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IN THIS EPISODE: It began in early April, 1971 and continued for several weeks. Numerous calls, fifty in total, all reporting sighting a strange beast – half human, half wolf. Possibly female. What were the people of Mobile, Alabama witnessing? (The Wolf Woman of Mobile Alabama) *** You know someone is truly evil when their own children are warning the public about them while the parent is in prison. That’s exactly what the daughter of serial killer Shelly Knotek has been doing. (Serial Killer Landlady) *** Was U.S. President Abraham Lincoln’s mother actually killed by vampires? (Abe Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) *** It began as a sharing of a water source between properties… then accusations of improper relations… and it escalated to murder in 1895 Indiana. But who killed the beautiful, young Clara Shanks? (The Wolf Creek Tragedy) *** Six young boys were out playing when suddenly a bolt of lightning came crashing down near them. That’s when they saw the tiny, strange-looking blue man. (Strange Tales of Little Blue Men) *** The loneliness of isolation during the mandated quarantine from the current pandemic can be stressful for some, torturous for others, and terrifying for some – particularly those who are forced to stay indoors in a home that is also haunted. 
(Quarantining With a Ghost) *** (Originally aired June 02, 2020)

BOOK: “If You Tell: A True Story of Murder, Family Secrets, and the Unbreakable Bond of Sisterhood” by Gregg Olsen: https://amzn.to/3cqoXOq
“Quarantining With a Ghost” by Molly Fitzpatrick for The New York Times: https://tinyurl.com/ybwphplt, and Paul Guzzo for the Tampa Bay Times: https://tinyurl.com/y97lg8nc
“The Wolf Woman of Mobile Alabama” by Rev. Robin Swope for Paranormal Pastor: https://tinyurl.com/y7hd7scc
“Abe Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” by Buck Wolf for Live About: https://tinyurl.com/ybwx5tyz
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Kurt Schleicher lives in one of the Tampa Bay area’s most infamous murder houses. In 1933, Victor Licata slaughtered his parents and three siblings with an ax inside his Ybor City home. Today, a chill passes through the bathroom that was once the bedroom where two of the children were killed, Schleicher said. He hears knocking noises throughout the house and his dog barks at the bedroom where the mother and another child were murdered. “I’ve always thought the house is haunted,” Schleicher said. “I think about it more now because I am here all the time. There is no place to go. There is no place to hide.” He is not alone in wondering if something otherworldly is happening at his house. Others self-isolating wonder if they have uninvited company from the afterlife. Are they quarantined with ghosts?
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…

It began in early April, 1971 and continued for several weeks. Numerous calls, fifty in total, all reporting sighting a strange beast – half human, half wolf. Possibly female. What were the people of Mobile, Alabama witnessing? (The Wolf Woman of Mobile Alabama)

You know someone is truly evil when their own children are warning the public about them while the parent is in prison. That’s exactly what the daughter of serial killer Shelly Knotek has been doing. (Serial Killer Landlady)

Was U.S. President Abraham Lincoln’s mother actually killed by vampires? (Abe Lincoln: Vampire Hunter)

It began as a sharing of a water source between properties… then accusations of improper relations… and it escalated to murder in 1895 Indiana. But who killed the beautiful, young Clara Shanks? (The Wolf Creek Tragedy)

Six young boys were out playing when suddenly a bolt of lightning came crashing down near them. That’s when they saw the tiny, strange-looking blue man. (Strange Tales of Little Blue Men)

The loneliness of isolation during the mandated quarantine from the current pandemic can be stressful for some, torturous for others, and terrifying for a select few – particularly those who are forced to stay indoors in a home that is also haunted. 
(Quarantining With a Ghost)

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!

“I expect an uptick in people who notice they might have spirits,” said Lakeland Florida’s Miki Strange — yes, “Strange” is her real last name — a paranormal investigator with Tampa Bay Spirits.
“Normally we’re all in such a rush to get homework done, dinner done and to bed at a decent time that we don’t have the time to be quiet and pay attention.”
Now, she said, most people are home nearly all day.
“They start hearing things or seeing stuff they didn’t notice before,” Strange said. “They question what it could be and because they can’t get away from it and go to work it bothers them more and more.”
Still, her team of investigators first look for physical explanations of odd occurrences.
“Rodent problems, an issue with electricity,” she said. “We try to rule out everything with a normal explanation.”
Amanda Hagood is seeking answers about her Gulfport home.
An administrator at Eckerd College, Hagood estimates she was awake at her house for an average of seven hours a day when she could go to the office. Now working from home, that number is up to 17.
“My house does make more noise than I was previously aware of — bumps and sounds I can’t totally explain,” she said. “My house was built in 1938, so I would not rule out that it is settling.”
Still, Hagood said, “I can’t be 100 percent certain of anything,” so she also wonders if the noises are otherworldly.
Perhaps there is a physical reason for the noises in his home, Kurt Schleicher of the Licata murder house said. And maybe his barking dog is just crazy, he laughed.
But there is no explanation for the chill that occasionally blows through his bathroom, said Schleicher, who is running his S3 Media marketing company from home during the pandemic. “I’ve checked the air conditioning vent and it doesn’t blow where the chill is and there is no draft coming from outside.”
Cathy Salustri, a freelance writer, wants to find a rational explanation for what occurs at her Gulfport home.
She regularly wakes during the night to see what appear to be ghosts standing in her bedroom.
“There is somebody there in a formal blue uniform and women with their hair up,” Salustri said. “I’ll be awake with my heart pounding and wake my husband, and he won’t see it. Only I do. It’s creepy. Are they ghosts? Is it only in my mind?”
It’s been occurring for 14 months, Salustri said, but has become more bothersome since self-isolation began. “I don’t have as much to do or anywhere to go. I didn’t used to have time to chew it over in my brain. Now, I have more time for that.”
As leader of the paranormal investigator team Spirits of St. Petersburg, Brandy Stark said she has received seven requests in recent weeks from area residents who want her to check out their homes when social distancing measures are lifted.
Most are hearing and seeing strange things for the first time now that they are home more. But one is a past client complaining that the spirits with whom they share a house are busier than ever.
Stark, who won’t share the homeowner’s name, said toys are turning on by themselves, items are disappearing and knocking noises echo throughout the house.
That home had been quiet since around December, Stark said. “So, what changed? An adult child who came back to stay has been very upset with the quarantine. Ghosts sometimes respond to the emotional state. The more agitated you become, the more agitated they become.”
Others experiencing a new or more intense haunting while in self-isolation might have curious ghosts, said Cahni Konig, a paranormal investigator residing in Seffner.
A little boy has haunted her home for five years, Konig said, typically opening and closing the baby gate once put up for her now 7-year-old daughter, sneaking into the bathroom or running back and forth in her kitchen.
Also a hypnotherapist, Konig has only been visiting her office for five hours a week since self-isolating. Now, she feels like new spirits are watching her at home.
“I see shadows peeking into my room out of the corner of my eye,” she said. “I think they are wondering why I am suddenly always here.”
Ghosts don’t just haunt houses, Konig added, they also haunt businesses, and such spirits may act out due to suddenly living in isolation as employees work from home.
“They can claim the space again,” Konig said.
That’s the case for the office building in Brandon where she rents a suite, Konig said. “When I am there now, alone since everyone is home, I hear more footsteps more than ever in the hallway and doors opening and closing. It feels like there is a heavy cloud over the building.”
The same phenomena are occurring at the Art Lofts of St. Petersburg, according to Stark, who rents space there.
“We can still come and go but it is closed to the public so it is a lot emptier,” she said. “The resident entity has been quiet for the past three months but can now be heard again. I wonder if he is lonely.”
Kurt Schleicher, who I introduced you to at the beginning of this episode, is lonely too.
His wife, Diane Schleicher, is president of Arroyo Process Equipment, an essential business because it produces industrial pumps for citrus, phosphate and other processing operations.
So, she is at her Bartow office during the day, leaving Schleicher alone to think about the murders that occurred there.
News archives report that Licata told police that he never killed anyone.
Rather, while he slept, Licata said, his parents pulled him from bed, held him against the wall, sawed off his arms with a knife and jabbed wooden arms with iron claws into his stumps while his siblings laughed. So, Licata said he grabbed a “funny ax” — rubbery, like it was from a cartoon — and knocked each of his family members unconscious with it then wrung blood from it as though it was a wet towel.
The state attorney blamed Licata’s dementia and schizophrenia. But the Federal Bureau of Narcotics later blamed marijuana and pushed that theory to lead a successful campaign to tax the sale and use of the drug. That was first time the federal government regulated marijuana and it eventually led to the criminalization of marijuana.
When Schleicher purchased the home two years ago, V-shaped chunks were missing from the windowsill of the bedroom he turned into the bathroom. Schleicher wonders if they were left behind from the axe attack.
Schleicher says he is accustomed to living in a haunted house, claiming his last residence in Bartow was too.
Still, it is one thing to hear bumps in the night, he said. It’s another to deal with those bumps all day, every day. “You can get used to it happening but it still catches you off guard every time. I need a break from it.”
At this point you must be wondering “what is up with Florida?” Well, more than usual that is. But the quarantined ghost stories are everywhere. On the other side of the USA is Adrian Gomez.
For Adrian Gomez, it started with the front door. Adrian lives with his partner in Los Angeles, where their first few days of sheltering in place for the coronavirus pandemic proved uneventful. They worked remotely, baked, took a two-mile walk each morning and refinished their porcelain kitchen sink. But then, one night, the doorknob began to rattle “vigorously,” so loud he could hear it from across the apartment. Yet no one was there.
In mid-April, Mr. Gomez was in bed when a nearby window shade began shaking against the window frame so intensely — despite the fact that the window was closed, an adjacent window shade remained perfectly still, the cats were all accounted for, and no bug nor bird nor any other small creature had gotten stuck there — that Mr. Gomez thought it was an earthquake.
“I very seriously hid myself under the comforter, like you see in horror movies, because it really did freak me out,” he said.
Now, though neither he nor his partner noticed any unexplained activity at home before this, the couple can “distinctly” make out footsteps above their heads. No one lives above them.
“I’m a fairly rational person,” said Mr. Gomez, who is 26 and works in I.T. support. “I try to think, ‘What are the reasonable, tangible things that could be causing this?’ But when I don’t have those answers, I start to think, ‘Maybe something else is going on.’”
They’re not alone … possibly in more ways than one.
For those whose experience of self-isolation involves what they believe to be a ghost, their days are punctuated not just by Zoom meetings or home schooling, but by disembodied voices, shadowy figures, misbehaving electronics, invisible cats cozying up on couches, caresses from hands that aren’t there and even, in some cases — to borrow the technical parlance of “Ghostbusters” — free-floating, full-torso vaporous apparitions.
Some of these people are frightened, of course. Others say they just appreciate the company.
There is no scientific evidence for the existence of ghosts, a fact that has little bearing on our collective enthusiasm for them. According to a 2019 YouGov survey, 45 percent of U.S. adults believe in ghosts; in 2009, the Pew Research Center found that 18 percent of Americans believe themselves to have seen or otherwise encountered one.
Before stay-at-home restrictions in New York, Patrick Hinds, 42, left Manhattan with his husband and daughter to spend six weeks at an “adorable” cottage in western Massachusetts that they rented on Airbnb.
One night, Mr. Hinds woke up around 3 a.m., thirsty for a glass of water. He said he walked into the kitchen and saw a white man in his 50s, wearing a well-worn, World War II-era military uniform and cap sitting at the table.
“It seemed normal in the split second before I realized, Wait, what’s happening? And as I turned to look, he was gone,” said Mr. Hinds, who is the host of the podcast “True Crime Obsessed.” “It didn’t feel menacing at all. It almost didn’t even occur to me to tell my husband the next morning.”
If you were to accept the premise that ghosts are real, it stands to reason that some tension would naturally result once their flesh-and-blood roommates start spending much, much more time at home together.
John E.L. Tenney, who describes himself as a paranormal researcher and is a former host of the TV show “Ghost Stalkers,” estimates that he received two to five reports of a haunted house each month in 2019. Lately, it’s been more like five to 10 in a week.
Mr. Tenney has seen something like this before: In 1999, immediately before Y2K, he witnessed a spike in reported ghost and poltergeist activity, as well as U.F.O. sightings (which, in his experience, are also on the rise in this moment). “It does seem to have something to do with our heightened state of anxiety, our hyper-vigilance,” he said.
Mr. Tenney has no doubt that the vast majority of these cases in his inbox are “completely explainable” in nature. “When the sun comes up and the house starts to warm up, they’re usually at work — they’re not used to hearing the bricks pop and the wood expand,” he said. “It’s not that the house wasn’t making those sounds. They just never had the time to notice it.”
Or did they? Janie Cowan believes she’s been haunted since college. The ghost she calls Matthew (a “good, biblical name” chosen in the hopes it would keep him on his best behavior, explained Mrs. Cowan, who is 26) has historically made his presence known in her Nashville home through the sounds of someone running up and down the staircase at night.
The noises are “not like a house settling, or like our cat walking around,” said her husband, Will Cowan, a 31-year-old accountant. “It’s very clearly out to get attention.”
Around the same time the couple began to self-isolate in March, Mr. Cowan started to use their guest bathroom so that his wife, a home health nurse who has been picking up more night shifts during the pandemic, could sleep in without the sounds of his morning routine disturbing her.
He has found that Matthew, who both spouses agree prefers Mrs. Cowan, doesn’t seem to appreciate these changes. On three separate occasions, while showering in the guest bath, Mr. Cowan has been unexpectedly blasted with cold water. But it wasn’t just a quirk of the plumbing: Every time, he said, he reached out to find that the hot-water nozzle had been turned off.
Madison Hill, 24, is riding out the pandemic with her boyfriend in her apartment in Florence, Italy. Ms. Hill, a writer and teacher originally from Charlotte, N.C., had always had her suspicions about her home, particularly the bathroom. There was the sense that someone was watching her, doors slamming, towels inexplicably on the floor.
A few weeks into quarantine, she woke up to find something on her nightstand that did not belong there. It was a camera lens, one she’d brought from the United States but lost when she moved in. She had long given up on ever finding it. But here it was.
Since then, other small objects, including a set of keys, have moved to strange new places inside her apartment. The reappearance of the camera lens in particular struck her as a “mischievous,” playful gesture — perhaps even a thoughtful suggestion that this could be the perfect time for Ms. Hill, who majored in film in college, to pick her old hobby back up.
Kerry Dunlap shares a one-bedroom apartment in the Ridgewood neighborhood of Queens with his girlfriend, Alexandra Cohl. Mr. Dunlap, a 31-year-old teacher, rapper and concert promoter, believes he first met their resident ghost last summer.
He saw her in the bathroom, in the middle of the night: wearing green scrubs, standing an arm’s length away from him. She appeared to be glowing. The woman vanished when he turned on the light. Mr. Dunlap knew that one of the friends the couple is subleasing from had spotted a ghost in the apartment; both agreed they’d seen an older Asian woman of small stature.
Mr. Dunlap and Ms. Cohl, a 27-year-old writer and editor, used to find themselves in a routine late-night tug of war over the too-small comforter they shared. Several weeks ago, Mr. Dunlap woke late at night to the sensation of what he assumed was Ms. Cohl adjusting the blanket at his feet to spread it evenly across the bed. When the movement stopped and he didn’t feel his girlfriend climb into bed beside him, he called out to her. She didn’t answer.
Then she came back in from the bathroom.
“It was so weird, dude,” Mr. Dunlap said. “It was so weird.” But the incident left him and Ms. Cohl with a lingering positive impression: like whoever — or whatever — it was had been trying to make the couple feel more comfortable, or to mediate a potential conflict between them before it happened.
Kurt Gray, an associate professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, studies how we perceive and treat the minds of other entities, including animals, machines and the dead. Times of great unease or malaise, when there is an increased drive to find meaning in chaos, can lend themselves to perceived hauntings, he said — not to mention that disease itself shares certain psychological parallels with a “malevolent spirit,” creeping invisibly upon its unsuspecting victims.
This phenomenon could also be a side effect of the loneliness of our time. “In quarantine, you are physically confined and also psychologically confined. Your world narrows,” Mr. Gray said. “You’re trapped at home, you’re needing human contact — it’s comforting to think that there’s a supernatural agent here with you.”
For Danielle, a 39-year-old lawyer, isolation predates this pandemic. (The Times agreed to not use her last name, to protect her professional reputation.) She has been recovering at her home in Richmond, British Columbia, since contracting an unrelated serious illness over the winter.
She first experienced strange activity in February, she said, when she kept walking into her guest bedroom to find a particular lamp turned on, although she had no memory of leaving it that way. This happened again, and again, and again, until, on a whim, she said aloud, “Don’t turn that back on.”
The next time she entered the room, she found the ceiling light — which she never, ever switches on — blazing. On more than one occasion, she has heard the voices of a man and a woman having a conversation she couldn’t quite make out.
More recently, she was sewing face masks in the same bedroom. She had exactly enough fabric left to make one more mask, but when she briefly turned away from the ironing board where she’d just pressed the double cotton gauze, the two remaining pieces disappeared.
“It was gone,” Danielle said. “Like, in a 20-second period, gone. I went and checked the garbage pail, nothing. Checked the recycling, nothing. My fabric stash, nothing. I tore the house apart looking for these two pieces of fabric, and they have never come back.”
Danielle describes herself as a highly social person, someone whose friends and family had worried about how she’d fare cooped up all by herself. “This kind of feels like someone popping by to cheer me up, or keep tabs, or make sure that I’m not feeling alone,” she said.
If the idea of a paranormal identity can provide someone “a little bit of social sustenance” to help them endure their solitude, Mr. Gray said, then great. At least, as long as the ghost isn’t advising its hauntees to “go into emergency rooms without a mask and French kiss everybody,” he said.
Are you troubled by strange noises in the middle of the night? Do you experience feelings of dread in your basement or attic? “Don’t panic,” said Mr. Tenney, the “Ghost Stalkers” host. Take careful notes on what you observe. You may soon find a rational explanation for your fears. What if that strange noise at 2:50 p.m. every weekday is just the UPS truck clattering by?
But Mr. Tenney also offers this: One could argue that the ghost puttering around in your kitchen is not only there, but that she’s always been there. Maybe you’re what’s changed. Or maybe you’re listening more closely in the greater quiet all around us. “Perhaps we’re just now starting to notice that the world is a little bit weirder than we gave it credit for.”

Coming up… In April of 1971 numerous people were reporting a strange creature which could be described as a female werewolf. Is that truly what it was?
The daughter of a serial killer tries to warn the public before her mother leaves prison.
And what began as two families sharing a water source between their properties ended in the murder of a beautiful young daughter and accusations of improper relations. Who murdered Clara Shanks? These stories and more when Weird Darkness returns!

For weeks in early April 1971, residents of the Mobile Alabama suburbs of Port City and Plateau had encounters with a strange and bizarre creature.
Since the dawn of civilization legends of half human half animal creatures have tantalized the curious and helped build mythologies. The Werewolf is one of the more popular of these anthropomorphic creatures and familiar to us because they have roots in both European and American Indian folklore.
The European tradition is the more familiar strain of the legend concerning the transforming wolf/human. The transformed being was usually an evil man in league with the Devil who would terrorize and feast on the flesh of the innocent population.
In the Native American culture the werewolf is associated with the skin walker. The skin walker can transform him or herself into an animal for a period of time. Like in the European lore, this person uses evil or culturally offensive means to gain the ability to transform, and they cause chaos and violence in the community while transformed.
The Wolf Woman of Davis Avenue was a classical wereperson; it’s upper body was that of a human and the lower limbs were that of a wolf.
She made her appearance in the very beginning of April when it began to roam the streets at night. One witness described it as “a woman and wolf, pretty and hairy.” After the initial report in the Mobile Register, the newspaper received over 50 calls of encounters and sightings over the following week.
Citizens were chased by the creature, stalked, and saw it roaming in their backyards.
No one was hurt or assaulted, and the police took the investigation seriously for the sheer number of reported sightings.
But after little more than 10 days the creature disappeared, never to be seen again.
So what was it?
Witnesses described it as having the upper body of a beautiful woman and the back quarters of a wolf. It ran on all fours, as a wolf would. Most of the sightings took place at night by terrified witnesses.
Perhaps a feral woman? It certainly would not be the first child to supposedly be raised by wolves and then mimic the traits of their adoptive species.
Take the Lobo Wolf Girl of Devil’s River…according to Feralchildren.com:
“In May of 1835, the Wolf Girl of Devil’s River was born to Mollie Dent, who had gone with her husband to the Beaver Lake area to trap. Mollie was having problems with the birth, so her husband, John Dent, rode to get help from a Mexican-run goat ranch on the Pecos Canyon, but he was struck and killed by lightning before he could return accompanied by the Mexican couple. By the time the Mexicans reached Mollie, she had died, apparently in childbirth. Wolf tracks in the vicinity suggested that the newborn infant had been devoured by the lobo wolves of the area.
However, in 1845 a boy saw a girl, in the company of a pack of lobo wolves, attacking a herd of goats. Less than a year later, a Mexican woman at San Felipe saw two large wolves and a girl devour a freshly-killed goat. She observed the girl run off — first on all fours, and then on two legs.
A hunt was mounted, and after three days the Lobo Girl of Devil’s River was caught after fighting wildly to keep her freedom. She was taken to a ranch (really just a two-room hovel) and locked in. Her howling attracted answering cries from wolves far and wide, and a large pack of wolves rushed the corrals, attacking the goats, cows and horses. Shooting started, and in the confusion the girl managed to remove the board nailed over the window and make her escape.
In 1852, a group of frontiersmen surveying a better route to El Paso saw a girl suckling two wolf cubs on a sand bar in the river, who then ran off, carrying the cubs. She would have been 17 in that year; but she was never seen again.”
Was the creature sighted by the Mobile Alabama community merely a grown feral child who was mistaken as an animal because of it’s method of walking on all fours and disheveled appearance?
Or was it a skin walker who manifest itself on those late spring nights so long ago?
The community was in an uproar, and the community dared not to venture out at night. Doors that were usually open to invite neighbors for a welcome time of Southern fellowship were closed and locked. For a time in April 1971 the Mobile community was gripped in fear.
Which would be the desired outcome if the creature truly was a practitioner of the Witchery Way, however using the pelt of a wolf or coyote is a strict taboo for a skin walker.
Perhaps the original writers of the story got it right. In the article the author calls the creature an ‘apparition’ and ‘phantom’.
Something truly terrifying manifested itself in Mobile almost 50 years ago, and then vanished into the ethereal mist of time.
Where does the Wolf Woman lurk now?

In 2003, Michelle Knotek, 50, was sentenced to 22 years in prison for abusing her kids and subjecting her friends and relatives to a campaign of terror before killing them. Ahead of her scheduled release in 2022—after 19 years of her prison term—her kids have spoken up about their mother, warning others of how big a manipulator she is.
“I just wanted people to finally really know the truth. When my mum comes out of prison, I don’t want her to be able to hide it. She’s the biggest manipulator of anyone I’ve ever met. I don’t think that she could ever outgrow that. I don’t think that she could ever change—I just wanted to save other people from her manipulation,” Sami Knotek, presently a 41-year-old teacher and mother-of-three told the Sun.
Sami was nine years old and her sister Nikki was 12 when their mother, Michelle, who was better known as Shelly—a two-time divorcée with two young daughters—met their stepfather, David Knotek, a mild-mannered navy veteran in 1987. Their relationship was far from normal. David, who fell head-over-heels in love with Shelly, discovered that she had a violent side and would often slap him and resort to other forms of abuse against him. Being a submissive man, he was unable to stand up to Shelly and soon became an accomplice in the violence. The couple went on to have their own daughter, Tori, in 1989.
Shelly and David lived in the small town of Raymond, Washington, and as their kids grew older, they began to provide shelter for some of their friends and relatives who needed help after falling into hard times. For example, Shelly’s 13-year-old nephew Shane Watson was taken in by the couple in 1988 after his absentee father and mother, who struggled with substance abuse, was unable to provide a stable home for him. Later that year, Shelly’s hairdresser friend Kathy Loreno lost her job and moved in with the Knoteks. In 1999, military veteran Ron Woodworth came to stay with the family after losing his own home.
However, the houseguests started disappearing under mysterious circumstances and Shelly started making vague excuses for their disappearances. The deaths went unnoticed for years till their three daughters approached the local sheriff’s office to recount the horrors. Shelly was charged with the torture deaths of Kathy Loreno and Ronald Woodworth and David was charged with the fatal shooting of Shane Watson.
While Shelly entered an Alford plea, which meant she was not admitting guilt but acknowledged a jury would find her guilty, on charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter in both deaths, David, then 51, was sentenced to 15 years before being released early in 2016. Knotek, now 65, is expected to be released from the Washington Corrections Center for Women two years later.
Recently, a book published on Shelly’s crimes, ‘If You Tell: A True Story of Murder, Family Secrets, and the Unbreakable Bond of Sisterhood’ by New York Times bestselling author Gregg Olsen laid bare the details behind the abuse and deaths she was responsible for.  (I’ve placed a direct link to that book in the show notes.) According to the New York Post, the three daughters of the inmate reached out to Olsen because they were concerned about their mother’s release. “My mother was like a ticking time bomb,” Nikki recalled in the book. “I never knew when she would go off.”
Shelly’s daughters accuse her of physically and mentally abusing them over the course of years, from the time they hit adolescence. They were regularly forced to sleep outside the house. They, along with Watson, would be made to stand outside naked in the middle of the night in freezing temperatures while being doused with ice-cold water. Sometimes they were forced to take off their clothes and roll around in the mud. Such punishments were branded, “wallowing,” which were inflicted for “crimes” such as visiting the bathroom without asking.
Other abuses Shely subjected her daughters to ranged from forcing them to chop off tufts of their pubic hair as she laughed at their embarrassment to locking them up in a kennel or chicken coop. She also forced her eldest daughter Nikki to dance together naked with Shane to humiliate them. During one school holiday she shoved Nikki head-first through a glass door.  As her face was dripping with blood, Shelly shouted, “Look what you made me do.”
To make sure that no one at her daughters’ school got a hint of the abuse she was subjecting them to, she would tend to their injuries herself, making sure that they were properly hidden from the public eye. The girls were given the best clothes and possessions to facilitate that. Shelly also tried to gather sympathy for herself by shaving off her eyebrows in order to fake cancer.
Kathy was the first boarder who was killed at the Knotek house. When she had originally moved in on Christmas 1988, she was warmly welcomed by Shelly and even began helping her with the children and the household work. However, Shelly soon started to berate her and subject her to emotional abuse. At one point Kathy was forced to work naked, and fed sedatives. She was forced to sleep next to the boiler in the basement. Following six years of this torture, Kathy died in 1994. She was thin and frail at the time and passed away after a brutal beating by Shelly.
“I don’t think she meant to kill Kathy. I think she meant to abuse Kathy, just like she abused us. She got off on it. She liked the power, she liked doing it, and it got worse and worse,” Sami said. Shelly claimed the hairdresser had run away with a boyfriend called Rocky at the time.
Next came Watson’s death after David shot him in the head in February 1995, after being asked about Shelly. Nikki had unwittingly told her parents that Watson had taken photographs of Kathy at the later stages of abuse and hid them in a teddy bear. Shelly told the girls that Shane had moved to Alaska to work as a fisherman.
A few years later, when Woodworth, a gay and witty veteran moved in with the family, Shelly’s abuse began again. She cut him off from his friends and loved ones, verbally abusing him as worthless and disgusting. Slowly the emotional abuse turned physical and Shelly withheld everything from clothes, food, and the use of the indoor bathroom from him. He was frequently drugged with pills. He died in August 2003, after he was forced to drink his own urine and jump off the roof of the two-story home. Instead of treatment,  his wounds were doused in boiling water and bleach.
“While I think [the murder of] Kathy was an accident, Ron was definitely on purpose,” Sami said. “It was done in the exact same way. She knew what the outcome would be.”
After Woodworth’s death, the girls approached the police, leading to the arrest of their mother and stepfather. “Shelly delighted in making other people hurt. It made her feel superior,” Olsen told the Post. “She has never been formally diagnosed as a psychopath, but showed all the traits.”

The Shanks family and the Keller family lived on opposite sides of the border between Fountain County and Parke County Indiana; the Shanks on the Fountain side, the Kellers on the Parke side. During a drought in the summer of 1895, the Kellers gave the Shanks family permission to access water on their property. The job of fetching the water fell to Clara Shanks, the beautiful 18-year-old daughter of Frederick Shanks, and she would visit Kellers’ yard several times a day.
Nannie Keller, the wife of 34-year-old Daniel Keller, kept an eye on Clara and began to suspect the young girl had begun flirting with her husband. Her suspicions grew to the point where she publicly accused Clara of having improper relations with Daniel.
On the evening of July 5, Clara’s older brother, also named Daniel, went next door to talk with Mrs. Keller about the allegations. She told him of her suspicions and said that Clara must not be allowed to come for water anymore. Other members of the family would be allowed, but Clara must not come into their yard.
The next morning, Nannie Keller, Daniel Keller, and Daniel’s sister Maggie went to the Kellers’ house to confront Clara and resolve the issue. Daniel Shanks would not let Clara come to the door, so Nannie repeated the charge to Clara’s mother that Clara had been intimate with her husband. Mrs. Shanks said she did not believe it. Nannie turned to her husband and said, “Will you let them deny what I say?”
Daniel Keller then confirmed what his wife had said and admitted that he had improper relations with Clara. He would later deny making this confession, saying that anything he said that day was only to restore peace in his home.
The Kellers left and the Shanks sat down to dinner. Mrs. Shanks asked Clara about the charges against her. Clara denied it all; she sat there in silence and could not eat. A few minutes later, she got up and left the table. Mrs. Shanks would later say that Clara left the house to make Daniel Keller recant his accusation. It was the last time they saw Clara alive.
When Clara did not return, the family went looking for her. They hunted in the thicket around Wolf Creek but found no trace of Clara, and that evening they gave up the search.
The next morning Mrs. Shanks told her son Daniel that she had dreamed of seeing Clara struggling in the pool at the foot of Wolf Creek Falls. Daniel ran to the pool, about a half-mile away, and waded in. He found Clara’s body in five feet of water. He hurried home, then got his shotgun, went next door and called out Daniel Keller.
“Clara is drowned in Wolf Creek Falls, and you caused it,” he exclaimed, then fired the shotgun twice at Daniel Keller who was standing in the door. Shanks was too excited to aim, and both shots missed Keller and hit the door sill. A neighbor intervened and took Shanks home.
The coroner of Fountain County made a hasty examination of Clara’s body and declared it was suicide by drowning. The same day, Daniel Keller went to Rockville, the county seat of Parke County, and swore out a warrant against Daniel Shanks. The deputy sheriff went to arrest Shanks, but by the time he got to the house, he found it surrounded by a mob of 300 angry men, who informed the deputy that if he arrested Shanks, they would hang Keller. The deputy left without serving his warrant.
The people of Fountain County were not satisfied with the coroner’s verdict, and suspicion grew that Keller had murdered Clara. A vigilance committee was organized and held secret meetings to decide what to do about the murder. The sentiment against the Kellers grew so strong that the family left and went to live with Daniel’s brother George.
Ten days after the burial, a post-mortem examination was organized by the vigilance committee. Clara’s body was exhumed and examined by seven physicians chosen from both Fountain and Parke counties. They found several heavy bruises about the head, a congested state of the brain, with an entire dislocation of the head at the base of the skull. There were no signs of water in the larynx or the lungs, indicating that she had not drowned. The examining doctors disclosed the fact that Clara “had no cause for secret shame.” Clara was a virgin, negating Mrs. Keller’s accusations and the basis for all suicidal theories. The unanimous verdict of all seven physicians was: “We find that Clara Shanks met her death by violence; sources unknown.”
On August 9, warrants were issued for the arrest of Daniel Keller, Nancy Keller, and Margaret Keller for the murder of Clara Shanks. Daniel Keller’s brother John was arrested as an accessory. A court of inquiry was held; both families hired attorneys and charges and countercharges were flying in and out of court. The Kellers’ attorney tried to fix the guilt on the Shanks, saying that they had located the body too easily and the dream of Mrs. Shanks was “too realistic to come from a sleeping brain.” Evidence against the Kellers included spots on a pair of Daniel’s trousers that looked like blood, similar spots on the floor of the Keller’s house, and fibers of burned clothing in the stove. The Kellers were indicted on nine separate charges, to cover several specific means which could have been used to murder Clara.
While the Keller family was in jail awaiting trial, their homestead was unlocked and their home was besieged by relic hunter. Their kitchen was practically emptied, and two loads of shot were carved from the door casing with pocketknives.
The trial of Daniel, Nannie, and Maggie Keller began on January 27, 1896. Because passions were running high in Fountain and Peake Counties, the venue was changed to Terre Haute, in Vigo County. The courtroom was filled to overflowing during two weeks of testimony by nearly 200 witnesses. In the end, there was not enough evidence to convict the Kellers of the murder; after deliberating for 22 hours, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty.
The circumstances surrounding the death of Clara Shanks remain a mystery.

When Weird Darkness returns… While the movie and the graphic novel that it was based upon are obviously fiction, is it possible that there is a connection between Abraham Lincoln and vampires?
And six young boys were out playing when suddenly a bolt of lightning struck the ground near them – revealing what they described as a strange, small, blue man. These stories are up next.

There are plenty of weird reports to be found when looking amongst the many accounts of encounters with strange, unidentifiable beings. I have often covered such anomalous sightings and incidents here, and there are always those that seem to go beyond even the bizarre, to stick firmly in the domain of the unclassifiable and downright odd. Certainly amongst these are the occasional reports of what can only be described as little blue people, that crawl out from some fringe realm of the truly, fantastically strange.
One of the more bizarre stories of some sort of little blue imp comes to us from the area of Studham Common, in Bedfordshire, England, and was first reported in the March 3rd, 1967 edition of the Dunstable Gazette, as well as the Borough Gazette and with a follow-up containing witness interviews following in The Flying Saucer Review in July of 1967. According to the account, on January 28, 1967 a group of six young boys was out playing on the common on their way to the nearby school. The day was overcast and slightly rainy, yet the boys were still having a blast out there when out of the blue a bolt of lightning came crashing down not far from the startled kids, and while whether it had anything to do with what happened next is not clear, they would have a very surreal encounter with something beyond understanding not long after.
Just after the lightning strike, one of the witnesses, 10-year-old Alex Butler, looked over the common to see standing about 20 yards away in front of some bushes a tiny little blue man around 3 feet tall, with a blue beard and wearing an odd one-piece suit, a tall brimmed bowler-type hat, and a black belt carrying a black box on the front. Additionally, the little man was also described as having been bathed in a faint glow that seemed to emanate from him. Alex called out to his friends, and they ran over to see the strange entity for themselves. They all then ran towards this odd little stranger, perhaps to chase it away or perhaps to try and catch it, after which the little man vanished right before their eyes in “a puff of smoke.”
When the group of boys reached the spot where the man had been standing a moment before, they could find no sign of him, so they decided to look for him. They soon found the little blue man, again standing around 20 yards away, and once again he vanished into thin air when they approached. He did this yet again right after this, always appearing 20 yards away. Yet they continued on, hoping to find this enigmatic little man again, and they did, this time choosing to peer out at him from behind some bushes, but this time around things would get a little more bizarre, and the Flying Saucer Review article would say of what happened next thus:
“Looking at him through the little bushes, they became aware of ‘voices’ which they describe in a manner suggesting a continuous incomprehensible, and ‘foreign-sounding’ babble, coming from a point in the bushes closer to them and down the slope to the right of their line of sight. A feeling that the little fellow had associates who were communicating with him and to whom he was replying, although they could detect no movement on his part. It induced a sense of caution which deterred them from rushing towards him as before. Instead, the boys continued to circle the Dell until they could look down it, whereupon they saw him for the fourth and last time still standing as motionless as ever in the same place.”
The students would go on to tell their teacher, Ms. Newcomb, about their strange experience, and although she didn’t believe a word of it she had them separately write down their own versions of what had transpired. These accounts were then collected and pasted into a book called “The Little Blue Man On Studham Common.” R.H.B. Winder, the writer of the article in the Flying Saucer Review article, met with some of the witnesses, who showed him where their encounter had taken place and further elaborated on the story with some intriguing details. He would write:
“The blue color turned out to be a dim grayish-blue glow lending to obscure outline and detail. They could, however, discern a line which was either a fringe of hair or the lower edge of the hat. Two round eyes, a small seemingly triangle in place of a nose, and a one-piece vestment extending down to a broad black belt carrying a black box at the front about six inches square. The arms appeared short and were held straight down close to the sides at all times. The legs and feet were indistinct. The ‘beard’ is interesting: apparently it extended from the vicinity of the mouth downwards to divide and ran to both sides of the chest. Although agreeing that it could have been breathing apparatus. the boys could not see clearly enough to be certain and this thought had not occurred to them. The disappearances caused me some difficulty at first, but became more understandable after further explanation of the ‘smoke’ was apparently a whirling cloud of yellowish-blue mist shot towards the pursuers, possibly from the box on the belt. They agreed that he could have stepped into the bushes before this camouflage cleared, although it dissipated quite quickly. They heard no sound other than the voices and saw no movement at any time. Nor did they smell any smells or see anything strange in the vicinity, either on the ground or in the air.”
Another good article on the case was written by Dutch researcher Theo Paijmans, who has spent a lot of time and effort trying to track down additional information on the very bizarre account. Paijmans has also tried to locate the book containing the children’s accounts, which seems to have disappeared, as well as track down the original witnesses. Despite these articles and efforts to glean more information about the case of “The Little Blue man,” we are ultimately left with only a few articles on the incident and the original testimony, and it is difficult to find out more about it, leaving much to speculation.
One very interesting detail concerning the case is the mention of the lightning strike. Although there is no concrete connection between the lightning and the report given by the boys, it does give cause for speculation. There has been the idea in recent years that lightning could sometimes herald a sort of rift between dimensions, allowing us to peer through into another reality, or for beings from that parallel world to come into ours. Could it be that the Little Blue Man was just such a denizen from another universe lying up against ours, an interdimensional traveler of sorts? Did he pass through that tear in the veil between dimensions, either intentionally or by accident? Or was the lightning perhaps an effect from some sort of ionization caused by a powerful device, perhaps from the box that the man wore on his belt or even from a UFO? There is no way to know, but it is hard not to think that the lightning strike had some relationship with what transpired.
In the end we are left with more questions than answers. Who or what was the Little Blue Man of Studham Common? Was this an alien, an inter-dimensional interloper, a hoax, or purely the delusions of some children’s overactive imaginations? No one really knows. What is strange, though, is that while this may seem at first to be merely an anomalous one-off encounter with something totally fringe, I have actually been able to locate some other cases that bear a striking similarity to this one in one way or another, whether they are related or not. For instance there is the account of a woman known only as “Emily,” who came forward with her own story of a mysterious blue man she encountered in the U.S. state of Minnesota in 2007. She wrote of her experience thus:
“When me and my family moved into a brand new house about 10 years ago, my mother would hear me talking to someone in my room. Supposedly I was talking to a man in a blue shirt. I was three and I couldn’t make out anything else. A few years later my mother was mowing the lawn and briefly looked into my window and saw a man in a blue shirt standing in my window. Then my step dad moved in and claimed that he woke up in his room with a blue man at the end of the bed. A few nights later my mom was sleeping in her room and woke up to loud noises. When she opened her eyes she saw a blue man in the corner of the room by the doorway. On another occasion I woke up to a face right in front of mine and then just disappear while turning away. Now my sister was in her bedroom in the basement and she was on the computer and in the reflection of the other side of the room she saw a figure a man. The next week I was in her bathroom cleaning and I saw this bright blue light and then a face appeared in the light.”
Another account comes from a poster on Your Ghost Stories, who says that he had a similar encounter in the state of Wisconsin when he was 22 years old. He claims that the home he lived in had been haunted for some time, demonstrating various paranormal phenomena such as anomalous footsteps and doors opening or closing on their own, but by far the weirdest experience was a little blue man who would make appearances now and again. He would say of this:
“I had just fallen asleep in my basement room and awoke to the blankets being pushed around my legs. I thought it was weird but then they felt like they were being ‘molded’ around my back area. I sat up in my bed and saw nothing. I laid back down and closed my eyes and within about 10 minutes the blankets again were being pushed around my legs and suddenly I had a hard time breathing. I opened my eyes and saw a small blue man sitting on my chest smiling at me. I could not get my breath. I clenched my fist and threw a punch at him’. As I punched him, he disappeared, my door to my room opened up quickly, and so did this larger heavy door in the basement. At that point I could breathe much better but I was totally freaked out. I jumped out of bed, hit the light switch, hit the other lights in the basement, and no one was there. I ended up sleeping upstairs and never said anything to anyone since I thought they would think I was crazy. My brother who has played video games in the basement, has since mentioned the ‘noise’ and asked me if I thought the house was haunted.”
Still another witness on a Reddit forum gave a remarkably similar report, concerning his young son and a strange blue man who was colorfully described as “bald and very muscular, like a Bruce Lee type with red eyes.” He would say of his terrifying experience:
“I had dreamed about a blue man being in the house, like a vampire – who was threatening us. I sat up – I was drenched with sweat. I went to get up, to go to my bathroom, when I heard my son scream. I went running to his room – he was maybe 4-5 – and he was terrified – he said there “was a blue man under the bed trying to get me.” I grabbed him up and walked with him on my hip and checked the house, then took him back to bed with me, but neither of us slept that well the rest of the night. We didn’t really talk of it after that night. Well, about 2 years ago, we were all sitting around drawing, and I did a picture of the blue man. DS saw it and Said – ‘That’s the blue man! You remember that night he tried to get us?’ He remembered him very clearly too.”
There was interestingly a hoax carried out in 1958 in the U.S. state of Michigan. At the time there were numerous reports from motorists saying that they had seen an entity described as a “little blue man,” wearing a “spacesuit” and emitting an ethereal glow. The witnesses said that this thing would appear out of the wilderness on isolated roads and then vanish into thin air to leave no trace behind. Most of the reports said the strange blue man was only 2 feet high, while others said he was much taller, and most agreed that it ran faster than a human being. It seems very intriguing, but after a police investigation there were three men by the names of Jerry Sprague, Don Weiss, and LeRoy Schultz, who claimed that they had perpetrated the whole thing, making a costume to which they had attached blinking lights. They also said they had spray-painted the whole thing with blue, glow-in-the-dark paint.
The mischievous trio claimed that they would hide along roadsides, jump out in front of cars, and then withdraw to a getaway car and speed off. The whole prank was carried out over several weeks, and sure enough stopped when the young men came forward. Was this really a hoax, or a coincidence? Was there ever really some anomalous blue man here or not? In the end it is far from clear if any of this is linked at all, but it is interesting to note all of the cases of diminutive blue men running around. What significance does this all have, if any? Is this all just hoaxes and tall tales or is there something more to it? If so, then what could these beings be and are they related in any way? Whether they be ghosts, aliens, interdimensional travelers, or simply tall tales, the cases of the little blue men remains intriguing all the same.

I’m guessing this is the story many of you have been waiting this whole episode for – which is why I saved it until last. You’re welcome. So the question is… did Abraham Lincoln have anything to do with vampires?
Well let’s start with the obvious question first: was Abraham Lincoln really a vampire hunter?
Probably not. Or at least, if there was, there’s no actual record of it.
But there are plenty of unusual stories about the 16th president of the United States that you probably didn’t know—like the fact that he was the first president to sport a beard.
He was like the ZZ Top of presidents, except that although he’s remembered for that beard, he didn’t actually have facial hair most of his life.
Bearded presidents are still outliers; there were only four others: James Garfield, Ulysses S. Grant, Benjamin Harrison, and Rutherford B. Hayes, although several had mustaches—and who can forget the mutton chops of Chester A. Arthur?
In “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,” the 16th president is out for revenge after witnessing his own mother get killed by bloodsuckers.
In reality, Lincoln did witness the death of his mother—but it wasn’t vampires that killed her.
It was something called milk sickness.
Nancy Hanks Lincoln died when Abraham Lincoln was 9. She contracted the disease from drinking the milk of cows that ate the white snakeroot plant.
“Ordinary settlers and their doctors found it unpredictable, untreatable and highly fatal,” Dr. Walter J. Daly, dean emeritus of the Indiana University School of Medicine, wrote in the Indiana Magazine of History. “Milk sickness killed many, frightened more and caused local economic crises. Villages and farms were abandoned; livestock died; entire families were killed. Migration to areas thought to be safer became common. And then the disease almost disappeared without any special preventive actions….Its disappearance would prove to be a consequence of the progress of Midwestern civilization and advances in agriculture.”
Milk sickness was also called puking fever, sick stomach, slows, and the trembles, according to the National Park Service. Symptoms included loss of appetite, listlessness, weakness, vague pains, muscle stiffness, vomiting, abdominal discomfort, severe constipation, bad breath, and finally, coma, the agency said, followed by death in many cases, including this one.
Truth be told, that sounds a lot worse than vampires.
Lincoln’s father remarried, and Honest Abe was raised by his stepmother.
Most people know Abraham Lincoln was really, really tall. But they don’t realize just how tall. At 6 feet, 4 inches, he was the tallest president ever (if a little short for the NBA). His great height meant that even when he was sitting down, he was as tall as the average person—or vampire—standing up.
Just a week before he was shot and killed by John Wilkes Booth, Abraham Lincoln reportedly told a friend that he’d had a dream in which he walked through the White House and found everyone crying.
When he finally asked someone why they were all crying, he was told it was because the president had been killed, though the person laid out wasn’t him. Fact or fiction? Historians doubt it, as some of the details don’t mesh. In any case, Lincoln was apparently interested in deducing the meaning of dreams.
Sure, Abraham Lincoln could likely handle a few vampires, but a curse is another story.
Lincoln was the second in a long line of presidents elected in a year ending with a zero to die in office, starting with William Henry Harrison in 1840 and ending with John F. Kennedy in 1960. Ronald Reagan came close but survived his assassination attempt—the bullet came within an inch of his heart.
It’s commonly called “Tecumseh’s Curse” because Harrison had defeated Tecumseh at the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811. The curse is probably not real, of course, but the incidents make for intriguing coincidences.
Abraham Lincoln might have been famous for his beard (the first ever by a president), but there’s another famous beard he helped to grow: the 12-foot, 6-inch-long beard grown by Valentine Tapley.
Tapley was a Democrat, and he hated the Republican Lincoln so much that he swore he’d never shave again if Lincoln was elected.
It was a promise he kept until his death in 1910.

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 darren@weirddarkness.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.

“Quarantining With a Ghost” by Molly Fitzpatrick for The New York Times, and Paul Guzzo for the Tampa Bay Times
“The Wolf Woman of Mobile Alabama” by Rev. Robin Swope for Paranormal Pastor
“Abe Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” by Buck Wolf for Live About
“Serial Killer Landlady” by Pritha Paul for MeAww
“The Wolf Creek Tragedy” by Robert Wilhelm for Murder By Gaslight
“Strange Tales of Little Blue Men” by Brent Swancer for Mysterious Universe

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… “Everyone who honors the LORD, who walks in God’s ways, is truly happy! You will definitely enjoy what you’ve worked hard for; you’ll be happy; and things will go well for you.” – Psalm 128:1-2

And a final thought… “Don’t wait for it to happen, go make it happen. Never lose hope. Never lose faith. Silence says a lot more than you think. Do the best you can with what you have.” – Unknown

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

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