“THE ABDUCTION OF LINDA CORTILE” and 6 More Scary True Paranormal Horror Stories! #WeirdDarkness
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IN THIS WEEKEND ARCHIVE EPISODE FROM FEBRUARY 15, 2018: I’ll share a heartbreaking story of love gone wrong. It’s a tale of passion, betrayal, murder, and the electric chair. (Love And The Electric Chair) *** The terrifying true story of the abduction of Linda Cortile – was she truly abucted by aliens or is there another explanation? (The Abduction of Linda Cortile) *** A man keeps seeing shadowy figures in his peripheral vision. (Her Feet Were Swinging) *** They say the widow’s ghost lingers in the tower of the Drish House – and sets the house ablaze with phantom fire. (The Drish House Hauntings) * It is said that some hundred years ago, people in Jamaica believed the powers of so-called “Shadow Killers” – but who or what were they? (The Shadow Killers of Jamaica) * Fifteen acres of land purchased by the city of Long Beach, California in 1976 is what comprises a place known as DeForest Park. By day it is filled with sun, sand, and fun. By night, it is filled with shudders, scares, and screams. (The Darkness of DeForest Park) * Friends were planning for a good time of dirt biking, hunting, and drinking beer. They should never have visited the cemetery. (The Haunted Farmstead) *** Now.. bolt your doors, lock your windows, turn off your lights, and come with me into the Weird Darkness!
STORY SOURCES AND MUSIC CREDITS…
“Love And The Electric Chair” by Troy Taylor: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/y9x5dszv
“The Abduction of Linda Cortile” by Les Hewitt for Paranorms.com: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/1s7n41oz
“Her Feet Were Swinging” from YourGhostStories.com: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/504clul2
“The Drish Hauntings” by Elisabeth Tilstra for The Line Up: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/2dqwhue5
“The Darkness of DeForest Park” from BackpackerVerse: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/1x5i7veu
“The Haunted Farmstead” from GhostsNGhouls.com (link no longer valid)
“The Shadow Killers of Jamaica” from MessageToEagle.com: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/4jjws8tp
Weird Darkness theme by Alibi Music Library. Background music, varying by episode, provided by Alibi Music, EpidemicSound and/or AudioBlocks with paid license. Music from Shadows Symphony (https://tinyurl.com/yyrv987t), Midnight Syndicate (http://amzn.to/2BYCoXZ), Kevin MacLeod (https://tinyurl.com/y2v7fgbu), Tony Longworth (https://tinyurl.com/y2nhnbt7), and/or Nicolas Gasparini/Myuu (https://tinyurl.com/lnqpfs8) is used with permission.
(Over time links seen here may become invalid, disappear, or have different content. I always make sure to give authors credit for the material I use whenever possible. If I somehow overlooked doing so for a story, or if a credit is incorrect, please let me know and I will rectify it in these show notes immediately.)
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“I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” — John 12:46
Find out how to escape eternal darkness at https://weirddarkness.com/eternaldarkness
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ABDUCTION OF LINDA
During his lifetime, Budd Elliot Hopkins became one of the world’s foremost UFO investigators. Rather than investigate close encounters, he opted to discover more about the growing reports of alien abductions. Hopkins poured so much of his curiosity into researching the phenomenon that he acquired the nickname “The Father of the Abduction Movement”. He wrote a pair of books on the subject, the second of which led to a third.
In April 1989, the 41-year-old Linda Cortile was curious about the second of these books, Intruders: The Incredible Visitations of Copley Woods, and began to read it. The more she read, the more she began putting two and two together. Thirteen years previously, she discovered a bump on her face not far from her nose. When a doctor examined this bump, he told her it was nothing more than a surgery. The only problem with this hypothesis was that no surgery had taken place. Seven months after she initially met Budd Hopkins, Linda became the center of what many people cited as the most compelling and controversial of all alien abduction cases. They called the case the Manhattan Transfer Abduction.
She originally called herself Linda Cortile, but she later changed her name to Linda Napolitano. Around 3:00 am on November 30, 1989, Linda supposedly had an experience with several gray aliens. At the time, she could only recall fragments but she remembered enough to claim that she floated out of her closed bedroom window on her 12th-floor apartment into a hovering UFO.
Once on board, the beings escorted her to a room that was likely a medical bay. There, she underwent an examination. With selected parts of the event not immediately available to her, Hopkins decided to try hypnotic regression. These sessions took place over the course of much of the following year. Along with her original memories, these sessions filled in many blanks of a standard abduction experience. What makes the Manhattan Transfer Abduction experience stand out from almost every other one was what happened just over a year after the abduction.
Hopkins received apparent confirmation from two additional witnesses. A letter arrived in the post from two men called Richard and Dan. Even though the letter corroborated the reports Linda made, Hopkins did have some doubts over the pair. Wanting to know more about them, Hopkins conducted background checks on them. It turned out that both men had the same career: close quarters bodyguards. Additionally, on 30 November, both men were guarding the same man. Some people believe that man was the current United Nations Secretary General, Javier Perez de Cuellar.
The three of them were in a limousine and were crossing the Brooklyn Bridge when they saw something that shocked them. Both bodyguards insisted that they saw a woman floating way above the ground towards a massive craft hovering nearby. If that wasn’t enough of a sight, a trio of other beings was accompanying the woman. When the four entered the craft, it headed for the East River and disappeared underwater.
Whatever took place in the middle of that November night had a profound effect on Linda and even more so on the bodyguards. Both men became more irrational and began to display psychotic behavior. Dan convinced himself that Linda had an unusual supernatural power or an extraordinary influence on other people. Dan’s borderline obsession with Linda took on a much more serious threat when he began stalking her. Things took on a strange turn on 29 April 1991, when both men inflicted a more down to earth abduction of Linda. They bundled her into their vehicle and interrogated her for several hours. All of this took place in broad daylight.
It was Dan who took on the role of the so-called bad cop; at no time did he accept Linda’s denials about the original abduction experience. The more protests she uttered, the more upset he became. Six months after the second abduction, Linda suffered a third. Dan brought Linda to a safe house in Long Island and forced her to put on a nightgown, similar to the one she wore when they saw her floating away from her apartment.
Richard was nowhere to be seen, but Linda did recall that she spotted some official paperwork from the CIA. Linda did manage to escape the house, but the foot chase ended when Dan caught up with her on a beach. Dan dunked her head into the sea more than once before Richard turned up and coaxed Dan into releasing her. Richard took Linda home. A month later, Richard turned up at her door. He told her that Dan’s obsessive behavior had become so out of control that he was actually committed to an asylum.
While all of this was taking place, Budd Hopkins received another letter in the mail. This came from a woman called Janet Trimble. She revealed that she, too, was driving across the Brooklyn Bridge at the time of the original abduction. Trimble, a retired telephone operator, assumed that the event was nothing more than a scene or filming of a scene from an upcoming science fiction film. With the addition of a fourth witness, Hopkins made the decision to go public with some of the details of the whole event.
If Cuellar had come forward publicly, he could have propelled the Cortile abduction into the stratosphere of UFO cases with credible documentation. Hopkins and Cuellar corresponded on a regular basis and, while he did confirm details, Cuellar refused to go public. Cuellar was willing to meet with Hopkins behind closed doors on the condition that Hopkins never disclose his name to the public domain.
In 2003, Linda Cortile agreed to a sit-down interview with French magazine, La Gazette Fortéenne. During this interview, she added several new facts to her account. The main addition to the original report was information of an undisclosed witness to the abduction. All that Cortile revealed was that the witness was a truck driver for the New York Post and had an ideal vantage point from the Brooklyn Bridge.
Today, the Linda Cortile Case website claims that there are 23 witnesses of the Manhattan Transfer Abduction case on public record. Skeptics provide many loopholes to the story of Linda Napolitano and argue that many details of the case could be ‘too good to be true’. The apartment block that Cortile lived in was a stone’s throw from the active loading dock of the New York Post. None of the workers on duty that shift reported anything unusual at the time. That could be due to their own schedule at the time in question. A more telling fact that counts against this abduction taking place could surround Cuellar and his limousine.
Security personnel insists that transporting a dignitary such as the Secretary General of the UN is an enormous logistical process. Security teams often prepare high ranking officials’ travel well in advance. A huge part of this is the timetables given. If the car that is transporting the Secretary General is even a few seconds behind schedule, then UN forces would have to move in and determine what, if any, action is required. Checkpoints are also set up and used to help determine whether or not lateness is an issue.
It has been almost three decades, and the Manhattan Transfer Abduction is still causing a stir. What really happened to Linda Cortile, if anything, is a debatable mystery.
In Tuscaloosa, Alabama, stands the restored Drish House, a stately home that now holds a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. However, the Drish House has not always been a priority for preservation. In fact, the Drish House has changed hands many times since the tragic deaths of its original owners, and some think this has to do with tales of its haunting.
Built over the course of two years starting in 1837, the Drish House belonged to slave owner John Drish and his wife Sarah. The marriage was a second for both of them; their first spouses had both died, and Sarah’s husband had left her quite wealthy. Drish’s slaves were instrumental in the building of the new home, and much of its rich architecture can be attributed to their work.
In 1867, tragedy struck. Drish, an alleged alcoholic, was said to be sobering up after a night of drinking when he “got the shakes” and, in a hallucinatory state, ran across a hallway and threw himself from the upstairs balcony, killing himself upon impact at the bottom of the stairs.
Sarah, now a widow twice over, was devastated. Drish had left elaborate burial requests for his funeral, and she ensured that these were carried out to the letter. After his death, however, the widow became obsessed with her grief. Sarah insisted that when she died, she was to have the exact treatment as her husband—she even saved the candles that had been used at his wake, so that they might burn at her funeral. Yet when Sarah did die in 1884, she had hidden the candles so well that no one could find them and honor her dying wish.
Many see this failure to carry out a mournful woman’s final request as the spark that ignited the Drish House hauntings. Not long after Sarah’s death, a local was alarmed to discover a fire burning in the front tower of the home. An emergency call was made. Yet when responders arrived, no fire burned. These phantom fire sightings happened repeatedly. Some surmised that it was Sarah’s spirit lingering in the tower that set the space ablaze, angered—or disappointed—that her husband’s candles had not been burned at her own funeral.
The house changed ownership multiple times in the ensuing years. The building was used as apartments during Tuscaloosa’s population expansion; as a school owned by the Tuscaloosa Board of Education; as a wrecking company; and as a church, during which time an adjacent structure was built to house various Sunday school classes. These transitions brought the house into the late 20th century. When the church finally closed in 1995 for financial reasons, the old Drish House slipped into abandonment and was eventually condemned by the city.
That all changed by the new millennium. First, the Tuscaloosa County Preservation Society took over the Drish House, conducting initial repairs before selling it to a private owner. In 2008, after the house was fixed to the point of safety, a team of paranormal investigators was allowed inside to examine the alleged paranormal activity. While there were no major breakthroughs, the team did capture some anomalous activity and were bolstered by the fact that they had finally gained access to the Drish House after years of being off-limits.
By 2015, news broke that the Drish House was coming back to life. By 2016, the new owner had restored the estate andopened it up to the public as a historical and cultural place of interest. You can now host a corporate event, a party, or—if you and your partner are history diehards with a taste for the paranormal—a wedding. Just remember… if you do decide to step inside Tuscaloosa’s Drish House, keep a watchful eye on its tower. Sarah’s troubled spirit may linger in the window.
Fifteen acres of land purchased by the city of Long Beach, California in 1976 is what comprises a place known as DeForest Park. Here you can hike a nature trail, let the kiddos play on playground equipment, or engage in any one of a number of interesting sports for which they have the requisite courts: basketball, volleyball, tennis, the list goes on and on.
And if you go towards the end of the day – and especially if you happen to go alone – you might just get the fright of your life.
But here – at least, according to many of the Long Beach locals – that feeling is all too justified.
Sudden gusts of cold air, voices on the wind, and that awful prickly feeling at the back of your neck.
Something that signals to your brain that someone or something is taking far too much of an interest in you (and probably wants to see you dead or worse). Perhaps even threatening to invade your thoughts and dreams.
These are all precursors to the appearance of a paranormal creature which some say inhabits the grim darkness of DeForest Park at night.
A park which some locals feel, is one of the most haunted places in Long Beach.
“I saw it a couple of times, back when I was a lot younger, faster and braver – or possibly more stupid,” says Robert B, who works as an online medium, telling us he’s “employed at one of the best psychic networks around”. At fifty-five, while no spring chicken, is still hale and healthy enough to go mountain biking every weekend, but will not go near the park.
“I say ‘it’, but what I really think is that it was a she. And she is a ghoul of some sort, perhaps a crossover between a ghost and some sort of damn zombie.” He looks at me as if to say he knows that this sounds ridiculous, so I assure him it doesn’t – I’ve heard this kind of thing before.
“The first time I saw her, she didn’t seem to see me. But the second time, she chased me halfway through the park.
“I’m telling you, I was twenty-three or twenty-four when that happened, and in the prime of my life.
“I was just looking for something to do on the weekend but I thought by the time that I got out of that godforsaken park I was going to have a heart attack and keel over right there.
“I got a good look at her, you see,” he says, and his face screws up in horror and revulsion at the memory. “It looked like all of her skin had sloughed off, from her face – which sagged down so that it partially covered her eyeballs, to the way that the skin of her fingers seemed stretchy over the bones…like she was wearing a pair of surgical gloves, only it was her skin.
“Her clothes are filthy, just rags really, and she walks through the trees with this weird sideways gate, like her entire lower half has been ratcheted sideways by something.
“I suppose it has. Whatever she is, whatever she used to be before she became this thing, I can tell you this: she died a horrible death.”
I was in my second year of university studying law. Most of my friends were from farms and we spent quite a lot of weekends and holidays on the different farms. The summer of 2005, one of my friends, Charl, invited me and another friend, Rudi, over to his farm for the December holidays as his parents went to the coast to visit relatives.
The farm was a beautiful, but typical, South African Great-Karoo farmstead dating from before the 1900s. The farm was about 75km (47 miles) from the nearest town and about 15km (9 miles) from the nearest main road which itself was not paved or traveled frequently.
We were looking forward to a good week or two of dirt biking, hunting, and drinking beer. We were there for two days when Charl’s brother, his brother’s girlfriend, and a female friend came to visit. At around 1:00 in the morning, Charl’s brother remarked that the time was right for the farmstead’s ghost to be active and that we should go see if it was around the cemetery. We laughed as ghost stories are a common scare tactic on remote farms in the area. Still, we decided to go. Charl’s brother led everyone to the wooded area at the back of the house and opened a rusty gate which made a high-pitched squeaky noise. To be honest, that sound changed the mood of the party as we were about 50m (164 feet) from the old graveyard.
As we got a view of the graves, we all stopped dead in our tracks (no pun intended). There was the ghost, sitting on a grave about 10m (33 feet) from us! It is difficult to describe, but the ghost looked like a solid, and very bright white, one-dimensional humanoid figure in a sitting position. It was so bright we could barely see the trees through it. There were no light sources nearby. We didn’t even have a single torch or cell phone with us. Then the ghost started to move.
It slowly stood upright and start to pace the graveyard. A feeling of dread overcame us. The only thing that convinced me the ghost wasn’t a hoax was the way it moved. It seemed like there was some type of lag in its movement. Gamers will understand what I’m talking about. It would take one slow step, freeze for a moment, and then instantly appear a few feet ahead, repeating the process. We watched it pace for a minute, then it turned and sat back on the grave. It was at that moment that we left, quickly but quietly.
We went back to the house and had a few cups of coffee to reflect on everything and get our nerves back together. Charl and his brother tried to convince us that what we had seen was real as the rest of us started to have doubts. We all decided to return to have a second look, though in the back of our minds we knew that it could not be a practical joke as there was no one else around for at least 20km (12 miles).
As we approached, we saw the ghost still sitting on its grave. One of the girls whispered something, and we could see whatever it was turn its head towards us. It then stood up in a smooth motion and started walking towards in its characteristically weird manner. Previously, the ghost had been quiet, but now we could hear its movement over the dead leaves.
We all froze in shock until it was about two meters (six feet) from us. Suddenly, we heard the sound of something bipedal sprinting towards us from the right. However, nothing was visible under the moonlight. That was the moment all of us hauled tail back to the farmstead. Everyone was a bit shaken up after this experience, and we stood around the kitchen for awhile, this time drinking something stronger thn coffee! We decided to call it a night and everyone went their separate ways to their rooms.
The next day, Rudi and I got up before everyone else and decided to check out the cemetery. Everything looked familiar in the daylight, and we noticed no footprints around the fence aside from our own made the night before. The inside of the fenced-off cemetery was untouched, there were no prints, no drag marks, nothing. That evening, Charl’s brother, his girlfriend, and the female friend left, leaving only me, Charl, and Rudi behind. We had a braai and a few more beers, and around midnight Rudi and I decided to head back to the cemetery.
We left the lounge and walked through the kitchen to the backdoor. As I laid my hand on the door handle, my car’s alarm went off. Charl flipped on the outside flood lights and ran back to the house to fetch a shotgun as he thought there was an intruder messing with the cars. My car alarm wasn’t sensitive and never went off unless someone messed with it. We looked outside but saw no fresh footprints. Guessing that an insect had somehow entered the car and triggered the alarm, we went back to the house to lock up the shotgun then head to the cemetery. Literally, when I touched the door handle, the alarm went off for the second time. I still had my keys and remote in my pocket and quickly shut off the alarm through the window. Needless to say, we laid off our plans to visit the graveyard that night and my car’s alarm was quiet from there on.
We enjoyed the rest of our visit, but I must admit that it was hard to sleep the last few nights! Was it a well-played hoax? I guess we’ll never know as my friend insists to this day that it wasn’t. The farm is a bit far from where I stay now, but I do plan to visit sometime in the future. This time, however, I will take a camcorder and maybe a voice-recorder!”
It is said that some hundred years ago, people on Jamaica believed the powers of so-called “Shadow Killers”.
These were witches, wizards who spread terror by practicing black magic. Is there any truth behind these stories or are we simply dealing with superstition? Do some modern people really still believe in the power of spells and black magic?
Are there any interesting historical accounts and ancient history facts that can help us shed more light on the mysterious “Shadow Killers”? Why is the practice of Obeah forbidden?
The so-called “Shadow Killers” were men and women who became known as Obeah.
The term ‘obeah’ is first encountered in documents from the early 18th century and the history of Obeah is similar to that of Voodoo in Haiti and Santeria in Latin America. African slaves brought spiritual practices to the Caribbean that included folk healing and belief in magic.
It is from these arrivals and their spiritualisms that Obeah originates. Obeah is perhaps the oldest of all Afro-Creole religions in the Caribbean. Its name is derived from the Ashanti words Obay-ifo or Obeye, meaning wizard or witch.
According to Margarite Fernandez-Omos and Lizbeth Paravisini-Gerbert, authors of the book Creole Religions of the Caribbean: An Introduction from Vodou and Santeria to Obeah and Espiritismo, Obeah “is not a religion so much as a system of beliefs rooted in Creole notions of spirituality, which acknowledges the existence and power of the supernatural world.”
Jamaica is a highly religious country. Christianity dominates nearly every aspect of life and according to the Church the practice of Obeah is associated with evil. Until recently, the practice of Obeah was punishable by flogging or imprisonment, among other penalties.
But how did the Obeah became known as “Shadow Killers”?
Stories tell that Obeah men and women used to practice black magic in secret. They undertook assignments on behalf of others to deliberately hurt another person. What made many people especially afraid of the Obeah, were the rumors that they could kill people by capturing their shadow.
These rumors are most likely the result of a conflict between Myal and Obeah.
Myal is a variation of Obeah that is practiced in Jamaica.
The Myal men positioned themselves as the “good” opponents to “evil” Obeah. They claimed that Obeah men stole people’s shadows, and they set themselves up as the helpers of those who wished to have their shadows restore. After 1760, it became punishable by death for slaves to practice Obeah in Jamaica, and the rest of the British colonies followed suit.
The story can be traced to the Tacky Rebellion’s in 1760, when a man named Tacky led a revolt by Koromantyn slaves.
It was said that he gave the slaves a “magical preparation that was supposed to render them invulnerable to the weapons of the authorities.”
The passage of the law was meant to safeguard against the practice of Obeah, which the colonizers though could possibly lead to further revolts.
In court documents from 1760 it is written that Obeah practitioners blood, feathers, teeth from dogs and alligators, broken bottles, snakes, roosters, soil, eggs and eggshells for evil magical purposes.
In 1824, there were about 150 Obeah men and women throughout Jamaica, but the numbers have not been officially confirmed.
Obeah men and women were feared, but also popular, at least to some extent and they played an important role in the lives of slaves who had no human rights. Slaves who had been mistreated turned to an Obeah to seek justice and revenge.
Obeah was considered bad magic, but for many people, it seemed to empower them to shape their own existence by manipulating the spirits, both benevolent and malevolent.
It should be added that most people on Jamaica, both free as well as slaves distanced themselves from the Obeah people.
Practicing Obeah resulted in expulsion of the social community. The situation was different on other islands such as for example Barbados and Leeward Islands where Obeah were admired and held a high status.
Practice of Obeah is forbidden on Jamaica, but there are still those who refuse to give up their beliefs in the power of magic. Although few people believe in Obeah in the cities, there are some modern Obeah men and women who say they can help with all manner of things, from curing illness to removing curses.
Over the years the popularity of Obeah has waned and finding Obeah men and women to reveal what they do is rare.
People, who use Obeahs’ services, rarely want to talk openly about it and it looks as if the old Obeah traditions are slowly fading away.
I was up late working on my computer. I’m a 39 year old male and I have always thought I saw shadow figures out of my peripheral vision but I always assumed it was my eyes playing tricks on me. Until a couple of months ago.
I moved into a new home about 2 year’s ago. The shadow figures were quite active in my peripheral especially in my kitchen, as a matter of fact, only in my kitchen and never at night. I never realized that until now. Anyway, I still assumed it was just peripheral until I was up late about 2am getting some work done on my computer. Forty five minutes or so had gone by. I wasn’t sleepy or tired nor did my eyes burn from the computer screen. I saw her out the corner of my eye sitting on my printer swinging her feet. She had on a hooded cloak.
I didn’t immediately turn thinking she would disappear because I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me. I couldn’t see any definition or glowing eyes or anything, just a silhouette of a little girl or woman or whatever it was but I’m sure it was female. Before turning to look at her, while her feet were swinging next to me. Oh yes, my printer is about a foot away from my computer. I said, “I see you”. She didn’t move or stop swinging her feet until I looked directly at her. I looked directly at her hood where her face would be. She stopped swinging her feet but did not disappear promptly. She stayed visual for about 8 seconds and we were just looking at each other. I started to get upset because I’m a very private person. I immediately got up and turned on the light. She was already gone though, so I thought. I was extremely upset.
It took me about 15 minutes, 2 cold glasses of water and a sit down on my bed. So I started back working on my computer with the light on now. About 10 minutes in, the feet were swinging again out of my peripheral. I said, “what do you want” not looking at her this time because now I’m freaked out. As I said that, another hooded cloaked figure was moving on my right side. I immediately turned to look at it and it was directly on my shoulder like it was either reading what I was typing up or staring at me. I want to say I could feel it breathing on my shoulder like a temperature change but I’m not 100% sure about that because they both disappeared when I looked at it.
They were playing with me that night because I immediately saved my work, turned my computer off, left the light on and turned on the T.V. And watched a comedy to laugh and change my mood. How I figure they were playing because about an hour later when I got up to go and get a snack in the same area where the second figure was on my shoulder. It was running next to me outside of my room.
I haven’t seen them again but I never felt threatened or in harms way while they were there. It felt like they were either amused by me, wanted to really know if I could see them or maybe studying me. I have no clue but it still freaks me out until this day.
I also stopped seeing the quick shadowy swooshes behind me in my peripheral in the kitchen after that night. Maybe they were saying goodbye or something. I really want to know what in the world or out of this world, these entities are and what do they want. They’re always maybe about 3 feet or so tall, about the height of an average 7 year old.
LOVE & THE ELECTRIC CHAIR
The Snyder murder, as one crime writer put it, was a “cheap crime involving cheap people.” Many considered it the low point in the history of the early 1900s but for those who lived in the thrill-hungry days of the “Roaring ’20s,” they devoured every sordid detail and made the otherwise mundane Ruth Snyder and her accomplice, Judd Gray, into infamous celebrities. In addition to murder, their second-greatest crime was simply being stupid.
The events in the case began quietly in 1925 when Ruth Brown Snyder, a discontented Long Island housewife, met a corset salesman named Henry Judd Gray while having lunch in New York. Ruth, 32, was a tall blonde with solid good looks and a commanding personality. Judd Gray, 34, was short and almost instantly forgettable. He had a cleft chin and thick glasses that gave him a perpetual look of surprise. Despite the fact that they seemed to be polar opposites, sexual attraction flared between the two of them at their first meeting and they soon began a torrid affair.
Ruth Snyder’s husband, Albert, was the art editor of the magazine “Motor Boating” (no laughing!) and was never home during the day. The adulterous couple only had the Snyder’s nine-year-old daughter, Lorraine, to contend with and the amorous pair would often meet at the Snyder’s home while Lorraine was at school. On other occasions, the little girl would be left in a hotel lobby while her mother and her lover met upstairs. They met as often as possible and seemed unable to get enough of one another.
But Ruth Snyder soon changed from a sex-obsessed housewife to a woman with devious plans. Bored in her loveless marriage, she tried to convince Judd that her husband mistreated her and that he must be killed. Gray objected but Ruth continued to pester him with hints, suggestions, and then, outright demands.
Finally, on Saturday, March 19, 1927, Judd gave in. It was a cold, raw day on Long Island and Gray spent most of the day drinking, trying to summon the courage to go through with the murder. He and Ruth had cooked up a plan that had him traveling by train to New York from Syracuse and then by bus to Long Island. When he arrived in Queens Village, where the Snyders lived, he walked around for an hour, stopping under street lights to take drinks from his flask. It was almost as if he hoped to be spotted and arrested for breaking the law. No one paid any attention to him, though, and finally, he had to enter the Snyder home. He came in through the back door, as he and Ruth had planned. The Snyder family was away at a party and would return late. Judd had promised to hide in a spare room, where Ruth had left a window sash weight, rubber gloves and chloroform, all the tools of murder.
Ruth returned home around 2:00 a.m. and she opened the bedroom door a crack. She whispered, “Are you in there, Bud, dear?” She soon returned wearing only a slip and the two had sex with her husband asleep just down the hallway. Finally, after about an hour, Gray grabbed the window sash weight and Ruth led him to the master bedroom, where Albert Snyder slept with the blankets up over his head. The two of them stood on opposite sides of the bed and then Gray raised the sash weight and brought it down clumsily onto Snyder’s head. The weak blow merely glanced off the man’s skull and while stunned, he let out a roar and tried to seize his attacker. Judd became terrified and let out a whining scream for help.
There was no panic in Ruth Snyder and with a snort of disgust and anger, she grabbed the weight from Judd’s hands and crashed it down on her husband’s skull, killing him. After that, the two of them went downstairs, had drinks, and chatted about the rest of their plan. They faked a robbery by knocking over some chairs and loosely tying Ruth’s hands and feet. Minutes after Gray left, Ruth began banging on Lorraine’s door. The child ran out and removed the gag from her mother’s mouth. She told her daughter to get help and Lorraine ran next door to the neighbor’s house, where the police were called.
Even though the pair believed they had planned well, their “robbery” was far from convincing to experienced police officers. All of the items that Ruth said had been taken by the mysterious burglar were found hidden in the house and detectives began to question her. Surprisingly, she gave up almost at once and confessed to the murder but, not surprisingly, she blamed everything on Judd Gray. He was found hours later, hiding in his Syracuse hotel room. He shrieked his innocence and insisted that he had not been in New York. When confronted with the train ticket stub that he had carelessly tossed in the trash can of the hotel room, he broke down and confessed. Like Ruth, he blamed everything on his accomplice.
Damon Runyon, the celebrated newsman, later wrote that Ruth and Judd were “inept idiots” and called the whole mess the Dumb-bell Murder, “because it was so dumb.”
By the time the case went to trial, the two former lovers were at one another’s throats, each blaming the other for the deadly deed. The trial became a media frenzy. Celebrities attended in droves, including mystery writer Mary Roberts Rinehart, director D.W. Griffith, author Will Durant, evangelists Billy Sunday and Aimee Semple McPherson and many others.
Both defendants had separate attorneys arguing for their innocence. Ruth’s lawyer stated that her husband “drove love out from the house” by longing after a departed sweetheart, leaving her no choice but to have an affair. Judd, she claimed, took her to speakeasies and drank himself senseless, but she never touched a drop of liquor. When Judd took the stand, his lawyer blamed Ruth for everything and described his client’s situation as “the most tragic story that has ever gripped the human heart.” Just as Ruth had blamed everything on him, he told the jury that she had forced him to kill her husband.
The jury didn’t care, and in just 98 minutes found them both guilty and sentenced to die in the electric chair.
Judd Gray was executed first on January 12, 1928. He sat smiling in his cell when the warden came for him. He told the warden that he was ready to go. He said, “I have nothing to fear.”
Ruth Snyder followed her former lover just minutes after she watched the prison lights flicker, signaling that the switch had been thrown for the electric chair. Reporters remembered that, as she was being led to the death chamber, that she had said days before that God had forgiven her and that she hoped the world would.
A clever reporter from the New York Daily News smuggled a camera into the death chamber by strapping it to his ankle. He managed to click off a photo just as the current entered Ruth’s body and snapped her body against the chair straps. The photograph ran in the next day’s edition of the paper but soon the lurid tale faded into history. Soon, people remembered the photo more than they remembered who had been sitting in the chair. The “Dumb Bell Murder” was another one for the history books.