“THE TERROR OF SEVEN SISTERS ROAD” and 3 More Terrible True Tales! #WeirdDarkness
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Listen to ““THE TERROR OF SEVEN SISTERS ROAD” and 3 More Terrible True Tales! #WeirdDarkness” on Spreaker.
IN THIS EPISODE: There are many legends from Nebraska involving supernatural entities, but one of the eerier accounts out there is the story of Nebraska’s haunted “L Street”. According to legend, seven women were murdered on the road in the 1900s. Ever since, the road and surrounding hills have been a rumored hotbed of paranormal activity. It’s labeled as “L Street” on the map – but locals call it “Seven Sisters Road. (The Terror of Seven Sisters Road) *** The restaurant is a bit dated with the servers wearing old-fashioned black and white aprons. The food was incredible, the place was spotlessly clean. It’s definitely a restaurant you’ll want to visit again when you pass that way again. Unfortunately, the restaurant won’t be there… because it never was. (The Restaurant That Disappeared) *** They say chivalry is dead, but that was not so in 1875. Standing up to someone on behalf of your wife was not only common, but expected… even to the point of murder. (Tragedy At Vineland) *** Hawaii’s MacKenzie State Park boasts beautiful scenery, pleasant weather for outdoor activities like hiking and fishing, and is a favorite of locals and tourists alike. But when the sun goes down, MacKenzie Park reveals its truth… it is extremely haunted. (Hawaii’s Haunted MacKenzie Park)
STORY SOURCES AND MUSIC CREDITS…
“The Terror of Seven Sisters Road” by Sarah Buckholz for Antique Archaelogy https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/5eck2zmg, Chris Peters for the Omaha World-Herald https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/1kq3krbo, Nick Downs https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/1jaam18x,
Erin Wisti for Graveyard Shift https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/pcgg744a
“Tragedy at Vineland” by Robert Wilhelm for Murder By Gaslight: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/3howgpmp
“The Restaurant That Disappeared” by Ellen Lloyd for Message to Eagle: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/ydxmkbo7
“Hawaii’s Haunted MacKenzie Park” by Brent Swancer for Mysterious Universe: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/165p8bcv
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.
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Hey, Weirdos. If you played “IDENTIFY THE IMPOSTER” in the Weird Darkness Weirdos Facebook Group for this episode of the show, the story title that was a hoax and is not one of the stories tonight is: “How To Survive a Poltergeist”
If you’re sensitive to sibling drama, you’ll want to stay off one particular road in Nebraska City. This old road, is the location of one of the most gruesome legends to come out of the wholesome farmlands of Nebraska. Nebraska City is an hour south of Omaha; ask anyone in this town of 7,000 and you’ll be cautioned to avoid Seven Sisters Road. Legend has it that almost 100 years ago, a brother and his seven sisters were living in the hills outside the city. For reasons no one has ever known, one night the brother came home palm-twitching mad, poisonous thoughts swirling through his mind. Slipping deeper and deeper into psychosis, the darkness finally overtook him, and unimaginably, he dragged each one of his innocent sisters to a separate hilltop and hung them all. Locals now warn unsuspecting visitors that strange things happen on the road that curves through those seven forlorn hills. Many brave souls who have dared to drive here report cars suddenly drained of power, engines stalling and headlights dimming as if in warning to get away. These hills are not a place to be after dark. But if you insist, and you park your car out on the road long enough, you may just hear the wailing screams of those seven sisters out in the distance.
I’m Darren Marlar and this is Weird Darkness.
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. If you’re new here, welcome to the show – and if you are listening to Weird Darkness on the radio, on a streaming station, or on YouTube, be sure to look for and subscribe to Weird Darkness in your favorite podcast app as well – I upload episodes every day of the week! And if you’re already a member of this Weirdo family, please take a moment and invite someone else to listen. Recommending us to others helps make it possible for me to keep doing the show! And while you’re listening, be sure to check out WeirdDarkness.com where you can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, MeWe, and more.
Coming up in this episode…
The restaurant is a bit dated with the servers wearing old-fashioned black and white aprons. The food was incredible, the place was spotlessly clean. It’s definitely a restaurant you’ll want to visit again when you pass that way again. Unfortunately, the restaurant won’t be there… because it never was. (The Restaurant That Disappeared)
They say chivalry is dead, but that was not so in 1875. Standing up to someone on behalf of your wife was not only common, but expected… even to the point of murder. (Tragedy At Vineland)
Hawaii’s MacKenzie State Park boasts beautiful scenery, pleasant weather for outdoor activities like hiking and fishing, and is a favorite of locals and tourists alike. But when the sun goes down, MacKenzie Park reveals its truth… it is extremely haunted. (Hawaii’s Haunted MacKenzie Park)
There are many legends from Nebraska involving supernatural entities, but one of the eerier accounts out there is the story of Nebraska’s haunted “L Street”. According to legend, seven women were murdered on the road in the 1900s. Ever since, the road and surrounding hills have been a rumored hotbed of paranormal activity. It’s labeled as “L Street” on the map – but locals call it “Seven Sisters Road. (The Terror of Seven Sisters Road)
Now.. bolt your doors, lock your windows, turn off your lights, and come with me into the Weird Darkness!
STORY: THE TERROR OF SEVEN SISTERS ROAD==========
There is an old, dark, historical event that had been kept in dark secrecy, locked behind every door in an old urban city; Nebraska City, Nebraska.
Nebraska City is known as “The Home of Arbor Day” due to its close proximity to Arbor Lodge, home of the first Secretary of Agriculture of the United States, J. Sterling Morton, who enthusiastically promoted the planting of trees on the prairie for shade, fruit, and windbreaks. The National Arbor Day Foundation has its headquarters near his home in Nebraska City. Slaves were first bought and sold in the 1850s in Nebraska City.
In 1854 the Kansas-Nebraska Act allowed legal settlement in the regional area. Three townships were incorporated by settlers: Nebraska City and Kearney City were incorporated in 1855, and South Nebraska City was incorporated in 1856. On December 31. 1857, these three town sites along with Prairie City joined, incorporating as present day Nebraska City.
Steamboats were the vitalizing force behind Nebraska City’s growth in bringing commerce, people and freight to the west. In the spring of 1858 Russell, Majors and Waddell started freighting from Nebraska City on a government contract to transport all provisions for all western forts. The supplies were brought up the Missouri River by steamboat and then taken out by wagon train. Nebraska City’s favorable position and good trail made it an important link to the west.
A once well respected farmer, whose name I changed for respectful reasons, named Alex Barrens owned a large amount of land. The Missouri river flowed thru 2 miles of his land which made him unease to allow the city to let passengers on steamboats to travel thru. He would not give up his rights to do so, even though the city was willing to pay are large sum to buy the property. Alex had seven sisters, whose names also have been changed, who all but 1 never married. From youngest to oldest was, Heather, Sarah, Sue, Mandy, Erica, Betty. The oldest one who was married was Mrs. Gloria Boyd. All seven of his sisters lived together after the death of Gloria’s husband who died of the Flu. Together they worked as teachers; store clerks, bartender and every night would work in the fields to harvest corn when the seasons were right. It was a tough time for them, but the people of Nebraska City did whatever they could to help out.
Alex argued with the court that under any circumstances he will “NOT” allow the city to take away his land and or allow any steamboats to port illegally threw “his” owned portion of the river. The court testified that no person shall own property of the river and it was given to all right to travelers to cross thru. Alex again testified and fought with the system. He swore that he will have his revenge upon “anyone” who steamboats thru his land.
At harsh times the steamboat traveled but once a week. Work was lacking and people were beginning to run dry of resources and or work, but people still managed to travel by steamboat from time to time. As for Alex’s revenge, Every time he spotted a steamboat across “his portion of the river” he would become outraged with anger. His sisters constantly fought with him into selling or give the land to the city and move to better grounds. But Alex refused. He felt as though his sisters were against him. He feared that the city had tried talking sense into them. They fought… All Alex could think of was hatred and revenge. Alex truly believed the courts manipulated his sister into “giving” up his land, and for what? A conspiracy?
What made things worse was that the city was building a road that would pretty much cover the remaining portion of what Alex had owned. He was furious. He would not allow anyone to cross his land.
The four hills that Alex once viewed the sunrise every morning was where he would cast his warning to the city. One night Alex drugged his sisters waters during supper. They died from the poison. Alex then dragged their bodies, one by one to the top of the hills and hung them by their necks.
It was Dawn. A small group of people from a local church had planed a service of Christian worship at the hills. The cool early summer morning breeze was a good place for service, but a hell they didn’t realize they had walked into. To their surprise of a horrifying sight, the church group stood in horror as Bettie’s body swung from a single tree on an East hill. Her neck had broken. Sues body swung from one of the trees on a West hill. Her face was badly beaten in. Mandy and Erica’s bodies both swung from two different trees on a North Western hill while Heather and Sarah’s bodies swung from a tree on a North Eastern hill. All their throats were slashed open as their dead bodies swung while tied by a rope around their necks. Later, Gloria’s body was found by city officials hanging by her feet in a tree on a fifth and center hill approximately 60 yards from the other bodies. From a distance, they could see that her stomach was cut open with her intestines hanging out. After shooing away wild crows and a dog, the Sheriff soon discovered another body, dead, on the ground under Gloria’s swinging corpse. It was her unborn child. Gloria was 7 months pregnant.
Alex was later executed after his confession of his murderous actions. He warned the court that all he wanted was to keep the promise that he gave his father when he once owned the land before it was handed down to him. “Do not giveaway my land that I worked so hard for, no matter what the cause.” But did that give a reason as to killing his sisters?
Seven Sisters Road was built through the hills years after the rumored murders, and the trees that had displayed the sisters’ bodies were supposedly chopped down. Perhaps because their places of death were disturbed, as soon as the road opened people began reporting supernatural occurrences.
Today people call that road “7 Sisters Road.” At night, passing vehicle headlights had flickered or burned out. Cars and trucks of all sizes had stalled or broken down to unexplainable causes.
Many visitors to Seven Sisters Road say they hear the eerie sound of bells ringing. The sound supposedly comes from an old cemetery, and has been known to last for 30 minutes. There’s no explanation for the screams and plees.
One traveler said that, on a trip through Nebraska City, he heard the story of Seven Sisters Road at a local diner. Curious, he decided to drive up to the hills himself. When he turned the radio on, the Doors song “This is the End” was playing. While likely just a coincidence, the traveler was spooked enough to turn around right there.
If you visit the spot at night, you may hear screams; many say they do. They’re loud and nearby, yet just out of reach. And these high-pitched, piercing screams aren’t the only phenomena associated with this legend.
Headlights dim, speedometers freeze, windows roll up and down on their own. Cell service drops. The wind changes, and shadowy figures dart around in the darkness.
Some have heard those bells. Others have seen red eyes in the shadows.
In November 1968, a series of strange reports were made along this road. Every night for a week, a deputy responded to calls about a monster in the hills.
Around 11 p.m., the monster would come alive, according to a Nebraska City News-Press account from that year. At 6 feet tall, the monster was said to resemble a bear with a wolf face.
One account, told by locals and referenced in the 1968 article, was particularly jarring.
A group of teenagers were partying in the area when they saw glowing red eyes in the distance. They tore off down the gravel road, kicking up rocks as they sped off. The beast, barreling after, grabbed hold of the bumper and stopped the car with such force that the back window shattered, locals say.
According to the article, one person reported that a boy was grabbed by the monster, scratched up and thrown in a ditch.
Half a century later, the legend is still alive.
Another to experience the phenomenon is Cheryl Ann Fletcher. She saw the bodies hanging by nooses from the trees, their chests blown open by gunshots.
Seven hung there, dangling above the graveyard in the woods.
The other people walking with her on that day saw only trees and leaves.
But to Cheryl Ann Fletcher, this was no hallucination.
“It was clear as day, as if it were you and me standing right here,” said Fletcher, a medium based in Lincoln. “There were seven bodies, males and females mixed. The one that captured my attention was a little boy who was blonde, he was about 7 years old.”
Fletcher’s account is one of many you’ll hear from those around Nebraska City who’ve visited the site near Seven Sisters Road. For some, it’s a ghost story to tell the kids, something to send a chill down the spine. For others, it’s much more than just a scary story.
During her first visit to the site, Fletcher said she felt the young boy’s fingers wrap around her arm. When she looked down, she saw white depressions form on her skin, then felt a tug.
The spirit pulled and gripped tighter, leading her toward a gravestone without inscription. There, at the weathered stone, the little boy introduced himself: Matthew. The two conversed until Fletcher left the graveyard and went home.
“It took me a couple of days to recover after the first initial meeting of the afterlife there,” Fletcher said. “But the second time …”
Fletcher returned, this time with a crew tasked with trying to document any paranormal activity.
The property owner led Fletcher through the trees, beyond Matthew’s grave, to an open field. There, they stopped, and the landowner turned around, pointed to a tree with a small hunting stand and shared a story.
It was at this spot one quiet day before dawn, where, armed with a bow and arrow, he watched as a creature walked upright, slowly, as if a wolf were stalking prey, directly toward him. Through the fog, he saw only the beast’s glowing red eyes, shining like rubies.
Then the creature broke east and headed off over the hill and out of view.
As his story progressed, Fletcher said she began to feel hot breath on her neck. Petrified, she stood still.
“I knew I would be face-to-face with something demonic,” she said. So she walked away, never turning around, and hasn’t been back since.
It seems just about everyone living in the Nebraska City area has had an encounter at least once.
At Nebraska City High School, steps away from Arbor Lodge State Historical Park, guidance assistant Dawn Leu beeps into the intercom.
“Attention students, anyone who has a story about Seven Sisters needs to report to the guidance office.”
Students came running. Soon, a crowd had formed around Leu’s office, including 16-year-old Natalie Sturm. Her name was one of the first on Leu’s list.
Sturm’s family owns the land alongside Seven Sisters Road, with “No Trespassing” signs posted around the perimeter. Deep into the woods on a muddy, winding trail, sits a private graveyard atop a hill, the same one where Fletcher says she saw the bodies hanging.
The Sturms don’t like intruders on their property, and it’s difficult to find the graveyard on your own. The Sturms lead tours for friends, family and most curious passers-by. Natalie’s dad estimated that he has given the same tour 100 times.
Many of Natalie’s high school classmates have taken those tours. Some think the ghost stories are cool. Some don’t believe them.
“When people say it’s not haunted down there, it makes me mad,” Sturm said.
She and her friend Sarah Sullivan have heard the bells, the screams and the muffled whispers in the forest countless times. So often that they’re almost used to it. Almost.
One Halloween, Natalie’s parents, Nate and Becky, were in the forest after dark. Changing winds, voices, shadows — they can handle all of that. They’ll usually stick it out. But this night, they fled when they heard a scream at point-blank range.
“It was curdling,” Nate said. “It was not a bobcat, it was definitely a woman screaming. It was crazy.”
Recently, Becky’s truck stalled in front of their property, refusing to go even with a jump-start. But in the morning, it fired right up. It’s far from the first report of this phenomenon.
On occasion, the Sturms tend to the graveyard, raking, pulling weeds and clearing the gravestones. It’s their way to try and keep the peace.
They know the stories about this place, and they’ve done research. They can’t find concrete evidence of exactly what happened here, but one gravestone could offer hints.
The largest and most ornate stone in the cemetery, which has broken from its base and sunk into the grass, bears the names John and Julia Warden. Julia died in 1880. John in 1901.
Genealogy records show that the Wardens had seven daughters and one son. Seven daughters.
Is he the madman? The one who fired the shots and strung the rope?
There’s no report of such a horrible incident ever occurring. And even in the late 1880s, when Warden homesteaded the property after arriving from Virginia, incidents of this magnitude didn’t go unreported.
There’s another catch. Each Warden daughter has a different date of death. One, Letha Warden Wilhelm, lived to be almost 90.
“There are a lot of questionable tales in the Warden and Wilhelm families, but I’ve never heard this one connected to them,” said Barbara Boardman Wilhelm, who married into the family and has studied its genealogy.
There are no reports of hangings ever occurring along this stretch of road. Others buried in this private cemetery have no reasonable connection to such a story, either.
Otoe County Sheriff Jim Gress, who grew up less than a block from Seven Sisters Road, said there’s no record of anyone getting seriously hurt or killed along the road.
“It never did scare me,” Gress said. “I know people, before they cut the hills down, they would go over the hills pretty fast because they could get airborne with them. That was scary.”
But just because there’s no evidence of a crime doesn’t mean the tale is entirely fabricated. Legends can warp over time in fireside games of telephone. Names change. Locations change. Details are embellished.
One person reported that he and his wife had traveled along a mysterious road when all of a sudden, their car broke down. The man got out of his car to pop open the hood to check the engine for any vehicle problems. A short while later his wife got out of the car to help out. After examining the engine for a short time the man found no problems. He closed the hood and then eerie screams come from a distance from the West. The evening sun was setting; the couple had looked to the West. From where the screams were coming from they saw five hills, alined in a V shape. After the screams faded away, their vehicle started up on its own. They quickly jumped back into the car and sped off. Since then they claim that they had never driven down that road, ever again.
There might be a way to explain the legend of Seven Sisters Road.
In the late 1800s, angry mobs of masked vigilantes began taking justice into their own hands. No rural town in Nebraska had more lynchings than Nebraska City during that time. Five men were hanged between 1866 and 1887.
One of those lives lost was a homesteader who lived not far from this road.
That man was Lee Shellenberger, who sat in the courthouse jail awaiting trial for murder. Shellenberger was accused of slicing his 11-year-old daughter Maggie’s throat, according to an Omaha Daily Bee account at the time.
The masked mob is said to have stormed the jail, overpowered the guard and carved through the floor above Shellenberger’s cell. They pulled him out and tied a rope around his neck.
Shellenberger’s final words reverberated: “I’ll haunt you (S.O.B.s) if I can.”
Seven Sisters Road is an inherently creepy trail. Tall, looping hills, shaved down in later years, create mystery with each coming valley. Twisted trees creak in rural silence. Whether or not ghosts and beasts truly haunt this land, it’s the kind of place that deserves a backstory.
It’s possible that the culture of hangings and the Shellenberger story somehow evolved into the legend of the Seven Sisters. Over the years, each telling could add or confuse a detail, and somehow a slit throat became a lynching. One daughter became seven, perhaps to better link the story to an already spooky place nearby.
It’s not unreasonable to believe retellings transformed the story bit by bit over the last century. That the backstory can’t be entirely proved or disproved adds to the mystique, helping keep the legend strong all these years.
Seemingly everybody in town has a Seven Sisters story. And those who don’t should go back for another visit, Natalie Sturm says. “The second time is when it all starts.”
3 miles to the south of Nebraska City lays the “Camp Creek Cemetery” where it is said that the seven sisters and Alex Barrens are buried. No report is documented of Gloria’s baby being buried there. But one thing still remains a mystery! Hundreds of people have reported hearing a baby crying in the Camp Creek Cemetery and then suddenly stops as if its cry had been cut silent.
Today, only four of the supposed seven original hills are really prominent. The ghosts, however, seem to be as present as ever.
When Weird Darkness returns…
Hawaii’s MacKenzie State Park boasts beautiful scenery, pleasant weather for outdoor activities like hiking and fishing, and is a favorite of locals and tourists alike. But when the sun goes down, MacKenzie Park reveals its truth… it is extremely haunted. (Hawaii’s Haunted MacKenzie Park)
But first… they say chivalry is dead, but that not so in 1875. Standing up to someone on behalf of your wife was not only common, but expected… even to the point of murder. That story is up next. (Tragedy At Vineland)
STORY: TRAGEDY AT VINELAND==========
On the morning of March 19, 1875, Charles K. Landis entered the office of the Vineland Independent and demanded to see the paper’s editor and publisher, Uri Carruth. When Carruth entered the room, Landis approached him, waving a newspaper clipping.
“Mr. Carruth, did you write that?” Landis shouted.
“I did, and I will do it again,” said Carruth.
“Will you promise not to attack my wife in future?”
“Defend yourself then,” said Landis drawing a revolver.
He chased Carruth into the composing room of the newspaper, and there shot him in the head.
“I’ve killed him! I’ve killed him! I was obliged to do it. I killed him in the cause of God and humanity!” said Landis as he surrendered himself to the deputy sheriff.
The offending article seems frivolous on its face:
“A prominent Vinelander sat down by the side of his loving wife on the sofa, and looked up in her eyes, and called her a duck and a birdie and rabbit, and all the other endearing names. Then he told her he wanted she should learn the use of a revolver, so that in his absence, she could protect their home and silver-ware and defend the honor of Vineland. Then he went off and bought an elegant seven-shooter and a nice target. Then he set up the target in one end of the parlor, and gave her a first lesson shooting. Then he told her he wanted she should practice every day. Then he went away for a week. When he returned he found the revolver on the other side of the looking-glass; the parlor door resembled a bad case of small-pox, and the furniture looked as though it bad been indulging in a wrestle with a Burlington county hail storm. Did he walk up to his wife, and sicken her with the endearing names of all the birds and four-footed beasts? Not much! he marched out into the street in his shirt sleeves; with but one boot on and that patched over the big toe. Then he went galloping up and down, telling every man he met, confidentially, that his wife was crazy. Then he went off and tried to get her into a private Insane Asylum: yes he did, the wretch!”
Though neither Landis nor his wife was mentioned by name, everyone in Vineland knew who the article referred to. Landis and Carruth had a long-standing feud, and the Independent had been attacking Landis and his family for years. This was the last straw.
Charles Landis was an attorney and land speculator who, in 1861, purchased 50,000 acres of New Jersey wilderness, and there founded the town of Vineland. Persuasive advertising in America and Europe induced people to settle in the new town, but property deeds included many harsh conditions, most notably a prohibition on the sale of intoxicating liquors. Violation of any of the burdensome restrictions could result in forfeiture of the property; landowners were hardly more than tenants of Landis.
Despite the restrictions, Vineland grew quickly and by 1875 had a population of 15,000. But as the population increased, so did discontent in Vineland. In 1868, the Vineland Independent began publishing with the goal of telling the truth about life in Vineland and “discouraging careless investment by poor people in the poor lands.” From the beginning, the Independent was in conflict with Charles Landis, but the real trouble began in 1870 when Uri Carruth purchased the newspaper.
Uri Carruth, 50 years old in 1875, was an attorney with publishing experience in Michigan who was known to be a vindictive and combative man. Attacks on Landis in the Independent went beyond criticizing his policies and were meant to humiliate Landis and his family. “He was neither witty nor humorous, nor sarcastic, nor bitter,” said the Massachusetts Spy of Carruth, “but coarsely and stupidly impertinent, telling in his paper silly, pointless stories of Landis and his family.”
In 1869, Landis had eloped with the daughter of Commodore Meade of the US Navy. Mrs. Landis had “a very excitable nature” and had spent some time in an insane asylum. The mental problems of Mrs. Landis were well known in Vineland, and she was often the butt of Carruth’s attempts at humor. Mrs. Landis found these articles so distressing that her husband worked to keep the Independent out of their house. Despite his precautions, copies of these articles were thrust under the door or thrown into windows; Mrs. Landis would read them and become dangerously violent, remaining “insane” for a week at a time.
At the time of the offending article in 1875, Mrs. Landis was pregnant, and her doctor said that her reason would be permanently overthrown if the excitement were not removed. Charles Landis viewed Carruth’s article as an attack on his wife’s health and wellbeing. According to Landis’s public statement, he became so distraught that he put a pistol to his head and pulled the trigger. When the gun missed fire, he realized he was shooting the wrong man; he took his better pistol, an English revolver, and went to see Carruth.
The shot did not kill Carruth. Though doctors continued to probe his skull looking for the bullet, it appeared that Carruth would recover and could live with the ball still in his head. Landis was released from jail on $50,000 bail and was trying to arrange a financial settlement with Carruth to drop the charges against him. He offered Carruth $5,000 and 380 acres of land, which Carruth indignantly refused.
For the next four months, Carruth seemed to be improving physically, but his finances were in shambles. Friends said he and Landis had agreed to a settlement of $12,000 in cash and securities and were waiting for Landis’s signature when Carruth took a turn for the worse and died on October 24. Landis was rearrested and charged with first-degree murder.
At his trial the following January, Landis gave a three-point defense: 1. He was insane when he shot Carruth; 2. Carruth’s death was not caused by the bullet but by unskilled treatment; 3. Carruth’s provocation was such to reduce the offense to manslaughter. Evidence of insanity was slim, witnesses testified to Landis’s excited and nervous demeanor. To the second point, an autopsy showed the bullet had become completely encysted and had not caused Carruth’s death. The immediate cause of death had been an abscess in the brain caused by physicians probing his head in the wrong area looking for the bullet. Landis’s attorneys were confident of victory and did not seriously address the third point.
The jury acquitted Charles Landis of murder, and the community remained divided over whether the verdict was just. Some saw it as an example of unequal justice, where a rich man could get away with murder. Most, however, agreed with Forney’s Weekly Press: “Mr. Carruth’s effort to be ‘spicy,’ unbacked by ability to be anything more than grossly indecorous, brought him to his death—and the verdict of popular opinion already registered is ‘served him right.'”
STORY: HAWAII’S HAUNTED MACKENZIE PARK==========
Winding along the breathtakingly scenic Puna coastline of Opihikao, an Hawaii Island in Hawaii, is what is called Kalapana-Kapoho Road or more commonly the Red Road, which meanders along through the rugged landscape of cliffs, lava outcroppings, waves, and the azure sea, and at one point passes a 13-acre expanse of ironwood trees called MacKenzie State Park, part of the Malama Ki Forest Reserve. With its gorgeous vistas and peaceful atmosphere, the park is a popular place for visitors to enjoy picnicking, hiking, fishing, camping, and other outdoor activities in a secluded, quiet environment. However, while it is undoubtedly a place of great solitude and beauty, MacKenzie State park is also known for its rather dark history and its sinister reputation as being one of the most haunted places in Hawaii.
The park itself was officially established in the 1930s after the park’s namesake, ranger Albert J. MacKenzie, planted a grove of ironwood trees here, but the history of the area goes back to the 1800s. In the 1850s numerous prison convicts were brought here from Honolulu for the purpose of working on sugar plantations, clearing land of the thick jungle undergrowth, and maintaining the historic coastal trail called “The King’s Highway, originally built by the former Hawaiian ruler King Kamehameha the Great in the early 1800s, and which served as a major path for crossing the island at the time. At this point the area was already long said by the locals to be haunted by restless spirits the Hawaiians called the ‘uhane, as well as by spectral processions of ghostly figures with torches and drums, called the “Night Marchers,” who were said to come out on nights of the full moon and unleash battle cries. Yet, with the coming of the prisoners the area would take on an even more gruesome reputation.
Working conditions here were less than ideal, with the inhospitable terrain, lack of clean water, disease, and harsh treatment they suffered all taking its toll. It is said that hundreds of these prisoners died over the years, their bodies typically unceremoniously buried in unmarked graves out in the wilderness. The ghosts of these prisoners have ever since been said to roam the park, typically appearing as the apparitions of filthy, pale, and bedraggled looking phantom men, sickly and thin, wandering about carrying various work equipment, only to vanish into thin air. There are also frequent reports of hikers hearing footsteps behind them when no one is there, or of seeing shadow figures moving about in the trees as if following them, and dogs are allegedly spooked at unseen threats or downright too terrified to go anywhere near the area.
These spectral prisoners are also said to prowl about outside of the tents of campers in the park, whispering and walking about only for the tent occupant to look out and see no one there, and they have even been seen to set up their own camps, complete with campfires, which fade out of existence if one is to approach. More frightening reports describe screams and groans emanating from the darkness, tents being shaken, or apparitions of the prisoners appearing within tents to attack the occupants before vanishing.
A Hawaiian paranormal research organization called the Kahuna Research Group investigated the park in 2013 and allegedly witnessed all manner of strange phenomena, including weird EVP readings, strange anomalous images caught on camera, and even purportedly making contact with some of these spirits. One was apparently the ghost of a Portuguese prisoner called “Louie,” which allegedly spoke to the group via one of the team members, a spirit medium named Marcie Grover. She would say of this encounter:
“I immediately made contact with a spirit named ‘Louie’ or ‘Louis’, who I sensed was a Portuguese prison laborer from the crew who built the park in the 1850s. He indicated there were four other such spirits there with him. He had created his own ‘Purgatory’ and would not ‘go to the light’ due to his Catholic upbringing. He indicated he had killed a fellow laborer due to lack of provisions. I believe he died a few weeks after that incident. After hours of seemingly playing ‘tag’ with the spirits, someone suggested we go completely dark and use the small indicator lights on the ion detector only to note activity… and we had immediate success. I asked the spirits if they could light up the device once for yes and twice for no and we again had an immediate response. The device remained blank when no questions were asked.”
Adding to the park’s ominous reputation and its ghosts are all of the strange accidents and crimes that have occurred here over the years, to the point that rumors have spread that it is actually a cursed place. Perhaps the most famous incident occurred at the park in 1980, when a couple was camping here and were attacked one evening by a mysterious intruder, who savagely beat them, killing the man and seriously injuring the woman. No suspect has ever been found, and there has never been determined any motive for the gruesome, senseless crime. In 1993 there was also the tragic death of a 16-year-old girl, who was beaten and sexually assaulted by three men before being thrown over a cliff into the sea while she was still alive. Her body has never been found.
In 2008 there was the strange case of the body of a local surfer found at the base of a cliff by the cast and crew of the film The Tempest, which was shooting on location at MacKenzie State Park. The man had reportedly been shot many times, but no one has ever been arrested in connection with the crime. On top of these unsolved crimes are the many drownings that have occurred here over the years, although this is most likely due to the rough waves and strong currents. There are warnings posted against swimming, but people do it anyway, and fishermen on the rocks are sometimes swept out to sea by sudden powerful waves, with many of the bodies never found.
All of this death and violent history stands in stark contrast to the otherwise enchanting beauty of this place, and also ensures that there are plenty of spooky rumors and phenomena to go around. In addition to the ancient spirits, Night Marchers, and apparitions of dead prisoners here, mysterious lights or fireballs are often seen floating about through the twisted and gnarled ironwood trees or even bobbing about on the waves of the nearby sea, and there are many reports of voices and howls issuing forth from the area’s many lava tubes. It is all rather interesting considering that with the sheer natural splendor of the park it looks more like something out of a travel brochure, and one of the last places one might expect to be so intensely haunted. Indeed, many visitors have no idea about any of this, making it all the more startling when they encounter these strange phenomena for themselves. Whether any of the stories of ghosts are true or not, MacKenzie State park is certainly a place of great beauty under which a certain darkness pulses.
The restaurant is a bit dated with the servers wearing old-fashioned black and white aprons. The food was incredible, the place was spotlessly clean. It’s definitely a restaurant you’ll want to visit when you pass that way again. Unfortunately, the restaurant won’t be there… because it never was. That story when Weird Darkness returns. (The Restaurant That Disappeared)
STORY: THE RESTAURANT THAT DISAPPEARED==========
There are many accounts of unexplained and unexpected sightings of humans, buildings, and events reported by people who journeyed through time by unknown means.
Such time slips are often very confusing to the observer who sees something that doesn’t belong in our reality. Nevertheless, studies of time slips can eventually give us a better understanding of the universe and our place in it.
How can ‘something’ from a different time and place be right there before you, only to be gone without a trace later? People who experience time slips say everything they saw seemed as real as the physical world we live in right now. Did these people enter another dimension through an invisible barrier?
Many scientists are convinced there can be countless invisible worlds co-existing next to our own. The parallel universe theory is still just a theory, but our knowledge of space-time is still limited.
Many people who have experienced time slips are often reluctant to come forward and share their stories for fear of being ridiculed or labeled crazy.
It is worth remembering that contrary to what some think such time slips have not only been reported in modern times. Accounts of perplexing time slips have been recorded throughout history, and there are many stories in the Quran, Bible and other ancient texts that tell of these stories, not to mention several old myths and legends.
This curious event took place in March 1959 in Wyoming, USA. The story is about three friends who together experienced something truly remarkable.
Bob Wetzel (not his real name) who was stationed at Lowry Air Force Base in Denver, Colorado was traveling together with John and Dee Greeley (also pseudonyms) to visit Bob’s wife Sharon who lived in Worland. The three men left the outskirts of the city of Cheyenne, when suddenly a snowstorm with a thick fog appeared making their short trip almost impossible to continue. The road was covered with ice and they drove very slowly.
Under normal conditions, the trip from Cheyenne to Chugwater should only take 30 minutes, but the weather was so bad the journey lasted 90 minutes. The storm increased but they continued their journey.
Suddenly, something strange happened. Something completely unexpected. Hidden by the side of the road, in the blowing snow, the three men noticed a restaurant.
They stopped the car in the parking lot and entered the restaurant.
“We were so glad to find a place to come in out of the storm and have dinner,” Bob Wetzel began his unbelievable story.
“We pulled off to the left side of the road and walked across the street; then we ran up some steps leading into the building. I believe we went through some swinging doors there in the front, and I remember we were the only three having dinner at the time. The help was there – the cook, dishwasher, and others, but we were the only customers.”
The restaurant was clean, and the staff consisted of two young women dressed in long white dresses with black and white aprons. Being hungry and exhausted, the three men ordered steaks, chicken, and beer. The meal was delicious, and everything seemed normal. There was no reason to suspect this was an unusual restaurant. When it was time to pay for the meal, the three men were very surprised to see the tab on their bill.
Bills recalled: “It came to only nine dollars for the three of us! I was so pleased that I left five one-dollar bills as a tip, and you should have seen how surprised the waitresses were!
They thanked me, walked us to the door, and told us to be careful since it was still snowing.”
The three friends continued their journey to Sharon. Weather conditions were much better now and they made it to Worland with no difficulties.
“When we got there, we told my wife, Sharon, and her parents about the nice restaurant we’d found, and so we decided to stop there again on our way back to Denver. When Sharon made the return trip with us, the weather was clear, and we had no trouble getting to Chugwater. This was before the highways were fixed, and you had to drive right through the middle of the town. I remembered that as we had come down the hill, from Denver heading north, the restaurant had been the third or fourth business on the left-hand side of the street.”
Once Bob and his wife reached the spot where the restaurant was supposed to be located, there was a problem. The restaurant wasn’t there any longer.
Bob decided to find out why he couldn’t see the building anywhere, and headed over to a local hamburger stand, to get some information. He spoke to an elderly local man whose name was Charlie and told about the unbelievable experience.
The man was very surprised: “Are you sure this was where you were?” I said, “I’m positive. That’s right where I parked.” “When was this?” Charlie asked, with a funny look on his face.
“Eight to 10 days ago,” I told him. And then he dropped the bombshell. “Son, the place that you describe burned down years and years ago, and this has been a vacant lot since then.” “There’s no way!” I said. “We were just in there!” I began to describe both of the waitresses who had served us.
“Son,” the man said again, “that place burned down, and the two people you describe perished in the fire. But that was years and years ago.”
Bob has often thought about the mysterious restaurant that vanished into thin air. Like most people who experience time slips, Bob felt everything seemed real, and nothing was ghost-like at all. The food was real and the people he met were no phantoms.
It’s a bizarre incident that shows it may occasionally be possible to interact with people from different timelines.
SHOW CLOSE, CREDITS, A LITTLE LIGHT, AND A FINAL THOUGHT==========
Thanks for listening. Feel free to email me anytime with your questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find all of my social media and a link to the Weird Darkness Weirdos Facebook group on the CONTACT page of the website. If you are listening to Weird Darkness on the radio, on a streaming station, or on YouTube, be sure to subscribe to Weird Darkness in your favorite podcast app too, I upload episodes there seven days a week! I’d also appreciate you leaving a review of the show in the podcast app you listen from, and share Weird Darkness with someone you know who loves the paranormal or strange stories, true crime, monsters, or unsolved mysteries like you do! You can also vote for Weird Darkness in the HOT 50 countdown in Podcast Magazine every day you hear an episode – and please vote every day! To do so, go to WeirdDarkness.com/vote, or click on “VOTE” at WeirdDarkness.com.
Do you have a dark tale to tell of your own? Click on “Tell Your Story” on the website and I might use it in a future episode.
All stories in Weird Darkness are purported to be true (unless stated otherwise), and you can find source links or links to the authors in the show notes.
“The Terror of Seven Sisters Road” by Sarah Buckholz for Antique Archaeology, Chris Peters for the Omaha World-Herald, Nick Downs, and Erin Wisti for Graveyard Shift
“Tragedy at Vineland” by Robert Wilhelm for Murder By Gaslight
“The Restaurant That Disappeared” by Ellen Lloyd for Message to Eagle
“Hawaii’s Haunted MacKenzie Park” by Brent Swancer for Mysterious Universe
WeirdDarkness™ – is a production of Marlar House Productions. Copyright ©Weird Darkness 2021.
Now that we’re coming out of the dark, I’ll leave you with a little light… “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” – 1 Chronicles 16:34
And a final thought… “When you’re in a dark place, you tend to think you’ve been buried. Perhaps you’ve been planted. Bloom.” – Unknown
I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me in the Weird Darkness.
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