“H.H. HOLMES HELLISH HOTEL AND LINGERING HAUNTING” and More Terrifying True Horrors! #WeirdDarkness

“H.H. HOLMES HELLISH HOTEL AND LINGERING HAUNTING” and More Terrifying True Horrors! #WeirdDarkness

Listen to ““H.H. HOLMES HELLISH HOTEL AND LINGERING HAUNTING” and More Terrifying True Horrors! #WeirdDarkness” on Spreaker.

IN THIS EPISODE: It’s one of the most infamous and macabre subjects of Chicago history – it even served as inspiration for TV’s “American Horror Story: Hotel”. It’s what has become known as “The Murder Castle” where serial killer H.H. Holmes committed his monstrous crimes. But even today, Holmes continues to terrify… in spectral form. (H.H. Holmes’ Hellish Hotel And Lingering Haunting) *** A woman tries to save the soul of her daughter, believing her to be possessed… but her solution to drive out the demon was to murder her daughter using a holy crucifix. (Murder By Crucifix) *** What’s worse than proclaiming yourself to be a supernatural being and starting your own cult? How about telling your followers you are God so you could do drugs and have sex with teenage girls? It’s the disturbing true story of the cult called “The Group”. (Theodore Rinaldo – The Drug Cult Rapist) *** Shrunken heads – believe it or not, they are real. And some tribal peoples create them even today – from real human heads. But why do it at all? We’ll look at the reality behind shrunken heads, the reason they are created… and even how they are created. (The History and How of Shrunken Heads) *** A terrifying series of paranormal activities invade a family’s home in Wales. (The Swansea Entity) *** Tenome is a Japanese Urban Legend about a blind man who was robbed and murdered. His dying wish? To have eyes on his hands so he could see. (The Seeing Hands of Tenome) *** Unsolved mysteries are intriguing simply because they are unsolved. That’s why we are so fascinated by stories of people disappearing without a trace. But one man’s disappearance is so bizarre, so weird, that upon hearing the story you’ll be scratching your head wondering what the heck you just heard. (The Strangest Disappearance at Sea in History)

SOURCES AND REFERENCES FROM THIS EPISODE…
“The Swansea Entity” by Brent Swancer for Mysterious Universe: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/3pt262t4
“Murder By Crucifix” by Inigo Gonzalez for Ranker’s Graveyard Shift: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/4h6mjabw
“The Strangest Disappearance at Sea in History” from Strange Company: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/nsrhjdew
“Theodore Rinaldo – The Drug Cult Rapist” by Matthew Lavelle for Ranker’s Unspeakable Times:https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/yx2hmzus
“The Seeing Hands of Tenome” from The Scare Chamber: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/y4dnxee6
“The History and How of Shrunken Heads” by Bipin Dimri for Historic Mysteries: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/4wdznwwc
“H.H. Holmes’ Hellish Hotel and Lingering Haunting” from Chicago Hauntings: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/pvthp98
Weird Darkness theme by Alibi Music Library.
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Originally aired: November, 2021

PARTIAL TRANSCRIPT:

DISCLAIMER: Ads heard during the podcast that are not in my voice are placed by third party agencies outside of my control and should not imply an endorsement by Weird Darkness or myself. *** Stories and content in Weird Darkness can be disturbing for some listeners and intended for mature audiences only. Parental discretion is strongly advised.

INTRODUCTION=====

Four days before H.H. Holmes’ execution on May 7, 1896, the Chicago Chronicle published a lengthy diatribe condemning the “multi-murderer, bigamist, seducer, resurrectionist, forger, thief and general swindler” as a man “without parallel in the annals of crime.” Among his many misdeeds, the newspaper reported, were suffocating victims in a vault, boiling a man in oil and poisoning wealthy women in order to seize their fortunes. Holmes claimed to have killed at least 27 people, most of whom he’d lured into a purpose-built “Murder Castle” replete with secret passageways, trapdoors and soundproof torture rooms. According to the Crime Museum, an intricate system of chutes and elevators enabled Holmes to transport his victims’ bodies to the Chicago building’s basement, which was purportedly equipped with a dissecting table, stretching rack and crematory. In the killer’s own words, “I was born with the devil in me. I could not help the fact that I was a murderer, no more than a poet can help the inspiration to sing.” And if anyone is going to stick around after death to haunt people – it’s someone who had the devil in him.

I’m Darren Marlar and this is Weird Darkness.

 

SHOW OPEN=====

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…

A woman tries to save the soul of her daughter, believing her to be possessed… but her solution to drive out the demon was to murder her daughter using a holy crucifix. (Murder By Crucifix)

What’s worse than proclaiming yourself to be a supernatural being and starting your own cult? How about telling your followers you are God so you could do drugs and have sex with teenage girls? It’s the disturbing true story of the cult called “The Group”. (Theodore Rinaldo – The Drug Cult Rapist)

Shrunken heads – believe it or not, they are real. And some tribal peoples create them even today – from real human heads. But why do it at all? We’ll look at the reality behind shrunken heads, the reason they are created… and even how they are created. (The History and How of Shrunken Heads)

A terrifying series of paranormal activities invade a family’s home in Wales. (The Swansea Entity)

Tenome is a Japanese Urban Legend about a blind man who was robbed and murdered. His dying wish? To have eyes on his hands so he could see. (The Seeing Hands of Tenome)

Unsolved mysteries are intriguing simply because they are unsolved. That’s why we are so fascinated by stories of people disappearing without a trace. But one man’s disappearance is so bizarre, so weird, that upon hearing the story you’ll be scratching your head wondering what the heck you just heard. (The Strangest Disappearance at Sea in History)

It’s one of the most infamous and macabre subjects of Chicago history – it even served as inspiration for TV’s “American Horror Story: Hotel”. It’s what has become known as “The Murder Castle” where serial killer H.H. Holmes committed his monstrous crimes. But even today, Holmes continues to terrify… in spectral form. (H.H. Holmes’ Hellish Hotel And Lingering Haunting)

If you’re new here, welcome to the show! And if you’re already a member of this Weirdo family, please take a moment and invite someone else to listen. Recommending Weird Darkness to others helps make it possible for me to keep doing the show! And while you’re listening, be sure to check out WeirdDarkness.com where you can send in your own personal paranormal stories, watch horror hosts present old scary movies 24/7, see weird news items, listen to the Weird Darkness syndicated radio show, shop for Weird Darkness and Weirdo merchandise, listen to free audiobooks I’ve narrated, sign up for the newsletter to win free stuff I give away every month, and more. And on the Social/Contact page you can find the show on Facebook and Twitter, and you can also join the Weird Darkness Weirdos Facebook group.

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

 

STORY: H.H. HOLMES’ HELLISH HOTEL AND LINGERING HAUNTING=====

The modern horror genre is roughly 200 years old, and we have been consuming this genre in television for over 100 years. The stories and characters in television are often inspired by real people. A recent American anthology horror television series, American Horror Story, has drawn inspiration from a variety of notorious American serial killers. The Hotel Cortez in the fifth season, American Horror Story: Hotel, is said to be based on the structure that H.H. Holmes designed for killing and torturing people, also called Murder Castle.

One of the most notorious tracts of land in Chicago is the small block along 63rd street where H. H. Holmes– “America’s Serial Killer” –once built his “Castle for Murder.” When, in 1887, Herman W. Mudgett (alias H.H. Holmes) was hired as a shopkeeper in a drugstore in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood, he had been officially “missing” for two years. Still a very young man, the not-quite 30-year-old Holmes had already substantially ruined his life. About a decade earlier, he had married local girl Clara Lovering and settled down in New York for a time, where he worked as a schoolteacher before hearing the call of higher education. Holmes moved with Clara to Michigan, where he began medical school. The couple’s time together was brief, however. Holmes sent his young wife home to her New Hampshire family; soon after, he was thrown out of school for stealing cadavers from the college anatomy lab and criminally charged for using them in insurance scams. He then “disappeared.”

A year later, Holmes was hired in Englewood, and his boss, a woman by the name of Holden, soon went missing herself. Though family members, friends, and fellow businesspeople were alarmed, Holmes explained that Holden had decided to move to California and had sold the business to him.

Holmes wasted no time in finding a second wife, ignoring the fact that his pending divorce from Clara Lovering was stuck in the legal system and, thus, not finalized.  His new fiancée, Myrtle Belknap, was the daughter of North Shore big-shot John Belknap. Two years after their wedding, Belknap left Holmes. Their marriage had been an odd one at best; Myrtle lived in Wilmette with her family while Holmes continued to live on the city’s South Side.

After his second wife’s walkout, Holmes began construction of an enormous “hotel” on the property he’d purchased across from the old Holden drugstore. With money from further insurance scams, Holmes raised his Englewood “castle” to awesome heights.

Plans for the hotel, however, resembled a funhouse of some sort: the triple-story wonder contained 60 rooms, trap doors, hidden staircases, windowless chambers, laundry chutes accessed from the floors, and a stairway that led to a precipice overlooking the house’s back alley.

In only a year, the “World’s Fair Hotel” was completed, and its owner sent out word that many of its plentiful rooms would be available to out-of-town visitors to the Columbian Exposition. And so the horror began.

Detectives and later scholars surmised that a high number of the fair’s attendees met gruesome ends at the hands of Holmes in the “hotel” he built as a giant torture chamber. It was later discovered that the building contained walls fitted with blowtorches, gassing devices, and other monstrosities. The basement was furnished with a dissecting table and vats of acid and lime. Alarms in his guest rooms alerted Holmes to escape attempts. Some researchers believe that many were kept prisoner for weeks or months before being killed by their diabolical innkeeper.  Others believe Holmes was not really “into” killing. That it was all for the money.

Along with his hotel of horrors, Holmes had other ways of attracting victims. Placing ads in city papers, he offered attractive jobs to attractive young women. Insisting on the top-secret nature of the work, the location, and his own identity, he promised good pay for silence. In the competitive world of turn-of-the-century Chicago, there were many takers.

Far from satiated, Holmes also advertised for a new wife, luring hopeful and destitute girls with his business stature and securing their trust with what must have been an irresistible charm.

After disposing of numerous potential employees and fiancées in his chambers of terror, Holmes decided to seriously find another mate. In 1893, he proposed to Minnie Williams, the daughter of a Texas realty king. Williams shared Holmes’s violent nature and lawless attitude. Soon after they met, Williams killed her sister with a chair. Her understanding, empathic fiancé dumped the body into Lake Michigan. Yet, the two were not to live horrifically ever after.

Holmes employees Julia Connor and her daughter, Pearl, were distraught at the news that their boss would be taking a new wife. Julia had been smitten with Holmes at the expense of her own marriage, and she and Pearl had worked with their employer to pull off a number of his insurance swindles. Not long after objecting to the coming union, Julia and Pearl disappeared. When Julia’s husband, Ned, came calling for them, Holmes told him that his family had moved to another state. In reality, Julia’s alarm over Holmes’s imminent marriage stemmed not only from mere longing but from the fact that she was pregnant with his child. Her death was the result of an abortion that Holmes had performed himself. Stuck with Pearl as an annoying witness, he poisoned the child.

In 1894, the Holmeses went to Colorado with an Indiana prostitute in tow. Georgianna Yoke had moved to Chicago to start afresh and had answered one of Holmes’s marriage ads in a local paper. Introduced as Holmes’s cousin, Minnie and Holmes saw the same thing in Yoke: a girl with wealthy parents and a substantial inheritance awaiting her. In Denver, Minnie witnessed her husband’s marriage to Yoke, and from there the trio went to Texas, transferred Minnie’s property to Holmes, and conducted a few assorted scams.

Not long after, the group returned to Chicago and Minnie, Yoke, disappeared.  Around the same time, Holmes’s secretary, Emmeline Cigrand, was literally stretched to death in the Castle basement along with her visiting fiancé.

Finally, in July of 1894, Holmes was arrested for mortgage fraud. Though his third wife sprung him with their dirty bail money, Holmes had used his short time behind bars to launch yet another scam. Holmes planned to run a big insurance fraud at the expense of early accomplice Ben Pitezel, who had served time for one of their swindles while Holmes had walked away. Hoping to eliminate the possibility of Pitezel’s squealing on their earlier capers, Holmes planned to get richer by rubbing the man out. With a shyster lawyer in tow, Holmes killed Pitezel in his Philadelphia patent shop after taking out an insurance policy on Pitezel’s life.

When Holmes neglected to pay a share of the winnings to his old cellmate, Marion Hedgepeth (who had helped him plan the swindle), Hedgepeth turned in Holmes’s name to a St. Louis cop, who made sure the tip got to Pinkerton agent Frank Geyer.

While Geyer dug up the dirt on Holmes, Holmes was digging graves for fresh victims. After Pitezel’s death, Holmes had told his widow, Carrie, that some of Ben’s shady dealings had been found out, and that he had therefore gone to New York incognito. Holmes then took Carrie and the Pitezel children under his dubious care. The family did not know their husband and father was dead.

While on the road with Georgianna and the remaining Pitezels, Holmes decided to send Carrie back east to stay with her parents. The Pitezel children were left in the hands of Holmes, who first killed Carrie’s son, Howard, in an abandoned Indiana house, and then gassed her daughters after locking them in a trunk while the group was staying in Toronto.

Next, Holmes returned to his first wife Clara and, after explaining that he had had amnesia and mistakenly married another woman, was forgiven.

Whatever devilish plans Holmes had for his first love were thwarted when he was charged with insurance fraud. Holmes pleaded guilty while Frank Geyer searched the castle with police. What they found was astounding: the torture devices, the homemade gas chambers, the shelves of poison and dissection tools, the vats of lime and acid; all revealed the true criminality of the man being held for mere fraud. Evidence of the purpose of the grim house was easy to find: a ball of women’s hair was stuffed under the basement stairs, Minnie’s watch and dress buttons remained in the furnace, bits of charred bone littered the incinerator. Through the hot summer of 1895, crews worked to unearth and catalog all of the building’s debris. Then, in late August, the Murder Castle burned to the ground in a mysterious fire, aided by a series of explosions. Gasoline can verified arson, but no one could tell if it was one of Holmes’s many adversaries or the man himself that had done it.

Holmes was sentenced to death in Philadelphia, where he had killed his old accomplice. On May 7, 1896, he was hanged, to the relief of a nation and, particularly, Chicago, the city that had unknowingly endured the bulk of his insanity. Some claimed that at the moment of his hanging, Holmes cried out that he was the notorious London butcher, Jack the Ripper. Others swear that when Holmes’s neck snapped, a bolt of lightning struck the horizon on the clear spring day.

The fact that Holmes remained alive with a broken neck for nearly 15 minutes after the execution fueled the belief that his evil spirit was too strong to die. Rumors of a Holmes curse abounded during the months and years that followed.

Dr. William Matten, a forensics expert who had testified against Holmes, soon died of unexplained blood poisoning. Next, Holmes’s prison superintendent committed suicide. Then, the trial judge and the head coroner were diagnosed with terminal diseases. Not much later, Frank Geyer himself fell mysteriously ill. A priest who had visited Holmes in his holding cell before the execution was found beaten to death in the courtyard of his church and the jury foreman in the trial was mysteriously electrocuted. Strangest of all was an unexplained fire at the office of the insurance company that had, in the end, done Holmes in. While the entire office was destroyed, untouched was a copy of Holmes’s arrest warrant and a packet of photos of Holmes himself.

The eerie string of Holmes-related deaths stretched well into the twentieth century, ending with the 1910 suicide of former employee Pat Quinlan who, many believed, had aided Holmes in his evil enterprises at the Murder Castle. Those close to Quinlan told reporters that the death had been long in coming; for years, they said, Quinlan had been haunted by his past life with Holmes, plagued with insomnia, driven at last to the edge and over. Some still say that it was Holmes himself that had haunted the boy and that the Monster of 63rd Street had finally gone away, taking with him the one person who could reveal all the secret horrors of Holmes’s brutal heart.

While the Murder Castle is long gone from the Englewood landscape where H.H. Holmes once walked, his evil spirit seems to inspire the bad seeds scattered in his old neighborhood. While the working-class and the woefully poor struggle to make a life here, others continue Holmes’s gruesome tradition, carrying out the serial murders and random slayings that have long plagued the South Side Chicago neighborhood and its bordering areas. Those Englewood residents familiar with the area’s dark history may pause at the corner of 63rd and Wallace and wonder about one man’s legacy. Chilled by half-remembered rumors and all-too-real headlines, they may hurry home, looking behind and listening, remembering the old neighborhood and the secrets it keeps.

After his capture, Holmes confessed to killing 27 people in his Murder Castle, only a fraction of which police were able to confirm. Many historians, however, believe his brief claim of killing more than one hundred victims was closer to the truth: there are some who believe his victims may have numbered as many as 200 or more.

No excavation of the site was ever done.

During the filming of “The Hauntings of Chicago” for PBS Chicago’s station WYCC, our team interviewed postal employees on staff at the Englewood branch of the United States Postal Service, which was built directly adjacent to the Murder Castle property after it was torn down in 1938. Several employees attested to strange goings-on in the building, especially in the basement, which some people believe shares a foundational wall of the original Castle, which stood on the corner next to the current post office structure.  One employee shared a chilling story of hearing a sound in the basement and poking her head around a corner to see if her colleague was there. She called out to her but heard no answer and saw nothing down the hall but a row of chairs lined up against the wall. A minute later, when she returned to the hall, the chairs had all been stacked up on top of each other.  Other employees have seen the apparitions of a young woman in the building or on the grassy property where the Castle once stood, and the sound of a woman’s singing or humming has also been heard in various parts of the current building.

Most compelling of all have been the experiences of Holmes’ own descendent, Jeff Mudgett, who has visited the site numerous times since discovering the gruesome ancestor in his family line. Attempting to make peace with this dreadful reality of his life, Mudgett wrote the book Bloodstains—a heartfelt journey through his revelations and remembrances, and his hopes to help heal the family lines of his grandfather’s victims.

Mudgett went on to pursue the truth behind his ancestor’s chilling, death row claim that he was London killer Jack the Ripper. The beginnings of his search are documented in the History Channel’s miniseries, “American Ripper,” which culminates in the exhumation of Holmes’ body from its grave in Holy Cross Cemetery in Lansdowne, Pennsylvania.

Jeff Mudgett is not finished with his search for answers from his ancestor’s shrouded story. Part of his plans included the exhumation of the Murder Castle site and the placement of a memorial plaque there, where an untold number of victims died during that matchless Chicago year of triumph and tragedy.

When Jeff first visited the site of the Murder Castle, employees of the Englewood post office told him of the basement, “Don’t go down there. It’s a terrible, haunted place.”  Mudgett experienced severe physical and emotional effects from the visit.  He says:

“Before I walked down those steps I was a non-believer.  Absolutely non.  I would have walked into any building in the world. An hour later, when I came out, my whole foundation had changed. I was a believer.”

BREAK=====

When Weird Darkness returns… Unsolved mysteries are intriguing simply because they are unsolved. That’s why we are so fascinated by stories of people disappearing without a trace. But one man’s disappearance is so bizarre, so weird, that upon hearing the story you’ll be scratching your head wondering what the heck you just heard. (The Strangest Disappearance at Sea in History)

But first… Tenome is a Japanese Urban Legend about a blind man who was robbed and murdered. His dying wish? To have eyes on his hands so he could see. (The Seeing Hands of Tenome) That story is up next.

<COMMERCIAL BREAK>

STORY: THE SEEING HANDS OF TENOME=====

There was once a blind old man. One night, he was viciously attacked by a band of robbers. Unable to see an escape, or even defend himself, he was left for dead in the middle of a field. Angry, he cried out in frustration, “If only I had seen their faces! But my eyes can’t see! If only I had eyes on the palms of my hands!” This is the origin of Tenome.

The man lay dying, in pure agony and rage. Spirits of people who die in such states are almost always guaranteed to return as vengeful spirits. This man was no exception. He came back as a ghost, with eyes on the palms of his hands. He was reborn as a yokai, and became Tenome, which translates to “eyes on hands.”

Is there only one Tenome? That is up for debate. There is a belief that other blind men, robbed and murdered, have also come back as this vengeful spirit.

The legend of Tenome was first mentioned in Gazu Hyakki Yagyō, a book on ghosts, spirits, beasts, and folklore. They look harmless, appearing at first to be an elderly old man, who happens to be blind. When approached, he reveals the eyes on the palms of his hands, and attacks. The Tenome lives on a diet of human bones, freshly taken from their victims. They run fast, and have an incredible sense of smell.

Tenome wander through villages, graveyards and open fields at night, hunting for those responsible for their demise. They hold their hands out in front of themselves to see, but since they never saw who attacked them, they kill whomever they come into contact with.

There are many tales of Tenome. In popular culture, there’s the movie Pan’s Labyrinth. In that movie there is a character based on Tenome – The Pale Man. Today, however, we will leave you with one of the most popular tales out there.

In Shichi-jo, Kyoto, a young man was being tested for courage. He entered a graveyard. There, in the shadows he saw what appeared to be an old man. The old man silently approached him. The young man, seeing that he had no eyes, assumed he needed help.

As the figure got closer, and the young man could see him more clearly, he saw that he had eyes on the palms of his hands, and was coming after him.

The young man took off at a sprint, racing to a nearby temple and begged the priest for sanctuary. The priest hid him inside of a long chest and locked the lid before hiding himself.

The Tenome entered the temple moments later. The young man could hear him sniffing loudly, as though he were a hunting dog. The sniffing got closer and closer until it stopped right next to the chest he was hiding in.

He heard strange slurping sounds, the sounds you hear when a dog is sucking on the bones of an animal. A long while later, the slurping stopped, all sounds vanished. The priest unlocked and opened the chest to let the young man out. He was not at all prepared for what he saw.

Inside the chest lay the young man, however he was nothing more than a sack of flesh. His meat and bones were gone, having been sucked out of his body.

STORY: THE STRANGEST DISAPPEARANCE AT SEA IN HISTORY=====

With most missing-persons cases, it’s fairly easy to surmise that the person most likely vanished for one of four reasons: voluntary exit, foul play, accident, or suicide. What makes the following disappearance unusual is that it contains a number of confusing, contradictory clues which suggest that any of those four categories is possible. In short, not only do we not know what happened to Hisashi Fujimura, it is impossible to say how he disappeared.

Fuijmura was a high-living playboy, of the type that seems somehow quaintly out-of-date these days.  His two favorite pastimes were gambling for very high stakes and beautiful women, and as head of the Ashai Corporation, one of America’s largest silk importing houses, he had more than enough money to indulge such expensive pastimes.  (His wife–a reclusive woman who spoke little English–was reportedly unaware of his extracurricular activities.)  The Japanese-born businessman had lived in the United States since 1921.  He owned a 50-acre estate in Connecticut, where his wife and four children lived, as well as another mansion in Rye, New York, and an apartment in New York City.  He was a charming, suave, outgoing man who seems to have been generally well-liked.

On August 8, 1931, the 38-year-old Fujimura set out on a six-day pleasure cruise aboard the Red Star liner Belgenland.  Accompanying him was his seven-year-old daughter, Toshika, and a pretty young blonde named Mary Reissner, who had been, to put it discreetly, Fujimura’s close companion for the past year.  (Reissner–who was a showgirl before becoming Fujimura’s “protegee”–was listed on the ship’s registry as “Miss Dale, governess,” a cover story that apparently fooled no one.)

This cruise was prefaced by a decidedly ominous note.  The day before he set sail, Fujimura paid a call on a friend, a plastic surgeon named Joseph Saftan.  Fujimura commented, “You know, Doctor, I fear I may never come back from this trip.”  After Saftan sputtered some words of disbelief, the silk merchant replied, “I mean it.  I owe quite a lot of money to some gamblers, and I have learned that they are going to follow me aboard the Belgenland.”  Reissner later stated that when they went aboard the ship, Fujimura begged her not to let him out of her sight, “because there was a certain man aboard.”  (If he truly felt himself to be in such danger, it is a mystery why he did not cancel the voyage and make himself as invisible as possible.)

Aboard the ship, Fujimura and his daughter occupied stateroom No. 62, while Reissner stayed in No. 60, which connected with 62.  There are conflicting reports of how Fujimura and his “governess” got on during the cruise.  As far as most of the other passengers could tell, the pair seemed happy together.  However, an artist named Jan Ribas, who occupied the room next to Reissner’s, claimed he frequently overheard them quarreling.

The Belgenland touched briefly at Halifax, then began the journey back to New York.  The trip, to date, had appeared uneventful.  On the night of August 13, there was a large party thrown on the liner.  Fujimura did not attend.  At around 1 a.m., Reissner left his company to join the merrymaking.  The ship’s captain, J.H. Doughty, saw him at about 2:45, standing in a small side corridor leading toward his stateroom.  Doughty heard him talking to someone, but in such low tones that he could not hear what was being said.  He also could not see who Fujimura was speaking to.

The party broke up at 4 a.m.  When Reissner went to her room, she saw that the lights in Fujimura’s stateroom were out, and his door was open.  She assumed he was in bed asleep.

The Belgenland was due to dock in New York at 7:30 or 8 a.m.  At six, a steward, following Fujimura’s earlier request, knocked on his door to awaken him.  He found little Toshika asleep in her bed, but no sign of the girl’s father.  Fujimura’s bed had not been slept in.  Toshika and Mary Reissner both stated that they had no idea where he was.

When the ship arrived at its pier, it was searched, only to find no sign of Fujimura.  Federal agents, as well as the missing man’s attorney, Harry Melick, soon came onboard to join the hunt.  No clue to his whereabouts could be found.  Reissner–who quickly went into hiding in Fujimura’s apartment–continued to insist that Fujimura’s whereabouts were a complete mystery to her.  She denied rumors that there had been a loud commotion in her stateroom on the night he vanished, although she admitted that Fujimura had been “drunk and lonely” during much of the cruise, and he had been displeased that she had attended the party without him.

An interesting possible clue surfaced when it was learned that one of the missing man’s bank accounts had shrunk from $333,414.65 on March 1 of that year to $2.65 on August 8.  It was rumored that Fujimura had paid the missing money to blackmailers, but investigators eventually came to the more boring conclusion that he had merely lost all the cash in gambling.  In any case, his friends and business associates pointed out that such sums meant little to someone of Fujimura’s great wealth.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Fujimura was hit with an additional tragedy.  Her youngest child, a three-year-old girl, died of a heart ailment just before the Belganland returned to New York.  Six days later, Mrs. Fujimura gave birth to her fifth child.

There was no shortage of theories about what had happened to Fujimura.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward Aranow believed that Fujimura had been murdered.  He claimed to have information that four men, including two extortionists, had been keeping Fujimura under surveillance for some weeks.  Aranow went on to suggest that the extortionists had boarded the Belgenland at Halifax, and, using forged Department of Justice badges, tried blackmailing Fujimura by threatening to prosecute him under the Mann Act.  When the silk merchant refused to play ball, they tossed him overboard.  However, Aranow could produce no proof for his lurid little tale.

A week after the Belgenland returned to New York, a taxi driver named Thomas Riley told police that a few hours after the liner docked, a woman and a Japanese girl got into his cab, where he drove them to 56th street, where they were met by a man.  He said that the child was Toshika Fujimura, but the woman was not Mary Reissner, and the man was not Hisashi Fujimura.  Riley added that six days later, he saw Hisashi come out of New York’s International House, where he was joined by two men, one of whom was the man who had earlier been with Toshika and the unknown woman.  The trio approached Riley’s cab.  The taxi driver noticed that the two men with Fujimura kept their hands in their pockets, as if they had guns leveled at Hisashi.  Fujimura told Riley that he wanted to be driven to Norwalk.  After the driver said he didn’t want to make such a long journey, the three men walked away.  This strange story was as unsubstantiated as Aranow’s.

On September 8, the Feds officially closed their investigation into Fujimura’s disappearance.  U.S. Attorney George Medalie announced that “The government’s interest was to determine what evidence, if any, existed to support a belief that Mr. Fujimura was the victim of a murder or that any other crime had been committed on the high seas.  A careful survey of all the evidence fails to furnish any such proof.”

On October 5, an expensive wallet stamped with Fujimura’s name was found by a workman in an unoccupied flat in Manhattan.  The wallet, unlike the other items in the room, was not covered in dust.  The most recent occupant of the apartment was one Pearl Anderson, who had moved out six weeks before.  Authorities failed to find Anderson.  Police learned that the wallet had been given by Fujimura’s company at a banquet two years before.  The missing man had never used it–just tossed it aside with the rest of his effects–so no one could say how it wound up in a Manhattan flat.  This initially intriguing clue, like everything else surrounding this case, went nowhere.

In 1938, Hisashi Fujimura was declared legally dead. We’ll likely never know if he disappeared as a result of foul play, suicide, an accidental fall over the side of the ship, or simply a desire to start a new life.  Our little mystery ended on a suitably enigmatic note.  On December 3, Fujimura’s wife and children returned to Japan, for good.  Before Mrs. Fujimura left New York, reporters asked her if she had anything to say about her husband’s disappearance.

She did not.

BREAK=====

Up next… a woman tries to save the soul of her daughter, believing her to be possessed… but her solution to drive out the demon was to murder her daughter using a holy crucifix. (Murder By Crucifix)

Plus, a terrifying series of paranormal activities invade a family’s home in Wales. (The Swansea Entity) These stories and more when Weird Darkness returns.

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STORY: MURDER BY CRUCIFIX=====

In January of 2018, 51-year-old Juanita Gomez was found guilty of first-degree murder. In August of 2016, she brutally killed her 33-year-old daughter Geneva Gomez in Oklahoma City. While there are a number of mothers who have murdered their children, this case has a religious aspect that makes it pretty eerie. Juanita Gomez killed her daughter by shoving a crucifix down her throat because she believed she was possessed by Satan. The two got into a violent struggle that Juanita claimed was her attempt at an exorcism. It was so brutal that Geneva died from blunt force trauma caused when Juanita repeatedly punched her.

Juanita claims she was exorcising Geneva, but prosecutors believe she was simply attempting to establish an insanity plea. Juanita watched her daughter bleed from the mouth and die, and she showed little remorse for her crimes. These grisly facts surrounding Geneva Gomez’s murder are sure to make you cringe.

Geneva’s death was brutal—Juanita punched Geneva repeatedly then shoved a religious medallion and crucifix down her daughter’s throat until she began to bleed from her mouth. She was so badly beaten that her ex-boyfriend, Francisco Merlos, didn’t recognize her when he saw her body. Juanita’s probable cause affidavit notes how the officers found Geneva’s body that day: “Officers arrived and found Victim: Geneva Gomez lying in the home with a large cross/crucifix upon her chest. Blood was visible and she had suffered severe trauma around her head and face.”

Juanita told authorities that she attempted to cleaned Geneva’s body after her death as well as the room where Geneva’s murder took place. She then positioned her dead daughter’s body in the shape of the cross on the floor and placed a wooden crucifix over her chest. The assistant district attorney speculates that Juanita purposefully used the religious symbols to “make somebody think perhaps she had a mental illness or was insane.”

When police arrived at the scene of the crime, they immediately observed signs of a physical struggle. Officers noted that Juanita’s hands were swollen, and her arms were covered in bruises, which she explained were from her daughter’s attempts to fight off her exorcism. Juanita Gomez’s probable cause affidavit reads: “Juanita stated these bruises were from her daughter fighting her attempts to rid Satan from her daughter’s body.”

Juanita claimed that her daughter was possessed by Satan and that she was attempting to perform an exorcism. She told police that the night prior, Geneva spoke in tongues, threatened her, and that her eyes rolled into the back of her head. When Merlos discovered Geneva’s body and asked Juanita why she didn’t call for help, Merlos said Juanita “kept mumbling about the ‘devil’ and ‘money.'”

On the day of Geneva’s brutal death, Francisco Merlos went to her house to apologize and make up. The couple were slated to marry, but Geneva broke things off a week prior at the behest of her mother. When he arrived at the house, he asked where Geneva was. Juanita pointed him toward the room where she lay dead, and he was met with silence and an eerie light from the television:

“I was like, ‘Where’s my girl?’ And [Juanita] said, ‘She’s in the room.’ Usually, my girl is real happy. She’d say, ‘I’ll be right out, baby,’ or something like that. But it was just the TV going on, there was no sound or anything. And then I looked, and she was laying on her back with the cross on her chest, and you couldn’t even recognize her face.”

After Merlos found his ex-girlfriend’s dead body, he attempted to leave, but the door was locked, and Juanita was blocking it. When Merlos tried to get past her, Juanita put him in a headlock in an attempt to keep him inside the house. Fortunately, he was luckily able to escape her grasp, and he ran away. Merlos called 911 and waited for police to arrive.

One of the most chilling aspects of this crime is that Juanita Gomez never seemed distraught or even repentant of her crime. Merlos, Geneva’s ex-boyfriend who discovered her body, said that Juanita seemed detached and calm. At her first arraignment Juanita didn’t show any signs of regret, and instead complained about a lack of toilet paper in her jail cell. While on the witness stand, the homicide detective who investigated the crime noted that Gomez was “unnervingly” calm and collected. Juanita only wept as she was taken from the court back to the county jail.

In the early phases of Juanita Gomez’s defense, her team attempted to plead insanity. She was scrutinized by a forensic psychologist, who easily saw through her ruse. They noted that Gomez “was grossly feigning memory problems to appear incompetent.” Her defense team quickly dropped the insanity plea, and instead pleaded not guilty to first degree murder with the reasoning that Juanita didn’t intend to kill Geneva.

Neighbors and friends close to the Gomez mother and daughter recalled that the two of them were inseparable. They worked together as massage therapists and often went to the beauty salon together to get their hair and nails done at the same time. Geneva’s ex-boyfriend described the pair as being “as close as sisters.” Their bond made the crime even more shocking to those who knew them.

Although Juanita Gomez’s trial lasted three hours, it only took the jury 20 minutes to come to their conclusion. Not only did they find Gomez guilty in the murder of her daughter, they explicitly recommended that she receive a life sentence without the possibility of parole. The judge who presided over the case agreed. Oklahoma City Assistant District Attorney Suzanne Lavenue said:

“We think it was a just verdict. It was an incredibly heinous murder. The victim suffered quite a bit before her life was ended. The crime scene was horrific. It was obvious that there’d been an extensive struggle all over the house.”

STORY: THE SWANSEA ENTITY=====

Sitting along the southwest coast of Wales is the coastal city of Swansea, officially the City and County of Swansea, the second largest city in Wales and with a long and rich history. In 1965, 22-year-old Marcia Howells, her husband David, their three-year-old daughter Beverly, and one-year-old son Gareth, and Marcia’s grandmother Glendora moved here into an unassuming little on Rhondda Street. It was just one of many other similar houses in the area and there seemed to be nothing particularly special about it. It was the kind of home one could walk right on by without even noticing it, but it would soon prove to be no normal home, as a series of terrifying supernatural events began to unfold.

It started just three days after they moved in, when Marcia and her husband were woken at night by a pressing sensation on their throats, as if something were lightly choking them. David at first thought there was a gas leak somewhere, but an inspection of the house turned up nothing out of the ordinary. They would both experience this for several nights, yet could find no rational explanation for it. After this, they noticed strange things around the house, like items turning up where they had no business being, or doors that were locked when no one had locked them, sometimes locked from the inside of a room with no one in it. Doors and windows would also be found open after being closed, and it was all very eerie, but not particularly frightening at this point. However, this would soon change one day as Marcia was at home with her two children while David was at work. She would say of what happened:

“Well it was about five o’clock in the evening and I’d just poured my little girl a cup of tea in my mother’s room. I went up back to the kitchen, as I came up this bottle came flying towards me. And of course I shut the door to protect myself. I opened it again and I seen this other bottle. So I just picked up the children and ran out the house. As I ran out my husband was coming down the street here, and he ran straight in the house, and by the time he got in the there all of the place was turned upside down.”

This became a recurring incident, with rooms being found with furniture flung about and items being strewn across the floor, absolutely ransacked, sometimes found in this state and on other occasions witnessed by the horrified family. Whatever was behind it would often display vicious behavior, flinging glasses and other objects at people, sometimes with enough force to cause injury or to smash the items. She explains of one such incident:

“One afternoon I was having tea with my mother in her room, and it was on the Monday, and she said that she had to go across the shop, so I said alright I said I’m going back to my room now to do a bit of work. So as I went out the children come down the passage behind me, and I opened the door of my room, and I seen a bottle rise off the mantelpiece. I thought I was seeing things. I seen the bottle coming towards me so I shut the door to protect myself, and the bottle smashed against the back of the door. So I opened the door again, and I seen another bottle rising off the mantelpiece. So I just shut the door and picked up my children, and went and waited on the doorstep for my mother to come home. So she came back and I told her what had happened. So she said to me, ‘Don’t be so daft,’ she said. So we went back into the room and by that time all my furniture was upside down. So I waited on the doorstep again until my husband came home from work, and well we didn’t say nothing about it to anybody, we just cleaned up the mess.”

These messes became an everyday occurrence, with furniture upended and rooms put into disarray almost immediately after they were cleaned and straightened up. The only room that remained untouched was that of the grandmother, Glendora, although no one could figure out why this should be. As all of this was going on, at first they didn’t tell anyone else about it, but as the paranormal activity continued and increased in intensity they felt that something needed to be done. When the entity began turning on the gas stove in the kitchen and barring doors to rooms with their children inside, it was the last straw and they decided to call the police, who would also have a rather strange experience on the property. Marcia would say:

“We went on to the kitchen, and my gas stove was all turned up, well we didn’t hear any sound of anything. Then we went upstairs to go to see if the bedrooms were alright, and we couldn’t open the bedroom door. So my husband said that he thinks that we better call the police. So I told him, I was crying and I said, we better not call the police because we couldn’t tell them our furniture was flying about by itself! Well anyway he called the police and the police had to force the bedroom door to get in. And my big double bed was on top of the baby’s cot behind the door. And well he always used to go to bed in the afternoon and I don’t know why I didn’t put him then. And if he’d have been in it he would have been killed.”

By this time the story of the haunting was hitting the news in a major way, and reporters descended upon the house, sometimes even camping out there. In addition, the area became clogged with curiosity seekers, adding even more stress to the beleaguered Howells family. One resident would later say of it, “It was quite a story. People were talking about and some people were very nervous. It was a different time of course, and perhaps people then were more naive and we know a lot more now. But it caused quite a fuss at the time.”

Neighbors came to be not only annoyed by all of the unwanted attention and crowds, but also in some cases worried that their houses would be haunted as well. In the meantime, the house was blessed by a priest and investigated by a security officer and paranormal investigator by the name of Harry Holmes, who spent the night at the house but witnessed nothing out of the ordinary and came away skeptical. In the end, the Howells couldn’t bear it any longer and moved away, after which the activity seems to have stopped. It is a curious case not only in the sheer violence and intensity of the activity, but also because there is absolutely nothing about the history of the house or the land it is built on that would account for a haunting. No tragedies, no murders or catastrophes, nothing, and none of the neighbors had any problems, so why was this happening at this one house with this normal family? No one really knows but there are a lot of ideas.

One is that this was not a haunting by an outside entity, but was rather the result of psychokinetic energy projected by a person. In many poltergeist cases, it has been theorized that the activity is caused by latent psychic abilities lashing out from an individual, usually without them even being aware that they are doing it. The usual culprits are children between the ages of 5 and 13, which means that this may have been happening with the Howell’s children. Another possible paranormal explanation is that it was a spirit attachment, which means a spirit that has sort of latched onto an item or person to follow them around. In this scenario the entity could have been brought to the house from somewhere else as it hitchhiked on the object or person of its attention. It could also have been that a demon was targeting the family for some inscrutable reason, and this is the theory that Marcia embraces, saying, “It couldn’t have been human.” The more rational explanation for all of this is that this was all a prank being played by the kids or even an outright hoax. Whatever happened out there, it remains a curious case of frightening supernatural forces, and has never been fully explained away.

BREAK=====

Up next on Weird Darkness… Shrunken heads – believe it or not, they are real. And some tribal peoples create them even today – from real human heads. But why do it at all? We’ll look at the reality behind shrunken heads, the reason they are created… and even how they are created. (The History and How of Shrunken Heads)

And later… what’s worse than proclaiming yourself to be a supernatural being and starting your own cult? How about telling your followers you are God so you could do drugs and have sex with teenage girls? It’s the disturbing true story of the cult called “The Group”. (Theodore Rinaldo – The Drug Cult Rapist) These stories are up next.

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STORY: THE HISTORY AND HOW OF SHRUNKEN HEADS=====

When you peel away the layers of normalcy and practicality, this world is actually shrouded in an air of mystery and magic. While magic has been thrown back as a thing of the past, even today there are many fantastical elements that challenge the human intellect.

Just as normalcy and practicality exist in this world of ours, so do weird, incredible things. But not every such object is a thing of beauty. In fact, certain objects around us create horror and disbelief in us.

One of such things is a shrunken head. Shrunken heads have existed around us for years, and even today certain native tribes continue this ghoulish practice.

The purpose behind creating and keeping a shrunken head has fluctuated between magic, sacrifice, trophy, ritual, and trade from time to time. In this article, we will look for the different purposes behind shrunken heads, and also learn how one is made.

Shrunken heads are not replicas. They are real, severed, isolated human heads that are prepared in a special way for display at certain places and on certain occasions. These heads are also called Tsantsas in certain cultures, and serve a variety of purposes for the tribes who create them.

However, the most common and notable one is their use in scaring off an enemy. To understand this statement, you have to know that tribes often engage in domestic wars, inter-tribal rivalry, and duels. Sometimes, tribal people had engaged in a violent altercation with outsiders like Europeans.

During such conflicts, shrunken heads were displayed prominently, acting as both a trophy and a warning to the enemy. It was a silent but emphatic message to any outsider that their personal war could end the same way, with the attacker reduced to a head shrunken and displayed in shame.

Even though tales of shrunken heads seem to be a big part of the tribal culture globally, it is only the Jivaro people from Northern Peru and Southern Ecuador who are engaged in the practice of shrinking heads. According to many historical accounts, Tsantsas were made from the enemies’ heads cut off on the battlefield.

Initially, these war souvenirs had ritualistic significance and religious purposes. However, as time passed, the practice evolved into trophy and horror.

The Jivaro people of Amazon were fierce, and violence between tribes was common. The tribesmen believed strongly in the concept of revenge, and also believed that if a man was killed on the battlefield, his spirit would come back to haunt and exact revenge from his killer.

Thus, the triumphant warrior on the field would cut off his victim’s head, and shrink it for their personal possession. The Jivaro people believed that if you shrunk the head of your enemy, his spirit would obey you and do your bidding. This was, thus, the ultimate sign of victory on your enemy.

Although the accounts vary, it is believed that even after shrinking a head, a warrior did not possess it for long. He would then leave it at the community feast or at the public worship place, therefore ridding himself of the vengeful spirit contained within.

The process of creating a shrunken head is very elaborate. The warrior would cut his enemy’s head off and bring it to their places of worship. The eyelids are then sewn shut, and the lips are shut with the help of a peg.

Once all this is done, the heads are then put into a big pot over a fire, and left to boil for a specific amount of time. The heat and pressure from consistent boiling shrunk the skull and helped separate the skin and flesh from the bone.

Then the skin and the hair of the head would be carefully separated from the skull, which was very important for the final look of the Tsantsas. The remaining flesh on the skull would also be scraped off. The skin slit used to remove the skull would then be sewn closed with care, after turning it inside out.

By the time this process is done, the skin would have turned dark and rubbery, and had shrunk to 1/3 of its original size.  This is, however, only half of the entire process.

After this, the void left by the removed skull is filled with hot stones and sand to increase the temperature and shrink the head from the inside. The process also tanned the flesh inside, which further preserved it, and indeed the process has a lot of similarities with animal hide tanning.

These stones and sand were not removed once the head shrank completely. Instead, more sand and stones were used to seal the head shut. This step also gave a definite shape to the head.

For the next step, the boiled, darkened skin was rubbed with charcoal ash to preserve it and make it darker. This was believed to block the avenging spirit further. Thus, the tribesmen not only sealed the heads shut but sealed an evil spirit inside. No wonder the process was a long one!

The finished Tsantsas were hung over open fire to shrink and harden further. This was the final step of head preservation. The Tsantsas would further blacken. Then the wooden pegs at the lips would be removed. Strings would replace the pegs to seal them shut again.

These Tsantsas would then be offered to the gods, and the warriors would ask for protection from the gods. Later on, these would be either displayed during community gatherings or battles.

Tsantsas or shrunken heads are still very popular on the exotic black market. Shrunken heads are a thing of mystery and are treated as a rarity. Thus, people of other cultures like Europeans, Americans, etc., would want to buy or see shrunken heads.

Even today, many people show interest in buying these souvenirs. However, this interest has allowed a lot of fake Tsantsas to be marketed. Many traders use sloth heads instead of real human heads to create Tsantsas and sell them as authentic ones. Now, this is good because at least no one is dying just to be shrunk! Still, forgery is rampant in the exotic object market.

You can still see real shrunken heads on display at some museums and historical archives.

STORY: THEODORE RINALDO – THE DRUG CULT RAPIST=====

I’ve saved this story for last simply because it might be too disturbing for some listeners. I have to admit, it is heartbreaking to narrate.

In the 1940s, Theodore Rinaldo could’ve been considered your average Catholic kid living in New York. But his life took a dark turn in 1969, when he moved to Seattle to start “The Group,” a drug cult who believed Rinaldo was God. Soon after he started Eden Farms, a compound where he abused his followers in vile ways. From threats to sexual assault of minors, the abusive cult leaders of The Group violated several people.

What happened to the cult called The Group? After an intrepid journalist uncovered what was really happening at the compound, he revealed Theodore Rinaldo’s cult crime. Facts about the Group shook the surrounding community. The truth of what really happened at Eden Farms put a sick man behind bars. Thankfully it is not a cult still active today, as Rinaldo was put behind bars in 1979.

In 1974, Rinaldo opened Ellogo’s farm in Washington, and referred to his religious cult as Eden Farms. In the summer of that year, neighbors in Snohomish, Washington noticed 20 to 30 tents built on the property of Eden Farms. Neighbors saw upward of 50 people working the fields of Eden Farms doing various field tasks. While cult followers were permitted to sell fruits and vegetables at stands on the side of the road, they were not allowed to discuss their religion. The secrecy that seemed to hover around Eden Farms continued to increase the scrutiny of neighbors and other leaders in the Snohomish, Washington community.

One person who grew up on the farm said children were also forced to work in the field, and if you refused, you faced severe punishment.

Rinaldo used his power and influence to force people to pledge allegiance to him. He also had inappropriate and illegal sexual relationships with underage girls. He also threatened to physically harm people who said they wanted to leave, and crippled people financially so even if they could escape, they couldn’t get very far. He told the group he was Michael the Archangel, and he planned to take them to Alabama to ride out the end of the world.

By the late ’70s, Rinaldo was very much involved in the local community. He joined a local Masonic Lodge, acted as campaign manager for a Republican candidate for the Snohomish County Sheriff, and purchased a building, which later became the location for the Snohomish Chamber of Commerce. He even started hosting a local bingo event, just like “legitimate” church organizations.

Rinaldo was convicted for his sex crimes, and as a result, the state of Washington evaluated whether he was a “sexual psychopath.” This distinction allows offenders who are guilty to serve a portion of their sentence in a therapy program. Rinaldo’s lawyers moved for this, and successfully were recognized by the court.

As a result, Rinaldo spent time in a treatment center for sexual psychopaths. The state ultimately concluded he was not open to rehabilitation and instead he received a designation in a general population prison.

On July 12, 1979, police arrested Rinaldo. He was charged with statutory rape, indecent liberties, assault, coercion and intimidating a witness. A jury convicted Rinaldo of some of the offenses, which inspired others to come forward. Almost a year after Rinaldo’s arrest, witnesses indicated they lied to police and prosecutors regarding Rinaldo’s practices on Eden Farms. The witnesses advised that Rinaldo had threatened them if they told the truth.

Because of the new witness testimony, prosecutors also charged the cult leader with perjury, intimidating witnesses, tampering with witnesses and statutory rape.

In Seattle,  Rinaldo started to develop a reputation for being a passionate and convincing preacher. The ’60s counterculture helped attract a broad range of people to Rinaldo’s “services.” Followers of Rinaldo called themselves “The Group,” and many reported he referred to himself (and others in The Group) as sons of God. By early 1970, Rinaldo started taking donations, so that he could buy land and legitimize the religious group status of The Group, and his followers donated thousands of dollars. By this time, the conman preacher was well on his way to becoming a cult leader.

Local journalist G. Larson started noticing the strange new group, and decided to take another look in 1979. In a series of six articles Larson wrote for The Everett Herald, he examined exactly what was happening at Eden Farms. He wrote about the group’s cult-like activity, which attracted the attention of the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office.

Late that same summer, the Snohomish County prosecutor’s office charged Rinaldo with statutory rape, indecent liberties, assault, coercion and intimidating a witness.

According to some sources, Rinaldo claimed he studied at a Bible college for a period of time. It’s unclear whether he was ordained, though he told the Everett Herald in a series of interviews he was. In the late 1960s – before he established Eden Farms – he met Paul Goff and the two became fast friends. They ended moving to Seattle together to start a ministry, and began holding religious meetings inside their homes.

Rinaldo filed a number of appeals after his conviction. His main target? Larson’s reporting. His legal team went after Larson’s confidential sources who tipped him off to the activity on the farm. However, after many appeals, and a short stint in an institution for sexual psychopaths, Rinaldo exhausted his efforts and remained incarcerated. A judge did, however, rule Larson had to turn over some of his reporting materials over to the criminal defendant – a move that sent a ripple effect through the journalism community.

By 1971, with the help of his cult follower’s donation, Rinaldo started a non-profit called Ellogos, which means “God” in Hebrew. The United States Internal Revenue Service permitted Ellogos tax-exempt status in the same year. And the cult showed tax return earnings of nearly $230,000. By 1973, Ellogos had purchased almost 80 acres of land in Snohomish, Washington. Rinaldo’s group was starting to look like a legitimate religious organization, and would soon begin to gain the attention of journalists and law enforcement.

SHOW CLOSE=====

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! You can email me anytime with your questions or comments at darren@weirddarkness.com – and you can find the show on Facebook and Twitter, including the show’s Weirdos Facebook Group on the CONTACT/SOCIAL page at WeirdDarkness.com. Also on the website, you can find free audiobooks I’ve narrated, watch old horror movies with horror hosts at all times of the day for free, sign up for the newsletter to win free prizes, grab your Weird Darkness and Weirdo merchandise, plus if you have a true paranormal or creepy tale to tell, you can click on TELL YOUR STORY.

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.

“Murder By Crucifix” by Inigo Gonzalez for Ranker’s Graveyard Shift

“The Swansea Entity” by Brent Swancer for Mysterious Universe

“The Strangest Disappearance at Sea in History” from Strange Company

“The Seeing Hands of Tenome” from The Scare Chamber

“The History and How of Shrunken Heads” by Bipin Dimri for Historic Mysteries

“H.H. Holmes’ Hellish Hotel and Lingering Haunting” from Chicago Hauntings

“Theodore Rinaldo – The Drug Cult Rapist” by Matthew Lavelle for Ranker’s Unspeakable Times

 

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

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

Now that we’re coming out of the dark, I’ll leave you with a little light… “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” – John 10:10

And a final thought… “Your gifts and determination may dictate your potential, but it is your character that will determine your legacy.” – Claudia Mitchell

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

 

 

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