“THE TRUTH BEHIND THE MONGOLIAN DEATH WORM” and Other True, Terrible Tales! #WeirdDarkness
* Get the commercial-free version of this episode here: https://www.patreon.com/posts/42471757
* Scroll down this post for the episode transcript ↓
Please tell others about Weird Darkness – your friends, family, and co-workers who love the paranormal, horror stories, or true crime. Sharing the podcast with others helps me to continue creating content – and it also helps get the word out about important resources for those who struggle with depression. Thank you for sharing the podcast with others and growing our Weirdo family!
Listen to ““THE TRUTH BEHIND THE MONGOLIAN DEATH WORM” and Other True, Terrible Tales! #WeirdDarkness” on Spreaker.
IN THIS EPISODE: People keep reporting sightings of a giant five-foot long worm lurking in the Gobi desert. Witnesses say it’s armed with spikes, it spits venom, and if you get too close it can even take you down with an electric shock. It’s known as the Mongolian Death Worm. If you’ve not heard of it, it’s because no one to date has yet been able to photograph it. So does that mean it doesn’t exist? Or is it just too fast to capture on film? (The Mongolian Death Worm) *** Mount Pentelicus near Athens, Greece, is where the marble was cut to build the Parthenon. But more recently it has a more sinister reputation – for being haunted. Particularly around a certain cave known as “Davelis Cave.” (The Penteli Cave Enigma) *** Do you have people in your lives that you can’t stand? A co-worker perhaps, or a family member, or a grumpy neighbor. You may call them “toxic”, but there was a lady who was so noxious that people couldn’t literally stand her. Her name was Gloria Ramirez. (The Toxic Woman) *** For six years, Fritz Haarmann used his position as a police informant to hide in plain sight while he carried out at least 24 grisly murders as the “Vampire of Hanover.” He was also called by some “The Butcher of Hanover”. But neither nickname given to him by the public comes remotely close to describing how evil the man truly was, or how gruesome his crimes actually were. (The Butcher Vampire)
WANT TO ADVERTISE WEIRD DARKNESS OR BE A SPONSOR?
Weird Darkness has partnered with AdvertiseCast to handle our advertising/sponsorship requests. They’re great to work with and will help you advertise on the show. Email email@example.com or start the process now at https://weirddarkness.com/advertise
WEIRDO WEB LINKS…
(Amazon links included may benefit me financially through qualifying purchases.)
BOOK: “The Unexplained An Illustrated Guide To The World’s Natural and Paranormal Mysteries” by Karl Shuker: https://amzn.to/2SwqJ8W
BOOK: “On The Trail of Ancient Man” by Roy Chapman Andrews: https://amzn.to/3iEaFg0
“Centralia PA: The Real Life Silent Hill”: https://weirddarkness.com/archives/7448
(Giants) “Mysterious Humanoids Existed With People Millenia Ago”: https://weirddarkness.com/archives/7441
“The Damned Thing”: https://weirddarkness.com/archives/7453
Church Of The Undead: “Unsolved Mysteries of the Bible”: https://weirddarkness.com/archives/7535
STORY AND MUSIC CREDITS/SOURCES…
(Over time links can and may become invalid, disappear, or have different content.)
“The Butcher Vampire” by Morgan Dunn for All That’s Interesting: https://tinyurl.com/y6l6lmu6
“The Mongolian Death Worm” by Natasha Ishak for All That’s Interesting: https://tinyurl.com/yxf7lo58
“The Penteli Cave Enigma” by Caleb Strom for Ancient Origins: https://tinyurl.com/yy8373yh
“The Toxic Woman” by Kaushik Patowary for Amusing Planet: https://tinyurl.com/y29yy86d
(I always make sure to give authors credit for the material I use whenever possible. If I somehow overlooked doing that for a story, or if a credit is incorrect, please let me know and I’ll rectify it in the show notes as quickly as possible.)
Weird Darkness theme by Alibi Music Library. Background music, varying by episode, provided by Alibi Music, EpidemicSound and/or AudioBlocks with paid license. Music from Shadows Symphony (https://tinyurl.com/yyrv987t), Midnight Syndicate (http://amzn.to/2BYCoXZ), Kevin MacLeod (https://tinyurl.com/y2v7fgbu), Tony Longworth (https://tinyurl.com/y2nhnbt7), and/or Nicolas Gasparini/Myuu (https://tinyurl.com/lnqpfs8) is used with permission.
“I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” — John 12:46
Find out how to escape eternal darkness at https://weirddarkness.com/eternaldarkness
WeirdDarkness™ – is a registered trademark. Copyright ©Weird Darkness 2020.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
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.
This month marks five years of Weird Darkness, and I’m celebrating by raising funds and awareness about depression which I’ll tell you about later in the podcast, but I’d like to invite you to visit DarknessChallenge.com now to learn more about it – that’s DarknessChallenge.com. Plus on Halloween evening I’ll have my annual Halloween Live Scream where I not only do the podcast LIVE, but I do it on video – this year on both YouTube and Facebook at the same time if all goes according to plan, so be listening in the days ahead for details on exactly what time on October 31st that will be taking place! I’m actually taking a poll in the Weird Darkness Weirdos Facebook group right now to determine when the best time to do that will be.
Coming up in this episode…
People keep reporting sightings of a giant five-foot long worm lurking in the Gobi desert. Witnesses say it’s armed with spikes, it spits venom, and if you get too close it can even take you down with an electric shock. It’s known as the Mongolian Death Worm. If you’ve not heard of it, it’s because no one to date has yet been able to photograph it. So does that mean it doesn’t exist? Or is it just too fast to capture on film?
Mount Pentelicus near Athens, Greece, is where the marble was cut to build the Parthenon. But more recently it has a more sinister reputation – for being haunted. Particularly around a certain cave known as “Davelis Cave.”
Do you have people in your lives that you can’t stand? A co-worker perhaps, or a family member, or a grumpy neighbor. You may call them “toxic”, but there was a lady who was so noxious that people couldn’t literally stand her. Her name was Gloria Ramirez.
For six years, Fritz Haarmann used his position as a police informant to hide in plain sight while he carried out at least 24 grisly murders as the “Vampire of Hanover.” He was also called by some “The Butcher of Hanover”. But neither nickname given to him by the public comes remotely close to describing how evil the man truly was, or how gruesome his crimes actually were.
Now.. bolt your doors, lock your windows, turn off your lights, and come with me into the Weird Darkness!
THE BUTCHER VAMPIRE==========
In the 1920s, Fritz Haarmann was known as a successful seller of secondhand clothes and was beloved by housewives for his endless supply of cheap meat — until they learned he harvested both of his products from slain runaway boys.
The people of his native Hanover all thought Fritz was something of an oddball, but friendly and certainly harmless. Even the police liked him, and he worked for them as an informant while he carried out a horrifying killing spree right under their noses.
Once his crimes were discovered, Haarmann became notorious as the “Vampire of Hanover” who killed his victims with a “love bite” that went right through the windpipe. Also called the “Butcher of Hanover,” he ultimately confessed to nearly 30 murders, but police suspected he killed dozens more.
Born in 1879 to a morose father known as “Sulky Olle,” he was doted on by his invalid mother. The youngest of six, he loved playing with dolls, wearing dresses, and avoiding other children, especially boys.
In an effort to force his son to toughen up, Olle packed young Fritz off to the military school in the southern German city of Breisach at the age of 16. Although the boy enjoyed his time there, after just a few months at school he discovered that he had epilepsy.
Dismissed from the school due to his condition, he worked in his father’s cigar factory for a year before committing his first crime: sexually molesting young boys. Captured and charged by the police, he was consigned to a mental asylum. After just six months in the asylum, he escaped and crossed the border to Switzerland.
While in Switzerland, he became engaged to a young woman named Erna Loewert. However, the short-lived engagement fizzled when she got pregnant and he returned to Germany in 1900 to complete his compulsory military service.
Due to his epilepsy and probable mental illness, Haarmann was hospitalized for four months in 1901 and dismissed from the military in 1902. After his discharge, his father made repeated attempts to have him thrown back in the asylum permanently, but Fritz managed to evade him every time.
After leaving the military, Haarmann first got by on his pension, which increased in 1904 when he was finally classed as disabled. Over the next decade, he supplemented his pension with petty crimes, burglaries, and cons.
Unfortunately for the teenage boys of Hanover, Haarmann’s crimes would escalate dramatically following the end of World War I.
By 1913, the police were fed up with his repeated crimes and threw the book at Haarmann. Convicted of burgling a Hanover warehouse, he was tossed in jail for five years, allowing him to sit out World War I.
In jail, Haarmann met 24-year old pimp Hans Grans, with whom he fell quickly in love. Upon their release, they took up residence together.
Paroled in 1918 as the German Empire was crashing spectacularly, he immediately took up two jobs. One was with a gang of smugglers; the other was as an informant for the Hanover police, a position that would play a huge role in his next project.
In September 1918, 17-year old Friedel Rohe ran away from his home, disappearing into the back streets of Hanover. When Rohe’s father set out to find his son, he learned that young Friedel had been friendly with Haarmann, who often took young boys over to his apartment for a bit of fun.
Yet when Rohe’s father brought this clue to authorities, police were reluctant to interfere with their most valuable spy. He persisted in his requests, and eventually, they agreed to visit Haarmann.
There, they found Haarmann in bed with a 13-year old boy, but no sign of Friedel. All they could do under the laws of the time was arrest Haarmann for indecency with a minor.
Haarmann later pointed out that the police couldn’t have searched too thoroughly. Friedel Rohe’s severed head had been tucked away behind the stove the whole time they were there.
Haarmann was already well-known as a black-market butcher, popular among people of the area for his friendliness and his irresistibly affordable meat. By 1919, Germany was in dire economic straits, and many families struggled to keep food on the table.
Throughout the early 1920s, Haarmann spent much of his time loitering around Hanover’s train station, scouting for teenage boys to coax home with promises of food and comfort. Thousands of children were running away from home at this time due to postwar hardships, so he had plenty of victims to choose from.
After feeding his victims, Haarmann would kill them by biting through their windpipes in what he grotesquely called his “love bite,” before sexually molesting their dead bodies. Finally, he would dismember them, grinding their flesh into sausage meat or chopping them into cutlets to be sold as “beef” or “pork.”
After butchering his victims, he dumped their remains into the nearby River Leine.
For six years, while the police turned a blind eye to their favorite informant’s activities, Haarmann is believed to have murdered over 50 boys, often chosen by Grans out of jealousy of some item of clothing of theirs.
He became successful selling their clothes and their flesh, even as more and more parents descended on the city stalked by the “Vampire of Hanover,” desperate to find their vanished children.
In May of 1924, the police were forced to turn their attention to Haarmann when children discovered a skull on the banks of the Leine. After several more skulls and skeletons were found, the River Leine was dragged, uncovering the bodies of at least 22 teenage boys or young men.
The city of Hanover panicked, and suspicions turned to Haarmann thanks to his reputation for bringing runaway boys to his apartment. Due to his status as a favorite informant, the Hanover police were deemed unfit to investigate him. So, two detectives from Berlin arrived on the scene to take over the investigation.
The Berlin detectives soon found Haarmann in a dark corner of the train station, attacking a teenager. He was thrown in jail while they went to search his apartment, much more thoroughly this time.
Inside was a nightmarish scene. The walls and floor were stained all over with blood, and more than 100 pieces of victims’ clothing were found.
In custody, the Vampire of Hanover was only too happy to confess to his crimes. When asked how many he’d killed, he casually replied “Thirty or forty, I don’t know.” Later, he said he probably killed between fifty and seventy boys.
However, police were only able to identify 27 of his victims, from 1923-24 alone, and were unable to find the dozens of others. Haarmann was charged with multiple counts of murder and a trial date was quickly set.
In court, Haarmann smoked cigars and insulted everyone present. Once, looking at a photo of one missing boy, he shouted at the boy’s grieving father that he could never have had anything to do with the child as he was far too ugly.
Found guilty of 24 out of the 27 murders he was charged with, Haarmann was swiftly sentenced to be decapitated by guillotine on April 15, 1925.
His lover, Grans, who had often emotionally blackmailed Haarmann into murdering particular children, was sentenced to life in prison, but the sentence would later be commuted to just 12 years.
After his death, Fritz Haarmann’s head was preserved in formaldehyde and given to the medical school in Göttingen. In 1925, the remains of his victims discovered in the River Leine were buried in a mass grave in Stöckener Cemetery.
Though the people of Hanover were eager to get past Haarmann’s horrifying murders, his crimes inspired the German expressionist filmmaker Fritz Lang’s classic 1931 thriller M. In M, both the police and criminals in a large German city hunt for a serial killer who preys on young children.
Haarmann and Hans Grans’ grisly crimes had one other tragic effect, though. Although homosexuality was illegal in Germany at the time, it had been largely tolerated for some years.
With the lurid stories of Haarmann’s sexual violence and Grans’ sickening cruelty, a wave of homophobia swept through the country. As the hearts of most Germans hardened towards the plight of gay men, the path was cleared for the later campaign of murder against homosexuals carried out by the Nazis.
Hans Grans, however, survived to a ripe old age, dying in Hanover in 1975. Decades later, in 2015, the medical school in Göttingen tired of storing Haarmann’s preserved head and cremated it, thus doing away with the last traces of the “Butcher of Hanover.”
When Weird Darkness returns…
Mount Pentelicus near Athens, Greece, is where the marble was cut to build the Parthenon. But more recently it has a more sinister reputation – for being haunted. Particularly around a certain cave known as “Davelis Cave.”
But first…people keep reporting sightings of a giant five-foot long worm lurking in the Gobi desert. Witnesses say it’s armed with spikes, it spits venom, and if you get too close it can even take you down with an electric shock. It’s known as the Mongolian Death Worm. If you’ve not heard of it, it’s because no one to date has yet been able to photograph it. So does that mean it doesn’t exist? Or is it just too fast to capture on film? That story is up next.
I’d like to take a quick moment to thank a few people who have donated to our Darkness Challenge campaign this month. A huge thanks to Patricia, Sandy, and Georgina, all of whom chose to give $20 each to help us bring awareness about depression and to also help those who suffer from it. You’ve taken us that much closer to our goal, so thank you very much ladies! You can make a donation right now and maybe even take the Darkness Challenge on video – get the details for both at DarknessChallenge.com. That’s http://www.DarknessChallenge.com.
THE MONGOLIAN DEATH WORM==========
According to sightings, the Mongolian death worm is a long, sausage-like sandworm, dark red in color with spikes jutting out of both ends of its shapeless body. Using venomous spit strong enough to corrode metal or electric shocks powerful enough to kill an adult human, these alleged deadly worms are said to live below the sands of the Gobi Desert.
Legends circulate freely about these monstrous worms but no one has ever come forward with proof of seeing them firsthand. This is the true story behind the rumored Mongolian death worm.
The Mongolian death worm is an infamous creature whose legend lives in secondhand accounts that have been passed down for generations.
Mongolia’s nomadic tribes call it allghoi khorkhoi, which translates roughly to intestine worm, due to its alleged resemblance to the insides of a cow. The worm-like creature with blood-red skin is said to reach up to five feet in length.
But it is nothing like your average worm. The Mongolian death worm is believed to possess some distinctly terrifying features.
As British biologist Karl Shuker noted of the legendary creature in The Unexplained: An Illustrated Guide to the World’s Natural And Paranormal Mysteries, the Mongolian death worm is believed to possess “spike-like projections at both ends” of its body.
It is also said to have formidable ways of attacking humans or other animals. The worm can purportedly spit corrosive venom or shoot out a powerful shock, electrocuting its victim.
Legend has it these terrifying creatures spend most of their time hidden underneath the sandy dunes of the Gobi Desert but that they often surface during the wetter months of June and July. If a local should happen upon this creature, they know to steer clear.
The Mongolian death worm, for all the stories of its deadly projectile and grisly appearance, has to this day never been photographed. But not due to lack of effort.
Curious researchers and intrepid adventurers have combed the Gobi Desert in search of the legendary creature. Most famously, Czech cryptozoologist Ivan Mackerle, one of the foremost investigators of the mysterious animal, traveled to Mongolia three times in search of the worm, in 1990, 1992, and 2004.
Mackerle first heard of the death worm as a boy from the work of paleontologist Ivan Yefremov. In college, after meeting a Mongolian student who believed in the worm, he became obsessed.
He combed through Mongolian literature to find more clues about the death worm and was finally granted permission by the government to conduct research there when he was in his late forties.
Inspired by Frank Herbert’s 1965 sci-fi novel Dune which features giant sandworms that are attracted to rhythmic vibrations, Mackerle’s expedition team tried different ways to project vibrations underground during their search for the Mongolian death worm.
One of the team’s contraptions was a motor-generated thumping machine. But, alas, their efforts proved fruitless and Mackerle concluded that the creature must be a myth.
While Mackerle’s expeditions failed to discover sound proof of the animal, they did provide most of the modern research material related to the Mongolian death worm. Subsequent expeditions to hunt down the sand beast continue today.
Although the legend of the Mongolian death worm remains strong among locals, its existence has yet to be corroborated by physical evidence or research.
Zoologist Roy Chapman Andrews was the first western researcher to take note of the legend. He learned about the elusive sand creature from Mongolian officials before his pioneering expedition to document Mongolian wildlife. In his 1926 resulting book On the Trail of Ancient Man, Andrews wrote:
“Then the Premier asked that, if it were possible, I should capture for the Mongolian government a specimen of the allergorhai-horhai…None of those present ever had seen the creature, but they all firmly believed in its existence and described it minutely…The Premier said that, although he had never seen it himself, he knew a man who had and had lived to tell the tale. Then a Cabinet Minister stated that ‘the cousin of his late wife’s sister’ had also seen it.”
However, this anecdote about the Mongolian death worm is merely a footnote in Andrews’ book.
But there is a possibility that such a creature like the Mongolian death worm might exist — after all, even Jane Goodall, one of the foremost primate experts in the world, said she was open to the possibility of bigfoot.
The Gobi Desert is a vast region that spans a territory of 500,000 square miles of rough terrain, making the existence of undiscovered animal species very likely.
Additionally, there are worm species that have been known to live in sand instead of soil, like the giant beach worm (Australonuphis teres) in Australia.
Moreover, in worms the circulatory system functions by absorbing oxygen through their skin and carrying it through their body, which would allow them to grow up to large sizes like the death worm’s purported five-foot length.
Yet, nobody has been able to capture photographic proof of the Mongolian death worm. So how did the legend come to be?
There are a few explanations that could be at play. The first theory is these accounts might actually be true but, like most stories passed orally for generations, they have become greatly exaggerated.
The English translation of “death worm” from its original Mongolian name is also misleading, and experts believe that if such a creature exists it may be a type of reptile, not a soft, wriggly worm.
Either the worm lizard, which looks like a large limbless worm that burrows underground and grows up to several feet, or a type of sand boa snake could have originally inspired the death worm lore.
No matter how the legend of the death worm began, cryptid researchers have not given up hope that someday they will unearth it.
THE PENTELI CAVE ENIGMA==========
Mount Pentelicus, a mountain near Athens, Greece, has been an important area for thousands of years. It is the location of the ancient quarry from which marble was cut to build the Parthenon and other great structures in the city of Athens during its golden age. Marble, however, is not all there is to the mountain. The mountain also has many mysteries, mostly surrounding a certain cave which has gained the nickname ‘Davelis Cave.’
Davelis Cave, or Penteli Cave, as it is more commonly called, is a cave historically hidden by pine forests. At the back of the 60 meters (197 feet) long and 20 meters (66 feet) high cave is a network of tunnels, one of which leads to an underground pond. Another tunnel, according to one tradition, leads to Hell. Although the cave does not look too mysterious from the outside, the cave has been the location of many strange events such as sightings of shadowy ghost-like apparitions, UFOs, and other paranormal entities.
The cave has been considered an otherworldly place since antiquity. In ancient times, it was a sacred site to the nature god Pan and his nymphs, a place known as a panaipolion. Artifacts have been found in the cave depicting the god, niches have been cut into the walls and there is an alcove with a pool of water for some unknown purpose. After the arrival of Christianity, it continued to be a place of spiritual significance and was used as a hideout by Christian hermits and solitary, eremitic monks.
According to some accounts, the church at the entrance to the cave was built in the 11th century. It was built as two connected chapels. Within one of the chapels are some unusual glyphs which have been attributed to anchorite monks. The unusual design of the church has led to speculation that the church was actually built very early in Christian history by Gnostics or another offshoot of Christianity.
During the 19th century, the cave also gained notoriety. It was said to be used as a base by Davelis, an infamous outlaw who was known for stealing from the wealthy. It is also claimed that he had an affair with a French noblewoman who happened to live nearby during that time. It is this association that earned the cave the nickname, Davelis Cave.
The cave has always been the site of strange phenomena. In the 19th century, people claimed to hear mysterious voices coming from the far corridors of the cave. Some people would also hear music that didn’t appear to have a source. The strangeness of the cave was also reinforced by its environment, being located on an isolated mountain slope surrounded by a potentially ominous pine forest.
In the 1960s and 1970s, paranormal investigators gained an interest in the cave and began looking into it. By the mid-20th century, with the dawn of the Space Age, UFO sightings had also been added to the strange stories associated with the cave. One of the main investigators was a man named George Balanos. The investigation continued for years without progress. These investigations were hindered by malfunctions in technological devices, such as cameras and flashlights, as well as peculiar behavior on the part of the investigators.
The story of Penteli Cave got even stranger when, in 1977, a group of workers and technicians claiming to be from an unknown organization put up barbed wire around the cave and began to do work on the cave with dynamite and bulldozers. When people tried to go into the cave, they would be turned away by guards posted by the organization. Popular theories of their identity included NATO, the U.S. government, and the Greek military. Many people speculated that they were building some sort of nuclear bunker or nuclear weapons storage facility. Wilder theories included the opening of extradimensional portals and manipulation of a magnetic channel connecting the cave to Langley, West Virginia, USA.
What is also strange about the work done by the mysterious organization is that, after a while, they stopped reinforcing restricted access to the cave and holes were cut through barbed wire.
During this period, there were also a lot of weird stories of events surrounding the cave. In one account, a couple going on a hike discovered a car perched on a ledge near the cave in a location which seemed impossible for a car to reach. They came back again multiple times over several days and the car was still there. Finally, they went up to the car and found that, oddly, the car did not have any marks of damage expected of a car driven to that position. When the wife looked into some bushes around the car she started screaming hysterically.
When the husband calmed her down, she said that she had seen a white oval shaped creature that was about 60 cm (24 inches) long with two enormous glowing eyes. The husband did not see the creature, but he did see the bushes rustle as if an animal had just moved through them. Days later, the husband also saw something that appeared to be a spinning black sphere outside his car window which caused him to start screaming and shaking until his wife was able to calm him down and coax him into explaining what he saw.
Suddenly, in 1983, the work crews disappeared almost as mysteriously as they had arrived. They, however, did not leave without a trace, even leaving behind some of their equipment that had just been abandoned. The ancient church and natural cave networks had been severely damaged. Additionally, several artificial concrete corridors had been dug, though some appeared to be only half completed. Whatever the objective was of this organization it is unclear that they reached it.
There was another attempt to continue modifications in 1990, but it was immediately shut down by the Greek ministry of culture to prevent further damage to the important historical and archaeological sites in the cave.
Current explanations for the unusual phenomena in the cave include magnetic channels and disturbances in the local electromagnetic fields. After decades of searching, investigators seem no closer to finding the answer than they were in the 1960s.
One discernible pattern, however, is constant references to electromagnetic disturbances. The work done by the shadowy organization in the 1970s may have been done out of interest in these “electromagnetic disturbances.”
It has been suggested by neuroscientists, such as Michael Persinger of Laurentian University, that pulsed electromagnetic fields can influence perception causing people to feel as if there is an invisible presence in a room. It has also been noted by scientists that places that are claimed to be haunted tend to also be places of unusual electromagnetic activity.
It is also interesting, in light of this, that technology such as cameras and flashlights tend to malfunction in the cave, which also can happen as a result of certain kinds of electromagnetic interference. Could there be an actual connection between local electromagnetic fields, technology malfunctions, the interest of shadowy organizations in the cave and the alleged paranormal activity taking place?
It may be a while before an answer is found, but the connection to electromagnetic fields at least provides a clue for solving the riddle of Penteli Cave.
Do you have people in your lives that you can’t stand? A co-worker perhaps, or a family member, or a grumpy neighbor. You may call them “toxic”, but there was a lady who was so noxious that people couldn’t literally stand her. Her name was Gloria Ramirez. Her story, when Weird Darkness returns.
Plus, we’ll step into the Chamber of Comments.
THE TOXIC WOMAN==========
On the evening of February 19, 1994, Gloria Ramirez, 31-year-old mother of two, was wheeled into the emergency department of Riverside General Hospital in Riverside, California. Ramirez, a patient with terminal cervical cancer, was complaining of irregular heartbeat and difficulty breathing. En route to the hospital, Ramirez was administered oxygen and given intravenous fluids. By the time she entered the ER, she was barely conscious, her speech was sluggish, her breathing shallow and her heartbeat rapid.
The medical staff injected her with a cocktail of fast-acting drugs to alleviate her symptoms, such as sedatives and agents to calm her heartbeat. When those failed to produce any change, the staff tried to defibrillate her heart with electricity. At this point, several people saw an oily sheen covering Ramirez’s body, and some noticed a fruity, garlic-like odor that they thought was coming from her mouth.
A nurse named Susan Kane pushed a needle into the patient’s arm to draw blood, when she noted an ammonia-like odor. Kane handed the syringe to Maureen Welch, a respiratory therapist, so that she could take a closer whiff of the dying woman. Welch sniffed the syringe in her hand. It smelled of ammonia. Welch then passed the syringe to Julie Gorchynski, a medical resident, who also noticed the unmistakable smell of ammonia. Gorchynski also observed unusual manila-colored particles floating in the blood. At this point, Kane collapsed and had to be carried out of the ER. Moments later Gorchynski complained of nausea and she too slumped to the floor. Maureen Welch was the third to pass out.
That night twenty-three people fell ill, of which five had to be hospitalized with various symptoms. Gorchynski was in the worst shape. Her body convulsed and she breathed intermittently. She also suffered from hepatitis, pancreatitis, and avascular necrosis in her knees, a condition in which bone tissue die off. Gorchynski was on crutches for months.
Gloria Ramirez died within 45 minutes of her arrival at the hospital. The official cause of her death was given as kidney failure due to metastasized cancer.
Ramirez’s death and the effect of her presence on the ER staff is one of the most baffling medical mystery in recent history. The source of the toxic fumes was undoubtedly Ramirez, but autopsy reports were inconclusive. The possibility of the emergency room harboring noxious chemicals and pathogens was also ruled out by a careful search by a HAZMAT team. In the end, the health department declared that the hospital staff most likely experienced an outbreak of mass hysteria, perhaps triggered by an odor. The report angered many staff members who were on duty that night. The conclusion of the health department, they felt, was an insult to their professionalism.
Eventually the federal research facility in Livermore was asked to take a look at Ramirez’s autopsy and toxicology reports. Forensic analysis had found a lot of peculiar chemicals in Ramirez’s blood, but none was toxic enough to produce symptoms as experienced by the emergency room workers. There was a lot of different drugs in her system such lidocaine, Tylenol, codeine, and Tigan. Ramirez was a cancer patient and was understandably under a lot of pain. Many of these drugs were painkillers.
Locating the source of the ammonia-like smell observed in the emergency room was easy. Scientists found an ammonia compound in Ramirez’s blood that had most likely formed when Ramirez’s body broke down the anti-nausea drug Tigan that she was taking.
The most peculiar chemical found in her blood was dimethyl sulfone, a sulfur compound that occurs naturally in some plants, is present in small amounts in many foods and beverages, and is also sometimes produced naturally in our bodies from amino acids. But in Ramirez’s blood and tissues there was a hefty concentration of dimethyl sulfone. Forensic analysts figured that the dimethyl sulfone had come from dimethyl sulfoxide, or DMSO, which Ramirez must have used as pain relief. DMSO came into existence in the early 1960s as a wonder drug and became very popular among athletics for treating muscular strains until the FDA found that prolonged exposure to the drug caused eye damage. Use of the drug was restricted except in certain formulation, but DMSO continued to gather an underground following as a home remedy.
It’s likely that Ramirez had applied DMSO to her body to ease her pain. The DMSO was absorbed by her skin and entered into her bloodstream. When paramedics and later the emergency room workers gave her oxygen, the dimethyl sulfoxide was oxidized to dimethyl sulfone. It was this dimethyl sulfone that crystalized into manila colored crystals inside the syringe when Susan Kane drew blood at the hospital.
Now dimethyl sulfone is relatively harmless, except for one thing: if you add another oxygen atom to the molecule, you get dimethyl sulfate, a truly nasty chemical. Vapors of dimethyl sulfate instantly kill cells in exposed tissues. When absorbed into the body, dimethyl sulfate causes convulsions, delirium, paralysis, coma, and even damage to the kidneys, liver, and heart. In severe cases, dimethyl sulfate can also kill people.
What caused the dimethyl sulfone in Ramirez’s body to convert to dimethyl sulfate is up for debate. The Livermore scientists believe that the conversion was caused by the chilled air temperature of the emergency room, but this theory is unsubstantiated. Organic chemists scoff at the idea since direct conversion of dimethyl sulfone to dimethyl sulfate had never been observed. Others believe that the symptoms shown by the hospital staff doesn’t match the symptoms of dimethyl sulfate poisoning. Furthermore, many of the known effects of dimethyl sulfate usually take several hours to show, and yet the fainting spells and other symptoms at the hospital began to occur minutes after the supposed exposure. Others still doubt that significant quantities of the suspect chemicals could have been produced from the DMSO.
Several years later, the New Times LA proposed an alternative explanation—the hospital staff was illegally manufacturing the drug methamphetamine and was smuggling them in IV bags, one of which was inadvertently hooked up to Ramirez. The exposure to methamphetamine may have caused the rounds of nausea, headache and blackouts. The idea of a secret meth lab in a major hospital not only sounds extraordinarily stupid, it probably is. The basis for such a wild theory is that Riverside County has been one of the country’s largest distribution points for meth.
The DMSO theory is still the best forensic experts could come up with, but it still doesn’t explain everything and its major caveat is the lack of established mechanism for the dimethyl sulfone to dimethyl sulfate conversion. The bizarre incident surrounding the death of Gloria Ramirez will continue to remain a medical and chemical mystery.
CHAMBER OF COMMENTS==========
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 Anthony Y.): Hello, Darren, I stumble upon Weird Darkness a few months ago. I think it is an awesome podcast. I like the way you tell the stories. I especially like the one on Centralia, I an a huge fan of the Silent Hill video game series and I live about 45 minutes away from Centralia. You misspoke when you said the video game series was inspired by Centralia, it was not, but the movie did take inspiration from it. Keep up the good work. I look forward to hearing your next podcast. All the best, Anthony Y.
REPLY: Thanks for the clarification, Anthony. Nowadays when almost every horror movie likes to say it was “based on true events” or “inspired by a real story” or “based on the real life story of” etc., it’s hard to know what is and is not true or real anymore! So thanks for the help!
(Email from Teresa S.): Hi Darren! Loved this particular podcast episode , but then they’re all good. At the end of this episode (The Damned Thing) a listener wrote in addressing the subject matter of giants (from “Mysterious Humanoids Existed With People Millenia Ago”). Your comments were alluding to the lack of sexual organs in angels. I wasn’t sure why this made me curious but I had to investigate. So I looked it up in the Bible in Genesis 6. It speaks of the sons of God and the daughters of men hooking up. Looking closer it speaks of baring children….kinda makes me wonder. Either way, you are correct. There are no verses addressing the existence or absence of reproductive organs in angels, but it does allude to reproduction of children. A puzzle indeed! Love things that make me think. Thanks again for your great work! – Teresa S.
REPLY: Thanks, Teresa! I have to be honest, I thought I had that topic nailed down in my mind, but then in late September I was producing an episode of Church of the Undead called “Unsolved Mysteries in the Bible” and one of those mysteries is “what happened to the giants” – and now suddenly I’m thinking that angels/demons can hook up with humans and create offspring – which are known as nephilim. Why God would create angels with that capability I have no idea, that’s trying to understand the mind of God which is impossible, but the bible says it happened, so it happened. If you want to hear a bit more about that, I’ll link to that episode of Church of the Undead in the show notes.
(Email from Eddie P.): Hey Darren. Since you first introduced your dark roast coffee on your podcast, I have not heard any reviews about it at all. I just wanted to let you know that I ordered some and I patiently anticipated it’s arrival because I was really wanting to try it. I received it in just the other day, and I put in straight in my Keurig and made a cup right away! It is everything you advertise that it should be….. it was delicious! I am really contemplating ordering it on a regular basis now and changing from the Keurig cups to this because this is not as sweet as what I usually drink, which is a good thing. I mean I can still taste the goodness of the coffee unlike those other coffees that I have been drinking (which are almost too sweet). Also, I have just started listening to your Sunday podcast as well because I took some time to think about it before listening because I do not go to church and don’t like being preached to, but “The Church of the Undead”, is not like that. I feel it is more laid back and comfortable, but yet you keep it interesting like WeirdDarkness. Anyway, like I’ve said in the past, keep doing what you’re doing because it’s working! Love both your podcasts and as soon as we get through this pandemic and things are starting to look better (financially), I am thinking of becoming a patron for more money per month (I already am a $5 a month patron). Well, keep up the good work and keeping it real buddy. You’re doing FANTASTIC!! Sincerely, Eddie P.
REPLY: Wow… thank you so much for, well, all of this, Eddie! I’m really glad you like the coffee! By the way, since you are already a patron, I’ll let you in on a little secret. I was texting back and forth with the roaster of Weird DarkRoast Coffee today and we’ll actually be setting up a special ongoing deal just for patrons – you’ll get a free membership to Roasters Marketplace which is the only place the coffee is sold. We’ve not nailed down the specifics yet, but it will include free shipping on all orders, you’ll get info on pre-releases of other coffee flavors if you want to try those, and discounts on numerous items on the Roasters Marketplace website that only members will be able to receive. I’ll have details on that coming up as soon as everything has been ironed out – it’s pretty exciting stuff. So if you plan on ordering the coffee on a regular, like monthly basis, being a patron and getting the free membership for the coffee might actually be a good deal. I’m also reeeeeeally happy to hear that you like the Church of the Undead and that you don’t feel you are being preached at. That’s so refreshing to hear. I know we’ve branded it as a church because it is a Christian message, but I really try to make it NOT sound like a sermon. In fact, I started off by calling the episodes sermons and realized it was exactly the opposite of what I wanted them to be seen as. So now I’m just back to calling it episodes. And for those who are not subscribed to the Church of the Undead, it is now a 7-days-per-week podcast just like Weird Darkness, only a whole heckuva lot shorter! Monday thru Saturday I have short 3-10 minute episodes or “devotionals” which are still lighthearted and fun, I call those LifeLines, and then there is the actual meaty “Church of the Undead” on Sundays. I was sick last Sunday so I didn’t post a new church episode, but that is the plan for the future.
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.
SHOW CLOSE, CREDITS, A LITTLE LIGHT, AND A FINAL THOUGHT==========
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.
And again, this month I’m raising awareness and funds to battle depression and I need your help – please visit DarknessChallenge.com to give as much as you can, and if you struggle with depression, consider making a video to help raise awareness. Get the details about the video challenge or make a donation, or do both at DarknessChallenge.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.
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 Butcher Vampire” by Morgan Dunn
“The Mongolian Death Worm” by Natasha Ishak
“The Penteli Cave Enigma” by Caleb Strom
“The Toxic Woman” by Kaushik Patowary
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… “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” — 1 John 4:18
And a final thought… “Good things come to those who wait. But better things come to those who work for it.” – Unknown
I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me in the Weird Darkness.