“EERIE ENCOUNTERS WITH THE REAL MEN IN BLACK” and 4 More Scary But True Stories! #WeirdDarkness

EERIE ENCOUNTERS WITH THE REAL MEN IN BLACK” and 4 More Scary But True Stories! #WeirdDarkness

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Listen to ““EERIE ENCOUNTERS WITH THE REAL MEN IN BLACK” and 4 More Scary But True Stories! #WeirdDarkness” on Spreaker.

IN THIS EPISODE: In spring of 2015, the Great Barrington Historical Society & Museum formally inducted the infamous Reed case of alien encounters. But is the Reed family alien abduction a valid historical fact – or UFO fan fiction? (Reed Family Alien Abduction) *** Weeping statues are nothing new, and believers claim they are miracles without much investigation. However, the Vatican proves them to be hoaxes almost 100% of the time. The latest is the statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe in New Mexico. Will this be the one that finally convinces the Vatican of a true miracle? (Weeping Statue) *** Had Leonarda Cianciulli’s life not been so muddled by superstition, curses, and Romani fortune tellers, she may never have murdered at all. (She Turned Her Victims Into Soap and Teacakes) *** The mysterious Men in Black… are they government agents? Time travelers? One man who experienced them first-hand has a different theory. And we’ll look over a few separate incidents of people experiencing the Men in Black. (The MIB: I Knew They Were Evil) *** A family keep seeing black creatures in their home with no explanation of where they came from – or where they go. (Black Creatures on the Isle of White) *** On May 30, 1883, a stampede took place on New York’s Brooklyn Bridge, killing 12 people — all because of a bizarre rumor! But the bridge has always had a strange history. (Death On The Brooklyn Bridge) *** If humanity were to receive a message from an extraterrestrial civilization right now, it would be the single greatest event in the history of civilization. But according to a new study, such a message could also pose a serious risk to humanity. (If We Receive A Message From Aliens Should We Delete It Without Reading?) *** With as many people that pass on while being treated by EMTs, it should probably be no surprise that phantoms might be encountered in an ambulance. (Haunted Ambulance) *** There was no doubt that Thomas Joy was murdered by gunshot – but the witnesses all had different stories, as did the police. What really happened? (Who Shot “Tonce” Joy?) *** If you believe your house is haunted, it’s best not to try and confirm it by using a Ouija board. Nothing good can come from that. (Ouija Halloween) *** In 1928, a young boy mysteriously disappears after his mother gives him a dime to spend on admission to the local theater. But that is just the beginning of this very twisted true story. (The Very Strange Case of Christine and Walter Collins)
“Weeping Statue” by Paul Seaburn for Mysterious Universe: http://bit.ly/2M23zFw
“The Reed Family Alien Abduction” from the Alien UFO Sightings website: http://bit.ly/2xYaRln
“The MIB: I Knew They Were Evil”: Brent Swancer for Mysterious Universe http://bit.ly/2XUzTS3 and Jacob Geers for Thought Catalog: http://bit.ly/2XUAJyb
“She Turned Her Victims Into Soap and Teacakes” by Katie Serena for All That’s Interesting: http://bit.ly/2ZaaGiM
“Black Creatures on the Isle of White” from Ghost-Story.co.uk: http://bit.ly/2YlqHWk
“Death On The Brooklyn Bridge” by Troy Taylor: http://bit.ly/2LvphCl
“If We Receive A Message From Aliens Should We Delete It Without Reading?” from Alien UFO Sightings: http://bit.ly/2Yb7hTT
“Haunted Ambulance” by an unknown author: (link no longer available)
“The Very Strange Case of Christine and Walter Collins” from CoolInterestingStuff.com: http://bit.ly/30J7dIx
“Who Shot ‘Tonce’ Joy?” by Robert Wilhelm for Murder By Gaslight: http://bit.ly/2JOSjK2
“Ouija Halloween” by Blake Lacy from MyHauntedLifeToo.com: http://bit.ly/2O0pEXx
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The man was wearing a black suit, and black tie, and had very unusual facial appearances – with no hair or eyebrows, and an extremely pale figure. Hopkins’ dog started barking erratically the minute the man entered the home. After the bizarre visitor was done questioning him about the UFO case, the visit got even stranger.

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…

In spring of 2015, the Great Barrington Historical Society & Museum formally inducted the infamous Reed case of alien encounters. But is the Reed family alien abduction a valid historical fact? Or UFO fan fiction?

Weeping statues are nothing new, and believers claim they are miracles without much investigation. However, the Vatican proves them to be hoaxes almost 100% of the time. The latest is the statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe in New Mexico. Will this be the one that finally convinces the Vatican of a true miracle?

Had Leonarda Cianciulli’s life not been so muddled by superstition, curses, and Romani fortune tellers, she may never have murdered at all.

A family keeps seeing black creatures in their home with no explanation of where they came from – or where they go.

On May 30, 1883, a stampede took place on New York’s Brooklyn Bridge, killing 12 people — all because of a bizarre rumor! But the bridge has always had a strange history.

If humanity were to receive a message from an extraterrestrial civilization right now, it would be the single greatest event in the history of civilization. But according to a new study, such a message could also pose a serious risk to humanity.

With as many people that pass on while being treated by EMTs, it should probably be no surprise that phantoms might be encountered in an ambulance.

There was no doubt that Thomas Joy was murdered by gunshot – but the witnesses all had different stories, as did the police. What really happened?

If you believe your house is haunted, it’s best not to try and confirm it by using a Ouija board. Nothing good can come from that.

In 1928, a young boy mysteriously disappears after his mother gives him a dime to spend on admission to the local theater. But that is just the beginning of this very twisted true story.

But first… The mysterious Men in Black… are they government agents? Time travelers? One man who experienced them first-hand has a different theory. And we’ll look over a few separate incidents of people experiencing the Men in Black. We begin there.

If you’re new here, welcome to the show! While you’re listening, be sure to check out WeirdDarkness.com for merchandise, my newsletter, enter contests, to 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.

And this month we’re celebrating Weird Darkness’ birthday… this month makes seven years of Weird Darkness as a podcast. And to recognize our birthday, every October we ask you to make a donation to our Overcoming The Darkness fundraiser. Every dollar we raise through donations and the Weirdling Woods painting auction will go to organizations that help people who struggle with depression. You can learn more about the fundraiser and what we’re doing with it on the Hope in the Darkness page at WeirdDarkness.com.

Now.. bolt your doors, lock your windows, turn off your lights, and come with me into the Weird Darkness!

STORY: MIB – EVIL==========

“I’m 55 years old and have known about MIB since the 70s. Personally, the majority of the visits are, in my opinion, demonically orchestrated. I have learned, due to my belief system, not to make these events complicated. It is exactly what it portrays itself to be! Having the gift of discernment reveals what these hybrids are, that is evil! I call the feelings and smells are all ‘symptoms’ of a demonic encounter! If you agree with this, then the obvious next conclusion is that these so-called ‘aliens’ are also demonic and what does the demonic dwell in? They dwell in shadows! They do not want to found out!

“UFO encounters out them and their hybrids and satanic agendas. After all, it is about soul collecting, is it not? I reside on the West Coast of Lake Michigan. My front door faces directly 8 miles from an active nuclear power plant that is, within months, being decommissioned. This process can take up to 20 years. I live in the ‘hot zone’ range of this very old plant. For three years, due to living on a hill with a spectacular view of the open sky, I have witnessed UFO activity coming directly from the nuclear power plant and fly slowly right over my head. With incredible lighting and maneuvers like your Father mentioned to you. Including complete ‘stand still hovering.’ I have also felt that I have been discovered witnessing this and have had some type of acknowledgment from the crafts. It hard to explain. I just know they know that I see them! Usually I witness them around 11:00 p.m. and beyond.

“Anyhow, something different happened last August, 2017. As I stated, I live on a hill with a steep drop off approximately 30 feet from my door. This is a brand new apartment complex and a very short road runs in front of my back patio door. I should have originally said I’m witnessing these events from my back patio. The road runs to the right for about 100 feet and turns right to the front of the complex. Around 1:00 a.m. I felt compelled to go out unto my patio and look right. Now below the hill is nothing but woods. I saw 3 very tall, slender men come up the hill, unto the road, in perfect formation, walking extremely slow, dressed completely the same, all in black and suddenly stop!

“All 3 turned their heads directly towards me and just stood still! It seemed like minutes but I don’t think it was. I actually felt an electric charge go from my feet, straight up my back up to my head. Not only that, the fear I felt and also a sickness in my stomach was nothing I have felt EVER in my lifetime. I knew they were EVIL. They slowly moved their heads in complete synchronized fashion forward and slowly, and I mean slowly, continued to walk forward and disappeared from sight. I know exactly what i just witnessed! That was pure evil. Now, with that being said, I don’t know if it was a warning, a visit, or what. I have not spoken about this event until now! Summer is almost here again and I wonder what I will witness.”

Others have eerie encounters with the mysterious men in black… here are just a few…

Dr. Herbert Hopkins was working as a consultant on a UFO case in Maine. One evening he received a phone call from someone purporting to be an activist in the UFO community, asking him if he could visit Hopkins to discuss the case. Only minutes later, the man arrived.

The man was wearing a black suit and black tie, and had very unusual facial appearances, with no hair or eyebrows, and an extremely pale figure. Hopkins’ dog began barking erratically the minute the man entered the home. After the bizarre visitor was finished questioning him about the UFO case, the visit got even stranger:

He informed Hopkins that there were two coins in Hopkins’ pocket (which was correct) and asked him to remove one. Hopkins complied and held the coin, a shiny new penny, in the palm of his hand. The MIB told Hopkins to watch the coin closely. After a few moments the coin took on a “silvery” appearance and then appeared to be going out of focus. It then began to fade and, eventually, disappeared altogether. The MIB informed Hopkins that the coin would never be seen “on this plane” again.

He then inquired as to whether Hopkins was familiar with alleged UFO abductee Barney Hill. Hopkins replied that he had heard of Hill, but was under the impression that he had died in the not too distant past. The MIB informed Hopkins that was correct. “Barney didn’t have a heart,” said the MIB, “just like you no longer have a coin.” (It should be noted that Barney Hill actually died of a cerebral hemorrhage.) The MIB then gently suggested that Hopkins destroy any material he had related to the UFO case. (Source)

Hopkins, extremely shaken by the encounter, followed the advice of the man and burned all the files he had related to the case. While he had repeated phone troubles after (the phone company said his line had been tampered with, maybe to tap it?) he never saw the man again.

Dr. Albert K. Bender was a well-written and extremely intelligent researcher who founded the International Flying Saucer Bureau.

In 1955, his research was about to yield serious fruit, as he prepared to unveil a paper that would prove the US Government had — to one degree or another — covered up proof of UFOs. He planned to publish his findings in the Space Review. That was, until he was visited by the Men In Black.

Bender claims that three men, dressed in all black, visited him at his home and warned him against pursuing the topic of UFOs any further. The men left Bender scared for his life, and he immediately shut down all his research and the Flying Saucer Bureau.

Many people who knew him claim that Bender was a changed man after this encounter. His later works were rambly — almost unreadable — and he seemed to live his life in constant anxiety and terror. He purported to still receive mysterious phone calls, with nobody on the other end, until the end of his life in 2002.

Harold Dahl and his son were salvaging logs on a fishing boat when they spied six donut-shaped crafts flying in the air above them. The crafts drop molten waste onto the lake, which allegedly kills Dahl’s dog and injures his son.

A few days later, after talking about the affairs with his boss and friends, he was visited by a mysterious man dressed in all black. The man urged him to not discuss the encounter. Not long after, he was also visited by several Air Force agents who were said to be on a mission to “gather information.” Dahl’s story definitely got the attention of various law enforcement agencies in the United States, leading the FBI to write a report on the matter. Not long after the encounter with the “Man in Black,” Dahl claimed that the whole thing was a hoax, but recanted years after, having allegedly made the first confession under duress.

Paul Miller was returning home after a hunting trip when they saw a “luminous” disc in the sky. The disc landed in an empty field, and two humanoids emerged from the craft. Miller fired his gun at them, and believed to have injured one, when he fled down a rural road in his car.

However, in that moment, he realized he had lost time. It was almost three hours later than when he first encountered the craft. He shrugged it off, and went back to his Air Force job the next day.

However, upon entering work, he was immediately confronted by three men in black suits. They told him that they “had his file.” Despite having told nobody about the event, the men said that they “knew all about it” and mentioned that the encounter would be best forgotten.

“They seemed to know everything about me; where I worked, my name, everything else,” Miller said. They also asked questions about his experiences as if they already knew the answers. (Source)

Miller, terrified, did not come forward about his experience until years later.

Danny Gordon was a radio personality who became interested in a flurry of Wythe County UFO sightings. Multiple people across the county claimed to have seen bizarre objects in the sky, and Gordon decided to investigate.

Gordon became obsessed with getting photos of the objects, including one time where an entire school bus of students saw the UFOs flying over a shopping mall as Gordon took photos. Eventually, Gordon snapped a few photos at extremely close range that allegedly verified they were not of this world.

However, strange things began happening to Gordon. He received a phone call from a man who claimed to be “ex-military” and warned him that his research could “cost him everything” and urged him to stop for “his family’s sake.”

Gordon was also “interviewed” by two men in black suits who claimed to work for a magazine publication. Not long after the interview, Gordon realized all his photos were missing. He contacted the magazine for information, and they claimed to have never heard of him, much less commissioned an article about him.

Not long after, Gordon suffered a heart attack, and his doctor warned him that all the research and stress was jeopardizing his health. Gordon gave up the story, and was never bothered again.

UFO researcher Jack Robinson and his wife Mary began to experience extremely strange events as they pursued more alien and UFO-related research. They would come home to find their house rummaged and looked through, and their UFO files disturbed. Mary also began to notice a strange man in a black suit and hat staring up at their apartment from the doorway.

Mary mentioned this activity to a friend, who drove over and saw what she was talking about for himself. The friend, Tim Green Beckley, snapped a photo (above) of the man, which is believed to be on of the most ironclad pieces of proof of the Men in Black.

Professor Peter Rojcewicz claims that he was reading a UFO book in the library, when a strange pale man wearing all black sat down next to him. The man began talking to the Professor, and asked him about his opinion on flying saucers. The Professor replied that he wasn’t super interested, and the man became very agitated. He eventually left, leaving Professor Rojcewicz extremely uncomfortable and anxious.

He did not reveal this story until many years later, when he finally gave a lecture on the subject. He remains convinced that it was a Men in Black official who confronted him in the library, and to this day, is trying to find more people who have had similar experiences.

Actor Dan Aykroyd has come forward with his story about how he was taping a show about the paranormal. He stepped out to take a phone call from Britney Spears, who was asking him to appear on Saturday Night Live with her, when he noticed a black ford parked across the street. A tall man stepped out of the Ford, and stared him down. Aykroyd turned away for a moment, and then turned back, to find that the man and the car had completely vanished.

After he finished his phone call, he returned to the studio to learn that his show had been cancelled and he was ordered to stop filming immediately.

Some doubt his claim, but Aykroyd says “he knew what he saw” and maintains that there was some kind of connection between these MIB and the end of his paranormal show.


In spring of 2015, the Great Barrington Historical Society & Museum formally inducted the infamous Reed case of alien encounters. A shocking precedent, this is thought to be the first-ever UFO encounter that a historical society or American museum has declared to be a historical fact.

However, it was not a decision that came easily – it was actually far from unanimous. There are a total of nine voting members on the historical society’s board and three were vocally opposed to the UFO case induction.

The minority vote was not alone. The Great Barrington Historical Society & Museum’s decision and its surrounding controversy have led many to wonder: is the Reed family alien abduction a valid historical fact? Or UFO fan fiction?

The Reed Family Extraterrestrial Encounters

It all began in the small town of Sheffield, Massachusetts in the 1960s. On a September night in 1966, six year-old Thomas Reed and his younger brother Matt were sitting in their family home on Boardman Street.

Things were fairly quiet in their residence that evening; it seemed like a sleepy late summer evening like any other… until the lights came.

Young Thomas suddenly noticed strange flashing lights coming from a Frisbee-shaped object that appeared to have touched down in their yard. At that moment, everything seemed to have changed – including the pressure in their home.

Before they knew it, the Reed brothers found themselves outside in front of the strange, illuminated craft – staring down life forms not of this world.

Before the brothers knew it, they were being escorted inside the UFO by the alien beings. Thomas would later recall the creatures as odd-looking, emitting a perpetual ethereal glow. Once all were aboard, they showed the Reed brothers images of a willow tree and a large body of water on a big screen.

That was all Thomas recalled. As quickly as it had all happened, he seemed to be back inside his home on Boardman Street.

“The stuff happens very quickly,” Thomas explained later. “You’re not sure if it’s 2 seconds, or 10 minutes, or 20 minutes.”

A similar encounter would occur the following year in 1967. The brothers were asleep in their shared bedroom when they were awakened by bright lights and eerie dead silence. And once again, they inexplicitly found themselves back inside the space ship.

During this encounter, the alien beings seemed to be very intrigued with the brothers’ human anatomy, particularly Thomas’s cleft foot. He would later describe feeling like a “walking Petri dish.”

The final Reed family alien encounter would occur in 1969 – and this time, it involved everyone. Thomas, Matt, their mother and grandmother were driving back from a horse show in Ashley Falls on Route 7. It was just an ordinary family ride home.

Just like both of the prior occurrences, there was no warning that something strange was about to happen. Then there were strange lights, a sudden shift in pressure and deafening silence. Suddenly, Thomas recalls being back in the space ship.

He remembers being in a big dark room, a body-encasing chamber, a series of long, illuminated corridors and frightfully calling out for his mother and other family members.

After all family members were mysteriously returned to the vehicle, the Reeds experienced much confusion and disorientation. They believed that their vehicle was facing an entirely different direction than when it had stopped before the lights earlier. And it wasn’t just the vehicle that was in a state of disarray… the family members were scattered about the countryside highway.

Thomas located his grandmother first – she was wandering aimlessly in the middle of the road. Although his mother had been driving earlier, she was now seated in the vehicle’s passenger seat in a seemingly catatonic state. His little brother Matthew was fortunately close by in the backseat – although he was out cold and curled up in the fetal position.

Evidence Supporting Alien Abduction

Thomas Reed and his family’s claims have been investigated by Bigelow Aerospace, the Mutual UFO Network(MUFON) and many other recognized organizations. Although most of the accounts are largely based on the words of Thomas himself, there are a few major pieces of supporting evidence worth noting.

1) Corresponding UFO Reports Filed by Area Residents

Up until the 1969 event, the primary witnesses were Thomas and his younger brother Matt. However, when the Reed family was seemingly abducted by aliens on public roadway, there was some corroborating testimony from witnesses unrelated to them. At least 40 other individuals reported seeing an unidentified flying object or strange lights in the area that evening.

2) The Magnetic Field That Occurred With Every Incident

During each encounter, Thomas Reed described a sudden change in pressure. Official reports filed in the town of Sheffield include unexplained spikes in radiation and magnetic readings around the time of each occurrence.

3) Thomas Reed’s Polygraph Test

In 2010, Thomas underwent a Polygraph test in his Knoxville home. He was questioned about the 1966 incident– and the polygraph found that he had answered all questions regarding the encounter truthfully.

Opposition & Historical Evidence Controversy

Some have taken issue with the fact that this UFO encounter is being recorded as a “historical fact.” During the 1969 encounter, dozens of concerned citizens reporting seeing an unidentified flying object in the area. Many of those witnesses then called the local radio station, WSBS, which covered the sightings.

For this reason, the 1969 encounter has gone down in Sheffield history – but skeptics aren’t sure the Reed family should have anything to do with it. They believe that the UFO sighting itself should be part of history – but the alleged abductions are based primarily on anecdotal evidence submitted solely by the Reeds, not any actual historical evidence.

Historic Reed Family Alien Abduction

During the 1960s, three separate close encounters of the fourth kind rocked the quiet town of Sheffield, Massachusetts and changed four family members forever.

Thomas Reed and his family gave compelling accounts of real-life extraterrestrial abductions. But it wasn’t just them who noticed something strange… during the Reed family’s 1969 encounter, dozens of townspeople also reported see an unidentified object in the area.

Whether any or all of these encounters are true or not remains to be seen. But either way, the Reed family alien abduction is now a permanent part of history in the Great Barrington Historical Society & Museum.

When Weird Darkness returns…

Had Leonarda Cianciulli’s life not been so muddled by superstition, curses, and Romani fortune tellers, she may never have murdered at all.

Plus… a family keeps seeing black creatures in their home with no explanation of where they came from – or where they go.

But first… Weeping statues are nothing new, and believers claim they are miracles without much investigation. However, the Vatican proves them to be hoaxes almost 100% of the time. The latest is the statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe in New Mexico. Will this be the one that finally convinces the Vatican of a true miracle? That story is up next.



There have been stories of statues weeping, blinking, crying and winking ever since the dawn of statues. While only the pigeons know for sure, the accounts have been prevalent enough that the Catholic Church, paranormal investigators and hoax busters have fought their way through the crowds of believers and wannabelievers to attempt to vouch for their authenticity or prove them to be hoaxes. So far, the hoaxers have a near-perfect batting average (only one weeping statue has been certified by the Vatican) , but that hasn’t stopped representatives of the Catholic Church from visiting Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Hobbs, New Mexico, where many parishioners claim to have seen a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe appear to be crying. Is this the one that will breaking the miracle losing streak?

“I actually saw how she was dripping, and that’s when I took the video and it’s just incredible.”

Local TV station KRQE reports that witness and 10-year parishioner Marcelo Servin got a video of the alleged weeping, something that will help investigators. Witness Paul Campos will also help them.

“You can even get a sense of her presence. You can smell roses in her tears. I’ve got a tissue that I’ve taken, wiped from her mantle.”

Samples and videos have helped debunk weeping and bleeding statue accounts in the past, with the videos showing alterations and DNA tests showing, in one instance, that “dripping blood” was from a male. These statues are usually made of plaster and sometimes hollow, both of which allow for absorption of moisture or alterations that perpetrate the hoax. However, this one is not plaster.

“I couldn’t tell you. I mean, I think that faith is an issue. Technically, of course, the metal doesn’t hold water.”

KVIA tracked down Ricardo Flores Kastanis, who works at the foundry in Mexico City where the bronze statue – that’s right … bronze — was cast and then loaned to the church in Hobbs. He’s at a loss and is anxious to find out what the church investors discover.

What that might be is the other way some weeping statue hoaxes are perpetrated – by applying water or oil to the statue when no one is looking. Church members claim there was nothing on the statue until a service on the previous Sunday when it suddenly appeared to be weeping.

Or was that just the first time anyone looked at the statue closely?

Whatever the case, the statue has been under constant observation since then because the crowds have forced the pastor, Father Jose “Pepe” Segura, to keep it open. He’s also anxious for an investigation by the local Diocese of Las Cruces, whose leader, Bishop Oscar Cantú, said it has already begun. Father Pepe is part of it because he also wiped up some of the “tears” with a napkin – which he saved – and claimed that more tears appeared. There is apparently another sample someone preserved in cotton balls. Diocese spokesperson Deacon Jim Winder assures everyone the investigation will be fair and thorough. He plans to do DNA tests on the tear samples, examine the statue for hidden tubes, consult with the bronze experts at the foundry and interview the witnesses, which may number in the hundreds. That could take years.

“We will investigate to rule out any chances of man-made causes or natural causes. We don’t want to jump to any conclusions.”

It’s May, it’s hot in New Mexico and the bronze statue is a new addition to Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Hobbs. Could it be condensation forming on the cold bronze?

Or will it be proven to be a miracle?


It is important to know that Leonarda Cianciulli was fiercely protective of her children. After losing 13 of her 17 children before the age of 10, it’s no wonder that the four children who remained were treated with the utmost care.

So, when police came calling, accusing her son, Giuseppe, of murdering three local spinster women, Cianciulli immediately confessed to the crimes she had worked so hard to conceal from authorities.

In fact, not only did Cianciulli confess to the murders, but she described in great detail their aftermath – including boiling the bodies, baking them with the blood, and turning the fat into soap.

All of which were shared, so generously, with her neighbors during afternoon tea.

Leonarda Cianciulli was not always a monster, though her adolescent life had set her up to be. Before even reaching adulthood, she had attempted suicide twice. Then, she married a registry office clerk, who her parent’s strongly disapproved of as they’d had a more respectable set-up in mind. Cianciulli claimed that upon her marriage, her mother cursed her, dooming her to a life of misery forevermore.

Though there was, of course, no proof, a curse doesn’t seem that unlikely when one looks at Cianciulli’s life after her marriage. A few years into her marriage, Cianciulli was imprisoned for fraud, and three years later, her home was destroyed by an earthquake.

She got pregnant 17 times but lost 13 of the children either to miscarriage or illness in their youth. She eventually went to see a fortune teller, a traveling Romani woman, who did nothing to quell her fears of a curse.

“In your right hand I see prison,” the fortune teller told her. “In your left a criminal asylum.”

Laboring under the curse she felt was put on her by her mother, and the Romani fortune teller’s prediction, Leonarda Cianciulli became highly superstitious. When her son, Giuseppe, told her in late 1939, that he was going to join the Italian Army, Cianciulli turned to the one thing that she believed would keep her son safe – human sacrifice.

She chose her candidate well, a local spinster woman who she thought no one would miss, named Faustina Setti. Inviting Setti over under the guise of setting her up with a husband, Cianciulli had her write letters to her family members, telling them that she would be visiting the man abroad. Then, she subdued Setti with drugged wine and murdered her with an axe.

From there, she cut Setti into nine pieces and gathered her blood into a basin. In her official statement upon her arrest, she described the things she did to the body next.

*****“I threw the pieces into a pot, added seven kilos of caustic soda, which I had bought to make soap, and stirred the mixture until the pieces dissolved in a thick, dark mush that I poured into several buckets and emptied in a nearby septic tank. As for the blood in the basin, I waited until it had coagulated, dried it in the oven, ground it and mixed it with flour, sugar, chocolate, milk, and eggs, as well as a bit of margarine, kneading all the ingredients together. I made lots of crunchy tea cakes and served them to the ladies who came to visit, though Giuseppe and I also ate them.”*****

According to some, Cianciulli also took Setti’s life savings, which she had received as payment for setting Setti up with a husband.

While one would think a single sacrifice would have been sufficient to prevent her son’s imminent demise, Leonarda Cianciulli didn’t seem to be able to stop at one.

Soon after Setti’s murder, Cianciulli found another victim, another local, family-less woman named Francesca Soavi. Like she had with Setti, Cianciulli convinced Soavi that she had organized a teaching job for her abroad, and made her write letters to her friends detailing her trip. And, as she had with Setti, she fed her drugged wine, killed her with an axe, baked her into teacakes, and stole her savings.

Her third victim, however, was where she slipped up.

The third victim, Virginia Cacioppo, was a noted soprano, whom Cianciulli had promised a job working with an impresario in Florence. This time, however, instead of only baking her body into teacakes, and feeding them to her neighbors, Cianciulli also melted her flesh down and turned it into soap.

“She ended up in the pot like the other two…her flesh was fat and white, when it had melted I added a bottle of cologne, and after a long time on the boil, I was able to make some most acceptable creamy soap,” she said in her statement. “I gave bars to neighbors and acquaintances. The cakes, too, were better: that woman was really sweet.”

Though Cianciulli thought she had covered her tracks, she had missed something. Unlike her first two victims who had little or no family, Cacioppo had a sister-in-law – a very nosy sister-in-law. She didn’t believe Cacioppo’s letters detailing her quick departure, and had, in fact, seen her entering Cianciulli’s home the night she had “left.” Immediately she reported the disappearance to the police, who quickly investigated Cianciulli.

At first, Leonarda Cianciulli defended herself, never admitting to any wrongdoing. It was only when the police openly suspected her son, one of the four children she’d worked so hard to protect from the world, that she admitted it was her, and that her son had nothing to do with it.

The trial of Cianciulli lasted only a few days. She was found guilty of her crimes and granted a 33-year sentence that echoed the Romani woman’s prophecy with eerie accuracy – thirty years in a prison, and three years in a criminal asylum.

During her stint years in the asylum in 1970, at age 79, Leonarda Cianciulli died of cerebral apoplexy, a type of intracranial hemorrhage. Her body was returned to her family for burial, but her murder weapons, including the pot that her victims were boiled in, were donated to the Criminology Museum in Rome, Italy.

Today, visitors can see her collection of axes, and peer inside the vat she used to boil human beings.


When I was about 8 or 9, I was at a friends house, we were living on the Isle of White at the time. My friend lived in a big house just set back from the beach. We were playing with his star wars figures, and I noticed what I thought was a black cat.

I asked my friend when his parents had gotten him a cat. He stated, “We don’t have one.” He seemed little agitated at my question, so I went into the hall and there it was again, right by the stairs leading down to the living room. I said, “Well, what is this then?”.

When he came into the hallway, it dashed down the stairs. He naturally didn’t see it, and looked even more upset. His mother was sitting down in the living room, and I called down to her to see if she had seen the cat. She was extremely upset, and told us to go back into my friends room, and stop playing around the stairs.

It had been arranged that I was to spend the night, but my parents showed up about a half an hour later, and took me home. I never really knew why. I figured I had upset his mother somehow, and she was just mad at me, or punishing him for playing by the stairs. Several years later, when I was about 17, an event at home got my mother and I onto a discussion about the supernatural and ghosts, she proceeded to tell me about what had happened at my friends house all those years ago.

The family had seen black creatures, of varying sizes, and they had been terrorizing the family. The origin of these creatures had almost always been the bathroom, which was right next to my friends bedroom. They had been attacked several times causing injuries to the family. What I had seen was one of these creatures, one of the most violent from what they said. His mother had called my mother in a panic, they had never appeared to anyone but family members, until now.

I learned that later that week, the local vicar and several vicars from the mainland, had gone to their house to try an exorcism. They were violently attacked, and one member of the group had become possessed momentarily. They apparently had no further problems from then on, but every time I go by that house, I get this sinking feeling. Like it’s watching as you go by.

What brought me and my mother into this discussion was odd as well. I have had several times when I was at home, alone, up in my room, and hear the kitchen cabinets open and close. Sounds of glasses, and the fridge opening. I would assume someone was home and go down to see who was there. No one was home. Nothing had been disturbed. Anyway, I was in my last months of 6th form, and came home.

Our house is two stories with a basement. We would enter the house from the back door, because the garage is next to the back edge of the house. When you walk into the back door, you came into a landing, on staircase hall. The hall went up, into the kitchen area to the left, and went down into the basement to the right. You couldn’t see directly into the next room of the basement, the stairs ended above the sub-pump, and the room was off to the left from the bottom.

When I came into the back door, I looked to my right as I came in, because someone looked around the corner, casually, as if to see who was home, and then went back into the basement. The basement lights were on. I went up into the kitchen, and my mother was sitting at the table working on a cake.

I asked her who was in the basement, because I thought it was her. She said no one. I said, “well, someone just looked at me from down their, and the lights are all on.” We went and looked, and they were off. We went down, and no one was there.I told her about the other things that had been happening in the house, and she seemed kind of sceptical. For some reason, she may have thought it was their creatures, I don’t know. But she told me all about the creatures at my friends house.

I was so upset about whatever it was that looked at me from the basement, that I don’t really know how the conversation got there, it just drifted in that direction. But there have been other events that have made me believe in ghosts, demons, or whatever they are. There is something there. It may be a natural extension of our after existence. It may be evil, or the devil. I don’t know. I have found that if I leave them alone, and just take them with a bit of humour, and a grain of salt sometimes, that I have on the hole been left alone, I haven’t had an experience in about 4 years.

Coming up next…

In 1928, a young boy mysteriously disappears after his mother gives him a dime to spend on admission to the local theater. But that is just the beginning of this very twisted true story.

And… On May 30, 1883, a stampede took place on New York’s Brooklyn Bridge, killing 12 people — all because of a bizarre rumor! But the bridge has always had a strange history.

Plus… If humanity were to receive a message from an extraterrestrial civilization right now, it would be the single greatest event in the history of civilization. But according to a new study, such a message could also pose a serious risk to humanity.

These stories and more when Weird Darkness returns!



On a very sunny afternoon on 10th March 1928, 9-year-old Walter Collins mysteriously disappeared after his mother, Christine, a telephone operator, gave him a dime to spend on admission to the theater near their Mt. Washington area home.

The nation rallied behind the grieving mother and her missing boy while the local police dragged nearby Lincoln Park lake and launched a national campaign to find Walter.

His apparent kidnapping struck a chord in a city still traumatized by a vicious crime only three months earlier. In that case, 12-year-old Marion Parker was kidnapped for ransom by a psychopath named William “the Fox” Hickman, who shoved her dismembered body from his car just before being captured.

Countless tips on Walter’s location led to dead-ends. He was allegedly spotted as far north as San Francisco and Oakland. One reported sighting was at a Glendale gas station in the back seat of a car, wrapped in newspaper with only his head showing. The station owner described the driver as a “foreign-looking man, probably an Italian,” accompanied by a woman.

The boy’s father, Walter J.S. Collins, who was serving time in prison for robbery, believed that former inmates out for revenge against him may have kidnapped his son, though there were no witnesses and no proof that that had occurred.

Police continued their search until August, when a boy claiming to be Walter turned himself in to Illinois authorities. Christine Collins paid $70 in travel expenses so the boy could return to Los Angeles.

When he arrived, however, Collins said that although he resembled Walter, the boy was not her son.

‘You Are . . . a Fool’

However, the Los Angeles Police Department–under terrific pressure to declare the case happily closed–refused to believe that the boy wasn’t Walter, whatever the mother said.

Emotionally drained, Collins caved in to the cops’ suggestion that she “try the boy out,” and took him into her home.

But after three weeks of attempting to reconcile herself to the convenient fiction, Collins returned him to the police.

Armed with proof in the form of her son’s dental records and a troop of friends who agreed that the boy wasn’t Walter, Collins still failed to convince LAPD Capt. J.J. Jones, who investigated the kidnapping, that the boy was an impostor.

“What are you trying to do, make fools out of us all? Or are you trying to shirk your duty as a mother and have the state provide for your son? You are the most cruel-hearted woman I’ve ever known. You are a . . . fool!” Jones allegedly told Collins.

Resolved to bend her to his will–and the department’s convenience–Jones had the distraught mother committed to Los Angeles County General Hospital’s psychiatric ward for evaluation.

While she spent five days in the hospital, Jones extracted the truth from the faux Walter.

The boy from Illinois confessed that he actually was 12-year-old Arthur Hutchins of Iowa. After his mother died, he had gone to live an isolated new life with his cold fish of a father and a malicious stepmother, he said. He ran away, hitchhiking around the country and working odd jobs.

While stopped at an Illinois roadside cafe, Arthur said, he listened to a diner tell him how much he resembled the kidnapped boy from Los Angeles, whose picture had appeared in newspapers nationwide. Arthur quickly seized on an opportunity to see Hollywood, turned himself in to authorities and carried out the charade by assuming the identity of the missing boy.

For Collins, however, there was more heartache and trouble to come.

Released from the hospital, she filed a false-imprisonment complaint against the city, Police Chief James Davis and Jones.

With the heat on the department, Jones, who also was being pressured to help solve a grisly murder mystery, insisted that Walter had been one of the victims of Gordon Stewart Northcott and his mother, who had recently been charged with beheading a youth, one of 11 children they sexually assaulted and murdered in Riverside County.

But Collins refused to believe it, especially because her son’s body was never found on the Northcotts’ chicken ranch in Wineville, now Mira Loma.

The case remains unsolved.


On May 30, 1883, a stampede took place on New York’s Brooklyn Bridge, killing 12 people — all because of a bizarre rumor! But the bridge has always had a strange history…

At the time of the tragedy, the bridge has only been open for six days. The structure, linking Brooklyn and Manhattan, was initially designed by German immigrant, John Roebling. While conducting surveys for the project, he sustained a crushing injury to his foot when a ferry pinned it against a piling. After amputation of his crushed toes, he developed an infection, which eventually killed him.

He was replaced soon after by his son, Washington Roebling, who also suffered a paralyzing injury as a result of decompression sickness and was unable to physically oversee the construction. So, his wife, Emily, stepped in to do the job, unbeknownst to the public and male engineers and workers. Under her husband’s guidance, Emily studied higher mathematics, the calculations of catenary curves, the strengths of materials, bridge specifications, and the intricacies of cable construction. She spent the next 11 years helping to supervise the bridge’s construction.

The Brooklyn Bridge opened on May 24m, 1883 to great fanfare with several thousand people and ships in attendance, Cannons were shot off, fireworks were launched, banquets were held, and Roebling was honored in his home since he could not attend (and rarely visited the bridge again). On the first day, 1,800 vehicles crossed the bridge and more than 150,000 people crossed what was then the only land passage between Brooklyn and New York.

But then the rumors began…

Just six days after opening to the public, a rumor quickly spread that the new bridge was about to collapse. It was, at that time, the longest suspension bridge it the world. There had been 27 workers killed during the construction. In the previous decades, dozens of failed suspension and iron bridges had collapsed around Europe and the US, killing hundreds. Since this was the first suspension bridge to use steel cables, it was new, unproven technology. So when a panic broke out on the Brooklyn Bridge in 1883, you can imagine how many were already a little nervous about being suspended 135 feet above the water.

The tragic incident started the afternoon of May 30, when a woman tripped and fell descending the wooden stairs on the Manhattan side of the bridge. Apparently, this caused another woman to scream at the top of her lungs, which caused those nearby to rush towards the scene. The commotion sparked a chain reaction of confusion, as more and more people panicked and mobbed the narrow staircase, creating a massive pileup. Thousands were on the promenade, quickly turning the situation deadly.

Believing a collapse was imminent, terrified pedestrians scrambled for the exit, trampling one another. Panicked men, women and children piled on top of each another and became trapped against the iron fences that line the narrow promenade. In true old-time New York fashion, pickpockets came to rob the helpless victims.

Eventually, some quick-thinking workers were able to cut away some of the iron fence, allowing trapped victims to escape from the promenade onto the streetcar tracks below. Afterwards, The New York Times described a vivid, gruesome scene, littered with gloves, shawls, handkerchiefs, smashed jewelry, crumpled men’s and women’s hats, and shredded trimming from ladies’ dresses. Broken canes and torn parasols spattered with blood were strewn about the roadway. In all, 12 people had died on the stairs, and more than 35 were injured.

The following year, P.T. Barnum helped to reassure the pubic of the bridge’s safety (while publicizing his circus) by leading a parade of 21 elephants over the bridge.

But the weird history wasn’t over. The landmark bridge soon became one of New York’s favorite suicide spots. Many of the jumps from the bridge were publicity stunts – some survived and some didn’t – and even today, it’s still a place where locals go to end their lives. The first person to jump from the bridge was Robert Emmet Odlum, brother of women’s rights activist Charlotte Odlum Smith, on May 19, 1885. He struck the water at an angle and died shortly thereafter from internal injuries. Many others have jumped, trying to end their lives, and ended up paralyzed. Others did it for the publicity and died. The bridge plays no favorites.

The point of the story is not that the Brooklyn Bridge is unlikely to ever collapse, but we don’t recommend it for jumping — and you should always be careful on the stairs.


Roughly half a century ago, Cornell astronomer Frank Drake conducted Project Ozma, the first systematic SETI survey at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, West Virginia.

Since that time, scientists have conducted multiple surveys in the hopes of find indications of “technosignatures” – i.e. evidence of technologically-advanced life (such as radio communications).

To put it plainly, if humanity were to receive a message from an extraterrestrial civilisation right now, it would be the single greatest event in the history of civilisation.

But according to a new study, such a message could also pose a serious risk to humanity. Drawing on multiple possibilities that have been explored in detail, they consider how humanity could shield itself from malicious spam and viruses.

The paper, titled “Interstellar communication. IX. Message decontamination is impossible“, recently appeared online.

The study was conducted by Michael Hippke, an independent scientist from the Sonneberg Observatory in Germany; and John G. Learned, a professor with the High Energy Physics Group at the University of Hawaii.

Together, they examine some of the foregone conclusions about SETI and what is more likely to be the case.

To be fair, the notion that an extraterrestrial civilisation could pose a threat to humanity is not just a well-worn science fiction trope. For decades, scientists have treated it as a distinct possibility and considered whether or not the risks outweigh the possible benefits.

As a result, some theorists have suggested that humans should not engage in SETI at all, or that we should take measures to hide our planet.

As Learned told Universe Today via email, there has never been a consensus among SETI researchers about whether or not ETI would be benevolent:

“There is no compelling reason at all to assume benevolence (for example that ETI are wise and kind due to their ancient civilisation’s experience).

I find much more compelling the analogy to what we know from our history… Is there any society anywhere which has had a good experience after meeting up with a technologically advanced invader? Of course it would go either way, but I think often of the movie Alien… a credible notion it seems to me.”

In addition, assuming that an alien message could pose a threat to humanity makes practical sense.

Given the sheer size of the Universe and the limitations imposed by special relativity (i.e. no known means of faster-than-light travel), it would always be cheaper and easier to send a malicious message to eradicate a civilisation compared to an invasion fleet.

As a result, Hippke and Learned advise that SETI signals be vetted and/or “decontaminated” beforehand.

In terms of how a SETI signal could constitute a threat, the researchers outline a number of possibilities.

Beyond the likelihood that a message could convey misinformation designed to cause a panic or self-destructive behaviour, there is also the possibility that it could contain viruses or other embedded technical issues (i.e. the format could cause our computers to crash).

They also note that, when it comes to SETI, a major complication arises from the fact that no message is likely to be received in only one place (thus making containment possible).

This is unlikely because of the “Declaration of Principles Concerning Activities Following the Detection of Extraterrestrial Intelligence“, which was adopted by the International Academy of Astronautics in 1989 (and revised in 2010).

Article 6 of this declaration states the following:

“The discovery should be confirmed and monitored and any data bearing on the evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence should be recorded and stored permanently to the greatest extent feasible and practicable, in a form that will make it available for further analysis and interpretation.

These recordings should be made available to the international institutions listed above and to members of the scientific community for further objective analysis and interpretation.”

As such, a message that is confirmed to have originated from an ETI would most likely be made available to the entire scientific community before it could be deemed to be threatening in nature.

Even if there was only one recipient, and they attempted to keep the message under strict lock and key, it’s a safe bet that other parties would find a way to access it before long.

The question naturally arises then, what can be done?

One possibility that Hippke and Learned suggest is to take a analog approach to interpreting these messages, which they illustrate using the 2017 SETI Decrypt Challenge as an example.

This challenge, which was issued by René Heller of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, consisted of a sequence of about two million binary digits and related information being posted to social media.

In addition to being a fascinating exercise that gave the public a taste of what SETI research means, the challenge also sough to address some central questions when it came to communicating with an ETI.

Foremost among these was whether or not humanity would be able to understand a message from an alien civilisation, and how we might be able to make a message comprehensible (if we sent one first).

As they state:

“As an example, the message from the “SETI Decrypt Challenge” (Heller 2017) was a stream of 1,902,341 bits, which is the product of prime numbers. Like the Arecibo message (Staff At The National Astronomy Ionosphere Center 1975) and Evpatoria’s “Cosmic Calls” (Shuch 2011), the bits represent the X/Y black/white pixel map of an image.

When this is understood, further analysis could be done off-line by printing on paper. Any harm would then come from the meaning of the message, and not from embedded viruses or other technical issues.”

However, where messages are made up of complex codes or even a self-contained AI, the need for sophisticated computers may be unavoidable.

In this case, the authors explore another popular recommendation, which is the use of quarantined machines to conduct the analysis – i.e. a message prison.

Unfortunately, they also acknowledge that no prison would be 100 percent effective and containment could eventually fail.

“This scenario resembles the Oracle-AI, or AI box, of an isolated computer system where a possibly dangerous AI is ‘imprisoned’ with only minimalist communication channels,” they write.

“Current research indicates that even well-designed boxes are useless, and a sufficiently intelligent AI will be able to persuade or trick its human keepers into releasing it.”

In the end, it appears that the only real solution is to maintain a vigilant attitude and ensure that any messages we send are as benign as possible.

As Hippke summarised: “I think it’s overwhelmingly likely that a message will be positive, but you can not be sure. Would you take a 1 percent chance of death for a 99 percent chance of a cure for all diseases? One learning from our paper is how to design [our] own message, in case we decide to send any: Keep it simple, don’t send computer code.”

Basically, when it comes to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, the rules of internet safety may apply. If we begin to receive messages, we shouldn’t trust those that come with big attachments and send any suspicious looking ones to our spam folder.

Oh, and if a sender is promising the cure for all known diseases, or claims to be the deposed monarch of Andromeda in need of some cash, we should just hit delete!

When Weird Darkness returns…

There was no doubt that Thomas Joy was murdered by gunshot – but the witnesses all had different stories, as did the police. What really happened?

Plus… If you believe your house is haunted, it’s best not to try and confirm it by using a Ouija board. Nothing good can come from that.

But first… With as many people that pass on while being treated by EMTs, it should probably be no surprise that phantoms might be encountered in an ambulance. That story is up next.



“I am a part time EMT with the county, and I volunteer with the local fire department. I have done so for maybe two years. Being a rural department, we have almost all second-hand apparatuses, including an old Ford ambulance conversion. This particular vehicle was one of the vehicles the county bought brand new for our EMS department way back in 1985. It served them for 19 years before being shuffled off to the fire department to act as a rescue equipment vehicle, and it earned a reputation as slow, difficult to drive, and positively impossible to kill with both services.

Plans change and shortly after we received the ambulance, we purchased a light rescue truck to carry equipment and personnel to vehicle collisions. As such, the ambulance got another refit, becoming a firefighter recovery vehicle to keep firefighters in good shape on the fireground (heat injuries are especially prevalent and heart attacks caused by over exertion are depressingly common).

In December 2012, at around one in the morning, a late response to the station on my night off left me and another firefighter as last out of the station in the ambulance headed to the scene of a large residential fire. The roads were awful, snow over ice left over from earlier in the day, and the sleet was coming down heavily enough that we couldn’t see much more than 50 feet.

I reached down to grab the radio mic and tell dispatch that we are en route. As I reached down, the firefighter with me realized what I was doing and grabbed for the mic, saying something about keeping my hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. Our hands bumped and hit the box that controls the emergency lights and the interior lights. As the cab was lit by the interior lights, our emergency lights turned on too, and the spotlights on the right side of the ambulance blazed against the snow and ice. I shot my companion a glare as I began to turn everything off and then glanced in the rear view mirror. At that moment, I saw a young girl sitting on a bench in the ambulance, looking at me just as the lights flashed off.

I slammed on the brakes and we skidded a bit. I turned all the lights on with a swipe across the panel and turned around to look in the back. There was no one. I did a walk around, but saw no open doors and no footprints leading away. The girl would have been hard to miss as she’d been wearing a DayGlo yellow t-shirt and shorts. Ryan, the firefighter with me, seemed skeptical when I explained and asked if I was okay to drive. I let him take over and kept nervously eyeing the back the whole night.

That was a long night. The sleet turned to snow, then finally quit right before dawn. The house was a total loss, but everyone got out okay (even the three-legged cat who was missing for several hours). During overhaul, Ryan was telling another firefighter about me flipping out so he too could join in heckling me. One of the paramedics overheard him and mentioned that back when the ambulance was still with EMS in the 90s, there had been reports of strange stuff happening. For example, the back doors would sometimes open by themselves in the locked bay, the lights would come on of their own accord, and paramedics heard whispers.

The truck is gone now, sold at auction so it can live a new life freaking out some other department. We left a note in the glove box. Figured they deserved a heads up.”


Fireman Doherty was on duty at the 3rd Street engine-house in Cincinnati in the early hours of Monday, November 30, 1896. A little after 3:00 a.m. he heard a gunshot coming from Muldoon’s Saloon across the street. He went to the door to see what had happened and was met by Pat Muldoon himself who rushed in and told Doherty to call a patrol wagon, someone had been hurt. Doherty sent for the wagon then looked across the street and saw two other men he knew—Billy Farrell was holding up “Tonce” Joy as if Joy was about to fall over.

Joy was unconscious when the wagon arrived to take him to the hospital. Police officers stayed behind to question Muldoon and Farrell. They told the officers that no one else was in the saloon and they were playing cards when they saw “Tonce” Joy staggering outside his hand clasped to his stomach. He told them he had been shot and showed them the wound. Muldoon and Farrell had not seen the shooting and Joy had not told them what happened. The officers took their statements and left. Joy died in the hospital at 7:48 without ever regaining consciousness.

Thomas “Tonce” Joy was a well-known sporting man in Cincinnati, likely to be seen on Vine Street at any time, day or night. Joy was 31-years-old—“a quiet, inoffensive man when sober, and even when drunk was not considered a desperate man.” But in his younger days, he had been a scrapper and carried the scars to prove it. He was a shoemaker by trade and in a melee, at a shoemaker’s ball someone drew a knife and gave Joy four deep slashes in his face. Joy was very nearly killed when a man named Smithy fractured his skull with a billiard cue. He was later stricken with paralysis; he no longer had the use of his left arm and his left leg could just bear his weight. Physically, he was not a threat to anyone.

The following day Coroner Haerr performed a post-mortem examination and officially declared Joy’s death a murder. The angle of the fatal wound indicated that either Joy was laying down when shot or the killer held the gun low down and shot up in an underhanded way. Haerr was upset that the police officers had not arrested Ferrell and Muldoon at the scene of the shooting.

In addition to being a saloonkeeper, Patrick Muldoon was a prominent ward heeler connected with the political machine of “Boss” George Cox. Billy Farrell was an ex-police officer. Friends of “Tonce” Joy said that there had been bad blood between Joy and Farrell, but no one knew the cause. Muldoon and Farrell were brought to the police station and both were quite indignant when they were put under arrest.

The story they told in police custody was essentially the same story they had told the night before, but the police knew these men and had a different theory. They believed that Joy, Muldoon, and Farrell had been playing cards with a fourth man who they were cheating. After their victim had been skinned, it was Joy’s job to steer him away. When Joy returned for his share, they wouldn’t pay, a fight ensued, and Joy was shot. The general impression was that Farrell had done the shooting and Muldoon was protecting him.

On December 3, James K. Kelly, a saloonkeeper who worked for “Boss” Cox, and Attorney Cabell paid a visit to Police Chief Deitsch. They said that they had the man who killed “Tonce” Joy but did not give his identity. The man was a city official, ready to surrender provided Muldoon and Farrell were released on bond. Chief Deitsch was anxious to talk to the man but was not willing to release his prisoners.

The following day the mystery man surrendered himself at the office of Coroner Haerr. His name was James Welton and he was a park policeman. He said he had been drinking with Joy, Joy got drunk and started to get abusive. Welton drew his revolver from his overcoat pocket. Joy grabbed him, a scuffle ensued, and the revolver went off. Joy said, “Oh, I’m shot.” Welton said, “I don’t believe you, but if you are it is your own fault.” Then Welton left him.

The police were skeptical. It came out that Welton was a friend of the prisoners and owed his city job to Muldoon’s influence. They believed that Welton had confessed to an accidental shooting to take the heat off of Muldoon and Farrell.

At the inquest, the coroner’s jury heard testimony against all three prisoners and there were a few surprises. Muldoon and Farrell changed their stories; they now said that Welton was in the saloon that night with two women. Joy came in and made some disparaging remarks about the women and Welton shot Joy in cold blood. Another witness also changed his story with contradictory results. Fred Burkhardt, a waiter who had been walking home that night, first testified to seeing Muldoon, Farrell, and Joy together on the corner but saw nothing more. But after testifying his conscience overcame his fear and he returned to the stand to say he had seen Farrell and Joy scuffling and could say without any doubt that Billy Farrell shot “Tonce” Joy. The jury decided to err on the side of caution and charged all three with murder.

When the case went before the grand jury, all the same evidence was presented but by now the police and prosecutors were convinced that Farrell was their man. But as the jury deliberated, four men known to have connections to “Boss” Cox refused to indict anyone but Welton. The District Attorney protested and managed to move the case to the next session with a less political jury. This time they followed the lead of the coroner’s jury and indicted all three.

Farrell , Muldoon, and Welton each pleaded not guilty. Though the prosecutors were convinced that Farrell was the killer there was not enough evidence to prosecute. Eventually, all three were released on bond and were never brought to trial. The identity of “Tonce” Joy’s killer remains a mystery.


There were always signs in our old house that it was haunted. Before mom, dad and I lived there, it was owned by my great grandma and grandpa Nana and Dee which whom passed away when I was very young and that we believed haunted the house. Some of the strange happenings were disembodied voices (which my mom claimed sounded like Nana), things disappearing only to be found later in the spot it was missing, leaving the house for errands to find the bath tub filled with water and wet foot prints on the floor, distorted faces reflecting in windows and in mirrors and the feeling you have when someone sits on the edge of the bed, but no one is there, to just name a few.

I had never really felt threatened or too creeped out in the house, except for one room that always made me uncomfortable, the middle room. The middle room was basically a room that had a computer and other office like materials in it where I would play computer learning games or find a book to read. Whenever I was in the middle room, I would have this feeling of unease and someone watching me, but I never made much of it. There was one time however on Halloween that was different. My family has always gone full tilt for Halloween. Everything from decorating to pumpkin carving and of course our annual Halloween party, which included a haunted back yard.

The haunted back yard was a kind of haunted trail where guests that were invited were guided through a maze of scary props dad and I would put out there. We also had all types of entertainment inside the house which would entertain the guests as they waited for the tour such as food, games, a palm reader and Ouija board. The Ouija board was located in the middle room, which was set up kind of like a gypsy tent. In the back, was a projector that my dad set up that projected an image of my mother’s face onto a Styrofoam head making it look like it was floating as well as a hand full of other decorations. To the left of the room covered with a dark table cloth and two lit candles was an old card table with the Ouija board on top of it. I had never really played with the Ouija before and thought it more of a joke than anything else (being distributed by Hasbro a known company for kid board games), but of course there was a cute girl there at the party that wanted to play it so as any red blooded 11 year old boy would do, I obliged her.  Joining us in the room were about 3 other people about our age observing us use the board. We started at first asking questions like is there a spirit here and how did you die, the planchette would move around spelling out random answers and we would laugh and comment on the answers not taking it seriously.

Keep in mind I thought all this time she was moving the planchette until I asked what the spirits name was and it slowly spelled out NANA. I freaked out. There was no way this girl new what we called my great grandma or that our house was haunted, my family never spoke of it. She could tell my mood had changed immediately when this happened. With our fingers resting on the planchette we asked one more question, Are you in heaven? As fast as we asked the question, the planchette shot toward goodbye and all at once the candle blew out, the closet closest to the Ouija board collapsed onto the table and all of the kids in that room ran the hell out of there screaming.

Rest assured I never touched a Ouija board again.


Thanks for listening. 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! And please leave a rating and review of the show in the podcast app you listen from! You can email me anytime with your questions or comments at darren@weirddarkness.com. WeirdDarkness.com is also where you can find all of my social media, listen to audiobooks I’ve narrated, shop the Weird Darkness store, sign up for monthly contests, find other podcasts that I host, and find the Hope in the Darkness page if you or someone you know is struggling with depression or dark thoughts.

And please consider giving towards our Overcoming The Darkness fundraiser, where every dollar you give will be donated to organizations that help people who struggle with depression. The fundraiser ends Halloween Night after the LIVE SCREAM, so please give today. Visit the Hope in the Darkness page at WeirdDarkness.com for more information.

Also on WeirdDarkness.com, 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 in Weird Darkness are purported to be true (unless stated otherwise) and you can find source links or links to the authors in the show notes.

“Weeping Statue” by Paul Seaburn for Mysterious Universe
“The Reed Family Alien Abduction” from the Alien UFO Sightings website
“The MIB: I Knew They Were Evil”: Brent Swancer for Mysterious Universe, and Jacob Geers for Thought Catalog
“She Turned Her Victims Into Soap and Teacakes” by Katie Serena for All That’s Interesting
“Black Creatures on the Isle of White” from Ghost-Story.co.uk
“Death On The Brooklyn Bridge” by Troy Taylor
“If We Receive A Message From Aliens Should We Delete It Without Reading?” from Alien UFO Sightings
“Haunted Ambulance” by an unknown author
“The Very Strange Case of Christine and Walter Collins” from CoolInterestingStuff.com
“Who Shot ‘Tonce’ Joy?” by Robert Wilhelm for Murder By Gaslight
“Ouija Halloween” by Blake Lacy from MyHauntedLifeToo.com

Again, you can find links to all of these stories in the show notes.

WeirdDarkness™ – is a production and trademark of Marlar House Productions. Copyright, Weird Darkness, 2022.

Now that we’re coming out of the dark, I’ll leave you with a little light… “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.” – 1 John 4:18-19

And a final thought… “Don’t think about what can happen in a month. Don’t think about what can happen in a year. Just focus on the twenty-four hours in front of you and do what you can to get closer to where you want to be.” – Unknown

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

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