“THE WEREWOLF PANIC OF 1972” and More Terrifying True Stories! #WeirdDarkness

THE WEREWOLF PANIC OF 1972 and More Terrifying True Stories! #WeirdDarkness

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IN THIS EPISODE: Werewolves were a very real threat in the minds of those living long long ago – but in Sweden they came back with a vengeance, paralyzing people with fear, attacking townspeople, even killing three children according to reports… and this was less than 50 years ago! (The Werewolf Panic of the 1970s) *** While rumors abound about St. Anne’s Nunnery being haunted and a variety of stories can be found on the Internet, most have factual errors about the camp’s history that bring into question the tales of ghosts, abortions and nuns drowning babies in the swimming pool. Every single one is just an urban legend… aside from one very disturbing true event. (Urban Legends And True Terrors of St. Anne’s Nunnery) *** Where do urban legends come from? We’ll look at some of the most famous ones, and the history behind them. (The Legends Behind Urban Legends) *** You might remember the film starring Clint Eastwood about the famous 1962 Alcatraz prison escape. Officially the men were declared dead, failing to make it to shore and drowning in the turbulent waters surrounding the prison island. But is the official story the true story, or did they make it across alive after all? (The 1962 Escape From Alcatraz) *** Worldwide reports in recent years have come in about suspicious gas leaks or harmful smells. It happens so often it has even earned a name, “Sick Buildings”. What’s causing the mysterious fumes? Is it just a coincidence? A biological terrorist attack? Or is it something paranormal or even extraterrestrial? (Sick Buildings) *** Weirdo family member Rita Gomez shares her story that begins with, “We Dabbled With an Ouija Board And It Dabbled Back.”

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STORY AND MUSIC CREDITS/SOURCES…
(Over time links can and may become invalid, disappear, or have different content.)
“The Terrors of St. Anne’s Nunnery” from BackpackVerse: http://bit.ly/2X6LgCL
“St Anne’s Nunnery’s Haunted History” by Kelly Palmer for The Utah Statesman: http://bit.ly/34SEpiX
“Logan Canyon Nunnery Still for Sale” by Lis Stewart for HJ News: http://bit.ly/2O4zLYp
“The Legends Behind Urban Legends” by Jacob Shelton for Graveyard Shift: http://bit.ly/2rx0bKy
“Sick Buildings” by Tim R. Swartz for Conspiracy Journal: http://bit.ly/2NJbKqS
“The 1962 Escape From Alcatraz” by Fiona Guy for Crime Traveller: http://bit.ly/32Jy9Zn
“The Werewolf Panic of the 1970s” by Tommy Kuusela, PhD for Folklore Thursday: http://bit.ly/33N9QuK
“We Dabbled With a Ouija Board And It Dabbled Back” by Weirdo Rita Gomez
The intro story “An Aging Werewolf” by Lincoln Michel for Buzzfeed News: http://bit.ly/32JC4p3
(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.)
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TRANSCRIPT:

DISCLAIMER==========

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

INTRODUCTION: AN AGING WEREWOLF==========

I used to wake up in strange places. Park benches in new cities, orange groves among the fallen globes, motel parking lots at the edge of the dark woods. I’d be covered in blood, but alive. Now, I barely get down the block. I awake in the neighbors’ flower bed. The laundry room. The garbage bag by the door that I forgot to take downstairs before the moon took over the sky.

A kind stranger finds me, or a neighbor wakes me with a nasty voice. Today, it’s the school playground down the street and a policeman shaking his head. “Don’t make me haul you downtown, gramps. Go home and sober up.”

A dog walker passes me, a half-dozen mutts barking and straining at their leashes, their young canine bodies filled with energy. My body used to have that power. Now, it takes me a half hour to get home. My knee is enflamed, my hip aches, and sleeping on the slide has left me stooped over like the question mark. A small child, barely a snack, has to help me cross the street.

I’ve always feared the moon, ever since I got lost on a family camping trip and heard the howl. The reason for that fear has changed. It used to mean I’d hurt other people, now it just means I hurt myself.

What do I even look like now when the time comes? Mangy grey fur on wrinkled skin that clings to my skeleton like a dirty towel. Liver spots on my hairless belly. Cracks in my calcium-deficient claws.

I once was a monster, now I’m more waif than wolf.

I shower off the blood, put on a new pair of khakis, a fresh sweater. I grab my cane and hobble to Walgreens. They sell Luna bars. MoonPies. My monthly nightmare repackaged as tasty treats.

My trembling hands drop the items on the counter: Advil, Pepto-Bismol, Bengay, Band-Aids, ice pack, knee brace. “Looks like grandpa’s having a party tonight!” the cashier says with a wink. “Don’t get too crazy with this stuff. Haha.” He has a flush, round face. Just the right amount of marbling in the muscle.

When I was younger, I would’ve hidden in the park until he walked home.

I was a full of life back then, my whole future ahead of me like a wide open field to sprint through with the wind in my fur.

But now? Now all I can do is pretend to laugh, slide my card through the swiper, scribble on the receipt. Head home to await my sad transformation in my cramped apartment.

Perhaps this is what we all transform into, in the end: a tired old dog, alone and unloved, barking impotently at the dark sky.

I’m Darren Marlar and this is Weird Darkness.

SHOW OPEN==========

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

If you’re new here, welcome to the podcast – and be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss future episodes! If you’re already a Weirdo, please share the podcast with others – doing so helps make it possible for me to keep creating episodes as often as I do!

Coming up in this episode…

While rumors abound about St. Anne’s Nunnery being haunted and a variety of stories can be found on the Internet, most have factual errors about the camp’s history that bring into question the tales of ghosts, abortions and nuns drowning babies in the swimming pool. Every single one is just an urban legend… aside from one very disturbing true event. (Urban Legends And True Terrors of St. Anne’s Nunnery)

Where do urban legends come from? We’ll look at some of the most famous ones, and the history behind them. (The Legends Behind Urban Legends)

You might remember the film starring Clint Eastwood about the famous 1962 Alcatraz prison escape. Officially the men were declared dead, failing to make it to shore and drowning in the turbulent waters surrounding the prison island. But is the official story the true story, or did they make it across alive after all? (The 1962 Escape From Alcatraz)

Worldwide reports in recent years have come in about suspicious gas leaks or harmful smells. It happens so often it has even earned a name, “Sick Buildings”. What’s causing the mysterious fumes? Is it just a coincidence? A biological terrorist attack? Or is it something paranormal or even extraterrestrial? (Sick Buildings)

Weirdo family member Rita Gomez shares her story that begins with, “We Dabbled With a Ouija Board And It Dabbled Back.”

But first… werewolves were a very real threat in the minds of those living long long ago – but in Sweden they came back with a vengeance in 1972, paralyzing people with fear, attacking townspeople, even killing three children according to reports! We begin with that story. (The Werewolf Panic of 1972)

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

STORY: 
THE WEREWOLF PANIC OF 1972==========

In the autumn of 1972, numerous Swedish newspapers described how werewolves were causing a panic in a town in southern Sweden. According to the articles, fearsome werewolf attacks caused a “werewolf panic”, children were “paralysed with fear”, and one article even gave the alarming statement: “three school children killed! A teacher attacked and a woman beaten senseless in her cellar” (Kuusela 2016, 94). The happening took place in the otherwise quiet and peaceful town Trelleborg, at the time home to approximately 23,000 people.
The topic of werewolves was considered interesting for a couple of days, before the journalists pursued other matters. After that, the whole thing faded, and became a distant memory in Trelleborg – just a good story. Nevertheless, a couple of weeks later, newspapers reported a second outburst of werewolf attacks roughly 411 miles north of Trelleborg, in Jakobsberg, a suburb of Stockholm. This time, adults were calling the police claiming that a werewolf was roaming the rooftops at night, smashing windows and biting people to death! Like the first alarm, public interest in the second wave of werewolf attacks was brief and died out after a couple of days. The following year, one of Sweden’s biggest daily newspapers, Aftonbladet, reported that a mummy roamed in Sätra, a suburb of Stockholm. According to the article, the mummy killed cats, panicked horses, and “howled like a werewolf”. So, if werewolves were biting people to death and a mummy was roaming the streets of Stockholm, then this would have been shocking, even global news, and not something that could die out after a couple of days of circulation in local or national newspapers.
The first article on werewolves in Trelleborg had the following caption: “‘Werewolf’ scared children. Police took action at school”. It appeared in a local newspaper, Trelleborgs Allehanda, on 16 November 1972. This encouraged and inspired other journalists, who travelled to Trelleborg in hunt of a scoop. They interviewed children and teachers at the school, and contacted both police officers and locals. Different newspapers tried to come up with the most sensational news. That the journalists considered the werewolf a mere rumour becomes evident from reading the articles, written with a tongue-in-cheek fashion. Frightened schoolchildren said that they had seen a “man with hairy face, large protruding teeth and claws on his fingers”, they told other children who in turn started looking for a werewolf. Rumours started circulating in town and quickly became more and more sensational.
Many children claimed to have seen a werewolf; they said that he had a beard, long hair, and horns on his forehead. Other children showed the reporters werewolf teeth (tree branches), werewolf footprints (prints from horse hooves) or showed markings on walls supposed to be scratches from werewolf claws. Some children did not speak of a werewolf; instead, they claimed that a vampire haunted Trelleborg. One rumour said that two elderly women were just about to leave a laundry room – in Sweden this is usually a separate building or in a cellar, shared by tenants of the same house or a housing cooperative – when a large, unpleasant man appeared in front of them. He attacked them and tried to claw their faces, but one of the women fainted and the man suddenly disappeared. Different articles published in local and national newspapers, based on interviews and rumours, led to more rumours and increasing fear among children and parents. Two days after the first newspaper article, several children were so terrified that they stayed home from school. Both teachers and the school principal repeatedly had to calm the situation. Even the police had to respond to different alarms of alleged werewolf sightings – but never found any reliable physical evidence. Younger schoolchildren were most afraid, while many of the older children thought the situation ridiculous; some even took advantage of the situation to frighten the younger children even more. Many distressed parents thought it might be a crazy person who dressed up as a werewolf. All kinds of rumours circulated. One thing was certain, werewolf or not, the horror that many children, and some of their parents, felt was genuine. It took a couple of days for the whole thing to die out, something that happened naturally when the newspapers stopped writing about the situation.
The second werewolf alarm is comparable to the first. The rumour was at first concentrated in one area and reported in the press by different newspapers, but died out after only a couple of days of circulation. The explanation for the second alarm is probably also due to the horror movies (see below), combined with an event. According to one article, a group of children had met a strange man with long hair and big beard in a big public garage; he shouted at them and the children interpreted this as a roar or a howl. Apparently, this strange encounter in the large, shadowy garage was enough for the children to associate the man with a werewolf. The children’s reaction and response was with upsetting narratives that quickly spread and grew in intensity among parents and other children.
The third case, the mummy alarm, originated when an eleven-year-old boy claimed to have encountered the mummy late one night in March in 1973. He was shaken by what he think he saw, and he quickly told other kids, who told parents, who called the police, which led to reporters writing about it in newspapers. The rumour spread and grew in proportions. Other children organised expeditions were they hunted for the mummy at night and spooked each other. The police was soon hunting the mummy, but never found anything.
According to police reports from Trelleborg and Jakobsberg, the werewolf in both cases was really the town oddball, who in both cases was a well-known eccentric man with long hair and a big beard (Kuusela 2016, 85). It seems clear that the werewolf (and mummy) alarms were just rumours, encouraged by older schoolchildren who scared younger kids, who in turn worried parents. The police officers seems to have been annoyed at the whole situation, especially the fact that many seemed to take the rumours seriously. One police officer, who worked on this case, said to a reporter, “Nowadays many people look more or less like werewolves, with long hair and beard” (Kuusela 2016: 93). This is clearly his opinion of a new hippie generation with long hair, sideburns and beard.
Is it possible to compare the 1972 Swedish werewolf panic, or rather alarm, to similar cases in other countries? Yes. One similar happening took place in England in the 1950s. In the Gorbals district of Glasgow in 1954, hundreds of children stormed a local cemetery. This was at first reported in the now obsolete Glasgow morning paper, The Bulletin on 24 September 1954. Other papers followed and wrote about the same happening with different angles during the following days. Apparently, the children were looking for something they referred to as a vampire with iron teeth. The press had just reported that this vampire had killed and eaten “two wee boys”. At first, the alarm was thought to be directly linked to horror films shown locally, but was later reinterpreted as being due to horror comics. But, as shown in a study by two folklorists, the monster with iron teeth can also be traced to local legends. Above all to bogeymen and the children’s responses to legends and frightening, particularly about a certain “Jenny wi’ the airn teeth” that was used to frighten children in the area (see Hobbs & Cornwell 1988).
When it comes to the werewolf scares, from the grown-ups perspective, it seems to be a fear that children are in danger or victims of some crazy person. Why werewolves? I will quote my own article, and add that what I say applies to other horrors that circulates and pops up now and again:
    “But, notions of the werewolf, both in folklore and popular culture, have one thing in common; it is fear of the unknown and suspicion against strange and unfamiliar people. The savage image of the werewolf, being uncivilized and nocturnal, fits well: it is a way of expressing fears of what is believed to be wrong with society […] werewolves reveal our fear of what lurks inside, the beast hidden in us all that has the potential to change a rational and moral person, leaving only dreaded animal behaviour and appetites of lust, hunger, and rage” (”An American Werewolf in Trelleborg: Representation of the Werewolf in Swedish Folk Belief and Popular Culture”).

BREAK==========

Up next…

You might remember the film starring Clint Eastwood about the famous 1962 Alcatraz prison escape. Officially the men were declared dead, failing to make it to shore and drowning in the turbulent waters surrounding the prison island. But is the official story the true story, or did they make it across alive after all? (The 1962 Escape From Alcatraz)

Worldwide reports in recent years have come in about suspicious gas leaks or harmful smells. It happens so often it has even earned a name, “Sick Buildings”. What’s causing the mysterious fumes? Is it just a coincidence? A biological terrorist attack? Or is it something paranormal? (Sick Buildings)

These stories and more when Weird Darkness returns!

<COMMERCIAL BREAK>

STORY: SICK BUILDINGS==========

“Office Workers Sickened by Mysterious Gas.” “Fumes From Meteorite Crater Have Sickened 600.” “Fumes From Corpse Cause Evacuation.”  News reports from all over the world have shown a drastic increase in cases in which people are sickened and harmed by mysterious gases.  Many reports have come from seemingly common, normal buildings and schools.  Dubbed “sick buildings” by the press, explanations on the causes range from chemicals used during construction, to mass hysteria.
In Japan, recent suicides using household chemicals and terrorist attacks with sarin gas in the subways of Tokyo has focused worldwide attention to the frightening scenario of further poisonous gas attacks on large population centers.  However, little attention has been paid to the evidence that mysterious fumes have already been responsible for sickening hundreds, maybe thousands of innocent people.  Reports of unexplained gas attacks go back a number of years, some seem to indicate a disturbing connection with the frequency of attacks and an increase of UFO sightings.
One of the more familiar cases of reported gas attacks was the 1944 series of  incidents in Mattoon, Illinois.  The episode has been completely written off by many as a classic case of mass hysteria.  However, there were elements to the case, most notably in the form of physical evidence, that have been repeated constantly in the mysterious fumes reports going on today.
Starting in July 1950, reports of UFOs associated with mysterious fumes began to trickle in.  The July 1 edition of The Cincinnati Post ran the front page headline, “Saucers whirl over city.”
“Flying saucers were reported over Cincinnati at widely separated points. At least three reports were received around noon.  The first saucer was sighted around 11 a.m. by Mrs. Katherine Willis at 25 Murray Road, St. Bernard, and her daughter, Beverly Ann.  A few moments later, Jack Earls of 4713 Paxton Road, reported seeing saucers over Mt. Lookout and Lunken Airport. Control tower operators at the airport said they saw no saucers, and nothing unusual.
“Saucers also were reported at the same time by a Mt. Washington resident. ‘Beverly saw it first and watched it for about two minutes,’ said Mrs. Willis.  ‘It was white, way up in the sky, and I could tell that it was spinning,’  said Mrs. Willis.  ‘I couldn’t tell how high it was. It looked like it was going as fast or faster than the airplanes.’  In the past two days, flying saucers have been reported by officials in Cairo, Ill., and Louisville, Ky.”
The reports of UFOs coincided with reported low-flying aircraft leaving a noxious exhaust, causing an outbreak of mystery fumes throughout the Cincinnati area. The press at the time, did not make the obvious correlation. The Cincinnati Enquirer  reported on July 9th a similar incident in Illinois.
The Cincinnati Enquirer’s headline reflected the Cold War fears that were on the minds of everyone during the decade.  “Only a horrible nightmare. Fears of Russian gas bombing arise when foul odor from passing truck spreads through seven towns near Moline, Ill.”
The article goes on to report that a foul smell choked seven towns, sending some residents into hysterics and raising fears of a Russian gas bombing.  The noxious odor crept through Moline, East Moline, Silvis and Rock Island, Ill., and then spread across the border into Muscatine, Bettendorf and Davenport, Iowa.  No injuries were reported aside from upset stomachs.
Some residents, in hysterics, called police.  One man insisted to Silvis police that “the Russians are flying over and gassing us.”  The evil-smelling fumes routed citizens from the beds and from taverns, almost forced the closing of two farm machinery factories, jammed police switchboards and kept firemen on a near-emergency basis.
An official of the Iowa-Illinois Gas and Electric Co. said the odor probably resulted from a leak in a tank of Pentalarm being hauled through the area on a truck headed west. He said the truck was seen passing through Moline shortly before midnight.  Pentalarm is an odorant used to inject a smell into natural gas, normally odorless, to permit detection of leaks. The official said the odor is not injurious but can cause nausea.
Several taverns in Silvis and East Moline lost their patrons in a hurry when the smell entered their establishments. Some 20 persons jammed the East Moline police station.  Police at Muscatine, Iowa, said anxious citizens jammed the switchboard with calls. Some became hysterical and left town.
Others just closed all their doors and windows and tried to go back to sleep.
In Moline, a reporter said, “The police are being run ragged, calls are coming in from all over the town, and the squad cars are going all over the place. People are heading for the high ground away from the river.”  The smell was strongest in the lowland areas along the Mississippi.
The utility company, flooded with calls, dispatched more than 30 repairmen to find what was first believed to be a leak in a gas main. The men hunted for three hours but found no leaks. Authorities at the Rock Island arsenal said, “Everything is in order here,” in response to queries on whether the smell might have originated there.  The smell lingered in the Illinois area for three hours, then hit the Iowa cities.  It disappeared at daylight.
Subsequent attempts to locate the mysterious leaking truck failed.  Some residents said the gas was nothing like the smell of Pentalarm.  The gas they smelled was incapacitating, and felt like, “the air was being sucked out of the lungs.”  On July 7th and 8th, newspaper and police switchboards were flooded with reports of UFOs flying overhead.  The Moline/Davenport area also had an unusually high amount of UFO reports during the week of the 8th.
The relatively new phenomenon of “sick buildings” has some people worried that a new, though subtle form of terrorism is taking place. An alarming increase of UFO sightings in the same areas as reported sick buildings has lead some investigators to suggest that there could be a connection. More mundane explanations such as chemicals used during construction, to outgassing from new carpets have taken the brunt of the blame when mysterious fumes are reported. However, air checks usually can find no trace of any potentially hazardous chemical or gas to account for the strange symptoms reported by stricken individuals. Other, less credible attempts at an explanation generally leans towards cases of mass hysteria, or workers suffering from the “blue flu.”
In Margate, Florida on April 7, 1997, a grocery store was forced to close because of a strange gas that made at least 30 ill. Officials say about 100 people were in the store when workers and customers began complaining of sore throats and watery eyes. Hazardous materials investigators say noxious fumes that caused the apparent respiratory problems among store customers had dissipated by they time they arrived, making it difficult to trace their origin.
Of the people who complained about symptoms, 11 were taken to area hospitals, but all were released following treatment for what were described as “minor” problems. Some customers said the fumes smelled like chlorine, while others described them as smelling like pepper.
Tamarac, Fla., Fire & Rescue Battalion Chief Dennis Peloso said the varied descriptions made it difficult to determine the source of the smell. “We’ve checked for chemicals, gas, Freon. We looked at the refrigeration system. Nothing,” said Peloso, who called the negative tests “a little weird.”
Schools also seem to be a favorite target of “sick building syndrome.” On January 14, 2008, St Helens, Oregon High School was evacuated after students and faculty fell ill after noticed a strong odor like “rotten eggs.” Nearby, people at the local Safeway store, and at the bank, also became ill. Several people had to be treated for nausea, dizziness, burning of skin and eyes, and respiratory complaints.
After some initial speculation that it was a natural gas leak, it was finally determined that it was, instead, a mystery. There was no leak anywhere on the school grounds, and chemical sniffers detected no natural gas. Local officials promised to look into the matter, but no investigation was ever conducted.
Mysterious fumes circulating through a classroom in Jamaica triggered a school evacuation and sent five children to the hospital gasping for breath, on January 25, 1997. Traces of the fumes were detected inside Room 315 of PS 37. Children were complaining of headaches, chest pains, watery eyes and breathing difficulties, Fire Department spokesman Luis Basso said.
Taking emergency precautions, the Fire Department evacuated the building immediately. Basso said 25 people from Room 315 – 23 children and two adults were treated at the scene for inhaling the mysterious fumes. Five of those were taken to a nearby hospital for further treatment.
Superintendent Celestine Miller of Community School District 29 said she did not know the exact source of the children’s discomfort. However, the investigation by environmental authorities and the city Health Department was unable to trace any hazardous materials released into the school environment.
So far no explanation has satisfactorily answered the questions concerning the causes of “sick building syndrome.” If the culprit is a mélange of “common” chemicals, then air tests should have found the suspected contaminants. The same goes for deliberate gas attacks. Air tests should be able to determine what the fumes are. There is also no good reason for the fumes to suddenly appear, then disappear just as quickly. Chemicals in the carpet, or in the structure of the building would leak slowly and evenly into the atmosphere. Making it easy for modern air check systems to find and fix the cause of the problem. Easy answers however, are not forthcoming.

STORY: THE 1962 ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ==========

The so-called inescapable prison of Alcatraz was crumbling and in 1962 three inmates made use of the deteriorating buildings to carry out a daring escape, fleeing from Alcatraz Island and into the waters of San Francisco Bay. The dramatic escape was dramatized in the now classic 1969 film “Escape From Alcatraz” starring Clint Eastwood in the leading role of Frank Morris. Never seen or heard of again, many believe they died in those waters desperately trying to make to the mainland. All three have officially been declared dead by drowning, but rumors are they did make it and they escaped into the crowds of the city, created new identities and lived their lives as free men.

Today, scientists have used computer technology to simulate the exact tides and conditions of that night and have concluded that if they left at the right time, they may have made it alive.

On 11 June 1962 three prisoners, Frank Morris and brothers, John and Clarence Anglin achieved the impossible; they successfully broke out of Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary in what is now known as the most famous Alcatraz escape in history.

These were three intelligent men, lifelong criminals with dozens of escape attempts between them across other prisons. It was not a surprise they would attempt an Alcatraz escape. Realizing the prison was old and the walls were beginning to rot, they decided they were going to tunnel their way out.

They discovered the ventilation shaft above B block hadn’t been sealed and blocked off with concrete like all the others. If they could get into it, they knew they could get to the roof. To get there, however, they had to get out of their cells.

Alcatraz Penitentiary sits on Alcatraz Island just off the coast of San Francisco. Originally the location for a military fort and later a military prison, the island is surrounded by deep rough waters only accessible by boat.

Taken on by the Federal Bureau of Prisons in 1933, Alcatraz was developed to manage the ongoing crime problems of the 1930’s with gangs taking over the cities. More security, new guard towers and solid fencing were installed to become one of the toughest prisons in American history.

No one wanted to be sent to Alcatraz, it had a feared reputation and the conditions were brutal. Trying to escape was futile. If you managed to get past the prison walls you were met with water and lots of it. There was nowhere to go and nowhere to run. Furthermore, one guard for every three prisoners and a 200-meter perimeter fence around the prison walls made any attempts at escape almost impossible.

A number of escape attempts however were made, with most being killed in the process. The 1946 Battle of Alcatraz made history with rioting for two days from prisoners who had taken over the prison, killing officers and other inmates. For ten years no other prisoners attempted to escape from Alcatraz with the memory and impact of those two days running deep.

Each cell had a simple metal grate for ventilation. Behind the grate was a narrow corridor that went directly to an open duct to the roof. Frank Morris and the Anglin brothers set about planning how they could tunnel through behind the grate. Other inmates gave them utensils from the kitchen and workshops which they used to craft the tools they needed to dig.

They created a drill from spare parts; they sharpened spoons to chip away at the concrete walls. Day after day, month after month when the lights went out in Block B, they quietly carried on digging through the night. It took them nine months to complete their tunnels, each leading from their cells through the ventilation shaft and out onto the roof of the prison.

They made replicas of steel grates from cardboard and tobacco boxes, knowing they needed to keep their cells looking as normal as possible. During the day they planned the next stage of their escape; how to get off Alcatraz Island.

They knew the waters were their biggest barrier and they knew this was what had foiled many escape attempts in the past. Again using supplies from the kitchen, laundry and workshops and aided by fellow prisoners, they created a raft and life jackets from raincoats.

Over 50 raincoats were used and they had a squeeze box to inflate the raft. There was no way to test it so they just had trust it was going to be good enough to get them across the Bay. They built paddles for moving through the water from tools they managed to get hold of. This was a well-planned and carefully crafted escape plan and these were men determined to make it out alive.

Using wire frames, plaster, soap and real hair, they made fake heads from paper mache. One of Anglin brothers worked in the barbers so the hair was easily available to them. Their idea was to put the heads in their beds to make sure guards doing head counts would not realize they were missing. This would give them the time they needed to get down to the water’s edge, inflate the raft and start rowing across the water and to freedom.

On the night of 11 June 1962, they put their plan into action. It was a normal day in Alcatraz prison; the guards did their rounds, checking the cells and doing their head-count. They had no idea of the events that were due to unfold that evening.

After lights out, Frank Morris, Clarence and John Anglin put their fake heads on their pillows, drew the duvets up and created a body shape. Satisfied it looked realistic; at 9pm they escaped through their tunnels.

Other prisoners could hear them crawling behind the walls. The guards saw nothing amiss and carried on past the three men’s cells oblivious. The men made it to the roof causing swarms of seagulls to squawk at their unexpected presence but drew no reaction from the prison guards. They made it down onto the rocks below.

On the morning of June 1962, three men didn’t come out of their cells. Upon head-count men normally are up and at the doors. Alarms were sounded and the hunt began. Word began to get out of this ingenious escape from the inescapable prison that was Alcatraz.

The FBI, police, and army all hunted the coastline and the waters knowing this was their only route out but no trace of them were found. Their cells showed how they had escaped to the horror of the guards and those in charge. When questioned, other inmates began to give some information on this daring escape, the planning and how they had done it.

Originally there as another inmate, Alan West, who was supposed to go with them. He knew about the plan but he couldn’t break through his cell in time to join the other three. He told the FBI what the plan was; that they had planned to go to Angel Island first and then onto the mainland to steal a car.

The FBI swarmed Angel Island and found only a paddle, two lifejackets and a small rubber packet containing photographs and notes. Reports at the time said the makeshift raft was never found and there were no reports of cars stolen in the area.

On 17 July 1962, the crew of a Norwegian cargo ship leaving San Francisco Bay spotted a body with clothing matching the uniform worn by Alcatraz prisoners. Although the body was never retrieved, many felt this proved the three men had failed and drowned in the water.

The Alcatraz escape was an embarrassment to the prison authorities. This was Alcatraz Penitentiary, the most secure prison available and it had lost three of its prisoners.

The use of the crumbling walls highlighted the deterioration of the prison buildings and the costs involved in maintaining its operation. One year after the escape in 1963, Alcatraz Penitentiary was closed and all prisoners were transferred to other prisons.

This is a story which had intrigued many over the years. No trace of Frank Morris, John Anglin and Clarence Anglin had ever been found, leading some to believe they were still alive. In 1979 the FBI passed the case to US Marshalls. Known for hunting down escaped prisoners, the chance that the three men were still alive and living free somewhere was a chance they could not take.

At that time all reports and documentation relating to the escape were still on paper and the US Marshalls digitized them over two years of gathering all the files together. Digitalized age progression photos were made to give an indication of what the men would look like today. The original criminal records showed Frank Morris was an orphan with a childhood spent in foster homes and reform school. He was 14 years old when first arrested and a long criminal record followed. He was involved in armed robbery and bank robberies and had many periods in prison.

Numerous escape attempts earned him the reputation of a good escape artist. The Anglin brothers also had long criminal records, stealing cars and money, breaking into homes and businesses, but little violence in their history.

Digging through the records, documents were found in the archives that had previously been kept secret. They revealed that a raft was actually found on Angel Island on the day after the escape with clear footprints leading off the Island.

In the largest development in the case, nine months after the report from the trawler of a body in the water, skeleton remains were found. Could this be one of the three men? As part of their investigation, the US Marshalls tracked down the skeletal remains and sent them for DNA testing. A coroner’s report stated the bones belonged to an adult male at a height which matched the details of Frank Morris. Many questions circulated speculating on the identity of the bones.

If they did belong to Frank Morris, were where the Anglin brothers? Some reports have suggested that Frank Morris was not liked very much by the brothers, indicating they may have pushed him off the raft to drown while they continued on to Angel Island. Most reports of sightings have focused on the two brothers rather than Frank Morris, again indicating they may have survived while he did not.

After tracking down a relative of Frank Morris to obtain DNA material for comparison with the skeletal remains found, no DNA match was obtained confirming the bones did not belong to Frank Morris.

Scientists at Delft University in the Netherlands have created a computer model simulating the movement of water around Alcatraz Island and San Francisco Bay. For the first time, they have used this to calculate whether or not the three escapes could have made it across the waters and through the tides in their makeshift raft. They attempted to recreate the exact conditions of that evening in 1962 making use of historical tidal data:

*****We didn’t know exactly when the inmates launched their boats, or their precise starting point, and so we decided to release 50 [virtual] boats every 30 minutes between 2000 and 0400, from a range of possible escape spots at Alcatraz to see where they would end up. We added a paddling effect to the boats, as we assumed the prisoners would paddle as they got closer to land.”*****

They discovered that if the men had left before midnight or after 1 am, the tides would have been against them, taking them off on a different course which they would not have been able to fight.

*****“In both cases they would have spent so much time in the water, they probably would have died of hypothermia, or they would have been picked up by the police because sunrise was at 0600.”*****

However, they did find that if the escapees left at midnight the tides would have come to their aid taking them directly towards the Golden Gate Bridge, and according to the scientists, they could have made it alive.

What is curious about this data is we know from the fourth prisoner who was due to escape with them that the plan was to head for Angel Island. Furthermore, if the newly unearthed documents stating the remains of a raft were found on Angel Island the day after the escape, this suggests they achieved their aim, despite the strong tides. With no bodies and no bones for Frank Morris or John and Clarence Anglin, there is every possibility these three men escaped from Alcatraz prison in 1962 and made it into San Francisco alive, whether via Angel Island or the Golden Gate Bridge. Intelligent men, creating new identities and staying under the radar away from authorities would not be beyond them.

Many believe their long criminal histories are an indication that they would not have been able to stay out of trouble. If they were alive would have most likely been caught. Others claim once they had achieved freedom they would have maintained low profiles to ensure they did not return to imprisonment.

Now 53 years on, we may never know exactly what happened that night in June 1962, but their escape from the most secure prison in America will never be forgotten.

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When Weird Darkness returns…

While rumors abound about St. Anne’s Nunnery being haunted and a variety of stories can be found on the Internet, most have factual errors about the camp’s history that bring into question the tales of ghosts, abortions and nuns drowning babies in the swimming pool. Every single one is just an urban legend… aside from one very disturbing true event.

But first, Weirdo family member Rita Gomez shares her story that begins with, “We Dabbled With a Ouija Board And It Dabbled Back.”

These stories and more are on the way.

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STORY: WE DABBLED WITH AN OUIJA BOARD AND IT DABBLED BACK==========

So we dabbled with an Ouija board and it dabbled back.  This day my husband and I were in our bedroom and our son was in his. My son was about 10 or 11 years old and was in his room on his bed. My son came running to our door and began banging on the door saying something was in his bedroom. I opened the door and he was hysterical, crying, scared and said something jumped on his chest and was keeping him from breathing. My son said he couldn’t move for a while but then broke free and ran.
The same house months later.  I and my daughter went out of town and left my husband, toddler son, and 11 year old behind. The first night I was away my husband and toddler were in our bedroom alone. My husband said that in the middle of the night he woke and there were snakes all around on the floor. Then he saw this old hag with white scraggly hair with a dagger in her hand and she tried to attack my husband. My husband said he had to protect our son and began praying until the snakes and the old hag disappeared.

Same house different day. My husband and I were in bed. My husband was already asleep. I was lying there next to him and when I looked around the room I saw the digital clock said, 666 and the cross over the door was inverted. I the see an orb the size of a basket ball. The orb is floating at the foot of the bed. The inside of the orb is swirling with gray smoke. The orb slowly moves around the bed to my side of the bed. I covered my face with the cover and try to call to my husband who was lying next to me but I can’t speak. I peek to see where the orb is and now the orb is right in front of me. I try to pray but I can’t. The orb attaches to my left rib area and I feel some vibration sensation but I can’t do anything. When it stops it floats into the closest. Really crazy and weird!

STORY: THE TERRORS OF ST. ANNE’S NUNNERY==========

The Beehive State is a big place with a lot of stuff in it. Some places in Utah are full of natural beauty. Some are loaded with the rich history of our nation. And of course, some places in Utah are haunted. It happens everywhere. One such place is a former nunnery called St. Anne’s. It’s in Logan Canyon, and it’s been standing there since the 1920s. St. Anne’s is in rough shape these days, but it’s still there. It’s one of the most frightening places in Utah, despite being, essentially in ruins. Decaying walls and overgrown gardens, the occasional skittering of an animal you can’t quite see. The former retreat used to be a favorite hangout of local kids and teenagers who spray paint the walls and leave beer cans and garbage strewn about, but not everything that goes on there has such a prosaic explanation. Ghost hunters love St. Anne’s – always on the lookout for new places in Utah or elsewhere to ply out trade, and the dark history of St. Anne’s makes it a prime candidate for the paranormal. Oh, did I not mention what went on at St. Anne’s?

Murder was just the beginning. It’s a bad place, where bad things happened. Bad things are still happening there, some would say. Ghosts love a good, bloody story, and so do we. Back in the 20s, the Catholic Church owned the land and the building. St. Anne’s wasn’t a traditional nunnery where sisters would go about their normal duties. There were other places in Utah for that, places closer to civilization. St. Anne’s was more of a punishment, or a place for the Church to hide away embarrassments. Nuns who had broken their vows and committed sin were sent here. Most commonly, that meant the sin of indulging their carnal desires. In other words, pregnant nuns were shuffled off to St. Anne’s to carry their babies to term out of the public eye. After birth, the children were quietly put up for adoption at various orphanages and other places in Utah. This went on for some time without incident, but eventually one of the women decided she couldn’t stand for it. Holding her newborn infant son in her arms, she knew she had to escape before he was taken away. Sneaking out in the middle of the night, the nun took off at a dead run through the woods and underbrush. It wasn’t long before she heard the clamor of pursuers, and the shouts of the head nun. Overcome with blind rage and fury, the head nun bellowed at the top of her lungs that she would kill both mother and child when she caught them. The frightened new mother heard this and knew in her heart that the head nun truly meant what she said. Desperate to protect her child, she hid him under a bush and loudly took off in another direction. Deliberately making as much noise as possible, she hoped to draw her pursuers away from her precious baby boy. And it worked, for a time. The head nun and her search party took off after the mother. Eventually, they lost her trail. She had done it. She had won. She was free. Or so she thought. Returning back to the bush where her son lay, the former nun found nothing but a scrap of blanket that had caught on a thorn. Fearing the worst had happened, she snuck back to St. Anne’s. Her fears were confirmed. The worst had happened. Floating face down in a pool just outside the nunnery was the body of her infant son. Sinking to her knees and crying out in anguish, the mother cursed the head nun, the Church, and the world that had brought her baby to this end. After a time, she came to a decision. She could not live in such a world. The young mother grabbed up a handful of poisonous berries from a nearby plant and swallowed them whole. She joined her son in death. As any paranormal enthusiast knows, a story like this in a place like this is more than ripe for ghost infestation. Treading the grounds of St. Anne’s today, one feels the dark energy almost as a physical force. It pushes down on you, makes you feel heavier, makes it harder to move around. They congregate in places like St. Anne’s, unable to exert much influence, but hanging around the stronger entities. Every element of that black story from years ago is still standing. Walking through the grounds itself, you can trace the path of the chase through the woods. Some say that the sheer cruelty of what went on at St. Anne’s makes it a locus for supernatural inhabitation. That same force that is so palpable to human visitors acts as a magnet for ghosts and spiritsaround other places in Utah. It draws them in, binds them, and makes them stronger when they are on the grounds of St. Anne’s. More than most other places in Utah, St. Anne’s is home to the restless souls of those who died too young. Wandering the grounds, it’s not uncommon to hit a sudden strange cold spot. The weather is often quite warm in this part of the state, and it’s all too noticeable to feel a sudden chill. Some say that these small drops in temperature represent the influence of smaller or weaker spirits. Using an EVP recorder, it is possible to hear the frantic cries of babies and children. Late at night during certain times of year, particularly the warmer summer months, and you might even hear them unaided. There’s another strange story… The story goes that on especially haunted nights, the air surrounding the pool area will be ice cold. That’s ice cold even on a warm summer night in the middle of July. It makes no sense, and it’s a shock to the senses. Cold as the grave, some might say. The ghost of the poor mother herself still lingers, too. Walking through the woods at night, you might hear her terrified, quiet sobs echoing through the trees. If you’re very lucky, or perhaps unlucky, you’ll hear the barks and snarls of the guard dogsthe head nun employed to hunt her. A feeling of being watched has been reported by many travelers, especially when walking along the riverbank. Many people experience the urge to look up at the opposite bank, fully expecting to see someone standing there watching. There’s never anyone there, of course. At least no one visible. Many people say it’s the ghost of the poor mother, watching out for the search party. Perhaps staring at you, wondering if you’re there to help her or to bring her back to the cursed St. Anne’s. It’s downright unsettling, and one only hopes that she can someday find peace. Most people today choose not to travel to St. Anne’s at night. It’s a little too disturbing, a little too scary. They go to other places in Utah for their nighttime walks, places where they don’t feel the spirits are on their tail. Of course, as a listener of this podcast, you might have a different view of things.

A bit more research, unfortunately, shows that the legendary stories are just that… stories. Urban legends.

Some Logan residents have heard of the former nunnery that resides in Logan Canyon and the urban legends that surround it – making the nunnery the source of curiosity and ambiguity it is today.

Local filmmakers, Burke and Rhett Lewis, said they have studied the retreat for a film they are making which will be called, “The Nunnery.”

Rhett said, “[‘The Nunnery’ is] really not that scary, but if you go there wanting to get freaked out, you will.” He said it’s scary because no one really knows what happened there.

The Legend of the former nunnery that makes it such an intriguing place, Burke said, and it is the reason the kids were drawn there that night in 1997 – which I’ll tell you in a few moments.

The nunnery was built during the 1920s, Burke said, by an architect named Boyd Hatch.

Burke said it wasn’t originally owned by the Catholic church and was actually used by movie stars as a hotel during its early years. When the Catholics bought the property, they named it St. Anne’s Retreat and used it as a summer retreat for nuns and priests to practice and study their religion.

Jacob Jensen, a physical education major, has researched the legends that encompass the old nunnery.

According to the legend, Jensen said murders took place in the ’40s on the property.

The nunnery is located about a quarter mile past Preston Valley campground in Logan Canyon. The property is run-down and consists of seven small, separate cabins that circle around the main lodge, which stands slightly bigger than the other cabins.

The pool on the property is now empty. Currently, there are security guards who patrol the area for trespassers who are consequently ticketed, Jensen said.

Rhett said the “freakiest” thing about the nunnery is the children’s playhouse hung on the wall next to the stone fireplace in the main lodge.

Many are skeptical of the stories of the nunnery and believe it is no more than a mere legend – but others disagree.

“Hauntings occur when injustice has taken place,” Jensen said. “What people don’t know is that places are marked by experiences that happen. Those impressions leave a permanent stain if something wrong has occurred there, and that place will forever bear record of the things that have happened there. Particularly, when evil is conjured up by ill intention and conspiring thought, it potently resonates wherever it eventually transpires. That place becomes its birth place, there is virtually no cure and it can potentially infect anyone who encounters it.”

Burke and Rhett said there have heard many made-up stories about the nunnery – none of which are verifiable… except one… and it’s about as horrific as any of the unverifiable urban legends.

According to a story in the Herald Journal, in October 1997, about 30 teenagers were ambushed, shot at, handcuffed, tied together by their necks and threatened with their lives by three men who claimed to be security guards at the area formerly known as St. Anne’s Retreat, in Logan Canyon.

Groups of teenagers in separate increments went to the old nunnery that night, and as each group arrived the three men surrounded them with guns, tied them up and forced them into the empty swimming pool that resides on the property, according to the Herald Journal.

The hostages were strapped together by ropes around their necks which the guards told them were linked to explosives and would, “blow their heads off,” if they tried to get free.

According to the article, one boy was butted by a shot gun, several girls were sexually molested and all of the kids had wrist marks from plastic, store-bought handcuffs.

The guards shouted obscenities at the teenagers, according to the article, and told them if they tried to run they would, “shoot off their legs.”

According to the article, after several hours of holding the teenagers captive, the guards called the cops on the kids for trespassing. When the cops arrived, they replaced the plastic cuffs with real ones and escorted them to the sheriff’s office where they were cited for trespassing and then released.

When the victims’ parents found out what happened, the trespassing charges were dropped and the guards went to jail for several months.

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Up next…

Where do urban legends come from? We’ll look at some of the most famous ones, and the history behind them, when Weird Darkness returns.

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STORY: THE LEGENDS BEHIND URBAN LEGENDS==========

Unless you’re a total square, you’ve spent at least one night sitting around with your friends trying to freak each other out with secondhand stories about the guy hiding in the backseat of the girl’s car , or the man in the bunny suit who carries an axe. Urban legends are usually stories that are meant to teach you a lesson while giving you the heebie jeebies – they’re kind of like Aesop’s fables if Aesop were Edward Gorey.

But where do urban legends come from? There are multiple cases of similar stories popping up across the country in the pre-Internet age, so that means they must have a kernel of truth. Maybe. Most of the meanings behind urban legends are very simple: don’t do illicit substances, don’t hook up in public, and don’t put spiders in your hair. But rather than simply say those things, urban legends say something extreme as a way to hammer home a truth you can apply to your life.

If all urban legends are meant to teach people a lesson, then what do urban legends mean? What are people supposed to take away from stories about alligators stalking the sewers? Don’t buy an exotic pet? Some urban legends stories are rooted in truth , some of them are incredibly scary , and at least one of them is going to keep you from going into your bathroom for a couple of weeks.

How many times have you stood in front of a bathroom mirror in the dark and chanted “Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary…” until you’ve scared yourself senseless? Or were you too scared to even try because you heard that a kid a couple years older than you played told Bloody Mary and then the next day he was hit by a car?

Wouldn’t you know it, a spooky urban legend about a screaming woman jumping out of a mirror and killing whoever’s taunting her comes from the Catholic Church – sort of. Queen Mary the First became known as “Bloody Mary” because she burned almost 300 English Protestants at the stake for heresy in her five years on the throne.

The version of the urban legend that says you need to chant “Bloody Mary, I’ve got your baby” likely comes from the fact that Queen Mary I had multiple miscarriages and never had a child.

The Beehive Hairdo urban legend was about 10,000 times more popular in the ’50s and ’60s, when beehive hairdos were all the rage. Still, variations of stories about spider eggs hatching in a woman’s hair after she brushes a spider web (that’s also how you get pregnant by a warlock, btw) still float around.

Stories about women and their damn hair have been circulating since the 13th century, when a sermon was given about a “lady of Eynesham” who spent so much time on her hair that she barely made it to mass. As embarrassing as that might be, her hair probably looked great. Anyway, in order to teach her a lesson, the Devil turned himself into a spider and dropped down onto her head, totally freaking her out. According to the sermon, “Nothing would remove the offending insect, neither prayer, nor exorcism, nor holy water, until the local abbot displayed the holy sacrament before it.”

Why was the Devil working with the church? Doesn’t he have something better to do, like play guitar on top of a mountain or help produce the new Danzig record?

Regardless of the Devil’s follies, it’s obvious to anyone who has taken a feminist studies class that these stories are nothing more than an attempt to remind women that they should look good and do it fast, or their heads will be turned into spider nests. Thanks a lot for the nightmares, men.

Everyone knows someone who went to college with a girl whose lab partner knew a girl who was rooming with someone who was slain in her room while the roommate was out partying. And the roommate would have been wiped out too, if when she got back to her dorm room she had turned on the lights. Luckily, the totally real and not at all fictional roommate wasn’t nosey, and when she heard her nerdlinger roommate being murdered, she assumed that she was just having rough sex and went to sleep. The next day she woke up to a dead body across the room and the words “AREN’T YOU GLAD YOU DIDN’T TURN ON THE LIGHTS?” written in blood – or ink, or whatever was handy in this very real and not made-up story.

Originating in the ’60s , it’s not exactly clear what this urban legend is trying to say. It’s obviously a cautionary tale, but what are you being cautioned against? Staying in and studying when there’s a whole world of friends out there who (probably) won’t murder you? Living in a dorm with lax security and apparently, doors without locks? Maybe this is a story that’s meant to tell young people that it doesn’t matter if you’re good, bad, a studious bump on a log, or a party girl, you’re going to meet the axe and it’s best to just never turn on the lights.

The Hook Man is one of those classic urban legends that people seem to inherently know, like how to high-five or the steps to the Macarena. If you’re from Mars and aren’t sure what this is about, here’s the condensed version: two teens go to make out at Lover’s Lane, they hear a news report on the radio about an escaped prisoner from an insane asylum who has a hook for a hand, they get scared, leave, and when the guy gets home, he finds a hook stuck to his door. Phew, that was a close call.

While this story of teens making out to the news is pure fiction, it’s based on the Texas Moonlight Murders that occurred in 1946 in “lover’s lane”-type spots around Texarkana.

The Hook Man is essentially a precursor to slasher films, especially in the way that it posits that the only people who are in any kind of danger are people who put themselves there by being unchaste. Although you could argue that there’s nothing cooler than being offed by a psycho with a hook for a hand just after you finish hooking up in the back of a car.

Unlike most urban legends, there are no lessons to learn from the Bunny Man of Virginia other than if you see a guy in a bunny costume with an axe it’s time to get the heck out of Virginia.

The legend began in 1970, when a couple who were visiting their uncle outside of Fairfax, Virginia, had the passenger side window of their car smashed in with a hatchet just before a man in a bunny costume leaned into the car and screamed, “You’re on private property, and I have your tag number.”

Another bunny attack occurred a few weeks later, when a security guard approached a guy wearing a bunny suit who was standing on the porch of an unfinished home holding an axe. The Bunny Man then started smashing at the porch and shouting, “All you people trespass around here. If you don’t get out of here, I’m going to bust you on the head.”

From there, the Bunny Man stories grew to staggering heights. Some people believe that the Bunny Man escaped from an insane asylum in 1910, which would have made him 60 years old at his youngest (if he were born in the asylum), and close to 80, if you want to be more realistic. It’s now believed that if you hang out at the Bunny Man Bridge (or the Fairfax Station Bridge, if you’re the least fun person in the world) at midnight on Halloween you’ll be gutted and hung like a rabbit from the bridge for all the world to see. YIKES!

Aside from the weird supernatural element that the story has taken on in the 21st century, the spookiest thing about this urban legend is that anyone who wants to wear a bunny suit and go throw axes at people can just do it. Who needs to make the Bunny Man into a supernatural figure when there are legit crazy people out there?

If you live in a state where there’s not much to do outside of drive around on back roads with your friends then you probably have a crybaby bridge or three. If you haven’t had the joy of being freaked out while listening for the sounds of crying ghost babies who were allegedly drowned by their mothers then you haven’t lived.

In most of the CBB urban legends, a mother, usually of triplets, loses control of her car late at night while driving over a bridge and everybody drowns. Years later, if you drive to the bridge, cut your lights, and honk three times, you’ll hear the cries of the dead children.

What purpose does a myth like this serve? Is it a reminder to drive safely? Or is just meant to give teens something to do other than go down to the basement and sniff glue?

When it comes to places like DeKalb, Lufkin, or Brownwood, Texas, those towns are all situated near bridges where it’s possible that someone could have actually eaten it in the past, but the stories are always similar in a way that suggests that it’s a mutation that’s moved from town to town without ever actually happening.

Every few years or so, a copy of copy of a flyer comes out warning parents, teachers, and various authority figures about someone giving children packets of temporary tattoos featuring cartoon characters like Bart Simpson or “blue stars” laced with LSD/PCP/whatever hallucinogen you can think of that would be terrible for children to accidentally ingest. Anyone with a brain knows that this isn’t a thing. Not only is it a terrible way to build a customer base, but it’s predicated on the idea that drug dealers are just going to be giving their product out to people for free. Have you met a drug dealer? They hate doing that.

This urban legend dates back to the early ’80s, the beginning of everyone being afraid of everything all the time, when the New Jersey State Police released a memo about LSD that featured a photo of blotter acid with a picture of Mickey Mouse on it. From there, a Seventh-Day Adventist church wrote and passed out a flier in 1980 using information that they gleaned from the police memo and the rest is herstory.

Even though the urban legend of DreamWeaverGrey about some creep luring women to their deaths via AOL Instant Messenger isn’t exactly true, that doesn’t mean that you can’t learn something from it, or that people haven’t been slain by someone they met online .

While the DreamWeaverGrey urban legend still circulates under different names, it should probably just point to the news on any given day to remind people that anyone you meet online is putting forward a fake persona that, at best, is just the version of themselves that they want you to fall in love with, and at worst is a mask of humanity that’s meant to disguise the monster that lies beneath.

The one thing you know about traveling outside the safety of the United States is that if you’re not careful, someone is going to drug you and that you’ll wake up in a tub of ice sans kidneys. There’s a theory that this story comes from a series of organ donation scams, and the growing need for organ transplants in everyday life, but it should also be noted that all of these stories all contain a heavy dose of xenophobia.

If you are worried about someone nabbing your organs after a wild night out, the best way to deal with that is by preemptive partying. You’ve got to ruin your body beyond all recovery so no one will even want your disgusting kidneys or pickled liver.

You’ve heard stories of alligators crawling through the sewers of New York City, chomping on ninja turtles, and huddling up in a nest of leathery creepy crawlies that are always moments from bursting to the surface to slurp down your tickets to Hamilton. But was that ever true?

According to the story, vacationers from New York City who were visiting Florida would buy a baby alligator as a souvenir, thinking that they could raise it as a pet, and when it got too big to take care of in a studio apartment in Queens, they would flush it down the toilet. Real wackadoo versions of the story suggest that the alligators who survived the Great Flush would mate and their allibabies would grow up to be albino because of the lack of sun in their underground sewer lairs.

In actuality, the only New York City alligator sightings have all been above-ground, and most of them happened in the early 21st century, at least 50 years after the original stories began to circulate.

You’ve been there before, driving on an empty, Magic Marker-black highway when a car passes by without its headlights on. Do you flash your lights to let them know they’re cruising for a bruising? Or do you let them go by, just in case they’re members of a gang who are going to pull a U-turn and smash into your car so they can show off how down they are with Satan’s Devils?

This ridiculous urban legend was gifted to the world in the early ’80s, when a local paper in Montana suggested that this is how the Hell’s Angelswould be initiating new members. By 1984, the legend had spread to Eugene, Oregon, and the Hell’s Angels were changed to Hispanic and Black gang members because white people are trash.

Fast forward to the early ’90s. Everyone was covered in gak, Urkel was king, and fax machines were sending out this story to people across the country, making sure that everyone who worked in an office got freaked out all over again. Also, a murder took place in Stockton, California, after a school secretary flashed her lights at a car full of teens (UGH TEENS) who took the flash as a “sign of disrespect” and sprayed the car with bullets. According to local police, the murder had nothing to do with a gang initiation.

Japan is off its rocker – take for example, the legend of the Slit Mouth Woman; it involves a woman wearing a surgical mask walking up to you and asking, “Do I look beautiful?” If you say yes, she takes off her mask and reveals a Glasgow smile, and then says “What about now?”  Then she chops your face up if you give the wrong answer. Hint: There is no right answer.

Where did this insane urban legend come from? The story of the Kuchisake-Onna (“mouth cleft woman,” according to Google translate) comes from the Heain period (794 to 1185) and it begins with a vain woman cheating on a samurai, who then slices her face up before asking “Who will think you’re beautiful now?” Yeesh.

In the 1970s, the Slit Mouth Woman made a comeback in a big way when a story about a woman who was hit by a car while chasing children began to circulate because she had a similarly disfigured face to the Kichisake-Onna.

Look, you’re among friends, you can admit that you’re going to Hell when you die. No one’s judging you for that. (Well, except God – of course.) But what if you didn’t have to wait to travel to the fiery pit of lies until your body slowly decays into nothing? What if you could walk straight to Hell right now? If you find yourself near Hellam Township in York County, Pennsylvania, you can walk down Toad Road and pass through the seven gates of Hell.

Depending on which legend you believe, either a poorly-run insane asylum burned down, thus opening a vortex to Hell, or an eccentric physician who lived on the property built several gates along a path deep into the forest that also somehow opened up into a Hell dimension. In the latter version, only one gate is visible during the day.

The people of Hellam Township have gone out of their way to make sure you know there’s not really a gate to Hell in the woods just outside of their charming little town, but no matter how hard they try, the legend still persists. Maybe because Hell isn’t actually a place, but rather the feeling of unease that’s created when a local government doesn’t know how to have fun.

People can debate which urban legend has affected people the most throughout the 20th century, but the killer hiding in the back seat of a car who’s thwarted by headlights might be the goofiest. Maybe it seems silly in the 21st century because everyone is either driving a tiny car that no axe murderer could hide in unless they chopped off their legs first, or because people have heard the story so many times that they instinctively check the back of their cars without realizing it.

Surely this is a made-up story though, right? No dum-dum is such a ding-dong that they would hide in the back of someone’s car and try to kill them, right? Wrong. In New York, 1964, an escaped murderer hid in the backseat of an off-duty police officer who promptly shot the guy in his backseat. Be safe out there, Weirdos.

SHOW CLOSE, CREDITS, A LITTLE LIGHT, AND A FINAL THOUGHT==========

Thanks for listening.

If you like the podcast, and you haven’t already subscribed, be sure to do so now so you don’t miss future episodes! And also, please – tell someone else about the podcast. 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 creating episodes as often as I do. 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.

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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.

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… “Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs.” – Proverbs 10:12

And a final thought… “A ship in harbor is safe but that is not what ships are built for.” – John A Shedd

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

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