“BOOK A STAY AT A HAUNTED AIRBNB” and More Dark True Stories! #WeirdDarkness

“BOOK A STAY AT A HAUNTED AIRBNB” and More Dark True Stories! #WeirdDarkness

Listen to ““BOOK A STAY AT A HAUNTED AIRBNB” and More Dark True Stories! #WeirdDarkness” on Spreaker.

IN THIS EPISODE: Spending the night in a haunted house is always unnerving, but would you pay for the experience? If you’re looking for a spooky escape, maybe you could try a haunted AirBNB! You might not rest in peace in these haunted homes, but you’re bound to have a memorable night preparing for paranormal activity, seeking the supernatural, and greeting ghosts. (Book A Stay At a Haunted AirBNB) *** Sawney Bean, said to be the leader of a 45-member clan in Scotland, is infamously accused of murdering and cannibalizing over 1,000 people in the early 16th century. His story inspired the horror film, ‘The Hills Have Eyes.’ But did Sawney Bean ever truly exist? (The Man Who Inspired ‘The Hills Have Eyes’) *** Nestled in the Kentish Weald, the quaint village of Stalisfield boasts a thousand-year-old church and timeless tranquility. But beneath its serene surface, whispers of ancient pagan rites and dark ceremonies linger. Could the chilling past of sacrificial rituals still echo through the village today? (The Stalisfield Blade) *** As dusk fell, a pickup truck pulled up to a motel outside Tarzana. Inside, Brother Elzibah and his monks prepared for a perilous mission, recording martyr statements and arming themselves with explosives. Their target on December 10, 1958: Krishna Venta, a self-styled prophet in Box Canyon. This night promised a dramatic showdown that would mark a violent chapter in the history of American spiritual communes, and the country’s cults. (The Bizarre Story Behind The Suicide Bombing Of A Southern California Cult)

“The Stalisfield Blade” by Ken DaSilva-Hill (used with permission)
The Bizarre Story Behind The Suicide Bombing Of A SoCal Cult” by Mattew Duersten, LAist, December 10, 2018: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/4s27xpf7
“The Man Who Inspired ‘The Hills Have Eyes’” source: Leah Silverman at AllThatsInteresting.com: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/2p8zy3ec

“Book A Stay At a Haunted AirBNB” sources: Lauren Mack at TimeOut.com, https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/4h75fc6c; Daily Barringer and Caitlin Morton at Thrillest.com: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/2p8eubbj; Jersey Griggs at TheDiscoverer.com, https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/yttxryn6; Marissa Laliberte at Reader’s Digest:https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/2p86y2em; Julie Pennell at Today.com, https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/2kwzmdfs; Alexa Erickson at FamilyHandyman.com, https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/2p8w39nh
Weird Darkness theme by Alibi Music Library.

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Originally aired: April 29, 2024


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.


Imagine checking into what seems like the perfect Airbnb—a charming little cottage tucked away on the outskirts of a sleepy town. The reviews rave about its cozy charm, and the price is unbeatable. But as night falls, you realize that you might have gotten more than you bargained for. Whispers fill the rooms when the wind is still, and shadows dance across the walls, defying the calm, moonlit night outside. It’s said that the previous owner, unable to part with their beloved home, vowed to never leave—literally. Guests report items moving on their own, eerie cold spots, and even brief glimpses of a figure through the window… or reflected in the mirror. As you settle in, trying to shrug off the creeping dread, you stumble upon an old guestbook, not listed on the Airbnb posting. The entries start off normal, but soon turn into frantic notes left by previous visitors. Words like “watched” and “never alone” are scribbled in shaky handwriting. One unsettling message simply repeats, “Don’t look in the attic.” With each creak of the floorboards, you can’t help but wonder: Are these just tales told by travelers with overactive imaginations, or is there truly something more waiting in the quiet of this quaint cottage that I’ve rented for the night? Would you dare to spend the night in a haunted AirBNB?

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…

Sawney Bean, said to be the leader of a 45-member clan in Scotland, is infamously accused of murdering and cannibalizing over 1,000 people in the early 16th century. His story inspired the horror film, ‘The Hills Have Eyes.’ But did Sawney Bean ever truly exist? (The Man Who Inspired ‘The Hills Have Eyes’)

Nestled in the Kentish Weald, the quaint village of Stalisfield boasts a thousand-year-old church and timeless tranquility. But beneath its serene surface, whispers of ancient pagan rites and dark ceremonies linger. Could the chilling past of sacrificial rituals still echo through the village today? (The Stalisfield Blade)

As dusk fell, a pickup truck pulled up to a motel outside Tarzana. Inside, Brother Elzibah and his monks prepared for a perilous mission, recording martyr statements and arming themselves with explosives. Their target on December 10, 1958: Krishna Venta, a self-styled prophet in Box Canyon. This night promised a dramatic showdown that would mark a violent chapter in the history of American spiritual communes, and the country’s cults. (The Bizarre Story Behind The Suicide Bombing Of A Southern California Cult)

Spending the night in a haunted house is always unnerving, but would you pay for the experience? If you’re looking for a spooky escape, maybe you could try a haunted AirBNB! You might not rest in peace in these haunted homes, but you’re bound to have a memorable night preparing for paranormal activity, seeking the supernatural, and possibly greeting ghosts. (Book A Stay At a Haunted AirBNB)

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, hear my other podcasts including “Church of the Undead” and a sci-fi 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!


Do you relish the thrill of chills, the sensation of your hair standing on end, and the adrenaline rush of a cold shiver? If so, these haunted Airbnbs are tailor-made for your adventurous spirit. Imagine testing your bravery by spending a night alongside restless spirits who haven’t quite moved on. While we can’t promise a ghostly encounter, the right mix of courage and curiosity (perhaps aided by a ouija board) might just reveal mysterious bumps in the night, self-swaying chandeliers, or even the ghostly tickle of a little girl at the foot of your bed as you drift off to sleep. So, fingers crossed for a hauntingly good time!

***Hobo Hill House in Jefferson City, MO: When Aaron and Erin Clark purchased a 5,000-square-foot 1910 American Foursquare in Jefferson City, Missouri, they envisioned it as their family’s long-term home. However, the historic house soon revealed its eerie nature, with sightings of a man in a top hat, flickering lights, and other strange occurrences signaling a strong paranormal presence. Concerns escalated when their young daughter began to be affected, prompting the Clarks to move out and convert the house into an Airbnb. Recently featured on “The Dead Files,” this beautifully renovated property is not for the faint of heart—indeed, the first group to rent the place reportedly couldn’t last the entire evening, as per the News Tribune.

***A mansion in Lansingburgh, NY: Nestled in the historic village of Lansingburgh, about five miles from downtown Troy, this “second-floor haunted oasis” resides in a mansion that has been in the same family for six generations. Although the resident ghosts are described as harmless, one visitor recounted playful poltergeist antics like hidden car keys. Keeping your belongings close is advised, but guests can look forward to a comfortable room and ample communal spaces to interact with the amiable hosts and fellow travelers. Guests have praised the host, Michele, for her welcoming and accommodating nature, noting the clean environment and valuable local tips she provides. While no ghostly encounters were reported by some, the possibility remains part of the charm of this unique stay.

***The Stroud House in NC: Built in the early 1940s by Reverend I.T. Stroud, this charming Wake Forest rental offers guests a range of amenities including a separate entrance, private sinks, and, unexpectedly, “glowing orbs.” The hosts openly acknowledge the house’s haunted status, corroborated by experiences from friends, family, and guests alike. Along with the glowing orbs, visitors have reported a shadowy figure in the kitchen, mysterious footsteps in the hallway, and inexplicably flickering lights. There’s even a music box that plays autonomously. Despite these eerie occurrences, the presence is considered benevolent, so the hosts assure there’s nothing to fear. For those intrigued by its paranormal aspects, the hosts offer a “haunted tour of the house” at no extra cost.

***The dead girl’s bedroom in New Orleans, LA: New Orleans is known for its haunted locales, but the Parks-Bowman Mansion in the Garden District offers a uniquely eerie experience with a bedroom haunted by a young ghost in a yellow dress. This 130-year-old mansion features several rooms, yet it’s the one supposedly haunted by the shy spirit of the house’s youngest daughter—who died untimely in the 1890s and was buried on the property—that captures the most attention. Guests might catch a glimpse of her or hear her softly humming lullabies, pacing with a slight limp, or mysteriously moving glasses around. The haunted room includes a queen-size bed and accommodates two guests in a house shared with the host. Located near the heart of the French Quarter, this spot allows for endless exploration of New Orleans. It offers a spooky, yet affordable and cheerful stay.

***The House of Captain Grant in CT: This historic bed and breakfast, established in 1754 by Captain Grant, has a rich history recorded in the National Register of Historic Places and has survived both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. Renowned for its paranormal activity, those seeking a spectral experience should consider booking the Adelaide Room. Guests have reported eerie encounters such as invisible hands caressing faces and sightings of a woman in colonial-era attire accompanied by two children. For an added thrill, if you visit on Halloween, the B&B offers a tour that includes the nearby cemetery and an underground crypt, capped off with ghost stories told around a campfire.

***Marlboro Mansion in Maryland: This Maryland mansion, reminiscent of the setting from “American Horror Story: Roanoke,” offers more than just a visual allure with its history dating back to 1852 and a handful of spirits said to roam its halls and grounds. While its backstory may not rival a Ryan Murphy plot in sinister depth, the supernatural elements are sure to captivate any ghost hunter. Most guests, however, find themselves enamored with the mansion’s stunning antique furniture and its proximity to Washington, D.C. Booking a stay here invites you to discover for yourself what spectral surprises may await. Guests rave about the home’s charm, spaciousness, and beautiful decor, likening it to a historic museum and appreciating its central location within Maryland, close to D.C. and Virginia, all set on a sprawling four acres of land.

***Kahn Saloon in Jefferson, TX: Situated in what the Houston Chronicle calls Texas’s most haunted town, the Kahn Hotel is notorious for its eerie tales. Originally the Kahn Saloon, the building was transformed into a hotel in 2016 and has since been the site of over 300 paranormal investigations. According to the hotel, one group recorded their stay and captured unsettling audio, including a voice pleading for “help” and a sequence of a woman’s scream followed by a gunshot. Dare to book a stay and experience the supernatural for yourself.

***The Civil War field hospital in Gettysburg, PA: Situated on a historic property used as a Confederate field hospital after the Battle of Gettysburg, the barn and farmhouse are rumored to be haunted by numerous spirits. The host of David Stewart Farm has witnessed many apparitions over the years and assures that they are all friendly. Guests often report hearing footsteps and spotting men in Confederate uniforms. The bedroom is decorated with period furnishings to enhance the 19th-century ambiance. The accommodation includes a queen-size bed and two single beds across two bedrooms, providing a shared stay with the host for up to four guests. Surrounded by beautiful gardens that served as a Civil War field, this location is perfect for history enthusiasts looking to explore. Plus, it’s very budget-friendly, making it an ideal choice for a weekend getaway.

***House in Bisbee, AZ: The organic linens, locally made soaps, and pet-friendly policy make this secluded Arizona house seem inviting, but that doesn’t mean it’s devoid of supernatural occurrences. According to the haunted Airbnb’s listing, while the house has experienced its share of “odd unexplained mischief,” none of it is described as scary or malevolent.

***Home owned by a paranormal researcher in Oberlin, OH: This 150-year-old home, featured on ghost-hunting shows like “Paranormal State” and “Portals to Hell,” is owned by a paranormal researcher who assures that its ghostly residents are friendly. If you’re drawn to the paranormal, you’ll be intrigued by the display room on the first floor—part museum, part “training ground”—designed to acquaint visitors with the tools, theories, and techniques of paranormal investigation. While the house is indeed haunted, it also offers a relaxing atmosphere where guests can connect with both their travel companions and the spirits. Psychic reading cards are provided for those interested in further exploring the supernatural. Guests appreciate the home’s old-world charm, noting the creaking floorboards and sticking doors that add character, describing it as a quiet, peaceful place perfect for reading, napping, or experiencing the occasional benign bump in the night.

***Farnam Manor in Richfield, OH: Built over 180 years ago, Farnam Manor is steeped in tragedy, with the first owner’s daughter drowning in a well in 1834. Legend now claims that her spirit continues to haunt the estate. However, visitors should note that this eerie Airbnb offers only camping accommodations, leaving you quite exposed should you encounter the resident ghost.

***The 18th century cottage in Savannah, GA: Step back in time and enjoy a unique stay at Laura’s Cottage in Savannah’s Landmark Historic District, where you might just share a cocktail on the front porch with Laura, the resident ghost of this 1799 refuge. Little is known about Laura, except that she supposedly once lived in the cottage and was often spotted tending to the garden. Guests have reported paranormal activities such as windows that open by themselves and lights that flicker on and off, so a peaceful night’s sleep might be off the table. The cottage accommodates up to four guests with one queen-size bed and two single beds. While the historical home provides plenty of entertainment, the local area is also rich with unique museums and excellent walking paths. Plus, the stay is super affordable when shared among four guests.

***House with a secret passage in Chattanooga, TN: Constructed on the site of a former psychiatric facility and just 600 feet from a cemetery, this century-old Victorian house is perfectly primed for paranormal encounters. Fortunately, if you get the eerie feeling that you’re not alone, the house features a secret passage that provides a hiding spot.

***Old schoolhouse located in a cemetery in Hudson, NY: This eclectic Airbnb has transformed a 1900 schoolhouse through several iterations—first a tool factory, then an artist’s studio, and now a unique lodging experience nestled inside Cedar Park Cemetery, surrounded by thousands of burial plots and notable figures at rest. Among its various lofts, this particular Chinese-inspired space features an authentic 18th-century opium wedding bed for a truly unique sleeping experience. For those seeking an extra thrill, consider this: if no other spaces are rented, you could find yourself as the only living soul for miles around. Guests have praised this converted schoolhouse for its fascinating blend of history and creativity. Laura Ann, the host, is commended for her friendliness and responsiveness, enhancing the unique and enjoyable nature of this stay. The room itself is described as fun, funky, and comfortable—engaging all senses and ensuring a memorable visit.

***Haunted Castle House in Brumley, MO: This 169-year-old Victorian house, recognized as one of the most haunted homes in the Midwest according to its listing, offers four bedrooms and two baths, accommodating up to eight guests. Those daring to stay should be prepared for some paranormal activity, as the house has served as both a hospital and a funeral home in the past. The owners caution that ghostly encounters are a real possibility. For the brave-hearted seeking a breath of fresh air, there’s a cemetery in the back garden to explore.

***The Haunted Brothel in Victor, Colorado: After a devastating fire in 1899 destroyed a Victorian-era brothel, casino, and saloon, the building was not only rebuilt but also meticulously restored to its former glory, complete with spirited supernatural tales. Legend has it that the Victorian Gothic structure’s electrical wiring was installed by Nikola Tesla himself. It features original bay windows, oak doors, 12- to 15-foot ceilings, and hardwood stairs. The resident ghost is believed to be a former miner who met his end in a gunfight. Adding to the eerie ambiance are various pieces of taxidermy and art introduced by the current owners. The accommodation includes 10 king and queen-sized beds and two sofas, comfortably sleeping up to 16 guests. Located in the heart of Victor, Colorado, with the Rocky Mountains nearby, it’s surprisingly affordable for a large group.

***The Vintage Estate, La Cañada Flintridge, California: Built in 1929 by ornithologist Robert Moore, this haunted Airbnb carries a mysterious legend. Moore is said to have hired new workers daily during its construction to ensure his secrets remained undiscovered. He passed away on October 30, 1958, in his bedroom, and since then, visitors have reported encounters with his ghost haunting the property.

***Home where it’s Halloween all day, every day in Wake Forest, NC: Guests staying in this private suite in Wake Forest have reported a range of paranormal experiences, from floating orbs and spontaneously playing music boxes to mysterious pinches from unseen entities. Despite the potential for a spooky encounter, including the unsettling “vampire Audrey Hepburn” painting on the wall, many visitors find the property charming. You’re likely to enjoy engaging conversations with the host, David, whose great-grandfather built the house, as well as cuddles from his dog Buttercup and leisurely walks to nearby parks and street fairs. Guests consistently praise the suite for its positive energy, beautiful and pristine conditions, extreme comfort, and convenience to local business areas of Wake Forest, making it a top-notch stay.

***Creole Mansion, New Orleans, LA: This decaying mansion in New Orleans, now a haunted Airbnb, exudes an unsettling aura as the current owners have let its finishes and furnishings naturally deteriorate over time. Built in 1855 for Louise Vitry, an African-American woman, and her French partner, Archille Courcelle, the house has a rich history. Louise notably retained ownership of her home following a landmark Louisiana Supreme Court decision in 1858. Guests might even encounter her ghost during their stay!

***The ghost town in Terlingua, TX: Elevate your haunted stay experience by spending the night in a Texas ghost town, specifically in a 100-year-old miner’s casita in Terlingua, a former mining boomtown now mostly inhabited by ghosts. This limestone cabin includes a bedroom, living room, kitchen, and an outdoor bathroom, adding an extra thrill to your stay. From the porch, keep an eye out for paranormal activity while enjoying stunning views of Big Bend National Park’s mountains and badlands. The casita, perfect for two, features one double bed and is nestled in the heart of what’s literally a ghost town, offering an unmatched spooky ambiance. This getaway is also very budget-friendly for couples looking for an adventurous retreat.

***Old Cuchillo Hotel in Cuchillo, NM: Built in the mid-1800s, this abandoned hotel in Cuchillo, New Mexico, originally served as a stagecoach stop and now stands in a ghost town. The current owner has experienced eerie phenomena, including whispering voices, while previous residents have heard crackling sounds from the wood stove even when it’s inactive. A visit to the abandoned saloon on the property is a must during your stay, adding to the mysterious allure of this haunted location.

***A haunted suite in historic St. Louis, MO: Staying at this house in the Benton Park neighborhood of St. Louis is like stepping back in time to 1890. Originally serving as maid’s quarters, the second-floor studio apartment now hosts guests reporting a mix of mysterious and mundane experiences. Reviews often mention kitchen cabinets opening by themselves and unexplained bumps in the night, but also highlight the friendly hosts and cozy interiors, with all ghostly mentions taking a lighthearted tone. Guests have particularly praised Debbi and Tom for being outstanding hosts, providing a comfortable stay in a great location, complete with local treats and stories about the resident ghost, Agatha. While actual sightings of Agatha are rare, the mysterious thumps add excitement to the stay. Highly recommended for visitors to St. Louis, many guests express intentions to return.

***The Haunted Bedroom at Talliston, Great Dunmow, UK: The owners of this haunted Airbnb have meticulously decorated a bedroom to resemble the bedchamber of a seven-year-old Edwardian child, complete with books, toys, and various impermanent items, capturing every nightmarish detail. Be prepared for a sensory experience during your stay, as you may encounter disturbing sounds and smells.

***The gothic castle in Ellicott City, MD: Renting the Lilburn Mansion near Baltimore not only offers two bedrooms, a ballroom, library, pool, and extensive outdoor space, but also a chance to encounter some haunted roommates. The original 1857 property, affectionately known as “the castle,” was destroyed by fire and subsequently underwent a thorough restoration. However, the spectral residents seemed to disapprove of the renovations, leading to a series of misfortunes for its living occupants, including tragic deaths within the family. Recent guests have reported a high level of paranormal activity, including eerie sightings such as a child swinging from a chandelier. The mansion can accommodate up to 12 guests with two queen-size beds and three airbeds. It’s located within its own stunning gothic grounds, with nearby Main Street providing a slice of reality. This stay is notably affordable for a group of 12, offering the entire home for a truly unique experience.

***The Haunted Chamber Apartment, York, UK: This haunted Airbnb, over 600 years old, is reportedly haunted by a male ghost characterized by long dark hair and a hat. Visitors have claimed he appears over their shoulders when the temperature drops—an eerie detail indeed! The home is situated just off Stonegate, a historic road established during the Roman rule in Britain.

***Gothic style manor in St. Paul, MN: Stay in the primary bedroom of a house once dubbed “the most mysterious house in Saint Paul” by The Pioneer Press, and you might meet Rosalia Fihn, a girl who succumbed to typhoid fever in 1908, recognizable by her white dress and spectral presence. The room boasts tall ceilings, abundant sunlight, a queen bed, and an air mattress for those who might fancy a midnight séance with friends. Beyond the ghostly encounters, enjoy the spacious courtyard featuring a fire pit and picnic area, and don’t miss the chance to befriend Scorch, the exceptionally friendly Doberman. Guests have praised host Sean for his dedication to comfort and the home’s unique charm, highlighting the antiques and craftsmanship that make the stay memorable, with many eager to return.

***Chateau Pitau, Vidnoye, Russia: Situated just outside of Moscow, this quaint castle offers an array of amenities, including multiple swimming pools, a wooden sauna, and beautiful gardens, creating a seemingly dreamlike setting. However, it’s said that a ghost makes a weekly appearance at midnight, adding a mysterious twist to the otherwise idyllic location.

***Haunted Henry’s house in Salem, MA: Naturally, Salem, the site of the 17th-century witch trials, is home to numerous historic haunted mansions, including the Henry Derby House. This 19th-century Greek Revival home, originally built for tailor Henry Derby, now belongs to Phil Marchand who grew up amidst its eerie occurrences. Phil and many others have reported hearing footsteps from the third floor, experiencing unexplained bumps in the night, and spotting the ghost of a long-haired teenage girl. The house offers one king-size bed, two queen-size beds, and five single beds, accommodating up to 12 guests. Located in Salem, the town itself provides an array of even creepier attractions. Moreover, the stay is very well-priced for groups looking to maximize the 12-guest capacity.

In case you are interested in any of these locations, I have listed the sources in the episode notes, which then link to the individual AirBNB locations… if you’ve got the nerve!


When Weird Darkness returns… Nestled in the Kentish Weald, the quaint village of Stalisfield boasts a thousand-year-old church and timeless tranquility. But beneath its serene surface, whispers of ancient pagan rites and dark ceremonies linger. Could the chilling past of sacrificial rituals still echo through the village today?

But first… Sawney Bean, said to be the leader of a 45-member clan in Scotland, is infamously accused of murdering and cannibalizing over 1,000 people in the early 16th century. His story inspired the horror film, ‘The Hills Have Eyes.’ But did Sawney Bean ever truly exist? That story is up next.


The chilling saga of Sawney Bean and his notorious clan has become a grim folklore staple in Scotland. Legend has it that Sawney Bean was the patriarch of a deviant clan that lived in the remote caverns along the Scottish coast, thriving through incest and cannibalism. For about 25 years, they terrorized the region, ambushing unsuspecting travelers, only to rob, murder, and consume them. The Bean family’s horrifying actions escalated to the point where they were purported to have claimed over 1,000 lives, their barbarity cloaked in the shadows of their seaside cave.

This gruesome story not only resonates through the annals of Scottish legend but has also reportedly inspired the plot of the cult horror film The Hills Have Eyes. However, doubts persist about the factual accuracy of Sawney Bean’s existence. Historical records first mention Bean in 1755, a century after he supposedly lived near Edinburgh. Scottish historian Dr. Louise Yeoman suggests that the tale might have originated around the turn of the 17th century, but inconsistencies in the timelines and details of Bean’s life lead to questions about the authenticity of the narrative. Bean is often placed in different centuries, his profession varies among accounts, and even his partner’s name shifts in the tales told.

Sawney Bean and his family allegedly secluded themselves in Bennane Cave, which was accessible only when the tide was low, providing them a natural defense. Inside, the cave was said to be a labyrinth of tunnels, providing ample space for the Bean clan to grow and conduct their macabre activities out of sight. Over time, Bean’s initial brood of 14 children multiplied, their numbers swelled by continuous inbreeding, eventually forming a clan of 45 members, all sharing a gruesome appetite for human flesh.

This hideaway facilitated their reign of terror, as the Beans would emerge to violently accost lone travelers, dragging them back to their cave to be butchered and eaten. The sheer horror of their acts was compounded by the efficiency and ruthlessness with which they operated, often leaving no trace of their victims apart from the occasional washed-up limb. Local innkeepers, often the last to see many of the missing people, bore the brunt of suspicion, leading many to abandon their livelihoods in fear of wrongful persecution.

However, the macabre dynasty met its end when a couple returning from a fair were attacked. The wife was killed instantly, her body gruesomely desecrated in front of her husband who, despite being outnumbered, managed to fend off the Beans long enough for reinforcements to arrive. This incident exposed the Beans, prompting the husband to seek the aid of King James VI, who allegedly led a manhunt to the cave. The search party discovered a scene of utter carnage, with evidence of their cannibalistic lifestyle laid bare. Captured without resistance, the Beans were swiftly brought to justice, the men gruesomely executed and the women burned at the stake.

Despite the vivid details of their capture and punishment, many historians argue that the Sawney Bean story, lacking solid historical evidence and contemporary accounts, is likely a myth. Dr. Yeoman posits that the tale could have been English propaganda, crafted to demonize the Scots during a period of political tension. The name “Sawney,” a derogatory term for Scots at the time, suggests that the story might have been intended to stereotype and demean.

The impact of Sawney Bean’s legend extends beyond historical speculation, influencing popular culture and media. Wes Craven, the visionary behind The Hills Have Eyes, admitted that the Bean story was a direct inspiration for his film, which parallels the Bean saga with its narrative of a family stranded and hunted by cannibalistic mutants. Craven’s adaptation, while taking creative liberties, echoes the eerie irony and complex morality suggested in the original legend.

Whether fact or fiction, the tale of Sawney Bean remains a haunting narrative that blurs the lines between myth and reality, serving as a stark reminder of the dark fascinations that continue to intrigue and horrify us. As we delve into the depths of human depravity through such stories, we confront not only the monsters of our nightmares but also the unsettling possibility of their existence.


Tucked away just behind the brow of the Kentish Weald and within an arrows flight of the pilgrims way, which meanders across southern England to Canterbury, and then beyond into Europe, becoming part of the great Camino, there is a tiny hamlet, Stalisfield. It boasts a church of around a thousand years old,  a pub of a few hundred, and, dotted about, are historic cottages and farms – Stalisfield sleeps and rarely wakes to excitement or change.  The country here is old, hardly changed since the Plantagenets had power, and one can walk many a footpath once trod by the ancient feet of Britons, Romans and Saxons, as they went on their various ways. In later times Chaucers pilgrims would also step this way, and to this day artifacts abound, to be discovered along the route by modern folk, – I have a few myself, a religious badge, a buckle and a silver coin, lost by whom, we cannot tell, but which connect us firmly to the past.

So sleepy, dreamy, pleasant, Stalisfield still exists, and so do the mysteries surrounding it.

Is it worth a visit, I hear you ask?  Well yes, the village and countryside are both neat and beautiful, and an afternoon watching village cricket or enjoying a substantial and well served meal at the pub, The Plough Inn, are a delight.  In winter, around a blazing fire, the ambience is wonderful in the pub, and in summer children play gleefully in the sunshine on the lawn outside, not knowing what once went on beneath their feet, whilst refreshing wine is served under a blue and hazy sky.  Occasionally a glider or Spitfire spirals overhead, leaving or returning to the local airfields, and an afternoon here can be lazy, but never wasted. Unless really in the know, tourists rarely visit this tiny gem, but those who do, recognise it as the diamond that it is, set into the green expanse of Kent, The Garden of England.

But now the scene is set, and the curious will visit, so here we start our tale.

Lost in the mists of time, Stalisfield was a pagan place, as was much of England, and the seasons and ritual ruled the lives of common folk. From planting to harvest the earth provided work and sustenance, and was the most important factor in life, as, without its beneficence, disease and death lurked around every corner. Life was hard to sustain, as can be seen from the many tombstones about the vicinity of the church, and the ancient bones still often ploughed to the surface in the surrounding fields.  But pagan times begot pagan ways, and the pleasant was sometimes shrouded in the veil of sacrifice and murder. It is said that at several points  within each year, ceremonies and rituals would take place in order to ensure the continuing life of the village and its community.

Often this would involve the sacrifice of something, such as a symbol, an animal or indeed, someone.

And maybe, even today, something similar may occur, beneath the blazing sunrise, in the heat of noon, or in the darkness of midnight at the solstice, and deep in the woods or the centre of a village field.

The secrets of Stalisfield are many, and who can tell what occurs behind the leaded panes or white lace curtains of a lonely but picturesque cottage, even in these days of technology and instant news. And, it has always been so.

There is, kept in a secret place within the village, a blade of flint, hewn from the hard and mean Kentish stone and still as sharp as when it first was knapped by its unknown maker, eons ago. It is the Stalisfield sacrifice knife, its edges still tainted with the blood of once living creatures, creatures from long ago and, very likely, not so far in the past too!

Old stories, related by the older folk of the village tell of rituals to ensure a rich harvest, where living blood was strewn upon the seed before the fields were planted, the very seeds sown at first light  on those days considered special by the spirit world.

A goat, a sheep or oxen would be slaughtered upon a Kentish sarcen stone, – I have one such stone in my garden – looked upon by the villagers as they sang their laments to fertility. And then, it is believed, a young maiden, clear of face, golden haired and proved a virgin, would brought to be tied to a stake, close to the stone, and dismembered with the cold flint blade, its keen and stony edge slicing easily into the young flesh as the blood was collected into a golden vessel, to the sound of wailing screams from the young victim, then her body to be burnt as an offering to the very ground upon which she stood, and this, as her neighbours chanted her praises and made their fond farewells. Mixed with the bloodied seed, her warm ashes would be broadcast in a corner of each field, to ensure that the living crop would rise from death, to provide for Stalisfield and to ensure seed for the future sacrifice. In time fresh shoots would appear, but until this time the local folk would eschew any visit to these corners after dark, and, in Stalisfield, till this day, few will venture to the corner of a field at day or night, as can be evidenced by the high growth in these mystic places, which should you visit, you will easily observe yourself.

But let’s cheer up a little bit. To this day Stalisfield enjoys wonderful harvests, celebrated by the special Harvest Festival in the ancient church, where local folk bring produce of fine quality and much abundance on this special day, and which is, incidentally, a good day to visit!

It may be wise to leave your young, blond, and fresh faced daughter at home, however.

Of course in modern England this could not still occur, or, maybe, – could it?

Nobody in the village will acknowledge the reality, however, should you have the gall and temerity to ask, – it may be best, to just believe, and live in hope.

Only the Stalisfield blade, can really know or tell the truth.


Up next on Weird Darkness… As dusk settled, a rickety pickup truck rolled into a nondescript motel on the fringes of Tarzana. Inside, Brother Elzibah penned urgent farewell letters, his resolve captured on tape. The truck was loaded with explosives, the tools for a dramatic showdown. On December 10, 1958, they aimed to challenge their nemesis, a self-proclaimed divine figure, igniting a fierce clash that would echo through the corridors of spiritual communes and American cult history.



The killers arrived before dusk in a rickety pickup truck, stopping at a cheap, no-name motel on the outskirts of Tarzana. Hunkered down in their room, Brother Elzibah wrote farewell letters to his loved ones, including his young son (“I am willing to give up my life to free you”). Then the monks pressed “RECORD” and made their martyr statements as the tape whirred.

“It is now 7:30pm,” noted Brother Jeroham. “Within the next four hours, we will drive to Box Canyon, see Krishna… and the demand a right adjustment be made… This may be our last night in the world. Dear God, give us freedom or death.”

Twenty sticks of dynamite, three detonators, batteries, blasting caps and electric cable sat in their truck. The clock ticked. It was December 10, 1958.

They knew their nemesis by many names — Krishna Venta, The Voice, The Master. He was probably in his 40s but it was hard to know for sure. He was tall, blue-eyed and hawklike with long, dark, curly hair and a bristle-brush beard.

He had first popped up in Canoga Park a decade earlier, perpetually barefoot and draped in yellow peasant robes, claiming he had been born a half million years prior on a planet called Neophrates. He said he was infused with the same “everlasting” spirit as Abraham Lincoln and Mormon Church founder Joseph Smith. He predicted the United States would be consumed by a cataclysmic race war. Anyone wishing for safe passage through Armageddon would need to give him all of their possessions and live by his strictures, loosely based on the Ten Commandments.

In 1949, Krishna and 60 acolytes moved to a 23-acre glen in Box Canyon, a narrow parcel near the Chatsworth Reservoir in the Santa Susana Mountains of Simi Valley, about 25 miles north of downtown L.A. In the beginning, they lived in tents while Krishna, his second wife, Ruth, and their two boys installed themselves in one of the numerous sandstone caves. Eventually, the group built several sturdy edifices from materials gleaned from the surrounding creeks and hillsides, including segregated dormitories, a two-story dining hall and an administration center. (Oak trees grew through the ceilings of two buildings.) The jewel of the commune was the stone-walled monastery, built by the pilgrims as a tribute to their Master.

Soon, stranded motorists along ribbon-thin Box Canyon Road began noticing a strange phenomenon. Kind, mysterious people, barefoot and wearing robes of varying colors, would emerge from the brush, proffering a four-wheel-drive tow truck. Ditto for the local firefighters deployed to battle fires and floods in nearby communities. The pilgrims were capable first-responders.

On the morning of July 12, 1949, the pilot of Standard Airlines Flight 897R, blinded by patchy fog on the approach to Burbank Airport, clipped the edge of a hill in the Santa Susanas and cartwheeled into the mountainside at 140 mph. Of the original 48 passengers, only 15 survived. At the time, it was Southern California’s deadliest aviation accident.

The local press arrived to find a bizarre tableau. SNAP. There was Krishna himself, among the burning wreckage, directing evacuations in his bare feet and robes. SNAP. There were his parade of followers, visiting survivors at their hospital beds for days after the disaster. Eventually, LOOK magazine published a four-page pictorial (“California’s Offbeat Religions: We Love You”) that introduced the nation to the WKFL (Wisdom, Knowledge, Faith, Love) Foundation.

Its adult members came from all corners of life — from day laborers to white-collar professionals — and worked six days a week tending to the small herd of goats and sheep, harvesting the furrows that grew their mainly herbivorous diet, or baking homemade bread on outdoor wood stoves. Children were communally raised and schooled. Marriages were permitted only on March 29, Krishna’s birthday, and were nonsexual.

The honeymoon with these genteel California kooks and their pioneer-style lives crested around 1956, when Krishna Venta was arrested and imprisoned for failure to pay child support. The court record revealed a peripatetic existence that was very much of this world.

Francis “Frank” Herman Pencovic, born to Jewish immigrants in San Francisco in 1911, spent the Great Depression as a hobo, riding the rails under a plethora of aliases. During the early years of U.S. involvement in World War II, he was arrested for writing threatening letters to President Roosevelt, did nine months in jail for petty larceny and spent a month at the California State Mental Hospital in Camarillo.

It was also revealed that his frequent trips nationwide and abroad to spread the word of the Foundation (accompanied by his right-hand, Cardinal Gene Shanafelt, who dealt with “temporal matters”) were interrupted by detours to opulent casinos. In Las Vegas, someone snapped a photo of him alongside famous gambler Nick “The Greek” Dandolos just before Krishna lost almost $3,000 at craps. The Foundation paid the debt.

Back in Box Canyon, some chafed at how their fellow pilgrims excused Krishna for behaving less like a spiritual leader and more like an imperious studio mogul: Gambling, driving like a speed demon and often berating them through languid clouds of cigar smoke (“I am your shepherd, you are the sheep.”)

By the time rangy, raw-boned Ralph Smith Muller, 33, and swarthy, wild-haired Peter Dumas Kamenoff, 42, came to the fold with their families, another hypocrisy of the Krishna threatened to come to light: They claimed he was sleeping with both their wives.

In late 1957, Muller and Kamenoff, who had taken the names Elzibah and Jeroham, were attempting to sow discord among WKFL followers. Why was the commune comprised mostly of young females (including at least one ex-model)? Why, despite having a wife, did Krishna choose to bed most nights with a random “Sister” in his personal station wagon?

Krishna told his flock that the errant monks were recruiting for a breakaway sect and claimed that they beat their wives. On December 9, 1958, the day after Muller and Kamenoff unsuccessfully tried to interest a special agent with the California Department Of Justice in their cause, Muller appeared at an oil well supply company in Whittier, telling the clerk he was buying supplies to use for “blasting.”

These details, and many others in this story, come from The Bombs, Bombers and Bombings of Los Angeles, written by Michael Digby.

The following evening, at the motel in Tarzana, Muller and Kamenoff retrieved their materials and set to work. When the IED was completed, they gingerly placed it in an olive-drab musette bag (a popular type of zippered canvas pack used by GIs). By midnight, they were ready. They climbed into the truck and began the 30-minute drive to the Santa Susanas. They parked at the sole WKFL entrance under a wooden sign that declared: YE WHO ENTER HERE ENTER UPON HOLY GROUND.

Around 1:30 a.m., a pilgrim named Brother Martin had just finished his evening chores when he heard raised voices coming from the monastery.

“I saw lights were on… and I went over,” he would testify. “The Master and Cardinal Gene were in the corridor of the building talking to a young man about 25 or 26… carrying a musette bag… Cardinal Gene and the Master were extremely displeased with him and I had never seen them angry since I have been here.”

Noting that the heated conversation stopped abruptly when the men spotted him, Martin excused himself to go back to the men’s dormitory. He later reasoned he had walked about one-eighth of a mile before an enormous explosion lifted the top of the monastery.

The enclosed rock walls of the canyon amplified the blast, which was heard more than 20 miles away. A woman who lived a mile away was blown out of bed by the shockwave.

“The shattering explosion jarred us from our sleep,” recalled Krishna’s son Sharva, 11, who was in the boys’ dormitory. “The roof fell in on top of us. Everything seemed to catch on fire… Our beds, the walls, our clothes and all our possessions… It hardly seem like no more than five minutes had passed after we left the dormitory than it was burned completely to the ground.”

In an exquisite irony, the engine-room door of the nearest volunteer fire station was blown off its hinges, holding up first responders trying to reach the fire, which eventually chewed through nearly 150 acres.

Thick brumes of smoke choked the canyon for days afterward. The coroner’s office reported ten deaths “caused by extreme mutilation,” including Krishna Venta and Cardinal Gene. The youngest victims came from the children’s dormitories: Keela Baker, 7, and Cardinal Gene’s son Elwyn, 11.

Although rumors persisted for weeks that Krishna had cheated death, his dental plate and a piece of jawbone were identified. The FBI also identified part of a hand and a single thumb as belonging to his killers.

The survivors buried their Master’s remains in a potter’s grave in North Hollywood’s Valhalla Cemetery. “We are trying very hard to react to this as the Master would want us to,” a pilgrim named Sister Mary told the press. “That is to be cheerful and positive. For mourning is negative.”

Under the new leadership of Krishna’s widow Ruth, the sect rebuilt some of its original buildings, but the post-bombing exodus of members from Box Canyon rendered the group untenable. Near the WKFL compound sat 12000 Santa Susanna Pass Road, the former site of Spahn Ranch, where in 1969 Charles Manson and his followers commenced a more murderous interpretation of Armageddon.

The last remnants of the WKFL fizzled in the early 1980s. By then, however, Krishna Venta’s influence had bloomed in other pastures. One of his acolytes named Dorothy Martin (“Sister Thedra”) moved to Chicago and became the guru for the Seekers, a UFO-doomsday cult. David and Gladys Smith, a married couple, and Erma Winfrey, a cook who had sustained severe burns in the bombing, wound up dying in the jungles of Guyana alongside 900 fellow members of Jim Jones’ suicidal Peoples Temple cult.

In recent years, even wild and woolly Box Canyon has fallen sway to the tides of gentrification, as well-heeled residents have moved into the area, some even building homes upon the ruins of the old WKFL commune. Realtors may have their work cut out for them: In the recent Woolsey Fire, portions of Box Canyon were once again visited by apocalyptic hellfire and had to be evacuated.


Thanks for listening (and be sure to stick around for the bloopers at the end)! If you like the show, please share it with someone you know who loves the paranormal or strange stories, true crime, monsters, or unsolved mysteries like you do! You can email me and follow me on social media through the Weird Darkness website. WeirdDarkness.com is also where you can find information on sponsors you heard during the show, listen to FREE audiobooks I’ve narrated, get the email newsletter, find my other podcasts including “Church of the Undead” and a sci-fi podcast “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, authors, and sources I used in the episode notes.

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Now that we’re coming out of the dark, I’ll leave you with a little light… Psalm 138:6, “Though the Lord is great, he cares for the humble, but he keeps his distance from the proud.”

And a final thought… “You become what you think about. Your mind is a fertile ground that will return in abundance what you plant. Be Careful!” –Dave Ramsey

I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me in the Weird Darkness.

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