“BIGFOOT KILLED MY FISHING BUDDY” and More Freaky True Stories! #WeirdDarkness
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Listen to ““BIGFOOT KILLED MY FISHING BUDDY” and More Freaky True Stories! #WeirdDarkness” on Spreaker.
IN THIS EPISODE: As you know, I’m not just a podcaster but also a professional voice artist. One of the many things I do is narrating audio books. But up until recently I had no idea who some of my competition was for narrations. It turns out the voice behind many best-selling audiobooks is actually a serial killer. (Murderous Narration) *** Reports of werewolves are worldwide throughout history – from the English moors to the western United States you can find sightings of dogmen, werewolves, and the like. But Louisiana has one of the most interesting entries into Lycanthropy – at least it has an interesting name and history. It’s called the Rougarou. (Rougarou) *** X-ray photos are fascinating, but they are only for the eyes – not the ears, right? Well don’t be too sure about that. People in the Soviet Union found a very unique way to use X-rays in order to smuggle in their favorite tunes from West! (Bone Music) *** He roams the earth, and has done so for the past 2,000 years.. doomed never to die until the end of the world. His crime? Taunting Jesus at the Crucifixion. Is this simply an urban legend, or could there be some truth behind what has come to be known as “The Curse of the Wandering Jew?” (The Curse of the Wandering Jew) *** In 1922, Charles Osbourne was in an accident involving a hog… but that’s not the strange part. It’s the after-effects of that accident which caused him to continue to hiccup non-stop for almost seven decades! (My Hog Gave Me The Hiccups For 68 Years) *** In the 1980s workers in an English peat bog unearthed a body. And then another… and then yet another, and another… all apparent victims of violence. (The Bog Bodies of Lindow) *** But first… An Oklahoma man strangles his fishing buddy to death… and then blames it on Bigfoot! We begin with that story! (Bigfoot Killed My Fishing Buddy)
SOURCES AND ESSENTIAL WEB LINKS…
“The Bog Bodies of Lindow” by Dave Sammut and Chantel Craig for ScienceHistory.org:https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/4mxk49zw
“Bigfoot Killed My Fishing Buddy” by Kaleena Fraga for All That’s Interesting: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/5h4yj8t5
“Murderous Narration” by Dave Basner for iHeart.com: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/3byfzp3k
“Rougarou” by Frank Kerner for PelicanStateOfMind.com: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/yc4csn4p
“Bone Music” from NPR’s “All Things Considered”: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/yck7b3xb
(BOOK: X-Ray Audio: The Strange Story of Soviet Music on the Bone)
“The Curse of the Wandering Jew” from GotQuestions.org: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/yzc3ntbf
“My Hog Gave Me The Hiccups For 68 Years” by Kellie B. Gormly for Smithsonian Magazine:https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/ypnyfyta
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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.
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(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.)
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DISCLAIMER: Stories and content in Weird Darkness can be disturbing for some listeners and intended for mature audiences only. Parental discretion is strongly advised.
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…
As you know, I’m not just a podcaster but also a professional voice artist. One of the many things I do is narrating audio books. But up until recently I had no idea who some of my competition was for narrations. It turns out the voice behind many best-selling audiobooks is actually a serial killer. (Murderous Narration)
Reports of werewolves are worldwide throughout history – from the English moors to the western United States you can find sightings of dogmen, werewolves, and the like. But Louisiana has one of the most interesting entries into Lycanthropy – at least it has an interesting name and history. It’s called the Rougarou. (Rougarou)
X-ray photos are fascinating, but they are only for the eyes – not the ears, right? Well don’t be too sure about that. People in the Soviet Union found a very unique way to use X-rays in order to smuggle in their favorite tunes from West! (Bone Music)
He roams the earth, and has done so for the past 2,000 years.. doomed never to die until the end of the world. His crime? Taunting Jesus at the Crucifixion. Is this simply an urban legend, or could there be some truth behind what has come to be known as “The Curse of the Wandering Jew?” (The Curse of the Wandering Jew)
In 1922, Charles Osbourne was in an accident involving a hog… but that’s not the strange part. It’s the after-effects of that accident which caused him to continue to hiccup non-stop for almost seven decades! (My Hog Gave Me The Hiccups For 68 Years)
In the 1980s workers in an English peat bog unearthed a body. And then another… and then yet another, and another… all apparent victims of violence. (The Bog Bodies of Lindow)
But first… An Oklahoma man strangles his fishing buddy to death… and then blames it on Bigfoot! We begin with that story! (Bigfoot Killed My Fishing Buddy)
If you’re new here, welcome to the show! While you’re listening, be sure to check out WeirdDarkness.com for merchandise, my newsletter, enter contests, to 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: BIGFOOT KILLED MY FISHING BUDDY=====
On July 9th, 2022, Larry Sanders and his friend Jimmy Knighten set out to do some noodling — bare-handed catfishing — in Oklahoma’s South Canadian River. But their friendly outing turned fatal when Sanders suddenly lashed out and killed Knighten, allegedly because Knighten had threatened to “summon” Bigfoot.
According to a statement posted by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI), a confrontation ensued between the two men while they were fishing. “Sanders reported striking and strangling Knighten.”
And it all, apparently, had to do with Knighten’s threat to “summon” Bigfoot. Special Agent Justin Brown wrote that Sanders feared that Knighten “intended to feed him to Sasquatch/Bigfoot.”
“Larry advised he believed Jimmy was trying to get away from him so that the sasquatch could eat Larry,” Brown explained. “Larry would not let Jimmy get away. Larry punched Jimmy and struck Jimmy with a stick. Larry and Jimmy fought for an extended amount of time on the ground.”
Agent Brown then added: “Larry confirmed he killed Jimmy by choking him to death near the river.”
After Sanders allegedly killed Knighten, he went home and told his daughter what had happened. Sanders seemed “frantic” and told her he’d killed Knighten because Knighten tried to feed him to Bigfoot, a story he repeated to his daughter’s boyfriend, who happened to be Knighten’s son.
Sanders was initially arrested on an outstanding warrant while police searched for Knighten’s body in the river.
Local Sheriff John Christian told the Daily Beast,“You still have to prove all the elements of the crime, and what the suspect is telling you, you have to prove that that’s actually what happened.”
The Oklahoman newspaper reports that Sanders cooperated with the police and even drew a map to help investigators locate Knighten’s body.
“The area is very wooded; there’s a lot of small brush and large trees,” Sheriff Christian said. “It was a difficult search to conduct and a large area to search.”
But, roughly 24 hours after Sanders allegedly killed Knighten, investigators came across Knighten’s remains. They then charged Sanders with his murder. Sheriff Christian believes that Sanders “appeared to be under the influence of something,” when he killed Knighten, which Newsweek reports was likely methamphetamine (although there were no blood tests taken).
Indeed, Sanders had run into trouble with the law because of drugs before. At the time of the incident he had two outstanding warrants related to unpaid fines in two drug-related cases, and was put on five-year probation in 2019 after he brought methamphetamine to jail after being arrested for public intoxication.
As of late July 2022, Sanders was charged with first-degree murder and booked into jail. A medical examiner was to additionally inspect Knighten’s remains to determine a cause of death.
So far, no one has reported any additional Bigfoot sightings in the area.
The cryptid is most commonly “sighted” on the West Coast, with Washington state, Oregon, and California reporting the most sightings, according to The Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO).
That said, sightings of Bigfoot have been reported in the southern United States as well. In 2019, a group of Bigfoot believers claimed to have spotted— and photographed — the elusive cryptid in North Carolina.
In Oklahoma, there was even a push to open a “Bigfoot hunting season.” State legislator Justin Humphrey suggested the idea in 2021, noting: “I have some people that I know that are good, solid people who I will guarantee you 100-percent have said they have had experience with Bigfoot. So, I know there are people out there that you will not convince that Bigfoot doesn’t exist.”
He added: “You can have a license. You can get out there and hunt this thing. I want to be really clear that we are not going to kill Bigfoot. We are going to trap a live Bigfoot. We are not promoting killing Bigfoot. We are promoting hunting Bigfoot, trying to find evidence of Bigfoot.”
Though Humphrey’s idea fizzled into nothing, whether or not Bigfoot exists is in the eye of the beholder. Larry Sanders, apparently, believed the legend. At least his drug-addled mind did.
Coming up… In the 1980s workers in an English peat bog unearthed a body. And then another… and then yet another, and another… all apparent victims of violence. That story and more when Weird Darkness returns!
STORY: THE BOG BODIES OF LINDOW=====
At the end of the most recent ice age, around 11,000 years ago, melting ice formed a bog in North West England. Lindow Moss, as the bog came to be known, stretched for 1,500 acres across what is now the county of Cheshire, encompassing a mosaic of habitats: woodland, scrub, and mossland.
Today the picturesque bog lies on the outskirts of Wilmslow, a verdant town that once offered Victorian Manchester’s wealthy industrialists an escape from the city’s smoky haze. For the less well off, Lindow Moss had long offered a more spartan home. In the 15th and 16th centuries landless poor eked out a precarious living here on society’s margins, cutting and drying peat from the bog to sell as fuel for stoves and soil for crops. The industry continued well into the 20th century, operating much as it always had. Workers would cut peat into blocks by hand and lay them in stacked rows to dry in the wan English sun, turning them repeatedly over a two-year period before they were ready for use.
But by the 1980s the Industrial Revolution had reached even this bucolic operation, and the whole process had been mechanized. Now peat is scooped up by mechanical diggers and placed in loose stacks, where it is left to dry. Afterward it is sent to a processing mill, checked for chunks of bark and branches large enough to jam the machinery, ground up into a fine compost, and then sold to mushroom growers around the country.
On May 13, 1983, Andy Mould and Stephen Dooley were standing by the mill’s conveyor, watching for anything that might foul the operations, when they spotted a lump that reminded Mould of a small, black leather soccer ball. “Perhaps,” they joked, “this is a dinosaur egg.” They pulled it off the belt and took it to Ken Harewood, manager of the peat works. Curious as to what the object might be, they washed it. But this was no ball. This was evidently, gruesomely, a human skull—missing its jaw but still possessing skin, some hair, and one baleful eyeball that stared at them.
The police were quick to respond to the grisly find. And in the best tradition of police work, they were quick to identify their suspect. For some time the constabulary had believed that a local man, Peter Reyn-Bardt, had murdered his wife. Problem was they didn’t have a body. They had fruitlessly dug over Reyn-Bardt’s garden, just 300 yards from the Lindow Moss. So when forensics reported the head was from a woman between 30 and 50 years old, the police were convinced.
Reyn-Bardt wasn’t hard to find. He had only recently been released from jail, having served time for a series of sex crimes against children. Confronted with news of the discovery in the bog, he quickly confessed. “It has been so long, I thought I would never be found out,” Reyn-Bardt told police under questioning.
In 1959 Reyn-Bardt, an airline employee, had married Malika Maria de Fernandez, a portrait artist who loved to travel. Their romance had been notable for its brevity—just hours from first meeting to proposal and then only four days until their wedding. Their union was similarly brief, lasting just a few months. Fernandez returned to traveling using her new husband’s discounted airfare while Reyn-Bardt settled into a cottage with a lover, a man.
Sometime in 1960 or 1961 Fernandez visited Reyn-Bardt at his cottage and demanded money, threatening to expose his sexuality if he didn’t pay. (Homosexuality remained a criminal act in England until 1967; the now infamous persecution and subsequent suicide of Alan Turing in the early 1950s would have been just one example of the risks facing gay men of that era.) Reyn-Bardt had no money to offer her, and the two fought.
“Something just boiled over inside me,” he stated in his confession. Later, while on trial, newspapers reported that he grabbed her shoulders and did not realize she was dead until he stopped shaking her. “I was terrified and could not think clearly. The only thing that came to mind was to hide her,” he told the court. He used an axe to dismember her remains, then tried to burn them. When that failed, he scattered them in the bog.
To the policeman in charge, Detective Inspector George Abbott, it seemed an open-and-shut case. The forensics showed a woman of the right age, and Reyn-Bardt had made a clear confession. But one issue nagged at Abbott: despite careful searching, the rest of Fernandez’s remains proved frustratingly elusive. Not satisfied, Abbott sent the head to Oxford University for further study.
The trial was conducted at the Chester Crown Court in December 1983. Reyn-Bardt sought to have his charge downgraded from murder to manslaughter. But then in a spectacular turnabout a professor from Oxford University’s archaeology department testified that the head could not possibly belong to Fernandez. Radiocarbon dating showed the remains were around 17 centuries old, dating all the way back to Roman Britain.
Reyn-Bardt tried to recant his confession but was convicted of murder by a jury count of 11 to 1. He spent the rest of his life in prison.
This sordid tale might have slipped away as just another gruesome historical anecdote. But a year later Andy Mould made a second morbid discovery in the peat. On August 1, 1984, standing again at the mill’s conveyor, Mould removed a piece of what he thought was bog wood. “We gave it a little clean, then we saw the toenails,” Mould said in a 2008 interview with the Manchester Museum.
Again the police were called. “They shut the firm down straight away,” said Mould, “and sent loads of officers to the site.” Given the recent court case and an ongoing search, they were faced with two main possibilities: either this leg was a missing piece of Malika de Fernandez, or it belonged to someone entirely different and possibly ancient.
That day, Rick Turner, county archaeologist for Cheshire, received a tip-off from the local paper about the find. The results of that tip would link his name to what became one of the most famous archaeological finds in British history: Lindow Man. And these remains in turn would wind up at the center of a scientific debate over a murder mystery nearly 2,000 years in the making.
The head and leg found at Lindow Moss are examples of increasingly well-known phenomena called bog bodies. Human remains have been turning up in the peat bogs of Denmark, the Netherlands, Ireland, the United Kingdom, northern Germany, and occasionally North America for hundreds of years.
These bodies can be amazingly well preserved. Even 8,000-year-old bog bodies can be in much better condition than the carefully prepared mummies of ancient Egypt. The famous Tollund Man of Denmark, for instance, could almost pass for an old man peacefully asleep, with a hat still on his head, whiskers on his chin—and a leather garrote around his neck.
Such preservation requires special conditions: a sphagnum moss bog with a temperature lower than 4°C (39°F) when the body is deposited and an average annual temperature lower than 10°C (50°F). And the bog must stay wet all year. The best-preserved bodies have been found in colder bogs, particularly those closer to the sea.
Sphagnum mosses change the chemistry of the bodies of water around them, making them highly acidic for a natural environment (a pH of roughly 3.3 to 4.5) and very low in dissolved minerals. As the floating mosses die, they build up layers at the bottom of the bog. The decaying mosses release sugars and humic acids into the water, which consume oxygen as they break down. With the surface blocked by the live moss, the water becomes anaerobic.
Under these conditions human tissues don’t decay. Instead they tan like leather. Skin turns brown, hair turns red, and objects in or around the body dissolve away, as does most clothing.
The first recorded bog body was found in 1640 at Schalkholz Fen in Germany. Since then hundreds of bodies have been found, primarily in northern Europe. They often display signs of violence and so are presumed to be murder victims. For centuries, after a body was discovered, it was most often given Christian reburial, and the remains rotted away. But by the 19th century there was greater interest taken in the scientific aspects of the phenomenon, though the techniques and methods of preservation of the bodies were limited. In 1871 German scientists attempted to smoke the remains of Rendswühren Man much as you would do to preserve a ham. It worked, but the resulting dehydration caused the body to shrink. In the early 1950s Danish researchers were able to preserve the head, feet, and a thumb from Tollund Man by replacing the bog water in the cells with liquid paraffin and then beeswax.
Preservation protocols were much improved by 1984, when Lindow Man was discovered. The day after the leg was found, Rick Turner went out to the site and found a flap of skin sticking out of the peat slab. He and the police agreed the site would be excavated the following Monday, leaving him just days to assemble a team and make a plan.
The spot was either the site of a murder or an archaeological site. Either way, since word of the discovery was out, police felt the body should be removed, and who better to take care of it than an archaeologist?
Turner ultimately decided to cut a block of peat about 3 meters by 2 meters (roughly 9 feet by 6 feet), which he hoped would encompass any other body parts. He and his fellow archaeologists were immediately convinced the remains were ancient, but it took another 11 days for radiocarbon dating to confirm this was not a police matter. After the coroner released the remains, they were taken to the British Museum, where scientists, both local and international, studied them.
What is certain is the deceased was a man in his late twenties, about 1.68 meters (5 feet, 6 inches) and 60 to 65 kilograms (132 to 143 pounds), strong, well built, and apparently not accustomed to heavy physical work. His nails were manicured and his brown-ginger hair and moustache neatly trimmed. And he was dumped face-first into the bog after his death, roughly between 2 BC and 119 AD.
Put a mystery in front of any five scientists, and you’ll end up with a lot of arguing and a dozen theories but probably few concrete answers. For Lindow Man that extends to how he died. His body shows evidence of multiple injuries, including a couple of blows to his head with a V-shaped implement, possibly an axe, which appears to have driven a sliver of skull into his brain. A hard blow across his back with something blunt broke his neck and at least one rib. Ligature marks on the neck where a sinew cord was found may indicate garroting. His throat was cut from ear to ear. And he may have been stabbed. The argument centers on which of these happened before he died, which caused his death, what was done to his lifeless body, and what happened to the body over its centuries in the bog that might mimic man-made injuries.
Take the ligature marks. Disagreement continues over whether the cord was used to throttle Lindow Man or to help the blood drain when his throat was cut. Or perhaps the cord was simply a necklace, and the marks occurred as his corpse bloated in the days after his death.
What about the blows to the head? Some researchers have argued the crushing of the skull was caused by the weight of the peat bog, long after he died. But more recent CT scans and xeroradiography (a form of X-ray) have shown evidence of swelling in the brain. This suggests Lindow Man was struck and lay (probably) unconscious for at least a few hours before he died.
So perhaps we know how he died. But why did Lindow Man die?
Atomic absorption spectroscopy shows the skin on Lindow Man’s torso had higher levels of copper than elsewhere on his body. He may have been painted with a copper pigment, suggesting some ritual element to his death.
The idea is backed up by scanning electron microscopy results, which found sphagnum moss spores, crushed wheat, bran, barley grains, and mistletoe pollen in his stomach (as well as the eggs of roundworms and whipworms). Mistletoe pollen may have been used in druidic rituals during the late Iron Age and early Roman era in Britain.
One common theory is that Lindow Man was “triple-killed.” Many of the bog bodies found in Europe show a pattern of triplicate injuries, possibly as some form of ritual sacrifice. That’s the view taken by Turner in his book The Lindow Man Phenomenon: Ancient and Modern.
Lindow Man’s stomach contents show he was killed in late winter or early spring. The ancient Celtic festival of Beltane was usually held on May 1 and in times of great danger, such as during the Roman invasion. As part of this ritual a special bread was prepared, and one piece deliberately burned. As portions of the bread were given out, whoever received the burned piece became “the devoted one,” or the sacrifice. The remains of the griddlecake found in Lindow Man’s stomach, with bran and char remnants, might support this theory.
Another theory of ritual sacrifice points to the fact that many bog bodies show distinguishing deformities. Lindow III, found in Lindow Moss in 1987, has a vestigial thumb. The spine of Yde Girl (also found in 1987 near the village of Yde in the Netherlands) was curved with scoliosis. Although not obviously deformed, it is possible Lindow Man was chosen as some form of ritual scapegoat used to absolve collective guilt or fear.
Eamonn Kelly, the former keeper of Irish antiquities at Dublin’s National Museum of Ireland, suggested somewhat controversially that some of these bogs lie at the boundary of ancient territories and that a human sacrifice in such a location could be associated with other Iron Age practices of making sacrifices of objects at tribal boundaries: tools, weapons, cauldrons, and personal ornaments.
Or perhaps Lindow Man was simply the unfortunate victim of a robbery. Robert Connolly of the University of Liverpool takes the view that certain injuries, including the neck wound and broken rib, occurred after the body was removed from the bog. Writing in the journal Anthropology Today in 1985, Connolly argued the broken neck was from a heavy blow and the sinew cord is just a necklace. “Whether he was fighting naked or his clothes have degraded without trace is open to question. If, as is suggested by his hair, nails and bodily habitus, he was more than a simple peasant, then perhaps his clothes were worth taking either by his assailant or some other person or persons unknown; but absence of preserved clothes does not confirm ritual.”
That interpretation has fallen by the wayside with more recent data showing Lindow Man being left alive for hours between the bashing of his skull and the slitting of his throat. And really, who wanders the bogs naked while carrying enough worldly goods to warrant a mugging?
Perhaps the killing was a form of punishment. In the 1st century AD, Roman general Tacitus wrote of Germanic tribes that “the coward, the shirker and the disreputable body are drowned in miry swamps under a cover of wattled hurdles.” An earlier author, Diodorus Siculus, wrote in the 1st century BC that the Gauls used human sacrifice for augury. In his Bibliotheca historica, Diodorus said the Gauls would “kill a man by a knife-stab in the region above the midriff, and after his fall they foretell the future by the convulsions of his limbs and the pouring of his blood.” But we also have to view such accounts with some skepticism. The Romans were neither the first nor the last conquerors who sought to justify their invasion in terms of bringing a civilizing influence to “barbarian” cultures.
The scientific and historical arguments are likely to go on. Improved technologies and new finds will continue to give us fragments of information, tantalizing glimpses of a world long past, but may never get us to the truth behind these deaths. There are missing pieces to the puzzle and more than one way the available pieces can be arranged. These gaps leave us plenty of room to speculate on these ancient people, their final hours, and the reasons for their deaths. As for Lindow Man, he can be viewed at the British Museum. There visitors can consider the arguments and perhaps come to their own conclusions about this ancient mystery.
When Weird Darkness returns…
Reports of werewolves are worldwide throughout history – but Louisiana has one of the most interesting ones, with an interesting history.
Plus… people in the Soviet Union found a very unique way to use X-rays in order to smuggle in their favorite tunes from West!
We’ll also look at the “Curse of the Wandering Jew”
But first… the voice behind many best-selling audiobooks is actually a serial killer! That story is up next on Weird Darkness!
STORY: MURDEROUS NARRATION=====
Many audiobooks are read by celebrities or even by the authors themselves, but it turns out that some have actually been voiced by a serial killer. According to a 1987 Los Angeles Times article, Edmund Kemper recorded himself reading hundreds of books for an initiative known as the Blind Project. It was a campaign set up by the prison that houses Kemper, the California Medical Facility State Prison, and even though Kemper, a fan of necrophilia, is serving eight concurrent life sentences for the murders of six female college students (at the time of this recording), according to the LA Times story, blind people are incredibly grateful for him.
Among the books Kemper lent his voice to are Flowers in the Attic, The Glass Key, Merlin’s Mirror, Petals on the Wind, The Rosary Murders, Sphinx and Star Wars. In fact, between 1977 and 1987, he spent over 5,000 hours in the recording booth, using up an estimated four million feet of tape.
Supporters even awarded Kemper a pair of trophies for his help with the program. His response to it was pretty touching as well. He said, “I can’t begin to tell you what this has meant to me, to be able to do something constructive for someone else, to be appreciated by so many people, the good feeling it gives me after what I have done.”
Along with getting the name the “Co-ed Killer” for his brutal slaughters of the six women, Kemper is also responsible for the murders of his mother, her friend and his paternal grandparents. Recently, he was portrayed in the hit Netflix series, Mindhunter.
The full moon hangs high over the Louisiana swampland. The bright lights of the stars flicker in the murky licks of the waves near the towering, ominous Cypress trees. Frogs croak their songs in the distance and mosquitos buzz as they fly around looking for their next meal.
There’s a howl in the near distance. It sounds like a wolf, but something’s a little off. Standing on two legs on top of a fallen, moss-covered tree is a large, snarling beast.
It throws its head back, letting out a blood-curdling howl to the moon. That’s no werewolf, though. That’s what folks in Louisiana call the Rougarou.
When traveling down the interstate or the backroads in Louisiana, you’ll see lots of beautiful scenery. Remnants of history freckle the map, whether it’s old and potentially haunted buildings, abandoned theme parks or even museums with some very strange collections.
Back in the thick, fog-covered swamplands is where you’ll find the true beauty of Louisiana and perhaps even a monster or two—including the legendary beast called the Rougarou.
The history of the Rougarou is centuries-old and has many different origins, but the earliest mention of the infamous, mythical Louisiana werewolf comes from medieval France.
Back in the day of armor, swords and jousting, there was a lot more to fear than the plague and witches. Beasts called “loup-garous,” which means werewolves in French, were also infamous throughout the country.
Back in the 16th century, they’d regularly blame various crimes on loup-garous. Apparently that was a thing they did back then.
Did your house get ransacked during the night? Loup-garou. Did a child disappear from the village without a trace? Definitely a loup-garou.
Personally, I’d never hear about something terrible and say, “Yep, that’s definitely the work of a werewolf. Case closed.” This was one interesting problem that they had to deal with centuries ago. Makes that morning commute not seem so bad, right?
The villagers would capture people they believed to be a loup-garou and then hold a public trial. Usually they’d find someone in the woods or someone in the village who was just “acting strange.”
The court would ask the public if they believed the accused to be a loup-garou, and usually the public agreed (mainly for fear that they’d be outed as a witch or a loup-garou themselves).
These loup-garous became a fear for many people in the country, leading to them earning their place in legends passed down to children. The French Catholics claimed that you would be turned into a loup-garou if you did not follow the rules of Lent for seven consecutive years.
There was also a story that was told to kids that if they didn’t do what their parents asked, a loup-garou would come and steal them away in the middle of the night.
When many of the French migrated to Canada and the southern United States, they took the legend of the loup-garou with them.
Since the migration, many of the legends began to change to match the times and the dialect. Since Cajun dialect is a mix of French and English and well-known for changing words completely to roll off the tongue easier, the name of the beast changed from loup-garou to Rougarou.
In the swamps within the Greater New Orleans area and the Acadiana is where this beast has come to live. He might even be neighbors with the Honey Island Swamp Monster, which is also known as Louisiana’s “bigfoot of the swamp.”
Cajun legend says that the beast hunts down Catholics who don’t follow the rules of Lent, which is similar to the telling of the old French stories.
Another telling of the story says that the Rougarou is under a 101-day curse, unless the affected person can transfer the curse to another human being. Their curse usually comes from a local witch, sometimes a Voodoo priestess.
It is said that you can protect yourself against the Rougarou by laying 13 small objects by your doors. Apparently, when a person changes into a Rougarou they forget how to count past 12 (probably since they only worry about midnight and the moon at this point).
The Rougarou will see the 13 objects, try to count them, and be unable to count them all. This will perplex it, and it will keep recounting until the sun comes up and it must flee.
Despite the fact that it was originally a legend, there are still claimed sightings of the Rougarou to this day, though it has died off a bit in the past decade.
The beast is also a hit in pop culture in Louisiana. There’s an annual Rougarou Festival in Houma every year, and the Audobon Zoo in New Orleans has a Rougarou exhibit, which includes a statue of the creature in all its swampy glory. The New Orleans Pelicans had originally thought about changing their names from the Hornets to the Rougarous at one point! It was voted down.
STORY: BONE MUSIC=====
Western music may have been changing the world in the 1950s, but if you happened to be in Russia you were out of luck. State censorship was in full effect in the Soviet Union, and sneaking in, say, an American rock record was close to impossible. But a few industrious music fans managed to find another way.
Stephen Coates, the leader of a British band called The Real Tuesday Weld, happened on this secret history by accident. Several years ago on a tour stop in St. Petersburg, he was strolling through a flea market when a strange item caught his eye.
“I thought, ‘Is that a record? Or is it an X-ray?’ I picked it up, and it seemed to be both,” he recounts. “They guy whose stall it was was a bit dismissive — I think he wanted me to buy something else. But I brought it back to London, and I was fascinated by it. So I started to dig, and that has led me on a very strange journey.”
Coates is now an obsessive of what is nicknamed “bone music” — makeshift LPs etched into used X-rays, which were playable on a turntable and provided a fitting disguise for their contraband contents. He’s collected his findings in a book called X-Ray Audio: The Strange Story of Soviet Music on the Bone, which I have linked to in the show notes, and he joined NPR’s Michel Martin to talk about it. Here is how their conversation went… I’ll put a filter on the interviewer, Michael Martin, to make it easier to distinguish between him and the answers that Stephen Coates gives.
Michel Martin: Describe to me what a bone record looks like. Were they cut round, like records are?
Stephen Coates: So, they would start off with a square or rectangular X-ray, then probably put a plate on it, draw around it with a pen and cut it out by hand. I mean, often the circumference is quite ragged.
Michael Martin: How did it occur to you to play the one you found? If I came across a scratched-up X-ray in a flea market, I’m not sure that it would occur to me to play it as a record.
Stephen: Well, the thing is, it looks like a record. If you see these things, they’ve got a hole in the middle. They’ve got a groove on them; it’s often very faint because it’s very shallow. It plays at 78 [RPM] — that was the first thing to find out — and it’s only one-sided, as well. I found all these things out by discovery, and went from there.
Michael: What can you tell us about how they figured out how to do this, and how widespread this practice was?
Stephen: What happened was, it’s 1946 or so. The Second World War is over but a much colder war has begun, and in the Soviet Union a lot of culture was subject to a censor, whether it be art, paintings, architecture, film. In St. Petersburg — Leningrad, as it was then — a guy turned up, and he had a war trophy with him. That war trophy was what’s called a recording lathe: It’s like a gramophone in reverse, a device which you can use to write the grooves of music onto plastic. People who came into his shop observed what he was doing, and, as is the Russian way, they “bootlegged” his machine and made their own machines. It was a bit like dealing or buying drugs, actually. These records were bought and sold on street corners, in dark alleyways, in the park. We did hear a funny thing, which was that if you asked for a particular song — say, “Rock Around the Clock” — and the dealer didn’t have it, quite often they would say, “Yeah, I’ve got that,” and they would go in the corner and write “Rock Around the Clock” on one of their other records and give it to you. So there’s lots of stories about people buying these records, and they may not have even known what “Rock Around the Clock” sounded like. They’d go home and put it on and it could have been anything, and they were like, “Yeah, that’s Bill Haley. He’s great!”
Michael: Listening to some of these, the quality’s actually not bad considering how they were made.
Stephen: I mean, they do vary in quality, hugely. Some were virtually unlistenable. But that didn’t seem to matter, in some ways. I mean, talking to people who bought these records when they were young — even the tiniest thread of melody, of this forbidden sound, was so exciting. And it led to a different world, really, a world of freedom, [even though the music was] not obviously anti-Soviet. You would think, “Why would that mambo be regarded as something worth forbidding?”
Michael: I was actually thinking that myself. It opens up all kinds of questions about what people think is dangerous, doesn’t it?
Stephen: It really does. And of course, in some [cases] it’s obvious: rock ‘n’ roll, jazz, the music of America, the music of the UK. But with other stuff, it got very strange in the Soviet Union. Latin rhythms — the mambo, the tango — were forbidden because they were seen as being overly sensuous, if you like, encouraging the wrong sort of passions in young people. I mean, the saxophone became forbidden for a while.
Michael: As a musician yourself, this must have made you think about just how important music is to people, that they would go to such lengths to hear it.
Stephen: For me, the thing that’s really poignant is that some of these people went to prison for doing this — they were punished quite severely for it. This was a time when music mattered so much that people would risk public censure, they would risk imprisonment. We live in a time when you can get anything you want immediately. Music is abundant, and that’s great, of course. But I wonder, as somebody who makes music, how much does music matter now? Does it matter as much as it used to? This was a time when it mattered immensely, and that’s food for thought, for all of us I think.
STORY THE CURSE OF THE WANDERING JEW=====
I received an email from a Weirdo family member who had a great question. Jill wrote: “LOVE your podcasts and stories! Decades ago, I discovered a group of cursed people who were witnessing Christ’s death and were cursed to roam the earth and have been found at countless tragic events in time since then. Have you heard of these people? If so, it would make an amazing podcast. Hope this finds you well and thanks for being a fellow weirdo, Jill”
Thanks for the email, Jill. If I’m right, I believe you are referring to a people sometimes called “wandering Jews”.
This is going to sound like a bit of a sermon out of the Bible, but it’s not – because there is absolutely nothing in the Bible about the Wandering Jew.
The legend of the Wandering Jew is a cautionary tale that has been in circulation for centuries. Basically, the Wandering Jew is an immortal man who is doomed to travel from place to place in constant state of sorrow until the second coming of Christ as a punishment for his mistreatment of Christ at the crucifixion. In most cases this is one of the soldiers who whipped Jesus, placed the crown of thorns on this head, speared his side, or threw lots to claim Jesus’ clothes. While the crucifixion obviously did happen, the wandering jew is not a biblical story, as the Bible does not mention anyone, Jewish or otherwise, who is cursed in the same way that the Wandering Jew supposedly is.
Depending on the version of the story, the fanciful details concerning the Wandering Jew are slightly different. Most all of the versions emphasize his inability to die and his curse of restlessness: he travels the globe and can only stop to eat meals before moving on again.
One version, from the Middle Ages, identifies the Wandering Jew not as a solider, but as a man named Cartaphilus, who taunted Jesus Christ as He was carrying His cross to Calvary. The story goes that, when this man saw Jesus passing by, he told Him to go faster and stop loitering, to which the Savior replied with something like, “I go, but thou shalt wait till I come.” Jesus’ words to Cartaphilus cursed him to roam the earth until the second coming. (Again, none of this is outlined in the scriptures.)
In an Italian version of the story from the fourteenth century, the Wandering Jew’s name is John Buttadeus—Buttadeus being Latin for “strike God,” a reference to John’s supposed physical attack upon Jesus. Other versions also associate the Wandering Jew’s crime with physical violence: in 1228, a man claimed to have met a man in Armenia who reportedly had been Pontius Pilate’s doorkeeper and had struck Jesus on His way to Calvary.
In other versions of the tale, the crime of the Wandering Jew was to simply withhold aid from the suffering Christ. In the sixteenth century, a German bishop claimed to have met a tall, barefoot, long-haired man in Hamburg. The man said his name was Ahasuerus and that he was a Jewish shoemaker who had refused to help the Lord in His hour of need. Later, this same Ahasuerus was supposedly spotted in Madrid, Spain, where he evinced a fluency in every language.
There are many other variations of the myth of the Wandering Jew, and they have been told in many cultures around the world. In some iterations, the Wandering Jew converts to Christianity and acts as an evangelist everywhere he goes. In others, he is simply cursed in his misery. Various versions give him various names: Melmoth, Matathias, Malchus, Isaac Laquedem (French), Juan Espera a Dios (Spanish for “John waits for God”), and Jerusalemin suutari (Finnish for “Shoemaker of Jerusalem”). In all versions, the theme is that cursing Christ brings a curse.
The curse of the Wandering Jew bears some similarities to the curse God placed upon Cain after his murder of Abel. Besides decreeing that Cain would no longer be able to till the ground to produce crops, God said, “You will be a restless wanderer on the earth” (Genesis 4:14). Millennia-long wandering is not mentioned as part of Cain’s punishment, and immortality is not implied, although God does put a mark on him so that no one would kill him (Genesis 4:15).
Some see the Wandering Jew legend as a metaphor for the plight of the Jewish people at large: under Moses, the Jews wandered for forty years in the wilderness; and forty years after rejecting Jesus as the Messiah, the Jews lost their temple and their nation and were forced to disperse to various places around the world. Some anti-Semitic groups have used the concept of the Wandering Jew to propagandize, and the term Wandering Jew, used as an epithet, is considered offensive.
Again, the legend of the Wandering Jew has no basis in the Bible. It is a fable that has borrowed some elements from the Bible, including a mention of Jesus, but it is a fictional story. During His trial and crucifixion, Jesus was indeed mocked; on the road to Calvary, however, we have no record of anyone mistreating Him – aside fron the soldiers, of course. Luke 23:27 records that women from Jerusalem bewailed and cried for Him. In His response, Jesus never spoke a curse on anyone. In all He said, He was an example of grace and truth. When He was attacked and humiliated by the Roman soldiers, He didn’t retaliate (Matthew 27:27–31). When false accusers lied against Him, “Jesus remained silent and gave no answer” (Mark 14:61). Any supposed interaction with a man who mocked Him, with Jesus cursing him, is simply a myth.
When Weird Darkness returns… In 1922, Charles Osbourne was in an accident involving a hog… but that’s not the strange part. It’s the after-effects of that accident which caused him to continue to hiccup non-stop for almost seven decades! That story is up next!
STORY: MY HOG GAVE ME THE HICCUPS FOR 68 YEARS=====
Kevern Koskovich has fond childhood memories of walking through his hometown of Anthon, Iowa, and chatting with the friendly local who loved sitting on a bench at a major street corner.
Named Charles Osborne, the man had an unusual manner of speaking designed to conceal the sound of his constant hiccupping. He’d had plenty of practice: Ever since an accident on June 13, 1922, Osborne had hiccupped nonstop. The condition persisted for more than six decades, only ending in 1990, a full 68 years after it began. Osborne’s plight remains the longest attack of hiccups confirmed by Guinness World Records.
“I was hanging a 350-pound hog for butchering,” Osborne told People magazine in 1982. “I picked it up and then I fell down. I felt nothing, but the doctor said later that I busted a blood vessel the size of a pin in my brain.” (The doctor in question, Terence Anthoney, posited that Osborne’s fall destroyed a small area in the brain stem that inhibits the hiccup response.)
Though Osborne traveled long distances to visit an array of doctors, none could find a cure. According to the Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Argus Leader, a physician at the Mayo Clinic managed to stop the hiccups by placing him on carbon monoxide and oxygen, but the treatment had a (literally) fatal flaw: namely, that Osborne couldn’t safely breathe in the poisonous gas. Instead, he had to settle for learning a breathing technique that minimized the characteristic “hic” sound, which is caused by the sudden closure of the vocal cords after an involuntary contraction. To suppress the noise, Osborne breathed in between hiccups.
“He’d flex his chest three or four times every minute,” says Koskovich,. “You could tell he was hiccupping, but he wouldn’t make any noise. He heaved—that’s the best way to describe it.”
Koskovich remembers Osborne as a jovial, fun-loving guy who didn’t talk about his condition and enjoyed joking around with people. Osborne often greeted acquaintances by asking, “What the hell’s going on?”
“He was a character,” says Koskovich.
Ali Seifi, a neurosurgeon at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antoniowho invented a device that instantly relieves hiccups, theorizes that Osborne sustained a minor injury to the ribs during his 1922 accident. The lower ribs are attached to the diaphragm, a muscle between the chest and belly that contracts to create hiccups. A damaged diaphragm may have been responsible for the endless hiccupping.
Another possibility, according to Seifi, is that Osborne hit his head and had a stroke. As Diana Greene-Chandos, a neurologist at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center, told Prevention in 2015, prolonged, painful hiccups that come out of nowhere can be a sign of a stroke, particularly when paired with symptoms such as chest pain and dizziness.
Most of the time, a bout of the hiccups—triggered by actions such as drinking too much alcohol or soda, eating too much, getting excited, or swallowing air when chewing gum—lasts just a few minutes and is more inconvenient than medically concerning. But some hiccups continue for more than 48 hours, at which point they’re considered chronic or persistent. In rare cases like Osborne’s, hiccups can last more than a month, becoming intractable.
Per WebMD, intractable hiccups affect 1 in 100,000 people and can result in severe exhaustion and weight loss. The causes of long-lasting hiccups are wide-ranging and, in some cases, difficult to pinpoint; they include nerve damage, central nervous system disorders, alcoholism, diabetes, undergoing anesthesia and cancer. (In the 2000s, Chris Sands of Lincolnshire, England, experienced hiccups for around three years; doctors eventually concluded that a brain tumor was the culprit behind the contractions.) Treatments for the condition vary in both scope and effectiveness.
“[T]he insomnia from having hiccups all night can be incredibly distressing, and then—not surprisingly—if you haven’t slept for two to three weeks, you can become depressed and anxious,” Camielle Rizzo, a physician at Middlesex Hospital in Connecticut, told U.S. News & World Report in 2018.
Seifi’s invention, HiccAway, was featured on a season of the reality television show “Shark Tank.” Users simply suck water through the bent, straw-like device, for instant hiccup relief. (HiccAway is designed for simple hiccupping bouts, not chronic or intractable cases.) The device works much like a folk cure for hiccups: drinking water through a paper towel.
“When you drink through a paper towel, … you suction that water with more force,” says Seifi. “Forceful suction means that the diaphragm is fully pulling down to make a vacuum in the chest to let water be suctioned through your mouth.”
That forceful pulling down of the diaphragm can break the cycle of spasms, says Seifi, who started his career as an anesthesiologist and often encountered patients who were frustrated by chronic hiccups after surgery. Now a neurointensivist specializing in strokes and traumatic brain injuries, Seifi has a few patients who have been hiccupping for 10 to 12 years. Typically, he notes, the roughly 5,000 people hospitalized for hiccups every year have been hiccupping more than 48 hours.
Despite advances in modern medicine, a century after Osborne’s malady began, a lasting treatment for prolonged hiccupping continues to elude. According to Seifi, doctors sometimes use sedatives that temporarily stop hiccups as a side effect, but these medicines make patients sleepy. Ultimately, treatments often come down to doctors’ personal experience or anecdotal evidence.
In 1978, Osborne—who’d by then been hiccupping for 56 years—told the Associated Press (AP) that he’d “give everything I got in the world if I could get rid of them.” He added, “I don’t know what it would be like not to have them. I get so sore jerking all the time.”
Around the time of the AP interview, Osborne’s hiccups started garnering national attention. He was listed in Guinness World Records and made appearances on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” and the reality television show “That’s Incredible.” (Toward the beginning of his affliction, in 1936, Osborne also appeared on Robert Ripley’s “Believe It or Not” radio show.) The publicity led to an influx of letters from thousands of sympathetic viewers, many of whom offered their own suggestions for curing the hiccups. But none offered more than a brief reprieve.
All things considered, Osborne led a relatively normal life. “Charles Osborne has not only survived; he has thrived,” wrote columnist Bob Davis for the Sioux City Journal in 1984. He married twice and had eight children. He made a living by selling farm machinery and auctioning off livestock.
Starting in the early 1970s, Osborne had to put his meals through a blender: “I’ve worn out two Osterizers,” he lamented to People in 1982. Still, he managed to keep his weight steady, often blending chicken, dressing, broth and milk for lunch and following the concoction up with several beers.
For reasons unknown, Osborne’s hiccups suddenly stopped in 1990. He died around a year later, in May 1991, after what must have been a blissfully hiccup-free few months.
Thanks for listening. 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! And please leave a rating and review of the show in the podcast app you listen from! You can email me anytime with your questions or comments at email@example.com. WeirdDarkness.com is also where you can find all of my social media, listen to audiobooks I’ve narrated, shop the Weird Darkness store, sign up for monthly contests, find other podcasts that I host, and 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 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 Bog Bodies of Lindow” by Dave Sammut and Chantel Craig for ScienceHistory.org
“Bigfoot Killed My Fishing Buddy” by Kaleena Fraga for All That’s Interesting
“Murderous Narration” by Dave Basner for iHeart.com
“Rougarou” by Frank Kerner for PelicanStateOfMind.com
“Bone Music” from NPR’s “All Things Considered”
“The Curse of the Wandering Jew” from GotQuestions.org
“My Hog Gave Me The Hiccups For 68 Years” by Kellie B. Gormly for Smithsonian Magazine
WeirdDarkness™ – is a production and trademark of Marlar House Productions.
Now that we’re coming out of the dark, I’ll leave you with a little light… “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” – James 1:12
And a final thought… “You never know when a moment and a few sincere words can have an impact on a life.” – Zig Ziglar
I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me in the Weird Darkness.