incident that initially piqued his curiosity about all things dark and strange.

A hot-shot New York advertising executive mysteriously vanished in the middle of Wyoming – leaving his car running, and clothes scattered everywhere. What happened to Don Kemp?

But first, when a famous person dies, their fans mourn the loss. The news spreads nationwide, sometimes worldwide depending on the popularity of the performer. But just because they’ve gone from this mortal coil, doesn’t mean they won’t come back as ghostly entities. And in some cases, their ghosts are just as famous as they were when they were still alive. That story is up next.

Celebrity ghosts! They’re just like regular ghosts, and they love a good haunting. Apparently some of these famous folks still haunt this mortal coil, appearing in mirrors and messing around with household objects – all the usual ghostly stuff. Maybe they have unfinished business, or maybe they just like their fans too much to move on. Whatever the reason, if you hold a séance in the right place at the right time you may just get your chance encounter with one of the ghostly elite.

Many people claim to have felt the presence of a famous phantom. Maybe they’re liars. What would a famous ghost want with a regular ol’ non-famous person anyhow? But the places famous ghosts regularly appear vary from hotels they (ahem) haunted during their living moments to their old houses. Some of these ghostly celebrities include those who were at the height of fame in the old Hollywood era to those who perished more recently.

Marilyn Monroe was found dead due to a barbiturate overdose on August 5, 1962, at her Los Angeles home. Rumor has it that she still haunts the Brentwood home where her body was found, but she also supposedly makes the occasional ghostly appearance at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in her favorite Cabana Room Suite. Monroe is said to haunt the full-length mirror in the hotel’s lobby and has been seen dancing in the hotel’s ballroom.

John Lennon has been spotted by a lot of famous folks including Paul McCartney, who had been recording one of Lennon’s unfinished symphonies at the time, and Oasis member Liam Gallagher. Lennon was shot by Mark David Chapman on December 8, 1980, just outside of the Dakota, his New York residence. Apparently, this is the place that Lennon’s ghost returns to the most.

Elvis Presley, The King of Rock and Roll, met his untimely end when he died of a heart attack on August 16, 1977. Presley was found in the bathroom of his home in Graceland, TN, and reportedly still haunts the property. But Elvis gets around; he’s also been spotted by stagehands at the Las Vegas Hilton, wearing his famous white-sequined jumpsuit, as well as at the old RCA recording studios. Workers at the former music recording studio (which is now a TV studio) have reported instances where someone brings up Elvis in conversation and unexplained noises appear on the sound systems and the studio lights begin to flicker. Spooky stuff!

Singer Amy Winehouse tragically died of alcohol poisoning in 2011 at the age of 27, becoming a member of the infamous 27 Club, but it seems she hasn’t quite left this plane yet. Pete Doherty, a close friend of Winehouse’s and the former member of The Libertines, was convinced that Winehouse was haunting his flat – so much so that he fled to Paris to get away from her ghostly presence.

Another member of the 27 Club and former lead singer of The Doors, Jim Morrison, died in a bathtub in Paris on July 3, 1971, from what is widely believed to have been a drug overdose. But his ghost traveled all the way from Paris to Los Angeles where he’s been seen in the bathroom of Mexico Restaurant Y Barra, which was built where The Doors’s preferred recording studio once was. His ghost was also apparently photographed near his grave in Paris, France in 1997.

Former Playboy Playmate Anna Nicole Smith actually told FHM that she hooked up with a ghost in 2004, so maybe she found her former paranormal paramour once she became a ghost herself. Smith died in room 607 of the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in 2007 and still haunts its halls, at least according to a guest named Stephanie Pont who claims to have seen Smith’s spirit roaming around the hotel.

Renowned escape artist Harry Houdini could not escape death’s clutches, and now he is apparently shackled to this mortal coil. He died from a ruptured appendix on October 31, 1926. – what a day to go out! Houdini’s ghost is said to haunt the premise of Jacki Gaughan’s Plaza Hotel in Las Vegas, NV where a Houdini tribute magic show is still hosted. Many of the hotel’s staff members believe that a ghost haunts the dressing rooms and makes its presence known by moving items around. And they believe that this ghost is none other than Houdini himself and that he’s hanging around to make sure their magic show tribute is up to his standards.

Lucille Ball’s ghost likes to party – you could even say she likes to have a ball! The I Love Lucy star died at age 77 from a ruptured aorta following open-heart surgery. But nothing keeps a good ghost down. The owners of Ball’s house have complained of party sounds coming from the attic, such as voices that sound as if they’re talking over loud music. Sounds as if Lucy has some ghost buddies over that she’s having a blast with up there. They’ve also mentioned supernatural happenings like furniture moving about of its own accord and household items disappearing and reappearing in different places.

The phrase “blonde bombshell” was coined to describe Jean Harlow – this girl originated one of the hottest descriptors in the business! But another bombshell broke when she died of kidney failure on June 7, 1937. However, it appears that Harlow has some unfinished business to attend to, as she was reportedly beaten viciously by her then-husband, Paul Bern, an MGM studio executive. Bern later killed himself in their home, but Harlow has stuck around. A family who lived in her home in the ’70s described hearing racking sobs, smelling mysterious perfume, and hearing a woman’s voice whispering, “Please help me.”

Joan Crawford’s daughter has claimed that she and her mother lived in a house that was already haunted. So, when Crawford died of a heart attack on May 10, 1977, it seems as though she joined the ghost party that was already raging. Apparently Joan and the other ghosts spend their time starting fires and trying to burn the house down. An exorcist was even hired to clear the home of malevolent spirits, and she referred to Crawford’s home as a “place of conspicuous negativity,” calling it an “Astral Central.”

The star of TV’s original Superman, George Reeves, now flies around in a more phantasmic sense, haunting his former home where he died from a gunshot wound to the head at the age of 45. Visitors to the home claim to have heard strange noises coming from Reeves’s old bedroom and once a film crew shooting at the house even saw him appear in full Superman regalia.

Orson Welles completely changed the face of cinema and has haunted film students for decades through Citizen Kane Film Studies screenings (though in a far less ghostly sense). But since he died of a heart attack at the age of 70 on October 11, 1985, he now also haunts some of his favorite dining spots too – specifically a hot spot that used to be the Ma Maison restaurant, which has since been turned into Sweet Lady Jane Bakery. Customers have reported sightings of Welles at his favorite corner table, noting that he only appears for a few seconds wearing all black and a wide-brimmed hat.

Marilyn Monroe isn’t the only celebrity ghost haunting the Roosevelt Hotel – she’s in good company as Montgomery Clift likes to spend his ghostly time there as well. Clift, a four-time Oscar nominee, died at the age of 45 and became a posthumous queer icon as he was revealed to be bisexual by Elizabeth Taylor at the GLAAD Media Awards in 2000. Clift now haunts the Roosevelt Hotel, specifically Room 928, where unexplained noises can be heard even though the room is empty. Not only that, but the phone is frequently found off the hook and the room is always cold – presumably from a ghostly chill.

Now for a change of pace – Abraham Lincoln may not be a movie star or a music icon, but he loves a good haunting as much as the next celebrity ghost. U.S. President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth on April 14, 1865, at Ford’s Theater in Washington DC, but some White House staff have reported the occasional appearance of the former president wandering the building. Former First Lady Grace Coolidge claimed to have seen him in the Oval office by the window, and former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill also purported to have seen Abe while staying in the Lincoln Bedroom. Churchill emerged from the bathtub, with nothing on his person but a lit cigar, when he spotted the president’s ghost smirking at him.

This next story is from Weirdo family member Jason Miller, here is his story…

When I was young my family had moved to West Virginia. My parents had just bought a house and we moved in the Summer of 1989. Things were pretty normal from the start. I met my neighbor who would become my best friend, and I was like your normal kid. At the time we had an Atari so I played that like crazy, you know once a gamer always a gamer. But, I am getting off topic. My parents had setup my room diagonally from there room. My mother wanted to be able to look across the hallway into my room to make sure I didn’t roll out of my bed.

This is where things start getting interesting…

One night I was asleep and my mother felt the urge to wake up and look into my room. She had told me, not until I was about to graduate High School in 2004, that she had seen a black orb floating over my bed. When she saw it, it was like it noticed her and flew towards her and behind the the headboard of their bed. After that only her and I would hear and see things.

Fast forward 3-6 years, and my Grandmother and Aunt had come down from PA to visit. In a hospitable fashion, my parents offered to sleep in our family room downstairs, and my Grandmother took their bedroom, with my Aunt taking the Guest Room/Den right next to my room. One night, we were all asleep, and I had this urge to wake up for some reason. As I opened my eyes I saw a tall dark silhouette pointing what looked like a pistol at me. I freaked out! I exited the right side of my bed and ran to the farthest corner of my room. Remembering my parents were downstairs I stomped on the floor screaming at the top of my lungs for help, but nobody came. It felt like as loud as I could scream no one heard. After some time I went back to bed.

The next morning, I wake up and go to the door of my room. I hear my Grandmother, Aunt, Mother, and Father all in the kitchen talking. My Grandmother and Aunt ask my parents if they heard me last night. They replied yes. When my Grandmother and Aunt asked if why they didn’t check on me, my parents simply replied…it happens a lot.

In the Summer of 2000, we had moved out of that house and into a new one where we had the pastor of our church bless the house. We didn’t hear anything or see anything the remainder of the time in WV. I was curious though, ever since my experience with the shadow person I had gotten interested in the Paranormal and researched why I would see something like that. My mother and I were talking, and she had said that she didn’t want to tell me about the history of the house since I was too young. I said, well I’m 17 now and can handle what you have to have to say. She said that a family that used to own the house had be a little abusive with their kids and had used the room I was in as a makeshift hold cell to punish their children. They would lock their children in there. What I had researched had said that no one has die in place in order for it to haunted. All a place needs is enough dark energy, and boom it’s haunted.

After my mother told me this, it got me thinking. Was what I witnessed that night years ago a re-enactment of an event? Did what ever was possessing that house want me to know what happened?

The mystery of Don Kemp has haunted those closest to him since he vanished in 1982. Like many people who perished under bizarre circumstances, there are numerous theories about what happened to Kemp; some mundane, some supernatural. The tale of Kemp’s disappearance is full of twists, turns, and a few concrete explanations. Formerly an executive at an ad agency in New York City, Kemp gave up his job in pursuit of a simpler life. He planned to leave the city and write a book about Abraham Lincoln’s slaying. How his body ended up off a rural Wyoming highway remains a puzzle.

Some people speculate his passing was part of a cover-up in a conspiracy theory about Abraham Lincoln. Others say aliens abducted him. Could he have been transported to another dimension? What seemed like a simple case of exposure turned into a disconcerting narrative full of inconsistencies. As is the case with many missing persons cases, we may never know the full story.

A highway patrol officer found Kemp’s car on November 16, 1982, two months after Kemp sold his belongings and set out to conduct research for his book. Kemp parked the car on a long stretch of prairie highway in rural Wyoming, its engine still running. Kemp had packed his belongings so tightly in the vehicle there was only room for the driver. His clothes were strewn across the road, and the car’s doors were open.

In the search that ensued, investigators only found traces of Kemp; they picked up his socks in a barn alongside sticks Kemp likely used to start a fire. Police also discovered a bag filled with a teapot, laundry detergent, and a set of clothes, all belonging to the missing man.

A blizzard delayed the search, and nobody found additional clues to Kemp’s disappearance for four years.

Around five months after authorities discovered the vehicle, two people reported seeing Kemp in Casper, WY, about 150 miles away from where he left his car. A bartender claimed he served Kemp, and another witness said he saw Kemp at an Abraham Lincoln exhibit traveling through the area.

A friend of Kemp’s received a series of eerie phone calls. Five months after his disappearance, Judy Aiello, Kemp’s former coworker, received five calls to her unlisted New York City number. She swore the man on the phone sounded like Kemp. In a message, he said, “I’d like to speak to you again. Call me.”

When she called the number back, she asked if the caller was Kemp. The person on the other end of the line initially said yes, but then changed his answer to no. When she asked if the person could pass a message on to Kemp, the man said “Yeah” and hung up the phone.

The phone calls to Judy Aiello originated from a trailer in Casper, WY, the same town where two people reported seeing Kemp. Mark Dennis was renting the trailer. He claimed he didn’t make the phone calls and had no idea who did. He said that either someone used his phone without permission or that the phone company made an error.

Though initially cooperative with the investigation, Dennis stopped helping police about three weeks after they questioned him for the first time. He abruptly moved away from Casper. Kemp’s mother believes Dennis’s behavior is a sign of his involvement in her son’s passing: *****God knows what happened to my son in that trailer. It’s too horrible to contemplate. I don’t know. But I think I deserve an answer. I tried in every way I knew how to contact this young man. I finally spoke with him only one time on the phone. I asked him about my son, and he said he knew nothing about Don Kemp. He just paid those phone bills, he didn’t look at them. And I told this young man he was lying. “You know what has happened to my son.” And he just hung up on me.*****

Though investigators didn’t find Kemp’s body until years after his disappearance, police formulated several hypotheses to explain what happened to him. A traffic accident had previously disabled Kemp, and his view of the world significantly changed afterward. His family claimed his personality was different, and police believe he may have been taking medication for pain or mental health reasons that impacted his behavior.

Some believe his medication may have been in a briefcase he forgot at the Cheyenne museum; it’s possible his lack of medication led Kemp to abandon his vehicle and venture into the prairie.

About Kemp’s mental state, Highway Patrol officer Randy Teeters said: *****I have no idea what would inspire anybody to walk out through that prairie in the middle of winter. We considered possibly someone under medication that didn’t know what they were doing due to the medication, or being out of the medication, possibly that would affect him to the point of where they would just walk out into the middle of nowhere.*****

When exactly Kemp went missing remains unclear, but his car was still running when authorities found it on November 16, 1982. Police had a very small window of time in which to search because a blizzard rolled in just three days later. By the time the weather improved, the trail had gone cold. Police found evidence Kemp stayed in a nearby barn, but there were no tracks leading out of the structure; it seemed as though Kemp vanished into thin air.

Investigators speculate Kemp didn’t want to be found. Deputy Ron Johnson, who was responsible for flying over the section of highway where Kemp went missing, said: *****I felt the guy was disorientated, and I felt that he didn’t want to be found. If he would’ve wanted to be found, he would have heard the aircraft, could have waved his arms, got our attention, gone up to a ridge, anywhere, and been sighted.*****

Kemp’s mother, Mary Kemp, wasn’t so certain her son’s passing was an accident. After police traced the mysterious phone calls Judy Aiello received to a trailer in Casper, WY, Mary was convinced the man who lived there, Mark Dennis, played a roll in Kemp’s disappearance. Dennis says he didn’t make the calls to Aiello and that he never checked his phone bill to see whether someone else made calls from his line.

Mary tried to confront Dennis in person to ask about her son’s whereabouts, but Dennis moved just three weeks after police initially questioned him. Until her passing, Mary maintained that someone took her son’s life; she rejected the theory Kemp perished of exposure.

The last time anyone definitively saw Kemp was at a museum in Cheyenne, WY, where he forgot his briefcase. The case contained his driving glasses, which means he drove without them. Kemp allegedly called the museum to tell them he’d be back to retrieve the briefcase, but never arrived.

Kemp visited the museum on November 15, 1982, just one day before authorities discovered his car on a rural stretch of highway.

A blizzard on November 19, 1982, halted search efforts. No new clues appeared in the case until four years later, when hunters discovered Kemp’s skeletal remains a few miles from where Kemp left his vehicle.

Though search teams combed the surrounding area after Kemp’s disappearance, they either missed the body or Kemp wandered back towards his vehicle later.

Judy Aiello, who received phone calls from someone in Casper, WY, who claimed to be Kemp, worked with Kemp for approximately 10 years. She believed the calls came from Kemp himself. If Kemp did make those calls, however, he couldn’t have perished in the blizzard. The calls came five months after authorities found his car.

Around the same time, there were several unconfirmed sightings of Kemp in the Casper area. Hunters found Kemp’s body a few miles away from where his abandoned vehicle had been though; either someone dumped Kemp’s body there, or it couldn’t have been Kemp who made the calls.

The police believe Kemp had trouble with his medication, which may have led to his erratic behavior. They speculate Kemp wandered away from his vehicle and later succumbed to exposure. There have been a few more supernatural and conspiracy-based theories connected to his passing, however.

Some alleged Kemp vanished due to UFO activity or fell into another dimension. Because of Kemp’s interest in Abraham Lincoln’s life, people also hypothesize someone took or burned his research because he discovered something important about the president.

A traffic accident disabled Kemp, and it took him years to recover. According to relatives, the accident caused a change in Kemp’s behavior and attitudes. He suddenly became interested in shedding his materialistic ideals and desired a simpler life, which represented a complete 180 from his time as an advertising executive at a New York City agency.

He soon sold his belongings and set out to research a book on Abraham Lincoln, which placed him on the path to Wyoming.

Up next, I’ll tell you about the scariest movie I’ve ever seen. It’s not a horror movie, nor is it a psychological thriller. It’s a documentary, and the reason it is so horrifying is because it has happened to me. I’ll tell you about it when Weird Darkness returns.

For some people, getting into bed at night is one of the most frightening things they’ll do all day. Individuals who deal with sleep paralysis – which is the temporary inability to move or speak while falling asleep or waking up – risk encountering a host of terrifying creatures and images as soon as their head touches the pillow, and for an unlucky few this happens to be a nightly occurrence.

The documentary The Nightmare explores exactly how a disparate group of individuals is affected by what they see playing out in front of them at night, and attempts to define what sleep paralysis truly is.

The following facts about The Nightmare documentary definitely contain some spoilers, so consider yourself warned. And if you’re brave enough to actually watch the documentary after reading this, you should keep in mind that it’s more like a horror movie than something Ken Burns would make. The film has everything from jump scares to demons who haunt the corners of the frame, so don’t be surprised if you end up with your own personal collection of night terrors haunting your dreams.

The Nightmare weaves together the stories of eight individuals into a single narrative that aims to describe just what it is like to experience the hyper-realistic night terrors that often come along with sleep paralysis.

The film documents people from across the world (who have never met one another) who have all experienced eerily similar visions when falling asleep and waking up, including seeing evil black cats with red eyes lurking near them and creatures that stand over them while they lie awake, unable to move.

The people whose stories are documented in The Nightmare don’t know each other, and one woman even goes so far as to say that she doesn’t want to hear anyone else’s sleep paralysis stories because she’s been living with one for her entire life and it’s too traumatic. As each person describes what they typically see, it becomes apparent that they are all experiencing different versions of the same thing. They all recount seeing a shadow person, or a group of shadow people – some have hats, some have big eyes, but they’re all unidentifiable and threatening figures who watch them sleep.

On top of seeing the shadow figures, each person describes the feeling of an electrical current going through their head just before they wake up trapped in a dream in which they can’t move. No one knows how all these experiences are connected, and the film even discusses how researchers still can’t figure out what’s happening in the brains of people who have sleep paralysis.

When creating a film about nightmares, how do you actually go about illustrating the horrible things that people are seeing while they sleep? This documentary goes beyond the standard re-creation model that you’ve seen on many paranormal shows and makes each dream into its own mini horror film.

Sure, there are some very effective jump scares, but rather than rely on those The Nightmare tends to utilize a technique where either something truly creepy is revealed in a long shot, or the camera pans through a room to suddenly reveal a shadowy thing that really shouldn’t be there. As the film progresses, the audience is forced to lie in wait while these dark figures approach the camera, similar to what the people in the doc actually describe experiencing.

A few of the stories in The Nightmare describe a creature lurking outside a person’s house or apartment and trying to get inside once sleep paralysis sets in. In one instance a creature even calls a man on his phone from inside the dream to tell the man that it wants to come inside. This alone is scary enough, but then one woman goes on to describe how, at one point, a creature from her dream began targeting her unborn child.

She explains that one night, when her sleep paralysis first began to set in, she heard tapping on her window. As the paralysis continued, she noticed that a shadowy figure was standing just outside looking in on her. The thing then came into her home and tried to remove her unborn daughter from her uterus. Whatever the creature was, it never accomplished its task and her daughter was born without complications.

Straight from the opening credit sequence that takes viewers through the set where dream re-creations are being filmed to the clapper board that’s used in many of the interviews, The Nightmare consistently blends reality with fantasy, while being sure to remind the audience that they’re watching other people at their most vulnerable moments.

Throughout the film, the audience is made to feel much like a voyeur who’s watching as people describe their most private, intimate fears. Taking it one step further and actually watching those fears as they’re acted out adds even greater depth to the surreal nature of this film.

One of the strangest stories told in The Nightmare involves a man who had never dealt with sleep paralysis before he and his girlfriend moved into an apartment together. He explains how he witnessed his girlfriend go through sleep paralysis for quite a while, and that after she took the time to explain to him just what was happening to her, his own paralysis began to take over – in a big way.

It’s unclear in the documentary whether they’re suggesting that simply knowing about sleep paralysis can trigger its development in those who are more susceptible, or if this man’s brain was just triggered by the sudden awareness of what his girlfriend was experiencing.

As more has become known about sleep paralysis, the presence of shadow people has become an ever-increasing fear among those who have it. Surely one could argue that people who read stories about shadow people are simply internalizing the imagery, but the fact that the participants in The Nightmare report having such remarkably similar creatures haunt them should make even skeptics wonder if something else might be going on.

Each participant describes their encounters with the shadow creatures differently, but they’re all narratively similar. Some of the creatures bring a vibration with them, some wear a hat, and some even arrive in groups, but they all begin their haunting by watching their sleeping target from a distance before finally moving in to harm the person going through sleep paralysis.

Not everyone in The Nightmare started out being terrified by their nocturnal experiences. One person explains how he even enjoyed the wildly vivid dreams he found himself in, that is until something in his dreams started trying to hurt him. He claims that one night he experienced what he describes as a “metal claw” grabbing him by the crotch, which shot very real pain through his body.

From then on, his dreams began to take a strangely violent turn. At one point he even recalls how someone on in-line skates charged at him, pulled a gun from their shorts, and shot at him.

Many of the participants in The Nightmare report that they’ve been dealing with the horrific side effects of sleep paralysis for their entire lives, but they weren’t able to fully understand what was occurring to them until they were older. Multiple participants even describe how some of their first memories are connected to their sleep paralysis.

One man remembers his television talking to him when he was just 5 years old and telling him that “they” would “be back.” One of the women recalls that in her first memory she watched as her nightlight became red, dousing the room in an eerie glow. These memories may not be as terrifying as what was to come, but they do show that whatever’s happening began at a young age.

Even though none of the participants in the film know each other, they each describe having a remarkably similar sensation occur in their heads when sleep paralysis sets in. One man describes it as a washing machine sound that rumbles through his head at the onset of paralysis, but he’s not the only person who experiences it.

One participant refers to the sound as being similar to “bees buzzing,” while one woman says that she hears screaming in her head when paralysis sets in. With this the film begs the question: Is it the increasing electrical current running through their heads that causes this sensation, or is it something else entirely?

As if having shadow people watching them sleep isn’t bad enough, the participants in The Nightmare also have to suffer the indignity of having doctors tell them that there’s nothing wrong with the way their brains are working – and nothing to be done about the dreams. It’s obvious that something is happening to these people and even the participants acknowledge that it’s probably all just in their heads, but what are they supposed to think when they’re repeatedly told nothing is wrong?

The participants describe their experiences going to various doctors and mental health experts who either don’t believe them or simply suggest that a lifestyle change is all they need to stop the sleep paralysis. One man even says that after he explained what was happening to a doctor she responded, “That’s really messed up.”

Rather than adopt the archival or still footage methods that many documentarians tend to follow, The Nightmare director Rodney Ascher chose to give the film a more distinct look. The framing, color palette, and heavy use of contrast all seem to be influenced by still photographer Gregory Crewdson, an artist whose surrealist works also inspired the cinematography of the sleeper horror hit It Follows.

Particularly during the re-creations, you’re likely to forget that you’re watching a documentary as the cinematography pulls you right into the world in which these horrifying dreams exist.

Thanks for listening. If you like the podcast, please – tell someone about it. 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 the podcast with someone new, it helps spread the word about the show – and a growing audience makes it possible for me to keep doing the podcast. Plus, telling others about Weird Darkness also helps get the word out about resources that are available for those who suffer from depression. So please share the podcast with someone today.

Be sure to join me for a new sermon every Sunday at my other podcast, “The Church of the Undead”, also found at WeirdDarkness.com. Do you have a dark tale to tell of your own? Fact or fiction, click on “Tell Your Story” on the website and I might use it in a future episode.

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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.

“Living Dead Celebrities” by Rebecca Shortall

“Factual Frights That Fueled Famous Phantoms” by Harrison Tenpas

“What Got Me Interested in the Paranormal” by Weirdo family member Jason Miller

“The Mysterious Disappearance of Don Kemp” by Melissa Brinks

“Nightmare Documentary” by Jacob Shelton

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… “Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.” –1 Peter 3:8

And a final thought… “God has placed you where you’re at in this very moment for a reason, remember that and trust he is working everything out.” – Unknown

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

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