“GHOSTLY LEGENDS OF THE OLD WEST” and More True Stories! #WeirdDarkness
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IN THIS EPISODE: Aspiring actress Milicent Patrick finally found success in front of the camera – but not with her own face, but a face that she created… the Creature From the Black Lagoon. (The Actress Who Created A Legendary Universal Monster) *** You don’t hear of werewolf sightings much anymore – but that doesn’t mean they don’t happen. In fact, some new sightings are suddenly cropping up around a 170-year-old cemetery in South London. Could people be seeing the real thing? (New Werewolf Sightings At Old Camberwell Cemetery) *** A young woman disappeared while walking down a lane on New Year’s Day. But the great mystery of it isn’t that she disappeared – she did arrive home a few weeks later. But the greater mystery is the story that the traumatized girl told of what happened to her, and trying to make sense of it all. (The Mystery of Elizabeth Canning) *** But first, we’ll sit around the virtual campfire and I’ll tell you about a few ghosts and legends in the Old West. (Ghosts In The Old West)
SOURCES AND ESSENTIAL WEB LINKS…
“The Actress Who Created a Legendary Universal Monster” by Kristina Gaddy for Ozy.com: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/4nh24evp
“New Werewolf Sightings At Old Camberwell Cemetery” by Michael Hein for PopCulture.com:https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/fn9n55j2
“The Mystery of Elizabeth Canning” by Dr. Romeo Vitelli for Providentia: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/29dwddbp
“Seeing Through The Corn” was submitted anonymously to WeirdDarkness.com
“Ghosts In The Old West” by Laura Allan for Ranker’s Graveyard Shift: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/xcft4za3
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Who doesn’t love a good spooky story around the campfire? One thing is for sure, cowboys of the Old West loved them, and many Old West legends are still around today because of that. From strange creatures and Native American myths to tales of deceased women and children, some of the grisliest and most spine-chilling ghost stories come from the Wild West. There are even times when people themselves became legends, and their ghosts gave rise to new stories to thrill and chill people once evening begins to fall. Certain Old West figures seem specifically reluctant to fade away. From Jesse James to The Lost Dutchman, these legends may fade, but they’re never forgotten. In the same way, terrifying Old West ghosts meant to frighten children and cowboys alike refuse to go away, living on to horrify us today and give us new, unexpected nightmares. So, are you brave enough to learn a little history and maybe a new ghost story or two? Don’t worry, no one will blame you if you want to hide under the covers.
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…
Aspiring actress Milicent Patrick finally found success in front of the camera – but not with her own face, but a face that she created… the Creature From the Black Lagoon. (The Actress Who Created A Legendary Universal Monster)
You don’t hear of werewolf sightings much anymore – but that doesn’t mean they don’t happen. In fact, some new sightings are suddenly cropping up around a 170-year-old cemetery in South London. Could people be seeing the real thing? (New Werewolf Sightings At Old Camberwell Cemetery)
A young woman disappeared while walking down a lane on New Year’s Day. But the great mystery of it isn’t that she disappeared – she did arrive home a few weeks later. But the greater mystery is the story that the traumatized girl told of what happened to her, and trying to make sense of it all. (The Mystery of Elizabeth Canning)
But first, we’ll sit around the virtual campfire and I’ll tell you about a few ghosts and legends in the Old West. (Ghosts In The Old West)
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: GHOSTS IN THE OLD WEST==========
In the early 1800s, South Texas and Mexico weren’t really sure about where the border should lie. It was either the Nueces River or the Rio Grande River, but because no agreement could be reached, the area in-between became a no man’s land. Local cattle rustlers took advantage of this. One specific outlaw named Vidal was particularly nasty, and the local rangers decided to make an example of him in the worst way imaginable. When he was caught, they slew him, cut off his head, then lashed his body to a mustang in an upright position as if he was riding. Then, they let the horse loose to wander as a symbol of the form of justice that would befall any outlaw who dared step out of line. Quite similar to the legend of Sleepy Hollow or the Headless Horseman, many cowboys over the years have seen a headless bandit called “El Muerto” riding through the Rio Grande area, even into the 21st century.
Jesse Woodson James was an outlaw, train robber, bank robber, and gang leader between the 1860s and the 1880s, and he was finally slain on April 3, 1882, by Robert Ford. While rumors of his survival floated around, his ghost has purportedly been spotted around his family farm in Kearney, MO, for over 100 years. Additionally, lights come on at random times, mysterious movements are caught on security cameras, and mysterious voices can be heard in rooms that are supposed to be empty. Legend has it that this is evidence of the ghostly gunslinger having returned home, never to leave again.
The Native Americans of the Old West often passed on several of their legends and beliefs to frontiersmen, and from that, often spawned legends. One particularly ghostly tale has to do with a small bird, appropriately titled the Death Bird. Native Americans believed that before death, the bird would appear to either warn people and save their lives, or to tell them that it was too late and they might as well pick out a coffin. In the late 1800s, cowboys began to see this ghostly spirit bird as well, sometimes signifying that someone nearby was dying and needed help or that the cowboy himself was on a final roundup. Even if you didn’t see it, supposedly, you could hear its unearthly, piercing call.
Not all ghosts are necessarily scary, and Silver Heels is a legend that’s more sad than frightening. In 1861, there was a dance hall girl in Buckskin Joe mining camp who was nicknamed Silver Heels. The miners loved her, showered her with gifts, and she was considered beautiful by all. But as with most beautiful things, her joyful dancing was not to last. One winter, smallpox spread through the camp with force. Silver Heels stopped dancing and set to work helping the sick and tending to the dying. She even helped with burials. But after the worst of the sickness had passed, Silver Heels was nowhere to be found. Legend says that she, at last, fell sick with smallpox, and her once beautiful face became scarred beyond recognition, so she hid from everyone until her passing. No one knows when this was. Some say that you can still see a ghostly veiled figure wandering the cemetery, putting flowers by gravestones. Even in the afterlife, Silver Heels still seeks to bring comfort to her miners.
Nowadays, we mostly think of Bigfoot as a big ape-like creature, part man and part beast. But many legends paint him more as a spirit warrior. In 1868, a group of travelers on a stage road were beset by Cherokees. They reported that one was absurdly large and animal-like, and that they had slain him during the skirmish. The man’s name was Big Foot, due to the fact that his feet were supposedly 18 inches long. A Native American warrior by that name did exist according to some historians. Did he perish in that fight after all, or did he escape to roam the trails? More often, stage drivers and natives said that his ghost haunts the trail, still a massive and ghostly warrior, covered in hair and brush. So by that logic, Bigfoot may well be an ancient Cherokee spirit rather than a missing link.
While this might be a Mexican tale in origin, its haunting and terrifying story spread throughout the Old West. Depending on the story, Maria was either the wife of a wealthy husband who eventually began to neglect her, or a lady of the evening who loved to go out partying. Either way, she became angry and resentful of her two young sons and flew into a fit of madness and rage. She took them to a river and drowned both of them. When she came to her senses, she realized the horrible thing she had done and tried to save them from their watery graves, but it was too late. She wailed in grief and ended her own life shortly after. Legend has it that late at night, by rivers in the Southwest, you can sometimes hear the crying of a woman. “Where are my children?” Children are told not to go outside for fear they’ll be taken away by her or drowned in the river like her sons.
Back in the mining days, prospectors often kept dogs for companionship, protection, and as an alarm system from potential thieves. These dogs were trained to be vicious, aggressive, and completely unstoppable should anyone cross their path. Some even turned on their owners. Because of this, most were shot or left to perish rather than brought back to civilization. If you venture to the mines near Eldorado Canyon, you had better be ready to run. There are reports of growling, snapping, strange canine shapes, and even attacks from unknown beasts. These ghostly demon dogs still guard the claims of the area, even beyond the grave.
Marshal Fred White is a Wild West legend. He was the first marshal of Tombstone, AZ, a locale mostly known for gunslinging and lawlessness during the mid to late 1800s. Any man willing to walk into that hornet’s nest and try to bring order and law was either mad or a genius, and Fred White was probably a bit of both. For a time, he managed to calm down the violence and keep citizens a lot safer than they were before. Ironically, he didn’t perish in some explosive shootout like the famous gunfight at O.K. Corral (which happened at Tombstone), but rather by an accidental gunshot to the groin. While the area is supposedly haunted by numerous ghosts, one spirit still reigns supreme. Even in the afterlife, Fred White is still the ghostly law in Tombstone.
If you ever have the chance to stop by the ghost town of Bodie, you’re in for a rich glimpse into the past. The gold mining town acts as an eerily silent and abandoned museum, with many intact buildings you can walk into and explore at your leisure. Just watch your step, because Bodie is filled to the brim with ghosts. Moreover, the many ghosts there – possibly in the hundreds – display numerous different types of personalities. There are spirits who don’t like adults but enjoy playing with children, cooks still working hard to feed their customers, and angry lawmen who are said to patrol the streets. If they catch you taking anything from the town, they will haunt you. You will have bad luck, misfortune, and misery in your life until the item is returned. The visitor center even keeps a rather sizable scrapbook of letters from people who have returned items they’ve taken.
In 1876, a man named Seth Bullock arrived in Deadwood, SD, from Montana, and the little city would never be the same. He opened a hardware store,and really brought the place to life with business and hospitality. Still, he had a foreboding presence, and he was both respected and feared by locals. When his store burned down, he decided to build a a luxurious hotel. He succeeded, and was well-known by the time of his passing in 1919 from cancer. But after working so hard against the odds, Bullock wasn’t going to watch his hotel’s standards slip. Legend has it that he still acts as host in the hotel, bothering lazy staff members, inspecting rooms, and even turning off lights when no one is in the room. Even to the end, Bullock is a perfectionist who demands only the best.
The Navajo believe that Skinwalkers were medicine people or witches, not quite human and not fully alive, who dislike outsiders and have aggressive tendencies. They could imitate any sound, become any shape, and had no qualms about slaying people, animals, and children – basically, anyone who crossed them was fair game. Many natives still don’t tell tales about Skinwalkers for fear of retribution on themselves and those they care about. In the Old West, specifically in California, Arizona, and New Mexico, cowboys talked of these spirit creatures in hushed voices, and when someone went mysteriously missing in the desert, these ghostly creatures were often blamed. So, if you ever hear a story from someone about their experiences with a Skinwalker, tell them to keep their voices down. You never know who might be listening.
One of the holy grails of the Old West is the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine. Somewhere near Superstition Mountain in Arizona in the late 1800s, the body of a German man named Waltz was supposedly discovered weighted down with bags of gold. It was believed Waltz perished from exhaustion carrying the heavy bags. From there, the hunt for his clearly plentiful goldmine began. But here’s where it gets creepy. People who went looking for the treasure began to mysteriously perish: gunshot wounds, completely vanishing, only some body parts found, etc.. People still search today, but it’s said that the ghosts of those who have tried before and even Waltz himself guard the location, keeping it hidden and killing any who dare to get too close.
When Weird Darkness returns…
You don’t hear of werewolf sightings much anymore – but that doesn’t mean they don’t happen. In fact, some new sightings are suddenly cropping up around a 170-year-old cemetery in South London. Could people be seeing the real thing? (New Werewolf Sightings At Old Camberwell Cemetery)
But first… Aspiring actress Milicent Patrick finally found success in front of the camera – but not with her own face, but a face that she created… the Creature From the Black Lagoon. (The Actress Who Created A Legendary Universal Monster)
That story is up next on Weird Darkness.
STORY: THE ACTRESS WHO CREATED A LEGENDARY UNIVERSAL MONSTER==========
It was a glamorous film premiere in Detroit, with cinephiles streaming into a 2,700-seat theater to see Universal International Studios’ new horror flick Creature From the Black Lagoon. The black-and-white movie had all the makings of a hit — 3D thrills, underwater action, stunts and special effects that included a monster known as the Gill-man.
Outside the theater on that February evening in 1954, a tall woman with dark hair and striking features posed with a papier-mâché version of the smooth-scaled, mythical creature from the Amazon. Half man, half fish, it had long, webbed fingers that ended in claws; gills flared from the sides of its neck. The woman’s name was Milicent Patrick, and as a makeup artist at Universal, she had created the beast.
Patrick had been on a promotional tour for almost two weeks, doing interviews on more than 40 TV and radio shows, most notably NBC’s Today show to talk up the film, which follows two scientists into the unknown as they look for a mysterious creature. In an interview with The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Patrick noted: “I spent six weeks with the Gill-man. He changed his shape three times before he was able to win the approval of the executives who always have the last word on Hollywood monsters.”
Back in Los Angeles, Patrick’s comment turned her into an instant enemy of Universal’s temperamental makeup chief, Bud Westmore, who was a scion of a Hollywood makeup dynasty.
Milicent Patrick herself was no Hollywood blue blood. She was born Mildres Elizabeth Rossi in 1915 in El Paso, Texas. Her architect father’s career took the family to South America to New York City to California, where he worked on William Randolph Hearst’s estate in San Simeon. By 1940, Rossi was employed as an artist in Hollywood, and in the late ’40s she became one of the first female animators at the Walt Disney Studios.
But she also had acting aspirations, and in 1948 she changed her name to the more mainstream Milicent Patrick in hopes that it would land her more on-camera work. Meantime, she went from success to success in her day job. In 1952, she joined Universal’s makeup department under Westmore and created such memorable monsters as the globs in It Came From Outer Space and Mr. Hyde in Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
In 1953, Patrick began designing Creature From the Black Lagoon, drawing the original sketches for the Gill-man, according to Chris Mueller, who sculpted the costume, and Ben Chapman, one of the actors who played the Creature. Mueller stated publicly that Westmore had nothing to do with the project, even though Westmore is the only makeup artist credited on the movie. Universal declined to comment on who else played a role in the creation of the costume.
Prior to Patrick’s publicity tour to Detroit and New York, Westmore had stormed into the office of assistant publicity director Sam Israel. According to a letter that Israel wrote about the encounter, Westmore was upset that Patrick was taking credit for his work; he wanted her to stress in interviews that her job was just to put his ideas into sketches. The studio had already appeased Westmore by calling Patrick “the Beauty Who Lives With the Beasts” instead of “the Beauty Who Created the Beasts.” Westmore eventually signed off on the strategy.
Then came the Daily Eagle article. Tom Weaver writes in The Creature Chronicles: “Even though Patrick had sallied forth with Westmore’s imprimatur … the kudos she received must have stirred the soup of his discontent and he continued to raise hell about it.” Westmore barged into advertising and publicity executive Clark Ramsay’s office, where he “let it be known in a general way that he is not going to use [Patrick] as a sketch artist anymore,” Ramsay wrote in a memo dated March 1, 1954, adding, “I think we all agree that Westmore is being a little childish over the entire matter.”
Apparently, this was common behavior for the makeup master. “For members of his staff, complete compliance was the only means of staying on his slim sunny side,” writes Weaver. Frank Westmore, also a prominent makeup artist, thought his own brother was too much sometimes. When a member of Bud’s staff became too inventive, “Bud would either fire him or resort to his famous ‘silent treatment,’ making the makeup artist’s life so miserable in general that he would quit,” Frank wrote in his 1976 memoir, The Westmores of Hollywood.
Bud Westmore, who worked at Universal for 23 years and is credited on such cinematic classics as To Kill a Mockingbird and Spartacus, died in 1973; Frank, in 1985.
After The Creature From the Black Lagoon, Patrick handled makeup illustrations on Captain Lightfoot, a 1955 swashbuckler starring Rock Hudson, but “apart from that, she may never again have worked in a makeup or sketch artist capacity at Universal,” writes Tom Weaver in Universal Terrors 1951–1955. Like other colleagues who were snubbed by Westmore, Patrick may have tired of working for him. “My guess is that she soured on it after this rotten experience,” Weaver tells OZY. Post-Universal, Patrick didn’t work for any other studios and only had small acting roles.
Patrick may have ended her career in obscurity, but her Gill-man went on to become a horror movie icon “that was immediately and forever associated with the 1950s,” writes Steve Kronenberg in Universal Terrors. Oscar-winning director Guillermo del Toro became obsessed with the Gill-man after he saw the movie as a boy. “I would draw the Creature riding on a double bicycle with Julie Adams [the film’s bathing beauty] having an ice cream, a triple-cone ice cream,” del Toro said in an NPR interview prior to the release of his film The Shape of Water, in which the female protagonist and a Creature-like monster explore a mutual attraction. The film earned Golden Globes for del Toro (best director) and Alexandre Desplat (original score).
Milicent Patrick died in 1998 without sharing her story of who created the Gill-man, but over the past half-century, Hollywood historians have chipped away at Westmore’s claims and now the beauty gets credit for her most memorable beast.
STORY: NEW WEREWOLF SIGHTINGS AT OLD CAMBERWELL CEMETERY==========
A reported werewolf sighting in a south London graveyard has cryptozoology enthusiasts doing a double-take. According to a report by The Daily Star, the sighting eerily matches another one from eight years beforehand. The two close encounters seem to help legitimize each other.
Local researcher Andy McGrath told reporters that he developed a personal fascination with the “Werewolf of Camberwell.” When looking for more information on the alleged cryptid, he found the accounts from 1996 and 2004, which he said: “sound like something for fantasists and horror fans.” He explained the two sightings, highlighting their remarkable similarities.
“On October 9th, 1996, a man en route to see a friend, had decided to take a shortcut through Camberwell Old Cemetery to save time, when something prodigiously strong grabbed him by the arm and smashed him into the ground,” said 44-year-old McGrath. “He saw a large creature, with dark fur and a head like a German shepherd, looking at him intently, slobbering and growling and sniffing his body up and down, just as a dog would. Just as quickly as the attack started, it was over and the beast sprinted off on its hind legs.”
“Curiously, the witness believed that he was spared because he suffers from a disease that dogs can smell and thinks that probably because of this, the creature left him alone,” McGrath added. He then described the second encounter from 2004, which had two eye-witnesses.
“We heard a low growl,” one of those witnesses said. “Then a large tree in the corner of the cemetery was shaking incredibly hard as if something really powerful was shaking it with all its might. It was definitely not made by a person or an animal. The tree looked as if the roots were ready to be ripped out.”
“My friend and I took to our heels and ran as fast as we could in different directions,” they went on. “We could not rationalize the sheer terror we both felt. We knew we had to get as far away from the cemetery as we possibly could. There is something very sinister there.”
McGrath said that he actually considered himself a skeptic before digging up these two accounts. However, the apparent corroboration of the stories has him taking the urban legend more seriously.
He said: “If a creature is described as being animal-like, then it probably is an animal and not uncommonly, a known animal; even if the qualities it portrays seem superficially supernatural, at the time. Modern-day sightings of the dogman, or as it has been traditionally known throughout European history, the Werewolf; are the type that I would have laughed off a few years ago… This is because the likelihood of an upright, bipedal, Wolf-Man had seemed biologically implausible to me. Nothing more than a fanciful faerie tale, to scare medieval kids straight and keep them out of the woods.”
“After researching this phenomenon for many years, I have become fascinated by the sheer volume of eyewitnesses who claim to have encountered this, Bipedal, wolf-like creature, in our modern era. Something which defies rational explanation as much today as in those formative fabled days of myth and legend,” he concluded.
When Weird Darkness returns I’ll have a story that came to us from a Weirdo Family Member – it’s not your ordinary scary story – but it’s a thriller nonetheless. Coming up next!
STORY: WEIRDO: SEEING THROUGH THE CORN==========
This one came from a Weirdo Family Member who wishes to remain anonymous – and once you hear her story, you might understand why. Here is what she wrote… we’ll call it “Seeing Through The Corn”…
This is not really a typical scary story but a story on how I followed my intuition. By doing so I created a very odd, dangerous and spooky period of my life. The story is something only the people involved and a few close friends know. It is off the wall and I don’t like to seem crazy. The events took place in the span of about 6 months. I am going to walk you through some of the main events to my tale.
This takes place when I was in my early 20’s and it was not a good time for me. I was living in a small, one bedroom apartment above an ice cream shop in a small town in Illinois with a boyfriend I had at the time. The layout of the land is mainly lush cornfields littered by some towns of 1,000 people or so. There are also wind farms around here and I hope that gives you an idea on how open the country is. The guy I was with at the time was not a good fit for me. He constantly had people over, I was constantly trying to keep the place clean. Some of these people became friends, some did not. We smoked, we drank, we acted like fools. When I wasn’t around, things got out of hand. They would constantly drink and I remember one time they used my (very nice) full length mirror as a beer pong table, without my consent. I started suffering from chronic migraines. I had at least one a week with them lasting days at a time. I was not respected in this relationship. Requests for time alone were ignored and I would cry in the bathroom because I was never alone in my own home. I knew no one would hear me crying over the loud music. My poor burnt orange Pontiac Grand Am was used as his own. He trashed it over a period of time. I was too weak and meager to speak up. I lost my low paying job and spent my days at the library looking for jobs. At the time, I also distanced myself from family. I was in debt from hospital bills (these migraines were serious). All in all, I was strait up, not having a good time.
One night, during a party I did not want to happen, something strange happened. My ex who I will call Marc at the time had been drinking and was disgustingly drunk. Marc remembered that he left a bag of his at the river where we were partying at earlier that day. The river spot is about 20 minutes away from the small, loud apartment. He asked me for the keys to my car. I had this feeling come over me before we started arguing. This part is hard to explain. I “seen” Marc getting arrested. Its cliché but I can only describe it as a premonition. I seen a full event, in my head with details in such a way it was like watching a video on a big screen. This was beyond worried thoughts or thinking of a situation that can happen after bad judgment. Because of this (and other obvious reasons) I told him “no”. We argued and I told him with %100 conviction that he will get arrested if he leaves. I even tell him where and how. Tired of fighting and being embarrassed at the way he spoke to me in front of others, I relinquished the keys. Some underage kid accompanied him on the idiotic mission. Time carries on and the two guys have not returned. I called my ex and other people at our place called the kid he was with. All we got were voicemails. I’m worried and mad. I was chatting with someone when the kid who Marc was with barged in, red faced, on his knees and trying to catch his breathe. I was trusting my instincts and asked him if Marc got arrested and shook his head “yes”. I found out that the kid was out of breathe because my boyfriend got arrested right outside of town and he ran the entire way to my place. I kindly ask a sober friend of mine to drive me there while I left the people who had heard me say that this was going to happen in my apartment. So I get there, seeing the same scene but there is a new element. They are trying to load my car on a tow truck. One humorous thing I should mention is that I was poor and the cars acceleration cable was broke. So, I kid you not, we had a speaker wire going from the engine, to the driver’s side window, that I would pull when I needed to accelerate. The end result is I had to load my own car one the tow truck. After this action I walked to the cop car with blue and red flashing lights where Marc was rightfully in the back seat. He was all puffy eyed and looking like a mess. I pointed an accusing finger and said “I told you.” He acknowledges the fact that I warned him. He apologizes. I ended the relationship.
He was not completely out of my life yet. Moving forward I had some small situations that I had some intuition moments but nothing climatic or worth mentioning. They don’t apply to this story but gave me confidence that I had a gift.
Our apartment lease was up 3 months after we split and I bit the bullet in that situation. We had a mutual friend and I’ll call him Jim. Jim was a great guy, had about 3 brothers if I remember correctly. He was charismatic and kind to people in general. Marc and Jim started looking for a place together. During this time I had a really odd dream. I’ll describe this the best I can.
Marc, Jim, an unknown male and myself were outside a farm house on a dark night. The house was an older, big white farmhouse that you can tell had additions built onto it. We toured the house and the walls would shout at us, telling us we had to go. It was not a welcoming place. The unknown male directed the tour to a wooden staircase that went to an unfinished basement. The floor was a mixture of concrete slabs and lose dirt. I heard this eerie piercing sound, similar to what you hear after being exposed to a loud sound for a long period of time. As soon as I heard this sound, Jim and Marcs eyes glazed over and turned gray. In a trance they willingly walked into a concerning black hole that appeared in the dirt. After they were in the hole, a concrete plate moved slowly over it. Another hole opens up and a young kid around 16 crawled out. He was all bones and rags with hollowed eyes. Once the concrete slab was covering the dirt hole, the sound stopped assaulting my ears and I turned to the unknown man who had the bone boy behind him. That basement was bad news. He greeted me with a fist to the face and that was when I woke up. I remember waking up and marveling over the dream. I often have vivid dreams but this one was wild. Not to mention scary.
So time goes on. I’m slowly changing things around for myself when Marc contacted me and told me how he and Jim found an amazing place to say. It was perfect because it was at a farm and the guys would be able to live there for free as long as they helped out on the property. He tells me he would like me to come over to visit to see the fruit of their luck. I come at the promise of weed, a summer night fire and some friends. I got the address and end up driving to the property in my car that had many fresh repairs. So this place was in the middle of nowhere. I am driving through corn fields that have windmills from the previous mentioned windfarms. Now from what I understand, the farmers who own the property that a mill is on, are compensated fairly for the use of the land. When I arrive to this place there are three large sheds for the farm equipment and an old white farmhouse. All the buildings shared a very wide parking lot. It was a nice typical farm place. I make myself comfortable around an already lit fire and talk to Marc. He is telling me about how great it is and the more he talks, the more I thought. “This doesn’t sound right”. The offers that were being made to him and Jim seemed too good to be true. I told him to be weary. There was a promise to start a business (at the time, an illegal business) and they would not pay a dime to start this up. He lightly mentions that this guy “made a move” on Jim. I press for more information but get none. Now I assume the guy helping them has money due to what was on the property and that the farm land had many windmills.
A little after this conversation Jim and the man of the hour walked up to me and I’m introduced. I will call this guy Bill. Bill gave me such a bad feeling, you just knew he was not a good person. He was tall, with a slender build. He wore a ball cap although I could see he had blonde hair that was thinning. He wore well-worn work boots but nice jeans and a clean shirt. No matter what I was up to, I kept looking at this Bill guy.
There were a couple things that made me think this guy was messed up during this visit:
A couple hours after I was done sitting bit the fire, I start looking for my friend Jim. I find Jim and Bill in one of the three sheds sitting on a couple of lawn chairs. I over hear a really controversial conversation taking place in this shed filled with tractors and other equipment. Bill was drunkenly asking Jim questions on the lines of “what actions do you think God considers gay?” He went into detail on sexual acts such as oral and other kinds of penetration that he doesn’t think are gay. He knows that the lord is ok with these actions. I was dumbstruck on what was coming out of this guy’s mouth because he was going about it in such a detailed manner to my good friend. Jim looked uncomfortable like a small grey mouse in front of a wild blonde farm cat. I naturally came in all loud and broke up the conversation with my mere presence. I didn’t want them to know what I just heard.
So times goes on and another odd thing happened. The four of us were around the fire and Bill gets a phone call. Before answering he expressed that it was his Grandpa calling. We hush our conversations out of respect. So he answers good old gramps and his voice went from being that of a normal middle aged guy…to a toddler. It was the craziest thing. It was crazier that the others did not think this was strange. He was cooing in the phone and said he was being a really good boy and is being good to his company.
After the phone conversation, Marc and Jim decide they want to show me the inside of the house. We go in….and I remember that dream I had. At his point I am slowly panicking as I have the two in front of me with the creep behind me. We go upstairs and there is a wide open room. I see that there are some random items in this room. There were a couple posters from artists that I know Marc and Jim were not into. There were about 4 spare mattresses with no bedding, not even sheets. I asked and was told that they were from other kids that were staying there and they left and never came back for their things. I remember there being clothes and some other items that someone would not normally leave behind under good circumstances. Hello red flag. I turned around to ask Bill a question about all the left behind items but he was no longer behind me. I turn to the guys and in a hushed voice I asked them if they noticed how Bills voice changed when he was talking to his grandpa. Do they think it’s weird that all these things were left here? Did they think it is odd that he was talking about religion and sexuality? Nope, these guys seen nothing wrong here. They said the only weird thing was that they were not allowed to use the toilets in the house for a #1, even though they were functioning toilets and they used them for #2. They either went outside or went out the upstairs windows. Now that is also strange.
Bill shows up and the conversation ended and the tour was led to the basement. At this point I am scared and the dream I had was lining up with the actual events. The door was small, the wooden steps were narrow and dry. The floor was made of dirt with random concrete areas of the floor. The ceiling showed wooden beams and the bottom of the wood floor. It was dusty and full of wispy cob webs. Now I am beyond freaked out. I see that there is a concrete jack and Bill goes into detail about how his Grandpa is wanting to redo the basement. They have to get under the concrete for one reason or another. There was an area that looked like a hole was being made. I excuse myself and get out of the house while silently managing a panic attack. When outside I told Marc and Jim that they have to get out of that house before whatever work is being done to the basement is complete. I am convince that something really off was going on. They didn’t believe me which made me feel worried and a little nuts. I expressed that I have had a dream and told them they need to be out of that house. I plead with them that I have not been wrong in all this intuitive business and that they know it. I left, they stayed. I don’t blame them because this guy made a lot of grand promises and that seemed to trump whatever else was going on.
A couple days go by and I get a call from Marc. Jim is missing, hasn’t showed up for work for 3 days. No one knows where he is at. Marc doesn’t want to go back to the house because something happened and he wouldn’t tell me why. I hated that he didn’t provide me with more information. He left his things and our dog at the farm. That night, I have another dream. I was in the basement at the large farmhouse. There was a blue plastic chair in the middle of the floor that looks similar to the ones used in public schools. My friend Jim was bound with a heavy duty white and blue cord wrapped around him. He looks like he has been sexually violated and his chin was laying on his chest. He looked so defeated. I woke up and my emotions were mixed with rage and fear for my friend. My dreams have led me to insight on situations and I was %100 convinced that my good friend was locked in that basement. This made me do something stupid.
I drove to the farm property on a clear and sunny day. I remember I was shaking the entire way and my only thoughts were getting my friend out of there. When I get to the property, there is no sign of anyone being home. I put my car in park and went up the front door. I notice something that I missed from my last nightly visit. The front door had 4 locks on it. I have no idea why a house in the middle of nowhere required 4 locks. One of which has a heavy duty metal pad lock with a blue logo on the front. Now why would someone have a pad lock, facing the outside of their home when there were 3 other locks? My negative suspicions where running wild. I walk to the back of the house and guess what? This one has multiple locks as well. I start looking at the windows and there is no way in those as well. I weighed my options and decided that the collapsible 4 tire iron in the trunk of my car was a good way to start to make my way through the locked front door. I am a calm person, level headed and all these actions are so out of my character. But my friend was in there and I had to get him out. The consequences be damned. So picture a small blonde girl taking this tool, trying to destroy the door. I give up and set the tire iron on the concrete porch. I rushed to one of the sheds and find something that looked like a heavy duty wire cutter. I went back to the door and tried my luck with that. In frustration I start kicking and destroying this door. Before I could make any real progress I hear someone from inside the house yell. “Whoa! Whoa! Hey! What the hell?!” I toss the oversize wire cutters and the damaged front door opens with Bill in his pajamas on the other side. I froze as I had no idea on how to explain my actions. At the time my stepfather was going through some serious health issues. My ex Marc had the dog we got together at this house. She was a wonderful little Chihuahua and min pin mix. So I started crying and pretended to act like a hot mess. I stated that my stepdad was dying and that I just needed my dog. He stares blankly at me and told me to go inside to get the dog. I didn’t want to be in that house with this man but my friend was in danger and I thought maybe if I was lucky I could find Jim or find something that I could go to the cops about. I grab the discarded tire iron I left on the ground. Pause, look at him and walk into the house. Now, I have heard people say they have seen red when they have gotten really mad. I honestly thought this was a loud of bull. But, with that tire iron in my hand, I seen red and wanted to harm this suspected sick man. I didn’t act on it. I showed my way up the stairs and made it to the open room upstairs. The place was a mess but there was my dog and my ex’s things. I grab the small dog with one hand and the tire Iron is still in my other. My mind is rushing and I knew Bill was still downstairs. So I make my way back down stairs trying to think of a way to get my friend. I walk into a large room downstairs slightly to my right. It was big enough that I thought maybe it was once a dining room before the additions were made. On one side of the wall, there was a large desk with 4 computer monitors. Bill is sitting at this desk with his back to me and he is looking at surveillance footage. I was the featured Star while I watched me trying to break into his home. There are multiple boxes on the screens showing different camera angles. I see that some are pointed at the windows of the house. The same windows that the guys were directed to piss out of. There where cameras inside of the house as well. This guy just got creepier after I seen all this. I knew there was no way I could sneakily find my friend now. I was screwed. I stand far away from him and told him I got my dog, thanked him and left so fast it was not even funny. I remember hearing rocks kicking up on my car as I sped away. I frantically called Marc and told him what I did and why. That I think Jim is in trouble. Man did Marc think I was nuts. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I failed in my stupid mission but was glad I didn’t get hurt myself.
The next day, I get a call from Jim. He is fine, something happened to his phone so he couldn’t reach out to anyone. I asked him why he didn’t go to work. He said he called off. He told me he was moving out of Bills home. That before he left he was shown the videos of me trying to break into the home. He somehow convinced this guy not to sue me. The thought of being sued never crossed my mind before that moment. I justified my reasons to Jim. He started calling me Rambo and stated that he has never had a friend willing to put themselves in that situation to protect him. I pressed for the reason why he and Marc left but they were not giving up any information. I don’t feel bad about my actions but I felt embarrassed and left out of the dark on why they left. I still think something bad happened by the way they acted. Maybe that’s why Bill didn’t sue me? Maybe he had enough money that he didn’t care about his damaged door.
I am still convinced that Bill is some sick dude. I think that he was/is abused sexually by his Grandpa. I think he tries to take advantage of young boys who have nowhere to go. That these kids left after messed up things happened by his hand. I think he had some messed up views of religion and sex. I believe he was watching these guys on camera to sexually please himself. I believe that there are bodies in that basement from previous situations and that my friends where going to be the next victim of this guy. I wish I remembered Bills real name so I can slander this guy’s name so no one else moves into that upstairs room littered with things kids have left behind. Maybe I could help someone from being hurt. I acted out of instinct and I think I had something guiding me throughout this time in my life. With the stress of change and the migraines, maybe I needed help. I can tell you these guys never doubted me again. I do not have big intuition moments like I had during this time and I am glad. I think I blindly trusted myself and that I put myself in danger by blindly following my feelings. I still think of this story because this guy sickens me and I still don’t know what happened to Marc and Jim while they were there. I have changed things in my life and I do not have contact with the guys anymore. But damn you guys, this happened and please be open minded on what a friend tells you. Look at things from all angles and don’t let promises cloud your judgments and ignore red flags. You do not know where it could leave you.
Up next on Weird Darkness… A young woman disappeared while walking down a lane on New Year’s Day. But the great mystery of it isn’t that she disappeared – she did arrive home a few weeks later. But the greater mystery is the story that the traumatized girl told of what happened to her, and trying to make sense of it all. (The Mystery of Elizabeth Canning)
STORY: THE MYSTERY OF ELIZABETH CANNING==========
It is still one of the great legal controversies of the 18th century.
On January 1, 1753, an 18-year old girl named Elizabeth Canning disappeared from a country lane in what is now the heart of London. Canning, who worked as a maid in London, had been spending New Year’s Day with her aunt and uncle in Whitechapel and was walking back to London when she disappeared. After Canning failed to arrive in London, her employer, John Wintlebury, contacted her mother who then raised the alarm. A volunteer search consisting of friends, family members and Wintlebury, began investigating the disappearance. Since there was no organized police force in London at the time, it was up to the volunteers to knock on doors, distribute advertisements and flyers, and offer a reward for any information leading to her safe return.
While someone nearby had reported hearing a scream at the time of her disappearance, the search would peter out after several weeks. On January 29 however, Elizabeth Canning reappeared at her mother’s house in obvious distress. The normally neatly-dressed Canning appeared so bedraggled that her mother fainted on recognizing her daughter and seeing her condition. Along with bruises on her face and body and a bad cut near one ear, Canning was also half-starved and wearing only a petticoat and a bedgown. Neighbours and family members came to the house and immediately began questioning her about what happened.
They eventually managed to piece together a coherent story despite Canning being obviously traumatized by her experience. According to her account, she had been walking along the country lane when she was attacked by two thugs near Bedlam Hospital. They robbed her of her money along with the nice dress she had been wearing. After striking her on the head, the thugs dragged her to a nearby large house while she was in a semi-conscious state. At the house, she was turned over to a group of women who then tried to force her into prostitution and locked her in a hayloft when she refused. She was left there for weeks with nothing but a loaf of bread, a pitcher of water, and the mince pie that she had been carrying. Though she eventually managed to escape, she injured her ear in the process.
After being given some time to recover, she was questioned by an Alderman who had doubts about her story but agreed to issue a warrant. Again due to the lack of a formal police force, the search was carried out by volunteers. To lend a semi-official status to the search, the Lord Mayor, Sir Crisp Gascoyne, supervised the search. Despite her frail condition, Elizabeth Canning was taken to a house that matched her description of where she had been held to see if she could identify her abductors.
All of the residents of that house were arrested and arraigned a few days later. The Justice of the Peace in question, who happened to be the famous author Henry Fielding, signed the arrest warrants. The mistress of the house, Susannah Wells (who preferred to be known as “Mother Wells”) and a second woman, Mary Squires, were accused by Canning of stealing her corsets. Wells was also accused of “keeping a disorderly house” (another name for brothel). Since Squires was widely suspected of being a “gypsy” (though her exact ethnic origin was never clear), Canning’s accusation was considered proof enough and she was later went on trial for theft. Squires’ son, John, was also suspected of being one of the men who had abducted Canning in the first place though he managed to avoid arrest.
Despite the international publicity the case generated, Sir Crisp Gascoyne decided to investigate further. Elizabeth Canning’s description of the house had more than a few discrepancies, especially the room where she had supposedly been held. Mary Squires, for her part, produced witnesses who testified that she was in another town at the time of Canning’s alleged abduction. She also had a remarkable appearance, including an extremely large nose and an inflated lower lip, which Elizabeth Canning never mentioned.
Despite these discrepancies, Elizabeth Canning refused to recant her statement. What followed was a controversy that polarized English society. On one side were the Canningites, Elizabeth’s supporters, and on the other side were the “Egyptians” (based on the then-popular notion that gypsies came from Egypt). Pubs across the country became embroiled in fights over the case and large sums of money were raised on both sides, whether to defend or convict Mary Squires. It also became a celebrated cause in literary circles with Henry Fielding, Tobias Smollett and Voltaire each weighing in on the case. Things became so heated that the Lord Mayor himself was dragged from his coach and physically assaulted by a mob of Canning’s supporters.
After going on trial, Susannah Wells was publicly branded with the letter T on her thumb (T standing for theft) and sentenced to six months in prison. Mary Squires was sentenced to be hanged. Afterward, Elizabeth Canning was praised as a public hero and she was given a tidy sum of money courtesy of her supporters. Dissatisfied with the verdict, Sir Crisp Gascoyne reopened the investigation. After questioning one house resident whose testimony had been the most damaging against Mary Squires, Gascoyne managed to break down her story. He also investigated Squires’ alibi and declared himself satisfied that she had been telling the truth.
Based on this investigation and his doubts about Elizabeth Canning’s story, he ordered her arrest for perjury and recommended that Mary Squires be released. Considering the reasonable doubt in the case, King George II granted a stay of execution for Mary Squires (and eventually a full pardon). All of this outraged the Canningites and some of them even threw stones at the King’s coach.
It hardly ended there though. John Myles, the leader of the Canningites, arranged to have the men who had provided Mary Squires with an alibi charged with perjury. They were quickly found not guilty and released. To avoid arrest, Canning dropped out of sight and only turned herself in after a new Lord Mayor was installed. Her trial began in April, 1754, and went on for seven days with newspapers running pro- and con- editorials of the case. After a narrow vote, she was convicted of “Perjury, wilful and corrupt” and sentenced to one month in prison to be followed by her transportation to America for seven years.
The verdict did nothing to settle the debate over whether Canning had been telling the truth though it thoroughly ruined Crisp Gascoyne’s political career since much of the outrage was linked to his investigation. Still, being sent to America was not that much of a hardship for Canning since her supporters raised enough money to make her voyage comfortable. They also supplied her with money for a new start.
After arriving in Connecticut, she became part of the household of Reverend Elisha Williams. Technically an indentured servant, she was treated more like a member of the family. After Williams’ death in 1755, Canning married John Treat, a grandson of a former governor of Connecticut. They would have four children together before her death in 1773. She is buried somewhere in Wethersfield, Connecticut though the exact location of her grave has been lost to history.
Did Elizabeth Canning commit perjury? The case demonstrates many of the problems investigators face today when dealing with traumatized witnesses. Some later commentators on the case have suggested that Canning may have experienced a form of post-traumatic amnesia with many details she “recalled” afterward being implanted in her mind by overeager supporters. Modern investigators are specifically trained to avoid leading questions to avoid contaminating victim recall which may have happened in Elizabeth Canning’s case.
Whatever the actual facts of her disappearance, Elizabeth Canning’s case demonstrates the power that the media had, long before the invention of the Internet. Political careers were made and broken by newspaper editorials over the case. No real solution for what really happened in 1753 has ever been put forward and John Paget’s described the case as “in truth, perhaps, the most complete and most inexplicable Judicial Puzzle on record”.
And it still is today.
SHOW CLOSE, CREDITS, A LITTLE LIGHT, AND A FINAL THOUGHT==========
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 email@example.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.
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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.
“The Actress Who Created a Legendary Universal Monster” by Kristina Gaddy for Ozy.com
“New Werewolf Sightings At Old Camberwell Cemetery” by Michael Hein for PopCulture.com
“The Mystery of Elizabeth Canning” by Dr. Romeo Vitelli for Providentia
“Seeing Through The Corn” was submitted anonymously to WeirdDarkness.com
“Ghosts In The Old West” by Laura Allan for Ranker’s Graveyard Shift
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… “A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions.” – Proverbs 18:2
And a final thought… “Apologizing does not always mean you’re wrong and the other person is right. It just means you value your relationship more than your ego.”
I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me in the Weird Darkness.