“THE CURSING OF CHRISTOPHER CASE” and More True Paranormal Stories – PLUS BLOOPERS! #WeirdDarkness
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IN THIS EPISODE: A man is found dead, fully clothed, kneeling in his own bathtub. The position of the man’s body and where he was found is strange enough – but what happened to Christopher Case before his death is stranger still. (The Cursing of Christopher Case) *** In Norfolk, England the village of Eccles was slowly gobbled by the rising waters of the sea in the early 1600s. But even today, sometimes during a particularly heavy story, you can see St. Mary’s Church mysteriously reappear… bringing with it, the dead buried in the church graveyard who cannot find rest. (The Disappearing And Reappearing Village of Eccles) *** Lory Price and his wife Ethel mysteriously disappeared from Marion, Illinois. But then, sometimes that happens when you are mixed up with the mob or may have learned something you weren’t supposed to. (The Vanishing of Lory Price) *** The Catacombs of St. Callixtus in Rome, Italy, hold the remains of sixteen popes, several martyrs, and around half a million Christians, and according to on author, a not-of-this world entity. (The Callixtus Catacombs Entity) *** Before he became a Civil War general, Congressman Dan E. Sickles’ scandalous murder trial changed our legal system forever. He said outright that he had killed his wife’s lover. So how did he avoid being found guilty of the crime he admitted to committing? (How A Congressman Got Away With Murder) *** In 1150, two children were found near Woolpit in England – they wore strange clothes, spoke oddly, but the most identifiable characteristic for both children was their skin was green. The children themselves were a mystery – but what happened when they grew up? Did they marry? Did they have children? Could there be decedents of the green children of Woolpit living among us today? (Great Grandkids of Green Children) *** (Originally aired February 10, 2021)
SOURCES AND REFERENCES FROM THE EPISODE…
“The Cursing of Christopher Case” by Gurnoor Kaur for Conspiracy Theories: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/145d147q
“The Disappearing And Reappearing Village of Eccles” by Stacia Briggs for Eastern Daily Press:https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/5fopg2hq
“The Vanishing of Lory Price” by Troy Taylor from his book “Bloody Illinois”: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/lsi06qet
“How A Congressman Got Away With Murder” by Genevieve Carlton for All That’s Interesting:https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/2jantfjj
“Great Grandkids of Green Children” from Ancient Code: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/4u4xdypk
“The Callixtus Catacombs Entity” by Ellen Lloyd for Ancient Pages: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/aqhlme0r
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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…
In Norfolk, England the village of Eccles was slowly gobbled by the rising waters of the sea in the early 1600s. But even today, sometimes during a particularly heavy story, you can see St. Mary’s Church mysteriously reappear… bringing with it, the dead buried in the church graveyard who cannot find rest. (The Disappearing And Reappearing Village of Eccles)
Lory Price and his wife Ethel mysteriously disappeared from Marion, Illinois. But then, sometimes that happens when you are mixed up with the mob or may have learned something you weren’t supposed to. (The Vanishing of Lory Price)
The Catacombs of St. Callixtus in Rome, Italy, hold the remains of sixteen popes, several martyrs, and around half a million Christians, and according to on author, a not-of-this world entity. (The Callixtus Catacombs Entity)
Before he became a Civil War general, Congressman Dan E. Sickles’ scandalous murder trial changed our legal system forever. He said outright that he had killed his wife’s lover. So how did he avoid being found guilty of the crime he admitted to committing? (How A Congressman Got Away With Murder)
In 1150, two children were found near Woolpit in England – they wore strange clothes, spoke oddly, but the most identifiable characteristic for both children was their skin was green. The children themselves were a mystery – but what happened when they grew up? Did they marry? Did they have children? Could there be decedents of the green children of Woolpit living among us today? (Great Grandkids of Green Children)
A man is found dead, fully clothed, kneeling in his own bathtub. The position of the man’s body and where he was found is strange enough – but what happened to Christopher Case before his death is stranger still. (The Cursing of Christopher Case)
If you’re new here, welcome to the show! While you’re listening, be sure to check out WeirdDarkness.com for merchandise, to visit sponsors you hear about during the show, sign up for my newsletter, enter contests, connect with me on social media, plus, you can visit the Hope in the Darkness page if you’re struggling with depression or dark thoughts. You can find all of that and more at WeirdDarkness.com.
Now.. bolt your doors, lock your windows, turn off your lights, and come with me into the Weird Darkness!
STORY: THE CURSING OF CHRISTOPHER CASE=====
On the morning of 18th April 1991, a 35-year-old man named Christopher was found dead in his apartment. No signs of struggle or fight were found and even no forced entry. His body was discovered in an empty bathtub, fully dressed in a kneeling position, with his head resting on the wall. The death of Christopher Case shook the whole of Washington.
When police searched his place, they found a lot of candles, crucifixes, books, salt poured on each and every entry of his home even windows. When the police further investigated, they heard religious music playing in his room. Maybe to keep his home safe from Supernatural powers?
The doctors told that he died because of a heart attack. Looking at his place, it doesn’t seem like a natural death. Everything pointed towards something paranormal. Was it really a heart attack? Or some supernatural powers which scared him to death?
Christopher is a 35-year-old intelligent and sophisticated man who grew up in Richmond, Virginia. He was a small-town radio DJ. He was very much passionate about his music so he decided to move to Seattle, Washington to start a new career as a music executive and there he worked for Muzak Holdings.
Christopher made a lot of new friends at Seattle but never lost touch with the old ones. He was single for a long time as he was used to traveling a lot because of his work and lived alone. He was a fitness zealot, used to take his vitamin supplements regularly. He didn’t have any serious health issues and he used to exercise regularly.
Then what happened which made him do all this? Why was he so afraid?
11th April 1991, 7 days before his death.
He had a meeting in San Francisco with other music executives. He was introduced to an older woman who shared her ancient music interest with him. She seemed interested in him and asked him to take her home.
He refused her politely as she was his senior. This rejection made her angry and she told him something creepy that she was a witch and cursed him that he’ll die within a week. Christopher didn’t take this seriously as he didn’t believe in any supernatural things. He went back to his home in Seattle the next morning. After a couple of days, he forgot that incident.
On 14th April, he called his friend Sammye that he wasn’t able to sleep at night because of strange whispers, footsteps like someone is watching him.
On 16th April, he again called his friend to tell him how he got attacked last night when he was sleeping. He told him that someone was trying to suffocate him by unseen hands. After some time, he also noticed some cuts on his fingers and bloodstains on his bedsheet.
In the morning, he went to a religious book store and picked a handful of crucifixes. After being asked by the store manager, he told him that he was being attacked by some supernatural powers, and the store manager handed him some religious books that would help him.
On 16th April afternoon, he placed crucifixes all around his home with candles and poured salt on all the entries and also wrote notes on how to overcome supernatural powers that were scattered all over his place.
On 16th April, evening something strange happened, which is not clear even now, but he was so frightened that he left his home to stay in a hotel because of this he was not able to contact his friends and Sammye didn’t receive any call from Christopher that night so she called the local Seattle police to do a welfare check up on Christopher property.
Police found the residence locked and were unable to have access so they reported back to Sammye. Sammye lived in another part of the country and was feeling helpless as she couldn’t reach him.
On 17th April morning, Sammye got a message from Christopher on the answering machine in which he said that they almost got him and it’s his last day on earth. Not only Sammye but two more people heard from him that day – a catholic church priest and the religious book store manager.
They told him the necessary things, but despite all his efforts Christopher lost his life on the night of 17th April 1991.
Myocarditis was said to be the main cause of Christopher’s death as he was used to taking vitamin supplements – but in further investigation it was found he didn’t have any symptoms of myocarditis. His friends still believe that he died due to the supernatural curse of a witch.
STORY: HOW A CONGRESSMAN GOT AWAY WITH MURDER=====
In 1859, Congressman Dan Sickles pulled out a pistol and shot his wife’s lover. Standing in full view of the White House, Sickles screamed, “You scoundrel, you have dishonored my house — you must die!”
The shocking crime made headlines around the world, and Sickles became the first person in American history to plead temporary insanity to get away with murder.
The son of a wealthy New York family, Dan Sickles earned a law degree and seduced a teenager before he was elected to Congress.
Sickles was 33 when he married 16-year-old Teresa Bagioli. When he was elected to the House of Representatives in 1856, the couple took Washington, D.C. by storm, becoming fixtures in high society.
Both Dan and Teresa pursued affairs. Dan also had a reputation for visiting brothels – but only Teresa’s dalliance raised eyebrows.
In the 19th century, a wife’s affair transformed her husband into a cuckold, undermining his masculinity, while a husband’s affairs were simply business as usual.
According to Dan Sickles, Teresa’s affair drove him to murder.
Beginning in the spring of 1858, Teresa carried on an affair with Barton Key, a close friend of Congressman Sickles and the son of Francis Scott Key who penned the lyrics to “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
One D.C. gossip columnist called Key “the handsomest man in all Washington society.”
Key signaled Teresa by waving his pocket-handkerchief on the street. The pair would meet at an abandoned house only steps from the White House, where Teresa confessed, “I did what is usual for a wicked woman to do.”
Everything changed on Feb. 24, 1859, when Sickles received an anonymous letter. The enraged congressman confronted Teresa and forced her to write a confession.
Three days later, Sickles spotted Key outside his home, waving his handkerchief to signal Teresa. “That villain is out there now making signs,” Sickles raged. Grabbing three guns, Sickles rushed out to confront Key.
Sickles fired his pistol before Key could say a word. Key threw a pair of opera glasses at Sickles and tried to hide behind a tree, but Sickles continued to fire until a bystander wrestled him to the ground.
Sickles had gunned down Key in Lafayette Park on a sunny Sunday afternoon. With no chance of escape, Sickles took a carriage to the home of Attorney General Jeremiah S. Black where he surrendered.
The sensational murder became front-page news.
“The tragic affair produced a great sensation,” reported the New York Herald. “In the streets, the law courts, public houses, private dwellings, and, in fact, everywhere, it was the prominent topic of conversation.”
Even President James Buchanan took sides in the sensational case. He sent a letter of support to the imprisoned congressman.
From jail, Sickles gave interviews with the press. “He has dishonored me, and we could not live together on the same planet,” Sickles told one paper.
Harper’s Weekly judged the outcome before the trial began. “The public of the United States will justify him in killing the man who dishonored his bed.”
Dan Sickles, who admitted firing the shots that killed Key, hoped the jury would agree.
Congressman Dan Sickles hired eight defense attorneys to represent him during his trial. One of them, John Graham, spent a full two days on his opening statement defending Sickles.
Adultery was evil, Graham intoned, quoting Shakespeare’s Othello to justify Sickles’s actions. Discovering the affair had made Sickles temporarily insane.
Temporary insanity was a new concept in American courts. While defendants had pleaded insanity before, no one had claimed to be insane only temporarily.
But Graham relied on the jury’s sympathy toward Sickles to justify the murder. “It may be tragical to shed human blood; but I will always maintain that there is no tragedy about slaying the adulterer,” Graham argued.
The trial also painted Teresa Sickles as a prostitute and murderer.
A wife who “surrendered to the adulterer” longed for her own husband’s death, one defense attorney argued, either “by the cup of the poisoner or the dagger or pistol of the assassin.”
Another attorney added that the affair pulled Teresa toward “the horrid filth that is common prostitution.”
Dan Sickles painted himself as “the avenger of the invaded household.” His wife was an immoral woman. And Key deserved to die.
Was the murder of Key justifiable homicide or temporary insanity? Dan Sickles’s attorneys argued both at the same time.
The presiding judge didn’t put much stock in the temporary insanity defense. In his jury instructions on April 26, Judge Crawford warned the jurors that a gap between Sickles learning of the affair and killing Keys weighed the scales toward premeditated murder – and, in fact, Sickles had spent three days plotting his revenge after receiving the anonymous note.
Yet it only took the jury an hour to declare Dan Sickles not guilty by reason of temporary insanity.
The packed courtroom burst into applause and 1,500 people led Sickles through the streets in an impromptu victory parade.
From the start, many predicted Sickles would walk for his crime. During jury selection, 72 of the first 75 prospective jurors were excused for sympathizing with the murderer.
“We regard this as a most mistaken and most mischievous verdict,” declared the Tribune. “It is a verdict which carries this country a long stride backward toward the age when Might was Right, and all wrongs were redressed by the red hand, or not at all.”
The trial turned Dan Sickles into a nationally known figure. But his actions after the trial kept Sickles in the headlines for decades.
Shortly after his acquittal, Sickles and his wife Teresa publicly reconciled, drawing criticism from their peers in Washington and in the press.
“We hope the sympathizers with Mr. Sickles at Washington, and especially the jury who exalted him into a great champion of the sanctity of marital relations will be satisfied with this result,” the Baltimore American wrote.
Next, Sickles left his congressional seat in 1860, quickly turning around to raise a brigade of men for the Civil War. As a general, Sickles led troops at Gettysburg, where he ignored his superior officer’s orders and lost a leg to a cannonball.
As an ambassador to Spain after the war, Sickles seduced the Queen, and in his final years, Sickles was accused of stealing public funds.
The legacy of Dan Sickles’s trial outlived Sickles himself. While his case represents the first successful temporary insanity plea, the jury almost certainly didn’t buy that defense.
Instead, Victorian moralists decided that Key had it coming. Even a notorious philanderer like Sickles could claim righteousness if cuckolded.
Yet even though Dan Sickles’s trial says more about 19th-century views of masculinity and women’s sexuality, the ruling still broke new legal ground. In the past 150 years, the temporary insanity defense has become a mainstay in the American legal system.
Up next… In Norfolk, England the village of Eccles was slowly gobbled by the rising waters of the sea in the early 1600s. But even today, sometimes during a particularly heavy story, you can see St. Mary’s Church mysteriously reappear… bringing with it, the dead buried in the church graveyard who cannot find rest. (The Disappearing And Reappearing Village of Eccles)
Lory Price and his wife Ethel mysteriously disappeared from Marion, Illinois. But then, sometimes that happens when you are mixed up with the mob or may have learned something you weren’t supposed to. (The Vanishing of Lory Price)
But first, in 1150, two children were found near Woolpit in England – they wore strange clothes, spoke oddly, but the most identifiable characteristic for both children was their skin was green. They eventually grew up as all children do. So could there be decedents of the green children of Woolpit living among us today? (Great Grandkids of Green Children) Those story and more when Weird Darkness returns.
STORY: GREAT GRANDKIDS OF GREEN CHILDREN=====
It’s a common stereotype that extraterrestrials may have green skin color, from green Martians to the Egyptian god Osiris, depicted with greenish skin. Ancient Celtic mythology often depicts the Green Man, dating back before the Roman Empire. And, in 12th century England, there is the story of the curious Green Children of Woolpit. This story appears to have been based on real people who may have descendants today.
The story is woven together from accounts by two famous English chroniclers, William of Newburgh, a monk from the Augustinian priory of Newburgh and Ralph of Coggeshall, a monk of the Cistercian abbey. Coggeshall heard the story from a man named Richard de Calne and wrote about it in the Chronicon Anglicanum around 1189. William of Newburgh wrote about it later in Historia rerum Anglicarum, published in 1220.
In the mid 12th century in the English county of Suffolk, there was an ancient town called Woolpit. In Old English, the town’s name was wulf-pytt, named for pits dug in the ground to catch roaming wolves in those days. The wolves were killing livestock and terrorizing villagers, but today, this village is famous for two Green Children on its sign.
Around 1150, during the reign of King Stephen, villagers reaping the fields came across two children near a wolf pit who were acting distressed and speaking to each other in an unknown language. A version of the tale says they emerged from the wolf pit, twice as tall as the children and a couple of hundred square feet in area.
The children wore strange clothes unfamiliar to the villagers and spoke an unrecognizable language. And then, of course, their skin was green, a startling sight, but otherwise, they appeared to be normal children.
In Ralph of Coggeshall’s story, the children were taken in by Sir Richard de Calne, the man who told him the story. There, they were offered food but reacted to everything they were given as if they had never seen it before and refused to eat.
It seemed as if the children would starve until they came across something familiar: green beans. In Coggeshall’s story, they find the beans in the garden and gobble them up. In another telling, the children spotted a servant carrying a plate of beans and immediately wanted them. Thereafter, the children were fed beans but slowly weaned over to other food. As their diet changed, the green coloration of their skin began to appear normal.
Sadly, the boy died soon afterward, succumbing to an unknown illness after a period of severe melancholy and lethargy. However, the girl survived and was named Agnes. As she adjusted to her new life, she learned English and could finally answer questions about where she and her brother came from.
According to HistoricUK, Agnes said:
““We are inhabitants of the land of St. Martin, who is regarded with peculiar veneration in the country which gave us birth. We are ignorant [of how we arrived here]; we only remember this, that on a certain day, when we were feeding our father’s flocks in the fields, we heard a great sound, such as we are now accustomed to hear at St. Edmund’s, when the bells are chiming; and whilst listening to the sound in admiration, we became on a sudden, as it were, entranced, and found ourselves among you in the fields where you were reaping. The sun does not rise upon our countrymen; our land is little cheered by its beams; we are contented with that twilight, which, among you, precedes the sun-rise, or follows the sunset. Moreover, a certain luminous country is seen, not far distant from ours, and divided from it by a very considerable river.”
Another version of the story says the children were herding their father’s cattle and heard the bells, then entered into a cave and came out into Woolfpit. They couldn’t find the way back and were discovered by the villagers.
Agnes was baptized and lived and worked for Sir Richard and later was married to the archdeacon of Ely, Richard Barre. The couple had at least one child, thus her descendants may exist today.
According to the East Anglian Daily Times, Agnes was known for her “very wanton and impudent” behavior while in the employ of de Calne and that Richard Barre was a man from King’s Lynn in Norfolk, then a senior ambassador for Henry II. “It is said that England’s blue blood, even today, has a green tinge through Agnes’ bloodline.”
The source claims that finding the descendants has been tricky, perhaps a carefully-guarded local secret. “In 1978, local author and folk singer Bob Roberts wrote in A Slice of Suffolk that: ‘I was told there are still people in Woolpit who are ‘descended from the green children’, but nobody would tell me who they are!’”
To this day, mystery surrounds this story and many people believe these children came from another world or dimension. Is it possible they came through some sort of portal and ended up in the relatively densely populated English town?
Did they really come from a twilight place where everyone had green skin? Why were they so unfamiliar with bright sunlight? Why did they only recognize and accept green beans, refusing other foods? Lastly, if they were ordinary children, why didn’t any relatives ever try to find them?
Now it’s clearly much more fun to imagine the Green Children came from another realm. And, historically, there are similar ancient tales of celestial beings who existed in an underground or hidden world, accessed via portals or “fairy rings” at ancient megalithic structures.
The Tuatha Dé Danann of Ireland were a pre-Celtic Irish tribe of legends that say they were ‘shining beings’ forced to remove themselves to the underground. They may have been driven away by the Celts, who often depicted the Green Man. Today the Tuatha live on in modern fairy tales and epic movies and novels about elves such as Lord of the Rings.
The more likely explanations, and one that echos a dark fairytale called the “Babes in the Woods” tale, first published in 1595.
According to the Guardian: “It told the story of a wicked uncle who hires a couple of murderers to kill his orphaned niece and nephew (because, if they die young, he will inherit their estate). The assassins take pity on the children and abandon them in the wood – where they get lost, starve and eventually perish.”
Another theory along the lines of this terrible tale is that the children were poisoned with arsenic by an earl from Norfolk, which tinted their skin green.
An interesting side note: In the 19th century, arsenic and copper were used to dye fabrics green. “Paris green” and “Scheele’s green” were popular colors worn by the social elite in Europe. Arsenic was also found in candy, paper, toys, wallpaper, and medicine before people knew it was deadly toxic. Thus, many in Victorian society died mysteriously. Symptoms could include green hands, yellow nails, and crater-like scars.
If arsenic poisoning was not to blame for the green skin, then “the green sickness” called chlorosis, may be to blame. The condition caused a green complexion and results from iron deficiency. This might explain why Agnes lost her green skin over time as her diet changed.
A third theory is that the Green Children were Flemish victims of persecution during the battle at Fornham in 1173. According to Mental Floss: “Fornham St. Martin was a nearby village, separated from Woolpit by a river and just a few miles from Bury St. Edmunds, where loud bells often chimed. It’s possible that the children had been orphaned, suffered a poor diet while lost and on their own, and eventually made their way to Woolpit from Fornham St. Martin by following the clanging bells.”
If you consider all the theories, there is still no clear and definite answer. If Agnes and her brother were Flemish children who had lost their parents, why does she make no mention of losing her father? She said she was herding her father’s cows by one account, but doesn’t mention anything out of the ordinary. Why does one account suggest that the green skin coloration was the norm in their place of origin? And lastly, how did the children end up in a pit in the ground after traveling through a cavern?
Abundant questions remain about the Green Children of Woolpit, which makes it a fascinating mystery today.
STORY: THE DISAPPEARING AND REAPPEARING VILLAGE OF ECCLES=====
Swallowed by the greedy sea, most of the ancient village of Eccles-on-Sea is now underwater or beneath the sand we walk on today. All that is left of another of Norfolk’s vanishing villages is the pre-war Bush Estate which hides behind the sand dunes: the thriving medieval village that was once here is now beneath the waves or underneath the sand. St Mary’s Church was one of the last survivors of the village lost to the North Sea – some say you can still hear its bells ringing underwater as you sail by. Probably built during the 12th century with a belfry added 200 years later, St Mary’s appears to have been in use until the late 1500s. Three horrific storms in 1570 wiped out swathes of the village houses and left the church in a dreadful state of disrepair and led to it being largely dismantled. The tower, however, was left standing, a useful seamark to aid navigation for passing ships. In 1605, villagers in Eccles presented a petition to Norwich Quarter Sessions for a reduction in their taxes, pointing out that advancing seas had gulped down 1,000 acres of their land (half what it had) and left only 14 houses and the church in ruins. By the beginning of the 18th century, the church was on the landward edge of the dunes but sand began to bury it, leaving only the octagonal belfry visible.
But unusually high tides on Boxing Day 1862 carved into the sandhills and left the tower exposed, once again, like a late Christmas present for the villagers of Eccles. From this moment, it led a colourful life: sometimes partially covered in drifts of sand, other times laid bare by scouring tides. Families and artists sought it out for picnics or a subject matter and it became known affectionately as The Lonely Sentinel and as such, a fashionable place to visit. In Norfolk Life, by Lilias Rider Haggard (1892 – 1968), she remembers the eerie sight of the stranded church tower and, even more terrifyingly, the hideous sight of sea-bleached skeletons exposed in the sandy graveyard. She wrote: “One September day years ago, when the tower of Eccles Church still stood on the dunes, there came a north-easterly gale and a ‘scour’ which swept the sand from the old graveyard, leaving the long outlines of the graves washed clean by the sea. In one lay an almost perfect skeleton embedded in the clay, the hollow-eyed skull gazing up at the limitless sweep of the sky.”
Until 1895, the tower was one of Norfolk’s best-known landmarks and a constant reminder of the ever-encroaching North Sea. A dreadful gale on January 23 1895, the worst in living memory, finally sunk the tower for good: author Ernest Suffling, who lived at next-door Happisburgh, tried to light his pipe inside the tower as the storm began to gain momentum. “That I was the last to enter the old tower is certain, as during the night the wind increased greatly in force and the next day blew with such hurricane violence that the tower was continually surrounded by the sea,” he wrote. The next day, an Eastern Daily Press correspondent wrote: “On visiting the scene the desolation presented to one’s view is appalling.” Within months, most of the flint masonry of St Mary’s had been swept away or covered in sand until only a few large sections remained.
Often completely buried, the church was remembered every year by an annual beach service held at the spot on August Bank Holiday Sunday. David Stannard, who was previously a geologist in the offshore industry but has also worked as a lecturer at City College Norwich and in local government in Great Yarmouth before becoming an amateur archaeologist, author and historian happened upon the ruins of St Mary’s during a particularly low tide in 1986. He said: “If you go down the beach on a Saturday evening when it is getting dark and there is the ruin of a church and a circle of flints in the sand, you can only think: ‘How did that happen?’
“The only reason we saw anything at all was the sea scouring away the area. What was exposed was foundations, cart tracks in the clay, Roman pottery, skeletons in graves… and these wells.”
Between 1986 and 1996, tell-tale flint circles or rings of clay bricks in the sand gave away the locations of 11 wells which, at the end of their useful life, had become medieval toilets and rubbish dumps – creating a time capsule of history beneath the Eccles sands. But at Eccles, the ruins have not been seen since about 2000 after the Environment Agency’s urgent work to build an offshore rock reef and recharge the beach to protect homes and property.
“I don’t think I will see it (St Mary’s church) again in my lifetime, but who knows?” Mr Stannard added.
And what of those drowned bells, tolling beneath the waves before storms? In May 1930, Lieutenant Commander RN A Brooks, the captain of HMS Boyne, reported hearing a bell at around 9.30am close to Eccles and, having heard about the stories in Dunwich of underwater bells, wrote to the EDP.
“When abreast of Sea Palling, at about 9.30 a.m., I very plainly heard one stroke of a deep toned bell … have [any of your readers] heard any superstition of Eccles Church bells being heard at sea?” read his letter.
According to Mr Stannard, it is unlikely that spectral bells are chiming beneath the waves. Firstly, the bells were probably sold off by the Lord of the Manor, Thomas Brampton, in 1571, secondly there are no mention of bells from any of the Victorian tourist reports and thirdly, St Mary’s tower is now 30ft below…the sand.
STORY: THE VANISHING OF LORY PRICE=====
On January 19, 1927, an Illinois State Police Officer named Lory Price, along with this wife, Ethel, mysteriously vanished from their home in Marion, Illinois. Some say that Price’s disappearance could be blamed on the company that he kept – or at least what he knew – because he was a long-time friend of Southern Illinois gangster, Charlie Birger, who believed that Price had information about the destruction of his hideout near Harrisburg, a barbeque stand called Shady Rest. But whatever the reason for Lory and Ethel’s vanishings, it signed a death sentence for Charlie Birger and left a lingering haunting behind.
Lory Price was a frequent visitor at Shady Rest, there was no denying that. Rumors claimed that he worked with Birger in a stolen car racket. Birger’s men would steal a car, hold it until a reward was posted, then park it in some remote spot and tip off Price as to its whereabouts. Price would then “find” the car and split the reward with Birger. Whether this rumor was true, it is certain that Price was on close terms with Birger and his gunmen. He was also one of the last people to see Shady Rest before it was destroyed by a bomb, presumably placed by members of the Shelton gang, enemies of Birger.
At the inquest into the deaths of four people killed when the building exploded, Price admitted that he had been at Shady Rest on January 8. He stopped in after attending a movie in Marion. Steve George, the resort’s caretaker, greeted him at the door and asked him to come in and meet his wife. While there, Price noticed a man he had never seen before sitting, apparently half-intoxicated, near the fireplace. He also saw a young man, whom George called “Clarence,” passed out drunk on a cot in an adjoining room. George told Price that when the stranger left, he was going to bed. Price testified that he stayed just a few minutes and then returned to Marion. He was having breakfast early the next morning when he heard that two explosions had leveled Shady Rest.
One week after the inquest, Price’s stepfather, who lived nearby on the edge of Marion, became concerned over the fact that he had not seen Price, or his wife, Ethel, for two days. He knocked repeatedly, but after getting no response, he called the police. Deputies forced the door open. Price’s highway patrolman uniform was folded over a chair and his pistol and gun belt were lying on the dining room table. Although the bed was rumpled, no one had slept in it. Ethel’s nightgown, neatly folded, lay on the coverlet. Her hat and coat were missing and the telephone wires to the house had been cut. Price and his wife had both vanished. Had they been kidnapped – or worse?
On February 5, 1927, Lory Price’s body was discovered in a field near Dubois, about 25 miles north of Herrin. A local farmer found the partially-clothed corpse and called the police. Price had been shot several times and was covered with blood. The body had apparently been in the field for several days since animals had chewed on his hands and other extremities. County officers identified the dead man as the missing state patrolman.
Reporters immediately broadcast the sensational news. One reporter, at the trial of the Shelton brothers, where Charlie Birger had recently testified against them, asked Carl Shelton if he had any idea about who might have killed Lory Price. He replied: “Well, this is my theory. You know he used to hang around Charlie Birger’s place, and the papers said that he was there before it burned down, and Birger, you know, is always suspicious of spies. I always figured he did away with Price on the theory that Price was going to inform those who destroyed it of a good time to do it. I never had any trouble with Price, and I don’t know his wife.”
Charlie Birger could not be reached for comment.
Investigators for the Illinois State Police continued to work the puzzling case, but would not get a break until May 1927. Initially, they believed that Price had been killed by the Sheltons, but an informant within the Birger gang (hiding out in Ohio) told them that Price had been killed by Birger simply because he knew too much. No one knew what had happened to Ethel Price – until Art Newman began to talk.
Newman was a trusted Birger gang member, who had gone on the run to California when things became too hot in Illinois. He was picked up in Long Beach and extradited back to Illinois. Franklin County Sheriff Jim Pritchard went to California to bring Newman back and he took along a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch named John T. Rogers. Somehow, during the long ride back to Illinois, Rogers got Newman to tell his story. The confession was given to the state’s attorney when they returned and he indicted Newman, Charlie Birger, Ernest Blue, Connie Ritter, Leslie Simpson, and Riley Simmons for the murder of Lory Price.
The story that Newman told was a chilling one. He claimed that on the day that the Prices disappeared, Birger had called him to Harrisburg and informed him that the gang intended to question Price about his “snitching” to Williamson County authorities. The Prices had visitors until after midnight, when Birger and the others entered the house. Even though Price stated that he had not been informing on Birger, and had nothing to with the explosion at Shady Rest, Birger ordered him into Newman’s car. Price asked Charlie if he planned to hurt him, but Birger said that he just wanted to talked to him. He shoved Price into the backseat of the car and climbed in next to him. Wooten slid into the passenger seat next to Newman and as the car started, Birger called out to the men who were heading for the second automobile. He yelled, “Take that woman and do away with her!”
Price pleaded with Birger not to hurt his wife, but Charlie told him to shut up. He ordered Newman to keep driving and then he began to question the patrolman about everything he suspected about him. Price was an informant, Birger declared, and there was nothing worse than a disloyal friend. He ordered Newman to drive them to the ruins of Shady Rest. They arrived around 2:00 a.m. and Birger dragged Price out of the car. Price denied again that he had betrayed the gang, but Birger shot him three times. Just then, the second car of gangsters pulled onto the road next to the ruins. Wooten panicked, certain that Ethel Price had seen the murder of her husband. One of the newcomers climbed out of the car, heard the conversation and told them not to worry about the woman – they had killed her. When asked what they had done with her, the man replied, “We shot her and threw her into a mine shaft near Carterville.”
Birger proposed putting Price’s body in the same shaft, but gang members told him that they had dumped metal and timbers down over her to hide the body. Birger thought for a minute and then suggested another mine near Du Quoin, but when he suggested putting the bloody and still-breathing Price back into the car, Newman claimed that he balked. Birger flew into a rage and said that he would kill any man who didn’t go along with him.
Price was tossed into the backseat of Newman’s car and Birger climbed in after him, weapon still in hand, and sat down on top of his body. Near Carbondale, he ordered Newman to stop the car. He hurried to the side of the road and began to vomit. He gasped out words when he was able to speak again, “That’s too much for me. I can kill a man, but I can’t sit on him. I don’t know what in the hell’s the matter with me. It isn’t my nerves. Every time I kill a man, it makes me sick afterward. I guess it’s my stomach.”
Birger switched places in the car with Connie Ritter and a few miles down the road, Price regained consciousness and pleaded with Ritter, swearing that he was an innocent man. Ritter told him to shut up, or he would turn the machine gun on him. A few miles later, Price spoke again, his voice almost a whisper, “Connie, you’ll live to regret this.”
Birger ordered Newman to drive to a nearby mine, but finding a watchman on duty, scrapped the plan. Eventually, they dumped Price in the field where he was later found. Birger shot him several more times to make sure that he was dead.
On the way back to Harrisburg, one of the men who had kidnapped Ethel Price allegedly told Newman that he and the others had taken her to the abandoned mine, shot her, and then had thrown her body to the bottom of the shaft. Then they had covered it with timbers, stones, and debris. No one, he claimed, would ever find her. But, of course, that turned out to be wrong.
As soon as the gruesome story of Ethel Price’s fate was made public, workers began removing the debris that Newman said the men had used to clog the shaft of the old Carterville District Mine. A crowd of onlookers began to gather as the opening deepened and miners with picks and shovels worked relentlessly to clear the way. Lines formed and buckets filled with dirt, rocks, and other debris began to be passed upward from hand to hand, dumped, and then passed back down again. County officials and Sheriff Oren Coleman labored alongside the outraged citizens who came to volunteer their help.
As darkness fell, lights were strung up over the pit, illuminating the ghastly scene. Work continued throughout the night and into the next morning, only stopping briefly during a rainstorm that came during the early hours. By Sunday afternoon, June 12, the men had achieved a depth of nearly 30 feet. Planks were nailed on telephone poles that had been laid across the opening earlier in the day. From this platform, it was easy to lower buckets down into the shaft in order to haul the debris up even faster.
Early Monday morning, Ethel Price’s body was finally found. She was taken to the Ozment Funeral Home in Marion and the surrounding streets had to be cordoned off to keep back the curiosity-seekers. Her funeral was held two days later.
For many years after the discovery of Ethel Price’s body, the area around the abandoned shaft of the old Carterville District Mine was largely avoided by people in the vicinity. Even teenagers, looking for a thrill on a late Saturday night, were afraid to go there. According to a friend of mine who grew up nearby, many were convinced that the ghost of Ethel Price haunted the place. Stories circulated of a woman in a white dress who was sometimes seen around the site of the old, forgotten shaft. She reportedly wept in despair and those who dared drive too close to her sometimes claimed that she threw herself at the windows of the car, begging to be let inside. The stories continued for many years and are sometimes recounted even today. Thankfully, though, current reports of a lingering spirit here have been few. We can only hope that Ethel Price is finally resting in peace.
As it turned out, the discovery of Ethel Price’s body was the downfall of Charlie Birger. Public opinion, which often painted him as sort of a folk hero, turned most people against him. After Ethel’s body was found, Birger was moved from the jail in Benton, Illinois, to the Sangamon County Jail in Springfield. His attorneys had already appeared before a judge and requested a change of venue but the charged atmosphere surrounding the search for Ethel Price made it clear to Sheriff Pritchard that a lynching might occur if Birger remained in Benton.
Birger arrived in Springfield on the very day that Ethel’s body was removed from the bottom of the Carterville mineshaft. Reporters were waiting for him when he stepped out of the automobile that had been used to transport him. He shook his head at them as they shouted out questions. He had only one statement to make, “I’m done.”
Birger was eventually prosecuted for murder – not for Lory and Ethel Price, but for that of Joe Adams, the mayor of West City, Illinois. He went to the gallows in April 1928.
When Weird Darkness returns… The Catacombs of St. Callixtus in Rome, Italy, hold the remains of sixteen popes, several martyrs, and around half a million Christians, and according to on author, a not-of-this world entity as well. (The Callixtus Catacombs Entity) That story is up next.
STORY: THE CALLIXTUS CATACOMBS ENTITY=====
The Catacombs of St. Callixtus in Rome, Italy, hold the remains of sixteen popes, several martyrs, and around half a million Christians. Nine of those popes were buried in the famous Crypt of the Popes.
The underground burial chambers, named after Callixtus who at the time of their construction was the deacon of Rome, under Pope Zephyrinus have long been a popular tourist attraction. Callixtus was later elected Pope and eventually martyred for his Christian beliefs.
Those who visited this rather gloomy place say they experienced something strange there.
Among these people are two authors who report a very strange encounter with a mysterious entity they believed was not of this world. What did they see and why were they under the impression this being was not of this world? Did they accidentally catch a glimpse of someone from another reality?
There is one particular aspect of this case that makes the experience very unusual, to say the least.
Lionel and Patricia Fanthorpe have investigated the world’s unsolved mysteries for more than 30 years and are the authors of 15 bestselling books.
In their fascinating book, Mysteries and Secrets of Time they recall a highly unusual sighting of a being who was present inside the Catacombs of St. Callixtus.
Lionel was visiting the catacombs together with Patricia and they were both behind the rest of the party. They were so far away from the rest of the other tourists that they could still see them, but both authors are convinced no-one, absolutely no-one was behind them.
According to their own testimony, Lionel and Patricia were not walking side by side. Lionel was about 30 meters behind Patricia, and she was far behind the party in the catacomb.
Lionel remembers how he suddenly became aware of someone’s presence right behind him. In their book, the authors write, “the tall stranger behind him in the eerie darkness of the Callixtus Catacombs was not of this Earth, but he was nothing hostile or negative. If he gave off any psychic atmosphere at all, it seemed to be curiosity. He seemed to be asking politely enough who Lionel was and what he was doing there. Lionel also got the impression that the entity was probably an ordained deacon or priest. He was wearing a tall, pointed hat — like a traditional wizard from legend and folklore — and a long cape, which, together with the hat, gave the outline of a tall upright cone. The cloak and hat were black, but they shone, gleaming and glistening as though something bright and sparkling was woven into them. When Lionel turned to look more closely at the entity, he could see nothing. It was one of those apparitions that is restricted to peripheral vision. Because, as a priest, Lionel is frequently called upon to conduct funerals, and regards comforting and helping the bereaved as one of the most important parts of his priestly work, he wondered whether the entity that had looked over his shoulder, down there in the solemn silence of the Callixtus Catacombs, had also been a priest — one who had laid to rest the mortal remains of those that lay there.”
The experience made a big impression on Lionel who tried to make sense of who he had encountered in the Callixtus Catacombs. In time, Lionel became convinced the mysterious stranger must have been an early Christian funeral priest.
This puzzling encounter raises many intriguing questions. Listeners who believe in the existence of ghosts will most likely say Lionel witnessed a spirit or phantom of some sort.
As mentioned on several occasions, the number of scientists who promote the multiverse theory is steadily increasing. If our reality is surrounded by multiple worlds invisible to our naked eye, it can occasionally happen that these worlds collide with our own and we can catch brief glimpses from other realities.
Lionel and Patrica wonder if the encounter in the catacombs could have been a time slip?
In their book, the authors ask: “Did a priest from the third or fourth century encounter a fellow priest from the twenty-first century? Did a man who had done his best to help the bereaved seventeen centuries ago glide through a mysterious portal in time to encounter a kindred spirit doing that same work today?”
Assuming this was a time slip, it cannot be denied it was a very different experience than most time slip cases reported worldwide. What is unusual about this particular case is that Lionel saw the mysterious being once again, but this time not in the catacombs. When Lionel and Patricia returned to their hotel, the sightings continued for the next 36 hours. Lionel saw brief glimpses of the same entity that simply wasn’t there in physical form.
Lionel, who thought this must have been a priest says the man seemed to be surrounded by animals, most likely sheepdogs or tamed, docile wolves. As time passed, Lionel’s peripheral visions faded until they were completely gone, and he could no longer see the unknown stranger anymore.
Lionel and Patricia think the experience was most likely a time slip and not encounter with a ghost. As a theologian, Lionel had a great deal of sympathy for Callixtus and he has wondered whether the entity he encountered could have been the deacon himself.
In their book, Lionel asks: “Could that strange figure looking over Lionel’s shoulder in the catacomb have been Callixtus himself, from the days when he was the deacon responsible for it? Did Callixtus sense that this British priest — visiting these ancient Roman burial places from a century seventeen hundred years ahead of his own — was a tolerant kindred spirit, potentially a theological comrade-in-arms who would stand beside him in his dispute with bitter opponents who held cruder, narrower, less merciful views?”
These are valid questions and the reasoning is logical, but let’s not forget that most who report time slips have no relation with the places or people they witnessed.
Thanks for listening (and be sure to stick around for the bloopers at the end)! If you like the show, please share it with someone you know who loves the paranormal or strange stories, true crime, monsters, or unsolved mysteries like you do! You can email me anytime with your questions or comments at 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 audiobooks I’ve narrated, sign up for the email newsletter, find other podcasts that I host including “Church of the Undead”, visit the store for Weird Darkness merchandise, and more. WeirdDarkness.com is also where you can find the Hope in the Darkness page if you or someone you know is struggling with depression or dark thoughts. Also on the website, if you have a true paranormal or creepy tale to tell, you can click on TELL YOUR STORY. You can find all of that and more at WeirdDarkness.com.
All stories on Weird Darkness are purported to be true unless stated otherwise, and you can find links to the stories or the authors in the show notes.
“The Callixtus Catacombs Entity” by Ellen Lloyd for Ancient Pages
“The Cursing of Christopher Case” by Gurnoor Kaur for Conspiracy Theories
“The Disappearing And Reappearing Village of Eccles” by Stacia Briggs for Eastern Daily Press
“The Vanishing of Lory Price” by Troy Taylor from his book “Bloody Illinois”
“Great Grandkids of Green Children” from Ancient Code
“How A Congressman Got Away With Murder” by Genevieve Carlton for All That’s Interesting
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… “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” – 2 Timothy 1:7 ESV
And a final thought… “How beautiful it is to find someone who asks for nothing but your company.” – Brigitte Nicole
I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me in the Weird Darkness.