“DOGFIGHT WITH A UFO” and More Terrifying True Stories – PLUS BLOOPERS! #WeirdDarkness
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IN THIS EPISODE: The U.S. Government explained the rapidly maneuvering lights as a weather balloon. But if you believe what fighter pilot George F. Gorman says, you’ll believe there are some giant holes in the U.S. Government’s story. Because Gorman ended up in an aerial battle with one of those so-called “weather balloons”. (The Gorman Dogfight) *** A passerby found scraps of paper on the ground, implicating that one of the areas most prominent families was harboring a secret – that the husband had his own wife imprisoned in their own home for months on end – unable to leave her own bedroom. But that was just the beginning of the story. (Imprisoned In Her Own Room By Her Husband) *** In the wilds of Africa it is said there is a man-like creature, human in every way aside from one – the being has no head. (Beware The Headless Blemmy) *** The most famous being the Grim Reaper, dark hooded entities seems to be relatively common in the reports of ghost-like beings. They can be intimidating, foreboding, and downright terrifying. One man’s experience didn’t stop with only one encounter – they haven’t stopped at all. (The Black Hooded Figure That Haunts Me) *** A couple have a fight, one of them leaves the home to cool off. It’s something that happens every day in every town and city. It’s simply how some couples have to work through things. But in one case, 32 years later, the woman who left to cool off has yet to return, and her family is still waiting. (The Elizabeth Campbell Mystery) *** (Originally aired June 22, 2020)
SOURCES AND REFERENCES FROM THE EPISODE…
“The Gorman Dogfight” by Colin Bertram for History.com: https://tinyurl.com/y9tr8jg7
“Beware The Headless Blemmy” by Gemma Hollman for Just History Posts https://tinyurl.com/y7en2pur
“The Black Hooded Figure That Haunts Me” by Stephen Wagner for Live About: https://tinyurl.com/ybbqw2ex
“Imprisoned In Her Own Room By Her Husband” from London Overlooked: https://tinyurl.com/y8vtrywx
“The Elizabeth Campbell Mystery” by Heather Graup.com for Lost n’ Found Blogs: https://tinyurl.com/ydc7kzdd
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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…
The U.S. Government explained the rapidly maneuvering lights as a weather balloon. But if you believe what fighter pilot George F. Gorman says, you’ll believe there are some giant holes in the U.S. Government’s story. Because Gorman ended up in an aerial battle with one of those so-called “weather balloons”. (The Gorman Dogfight)
A passerby found scraps of paper on the ground, implicating that one of the areas most prominent families was harboring a secret – that the husband had his own wife imprisoned in their own home for months on end – unable to leave her own bedroom. But that was just the beginning of the story. (Imprisoned In Her Own Room By Her Husband)
In the wilds of Africa it is said there is a man-like creature, human in every way aside from one – the being has no head. (Beware The Headless Blemmy)
The most famous being the Grim Reaper, dark hooded entities seems to be relatively common in the reports of ghost-like beings. They can be intimidating, foreboding, and downright terrifying. One man’s experience didn’t stop with only one encounter – they haven’t stopped at all. (The Black Hooded Figure That Haunts Me)
A couple have a fight, one of them leaves the home to cool off. It’s something that happens every day in every town and city. It’s simply how some couples have to work through things. But in one case, 32 years later, the woman who left to cool off has yet to return, and her family is still waiting. (The Elizabeth Campbell Mystery)
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!
THE GORMAN DOGFIGHT=====
In the words of Captain Edward J. Ruppelt, the man who investigated unidentified-flying-object reports for the U.S. Air Force in the early 1950s, the Gorman Dogfight remains one of the “classics” among UFO sightings.
The incident, which still lacks an airtight explanation, involved a 27-minute air encounter between a veteran World War II fighter pilot named George F. Gorman and a mysterious white orb at high altitude above Fargo, North Dakota. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” Gorman told a local newspaper following the October 1, 1948 event. “If anyone else had reported such a thing I would have thought they were crazy.”
Captain Ruppelt operated Project Blue Book, which continued the work of Project Sign and Project Grudge, a series of hush-hush studies conducted by the U.S. Air Force between 1947 and 1969. His mission: to determine if UFOs were a threat to national security and to scientifically analyze UFO-related data.
What makes the Gorman Dogfight unique in the now-declassified pages of Project Blue Book is not only the length of the encounter, but that it was recorded both on the ground and in the sky by numerous reputable sources.
At the time of the incident, Gorman, a 25-year-old former fighter pilot, served as a second lieutenant in the North Dakota Air National Guard. It was this role that placed him behind the flight controls of a P-51 Mustang on Oct. 1, 1948, taking part in a cross-country flight alongside other National Guard airmen.
While the other pilots landed at Fargo’s Hector Airport, on that fateful evening Gorman stayed in the air in order to get in some night-flying time in the cloudless conditions. Having circled his P-51 over a lighted football stadium, he was preparing to land at about 9 P.M. Advised by the control tower that the only other plane in the vicinity was a Piper Cub (which Gorman could see about 500 feet below him), he witnessed what he believed to be the taillight of another craft passing on the right, though the tower had no other object on the radar.
Deciding to take a closer look at the unidentified object, Gorman pulled his plane up and closed to within about 1,000 yards. “It was about six to eight inches in diameter, clear white and completely without fuzz at the edges,” he said of the object in his report. “It was blinking on and off. As I approached, however, the light suddenly became steady and pulled into a sharp left bank. I thought it was making a pass at the tower.”
Deciding to follow, Gorman tried in vain to catch up with the object, reporting that he finally got behind it at around 7,000 feet, where it made a sharp turn and headed straight for the P-51. Almost at the point of collision Gorman dived and said the light passed over his canopy at about 500 feet before cutting sharply once more and heading back in his direction. Just as collision seemed imminent once again, Gorman said the object shot straight up in the air in a steep climb—so steep that when he tried to intercept, his plane stalled at about 14,000 feet. The object was not seen again, but according to Gorman he had been engaged in aerial maneuvers with it for 27 minutes by the time he brought his plane in to land.
Shaken by the encounter, the pilot went on to report he noticed no sound, exhaust trail or odor from the object. And while he had reached speeds of up to 400 m.p.h. while in pursuit—he couldn’t keep up with whatever it was.
“I am convinced that there was definite thought behind its maneuvers,” Gorman said in a sworn statement to his commander. “I am further convinced that the object was governed by the laws of inertia because its acceleration was rapid but not immediate; and although it was able to turn fairly tight at considerable speed, it still followed a natural curve.”
Gorman reported blacking out temporarily due to the excessive speed he reached in attempting to turn with the object. “I am in fairly good physical condition and I do not believe that there are many, if any, pilots who could withstand the turn and speed effected by the object, and remain conscious,” he wrote. “The object was not only able to out-turn and out-speed my aircraft… but was able to attain a far steeper climb and was able to maintain a constant rate of climb far in excess of my aircraft.”
Gorman wasn’t the only one to see the mysterious object that night. It was also witnessed by air-traffic controllers Lloyd D. Jensen and H.E. Johnson, who were manning the Hector Airport tower. According to Johnson, who reported seeing the Piper Cub and the UFO at the same time, the object was “traveling at a high rate of speed” and was “fast enough to increase the spacing between itself and [Gorman’s] fighter.” Johnson described the object as appearing to be “only a round light, perfectly formed, with no fuzzy edges or rays leaving its body.”
Dr. A. E. Cannon, the pilot of the Piper Cub, and his passenger also viewed the object—both in the sky and upon their return to the airport, where they immediately joined the traffic controllers in the tower. Cannon described the light as moving “very swiftly, much faster than the 51.” Two Civil Aeronautics Authority employees on the ground also reported seeing the object.
Could it have simply been another aircraft? Taking the technology of the time into account, Dr Travis S. Taylor, aerospace engineer and author of Introduction to Rocket Science and Engineering, believes any other aircraft would have been apparent to Gorman.
Earlier that year, he points out, Chuck Yeager made his famous flight in the Bell X1 at record-breaking speed, in which he broke the sound barrier. “A craft like that would have been very obvious to a pilot in a P-51. [Gorman] would have known what he was looking at—the X1 looked like an airplane,” says Taylor. “If he was chasing something that didn’t look like a standard aircraft and he couldn’t keep up with it, either it was too far away, and he didn’t realize how far away it was, or it was moving faster than a P-51 could move.”
U.S. Air Force investigators from Project Sign (later to become Project Grudge and ultimately Project Blue Book) soon arrived in Fargo, where Geiger counter measurements of Gorman’s plane revealed heightened radioactivity, though this was later explained away as a side effect of the high-altitude flying that took place.
Was Gorman a kook, or maybe touched in the head by his war experiences? Government investigators found him to be a credible witness, noting that he “did not make the impression of being a dreamer. He reads little, and only serious literature. He spends 90 percent of his time hunting and fishing; drinks less than moderately; smokes normally; and does not do drugs. He appears to be a sincere and serious individual who was considerably puzzled by his experience and made no attempt to blow his story up.”
One conspiracy theory speculated that Gorman’s encounter may have been with a top-secret test craft. With World War II a very recent memory, tensions in 1948 were heightened both in military and civilian circles. And as the Cold War tightened its grip on the American psyche, the U.S government sought to boost its scientific firepower with a clandestine initiative called Operation Paperclip, through which it recruited former Nazi scientists, engineers and technicians (including Wernher von Braun and his V-2 rocket team) to America, to boost the nation’s chances in the Cold War and looming space race.
Further afield, the Soviets had begun testing the R-1 Rocket (a Soviet version of the German V-2 of WWII) the same year as Gorman’s encounter, raising questions of whether the object he and the others saw could have been a Soviet craft or weapon. “The R-1 didn’t have the range to go from wherever their launch capability was in the Soviet Union to Fargo,” says Taylor. “It was a dumb rocket. All the rockets at that time were projectiles. They used aerodynamics mostly to guide them. They could do slow maneuvers, but if they did a fast maneuver they’d start tumbling apart.”
Back in Fargo, after the Air Weather Service revealed it had released a lighted weather balloon 10 minutes before Gorman first saw the object, investigators pounced, proclaiming the balloon the likeliest explanation for the object seen.
As for the seemingly incredible movements witnessed, the report said those were due to Gorman’s own maneuvers as he tried to chase the bright object. Essentially, investigators wrote, his high speed gave the balloon the appearance of moving in opposite directions as he passed by. Added to that theory, investigators noted the bright appearance of Jupiter on that date, hypothesizing that Gorman had been attempting to chase the bright dot of the planet at the same time the weather balloon was in range.
The lighted weather balloon would become the official cause of the encounter in the Project Blue Book file.
“We were doing Project Mogul at the time, which was high-altitude balloons [fitted with high-powered microphones] that we were trying to listen to see if the Soviets were doing above-ground nuclear testing,” says Taylor, who points out that the famous Roswell, New Mexico UFO sighting was explained away as a Project Mogul balloon.
Whether Gorman was happy with the official outcome remains unknown. Maintaining his silence, he returned to the Air Force full-time, eventually retiring at the rank of lieutenant colonel in 1969. He never spoke publicly about the encounter again, though according to The Bismarck Tribune, he did tell friends “he was never convinced that he had been dueling with a lighted balloon for 27 minutes.” Gorman died in 1982.
Taylor has his own theory: “Possibly somebody was playing around with rocketry.” But, he notes, there were no known test facilities or scientists in the Fargo area when the encounter took place. All the [Operation Paperclip] Germans were at the missile grounds in White Sands, New Mexico, while rocket guru Robert H. Goddard, had died in 1945. “It makes no sense,” says Taylor, “that there was anything there that was manmade that they were chasing.”
Up next… In the wilds of Africa it is said there is a man-like creature, human in every way aside from one – the being has no head.
And… a passerby found scraps of paper on the ground, implicating that one of the area’s most prominent families was harboring a secret – that the husband had his own wife imprisoned in their own home for months on end – unable to leave her own bedroom. But that was just the beginning of the story.
STORY: IMPRISONED IN HER OWN ROOM BY HER HUSBAND=====
A gaunt wretched figure stood at the barred window of a ground-floor room attempting nervously to attract the attention of anyone passing by. Laurel House was in an isolated position at the far end of Peckham Rye Common on the road leading down to Camberwell Old Cemetery, surrounded by market gardens and farmland and with few neighboring houses. Using a pencil begged from a kind servant, and scraps of wallpaper covertly peeled from the wall, the woman wrote a series of notes in which she explained her plight and asked that her brother-in-law, Thomas Morgan, be informed that she was being kept against her will. She had been estranged from her family for some two years. But she had no doubt that in spite of their disappointment and disapproval they would come to her rescue.
Her savior was one Miss Jane Charlotte Barber, a single woman who resided two doors down from Laurel House in Piermont Cottage, and who was fully aware of the style in which Dr Hammond and his young family lived in their detached villa, where they were attended by a devoted housekeeper, two maids and a gardener. Miss Barber had also noticed the attractive young lady who would often drive out with the dashing doctor, dressed expensively in a black silk gown with a red velvet jacket and jaunty bonnet. And it was Miss Barber who on this particular occasion―a Tuesday in September 1864―saw the ragged note flying through the open window. Although alarmed, she summoned her courage, and picked up the note. Horrified by what she read she hurried to the local police. They had no hesitation in contacting the Mr Morgan mentioned in the note, having learnt that its author was Rosalind Hammond, and that she was being held against her will by Dr Edward Hammond, her husband.
Police Constable Spinks, accompanied by Mr Morgan, arrived at the house and demanded to see Mrs Hammond. The doctor said that it was not possible as she was sleeping and could not be disturbed. But after firm words from Spinks he relented, and with a show of reluctance he took them to her room, which was bolted from the outside. The room was dirty, and meakly furnished with just an iron bedstead and fusty linens. The occupant was thin and pale and dressed in nightclothes. She explained that her husband kept her locked up, and that he was aided and abetted by Elizabeth Allen, who was his housekeeper, and by Emily Wakeman, who had once been his maid and was now his mistress. But she appeared to be unbroken by her ordeal. The newspapers described her as an intelligent woman, and she had clearly retained her senses.
How had the wealthy Mrs Hammond come to such a pass? Aged thirty-seven, she was worth six hundred pounds per annum, which would be about seventy thousand pounds in today’s money. And yet she had to borrow a hat and a cloak in order to present herself decently at Lambeth Police Court. Her story is one of misfortune and cruelty meted out not only by her husband but also by Victorian society and its legal system.
Rosalind Hammond, née Buckley, was born at The Lawn in South Lambeth in one of the houses built by her grandfather, Philip Buckley. Her mother, Anne Wolfe, who was the only child of an East India House employee, had married the wealthy widower Henry Buckley, who made his living as a floor cloth manufacturer trading from premises adjoining King’s College in the Strand, and at 39 Westminster Bridge Road, where the manufactory was based. Floor cloths, which were sold as alternatives to expensive carpets and elaborately tiled or marbled floors, were made of canvas protected by up to twelve coats of paint per side, with a stencilled or hand-painted design. Being both popular and expensive floor cloths certainly contributed to Henry’s fortune.
He had two children by his first marriage and four much younger daughters with Anne. Rosalind, who was the youngest of the children, enjoyed a privileged childhood in Lambeth and at Riverhill, the family’s country house near Sevenoaks in Kent, which boasted nine indoor servants and gardens laid out in a Himalayan style. She was only fifteen when in 1841 her father died, leaving significant money and property, including four houses in Lambeth, the leasehold manufactory, the lease to Riverhill and thousands of pounds in stocks. His wife and children were all handsomely provided for: the daughters would inherit their share when they reached the age of twenty-one, or earlier if they married. The respectable and wealthy Miss Buckleys were eagerly sought as brides: Henrietta married the Reverend Cyril Custeis, Ellen married John T Wright, a solicitor, and Fanny Alicia married Thomas Morgan, a wine merchant of Tower Hill.
Rosalind too would have been expected to lead a life of respectability, either as the perfect Victorian wife―“the angel in the house”―or as her widowed mother’s companion, which was often the fate of the youngest daughter. Then in 1848, when she was twenty-two, she was sent for a water cure at an establishment run by a homeopathic doctor, and things did not go quite to plan.
The water cure―or hydropathy―gained popularity from the 1840s. Kate Summerscale in Mrs Robinson’s Disgrace describes it as a popular treatment for the vague, anxiety-related sicknesses of the mid-nineteenth century … The theory was that immersion in hot and cold baths and showers could restore health to an unbalanced body.
Patients might include men who overworked or overindulged, and women suffering from “female complaints” or “hysteria”. Female hysteria was the diagnosis for a raft of symptoms that included fainting, insomnia, bad temper and an unmaidenly interest in sex. Enlightened doctors of the time believed that the cause was often unfulfilling lives centred on the needs of others. Women, they argued, were obliged to repress their natural desires, whether these were sexual or simply a yearning for something more interesting than needlework.
We do not know why Rosalind took the water cure. But we do know that she was seduced by her doctor at the hydro, and that in 1850 she gave birth to a boy, who was christened at St John’s Church in Erith in Kent. The baptismal record declared that the boy was Stanley Ellis Buckley, that he was the son of James and Rosalind Buckley, and that his father was a farmer. That this was not entirely true was soon discovered, whereupon James and his occupation were expunged from the record, and the blank space filled with the damning words “single woman”. We now find it hard to grasp how scandalous an illegitimate child born to an unmarried middle-class girl would have been in the nineteenth century.
It is interesting to speculate on the identity of Rosalind’s seducer, for which we have no other evidence than that his name was, probably but not necessarily, James. The proprietor of the Sudbrook Park Hydro in Petersham was James Ellis. But then again there was a clutch of homeopathic Jameses running water cure establishments in and around Malvern: James Manby, who seduced the future Florence Bravo when she was his patient, his partner James Wilson, and a James Marsden.
I think we can assume that, whatever had brought it on, Rosalind was being treated for hysteria, for in the 1851 census she was living in Leytonstone in Essex at the home of Dr Stephen Mackenzie, along with the doctor’s family and a clutch of female patients. Mackenzie is described as “extensively known by his successful treatment of the most inveterate of hysterics” in On the Pathology and Treatment of Hysteria, written by his assistant Robert Brudenell Carter in 1853. Sadly Carter also records that Mackenzie, who died tragically falling from his carriage, kept no patient records.
For the next ten years Rosalind remains a mystery, until on the 20th of August 1861 she married a man called Edward Hammond at St Nicholas Church in Brighton. At this point her sisters were probably relieved that a man who had full knowledge of her unfortunate past was willing to take Rosalind off their hands. He was not quite the addition they wanted for the family. He was a man of limited means, he had four young children, and he was determined to have control of Rosalind’s generous annuity. But in light of her youthful lapse they knew that Rosalind was lucky to find a husband.
After a few months married life in Lower Clapham Road soured. Edward encouraged Rosalind to behave as a semi-invalid who stayed in bed all day and dosed herself with morphia and brandy. Numerous local doctors were brought in to treat her rather vague symptoms, and early in 1862 she suffered the double affliction of the death of twelve-year-old Stanley and a difficult confinement.
Rosalind was also beginning to entertain suspicions about the nature of her husband’s relationship with Emily the maid. In March she took the new baby to live with a wet nurse in Maidstone in Kent. She was accompanied by Emily, and in the course of the overnight stay she challenged her. The girl said that she had been raped by Dr Hammond, with a pillow pressed over her face to muffle her screams.
Rosalind furiously rejected Emily’s story, and wrote to her father, accusing her of being Edward’s mistress. She refused to go back to Clapham, instead asking her family for help. As they disliked Edward they encouraged her to separate from him. But Rosalind capitulated, possibly because she loved the doctor, possibly because she was trapped. If she left him she also left her money―when they married all her assets became his―but she also had to have his agreement for any legal separation. A divorce might free her, but in 1864 she did not have sufficient grounds. Whereas a man only had to show that his wife had committed adultery, a woman had to prove not only that her husband was an adulterer but that he had also deserted her or had committed sodomy or incest or had been guilty of bigamy or cruelty. Cruelty was no easier to prove than adultery. An Act for the Better Prevention and Punishment of Aggravated Assaults upon Women and Children had been passed in 1853 , but it merely redefined what was or was not acceptable behaviour without banning violence outright. And so Rosalind returned home and retracted her accusation against Emily Wakeman, later saying that she had been coerced.
By September 1862 the family had moved to a property called Lanark House on Queen’s Road in Peckham. Where previously Edward had encouraged his wife to stay in bed for most of the day, he now employed Elizabeth Allen to stop her leaving the house. Rosalind was no longer treated with respect by anyone in the household, and on Christmas Eve her husband hit her around the head. He was the worse for drink, and he was encouraged by Emily Wakeman. Even though the maid was now his acknowledged mistress, he continued to sleep with his wife, who gave birth early in January 1863 to a girl named Emily Rosalind.
If Hammond was to keep both Rosalind’s annuity and his paramour, it was important that no one in the neighbourhood begin to ask questions about his wife’s whereabouts. With this aim he moved the family in May 1863 to Laurel House on the edge of the much less densely populated Peckham Rye. Here Rosalind was confined to a single room. Meals were brought to her by Elizabeth Allen and one or two of the children. To stop her making an escape the window was barred and the door was kept locked. Her day clothes were removed, and she suffered the further indignity of seeing them on Emily Wakeman. Her jewellery box was pilfered by her husband, who then sent his gardener, Thomas Abrahams, to pawn the contents.
In fact Dr Edward Hammond was not a doctor at all. In contravention of the Medical Act of 1858, his medical title was self-awarded.
Born in Dartford in Kent in 1818 Hammond had not had the privileged upbringing that Rosalind had enjoyed, and he was not a professional man. In 1843 when he married his first wife—another Emily—he was working as an oil merchant. Eight years later with Emily and their young family he was living in rural Lower Tooting—now Tooting Broadway—a few doors from the Mitre Public House. He was a manufacturer of the gelatine used as a setting agent in many of the elaborate puddings loved by Victorians. (Knowing that your blancmange or jelly was given its wobble with boiled-down connective animal tissue cannot have been very appetising.) By 1861 he was a widowed chemist and druggist living in East Wickham in Kent, which was only three-and-a-half miles from Erith, where Rosalind‘s son Stanley was baptised.
Moving forward to September 1864, those attending Lambeth Police Court were horrified to see how unwell Mrs Hammond looked and how poorly she was dressed. But her husband’s lawyers were determined that she would receive no pity, and they set about demolishing her character by revealing that she had given birth to an illegitimate child, and that she habitually stayed in bed all day imbibing brandy and morphia. Hammond himself explained away the fact that she was kept locked up by claiming that she had threatened to murder him. The two knives hidden in her bed were evidence of her homicidal tendencies, the implication being that, if not quite mentally unstable, she was at least a degenerate woman who needed to be restrained for her family’s safety. Rosalind calmly countered all that was said about her, and a doctor was brought in to explain that she was sane. The magistrate was not sympathetic to Edward Hammond, and he sent the case to trial.
When the case came to court in November 1864 Hammond pleaded guilty, but sentencing was deferred to allow his lawyers time to negotiate a settlement with Rosalind’s legal team. The not guilty pleas submitted by Emily Wakeman and Elizabeth Allen were accepted because they had acted under Hammond’s orders. At the sentencing hearing in January 1865 Hammond was confident he would be returning to Laurel House for dinner with his faithful Emily, relying on his “generosity” in agreeing to a legal separation from Rosalind, and in allowing her half the annuity that she had brought to the marriage. But his munificence cut no mustard, and he was sentenced to twelve months’ hard labour in Wandsworth Prison.
Hammond moved. With him went his children, and also Emily Wakeman, who remained with the family in some capacity for the rest of her life. Even if Hammond had wished to marry the girl, it would prove impossible, as Rosalind remained resolutely alive until 1896.
Rosalind lived alone in various lodging houses on the Isle of Wight and in South London. She was deprived of her child Emily Rosalind, who remained with her father. She also had to relinquish half her annuity, for it would not be until 1882 that a woman was legally entitled to keep the money that she had brought to a marriage. On her death Rosalind was buried in the family grave in Norwood Cemetery, leaving a paltry seventy-six pounds to a Reverend John Beresford.
STORY: BEWARE THE HEADLESS BLEMMY=====
Although people living in medieval Europe knew a lot more of the wider world than many initially think, with strong trade links in Asia and northern Africa, they were still intrigued about what lay beyond the land known to man, and stories of mythical creatures abounded. One such creature which fascinated for centuries was the Blemmy. These creatures were said to be a type of man who lived in Africa but they did not have a head – rather, their face appeared on their chest, their shoulders above them.
The Blemmyes were in fact a real African people, forming a nomadic kingdom in northern Nubia between 600BC and 300AD. Even from their early origins, however, stories were told of their headless nature. Herodotus who lived between 484 and 425BC wrote in his Histories that they were known as the akephaloi or those “without a head” and that they lived on the eastern edge of Libya. A few centuries later in c. 45AD Mela, a Roman geographer, wrote that the Blemyae lived in Africa and had their faces in their chests, and this was confirmed by Pliny the Elder who said the tribe had “no heads, their mouths and eyes being seated in their breasts” and located them in Ethiopia or Nubia.
The stories of these strange headless men continued long after the real Blemmye tribe was gone. In medieval Europe, drawings of these creatures can be found in manuscripts and in the extremities of world maps, charting the “unknown”. A drawing of a Blemmy features in an Anglo-Saxon manuscript in the British Library dating to c.1025, and Blemmyes are also found on the Hereford Mappa Mundi of 1300, the largest medieval map to still exist. Isidore of Seville (560 – 636 AD) explains in his Etymologies: “People believe that, in Libya, Blemmyae are born as trunks, without heads, and have their mouth and eyes on their chest. Others, born without necks, have their eyes on their shoulders.”
As the centuries progressed, stories of the Blemmyes continued, and they moved with the boundaries of exploration. In the late medieval period, some are shown as being in India, such as on the 1436 Andrea Bianco map. As the sixteenth century arrived and the “discovery” of the Americas began, the Blemmyes moved across the seas. Ottoman admiral Piri Reis placed a Blemmy on his 1513 world map near the coast of Brazil and put a description next to the drawing. He said that Blemmyes grew to around 5’ 3”, their eyes were close together, but that they were harmless.
In 1596, Sir Walter Raleigh wrote a book about his journey to Guayana where he reports that there was “a nation of people whose heades appeare not aboue their shoulders” who “are reported to haue their eyes in their shoulders and their mouths in the middle of their breasts and that a long train of haire groweth backward betwen their shoulders”. Although Raleigh did not see these people for himself, he decided that the stories were truthful as everyone he met there confirmed it.
So why did people believe these stories for so long, and where did it originate from? Numerous theories have centred on the idea that the original Blemmy warriors may have carried shields with faces on, or that they marched with their heads tucked close to their chests. Others make links with how some types of ape, such as the Bonobo, sit with their shoulders hunched up, head down, and suggest various tribes-people may have sat similarly, or that the apes themselves were the origin.
The mythology of human creatures with their faces in their chests spanned over one thousand years and found its way into many aspects of culture in the West. From adorning maps and manuscripts and churches, to being reported as scientific fact, to appearing in literature – including Shakespeare – the Blemmy fascinated Europe. They were a symbol of something “other” that could be found in the margins of the civilised world, strange creatures on the edge of truth. And even now, they continue to intrigue us today.
When Weird Darkness returns… The most famous being the Grim Reaper, dark hooded entities seems to be relatively common in the reports of ghost-like beings. They can be intimidating, foreboding, and downright terrifying. One man’s experience didn’t stop with only one encounter – in fact, they haven’t stopped at all.
A couple have a fight, one of them leaves the home to cool off. It’s something that happens every day in every town and city. It’s simply how some couples have to work through things. But in one case, 32 years later, the woman who left to cool off has yet to return, and her family is still waiting.
STORY: THE ELIZABETH CAMPBELL MYSTERY=====
It’s a scenario that plays out every day in the real world. A couple have a fight and one of them leaves to cool off. However, in this case, 32 years later her family is still waiting for her to return.
Elizabeth Ann Campbell was born on May 31, 1967 to Tom and Sam Soon Campbell. She was the youngest of 5 children and grew up in a very close-knit family who resided in Lampasas, TX. Elizabeth was said to have led a quiet, sheltered life and was very close with her mother. She was a month shy of her 21st birthday and was attending Central Texas College in nearby Killeen, TX along with her boyfriend, Rickie Ray. She had plans to attend Texas A&M in the Fall to study Marine Biology. Then on April 25, 1989, what started out to be just an ordinary Monday for Elizabeth would end in a horrible way that no one could have ever imagined.
Elizabeth was working a shift at a 7-11 convenience store on Rancier Ave. in Killeen, TX. Her boyfriend came that night to pick her up after her shift ended. The couple had planned on studying together that night for some upcoming tests at college. There was an argument concerning some things related to Elizabeth’s job as well as Rickie wanted to study English that night and Elizabeth wanted to study trigonometry. The argument apparently got heated enough that Elizabeth wanted to leave Rickie’s house so she phoned her mother for a ride. Rickie was heard by Elizabeth’s family in the background promising that he would give her a ride home so her mother didn’t make the drive. Elizabeth is said to have walked outside of Rickie’s house, thinking he would soon join her and drive her home. However, Rickie never came outside so, angrily, Elizabeth started to walk home on her own. Unfortunately, her house was 30 miles away.
Exactly what happened next is unclear. Elizabeth had left Rickie’s house in Killeen and then gone from there to near Central Texas College (CTC) in Killeen. Police believe that Elizabeth probably got a ride to travel that distance in that amount of time but no one has ever come forward to confirm that. The next sighting of Elizabeth was when a fellow student of CTC said he witnessed her walking down a service road near the college. He was working late at the computer lab that night and saw her on his way home. He said he didn’t personally know Elizabeth, but recognized her from college. He stated he gave Elizabeth a ride to a 7-11 in Copperas Cove (about 17 miles from her house) where witnesses did report seeing a green Gremlin drop her off. She then went inside to use the phone to call Rickie to ask him to give her a ride. This was approximately 45 minutes after Elizabeth left and 11 miles away from Rickie’s house. Elizabeth said she was scared. The couple argued again about her leaving and during the fight he refused to pick her up so she hung up. She told him she was going to call her family to come get her. She knew that would be a long-distance call so she used the payphone outside the 7-11 to try to reach them. Around midnight, Elizabeth’s mother said the phone did ring. She had turned the phone off in the bedroom so by the time she got to the other phone in the house, it had stopped ringing. Presumably judging by the time and the situation, the missed call was from Elizabeth.
What happens next is the biggest unknown of this case. No one ever sees or hears from Elizabeth again after she is sighted at the phone booth outside the 7-11 except one witness who claims to have seen her leave the 7-11 and get in a maroon car with a landau roof. Although there is never another confirmed sighting of Elizabeth, many people over the next several months will report they have seen her in a variety of locations and situations.
The family didn’t realize that Elizabeth was gone until the following morning. When she wasn’t in her bedroom, they phoned her boyfriend Rickie. He didn’t know where she was exactly but thought she had probably gone to her sister’s apartment at the CTC housing complex. When she wasn’t there, her family tried to report her missing with the police right away. They were told they could not because it had only been 12 hours. The family was reportedly told conflicting things by the police such as they had to wait 24, 48 or 72 hours to report her as a missing person depending on who they talked to. The family felt the police were not as pro-active as they could be and some didn’t even think Elizabeth was “missing” at all but was an adult who chose to leave.
The family then sprang into action on their own. They did absolutely everything to try to track their loved one down. They initially hired a PI but it was getting to be expensive and they felt they could do just as good of a job. Elizabeth’s father then takes a lengthy leave of absence from his job to help in the search. Over the years they sell property, cattle, stocks, land, jewelry and anything they had of any value to help fund the search for their beloved daughter. The family distributed flyers, made countless phone calls, traveled anywhere there was thought to be a sighting and even went to some very seedy and dangerous locations. Elizabeth’s mother, Sam Soon, refused to sleep in a bed for the first 1 ½ months after her daughter went missing because if her daughter was suffering, she would be too. There was even a bizarre phone call made to a worker at the Lampasas hospital the week after she went missing asking if the ambulance carrying Elizabeth’s body had arrived at the hospital yet. Also, Tom Campbell, Elizabeth’s father, is said to have hounded the television show “Unsolved Mysteries” until they agreed to do a segment on Elizabeth’s disappearance. After the segment aired in November of 1989, there were 200 phone calls of possible sightings.
Just 6 days after Elizabeth disappeared there was a possible sighting in Waco, TX, 85 miles from where she disappeared. The witness at the gas station said the woman was with a rough looking Asian man who held the female by the wrist and spoke in a foreign language. The woman kept looking down and would not make eye contact. The second sighting was 2 weeks after the disappearance just 2 miles from where she vanished. The clerk at the convenience store said a woman resembling Elizabeth was with an angry looking Asian man who was holding her by the wrist. It appeared the woman was not allowed to talk. The third sighting was 2 months after Elizabeth vanished and was in Garland, TX, 150 miles from where she went missing. The lady bumped into a woman as they were entering a convenience store. The woman appeared to be nervous and hurried to get back to the car with the man inside. She is convinced the woman she encountered was Elizabeth.
The police didn’t really put too much confidence into these sightings. They did say, however, that at the time there was an underworld pipeline that supplies Asian prostitutes from Killeen to Dallas and Houston. Elizabeth was attractive and was half-Korean so she could have been a target but there was no actual evidence to support it. Then in May of 1992 there was a possible development in the case that gave Elizabeth’s family renewed hope briefly. Four years after her disappearance, her purse was discovered in the Crockett Co. Sheriff’s Dept – more than 200 miles from where she was last seen. What at first gave the family hope, soon turned into anger and frustration. It was revealed that the purse had actually been in the evidence room of the Crockett Co. Sheriff’s Dept. since between April 25, 1988 to Jan, 1989, shortly after Elizabeth had disappeared. So, someone apparently found the purse around Ozona, TX and turned it in where it was put in an evidence room and completely forgotten. There was no record made of who found it and exactly when and where it was found. There were too many fingerprints on the purse to be of any help and it didn’t appear to have been out in the elements for any amount of time. The only reason it was discovered in 1992 was a new deputy had arrived and was going through the evidence room for things to be auctioned at the annual Alliance Club auction. When the deputy saw what was inside the purse, her driver’s license, military ID and bank statements, he ran the information and discovered she was still missing and alerted Copperas Cove PD. Barbara Campbell also states in her radio interview that she actually visited the Crockett Co. Sheriff 2 years after her sister went missing. She gave him a missing person flyer and talked to him about the purse and what might be in it. All the while during this conversation she was apparently mere feet away from the evidence room where her sister’s purse was sitting and had already been turned in. She angrily confronted the new Sheriff in 1992 when this came to light and he seemed to put the blame on the former, now deceased Sheriff, and was never given a satisfactory answer.
There is another possible theory as to what happened to Elizabeth Campbell that isn’t widely mentioned in discussions about her. There is no concrete proof or evidence to support this, but it could be related to serial killer Robert Ben Rhodes dubbed the “Truck Stop Killer”. He was thought to have been active from 1975 to 1990. He was an OTR truck driver and was known to be in the vicinity during his routes near where Elizabeth went missing. His first victim’s body was even disposed of near Ozona, TX, where Elizabeth’s purse was later discovered. His first murder wasn’t discovered until 1990 but he has claimed his crimes went back 15 years. In the research by the police cross referencing Rhodes’ trucking logs with records of young women who went missing during the years he was active, it is thought he could have as many as 50 victims. His semi was said to be a traveling torture chamber and he usually picked up young female hitchhikers as well as truck stop prostitutes. In 1994 he was convicted of 3 of the murders and is currently serving a life sentence at the Menard Correctional Center in Chester, IL.
There seems to have been a lot of regrets from Elizabeth’s loved ones in the years since her disappearance, which is understandable. Had the family known Elizabeth needed a ride home that night, they would have certainly been there for her. Her brother was driving around Killeen visiting friends at the time and one of her sisters was actually working at a 7-11 in Killeen that night across town. The missed phone call at her parents house was just a very unfortunate circumstance that happened by accident. I’m sure Elizabeth’s then boyfriend Rickie also regrets his actions that night in refusing, on two occasions, to give her a ride home. He is quoted at the time in a newspaper article as saying: “I was thinking of myself. I was a stupid ass.”. Rickie was never really viewed as a suspect in his girlfriend’s disappearance. He had witnesses who verified where he was that night and he also passed a polygraph test.
The eyewitness sightings are interesting, but it doesn’t seem likely that someone who abducted someone and had an interest in trafficking them and stripping them of their identity would parade them out in public places so soon after. Especially after the missing flyers had been put up. It would make sense they would want to keep her isolated. Elizabeth had already accepted a ride that night with someone she didn’t know, so its entirely possible she accepted another ride hoping to get from Copperas Cove to her home in Lampasas, but sadly came to harm then. Even though Elizabeth was angry that night, I don’t believe she left with the intention of staying gone. She had made a few phone calls to try to solicit a ride and seemed eager to return home. Plus, there was a paycheck that was never picked up and there has been no bank account or credit card activity since she disappeared.
Elizabeth Campbell’s family still to this day works day and night to find out answers as to what happened to their loved one. Her mother is in fragile health but will never stop her fight. When Elizabeth went missing, in her room she found wrapped birthday and Mother’s Day gifts to her from her daughter which she still refuses to open. Her logic behind that is simple. She wants her daughter to see her expression when she opens up her gifts so she’s saving them until she’s reunited with her beloved daughter. The family also has a makeshift memorial to Elizabeth in the living room of their home. Sadly, Elizabeth’s father Tom Campbell passed away in 2018 still heartbroken over his missing daughter. Tom’s quote in the Unsolved Mysteries segment (regarding if she has been brainwashed and forced to be on the streets) is very poignant: “She’s our daughter, not what somebody’s tried to make her. She’ll always be our little girl”. The Campbell family is undeterred in their fight to find their loved one and return her to those that love her. I truly hope they can get all the answers one day and finally know whether Elizabeth’s disappearance was the result of trafficking or tragedy.
THE BLACK HOODED FIGURE THAT HAUNTS ME=====
This black cloaked hooded entity has visited me at least four times in my life. I believe it all began after I bought a kid’s puzzle game that showed a black-cloaked, hooded entity (skeleton in a black cloak) with an “A” symbol on its skull’s forehead and the title is “Alchemist”.
In September 1997, when I was a kid, I was watching an episode of Zorro on TV with my mother when Zorro became a black-cloaked hero to scare his enemies. He made this sound… ” Ooooohooohoooowooooo…” That night at 4:00 a.m., I was awake on my bed when the bedroom door opened and I heard this exact same sound, but I knew the TV was turned off and everyone was sleeping.
I knew this sounded crazy, but it was real. I stood up on my bed to see outside the door, and I knew that it was a real ghost this time, but it was too dark that I did not see anything. But I know that something was there. I tried to ignore it and lay back down on my bed and closed my eyes to sleep. Suddenly, I became paralyzed and could not move while I could hear a strange sound that sounded like a high-pitched airplane engine and I could see a pathway image in my head as if I was moving at a very high speed.
It was terrifying, or perhaps this entity had the power to control my emotions. I was frightened to the point that I was able to get control of my hands, so I rubbed my eyes very fast to get the image away. But then I became paralyzed again. However, the image and sound were gone and a new image appeared that showed a tree and a grassland with two people who were talking about something. I was not frightened anymore, so I smiled to show the ghost that I was not afraid, so the image disappeared and I was able to open my eyes and move again.
It seemed that the ghost had a power over me when I was afraid, but when I was not afraid of it, then the ghost could not do much.
The next incident happened in 1998 when I was playing a video game. At the corner of the reflective frame of the screen of TV, I could see something moving behind me. It looked like the black-cloaked hooded figure with a bit of white skull inside the hood. I looked back but did not see anything. I was then overcome with a rancid smell as if something was dead and rotting for days in my bedroom. I investigated to see if there was a dead rat in my bedroom, but I already knew that was impossible since I lived on the fourth floor of an apartment building and I had never seen a rat in my apartment.
The third incident happened late at night. I could not sleep because I was hungry, so I went to the kitchen to find something to eat. While I was slicing some sausage, I caught something out of the corner of my eye outside the door of the kitchen. It looked as if there was a transparent black-cloaked hooded figure with no legs, no arms, and no face moving above the floor at a fast speed while its hood was staring down as if it was looking down while walking. I wasn’t very scared, but I knew something was there as it moved from left to right outside the kitchen doorway.
This last incident occurred in August 2013 – more than 15 years after the first incident. I am not a kid anymore and it’s been a long time since this black-cloaked hooded entity visited me. But I think it still remembers me and this is why it came back to see me. I could hear the ghost making the same sound… “Oooooooohooohoowooo,” just like the first incident back in 1997 when I was a kid. This time, however, I could also feel what I believed to be two hands shaking on my blanket very fast. And I could hear the sound of chain rattling as if both of the entity’s arms were wrapped in chain.
It’s as if this entity was once a prisoner or something and had been executed, which would explain the chain. I could also smell that same rancid smell of a dead body, like the second incident in 1998. Again, I was able to open my eyes and I wasn’t very scared, but I saw something that looked like the transparent black-cloaked hooded entity floating in midair with no legs, no arms, and no face. To my surprise, it was much smaller than what I expected. I was expecting to see it standing next to my bed and looking larger than normal human size, but it looked smaller and moved freely in midair. I think this was the first time I was able to see this entity much clearer than before.
It seemed to me that this black-cloaked hooded ghost or entity was not as threatening or evil as I expected it to be. I don’t know if it is evil or not, but it was not threatening, yet at the same time could be frightening, too.
The lesson I learned is that if you can control yourself and prove or show the entity that you are not afraid of it, then this entity cannot do anything to you. At the same time, however, never ever challenge it or offend it because perhaps it could also be dangerous if it gets angry. We cannot underestimate this entity. I would never recommend anyone to offend this entity because we might never know its full capability of what it can do to us.
From what I have learned, Satanists and many Devil worshipers would normally wear this black cloak with a hood during the satanic ritual, while some Christian priests would wear a brown cloak with a hood. I suspect that it could be the ghost of a Satanist who was prosecuted and executed by the Church for following Satanism during the medieval times. Also, a friend once told me that near where I live there is a small hill where Satanists used to perform the satanic ritual.
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.
“The Gorman Dogfight” by Colin Bertram for History.com
“Beware The Headless Blemmy” by Gemma Hollman for Just History Posts
“The Black Hooded Figure That Haunts Me” by Stephen Wagner for Live About
“Imprisoned In Her Own Room By Her Husband” from London Overlooked
“The Elizabeth Campbell Mystery” by Heather Graup for Lost n’ Found Blogs
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… “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” – John 14:27
And a final thought… “Don’t ask God to guide your footsteps if you’re not willing to move your feet.” – Unknown
I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me in the Weird Darkness.