“BIZARRE ENCOUNTERS WITH ROAD TROLLS” and More Creepy True Stories! #WeirdDarkness
Listen to ““BIZARRE ENCOUNTERS WITH ROAD TROLLS” and More Creepy True Stories! #WeirdDarkness” on Spreaker.
IN THIS EPISODE: Just what is the Road Troll? Is this a ghost, a hairy hominid a feral drifter or simply a figment of the imagination? (Bizarre Encounters With Road Trolls) *** An eerie tombstone stands watch over one of the city’s oldest cemeteries. (The Guardians of Lone Fir Cemetery) *** 59 years ago, the northern part of the Ural Mountains of Russia played host to one of the most fascinating unsolved mysteries in the modern age. (The Dyatlov Pass Incident) *** A young boy experiences something strange in the middle of the night despite not believing in the supernatural or paranormal. (Thought Form In The Closet) *** A couple visiting a church discover days after the visit that they encountered something unnatural. (The Ghostly Vicar Who Still Haunts His Church) *** Never paying back loans, running from responsibilities, living a double life, having more than one wife, committing murder… hardly what one would expect from someone with the title of reverend. (Reverend Green: Wife Poisoner) *** A young woman sees a ghost of a family member at Starbucks. (The Love And Comfort Of a Parent From Beyond The Grave) *** Hebrews 13:2 in the bible says, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” One young man learns firsthand that verse is true. (Touched By A Guardian Angel On A Rainy Day)
SOURCES AND REFERENCES FROM THE EPISODE…
“Bizarre Encounters With Road Trolls” by Brent Swancer for Mysterious Universe: http://bit.ly/2pR0P4T
“The Ghostly Vicar Who Still Haunts His Church” by Matt Florez from MyHauntedLifeToo.com: http://bit.ly/2IswS1s
“The Dyatlov Pass Incident” by Derek Meade for Vice: http://bit.ly/2oWqRDr
“The Wife Poisoning Pastor” by Robert Wilhelm for Murder By Gaslight: http://bit.ly/2APHOSu
“Touched By a Guardian Angel on a Rainy Day” by Joel from MyHauntedLifeToo.com: http://bit.ly/2MjTVN1
“The Love And Comfort Of a Parent From Beyond The Grave” by Julie Winters from MyHauntedLifeToo.com: http://bit.ly/30RSfjh
“Thought Form In The Closet” by Crooked Beats from PhantomsAndMonsters.com: http://bit.ly/358WgD8
“The Guardians Of Lone Fir Cemetery” by Jessica Ferri for The Line Up: http://bit.ly/30NqA2V
Weird Darkness theme by Alibi Music Library.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Check out all of my podcasts – “Auditory Anthology”, “Retro Radio: Old Time Radio In The Dark”, “Church of the Undead”, “Micro Terrors”, “Weird Darkness”, and more by clicking on “EPISODES” at https://WeirdDarkness.com!
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
(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: October 06, 2019
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.
Driving along a remote road at night can be a surreal experience. The utter darkness seems to press up against the pool of light cast by your headlights, the lane dividers flicker past as they crawl forth from the dark beyond only to skitter away back into the vast night behind you, and only the occasional animal may scamper across the road to break the tireless monotony. At times it seems that something truly bizarre will creep forth from the abyss of black to come looming into the slashes of light parting the night before you, something for which there is no rational explanation, and which is often gone back into the dark before you even have time to gasp in surprise. One of the strangest of these things that one could come across out here in the murky expanse of nighttime highways is what has been called “Road Trolls,” and it is quite difficult to categorize indeed.
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…
An eerie tombstone stands watch over one of a city’s oldest cemeteries. (The Guardians of Lone Fir Cemetery)
Over 60 years ago, the northern part of the Ural Mountains of Russia played host to one of the most fascinating unsolved mysteries in the modern age. (The Dyatlov Pass Incident)
A young boy experiences something strange in the middle of the night despite not believing in the supernatural or paranormal. (Thought Form In The Closet)
A couple visiting a church discover days after the visit that they encountered something unnatural. (The Ghostly Vicar Who Still Haunts His Church)
Never paying back loans, running from responsibilities, living a double life, having more than one wife, committing murder… hardly what one would expect from someone with the title of reverend. (The Wife Poisoning Pastor)
A young woman sees a ghost of a family member at Starbucks. (The Love And Comfort Of a Parent From Beyond The Grave)
Hebrews 13:2 in the bible says, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” One young man learns firsthand that verse is true. (Touched By A Guardian Angel On A Rainy Day)
But first… Just what is a Road Troll? Is this a ghost, a hairy hominid, a feral drifter or simply a figment of the imagination? We begin there. (Bizarre Encounters With Road Trolls)
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, listen to my other podcasts like “Retro Radio: Old Time Radio In The Dark”, “Church of the Undead” and a classic 1950’s sci-fi style podcast called “Auditory Anthology,” listen to FREE audiobooks I’ve narrated, plus, you can visit the Hope in the Darkness page if you’re struggling with depression, dark thoughts, or addiction. 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: BIZARRE ENCOUNTERS WITH ROAD TROLLS=====
Written of extensively by author Jerry D. Coleman in his books Strange Highways and the follow-up More Strange Highways, the phenomenon of the Road Troll is a deeply weird one, and encompasses a range of rather far-out reports giving similar descriptions of a certain hairy troll-like creature allegedly prowling the highways, mostly from truckers making the lonely journey along darkened highways in the Southern and Midwest portions of the United States. The creature is often described as a hulking hairy humanoid of some sort, often dressed in filthy, tattered clothing, and oddly with a wooden peg-leg in most of the reports, often being mistaken for a drifter before the driver draws closer and sees that the creature is perhaps not quite human.
The rash of odd sightings apparently began in 1981, with one very bizarre sighting made by a trucker called Gary Durbin, of Effingham, Illinois. In that year, Durbin was apparently traveling through a remote stretch of road through Tyson Mountain in Arkansas, just east of Ouachita National Forest, carrying a load of chicken headed towards Chicago. The drive was a rather harrowing one, dark and with numerous hairpin turns to navigate, and at one point he passed what looked like a hairy, disheveled looking homeless man with a peg-leg standing forlornly at the corner of one of these treacherous turns. At the time Durbin thought him to be just some derelict, even allegedly thinking to himself, “Now that must have been a real mountain man, wanting to get really run over.” Durbin continued on, curious about who he had seen but not thinking it was anything too bizarre just yet. However, it would not be his last encounter with the enigmatic stranger.
Durbin made it to a truck stop a little further down the road and stopped for a cup of coffee, after which he hit the road again, traveling over I-55 and finally making it beyond the state line into Missouri, where he stopped at a rest area. As he pulled out of this rest area, he claims that he once again saw the odd hairy man with the peg-leg just standing there along the road just staring at him, which sent a jolt of shock and surprise through Durbin. He reasoned to himself that the stranger must have hitched a ride to get so far in front of him, but it was all very unsettling to say the least. Bizarrely, Durbin would over the years see the curious creature a total of 5 times in such far-flung locales as central Texas, Arkansas, southern Missouri, southern Mississippi, and northern Florida, and he is still not quite sure what to make of it all. Durbin has described the thing thus:
*****He stands a good 6’0″ to 6’5″, his peg is just below his right knee, made of wood, it looks. Always seen by the road towards evening, just past a rest area or truck stop, leaning towards the road, only moving his head a little. Very long hair and beard, light brown in color, covering his entire face, except the eyes, old type clothes, ripped and torn, seems like the same clothes. The creature carries a little hobo type pouch with him, always.*****
According to Coleman, many other truckers have apparently seen the very same sort of entity haunting the nighttime highways of America. In almost every report the description of the appearance is very close, if not identical, and that peg-leg is inevitably often mentioned. Coleman would say in his book:
*****Other drivers I interviewed admit to seeing peg-leg as well. In a truck stop south of Dallas, Texas one driver told me of a peg-legged man he saw next to an interstate split outside of St. Louis. Another truck driver interviewed in Atlanta swears he saw a peg-legged hairy-man standing just a quarter mile from a weigh station in Florida. Is peg-leg a wildman, bigfoot, road troll, a driver’s road angel or simply a traveling gent we’ve termed hoboes?*****
In 1983, Coleman interviewed a woman known only as “Barb,” of Des Plaines, Illinois, who told him of a rather frightening encounter she had had with possibly the same unexplained creature. Barb claimed that she had gone on a trip by car to visit her sister in Alabama, and she reached her destination without incident. Upon meeting her sister, the two went on their way to a mall in the area, which was located on I-20 and I-59 by Green Pond. As they made their way there, they passed a “wild looking man” by the side of the road, who was described as being around 6 feet in height, with very long hair that hung in his face, and clothes that looked as if “a car dragged them,” as well as apparently a wooden peg-leg. Barb would say of the deeply odd encounter:
*****The man or whatever it was, just looked at us, a look of curiosity I’d call it. We both agreed it had a wooden leg or walking stick in front of its leg, we were not sure. I felt guilty that we didn’t call the police to check it out. After seeing the creature or whatever it was, it like totally changed our plans. We didn’t go on to the mall as planned, instead, so shaken and concerned we stopped at a nearby coffee shop and quietly sat composing ourselves.*****
She would later muse that far from being a scary presence, she felt that it may have been a portent warning her of potential disaster. She told Coleman that when she returned home, apparently around 3 hours earlier than planned, it turned out that her sister’s son had fallen out of a tree and badly broken his leg, to the point that a shard of bone had poked through the skin to cause profuse bleeding. Since they had gotten back early they were able to rush him to the emergency room, leaving Barb to wonder what would have happened to him if they had not seen that weird hairy wildman who had cut their plans for the day short.
Another sighting was made in the winter of 1998, when a trucker calling himself only “Gunslinger” was headed for Chicago, Illinois along I-255. According to Gunslinger, when he was about 12 to 14 miles from Alton, Illinois, he saw what appeared to be a huge, unkept hairy man in worn out clothes hobbling along the side of the road. So odd was the lone figure’s appearance that he slowed down his truck, after which he was shocked to see that it was even more bizarre than he had possibly counted on. Gunslinger would say:
*****It stood well over 6 foot tall, maybe even 7 foot tall, long hair that covered its face and arms, the creature had a peg-leg just below the right knee and was wearing very out of date, torn-up clothes. It didn’t move until the truck got right up to it, I was going fairly slow and got an excellent look at it, I honestly didn’t think it was real but then it turned its head and looked my way! I’m not sure what I saw, thoughts of a wild, weird creature quickly crossed my mind, I am sure it was no ordinary hitch hiking man!*****
In 2000 there were at least two separate sightings of the strange creature. The first was in March of that year, when a trucker named Brad Royalty claims to have seen a large, peg-legged man with hair all over his body standing along I-44 outside of Big Cabin, Oklahoma, saying of it, “The thing was tall and hairy and had a wooden leg, I first thought it was a bum but it freaked me out, it just stared.” In summer of that same year, a husband and wife trucker team saw the Road Troll in Boonville, Missouri, again with the peg-leg. The husband, only referred to as “Doug,” would say of it:
*****The man or whatever it was didn’t even act like he was hitch hiking or doing anything, no vehicles were broken down within miles, and to be honest it looked like a huge scarecrow, it had an artificial leg and a lot of hair!*****
Sightings continued when in June of 2003 a pastor named Jim Washington saw the thing as he was driving along to a church service in Tennessee when he saw a massive hairy man who appeared to be limping along highway I-181 just outside of the town of Unicoi. Washington at first passed the stranger, but then decided to turn back to see if he needed any help, thinking that is was perhaps a crippled homeless man. When he returned to the same spot minutes later the man had apparently vanished and was nowhere to be seen. The startled Washington would say:
*****I felt sorry for him and wanted to help if I could, so I turned the car around. Although it took me 2 or 3 minutes to get turned around, he was long gone. He was so wild and strange looking with an obvious disfigurement of the leg that I can’t imagine anyone picking him up. I can’t explain it but he appeared lost.*****
In total, Coleman has personally collected 11 such sightings made of the so-called Road Troll, ranging from 1981 to 2003 and spanning across the country in the states of Illinois, Missouri, Florida, Alabama, Arkansas, Texas, and Tennessee, with every one of these cases describing what appears to be the same creature from totally independent witnesses. In most of these cases the eyewitness is described as being reliable and not prone to telling tall tales, leading to the question of what these people could possibly be seeing.
The most obvious answer is that it is merely a very large, unkept drifter with a peg-leg, but it seems rather odd that he should be seen in such far-flung places by so many people who think him to be something somewhat more than human. There is also the idea that these people have seen a Bigfoot, with the matted hair mistaken for clothing and an injury giving it the appearance of having a peg-leg, but again, why would it be seen in such disparate locations and described the same exact way? Then perhaps this is all due to hallucinations of tired minds traveling through monotonous scenery for hours on end, but if it is all hallucinations, then why would so many different witnesses describe essentially the very same thing? It could also just be that this is a bit of trucker lore and tall tales passed amongst them or even the result of drug-use, but remember that not all of these witnesses were truckers, with a housewife and pastor amongst them. Coleman would say of this:
*****If one insists on sticking to their theory of drivers seeing Road Trolls due to hallucinations, then address this next question; how is it that even some short run drivers, drivers that have just began their trip, which are well rested and drug tested have seen and reported these Road Trolls? But more importantly how would the skeptics explain away such cases as the mother of two, headed to the mall or the pastor going to a church gathering, both who claim an encounter with a Road Troll? These latter two cases are not alleged drug-taking truck drivers, deprived of sleep and spinning yarns, they are average citizens out on a thought to be average trip.*****
Coleman himself muses that it could be some sort of mystical being that serves as a protector or omen of possible bad fortune. In this case, the appearance of the Road Troll may be a benevolent occurrence, somehow subverting some accident that would have happened otherwise, for whatever inscrutable reason. He explains of this thus:
*****Perhaps it is an unknown entity of our mind, an unexplained homo anomalous with little purpose, playing cosmic games or with a lot of purpose changing fate to those who see it? Does the witness think they see something thus stimulating or alerting these drivers back to reality where their minds may have drifted from the task at hand or as in Barb and the pastor’s case an obvious detour in the direct path of travel, possible delaying them and others, avoiding an accident awaiting around the next curve of changeable fate?*****
Whatever it is, it is all very bizarre and intriguing, and one wonders just what is going on here. These are some very unique cases of a phenomenon not really well-known of by most, and Coleman has done a splendid job of bringing them all together for us to ponder. Just what is the Road Troll? Is this a ghost, specter, or spirit of some sort? Is it an unknown hairy hominid such as Bigfoot? Is this just a feral drifter with a peg-leg who gets around enough to pop up in sightings all over the place? Or is it a hallucination, tall tale, or figment of the imagination? It is hard to say, but it certainly gives us something to look out for the next time the road meanders off into the yawning chasm of pitch-black before us, from which it seems anything might emerge.
Coming up… A couple visiting a church discover days after the visit that they encountered something unnatural.
Plus… over 60 years ago, the northern part of the Ural Mountains of Russia played host to one of the most fascinating unsolved mysteries in the modern age. These stories and more when Weird Darkness returns!
STORY: THE GHOSTLY VICAR WHO STILL HAUNTS HIS CHURCH=====
I was visiting a church with my fiancee (now my wife). We were looking at local churches to see which one we would like to get married in. We’d looked at a dozen or so by this time, and she was set on seeing this one last church. We arrived, parked, walked up the hill and stood outside the church. My wife was seriously interested because she felt the beauty of the location would really make the photos special. As we were about to enter the church, a man walked up behind us, past us, and into the open doors of the church. He was very clearly the vicar. I could see him as clearly as I can see any person who walks past me in broad daylight. My wife wanted to meet him and find out more about his take on the ceremony. We followed him into the church but couldn’t find him. We thought he had probably gone up the tower. We looked around the church and went home. My wife felt this church was the one she wanted, and a few days later, she called to set up a meeting with the vicar.
We arrived once again, in the middle of the day, and met the vicar outside of the church. This was definitely not the same man. This man was younger and taller than the one we had seen previously.
“How’s the other vicar?” I asked. “Is he ill?”
“What other vicar?”
“The one we saw the other day when we came to look around,” I explained.
“There are no other vicars in this area,” he explained. “I serve four churches in this area. We are stretched quite thin.”
My wife and I both knew we had seen the vicar walk down the path and into the church. I tried describing him, but this man didn’t know who we were talking about. There’s no real explanation to this story other than we believe we saw the ghost of a previous vicar still minding his church from beyond the grave.
STORY: THE DYATLOV PASS INCIDENT=====
On the surface, what’s become known as the Dyatlov Pass incident seems fairly explicable: Of a party of ten skiiers, nine perished in the middle of a high-difficulty trek in conditions that reached -30 degrees Celsius. But the details, which are mostly based on diaries of those involved as well as records from Soviet investigators, are chilling: On the night of February 2, 1959, members of the party apparently ripped their tent open from the inside, and wandered into the tundra wearing nothing but what they wore to bed.
Three weeks later, five bodies were found, some hundreds of meters down a slope from the original camp. It took two more months for investigators to find the other four bodies, which, curiously, were partially clothed in articles belonging to the earlier-discovered dead. Tests of those clothes found high levels of radiation. Despite that, and heavy internal trauma, including fractured skulls and broken ribs, suffered by some members of the party, Russian investigators reported they could not find evidence of foul play, and quickly shut the case.
The group was made up of students and graduates of the Ural State Technical University, all of whom were experienced in backcountry expeditions. The trip, organized by 23 year old Igor Dyatlov, was meant to explore the slopes Otorten mountain in the nothern part of the Ural range, and started on January 28, 1959. Yury Yudin, the only member of the expedition to survive, got sick before the crew made it fully into the backcountry, and stayed behind at a village. The other nine trekked on, and according to photographs developed from rolls recovered by investigators, Dyatlov’s crew set up camp in the early evening of February 2 on the slopes of a mountain next to Ortoten.
That mountain is known to the local, indigenous Mansi tribe as Kholat Syakhl, which supposedly translates to “mountain of the dead,” although with a tale like this, I’d take something so perfectly creepy with a grain of salt. Still, the decision to camp on the mountain’s slope makes little sense. The group was reportedly only about a mile from the treeline, where they could have found at least a bit more shelter in the subzero conditions. They didn’t appear to be strapped for time, and setting up camp on the face of a mountain rather than within a nearby forest is questionable, although not indefensible.
“Dyatlov probably did not want to lose the distance they had covered, or he decided to practice camping on the mountain slope,” Yudin told the St. Petersburg Times in 2008.
That camp would be the group’s last. Dyatlov had previously said that the team expected to be back in contact on February 12 of that year, but also said that the group might take longer than expected. It wasn’t until around the 20th that the alarm was raised, and by the 26th the camp had been found by volunteer search and rescue teams.
When official investigators arrived, they noted that the tents appeared cut apart from within, and found footprints from eight or nine people leaving the tents and heading off downslope in the direction of the treeline. According to investigators, the group’s shoes and gear were left behind, and the footprints suggested some people were barefoot or wearing nothing but socks. In other words, they all shredded their way out of their tent and ran off through waist-deep snow in a huge hurry, despite there being no evidence of other people or foul play within the group.
The first two bodies were found at the treeline, under a giant pine tree. Remember that the treeline was about a mile away; investigators wrote that footprints disappeared about a third of a way there, although that could have been due to weather in the three weeks it took for investigators to arrive. The two bodies found were both wearing only their underwear, and both were barefoot. According to reports, branches were broken high up the tree in question, which suggested someone had tried to climb it. The remains of a fire lay nearby.
Three more bodies, including Dyatlov’s, were found at points in between the camp and the big tree, and apparently lay as if they were headed back to the camp. One of them, Rustem Slobodin, had a fractured skull, although doctors declared it non-fatal, and the criminal investigation was closed after doctors ruled the five had died of hypothermia.
Two months passed until the remaining four bodies were found buried under a dozen feet of snow in a gully a few hundred feet downslope from the big tree. The inexplicable behavior of the prior five members of the party aside, it was the discovery of this quartet that was most horrific. All four suffered traumatic deaths, despite there being no outward appearance of trauma. One, Nicolas Thibeaux-Brignollel, also had a fractured skull. Alexander Zolotariov was found with crushed ribs. Ludmila Dubinina also had broken ribs, and was also missing her tongue.
It is possible that the group was searching for help–despite being in, essentially, the middle of nowhere, while missing gear in sub-zero temperatures–before they fell into a ravine. But that doesn’t explain Dubinina’s missing tongue. And while some at the time posited that the group had been attacked by Mansi tribesmen, coroners at the time stated that the trauma found required more force than humans could inflict, especially considering there wasn’t accompanying outward trauma.
“It was equal to the effect of a car crash,” said Boris Vozrozhdenny, one of the doctors on the case, according to unsealed documents looked at by the Times.
It gets weirder. The final four were better outfitted than the other five, and apparently had taken clothes off the dead as they continued their aimless trek. Zolotariov, for example, was found wearing Dubinina’s coat and hat, while she in turn had wrapped around her foot a piece of the wool pants that one of the two found at the pine tree had been wearing. To add to the mystery, the clothes found on the final group were tested and found to be radioactive.
The radioactivity is hard to explain, but the rest of the case does have an explanation that’s more plausible than the aliens and nuke experiments people many like to tie into the story. “Paradoxical undressing” is a reported phenomenon in those suffering from hypothermia, as is delirium. The most likely explanation for the disaster is that the team’s camp was buried in an avalanche, which would explain the cut-out tent and quite possibly some of the trauma. Should the team have been buried for any amount of time, hypothermia was likely to set in, which would go a long way towards explaining why they set off in search of help without any gear at all. Again, with five members of the team listed as having died of exposure, this scenario is most plausible.
But the radioactivity found is truly odd, as is the treatment of the investigation itself. Documents related to the case were sealed after it was closed, and weren’t opened until sometime in the 1990s. I’ve been interested in the case for a while now and have tried to dig up new info, but my FOIA requests to the various US intelligence agencies have all turned up bupkis. The cause of the incident is still speculative, but interviews given by the lead investigator, Lev Ivanov, around the time the records were unsealed shine light on just how strange the case is.
Ivanov was the one who first noticed that the bodies and gear found were all radioactive, and said that a Geiger counter he’d brought with him went nuts all around the campsite. He also has said that Soviet officials told him at the time to clamp the case shut, despite reports that “bright flying spheres” had been reported in the area in February and March of 1959.
“I suspected at the time and am almost sure now that these bright flying spheres had a direct connection to the group’s death,” Ivanov told Kazakh newspaper Leninsky Put in an interview dug up by the Times.
Another group of students camped out around 30 miles from the other group reported similar sightings at that time. In written testimony, one said that he saw”a shining circular body fly over the village from the south-west to the north-east. The shining disc was practically the size of a full moon, a blue-white light surrounded by a blue halo. The halo brightly flashed like the flashes of distant lightning. When the body disappeared behind the horizon, the sky lit up in that place for a few more minutes.”
The leading theory, considering the secrecy, radioactivity, and the appearance of some of the bodies, which were reported as being “deeply tanned” by a young boy attending some of their funerals, is that the group somehow came across a Soviet military testing ground. But, assuming reports are true, what caused the trauma to some members of the group is unknown.
It’s possible that one of the members saw some crazy light in the sky and everyone freaked out, running for their lives, but there has never been evidence of an explosion in the area, ruling out some sort of nuclear test or something of the like. But even so, that doesn’t explain the skull fractures. Some could be explained by a fall into the ravine, but remember, Slobodin had a fractured skull and was found on his return to the camp.
The fact that remains of a fire were found suggests some members of the group had control of their mental faculties, and psychosis isn’t a reported effect of acute exposure to radiation, but that doesn’t explain why the group appeared to have run for their lives without bringing any of their gear. So was it an accident or a cover-up? The simple story is probably best: The team was buried in an avalanche, and in a state of hypothermia-induced delirium, rushed off in search of help. Avalanches are incredibly powerful, and being caught in one could likely result in the types of blunt trauma some of the group received.
Still, the lack of closure from the original investigation has left the incident as a favorite target of conspiracy theorists and alien hunters, and really, it’s a pretty weird tale. Ivanov, the investigator, has since passed away, and unless more military records are discovered and unsealed–which some advocates still call for–the records on hand aren’t enough to prove otherwise, and the mystery of what’s now known as the Dyatlov Pass is likely to endure.
When Weird Darkness returns… An eerie tombstone stands watch over one of the city’s oldest cemeteries.
Plus… A young woman sees a ghost of a family member at Starbucks.
But first… A young boy experiences something strange in the middle of the night despite not believing in the supernatural or paranormal. That story is up next!
STORY: THOUGHT FORM IN THE CLOSET=====
“I remember having an encounter with a creature in my own home during 2009. I lived with my mom and my brother. In my room there was a walk-in closet with a window all the way in the back. It was late one night when me and my brother went to sleep talking about monsters we thought were fake and utterly ridiculous. We even laughed at the fact that there was something called a Slenderman with no eyes or mouth. So we were obviously not scared of such things.
As we went to sleep I woke up around 3:00 AM which is odd considering we went to bed at 8:00 that night. I’m not one to wake up abruptly unless it’s something wrong. I remembered feeling a presence besides my brother and me in the room. It was cold and quite frightening to be honest. I looked around in my room hoping to see my mom watching over us from the door way of the closet (I don’t know why I thought it would be her but I did). Since our nightlight was on I could see things pretty clearly. I looked to my left to see a tall figure in our closet, it had an oval like head with small eyes and appendages hanging from it’s face almost like a scruffy beard but it made more sense that it would be some type of structure. It looked over the both of us up and down. At first I thought it was my mind playing tricks on me, since I could be very imaginative but what snapped me out of this is when it pushed some of the clothes hangers out the way and the fact that the window was open. It’s skin looked rough and pasty almost like it was in a sauna for two years. It caught a whiff of me being awake and almost immediately I lost consciousness and control over my body. All accounts that were had from that night had not been fully remembered the following morning. Besides the fact that my sheets were in my closet instead of on my bed.”
STORY: THE GUARDIANS OF LONE FIR CEMETERY=====
Visitors to Portland’s Lone Fir Cemetery may wonder at its name–the “lone fir” is now one of many in this lush and green space, home to nearly 25,000 souls at rest.
In 1854, Oregon pioneer James B. Stephens sold a large part of his land in Portland to Colburn Barrell under the condition that Barrell maintain the gravesite of his father, who was buried there. Just a few months later, there was no question of what the land would be used for after Barrell’s ship Gazelle exploded, killing 24 of the 60 people onboard.
Body parts were blown into all directions, both into the sea and on land. Identification wasn’t easy, and early Portland settlers opened up their homes to store the bodies until they could be buried. Though Barrell had intended the land he had just purchased from Stephens to be his own personal plot, he ended up interring several victims of the explosion there, including his friend Crawford M. Dobbins, calling the cemetery Mount Crawford after him.
Years later, in 1866, Barrell tried to sell the land to the city, but they were not interested. Thanks to a group of Portland families, the property was incorporated, and 20 more acres of land were added. Mount Crawford was then rechristened Lone Fir: The name was suggested by Barrell’s wife Aurelia, in honor of the (at the time) lone fir tree on the property.
In 1887, Stephens’ wife Elizabeth died, and he had a special gravestone carved for her resting place. The sculpture depicts James and Elizabeth, standing together holding hands, in a manner that can only be described as visually … arresting. The tombstone also has a rather creepy quote imprinted upon it: “Here we lie by consent, after 57 years 2 months and 2 days sojourning through life awaiting natures immutable laws to return us back to the elements of the universe of which we were first composed.”
For two years, James visited his wife at what would also be his final resting place, so that he could “imagine holding his wife’s hand again”. He died in 1889 and was buried beside her.
Elsewhere in the cemetery, you’ll encounter the nearly 10,000 of the residents of Lone Fir buried without names, including 132 patients of an insane asylum run by a man named Dr. Hawthorne in the 1800s–Dr. Hawthorne was also buried here. One section of the cemetery, known as Block 14, was used to house the unidentified remains of Chinese railroad workers, who were later exhumed and moved in 1948. Some, however, were undoubtedly left behind. Cemetery records claim about 1,100 immigrants were buried here, and only 265 bodies were moved.
The eerie occupants of the Lone Fir Cemetery are not limited to the unnamed. Wander down the aisles, and you may see the grave of Emma Merlotin. Emma, 33 years old at the time of her death, was a famous beauty and infamous sex worker in Portland. She was murdered brutally, hacked apart with a hatchet. In an attempt to find her killer, one of her eyes was removed by photographers, who, at the time, believed that the last image a person saw would be preserved in their eyes. Unsurprisingly, this revolutionary thought did not result in her murderer being apprehended.
One of Dr. Hawthorne’s patients–one whose name was preserved–is another fascinating case. Charity Lamb was well known for having killed her husband with an axe, supposedly because she was jealous of her own daughter. It seems now that Charity was likely acting in self-defense against an abusive husband, but as the first woman convicted of murder in what was then the Oregon territory, her notoriety outlived her.
Today, James and Elizabeth Stephens, the two pioneers of Portland and founders of Lone Fir, greet visitors as they trek through the 30-acre burial ground that lies just across the river from downtown Portland. Tourists and curious locals have described the gravestone of the guardians of Lone Fir as “unsettling,” “creepy,” “weird,” “spooky,” but also, “awesome,” “incredible,” “amazing,” “sweet,” “romantic,” and “beautiful.”
Though the cemetery is open daily to the public from 7:00 A.M. to sunset, Halloween is Lone Fir’s busiest time of year, when the cemetery hosts the popular “Tour of Untimely Departures”, featuring the graveyard’s most famous residents, including James and Elizabeth Stephens. Nearly 1,000 people queue up outside for a chance to meet them, and to see their undying love, carved into stone, for themselves each year.
STORY: THE LOVE AND COMFORT OF A PARENT FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE=====
Never been much of a believer in the afterlife but I did have one thing happen that I still wonder about to this day. My father used to wear a very distinctive beret hat. Every single time he left the house he wore it. It was distinctive because it had a red and gold rim. He used to have it made especially as he said it would, “make him stand out.” A few years after he died I was going through a difficult patch and I was particularly missing him. I was having coffee at Starbucks when I saw a man standing with his back to the window. He was wearing a beret with the red and gold rim. He looked like my father and I watched him cross the round and turn around. I couldn’t tell if it was him or not due to the distance but if I was inclined to believe in life after death I could easily sell myself on the idea that it was my father coming back to give me a nudge and to remind me he loved me. I took a lot of comfort from that incident.
Coming up… Never paying back loans, running from responsibilities, living a double life, having more than one wife, committing murder… hardly what one would expect from someone with the title of reverend.
And speaking of religion… Hebrews 13:2 in the bible says, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” One young man learns firsthand that verse is true. These stories are up next on Weird Darkness.
STORY: THE WIFE POISONING PASTOR=====
Reverend George W. Long arrived in Western New York in the Fall of 1864, presenting himself a Methodist minister from the south. He appeared to be in good standing, with credentials from several Southern and Western conferences so the presiding elder of the district stationed him at the Methodist church in Centerville.
Long had a very agreeable personality and had soon gained the confidence of his congregation. Before long he met and married a young woman named Frances Doolittle in a nearby town and brought her to Centerville.
All seemed well except that the meager salary of a minister was not enough to meet Long’s needs. He began to borrow money from the brethren at the church. They were happy to lend him money until it became apparent that he had borrowed more than he could pay back. He told his creditors not to worry, he had money invested in Dunkirk, Ohio and would go there and withdraw some. He borrowed some more to cover his expenses then left for Dunkirk.
After he had been gone for some time he sent word back to Centerville that he had met a claim agent who offered to purchase some land he owned in Texas and had to go to New York City to conclude the transaction. From there he planned to go to Pittsburgh then return home. That was the last letter anyone in Centerville received from Reverend Long.
More than two years later, a Connecticut police detective arrived in Centerville, tracking a man named William Green. The detective was carrying a picture of Green which the Methodist congregation recognized as their own Reverend Long. They were forced to admit that they had been swindled.
When he left Centerville Reverend Long had not gone to Dunkirk, Ohio, he went to Utica, New York where he registered at the Northern Hotel as William H. Green. There, as Reverend Green, he preached sermons and made political speeches, and as Professor Green he delivered temperance lectures.
Though, as Reverend Long, he still had a wife in Centerville, on December 20, 1866, Green married a widow named Searles in Guilford, New York and moved with her to West Cornwall, Connecticut. There he claimed to be from Texas and became active in local politics and gave lectures on political affairs.
The following spring, Mrs. Green’s health began to fail; she was diagnosed with a pulmonary difficulty. On May 6, shortly after tea, she was taken with violent convulsions which continued intermittently until her death at about 12 o’clock. The physician called to attend her remarked on the unusual manner of her death, he could not explain it but suspected foul play.
Mrs. Green was buried four days later and her husband remained in town for about a month then suddenly moved to Utica. A week later he married an Irish girl who worked as a chambermaid at his Utica hotel.
Suspicions were aroused in West Cornwall when it was learned that Reverend Green’s sudden departure was prompted by improper proposals he had made to a married lady in that town. They also found it suspect that a Methodist minister was married by a Catholic priest five weeks after the death of his wife. The body of Mrs. Green was disinterred, and her organs examined by Professor Baker of New Haven. He detected strychnine in her stomach and liver and concluded that Mrs. Green had been poisoned.
William Green was arrested in Utica and brought back to West Cornwall where he was examined by Justice Gold prior to being bound over for trial by the Superior Court. During an intermission in the examination, Green was sent to the Litchfield jail from which he escaped by jumping from a window. He was recaptured when he was found hiding in a barn where he had attempted to cut his own throat.
Before his trial, Green was confident that he could explain his position and the final determination of the jury would clear him. But his behavior in prison did not reflect this confidence, he made two unsuccessful attempts to take his own life. At the trial the evidence against William Green aka George Long was overwhelming and he was convicted of first-degree murder.
STORY: TOUCHED BY A GUARDIAN ANGEL ON A RAINY DAY=====
A few years ago, something strange happened. I’m not sure if I can call this a paranormal occurrence but I want to share it with you. Make of it what you will.
I was sixteen, still attending school and on this day… very late. I had overslept, missed my bus, missed my breakfast and I was looking at walking all the way to school in the pouring rain which was at least a forty-five-minute walk. I was halfway down my street when a car pulled up and a man opened his window.
“Can you give me directions?” he asked.
I turned and looked at him. He was just an average guy. Nothing spectacular. Just a normal middle-aged man. Not creepy at all.
“Yes,” I said.
“Can you give me directions to the nearest Safeway?”
“Yes,” I said. I gave him the directions and realized that the Safeway wasn’t but a few minutes’ walk away from the school. After giving him the directions, I asked if I could ride with him. I explained that I was in an awful hurry. He said that was fine. As he drove we didn’t talk much but he seemed to know I was in a hurry. I know he was driving as quickly as he could. Eventually we arrived at the Safeway, but he insisted on dropping me off outside the school. As I got out he said, “lucky I was around to give you a lift.”
Later it dawned on me that this was an absolutely crazy coincidence. A man is driving down my street at the right time and wanting to get to the same place I needed to go. I can’t believe this was sheer luck—but there’s nothing about it that screams paranormal to me. There were no spooky moments. He was a completely normal guy.
It was suggested later by one of my friends that this man could have been an angel. This starts a lot of “what ifs.” Why was it so important for the universe to get me to school that day?
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! You can email me anytime with your questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 FREE audiobooks I’ve narrated, sign up for the email newsletter, find other podcasts that I host including “Retro Radio: Old Time Radio In The Dark”, “Church of the Undead” and a classic 1950’s sci-fi style podcast called “Auditory Anthology”. Also on the site you can visit the store for Weird Darkness tee-shirts, mugs, and other merchandise… plus, it’s where you can find the Hope in the Darkness page if you or someone you know is struggling with depression, addiction, or thoughts of harming yourself or others. And if you have a true paranormal or creepy tale to tell of your own, 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.
“Bizarre Encounters With Road Trolls” by Brent Swancer for Mysterious Universe
“The Ghostly Vicar Who Still Haunts His Church” by Matt Florez from MyHauntedLifeToo.com
“The Dyatlov Pass Incident” by Derek Meade for Vice.com
“The Wife Poisoning Pastor” by Robert Wilhelm for Murder By Gaslight
“Touched By a Guardian Angel on a Rainy Day” by Joel from MyHauntedLifeToo.com
“The Love And Comfort Of a Parent From Beyond The Grave” by Julie Winters from MyHauntedLifeToo.com
“Thought Form In The Closet” by Crooked Beats from PhantomsAndMonsters.com
“The Guardians Of Lone Fir Cemetery” by Jessica Ferri for The Line Up
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… “Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.” — 1 Peter 2:17
And a final thought… “God does not give us everything we want, but He does fulfill all His promises . . . leading us along the best and straightest paths to Himself.” — Dietrich Bonhoeffer
I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me in the Weird Darkness.