“THE BEAST OF GWANDA TOWN” and More True and Macabre Stories! #WeirdDarkness
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IN THIS EPISODE: I’ve covered numerous stories here in the podcast on people gone missing, never to be seen again. But it’s much more rare to have a story about a corpse going missing, never to be seen again. (How Daniel Murdock Saved on Funeral Expenses) *** One thing that has always been a constant in human history is adultery; as is the jilted spouse always being angry about it. One thing that has not been a constant is how society judges those involved in the infidelity. In 1885, there were different opinions about both adulterers as well as the one who murders a homewrecker. (Shot By a Jealous Husband) *** Part of the tablet’s translation, according to Isaac Newton, states: “By this means you shall have the glory of the whole world and thereby all obscurity shall fly from you. Its force is above all force, for it vanquishes every subtle thing and penetrates every solid thing.” Cryptic yes, but it appears to indicate immense power for the one who understands and wields it. It comes from the Emerald Tablet – and it’s no surprise there are many now who want to know where it is. (The Mystery of the Emerald Tablet) *** The Shimokubo Dam in Japan is unique in that it is supposedly haunted. I’ve heard of haunted lakes, and haunted roads that go around lakes or past lakes, but I’ve never heard of a lake that was created by a haunted dam. Shimokubo Dam is supposedly so haunted, that Japan says the stream of ghost hunters and paranormal enthusiasts is out of control. (Japan’s Haunted Dam) *** A mysterious creature is reported to be living near a bridge in Zimbabwe which has killed numerous men. What is the Beast of Gwanda Town? (Beast of Gwanda Town) *** A year before the infamous Lizzie Bordon was born, came the birth of Lizzie Halliday – who, though becoming less well known, went on to commit atrocities that would’ve made Lizzie Bordon’s stomach turn. (The Worst Woman on Earth)
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STORY AND MUSIC CREDITS/SOURCES…
(Over time links can and may become invalid, disappear, or have different content.)
“Japan’s Haunted Dam” by Paul Seaburn for Mysterious Universe: https://tinyurl.com/y4ht2q55
“Beast of Gwanda Town” from News Dze Zimbabwe: https://tinyurl.com/yyhequxx
“The Worst Woman on Earth” by Kieran W. for Mystery Confidential: https://tinyurl.com/y65c4npd
“How Daniel Murdock Saved on Funeral Expenses” from Strange Company: https://tinyurl.com/y5x2q45e
“Shot By a Jealous Husband” by Robert Wilhelm for Murder by Gaslight: https://tinyurl.com/y6ma3cpn
“The Mystery of the Emerald Tablet” by Brent Swancer for Mysterious Universe: https://tinyurl.com/y3pvg2ya
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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.
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Coming up in this episode…
I’ve covered numerous stories here in the podcast on people gone missing, never to be seen again. But it’s much more rare to have a story about a corpse going missing, never to be seen again. (How Daniel Murdock Saved on Funeral Expenses)
One thing that has always been a constant in human history is adultery; as is the jilted spouse always being angry about it. One thing that has not been a constant is how society judges those involved in the infidelity. In 1885, there were different opinions about both adulterers as well as the one who murders a homewrecker. (Shot By a Jealous Husband)
Part of the tablet’s translation, according to Isaac Newton, states: “By this means you shall have the glory of the whole world and thereby all obscurity shall fly from you. Its force is above all force, for it vanquishes every subtle thing and penetrates every solid thing.” Cryptic yes, but it appears to indicate immense power for the one who understands and wields it. It comes from the Emerald Tablet – and it’s no surprise there are many now who want to know where it is. (The Mystery of the Emerald Tablet)
The Shimokubo Dam in Japan is unique in that it is supposedly haunted. I’ve heard of haunted lakes, and haunted roads that go around lakes or past lakes, but I’ve never heard of a lake that was created by a haunted dam. Shimokubo Dam is supposedly so haunted, that Japan says the stream of ghost hunters and paranormal enthusiasts is out of control. (Japan’s Haunted Dam)
A mysterious creature is reported to be living near a bridge in Zimbabwe which has killed numerous men. What is the Beast of Gwanda Town? (Beast of Gwanda Town)
A year before the infamous Lizzie Bordon was born, came the birth of Lizzie Halliday – who, though becoming less well known, went on to commit atrocities that would’ve made Lizzie Bordon’s stomach turn. (The Worst Woman on Earth)
While listening, be sure to check out the Weird Darkness website. At WeirdDarkness.com you can sign up for the newsletter to win monthly prizes, find paranormal and horror audiobooks I’ve narrated, watch old horror movies for free, plus you can visit the “Hope In The Darkness” page if you are struggling with depression or dark thoughts. You can find all of that and more at WeirdDarkness.com.
Now.. bolt your doors, lock your windows, turn off your lights, and come with me into the Weird Darkness!
STORY: THE WORST WOMAN ON EARTH==========
A cross-continental homicidal lunatic with a range of nefarious pseudonyms. Lizzie Halliday was the Catskill Ripper, the New York Ripper and most famously the Worst Woman on Earth [New York Times].
Halliday was born as Lizzie McNally in 1859 Ireland, born just a year before her namesake Lizzie Borden, she would go on to commit far worse crimes than the original Lizzie and garner less fame and attention. This is the story of the Irish American serial killer Lizzie Halliday.
Lizzie terrorized Hudson Valley, New York in the 1890s; just a few years after the gruesome Whitechapel murders started. Lizzie’s reign coinciding with both Jack the Ripper (Lizzie is sometimes listed as a suspect for these crimes) and Lizzie Borden — Halliday would generate less fame than the notorious Lizzie Borden but looking at the crimes, Lizzie was equally (if not more) bloodthirsty than her counterparts.
Lizzie emigrated to the United States in 1864 as a wee nipper. This was just after the devastating Irish Potato Famines and many of the Irish sought for opportunities in the Americas — Lizzie’s family among them. During Lizzie’s pre-notoriety years, she had two husbands simultaneously die within the first couple years of their marriage. Lizzie first married Charles Hopkins and then Artemus Brewer, after Charles dropped dead. Both men left Lizzie a widow but using our 160-year hindsight we can probably hazard a guess that the mysterious and sudden deaths of the first two husbands was likely no coincidence.
By the 1880s wayward Lizzie had been married four times — two of Lizzie’s husbands were dead at this point, one had fled, and the fourth husband survived an arsenic poisoning. Lizzie was not even thirty yet.
There was also a strange case of an arson-related insurance scam which saw Lizzie get two years in prison and committed to an asylum.
Paul Halliday was an ageing Civil War Veteran in his seventies and a widower with five adult sons. When Paul first met Lizzie, Paul was caring for both his farm and a mentally disabled child Frank Halliday (some sources quote the son as John Halliday) and had then sprung his new wife Lizzie from an asylum.
Neighbours picked up on Lizzie’s complete hatred for Paul’s son while Lizzie would go about scheming how to get rid of Frank Halliday.
It wasn’t long into the marriage that the Hallidays’ house caught fire. Although Lizzie managed to escape and call for help, the mentally challenged Frank was inside and burned to death. Neighbours immediately rose suspicions against Lizzie, especially as they alleged to have seen Lizzie outside laughing while the house caught fire. However; despite even Paul knowing that Lizzie was more than likely involved, there just wasn’t enough evidence to bring a charge and the police also soon dropped the case.
Not long after the fire Lizzie fled with a local man and left Paul and his suspicions behind. This debacle resulted in the stealing of two horses and a further committal in an asylum. But despite all of the infidelities and murder of his own son, Paul still somehow found the strength in his heart to take Lizzie back into his arms and appealed to the judge to release Lizzie.
She returned to live on his farm once again.
Paul Halliday disappeared soon after taking Lizzie back…. The neighbours were suspicious of the differing explanations given by Lizzie and the police obtained a search warrant. While searching the property they found the bodies of two women buried in the barn.
These were identified as Margaret and Sarah McQuillan.
The McQuillans were a mother and daughter pair that Lizzie had stayed with frequently in New York. It was while the elder mother Sarah McQuillan was visiting Lizzie that a message was sent out to Margaret that her mother was gravely injured and was asked to come to the farm to take care of her. Lizzie no doubt had caught a couple of flies in her web at that point.
While under arrest for the McQuillan murders; the entire farm was scoured and the tragic end to her fifth marriage was uncovered by way of Paul’s deadly and horrifically mutilated remains. Justice had finally caught up with Lizzie.
Paul had been shot three times and his body was mutilated when police found him. Lizzie was then arrested for three murders (but let’s be honest, the death toll was probably much more than that). It was fortunate for Lizzie that she was arrested when she was, as at the time the local townsfolk were planning a lynching. Sheriff Beecher at the time having to call for order in this small New York farming community.
Lizzie was sentence to the electric chair and confined to Sullivan County Jail.
Lizzie was given a date with Old Faithful, becoming the first female sentenced to die by the electric chair (at the time). At the time of her verdict, Lizzie reportedly lunged for Sheriff Beecher in the middle of the court room and bit down into part of his hand. Rumour has it that the bite would later cause the Sheriff to lose the hand by amputation (Beecher’s hand being yet another victim of Lizzie’s) but these are unconfirmed reports.
In true Lizzie fashion, her time in prison was full of drama. Lizzie refused to eat and had to be force fed through a tube. It was reported in the papers that she tried to strangle Sheriff Beecher’s wife, she set fire to her bedclothes, tried to hang herself with the bottom of her prison dress and slit her throat with a broken window in her cell. Eventually, Lizzie had to be chained to the floor of her cell to stop any further mischief.
Outside of the prison, Lizzie became a celebrity. Front page headlines were dedicated to the sensational story of the serial killer, during a time when the term serial killer hadn’t even been coined.
“From its circumstances, origin, conception and execution; its unique characteristics, the abnormal personalities and peculiar localities it involves, and, above all, in the strangeness and mystery of its great central figure, it is unprecedented and almost without parallel in the annals of crime,” New York World reporter Edwin Atwell wrote of the case.
The sensationalism didn’t end there with many journalists picking up on Lizzie’s time spent in Europe during the 1880’s and began to suspect that Lizzie was Jack the Ripper.
“We suspect that this mysterious creature was connected with the horrible Whitechapel murders,” the Daily Times reported, noting that Sheriff Beecher asked the suspect point blank about her involvement. “In addition, the Sheriff said: ‘I said to Mrs. Halliday, Lizzie, you are accused of the Whitechapel murders. Are you guilty?’ ‘Do you think I am an elephant?’ she replied. ‘That was done by a man.’
Originally sentenced to death for the three confirmed murders, Lizzie’s sentence was commuted to life in prison. There was nowhere near enough evidence to tie Lizzie to the Whitechapel killings, but Police at the time strongly believed that only a small percent of Lizzie’s actual victims were discovered and we can deduce the same. Lizzie’s real victim tally will never be known.
Despite confinement Lizzie would somehow manage to murder again and stabbed an attending nurse two hundred times to death. The murder within the asylum caused an uproar, with other nurses in such a state of anxiety after losing one of their own that the head of the asylum feared a mass desertion of staff.
This small-framed woman from County Antrim had managed to have the eastern United States of America in a grip of sensationalism and terror during the late 19th Century and even while confined to a life sentence with the keys thrown away, somehow managed to carrying on killing. She is without a doubt the baddest Irish woman of all time. She died in 1918 and was buried in an unmarked grave in the grounds of Matteawan State Hospital — probably the best place for Lizzie.
Part of the tablet’s translation, according to Isaac Newton, states: “By this means you shall have the glory of the whole world and thereby all obscurity shall fly from you. Its force is above all force, for it vanquishes every subtle thing and penetrates every solid thing.” Cryptic yes, but it appears to indicate immense power for the one who understands and wields it. It comes from the Emerald Tablet – and it’s no surprise there are many now who want to know where it is.
But first – the Shimokubo Dam in Japan is unique in that it is supposedly haunted. I’ve heard of haunted lakes, and haunted roads that go around lakes or past lakes, but I’ve never heard of a lake that was created by a haunted dam. Shimokubo Dam is supposedly so haunted, that Japan says the stream of ghost hunters and paranormal enthusiasts is out of control.
These stories and more when Weird Darkness returns.
STORY: JAPAN’S HAUNTED DAM==========
While the idea of a haunted house is scary, the thought of a haunted dam holding back millions of gallons of water at the whim of a ghost is downright terrifying. That’s what many believe is the case in Japan, where a haunted dam attracts enough ghost hunters, paranormal enthusiasts and attempted suicides that the government is trying to change its reputation and debunk or at least downplay its haunted reputation in the name of safety. Should you believe the ghost or the government?
The end result of the construction of the Shimokubo Dam is Kanna Lake, a reservoir popular with fishing enthusiasts and nature lovers. It was created to prevent the type of flooding caused in 1947 by Typhoon Kathleen, which killed over 1,000 people. While that seems like a noble cause, the construction of the dam between the cities of Fujioka and Kamikawa was controversial. The land needed required relocating many residents and the area was considered sacred. Workers said to have been killed doing the dangerous construction work were the very people who were being moved out by the dam and there are urban legends of bodies left unburied that were covered by the reservoir’s waters.
If that’s not enough to bring back ghosts, there’s also the murder.
Knowing the displaced people were angry and many of them had moved back and were living near the dam and causing turmoil, the government erected a Buddhist statue as a way of making peace. According to another legend, that didn’t please the Arai family, especially the patriarch who believed he heard whispers and screams at night. The tale ends with him going insane and killing his family and himself. The frightened/angry/despondent townspeople erected their own statue and preserved (or at least left standing) the house of Arai, which of course is believed to be haunted by the family, whose murder does not show up on any official records.
Then there’s the haunted bridge.
Completed in 1968 over a portion of the lake, the Kanpira or Kotohira Bridge is said to be cursed and may have aided in the demise of the Arai family. People have reported hearing female screams, seeing hands rising from the water and having just plain uneasy feelings … feelings that cause some to contemplate and occasionally commit suicide, some even reporting a feeling that hands are trying to push them over the rail or guide their car off the road.
Needless to say, whether the ghost tales are real or urban legends, it’s hurting the wholesome image (if dams can have such a thing) of the Kanna Lake area. As a result, the Japan Water Agency’s Shimokubo Dam Operation and Maintenance Office came up with this brilliant idea – music. Japan Newsreports that they installed motion sensors in a parking lot at the dam and, when cars or people are detected between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m., a speaker on one side plays the theme song of local superhero group (singers dressed as superheroes) Kijin Sentai Dam Saver — “Water Fantasia”— while one on the other side plays “Jojiman Ondo: Chaji-kyo mo Wasurezuni (Georgeman’s dance song: Don’t forget Sir. Charge),” composed by a group of dam aficionados.
Does it work? The sensors and speaker were just installed, so it will take a while. If the results are positive, they may want to sell the system to other haunted dams like the Hoover Dam (crying sounds, ghosts of workers), the Hales Bar Dam in Tennessee (built on cursed Native American land), Devil’s Gate Dam in California (built on an alleged opening to the underworld) and the Teton Dam in Idaho (haunted by victims of flood caused by a 1975 collapse and by demons from occult activities).
Is that enough to say that dams can be damned?
STORY: THE MYSTERY OF THE EMERALD TABLET==========
Throughout human history there have been those mysterious books, artifacts and relics said to hold some sort of vast powers or mystical knowledge. History is steeped in such tales, and there have been many who have spent their whole lives trying to find these lost artifacts. One such item that has managed to elude clear understanding is an ancient text etched upon stone, which would go on to become one of the most influential manuscripts on the practice of alchemy and a basis for much occult knowledge, but which remains buried in the mists of time. It is an item of alleged great power, holding secrets of magic, alchemy, the human mind, and possibly even the universe itself.
One of the cornerstones of early alchemy was a mysterious tablet said to contain a vast trove of secrets of magic and the universe and which would go on to become one of the most revered and sought after pieces of magical documentation in all of Western Occultism. Referred to variously as the Smaragdine Table, Tabula Smaragdina, or more commonly simply the Emerald Tablet, this elusive object is said to be one or even a series of rectangular green plaques, onto which are etched various symbols and inscriptions that spell out all manner of magical knowledge, in particular having to do with alchemy and the transmutation of matter from one form to another, as well as the method for creating the legendary Philosopher’s Stone and for manipulating the very matter of the universe itself. It is even said to hold the secrets to transforming one’s own consciousness and attaining a sort of enhanced conscious state and enlightenment.
While the appearance and the secrets contained within are mostly agreed upon, the tablet has a murky history wreathed in the unknown, which has obfuscated its true origins and author. The most commonly cited version has it that the tablet was originally written by the father of Hermetic magic and alchemy himself, the legendary 5th century philosopher and priest Hermes Trismegistus, back in ancient Greece. Hermes supposedly wrote the Hermetic Corpus, a series of sacred texts that are the basis of Hermeticism, and the Emerald Tablet is said to have been his masterpiece. Other myriad theories include that the tablet was written by the son of the biblical Adam and Eve, Seth, that it was discovered clutched in the priest’s dead hands in a tomb under the statue of Hermes in Tyan in the 8th century by an Arabic mage named Balinas, that it was unearthed by Alexander that Great in an Egyptian tomb, or even that it was created by Thoth, the king priest of Atlantis a full 38,000 years ago.
Whatever the case may be, legends flock to and surround the tablet and where it went off to. One common tale is that it was buried under the Pyramids in Egypt, while others claim it was sequestered away within the Ark of the Covenant or that is was returned to the buried ruins of Atlantis. With so many legends and myths spiraling about the Emerald Tablet, it is hard to say who wrote it or when, or where it is now. What is known is that it was first translated into Latin by Hugo von Santalla in the 12th century, and that at least in this version Hermes Trismegistus is credited as the author. It is also known that the alleged writings upon it were highly influential in alchemy at the time, and this makes it all the more curious that no evidence of the actual physical existence of the lost tablet has ever been uncovered. We only know of it from written accounts and various translations, and some of these were from highly influential people, including Roger Bacon, Michael Maier, Aleister Crowley, Albertus Magnus, Eric John Holmyard, Julius Ruska, and Carl Jung, who claimed to have been visited by the tablet in his dreams.
None of these translations is exactly the same and may or may not be based on what was actually written on the physical tablet, and further complicating matters is the fact that interpretations of what is written vary from writer to writer. Perhaps the most well-known and intriguing of the various translations and commentaries on the Emerald Tablet was penned by none other than the English scientist, mathematician, astronomer, theologian, and philosopher Sir Isaac Newton, who actually wrote a surprising amount of work on the subject of alchemy. Newton allegedly spent much time working with the text of the tablet, and managed to produce one of the more famous translated sections, which reads:
“Tis true without lying, certain and most true. That which is below is like that which is above and that which is above is like that which is below to do the miracles of one only thing. And as all things have been and arose from one by the mediation of one: so all things have their birth from this one thing by adaptation. The Sun is its father, the moon its mother, the wind hath carried it in its belly, the earth is its nurse. The father of all perfection in the whole world is here. Its force or power is entire if it be converted into earth. Separate thou the earth from the fire, the subtle from the gross sweetly with great industry. It ascends from the earth to the heaven and again it descends to the earth and receives the force of things superior and inferior. By this means you shall have the glory of the whole world and thereby all obscurity shall fly from you. Its force is above all force. For it vanquishes every subtle thing and penetrates every solid thing. So was the world created. From this are and do come admirable adaptations whereof the means (or process) is here in this. Hence I am called Hermes Trismegist, having the three parts of the philosophy of the whole world. That which I have said of the operation of the Sun is accomplished and ended.”
The meaning seems very open to interpretation, but Newton purportedly was very impressed by the knowledge and processes written of on the tablet, and it has been postulated that it could have even had an influence on his theories of the laws of motion and universal gravitation. He is also said to have believed that the tablet contained the literal recipe for creating the legendary Philosopher’s Stone, and that if one could comprehend the text and its intricate, arcane messages and geometrical patterns then they would acquire the ability to fashion the stone. Newton was by many accounts actually quite obsessed with the Philosopher’s Stone, writing much about it, and he believed the Emerald Tablet was the key. He also supposedly found within the text all manner of alchemical secrets, which he believed to be not merely symbolic, but that these were literal processes that could be carried out and performed in a laboratory setting. He would write of the tablet:
“I am a skeptic by nature but I have no alternative than to offer subjective support to the claim that the Emerald Tablet has transformative properties. There are other things besides the transmutation of metals which none but they understand.”
Did Newton gain any secrets from the tablet and did it indeed influence his work? No one really knows. It is all very intriguing, but in the end there is no certainty that any of those who have translated the tablet ever even saw the actual tablet themselves. It seems more likely that they worked with alleged transcripts of the original tablet, and that there is a very good chance that much of the information was changed or corrupted over time and through subsequent translations throughout history. There is also the possibility that this seemingly almost mythical tablet may have never even existed at all, that this is all merely a legend that has taken on a life of its own. Considering all of the conflicting and often confusing information on the Emerald Tablet, as well as the uncertainty over who actually supposedly wrote it or where it came from, we are left with very little that is concrete, and cannot adequately unravel the myth from any possible reality.
We are in the end left with many questions and few answers. Was there ever this mystical Emerald tablet upon which were emblazoned profound secrets of the universe? How did this come to be such a foundation for alchemy throughout history? Who wrote this and where did it go to? What exactly did it contain, and was it literal methods of alchemy and magic or merely symbolic? Did any of it actually work and if so, how? Did the tablet ever even exist at all? The possible answers to this historical enigma are varied, but we will likely not know until that mysterious green tablet is finally found, buried out there somewhere and lost to time.
When Weird Darkness returns…
One thing that has always been a constant in human history is adultery; as is the jilted spouse always being angry about it. One thing that has not been a constant is how society judges those involved in the infidelity. In 1885, there were different opinions about both adulterers as well as the one who murders a homewrecker.
Plus… a mysterious creature is reported to be living near a bridge in Zimbabwe which has killed numerous men. What is the Beast of Gwanda Town?
These stories and more still to come.
STORY: SHOT BY A JEALOUS HUSBAND==========
Daniel Monahan, aged 45, lived with his wife, Maggie, and their children on Henry Street in Binghamton, New York, and kept a saloon in a building adjoining the house. In 1885, a young man named Patrick Garvey began working as a bartender at Monahan’s saloon. Garvey, an attractive 34-year-old Irishman, grew especially close to Maggie Monahan. Before long she expressed her love for Garvey in return, and the two began an intimate relationship. Garvey became a frequent visitor at the Monahan home when Daniel was away, and their romance became the subject of rumor in Binghamton.
Daniel had already suspected that improper relations existed between his wife and his bartender, so he fired Garvey and openly accused his wife of adultery. Maggie replied that, yes, she did think more of Garvey than she did of her husband, and she would go out with Garvey as much as she pleased. Daniel pleaded with Maggie to abandon the romance and not disgrace their little daughters, but Maggie ignored his pleadings and continued to meet Garvey, not only in their own home but at various places in the city. In desperation, Daniel told her if she did not leave Garvey, he would shoot the man. Maggie told Garvey about her husband’s threats and bought Garvey a revolver to defend himself.
On May 9, 1886, Maggie told Daniel she was taking the children for a walk. They walked some distance from the house then met up with Patrick Garvey who was driving a horse and buggy. They dropped the children off with a friend then went off to spend several hours alone together. After she returned home with the children, Daniel saw her sitting by a window. He saw Garvey pass the house and wave at Maggie and saw her wave back. Enraged, Daniel grabbed a revolver, ran out the door and began firing at Garvey, hitting him six times. Garvey fell to the ground and died in front of the house. Daniel went immediately to the police station and turned himself in.
Daniel Monahan’s trial caused quite a sensation in Binghamton when it began the following May. The popular sentiment regarding the murder was that Monahan was justified in shooting Garvey and had acted in a fit of frenzy. When the jury returned a verdict of not guilty on the grounds of insanity, it was well-received.
STORY: BEAST OF GWANDA TOWN==========
One of the most talked about mysteries in Gwanda Town is of a mysterious creature which reportedly lies hidden in Mtshabezi River near Mtshabezi Bridge that is said to have claimed the lives of a number of men.
This mysterious being is blamed for a number of drowning accidents. According to residents from Gwanda Town the target of this creature has of late become men that go to the river to bath.
Some think that the creature could be a mermaid while others think otherwise saying its mannerisms do not fit those of a mermaid. Some residents from the town working with some churches have decided to engage the services of a prophet to unravel the mystery.
Efforts are underway to engage a Gwanda based prophet from the Zion Apostolic Church in Central Africa, Prophet Mehluli Moyo who is known for solving a number of mysteries in Matabeleland South Province, mostly in Gwanda District.
Gogo Meltah Banda who is the Gwanda Zinatha treasurer said the problem which was being experienced at Mtshabezi River started in the 1970s with school pupils that were mysteriously drowning in the river.
“This problem has been ongoing for a long time now but it has never been investigated. It started in the 1970s with male learners that were mysteriously drowning in the river.
At that time pupils from Mount Cazalet Primary School which is close to Mtshabezi River used to go there to collect water as the school didn’t have water. While there, learners would claim to have seen a fish in the water and then they will drown. We used to get these reports from other learners who would survive the ordeal and then go back to school to inform their teachers,” she said.
“Now it’s suspected that this creature is now targeting men that will be bathing at the river. Each time someone drowns in the river there are usually a series of funerals which follow which are recorded in the town. It’s like that drowning incident would have sparked or ignited some evil spirit which hovers around the town.”
Gogo Banda said what made the drowning cases suspicious was that all victims were men. She said the river was not too deep which made it difficult to understand how a grown-up man could drown while bathing close to the edge of the river.
She said bodies of all the victims were later retrieved which ruled out chances that the creature was a mermaid. She said there was need to investigate the matter so that it could be resolved once and for all as it was bothering residents.
“The way this creature operates is beyond my knowledge. What we are used to are incidents where a person disappears in a river because of an ancestral calling but a person doesn’t die. A ritual is conducted by the family of the missing person and the person comes back to them alive.
In this particular case where people die mysteriously, I also don’t know what kind of ancestral spirit operates in this way,” she said.
A Gwanda pastor from the Zion Apostolic Church in Central Africa Michael Ndlovu said when he arrived in Gwanda in the 1980s, he found residents complaining about mysterious deaths along the river. He said this year about three people had mysteriously drowned in the river.
Pastor Ndlovu said they had resolved to invite a renowned prophet from his church to look into the matter.
“There are men who are mostly gold panners from nearby mines who go to take a bath along Mtshabezi River just close to Mtshabezi Bridge. Other people go to the river to collect water or to wash their vehicles. A number of them have fallen victim to this creature.
“We have therefore seen it best to engage someone to look into the matter and see how best it can be resolved. We are working on modalities to invite a prophet from my church who has helped a number of communities to deal with their spiritual problems.
We have to go through the correct procedures and inform the relevant authorities,” he said.
Prophet Moyo said he would visit the area and pray so that the Holy Spirit would reveal whether it was an ancestral matter or an act of witchcraft. He said from there he would be informed on how to proceed with the matter.
Prophet Moyo said if it was an act of witchcraft then he could remove the creature and if it was an ancestral issue then appropriate people will be engaged to conduct a ritual to appease the ancestors. He said from there a ritual will be expected to be conducted once a year with the knowledge of the town’s leadership.
“What is puzzling is that even though people are aware that place is dangerous and has claimed a number of lives they still go back knowing the danger which may befall them.
Whatever is in the water could be luring people there in order to take lives. If it’s an act of witchcraft it could be the doing of an evil person who planted something in the water in order to gain wealth in exchange for human lives,” he said.
“This mystery has never been investigated thoroughly. Every time someone drowns people call for the matter to be investigated but after a short time they relax. If given an opportunity I can get to the bottom of this matter.”
Prophet Moyo said he once intervened in Halale Primary School in Nathisa area in Kezi where goblins were terrorising teachers and since he removed them, he had not received any complaints from the school.
He said he also assisted the community of Garanyemba where he removed a big snake from a dam where people were mysteriously drowning. Prophet Moyo said he recently assisted at Mtandawenema Primary School in Gwanda where a baboon was terrorising teachers and learners. He said he had also cleansed several homesteads in Gwanda.
I’ve covered numerous stories here in the podcast on people gone missing, never to be seen again. But it’s much more rare to have a story about a corpse going missing, never to be seen again. That story is up next on Weird Darkness.
STORY: HOW DANIEL MURDOCK SAVED ON FUNERAL EXPENSES==========
Some time in the early 1850s, a man named Daniel Murdock quietly arrived in Stockholm, a farming town in Northern New York state. He took out a three-year lease on an old farmhouse owned by an extensive landowner named Dowd. It was on an isolated ridge, surrounded by rugged surroundings, so the house was usually left empty. The farmhouse’s new tenant was a good match for such forbidding surroundings. Murdock was a morose, unfriendly man, who made it clear to his neighbors that he simply wanted to be left alone. Stockholmites were happy to oblige. No one had any idea where he had come from or why he settled in Stockholm, and nobody was terribly inclined to try to find out. His speech and dress suggested he was Canadian, but aside from that the man was a mystery.
Murdock’s only visitor–and that only on rare occasions–was his twin brother David. The two were so indistinguishable that the only way to tell them apart was by the large scarlet birthmark covering Daniel’s throat. From what others had been able to overhear of their conversations, it seems that the brothers had been among those seeking gold in California, and that Daniel still held mining claims which David wanted made over to him as security for money he had loaned Daniel.
For three seasons, Daniel lived his lonely farming existence. He disdained the usual local practice of “swapping work” with a neighbor, choosing the arduous task of reaping hay and grains on his own. At night–never by the light of day–he could occasionally be seen bringing sledloads of his crops in the direction of the Canadian border.
On the third April after Murdock’s arrival in Stockholm, it was noted that he was not putting in a crop. Rumors spread that his team and few farm tools had vanished. One day, a neighbor named Aaron Fortune walked across Murdock’s property. When he went past the open barn doors, he saw something dangling beside the hay mow. When he took a closer look, he realized it was the body of Daniel Murdock, hanging by a rope attached to a purlin plate. Fortune cut down the corpse and spread word of his gruesome find. When Murdock’s landlord heard what had happened, Doud tried to track down the dead man’s twin, but having failed to do so, gave instructions that Murdock be buried in the nearby graveyard.
A local carpenter made a pine coffin, and neighbors prepared the body for burial. They were unnerved to see that the vivid scarlet birthmark around Daniel’s throat had completely vanished.
Aaron Fortune and a young schoolmaster named Eli Jones reluctantly accepted the grim task of “setting up with the corpse” the night before the funeral. Just before midnight, a neighbor came with news that Fortune’s wife had been taken ill. Jones, who proudly proclaimed that he feared no ghosts, agreed to finish the vigil over the body alone. Every two hours, as was the custom in that time, a cloth soaked in a saltpeter solution was freshly spread over the corpse’s face. Around 2 a.m., Jones, who had understandably preferred lounging outside the house, went indoors to perform this unpleasant ritual. When he removed the cloth, he saw that Murdock’s fiery birthmark had suddenly returned. Jones was so frightened by the sight, he ran screaming from the house, not stopping until he reached the Fortune home.
When dawn came, Fortune, Jones, and a third man crept cautiously back to the dead man’s home. The candles were still flickering around the sheet-draped table on which Murdock had been placed, but the corpse itself had vanished, never to be seen again.
The old farmhouse was henceforth shunned as if the Devil himself lived there, and no doubt some in Stockholm thought that just might be the case. A few years later, it burned down, “in that mysterious way that such old unoccupied buildings generally do.”
For decades afterward, the locals struggled to find answers to the mystery. Perhaps Murdock had not been dead after all, but in a state of “suspended animation.” According to this theory, when the “corpse” was roused by Jones’ screams, Murdock fled to the river to redo his botched suicide. Or perhaps David Murdock had arrived at the home after Jones fled, and took his twin away for burial elsewhere. Or did body-snatchers take the unattended corpse for sale to some medical school?
All one can say is that the strange exit of Daniel Murdock gave residents of Stockholm many, many sleepless nights.
SHOW CLOSE, CREDITS, A LITTLE LIGHT, AND A FINAL THOUGHT==========
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All stories in Weird Darkness are purported to be true (unless stated otherwise), and you can find source links or links to the authors in the show notes.
“Japan’s Haunted Dam” by Paul Seaburn for Mysterious Universe
“Beast of Gwanda Town” from News Dze Zimbabwe
“The Worst Woman on Earth” by Kieran W. for Mystery Confidential
“How Daniel Murdock Saved on Funeral Expenses” from Strange Company
“Shot By a Jealous Husband” by Robert Wilhelm for Murder by Gaslight
“The Mystery of the Emerald Tablet” by Brent Swancer for Mysterious Universe
Weird Darkness theme by Alibi Music.
WeirdDarkness™ – is a registered trademark. Copyright ©Weird Darkness 2020.
Now that we’re coming out of the dark, I’ll leave you with a little light… “He mocks proud mockers but gives grace to the humble.” – Proverbs 3:34
And a final thought… “Life is too short to hide your feelings. Don’t be afraid to say what you feel.” – Unknown
I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me in the Weird Darkness.