“AREA 51 KILLED MY HUSBAND” and More Freaky, Scary True Stories! #WeirdDarkness
Listen to ““AREA 51 KILLED MY HUSBAND” and More Freaky, Scary True Stories! #WeirdDarkness” on Spreaker.
IN THIS EPISODE: For years the doctors couldn’t figure out why Wally was coughing so much, why his skin cracked and bled, turning the bedsheets red. They prescribed ointments, antibiotics, decongestants, pain killers. His guts ached for years, too, and even morphine didn’t help the pain. He died a wraith, 73 years old. The government says it has no idea what happened to him, but then that’s because he worked in Area 51. (Area 51 Killed My Husband) *** Two accounts of Bigfoot are reported from Illinois. But these aren’t your typical sightings. They take place in the middle of the night, possibly inside a dream. In fact, they aren’t described as Bigfoot – but as a wookie, like Chewbacca from Star Wars. But then, how do you explain the accounts being exactly the same from two complete strangers? (Wookies In Illinois) *** Peter Stumpp was arrested accused of being an “insatiable bloodsucker” – which, in 1589, meant he was being accused of being a werewolf. Even stranger… Peter readily admitted to being one. (The Man Who Went On Trial For Being a Werewolf)
SOURCES AND REFERENCES FROM THE EPISODE…
“The Man Who Went On Trial For Being a Werewolf” by Ashley Cowie from Ancient Origins: http://bit.ly/2mh5Qlu
“Old Stinker” by Sam George from Ancient Origins: http://bit.ly/31RSNHt
“Area 51 Killed My Husband” by Richard Leiby from The Washington Post: https://wapo.st/2lNYbeg
“Wookies in Illinois” posted anonymously to PhantomsAndMonsters.com: http://bit.ly/2lT3BVq
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Weird Darkness theme by Alibi Music Library. Background music provided by Alibi Music Library, EpidemicSound and/or StoryBlocks 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 Nicolas Gasparini (https://tinyurl.com/lnqpfs8) is used with permission of the artists.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
(Over time links seen above 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. Some links included above may benefit me financially through qualifying purchases.)
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
“I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” — John 12:46
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
WeirdDarkness® is a registered trademark. Copyright ©2024, Weird Darkness.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Originally aired: June 27, 2018
DISCLAIMER: Ads heard during the podcast that are not in my voice are placed by third party agencies outside of my control and should not imply an endorsement by Weird Darkness or myself. *** Stories and content in Weird Darkness can be disturbing for some listeners and intended for mature audiences only. Parental discretion is strongly advised.
The year was 1589. Peter Stumpp was arrested for being a werewolf – and evidence was provided that he had “gorged on the flesh of goats, lambs, and sheep, as well as men, women, and children for over 25 years.” Stumpp then confessed to having murdered and eaten “fourteen children and two pregnant women”. He verbally declared that he “extracted fetus’ from the pregnant woman’s wombs” and “ate their hearts panting hot and raw.” He also confessed to having regular sex with his own daughter and to having had intercourse with a “succubus sent to him by the Devil.” He confessed to having had practiced black magic since he was twelve years old, that he had the ability to turn into a wolf whenever he wished. And his left hand had been cut off… just like the paw of a werewolf. But now, in the 21st century in Yorkshire, England, the werewolf appears to have returned.
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, the strange and bizarre, crime, conspiracy, mysterious, macabre, unsolved and unexplained.
Coming up in this episode…
For years the doctors couldn’t figure out why Wally was coughing so much, why his skin cracked and bled, turning the bedsheets red. They prescribed ointments, antibiotics, decongestants, pain killers. His guts ached for years, too, and even morphine didn’t help the pain. He died a wraith, 73 years old. The government says it has no idea what happened to him, but then that’s because he worked in Area 51. (Area 51 Killed My Husband)
Two accounts of Bigfoot are reported from Illinois. But these aren’t your typical sightings. They take place in the middle of the night, possibly inside a dream. In fact, they aren’t described as Bigfoot – but as a wookie, like Chewbacca from Star Wars. But then, how do you explain the accounts being exactly the same from two complete strangers? (Wookies In Illinois)
Peter Stumpp was arrested accused of being an “insatiable bloodsucker” – which, in 1589, meant he was being accused of being a werewolf. Even stranger… Peter readily admitted to being one. (The Man Who Went On Trial For Being a Werewolf)
If you’re new here, welcome to the show! While you’re listening, be sure to check out WeirdDarkness.com for merchandise, to visit sponsors you hear about during the show, sign up for my newsletter, enter contests, connect with me on social media, plus, you can visit the Hope in the Darkness page if you’re 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 MAN WHO WENT ON TRIAL FOR BEING A WEREWOLF===
Fans of the supernatural may have noticed a curious line in William Peter Blatty’s book The Exorcist. While talking about Satanism: “Well, there’s William Stumpf, for example…a German in the sixteenth century who thought he was a werewolf”. STOP…you can Google it later! Although this bestseller was a work of fiction the actual historic source of this reference was a curious 16-page pamphlet published in London in 1590 and later rediscovered in 1920, by occultist Augustus Montague Summers.
After offering advice to werewolf hunters on how to best dispose of a captured beast, the pamphlet describes the dire crimes of a wealthy German farmer called Peter Stumpp (sometimes Griswold). Born in the village of Epprath in the Electorate of Cologne in the mid-16th century. Stumpp was said to have been named after having had his left hand cut off, leaving only a stump, in German “Stumpf”. In Germanic mythological systems, which underpinned laws and court rulings, it was held that if a werewolf’s left forepaw was cut off, the same injury appeared on the man. Thus, Peter was a werewolf. It was obvious.
The 1590’s pamphlet reads like Gary Brandner’s The Howling novel being clashed with Tom Harris’ Silence of the Lambs. It provides trial notes and witness statements which can be found recorded in other publications, indicating that the story of Peter Stumpp’s execution is true, in every gut-wrenching part. The private diaries of Hermann von Weinsberg, a Cologne alderman, also covered this case and it was detailed in several broadsheets printed in southern Germany, which all convey identical versions this weird and gory tale. What you are about to read actually happened and it is at this stage of my story I have to advise readers of a sensitive nature to press the back button. Seriously. This next bit is quite simply – messed up.
In 1589, Peter Stumpp was arrested and formally accused of being an “insatiable bloodsucker” and evidence was provided that he had “gorged on the flesh of goats, lambs, and sheep, as well as men, women, and children for over 25 years.” Facing torture, Stumpp then confessed to having murdered and eaten “fourteen children and two pregnant women”. You would have thought that Peter would have stopped there, while he was relatively ahead, but no, he verbally declared that he “extracted fetus’ from the pregnant woman’s wombs” and “ate their hearts panting hot and raw.” He also confessed to having regular sex with his daughter and to having had intercourse with a “succubus sent to him by the Devil.”
Just before being stretched on a rack Stumpp confessed to having had practiced black magic since he was twelve years old and said the Devil had forged, and given to him, a magical belt enabling him to metamorphose into “the likeness of a greedy, devouring wolf, strong and mighty, with eyes great and large, which in the night sparkled like fire, a mouth great and wide, with most sharp and cruel teeth, a huge body, and mighty paws.” When the belt was removed, claimed Stumpp, he would transform back to his human form.
After the trial an extensive search was made at Peter’s farm for the magical werewolf-belt but nothing resembling it was ever recovered.
Stumpp was finally put to death on October 31, 1589, in an extraordinarily violent manner, similar aesthetically to a scene from the Saw movie franchise. Having been strapped to a wooden wheel “flesh was torn from his body in ten places, with red-hot pincers, followed by his arms and legs.” Then his limbs were broken with the blunt side of an axehead, to “prevent him from returning from the grave,” before he was beheaded and burned on a pyre. His daughter and mistress were flayed and strangled and burned along with Stumpp’s body. As a preventative measure against similar wolfish behavior, the torture wheel was erected on a pole with the figure of a wolf on it, topped by Peter Stumpp’s severed head.
A detail given in this story is found to be inconsistent with the historical facts, suggesting there is a hidden layer beneath the surface story of Peter Stumpp, the werewolf. The 16-page pamphlet and the German broadsheets all noted the attendance of “members of the aristocracy” at Stumpp’s execution “including the new Archbishop and Elector of Cologne”. This single fact suggests the presence of a hidden motive.
It might be relevant that the block of years in which Stumpp was said to have committed his crimes (1582-1589) were marked by internal spiritual and political warfare. The Electorate of Cologne was in upheaval upon the introduction of Protestantism by the former Archbishop Gebhard Truchsess von Waldburg. Stumpp was an early convert to Protestantism and fought in a war which historians claim brought uncontrolled violence out of soldiers on both sides, resulting in an epidemic of the plague.
In 1587, the protestants were finally defeated and the new lord of Bedburg – Werner, Count of Salm-Reifferscheidt-Dyck made Bedburg Castle the headquarters of his Catholic mercenaries who were determined to re-establish the Roman faith. Stumpp’s werewolf trial may have been performed to, a tad more than gently, persuade the remaining Protestants to sign up to Catholicism.
It was unlikely that any of Germany’s elite would have attended a regular werewolf or witch trial, and they were regular. It is most likely the case that having drawn up Stumpp’s alleged, and truly outrageous crimes, the elite constructed a popular public spectacle and with assured visibility to the public at large, the nobility mounted their rides and attended the disembodiment of a werewolf – a protestant scoundrel – an archetype of anti-Catholic spiritual darkness. It can be argued that never a public relations stunt since, has matched the uniqueness and sheer morbidity of the execution of Peter Stumpp, the German werewolf.
But that was in 1589… over 400 years ago. Surely, there are no werewolves there today. No one would even believe such a thing. Or would they?
In 2016, there was something of a folk panic in Yorkshire, northern England, following reported sightings of an eight-foot werewolf with a very human face.
The werewolf “Old Stinker”, also known as “The Beast of Barmston Drain” is not a recent phenomenon – it was first reported in the 18th century. But these sightings – concentrated around the town of Hull – are especially intriguing considering that English folklore is rather barren of werewolf stories. Most wolves were extirpated from England under the Anglo-Saxon kings and so ceased to be an object of dread to the people (though wolves did in fact survive in the UK up until the 1500s). So what could be behind these new werewolf sightings?
In literature, accounts of lycanthropy – humans transforming into werewolves – can be traced back to the epic of Gilgamesh in 2100BC, whereas wolf fables begin with Aesop’s The Boy Who Cried Wolf, which was written at some point between 620 and 520 BC. Voluntary lycanthropy does appear from time to time – Virgil’s Eclogues are thought to be the first such account (42-39 BC), but becoming a werewolf is more commonly seen as “a curse” or a sign of bestiality, or at worst of cannibalism.
Most people have heard of witchcraft trials but werewolf trials are less well known – and those who were executed in werewolf trials in 16th and 17th-century France were believed to have a taste for human flesh. But these cannibalistic fears died down with the rise of psychoanalysis in the 19th century, when lycanthropy came to more commonly represent the “beast within” or everything animal that we have repressed in terms of our human nature.
History, then, provides us with two possible answers as to why people might think they’ve spotted werewolves in the English countryside. The first is a fear of violence, manifesting in anxieties around cannibalism. The second is a return of the repressed (perhaps the population of Hull are having a particularly Freudian spell?).
Needless to say, I cannot support these theories. I would argue instead that the answer lies in our cultural understanding of the werewolf and its connection to our native wolves. By reconsidering these primal links, we can begin to understand why people think they see werewolves – and this is pertinent to the appearance of Old Stinker himself.
It is important to consider the werewolf as the specter brother or shadow self of the wolf and to perceive the history of lycanthropy as being inextricably bound up with humankind’s treatment of wolves. For example, the case of Peter Stumpf , who we just learned of. It is notable that this interest corresponds with the extinction of the wolf in England in the 1500s.
Back to today. In 2015 the Open Graves, Open Minds project hosted the first international conference on werewolves at the University of Hertfordshire. This research drew attention to attempts to re-wild the wolf in the UK and scholars began to question what would happen if wolves returned to our forests, as was prominent in associated media reports .
Our collaborations with the UK Wolf Trust generated further discussions around the possibility of rewilding large species in Britain including wolves and lynx. It is in this climate that new sightings of the Hull werewolf had begun to appear.
In July 2016, newspapers reported that Old Stinker was terrorizing women with his human face and very, very, bad breath (hence his name). The two most recent sightings were reported on in August: “Woman met eight-foot werewolf with human face” proclaimed the Metro newspaper. A full-scale werewolf hunt ensued after Old Stinker was spotted prowling an industrial estate. The werewolf had apparently eaten a German Shepherd dog and was seen leaping over fences like a modern day Spring-Heeled Jack (the folk devil that plagued Victorian London).
Importantly, Old Stinker supposedly inhabits a landscape that is thought to have seen some of the last UK wolves. So the emergence of the Hull werewolf can reopen debates about the specter werewolf’s relationship to the flesh and blood wolf. This coincides with a phase of severe environmental damage. It has not taken the form of sudden catastrophe, but rather a slow grinding away of species. The result is a landscape constituted more actively by what is missing than by what is present, a “spectered”, rather than “a sceptered isle”. He represents not only a nation’s belief in him as a supernatural shapeshifter, but its collective guilt at the extinction of an entire indigenous species of wolf.
Far from dismissing the myth, my instincts are to embrace it and see it as a response to our cultural memory around what humans did to wolves.
The Old Stinker story tells us that belief in werewolves lives on beyond the actual lives of the wolves that were thought to inspire them. Rather than being dismissed as a rather fishy tale, Old Stinker can activate the wolf warrior in all of us and allow us to lament the last wolves that ran free in English forests. Far from being a curse, he is a gift: he can initiate rewilding debates and redeem the big bad wolf that filled our childhood nightmares, reminding us that it is often humans, not wolves or the supernatural, that we should be afraid of.
Coming up on Weird Darkness… for years the doctors couldn’t figure out why Wally was coughing so much, why his skin cracked and bled, turning the bedsheets red. They prescribed ointments, antibiotics, decongestants, pain killers. His guts ached for years, too, and even morphine didn’t help the pain. He died a wraith, 73 years old. The government says it has no idea what happened to him, but then that’s because he worked in Area 51. That story is up next.
STORY: AREA 51===
In the dim light of her tidy trailer, the widow dabs at her eyes and presents proof that the man she loved for more than four decades — “my Wally” — existed. Proof that he was born, worked, sacrificed, lived and died. An ordinary man, but one like no other. His name was Walter S. Kasza, and Stella Kasza wants you to know that, damn it, he existed. He was her man.
She displays his Army papers: He landed in Europe in ‘44, fought in the Ardennes, earned three bronze stars. On the paneled wall hangs their wedding portrait — St. Norbert’s Church in Detroit, 1950 — and pictures of their children. “You’re together that long, you eat together, you sleep together,” Stella says, her voice dissipating to a sigh. More tears, another tissue.
From the pantry she retrieves a brown paper bag full of empty pill vials. For years the doctors couldn’t figure out why Wally was coughing so much, why his skin cracked and bled, turning their bedsheets red. They prescribed unguents, antibiotics, decongestants, pain killers. His guts ached for years, too, and when they finally found the kidney cancer, even morphine didn’t help the pain. He died in April 1995, a wraith, 73 years old.
“Memories,” she says bitterly, tossing the vials into the bag. “Nobody gives a damn. Nobody.”
Stella Kasza, silver-haired, strong-willed — “I’ve got a temper, a Polish temper,” she warns — blames all the high and mighty officials back in Washington for what happened to her Wally, and one big shot in particular. “If Clinton was here right now I’d look at him and say, You know what you did to my man? You took my life away. You — ‘ “ She spits out several curses.
Bill Clinton certainly did not kill Wally Kasza, but he has been forced to deal with his angry widow. The administration maintains an abiding interest in the lawsuit Stella Kasza has brought against the federal government. Under a “presidential determination” that he must renew annually, Clinton has decreed that potential evidence related to Kasza’s death is classified, top-secret, a matter of national security — and that “it is in the paramount interest of the United States” that none of it be disclosed.
Why should Wally Kasza matter? He was a sheet-metal worker. For seven years he put up buildings and installed cooling systems for a defense contractor at an Air Force base in the middle of the Nevada desert.
But that base, about 100 miles due north of here, is the most mysterious in America. It is so secret that top officials won’t say anything about it — they claim it has no name. They only speak of it in the most general terms: “There is an operating location near Groom Dry Lake.” That’s the Air Force’s official position.
Stella Kasza and the rest of America know it as Area 51.
In the imagination of UFO enthusiasts, Area 51 is where the government harbors space aliens and conducts experiments on recovered interstellar craft. The real secrets of Area 51 are more mundane. And they involve things more dangerous to human beings than the squidlike aliens in “Independence Day,” a movie that used Area 51’s obsessive secrecy as a plot device.
What’s being covered up there, according to lawsuits filed by Kasza’s widow, another worker’s widow and five former Area 51 employees, are brazen environmental crimes. For several years, the workers say, they labored in thick, choking clouds of poisonous smoke as hazardous wastes were burned in huge open trenches on the base. Military officers armed with M-16s stood guard as truckloads of resins, paints and solvents — materials used to make the Stealth bomber and other classified aircraft — were doused with jet fuel and set ablaze with road flares.
Another sheet-metal worker at Area 51, Robert Frost, died at age 57, allegedly from exposure to hazardous wastes. Biopsies showed that his tissues were filled with industrial toxins rarely seen in humans. Men who worked there from the late 1970s into the early 1990s say that inhaling the smoke resulted in persistent respiratory distress, cancers and strange rashes.
“Fish scales,” the workers call these hard membranes. Some use sandpaper to remove the embarrassing growths from their hands, feet, legs and arms, but they keep coming back. They slather themselves with Crisco to stop their skin from blistering and cracking.
What is the government’s response to these horror stories? The government says . . . nothing. The policy is that nothing illegal occurred at Area 51 because, officially, nothing occurs at Area 51.
Employees there cannot talk about the work they do. Everything and everyone connected to the base is classified — part of the military’s multi-billion-dollar “black budget” operations. “Specific activities . . . both past and present . . . cannot be discussed,” the Air Force says in a statement.
That position infuriates Stella Kasza because it makes her husband disposable, a nonentity. She sees it this way: If, officially, Wally Kasza didn’t work at Area 51 for seven years, then, officially, his death had nothing to do with his job. He didn’t wake up with bloody pajamas from the fish scales, didn’t hack his lungs out in the middle of the night kneeling next to the bed. Didn’t get cancer. Didn’t suffer so horribly that his son wanted to smother him with a pillow to end it all.
Stella Kasza stanches her tears, points to a table in the living room and says, “There is something he made.” It’s a miniature, felt-topped craps table, perfectly detailed; Wally was quite the handyman. Now it holds Stella’s legal papers, medical reports, clippings, letters. Thick envelopes full of evidence that she hopes will be enough to prove in federal court that her Wally worked and died for the United States government. Officially. A Base With No Name
“Someday I hope to visit Stella and not make her cry,” says attorney Jonathan Turley, driving away from his client’s triple-wide trailer in the Desert Inn Mobile Estates. It’s a sun-blasted retirement community near a blue-collar casino whose billboard advertises “Cash your paycheck — win up to $250,000!”
Turley is a law professor at George Washington University — he directs its nonprofit Environmental Law Advocacy Center, funded in part by Hollywood do-gooder Barbra Streisand. He flies here every few months to meet with the clients he is representing in a lawsuit against the government — Area 51 workers past and present and their families. He represented Wally Kasza before he died.
The brash young lawyer would meet the sick old man in secret, in cars and garages, fearful of detection by military investigators. If Turley seems paranoid — he avoids using hotel phones, travels under phony names, swears he is being tailed — he has his reasons.
His campus office remains sealed by federal court order — students and others are not allowed to enter because the government says Turley’s files hold documents that are classified. In a letter, a Justice Department attorney helpfully called Turley’s attention to the specific statute that, “as you know, prohibits unauthorized possession of national security information” and provides a mandatory 10 years in prison for violators. (Turley is appealing the order that classified his office.)
The Area 51 workers he represents also face 10 years in the slammer if they are caught disclosing anything about their jobs. In court papers, they are identified only as John Doe. Their affidavits express fear of “retaliation, harassment and injury” if their civilian employers or the military finds out who they are.
“These are deeply patriotic guys,” Turley says of his clients, many of whom have military backgrounds. “They are trained to go with the program and trust the line of command. It took a great deal for them to even talk to an attorney.”
Turley represents more than 25 workers at no charge. He filed the case three years ago against the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Defense. The plaintiffs aren’t asking for money; they want information on the chemicals they might have been exposed to so they can get appropriate medical treatment. They also want the military to admit that burning barrels of toxic wastes — allegedly twice a week for more than a decade — was wrong.
And they want an apology. “Let them admit the truth,” one worker says.
They’ll probably get none of the above. So far, the government’s arguments for absolute secrecy have largely been upheld in U.S. District Court here. Unless they win on appeal, the Area 51 workers will face the same fate as the nuclear test site workers, uranium miners and the hapless citizens of Nevada and Utah who were exposed to radiation during the heyday of atomic bomb testing: Many got sick and died, and the courts held no one liable.
“I don’t like to be discouraging, but I fought these lawsuits for 15 years and we failed, we failed in all three cases,” says lawyer Stewart L. Udall, who was secretary of the interior during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. “You have to ask which is more important: grave damage to this vague concept of national security’ or grave damage to American democracy?”
Turley had hoped that, when confronted with credible testimony about environmental crimes and evidence of the workers’ illnesses, the Pentagon might cover their medical bills, or allow them to be treated for free by military doctors with the proper security clearances. He asked the Justice Department to give his clients immunity and launch a criminal investigation. Instead, the Justice Department, the EPA, the Air Force and the White House erected a stony wall of secrecy — not denying the charges, but not confirming them, either.
A few months after Turley sued, EPA officials conducted their first-ever inspection of Area 51. It was a victory, but a hollow one. Backed by Clinton, the Air Force refuses to disclose the results of the inspection — meaning the workers can’t know what hazardous wastes might have been incinerated there. “President Clinton’s decision protects the environment and national security,” the Justice Department intones.
In a statement issued to The Washington Post, the Air Force touts its “strong environmental record,” but spokesmen refuse to address any questions about Area 51. “Most people understand that there is some information the government has to keep secret . . . to protect national security and the military personnel who keep us all safe,” the statement says.
The litigation puts the government in the Orwellian position of trying to keep secret a 40,000-acre complex where airplanes and buses full of workers arrive every day. (Hundreds of them commute from Las Vegas’s main airport on 737 jets that bear no external identification numbers.) Not only have Russian satellites photographed the base — huge blowups are for sale locally — but it can be observed from a nearby mountain. Locals also call it Dreamland, Watertown, the Ranch, or more generically, the Test Site — a name that dates from the ‘50s, when you could sip “atomic cocktails” in Vegas while watching mushroom clouds rise over the desert.
“There is no name for the operating location near Groom Lake,” an Air Force attorney named Richard Sarver insisted to federal Judge Philip Pro in 1995, during one of the few public proceedings in the Area 51 lawsuits. Please ignore references to Area 51 in previous cases and in 300 pages of job-related and government documents obtained by Turley, Sarver said. “Your honor, there is no name.” The Mosaic Theory
The weathered metal sign at the border of Area 51 identifies it in large red letters as a “Restricted Area.” It warns that anyone who trespasses comes under the jurisdiction of military law. You may be buzzed by a helicopter or an F-16. You may be shot.
“Use of Deadly Force Authorized,” the sign says, citing, in smaller print, the “Internal Security Act of 1950.”
In many ways this place is an anachronism, a vestige of the days when unquestioned military authority seemed necessary to keep the world free. At Area 51, a rigid Cold War mentality still prevails: America’s enemies are everywhere. Workers tell of an intimidating security apparatus within the base, of wiretaps and gunpoint interrogations.
Established by the CIA in the mid-’50s, the base sprawls over a dry lake bed that once served as a landing strip for the U2 spy plane. The reasons for calling it Area 51 are obscure, but declassified manuals cite an equally mysterious Area 27 and Area 12 in the vast federally owned desert.
Solar-powered robotic video cameras observe anyone who approaches Area 51’s perimeter; parabolic microphones pick up conversations. There are motion sensors beneath the dusty soil.
“They’re watching you now,” Jonathan Turley says, hiking up a ridge about 13 miles from Area 51. He focuses his binoculars on the spindly robot, and scans the ridge for evidence of Jeep-driving security men, known locally as “Cammo Dudes.” None is visible. “They’re being shy today,” he says.
Trying to prove a point, Turley has brought us to the base’s one public border that can be reached by paved road. When a white-and-silver bus barrels by in a cloud of dust, he is ecstatic. “Did you get a photo?!” he shouts.
Typically, those bus riders would be union laborers — the Wally Kaszas of Area 51 — who rise at 3 a.m. for the haul up from Vegas. The bus is evidence that people work at Area 51, of course. But Turley also regularly photographs the buses and planes to document what he calls “activity consistent with hazardous waste storage.” If there are vehicles, there must be batteries and fuel on the base, he argues.
The Air Force refused to admit even that much in its legal briefs. The government’s lawyers say that acknowledging the existence of innocuous and essential items would place the nation at grave risk.
The “mosaic theory,” the Air Force calls it. If, say, the Iraqis or North Koreans were to learn about any materials or chemicals used at the Groom Lake base, the argument goes, they could puzzle out how we make secret weapons and radar-defeating planes.
Air Force Secretary Sheila Widnall raises the prospect of spies skulking behind saguaro cactuses, sniffing for smoke, combing the desert around Area 51 for clues. “Collection of information regarding the air, water and soil is a classic foreign intelligence practice,” she states in a 1995 affidavit, “because analysis of these samples can result in the identification of military operations and capabilities.”
The workers say that under the mosaic theory, nothing could leave the base, and that’s why everything was burned, from old computers to entire tractor-trailers. Some men had to scramble into the pits after the ashes cooled to ensure complete incineration — increasing their exposure to toxins, according to the lawsuits.
Environmental crimes are particularly insidious because, as Turley points out, the victims often don’t know they are victims. The burnings alleged by the workers are punishable by up to 15 years in prison. From their perspective, the evidence has been suppressed by the most powerful man in America. Federal environmental law requires public disclosure of the results of the EPA’s inspection of the Groom Lake base. To prevent this, President Clinton invoked the military and state secrets privilege, specifically exempting the base from disclosing any pollution reports.
“Clinton doesn’t want these crimes made public,” says Turley, building up to a full-fledged rant: “When we finally prevail in this case and the truth comes out, I think the public is going to want to burn the Justice Department to the ground — followed quickly thereafter by the White House.”
Prone to hyperbole and something of a media hound, Turley is the grandson of a former United Mine Workers official who contracted black lung. He likes to quote his grandmother’s recollections of how mules were deemed more valuable than people by the coal companies.
Now 36, Turley has been a loyal liberal since his days as a teenage congressional page. He takes on cases that give him high-profile platforms — he also represents rebellious federal grand jurors who investigated environmental crimes at the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons facility in Colorado and opposed the Justice Department’s decision to levy fines rather than send corporate officials to jail.
Turley sees delicious hypocrisies in the Area 51 case. It allows him to target a president who’s often touted his environmental record. And who claims to have empathy for working-class citizens done wrong by government experiments. In October 1995, Clinton publicly apologized to victims of secret radiation tests in New Mexico.
“When the government does wrong, we have the moral responsibility to admit it,” the president said. Americans have become cynical and lost faith in democracy, he said, “because of stonewallings and evasions of the past, times when a family member or a neighbor suffered an injustice and had nowhere to turn and couldn’t even get the facts.”
A few days before that speech, Clinton signed the first order exempting Area 51 from disclosing its pollution records. John Doe in Secret
Sitting in a seedy motel room near the Vegas Strip, his back to the window, the man offers a handshake and introduces himself. “John Doe,” he says in a phlegmy voice.
He proceeds with his story of how 55-gallon drums of classified chemicals were trucked in from a California aircraft facility and routinely set ablaze at Area 51.
“The barrels would blow up and vaporize, like a huge smoke grenade. The smoke was dark, grayish white — it was as thick as London fog.” He hacks, wheezes and clears his throat.
“When I went up there I was in good health — healthy as an ox,” the man says. He’s never smoked, he says, and coughs again. “I’d like to know if there’s a remedy to reestablish my breathing — or will I be like this the rest of my life? Has my life expectancy been shortened?”
As a condition of conducting the interview, Turley says we can’t describe the man or his work in any way. The lawyer believes the Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations (OSI) is trying to photograph or otherwise hunt down the “John Does,” to bring charges against them for breaching national security.
Turley paces nervously, drawing aside the curtains on the room’s only window, checking the peephole at the door. He turns up the television — a precaution, he says, against electronic eavesdropping.
“I’m sure the room’s clean but that window bothers me,” he says. Laser microphones can pick up conversations from vibrations on glass, even from the ice in a drink. Turley keeps up on spook technology. He once did a stint in the general counsel’s office of the National Security Agency.
He instructs John Doe to take a seat farther from the window.
The man goes on: How workers were denied breathing masks; how he was told to quit if he didn’t like it.
But the money was good — at least $15,000 above the annual wages in Vegas. You just had to get used to a climate of fear. If you were ordered not to look up at some crazy new plane overhead, you kept your eyes on the dirt.
“It was very understood that when you left there, you never talked about this. You can’t divulge anything, not even its existence. How can a guy go and make a claim for workman’s comp if the investigator can’t investigate what it was?”
Suddenly, Turley is pushing aside the curtains. Trouble. “A van just pulled up next to the window,” he announces. “Three guys, clean-cut, are getting out.”
He terminates the interview. “We stayed too long.”
The van’s passengers have put its hood up. To Turley that’s a classic sign of surveillance: the old car-trouble ruse.
The lawyer picked this motel because guests must park in a central courtyard. The room’s window faces a rarely used road. What is that van doing there?
A reporter and photographer drive around the side of the building to case the van. The men are gone. It’s a dark blue Dodge, a bit beat up. Its license plate reads . . .
U.S. Air Force. For Official Use Only. The Official Response
It was all a coincidence, an Air Force spokesman at the Pentagon says later. Yes, the Office of Special Investigations routinely probes national security leaks, but that wasn’t an OSI detachment, he assures us.
The Air Force traced the license number of the blue van. It turns out that the men came from a C-141 transport plane and were overnighting in Las Vegas because of a bunk shortage at nearby Nellis Air Force Base.
Can we have the van’s maintenance records, to see if it really had a breakdown?
Sorry, the spokesman says. That information is confidential. John Doe in Tears
Another hotel room, another John Doe. This one is weeping at the memory of his co-workers. “I’m sorry I get so emotional,” he says. “It’s hell to watch someone die.”
He may be next. Ugly, crusty scales cover part of his body.
How easily the tears come in this arid place. But how quickly they dry — as if they never existed. Love Everlasting
All of this started because of $300. About 10 years ago, Robert Frost, who was foreman of the sheet-metal workers at Area 51, became so ill that he missed a week of work. By then his face and body were scarred by scales and red welts. He would drape himself in a blanket to shield his skin from the sun. His legs buckled when he tried to walk.
Frost filed a claim for lost wages; his employer, Reynolds Electrical & Engineering Co., fought it. By the time a hearing was held in 1990, Frost was dead of a liver disease that doctors associated with exposure to smoke containing dioxin and dibenzofurans, chemicals found in plastics and solvents. But the compensation claim was denied after a company superintendent testified that no burning ever occurred at Area 51.
Frost’s widow, Helen, got a belt buckle in the mail — “in appreciation of Robert’s 10 years of continuous service with REECo,” the accompanying letter said. “We deeply regret that the award cannot be presented to him.”
Furious, she wanted to file a wrongful death claim, but the lawyers in Las Vegas told her there was nothing to be done — the military and its contractors were too powerful.
Eventually Helen Frost found a Washington watchdog group, the Project on Government Oversight, that was willing to investigate. She knew of several other widows and workers. One of them was her husband’s good friend Wally Kasza — a guy so tough he worked up at Area 51 until he was 69, when he became too sick to go on.
Wally and “Frostie,” as friends knew him, were union brothers in Local 88. Now their widows are united in their scorn for the federal government, lending their names to the lawsuits Frost v. Perry (against the former secretary of defense) and Kasza v. Browner (against the EPA administrator).
Turley, who took over the case from the oversight group, is like a son to them. When he comes to call, they have cookies and pies waiting, and the latest proud stories about their grandchildren.
They are a lot alike, Stella and Helen. They grew up in ethnic Rust Belt towns, met and married their men as teenagers — they never thought they’d lose them. Their men had fought wars, come home to tell about it. How could the government they fought for betray them, put them in mortal danger without fair warning? How could everyone right up to the president deny it?
Keeping secrets is one thing, the black-budget widows say. But people still ought to count for something. The truth ought to count.
Stella Kasza points to the wall. An Olan Mills studio portrait taken several years ago captures her loving gaze as she poses next to a still-handsome old devil with wavy gray hair, the guy whose big grin and blue eyes first made her swoon when she was 15, when he lived down the block.
A sappy country song is playing on the radio. Stella turns it up, up, up — as loud as she can stand it. Something about having one last night together on the town. She sways across the room, alone, trying not to cry again. CAPTION: It’s out there: Attorney Jonathan Turley squints into the sun toward Area 51, 13 miles away. That’s about as close as you can get without security clearance. Turley represents more than 25 workers who claim that they were injured there. The government contends there is no “there” there. CAPTION: Stella Kasza, left, with her son, and Helen Frost, with her daughter. Both women are widows of men who became sick after working for years at Area 51. Frost displays photos of her husband. “Nobody gives a damn,” says Kasza. “Nobody.” CAPTION: Unmarked buses and planes haul union laborers, like Wally Kasza, below, and Robert Frost, from Las Vegas to Area 51. Right, Jonathan Turley and co-counsel Joan Manley at their office at George Washington University. The warning posted on their door is a federal court order — students and others are not allowed to enter because the government says Turley’s files hold documents that are classified.
Coming up, two accounts of Bigfoot are reported from Illinois. But these aren’t your typical sightings. They take place in the middle of the night, possibly inside a dream. In fact, they aren’t described as Bigfoot – but as a wookie, like Chewbacca from Star Wars. But then, how do you explain the accounts being exactly the same from two complete strangers? That story is up next when Weird Darkness returns.
STORY: WOOKIES IN ILLINOIS===
When speaking of Bigfoot most people think of the American Northwest – but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t travel once in a while. We have two eye-witness accounts of something large and hairy appearing in Illinois. Here is the first…
I want to report something which happened to me many years ago. The problem with this is that I am not honestly sure that I did not dream these events. When I was going into 6th grade, which would have been the summer of 1959 I had an event happen that happened at night and I was supposed to be in bed sleeping. At this time we lived on a farm with our house surrounded by thick woods. Our closest neighbors lived about a quarter mile down the road on the other side of the road.
I recall being in a compartment or room and there was an adult male there with me. I believe that he was about 25 to 30 years of age. He just sat there on the bench which was attached to the wall with his head down, his legs spread slightly and leaning over with his elbows resting on his knees not moving nor talking at all. I recall looking around wondering what I was doing there since I was supposed to be in bed sleeping. My bed was in the basement of our home and I shared the room with my two younger brothers with my younger sister sleeping in the next room. I stood up and walked around the compartment and thought it was strange since I was supposed to be home sleeping but I found myself in this compartment. Three walls appeared to be made of a metal and the other wall had a very large window in the upper half which covered about half the length of the compartment in which we were. The door into the compartment was between the window and the bench also under the window the bench continued on the other side of the door, I think anyway. The bench which I had been sitting on and which the man still was sitting on was attached to the wall with the window in it.
The window looked out into a passage way and was slanted outward. I was just a little afraid at that time and was looking at the window wondering why I was there and most of all wondering where “here” was since I had no memory of going to this place or even leaving my bed. I was watching the window when this being walked by. It was taller than I was at the time. It was NOT the grey or whatever people normally think of as being involved with UFO’s. This thing more resembled a “Wookie” as pictured in the star-wars movie. This thing was not wearing any clothes or have any type of equipment on it that I recall seeing. I seemed to remember that the color of the hair or fur was a dark brown. I remember then I became very afraid and was scared that that thing would come into the compartment in which I was located along with the man. I yelled and screamed and ran and jumped onto the window, using of course the bench under the window. I kept yelling and clawing at the window while laying against it deathly afraid that thing would come into the compartment. I was totally amazed that all throughout this incident the man in the compartment did not even raise his head or show any interest in anything happening.
I recall nothing more and later in the night I woke in my bed, raised up and looked around then lay back down and tried to go back to sleep which I did. To this day I am not sure this really happened. I have told my wife about this “incident” several times but I never had the nerve to tell anyone else.
***While that first account took place in 1959… another occurred in 1970. Here is that story:
I experienced a strange event in the summer 1970. I was 15-years-old and lived on a farm with my parents, grandparents & siblings. We lived near the town of Geneseo, IL. Our house was almost completely surrounded by woods.
One night, about 2 AM, I awoke and became aware that I was not in bed in the basement of the house. But rather I was sitting on a bench in an unknown room with one young adult male. The room was constructed of white-colored metal with benches. There was a door in the room and on either side of the door were windows from which I could see a passageway going to the left and right. The other person in the room with me sat on the bench to the left side of the door and completely ignored me even when I shook him and tried to get him to look at me. He just sat on the bench with his elbows on his knees gazing downward between his legs at the floor. He was oblivious of me. I tried to open the door but it was locked and I got up on the bench to the right side of the door and leaned against the glass trying to see something. It was just an empty passageway. The room was brightly lit, but no source of light was noticed.
I again tried to get the man in the room to pay attention to me and help me understand what was happening…but still he just sat there. I looked up at the window and saw a bizarre ‘creature’ about 4 feet tall, covered with reddish-colored long hair, but the face looked human-like. It did not pay any attention to us in the room, slowly walking by the window. I was very scared. I jumped on to the bench and them beat on the plexiglass and screamed. The being just kept walking by. That was the last thing I remember.
I woke up in my bed about 5:00 AM when it was time to go do my chores. I did noticed red contusions on the palms of my hands and my arms were very sore for days. Did this really happen to me? I never told my parents or anyone else because I was sure that they would not believe me. I have never had another incident like this that I can recall. As far as the creature that I saw, I have never seen anything like it again until the time I watched the movie ‘Star Wars’ and that “Wookie” had some resemblance to the being.
Thanks for listening (and be sure to stick around for the bloopers at the end)! If you like the show, please share it with someone you know who loves the paranormal or strange stories, true crime, monsters, or unsolved mysteries like you do! You can email me anytime with your questions or comments at email@example.com. WeirdDarkness.com is also where you can find information on any of the sponsors you heard about during the show, find all of my social media, listen to audiobooks I’ve narrated, sign up for the email newsletter, find other podcasts that I host including “Church of the Undead” and a retro-style science fiction podcast called “Auditory Anthology”, you can visit the store for Weird Darkness merchandise, and more. WeirdDarkness.com is also where you can find the Hope in the Darkness page if you or someone you know is struggling with depression or dark thoughts. Also on the website, if you have a true paranormal or creepy tale to tell, you can click on TELL YOUR STORY. You can find all of that and more at WeirdDarkness.com.
All stories on Weird Darkness are purported to be true unless stated otherwise, and you can find links to the stories or the authors in the show notes.
“The Man Who Went On Trial For Being a Werewolf” by Ashley Cowie from Ancient Origins
“Old Stinker” by Sam George from Ancient Origins
“Area 51 Killed My Husband” by Richard Leiby from The Washington Post
“Wookies in Illinois” posted anonymously to PhantomsAndMonsters.com
WeirdDarkness® is a registered trademark. Copyright, Weird Darkness.
Now that we’re coming out of the dark, I’ll leave you with a little light… “The word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” — Hebrews 4:12
And a final thought… “It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” — Ursula LeGuin
I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me in the Weird Darkness.