“DAMIEN AND THE HORNED MAN” and More True Stories! #WeirdDarkness
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IN THIS EPISODE: Some of the most unsettling of urban legends can take place in some of the happiest places on earth. Ghostly children swinging in a playground, phantom-like warriors coming out at night in beautiful Hawaii, but there’s one I never heard of until just this morning that I had to look up… it has to do with a boy, a theme park, and a man with horns,(Damien and the Horned Man) *** In 1944 Dorothy Forstein came home from shopping and was attacked by an intruder, beat within an inch of her life. Nothing was stolen, no fingerprints left, no clue as to how the person entered the house to begin with. Dorothy recovered from her injuries… but years later she found her grim fate wasn’t done with her. (The Disappearance of Dorothy Forstein) *** SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence is continually scanning the heavens on the lookout for life elsewhere in the universe. But is it possible that somewhere on another planet out there, those beings are doing the same thing – and could actually be watching us? Scientists say that not only is it possible, but they suspect it could be over 1,000 extraterrestrial space stations are watching our every move! (Are We Being Watched By Alien Space Stations?) *** Eighteen-year-old Ellen Lucas was to be married on October 3rd – but the evening of October 2nd she went out with her fiance, never to be seen alive again. Did a horrible accident destroy the chances of this couple’s happy life together? A random act of violence? Or was it something even more sinister? (The Bridgeport Tragedy) *** She seemed the perfect American, even born to a US military doctor, graduating from a prestigious American college, and working tirelessly, doing her part to serve her country as a military analyst. What would cause this seemingly patriotic citizen to become a spy for the enemy? (Havana Ana, The Cuban Spy) *** (Originally aired February 01, 2021)
SOURCES AND REFERENCES FROM THE EPISODE…
“Damien and the Horned Man” by Jacqueline Vesey-Wells for Medium.com: https://tinyurl.com/1cexmhwy
“The Disappearance of Dorothy Forstein” by Brent Swancer for Mysterious Universe: https://tinyurl.com/4mvkogtk
“Are We Being Watched By Alien Space Stations?” by Cynthia McKanzie for Message to Eagle: https://tinyurl.com/1w50oyvq, https://tinyurl.com/85aloaw4
“The Bridgeport Tragedy” by Robert Wilhelm for Murder By Gaslight: https://tinyurl.com/3q58xd6f
“Havana Ana, The Cuban Spy” by Kieran W for Mystery Confidential: https://tinyurl.com/573j4u6e
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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 1944 Dorothy Forstein came home from shopping and was attacked by an intruder, beat within an inch of her life. Nothing was stolen, no fingerprints left, no clue as to how the person entered the house to begin with. Dorothy recovered from her injuries… but years later she found her grim fate wasn’t done with her. (The Disappearance of Dorothy Forstein)
SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence is continually scanning the heavens on the lookout for life elsewhere in the universe. But is it possible that somewhere on another planet out there, those beings are doing the same thing – and could actually be watching us? Scientists say that not only is it possible, but they suspect it could be over 1,000 extraterrestrial space stations are watching our every move! (Are We Being Watched By Alien Space Stations?)
Eighteen-year-old Ellen Lucas was to be married on October 3rd – but the evening of October 2nd she went out with her fiance, never to be seen alive again. Did a horrible accident destroy the chances of this couple’s happy life together? A random act of violence? Or was it something even more sinister? (The Bridgeport Tragedy)
She seemed the perfect American, even born to a US military doctor, graduating from a prestigious American college, and working tirelessly, doing her part to serve her country as a military analyst. What would cause this seemingly patriotic citizen to become a spy for the enemy? (Havana Ana, The Cuban Spy)
Some of the most unsettling of urban legends can take place in some of the happiest places on earth. Ghostly children swinging in a playground, phantom-like warriors coming out at night in beautiful Hawaii, but there’s one I never heard of until just this morning that I had to look up… it has to do with a boy, a theme park, and a man with horns, (Damien and the Horned Man)
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: DAMIEN AND THE HORNED MAN=====
On the 9th of June, Jenny and James Godson were taking their two boys on a family vacation to Sydney. Having already visited Taronga Zoo, they caught the ferry to Circular Quay in order to get to Luna Park at Milson’s Point.
It was whilst they were there that they encountered a busker — dressed in animal skins and a great horned headdress — and the infamous photo of Damien Godson was snapped. With the horned man’s arm around him, it was the last photo that would ever be taken of the boy.
Later that night before leaving Luna Park, the Godson’s realised that they had extra ride tickets left and the boys wanted to ride the Ghost Train with their father. Jenny — for some reason — had a craving for ice-cream and decided to give the ride a miss.
Shortly after, when Jenny returned to the Ghost Train to meet with them, she was confronted with smoke and flames erupting from the ride. Although they tried, firefighters couldn’t adequately combat the fire — in the end having to pump water from Sydney Harbor itself — and seven people died in the blaze.
Questions began to arise about the fire and how it started; claims that ranged from sabotage to faulty wiring — although it was demonstrated that the ride’s wiring was not the source of ignition. Some (including his niece) say that the owner of the park at the time — Abe Saffron — started the fire deliberately.
Some of the theories are that he owed several organizations in Sydney a large amount of money, and was looking to claim insurance from the event, not expecting anyone to actually be in the ride at such a time of night. He was charged with criminal negligence — though for failing to follow through with a variety of safety recommendations regarding the ride, not causing the fire to occur in the first place.
It was said that children would be led into a large kiln with a single entrance, then burnt alive inside. Eerily enough… of the seven victims of the fire — 6 were children. Albeit the disaster struck at a theme park… so was it coincidence that children happened to be involved? Or was the placement of the fire chosen deliberately?
Even now, people who live near to the park have reported hearing the bloodcurdling screams of children, and smelt the stench of burning plastic — even though the night is clear and the park is closed.
STORY: THE DISAPPEARANCE OF DOROTHY FORSTEIN=====
Sometimes the last person one would expect winds up being a great unexplained mystery. Our story here begins in 1944, with an otherwise unassuming and well-liked housewife and mother of three by the name of Dorothy Cooper Forstein, who lived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with her husband, magistrate Jules Forstein, who had brought to their marriage two children he’d had with his previous wife. She also had an infant son with Jules, and by all accounts Dorothy was quite happily married, and had no known problems with anyone around her whatsoever. Dorothy would have been by all appearances to have been just another upper middle class housewife, and there would have been no reason to suspect that she was going to go on to become the center of one of the strangest vanishings there is.
On the evening in January of 1944, Dorothy dropped her three children off at a friend’s house and went off to do some shopping. She came home at around nightfall and nothing seemed to be amiss at all as she let herself into her home and began to unload her groceries. Considering that this was a very safe neighborhood with no crime there would have been no reason for her to even suspect that she was in any danger at all. Unfortunately for her she was not as alone as she had thought, and from the shadows crept the form of a menacing stranger, who proceeded to pounce upon her and begin to savagely beat her. At some point in the melee a phone was knocked from the wall, and the operator on the other end heard the struggle and alerted police.
When authorities arrived they found Dorothy Forstein crumpled unconscious upon the floor, and she was found to have suffered serious injuries including a broken jaw and nose and a fractured shoulder, as well as a concussion and myriad scrapes, scratches, and bruises. When she was questioned on the attack she was unable to give any description of her assailant, as it had been too dark and she had not gotten a good look at him as she was ruthlessly beaten to within an inch of her life. It would be found that, oddly, nothing at all had been stolen from the house, and that there were no fingerprints of the mysterious trespasser to be found anywhere, nor was there any evidence as to how the intruder had gotten into the house to begin with, leaving authorities quite baffled as to what was going on. The best anyone could come up with was that it may have been carried out by a person with a grudge against her magistrate husband, but no one had any real clue, there were no suspects, and no arrests were ever made. Indeed, it is still unknown if this assault has anything to do with what would happen next.
A few years went by, and although Dorothy recovered physically, both her and her husband were still considerably troubled and shaken by the unsolved crime. They had never really gotten quite back to normal, but things were about to take a turn for the bizarre and make their paranoia justified. On the night of October 18, 1949, Jules Forstein was away on business for the evening, leaving Dorothy at home with her two youngest children, as her then 19-year-old oldest daughter was out with friends. During this time the evening was allegedly quiet and uneventful, and the neighbor would even later say that she had spoken with Dorothy on the phone and that nothing at all had seemed strange.
At around 11:30 PM, Jules came home to find quite a sight awaiting him. The house at first seemed to be empty, and he could not fathom where his family could have got off to at that hour. Going upstairs he would find his two youngest children hiding in their bedroom, cowering in fear from some unseen threat. When asked what had scared them so badly they allegedly could only say “Mommy’s gone!” over and over again. When they calmed down they would allegedly tell a very curious series of events indeed.
According to the 9-year-old daughter, Marcy, they had heard a noise and when she had looked to see what it was there had been a stranger wearing a “a brown peaked cap” and brown jacket carrying their mother’s unconscious body over his shoulder down the stairs. The girl claimed that she had asked the man what he was doing and that he had simply kindly patted her on the shoulder and calmly told her “Go back to sleep, little one, your mommy has been sick, but she will be all right now.” After that he had continued on his way down the stairs and out of the house, oddly making sure to lock the door behind him. It would be the last time anyone would ever see Dorothy Forstein again. Most surprisingly this had apparently all happened only 15 minutes before Jules had arrived at home, but there was no sign at all of where the man and Dorothy had gone.
There was a massive search carried out for the missing Dorothy Forstein, with police checking all over Philadelphia, including hospitals, nursing homes, and even morgues, all to no avail. Philadelphia police Captain James Kelly of Philadelphia’s detective bureau sent out 10,000 notices to police departments and institutions all over the country, but no trace was discovered. No sign of either her or her alleged captor has ever been found, and indeed it is not even clear as to how accurate Marcy’s account of events is. In the end we are no closer to figuring out what happened to her than we were way back in 1949, and it looks to be a disappearance that will never be solved.
Oddly, there have been some strange little details surrounding the mysterious case in the years since. One is that while the case was very widely covered in the news at the time, the story quickly went out of circulation and was sort of swept under the carpet. From around a week it was all over the news, then nothing. Currently there is very little information to be found on such a weird case, which seems odd to say the least. There is also the rather bizarre claim that articles written of on the case seem to be shut down by Forstein’s own family, which was claimed by an author and researcher named Troy Taylor, who said of the drop off the radar and subsequent cover-up of the Forstein case thus: “For decades, no further word of Dorothy Forstein appeared in print. Then, in 2003, I featured the story of Dorothy Forstein on my website and soon after I received a letter from an attorney from the Forstein family asking if the story could be removed. The letter was not threatening. It merely made an appeal for the privacy of the family members and asked if I would consider removing it out of consideration for their grief. I agreed to do so and I later learned that several sites that had also featured my article on the disappearance had received a similar letter. Why the secrecy about a 50-year-old disappearance? No one could say, and to this day no one is talking.”
This is one part of the mystery that seems to be almost as intriguing as the case itself. Why would someone want to suppress this story after so many decades, and is it even someone who is really in the family at all? Is there some sort of cover-up going on, and if so why? It is hard to say, but if this episode suddenly disappears, you know where to look. It at the very least adds a new sheen of the weird to an already strange case. In the end the case of Dorothy Forstein is a curious one that is hard to really unravel. Why did she disappear and who took her? Was it the same person who attacked her years prior? Where did she go and was the child’s account true? There are so many questions and few answers, leaving this another odd unexplained disappearance doomed to forever lurk in the realm of speculation.
When Weird Darkness returns… Scientists say it’s possible over 1,000 extraterrestrial space stations are watching us right now!
Plus, what happened to Ellen Lucas on the night before her wedding that snuffed out her life and any chance of happiness? Those stories are coming up.
STORY: ARE WE BEING WATCHED BY ALIEN SPACE STATIONS?=====
Many of us watch the night skies and wonder if anyone is out there. Are extraterrestrials on distant planets curious about us, humans? Could they be looking for traces of other alien civilizations in the same way we look for evidence of their existence?
Scientists say there can be over 1,000 extraterrestrial space stations watching us right now, without our knowledge of course.
How is it possible and how did researchers come up with these numbers?
In a paper, “Which Stars Can See Earth as a Transiting Exoplanet?” published by in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society scientists discuss which stars can see Earth as a transiting exoplanet.
According to Lisa Kaltenegger, associate professor of astronomy in the College of Arts and Sciences and director of Cornell’s Carl Sagan Institute; and Joshua Pepper, associate professor of physics at Lehigh University, scientists have identified 1,004 main-sequence stars (similar to our sun) that might contain Earth-like planets in their own habitable zones – all within about 300 light-years of Earth – and which should be able to detect Earth’s chemical traces of life.
“If observers were out there searching [from planets orbiting these stars], they would be able to see signs of a biosphere in the atmosphere of our Pale Blue Dot. And we can even see some of the brightest of these stars in our night sky without binoculars or telescopes,” Kaltenegger said in a statement.
As Mike Wall over at Space.com explains, “astronomers have found most of the more than 4,000 exoplanets discovered to date with the ‘transit method,’ which detects the tiny brightness dips caused when an orbiting world crosses its host star’s face from the observer’s perspective. Soon, researchers will also be able to scan the atmospheres of some nearby transiting planets for potential signs of life.”
Currently, we really have no clue who is out there, but it’s never wrong to speculate, and we may soon have better numbers to consider.
As Space.com reports, “the new results deal only with stars. Scientists don’t know how many planets orbit the 1,004 suns flagged by Kaltenegger and Pepper, let alone how many of these systems host worlds that may be conducive to life as we know it.”
In order to detect if planets are harboring life, however, scientists must first determine what features indicate that life is (or once was) present.
Over the last decade, astronomers have expended great effort trying to find what traces of simple forms of life—known as “biosignatures”—might exist elsewhere in the universe. But what if an alien planet hosted intelligent life that built a technological civilization?
Could there be “technosignatures” that a civilization on another world would create? Could such these type of signature be seen from Earth? And, could these technosignatures be even easier to detect than biosignatures?
Extraterrestrial watchers may indeed be out there, but it’s possible they do not wish to have any contact with humans. There are many problems on our planet, and it’s understandable if advanced alien species avoid us.
If you were a member of an alien race would you think it’s wise to initiate contact with humans? Could humanity handle contact with extraterrestrials?
According to scientists, extraterrestrials are deliberately waiting for the right moment before they reveal themselves to Earthlings.
In a recent study published by the Astronomical Journal scientists have tried to shed new light on the Fermi paradox and the Aurora Effect by investigating the existence of alien civilizations on other planets.
“We model the settlement of the Galaxy by space-faring civilizations in order to address issues related to the Fermi Paradox. We are motivated to explore the problem in a way that avoids assumptions about the agency (i.e., questions of intent and motivation) of any exo-civilization seeking to settle other planetary systems,” researchers write in their study.
Scientists started by considering the speed of an advancing settlement front to determine if the Galaxy can become inhabited with space-faring civilizations on timescales shorter than its age.
They included the directed settlement of nearby settleable systems through the launching of probes with a finite velocity and range. In addition to this, researchers also considered the effect of stellar motions on the long-term behavior of the settlement front which adds a diffusive component to its advance.
“The results of these models demonstrate that the Milky Way can be readily filled-in with settled stellar systems under conservative assumptions about interstellar spacecraft velocities and launch rates,” scientists said.
The Fermi Paradox, a concept presented by physicist Enrico Fermi regarding the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence has intrigued all researchers searching for alien life. According to the Fermi Paradox due to the number of planets and stars in the galaxy, there should be another world teeming with intelligent extraterrestrial life. If this is true, then Earth should have already been visited or at least contacted by aliens.
However, since humans have not yet come across evidence of intelligent extraterrestrial life, many doubt the existence of alien civilizations.
Researchers of the recent study say that it’s possible extraterrestrials are in close vicinity to the Earth, but they’re simply waiting for the time when Earth or the Solar System gets closer to their homeworld before sending out a probe or launching an expedition.
“If long enough is a billion years, well then that’s one solution to the Fermi paradox,” Carroll-Nellenback told Business Insider. “Habitable worlds are so rare that you have to wait longer than any civilization is expected to last before another one comes in range.”
“Every system could be habitable and could be settled, but they wouldn’t visit us because they’re not close enough,” he added.
Most people believe that humans will sooner or later establish open contact with aliens, but it’s possible certain requirements must be met before this meeting can take place. Science fiction authors and some scientists sometimes say humans will be invited to join the Galactic Club, but when this will happen is unknown.
According to David Schwartzman, a biogeochemist at Howard University in Washington D.C, there is a reason not to give up on SETI. Schwartzman thinks aliens are out there, despite the fact that the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) has only found silence. He also outlines what we need to do for planet Earth to be initiated into the Galactic Club.
“Our world will change completely once we enter the Galactic Club,” he said. “I submit that if we want to enter the Galactic Club, the challenge lies in reconstructing our global political economy. A few minor side benefits should result, like no more war, no more poverty, a future for all of humanity’s children with a substantial proportion of biodiversity intact. We should not expect the Galactic Club to save us from ourselves.”
STORY: THE BRIDGEPORT TRAGEDY=====
Ellen Lucas of Bridgeport, Connecticut, was to be married on October 3, 1874. The typically happy 18-year-old was somewhat anxious, the evening of October 2, repeatedly looking at the clock as she hastily ate supper. Ellen changed her clothes and left the house at 7:00, telling her mother that she would not be gone long. Mrs. Lucas watched her daughter walk to the corner where she met her fiancé, James E. Lattin.
Ellen never came home that night, and early the next morning, her family and friends began a search for her. The search ended when two workmen found her body, face down in a stream in a secluded spot called The Cedars, near Berkshire Pond in Northern Bridgeport.
At first, suicide was suspected, but the water in the stream was only a few inches deep, and Ellen had shown no signs of depression and had been enthusiastically preparing for her wedding. A hasty postmortem examination verified that she had not drowned, and the only mark of violence on the body was a small bruise on her forehead. The doctors also discovered that Ellen had been six months pregnant. Foul play was suspected, and James Lattin became the prime suspect.
26-year-old James Lattin was a tall and good-looking butcher’s clerk with a terrible reputation in Bridgeport. He had been married once before when he was nineteen and his bride fifteen. The marriage lasted three months, and the wife filed for divorce. He was convicted of theft and had served a term in the New Haven Jail. He became engaged once again to a young woman who died mysteriously shortly before their wedding day. A gruesome story told by several people in Bridgeport said that Lattin had, at least once, cut the paws off a dog and dipped the stumps in turpentine to see the dog squirm and hear him howl.
Ellen’s parents had objected to the marriage, but Ellen was deeply in love with Lattin. It was likely that her parents knew of Ellen’s pregnancy, and despite their opposition, they hastened the wedding day.
Investigators learned that Lattin had purchased poison from a Bridgeport druggist on September 29. They found strychnine in an old shoe in the stable where Lattin kept his horse. With this new information, the police exhumed Ellen’s body and gave the stomach to a chemist for analysis, but he found no traces of poison. The stomach did contain grains of sand and vegetable matter consistent with the stream where her body was found.
Lattin said that he had not been with Ellen that night but had been on board the schooner Josephine which was captained by his cousin. His alibi did not hold. At the inquest, a Miss Bassett testified to seeing him with Ellen earlier that evening near the train depot and heard Ellen say to him, “Now, you’ll be there, won’t you? If you are not there, you know what the consequences will be.”
At 7:00 he was seen going toward Ellen’s house, at 8:30 he was seen alone in Bridgeport by Ellen’s two sisters. A crew member of the Josephine testified that Lattin had slept on the schooner but had not come aboard until late that night.
A woman named Mattie Smith testified at the inquest that Lattin had asked her if she knew of any medicine to produce abortion; he did not want to marry, because he had some other girl he was paying attention to. He said he was engaged to a girl who was with child, and he wanted to get rid of it.
Though the cause of death was still unknown, the coroner’s jury ruled that Ellen Lucas had died by violence at the hands of James E. Lattin.
The murder generated great excitement in Bridgeport, and it was reported that the murder scene was visited by hundreds of people daily. When the trial began on February 23, crowds gathered early at the courthouse. By 10:00, the courtroom, as well as halls and stairways, were packed with spectators. The sheriff barred the front door with two long ladders to prevent any more from entering and detailed two extra police officers to maintain order in the hallways.
Believing that a fair jury trial in Bridgeport was impossible, Lattin’s attorneys took advantage of a statute recently adopted in Connecticut and elected to be tried by two judges instead of a jury.
The trial heard by Judges Beardsley and Sanford went on for two weeks. After the final arguments, the judges deliberated and returned a verdict of second-degree murder. Judge Sanford explained their reasoning in great detail. While the judges were satisfied that Lattin killed Ellen Lucas, the circumstantial evidence did not meet the standard of proof required for first-degree murder. They sentenced James E. Lattin to State Prison for the term of his natural life.
The Samford Advocate summarized the crime this way: “The details of this diabolical crime place Lattin in the light of a merciless brute who, feigning love (a commodity of which his soul is incapable) to this unfortunate girl, gained her confidence, and having accomplished his unholy purposes, enticed her, in the midst of her trials, to an out-of-the-way ravine, and deliberately took her life—committing a double murder.”
Coming up… She seemed the perfect American, even born to a US military doctor, graduating from a prestigious American college, and working tirelessly, doing her part to serve her country as a military analyst. What would cause this seemingly patriotic citizen to become a spy for the enemy? The story of Havana Ana, when Weird Darkness returns.
STORY: HAVANA ANA, THE CUBAN SPY=====
The fictional world of espionage will often depict James Bond or Jason Bourne fighting off a gang of hulking goons before scaling a skyscraper and then driving a sports car off a bridge – their downtime will consist of lavish drinks and beautiful women.
The reality is something far more subversive and far more mundane. Real-life spying requires a patience and slow exacting nature that is far removed from explosions and fist fights. Spying after all is a dirty trade of dirty lies and dirty secrets, Bond creator Ian Fleming said so himself.
This is the story of Ana Montes; a mild-mannered, shy and retiring intelligence analyst working tirelessly for the American government. It would take a long time before anybody cottoned on to the fact that Ana lived a secret life as a Cuban double agent. Ana had access to the most sensitive of data of the American military and shared it with her Cuban cohorts.
Ana seemed like the perfect American on paper – she was even an army brat. She was born in West Germany to a United States Army doctor. She was educated at the University of Virginia and then obtained her masters at John Hopkins. Ana was a bright, intelligent and seemingly patriotic American, the mind boggles at how somebody so ordinary could even become a double agent for a hostile foreign nation and how a top intelligence analyst within the American government managed to live on a pyramid of lies. Beyond the lies and secrets that Ana kept while in the office; Ana also had a quiet private life that her colleagues barely knew about. She was totally conspicuous, the way a double agent should be.
The damage that Ana did to her home nation wasn’t just in telling harmless office tales. Things are never that easy…
Ana knowingly put American troops and civilians into harm’s way until her arrest in 2001 and it is impossible to know the full extent of how much damage she caused but lives were lost from Ana’s dirty work.
Cuba are not a great military threat to the United States (in terms of sheer military force) and it is hard to really imagine the potential physical damage that Cuba could do to their giant neighbors. Instead; Cuba are the best in the world at selling secrets. They’ve made a niche out of selling US military secrets to other nations such as China, Russia, Iran and North Korea. And this is how the Cuban government try to combat their enemy. While Cuba often look like the smaller beguiled nation living just outside of America’s shadow. They operate with their own cunning and ingenuity. Fidel Castro was after all a genius at politics.
The Cuban Intelligence Directorate, commonly known as G2, were initially trained by the KGB upon their foundation and throughout their 40-year history they have operated in Chile, Grenada, Nicaragua and Vietnam but surely their greatest ever coup was putting an agent deep in the American DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency).
Montes’ recruitment into the G2 and her relationship with Cuba evolved out of Montes’ anger at US foreign policy while still a student earning her degree in foreign relations. Her ire at American foreign policy drew the attention of talent-spotting Cubans and they sought to recruit Ana, this was all the way back in the mid-1980s before she even got a job in government. Montes’ anger was likely a result of her Puerto Rican ancestry and the feelings against America’s constant intervention in Latin America.
Just after her recruitment Ana applied for a job within the DIA in a clerical functions. This meant that Ana would handle matters of defense and the most classified military secrets.
Ana was an award-winning member of the DIA; one of the core reasons Ana was never caught for so long was the fact that she never took any documents to her home and worked with a tenacity and ambition within the office that sought admirers instead of enemies. Ana memorized all of the information she got her hands on and would later type them up on her personal laptop. She would then transfer the information onto encrypted messages for her Cuban handlers. Ana received all of her own instructions by the Cuban handlers on a short-wave radio. Montes tenaciously managed her double life. A rising star in both Washington and Havana – with Fidel himself having been aware of Montes – she was a prefect analyst by day and at night she was frantically typing up the memorized messages to Havana.
During this period of intense spying, the quiet, resolute and ambitious Ana managed to rise through the ranks of the DIA.
Ana was considered a model employee and would often be given as an example to follow for new starters at the agency; Ana eventually became the Cuban-expert (nicknamed the Queen of Cuba) within the DIA and dealt intensely with Cuban affairs. The only suspicion that her colleagues had on her were the potentially more ‘left leaning’ political beliefs that Ana held, however even with this, Ana managed to pass a polygraph during a round of questioning and keep under the radar for almost twenty years.
The most incredible thing about Ana’s activity was that she was not even paid for taking such risks, the motives being solely politically motivated. This is in contrast to other agents that were paid in the millions for selling secrets – greedy double agents such as Aldrich Ames, that took home sacks of cash.
The DIA had strong beliefs that there was a Cuban mole in their midst. In 1996 the Cuban military shot down a plane piloted by BROTHERS TO THE RESCUE, a Cuban resistance organisation based in America. The Americans claimed that this was an act of aggression against a civilian plane with the Cubans stating the opposite. This incident alerted suspicions into how the Cuban government were so prepared for the plane before the shooting and if they had been tipped-off. Questions were raised into the possibility of a double agent.
While called to consult at an internal meeting at the Pentagon after this incident, Montes broke protocol by failing to remain on duty until dismissed. This raised suspicion within the agency. Scott Carmichael was an investigator that took an immediate reaction to Ana and soon others were alerted.
Was her sparkling record just too good to be true? What about the trips Ana made to Guantanamo Bay? Why was Ana always so willing to go to Cuba?
Counterintelligence officer Scott Carmichael said, after meeting Ana and carrying out a search for all DIA employees and potential moles: “The moment I saw her name, I knew.”
The gut-reaction that any intelligence agent will tell you overwhelms the facts and evidence and proof they may have at the time; the instincts you hone over years and years of talking to people – you just know. Carmichael was positive he had his woman after profiling Ana.
The FBI soon joined forces with the DIA to actually catch Montes in the act of spying. The two agencies tapped her phones, staked her out, they followed Ana intensely and they noticed her patterns… for four years.
They found the payphones around Washington D.C where Ana was stopping to make calls and traced the numbers to pagers in New York which were linked to suspected Cuban agents.
The most ingenious sting of all was to set up an urgent meeting at work with Ana during which they could access and search her purse (which she left at her desk). It was inside her purse that they found encrypted notes that Montes was passing to her handlers. From 1985 until 2001 Ana Montes had managed to live a double life of working in the higher echelons of national defense and for the Cuban government at the same time. Ana Montes was arrested just ten days after 9/11.
It is impossible to really know the full extent of Ana’s spying and in sixteen years you can never find out all of the state secrets that she managed to sell. Perhaps Ana doesn’t even know herself.
Ana made a plea bargain in avoidance of the death penalty in a plea agreement with the prosecutors and was then debriefed by the US Government, but despite this it is impossible to know just how much she gave away to an enemy state. Carmichael believes that Montes’ secret sharing lead directly to the death of an American soldier operating in El Salvador in March of 1987. Montes had only recently visited El Salvador that year and knew the precise location of the camp where Special Forces were operating before being attacked by rebel forces.
Once the gig was up, the Cuban government washed their hands of the agent and left her out to dry. Ana was subsequently sentenced to 25 years in prison, a lenient sentence for high treason. Ana may very well be a free woman by 2027. This is subject to five years-probation.
Ana’s own lawyer Plato Cacheris said the espionage was a moral crusade against the evils of American imperialism. Ana felt so strongly that the Cubans were subject to American strong-arming for too long. Being a Puerto Rican it is arguable that the imperialism against her own nation may have lit the fuse of revolt.
The fact that somebody who was working completely under the radar of any investigators for such a long time and can climb to the highest ranks of the US defense is an eye opener for anybody that works in state security.
Ana maintained a double-life and worked with a Joan of Arc-like commitment that went far beyond money and greed. The mystery remains as to how many other operatives are now (as of the time of my recording this episode) selling the secrets that keep Americans (or any other nation) safe…
After all Ana Montes wasn’t even the most famous Ana to be caught spying against America. There would later be the Russian spy Anna Chapman, caught nearly 10-years later in a major Russian spy ring.
It is often the case in geopolitics – the enemies walk amongst us.
Thanks for listening (and be sure to stick around for the bloopers at the end)! If you like the show, please share it with someone you know who loves the paranormal or strange stories, true crime, monsters, or unsolved mysteries like you do! You can email me anytime with your questions or comments at email@example.com. WeirdDarkness.com is also where you can find information on any of the sponsors you heard about during the show, find all of my social media, listen to audiobooks I’ve narrated, sign up for the email newsletter, find other podcasts that I host including “Church of the Undead”, 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.
“Damien and the Horned Man” by Jacqueline Vesey-Wells for Medium.com
“The Disappearance of Dorothy Forstein” by Brent Swancer for Mysterious Universe
“Are We Being Watched By Alien Space Stations?” by Cynthia McKanzie for Message to Eagle
“The Bridgeport Tragedy” by Robert Wilhelm for Murder By Gaslight
“Havana Ana, The Cuban Spy” by Kieran W for Mystery Confidential
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Now that we’re coming out of the dark, I’ll leave you with a little light… “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” – Galatians 5:13
And a final thought… “Never apologize for how much love you have to give. Just feel sorry for those who didn’t want any of it.” – Unknown
I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me in the Weird Darkness.