“HISTORY’S ODDEST INDIVIDUALS AND SINISTER PSYCHOPATHS” #WeirdDarkness
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IN THIS EPISODE: From bathing in girls’ blood to making homemade conjoined twins, we’ll look at a few famous psychopaths who are truly some of the most terrifying people in the history of the world. Plus, whether flamboyant, miserly, or paranoid, some of history’s oddest individuals put modern-day eccentricities to shame.
SOURCES AND ESSENTIAL WEB LINKS…
“History’s Oddest Individuals” and “Sinister Psychopaths” by John Kuroski for AllThatsInteresting.com: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/2p9ca245, https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/mpvbsn6e
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We’re all a little bit weird, some more than others. There are those, however, who blaze past casual weirdness and enter the ranks of the epically bizarre. The behaviors of these individuals rank them as the oddest people history books have ever seen. From public defecation as an act of philosophical rebellion to (maybe) eating a baby because of insatiable hunger – the people I’ll be introducing you to tonight are some of the most freakish, perplexing, and historically strangest people who’ve ever lived.
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…
From bathing in girls’ blood to making homemade conjoined twins, we’ll look at a few famous psychopaths who are truly some of the most terrifying people in the history of the world. (Sinister Psychopaths)
But first… whether flamboyant, miserly, or paranoid, some of history’s oddest individuals put modern-day eccentricities to shame. (History’s Oddest Individuals)
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.
Now.. bolt your doors, lock your windows, turn off your lights, and come with me into the Weird Darkness!
STORY: Diogenes Was A Crazy, Homeless Philosopher=====
Not much is known about the Greek philosopher Diogenes’ early life, but there is much speculation about it. What we know for sure though, is that the ancient thinker was one of history’s weirdest people.
Diogenes was born in either 412 or 404 B.C., in the very remote Greek colony of Sinope. As a young man, he worked with his father minting currency for the colony. That is until they were both exiled for adulterating the gold and silver content of the coins.
Young Diogenes made his way to Corinth in mainland Greece. Almost as soon as he arrived, he seemed to have snapped. With no job, Diogenes adapted to the life of a homeless beggar. He voluntarily threw away all his possessions — except for some rags to hide his nakedness and a wooden bowl for food and drink.
Diogenes often sat in on Plato’s classes, eating as loudly as he could the whole time to disrupt the lessons. He argued loudly with Plato about philosophy, and would also periodically masturbate in public. He relieved himself whenever and wherever he felt like it — including on Plato’s stool in his own academy.
It probably didn’t help Diogenes’ case that he frequently ate whatever he could pick up off the ground. He shared the scraps with the dogs that followed him everywhere, including into Plato’s classes. Despite this, (or possibly because of it) Diogenes got a reputation as one of the wisest philosophers in Greece.
There are stories of his quick wit and penetrating insight that left others (especially Plato) looking foolish. It’s said that when Alexander the Great visited him while he was sunning himself, naked, on top of the barrel in which he lived, and asked if he – the most powerful man in the world – could do anything for the philosopher. Diogenes said, “You could move out of my light.”
STORY: Tarrare, Who May Have Eaten A Baby=====
A French peasant boy, known today as Tarrare, was born near Lyon, France in 1772. From an early age, he was insatiably hungry and cried for food even if he’d just finished a meal. At age 17, the gluttonous, yet emaciated Tarrare snuck into village barns to eat the livestock’s feed. He had an unusually large mouth, was always sweating, and emitted a putrid stench.
Tarrare’s parents kicked him out, and he found himself in Paris right before the French Revolution. He parlayed his uncontrollable hunger into a career — eating strange things for gathering crowds. He ate all types of unpalatable objects; including live animals and even large stones.
However, the money dried up when the French Revolution began. Tarrare became a soldier, but unsurprisingly he was chronically ill from compulsively eating stray cats and non-food items. The field hospital reluctantly fed him quadruple rations until General Alexandre de Beauharnais saw in Tarrare a unique opportunity.
He approached Tarrare about being a spy — delivering military secrets with his stomach as the courier. He agreed and ingested a wooden box containing a note for an imprisoned French colonel. Tarrare crossed Prussian lines and within 30 hours was captured, had betrayed France, and was savagely beaten.
The Prussians dumped Tarrare close to French lines and he returned to the military hospital, where he resorted to drinking stored blood and nibbled on the dead residing in the morgue. He was suspected of eating a toddler, and when he never outright denied it, the hospital chased him out.
Tarrare died horribly around the age of 27. His autopsy revealed festering intestines and an entire body that was putrefied and filled with pus. His digestive system was freakishly mutated; his stomach beginning at the back of his throat and continuing all the way down. Both the lungs and heart were displaced.
The sickening smell emanating from Tarrare’s innards proved too strong for the pathologist, and the autopsy was cut short. We can only speculate what was so wrong with one of the world’s weirdest people.
STORY: Lord Byron=====
Lord Byron was lucky right from his birth in 1788 — besides his deformed right foot. He wasn’t supposed to inherit the title Barony of Byron of Rochdale by which he’s remembered. Nevertheless, by age 10 it was his, along with vast tracts of land and crazy amounts of money. He took an early interest in poetry, which he used as a means to say whatever he wanted without being held accountable.
Byron’s work definitely had arrogance — he often treated poetry as an elaborate revenge mechanism. He used it to publicly insult the likes of his fellow poets Robert Southey and Coleridge and Whitman, whom he relentlessly mocked as humorless drips who only got published because they paid someone off.
As wild as Byron’s work life was, his private life was even wilder. Authorities at the University of Cambridge told Byron that dogs were not allowed in rooms, so Byron adopted a pet bear. Later, after a few books had made him the toast of London, Byron reconnected with his long-lost half-sister Augusta, whom he impregnated. Then he married a rich heiress, but couldn’t seem to keep his hands off his sister, so the heiress deemed him insane and filed for divorce.
In 1816, surrounded by rumors, Byron left England for Percy Bysshe Shelley’s home in Switzerland. He was present while Mary Shelley composed Frankenstein. Or he may have been sleeping with her sister in the next room; accounts differ.
By the end of that year, Byron moved to Italy, where he taught himself Armenian and rewrote the Bible with what he thought were better stories. While living in Ravenna, Percy Shelley recalled that Byron let “five peacocks, two guinea hens, and an Egyptian crane” roam freely in his home — insisting that they were reincarnated souls.
Byron eventually sold an estate he held in Scotland and gave the money away in Greece, which was fighting for independence and had invited him (and his money) to come and help — despite his complete lack of military experience. A sudden illness ended his life at age 36 before he could see a single battle.
However, to this day Byron (and his money) are remembered as heroes of the Greek revolution — and as one of history’s weirdest people.
Up next on Weird Darkness, more odd individuals – such as Hetty Green who took her miserly ways to a very unhealthy level; Carl Tanzler, who wouldn’t let the death of his love keep him from being with her; Gloria Ramirez, the Toxic Lady; and more on the way!
STORY: Hetty Green, Taking Miserly To A Whole New Level=====
Hetty Green got rich during America’s Gilded Age, which was a fantastic time to be wealthy. During the years after the Civil War, millionaires could get away with almost any eccentric behavior. But even by the standards of the age, Hetty stood out.
Born the daughter of a prosperous whaling family in 1837, her real wealth came when she married millionaire Edward Henry Green in 1867. In an unusual move for the time, Hetty negotiated a prenuptial contract that kept the couple’s finances strictly separate. Edward agreed without hesitation, and Hetty divorced him when the bank began to use her money as if it were his. In his later bankruptcy filing, Edward’s worldly assets consisted of $40 and a gold watch. Edward would die young.
All her life, Hetty had been careful with money. Starting with a modest inheritance and a few of the tips her grandfather left her with before he died, Hetty amassed a fortune in equity and commodities trading that may have topped $1 billion (equal to $27 billion today).
Despite her vast wealth, Hetty was miserly to the point of absurdity. For instance, she never spent money on an office, preferring to conduct business sitting on the floor of her bank, surrounded by paperwork. Given the number of zeroes on those papers, the bank probably didn’t mind this quirk.
Less quirky was her paranoia. Hetty often took hours to walk home from the bank because of the lengthy detours she took to shake imaginary stalkers. Her detractors, many of whom called her “the Witch of Wall Street”, spread the story that Hetty would only eat oatmeal she’d warmed over her radiator — thinking coal too expensive for running a stove.
They may have been right. Hetty’s cheapness extended to returning a 10 cent broom she’d bought years before when its bristles wore out. But it was someone else who paid an excruciating price for her frugality.
When her son Ned broke his leg as a child, Hetty tried to set the leg herself. When that didn’t work, she disguised herself and her son as paupers and tried to get in at the free clinic. After they kicked her out, Hetty — the boy’s screams be damned — set the broken leg at last. Apparently, she did finally consent to pay for medical care when Ned’s leg became infected and had to be amputated.
Indeed, Green’s immense frugality at the expense of her own children’s health certainly puts her towards the top of the roster for the world’s weirdest people.
STORY: Henry Cyril Paget=====
Henry Cyril Paget lived from 1875 to 1905 — less than 30 years. During his short life, however, he definitely made his mark. At age 27, Henry inherited the title of the 5th Marquess of Anglesey (and Plas Newydd) Wales. Along with it, the bulk of his family’s 30,000-acre estate and a yearly stipend that was the equivalent of $14 million USD today.
Free from responsibilities and loaded like a prince, Paget immediately set out to make his wildest dreams a reality. These dreams happened to be oddly lavish for a male of this time. He commissioned and wore great swirling robes encrusted with diamonds and sapphires; his contemporaries likened him to “a sort of apparition … a tall, elegant and bejeweled creature”.
His cars were modified with gems, precious metals, and to emit perfume instead of exhaust. Often he carried his dyed-pink poodle around and was obsessed with photography — mainly photos of himself.
Paget married his cousin Lilian Florence Maud Chetwynd in 1898, but Lillian swore the marriage was never consummated and it was annulled two years later. Paget allegedly treated her like a doll; purchasing for her a vast assortment of expensive gems that he requested she model on her naked body for him. But he only looked — never touched.
The Marquess also converted his estate’s chapel into a gigantic and opulent theater. He named it The Gaiety, and with its elaborate lighting rig and multiple changing stations he put on the entire works of Shakespeare and other plays. He employed professional actors at up to 10 times the going rate, while he himself commanded lead roles.
Paget performed seductive, hypnotic dances at every opportunity — earning him the nickname The Dancing Marquess. He and his rotating theater cast even went on a three-year European tour.
Lifestyles like these are rarely financed forever. In 1904, just two years after inheriting (and mortgaging) the estate, Henry was broke. In fact, he’d managed to run up another $700,000 in unpaid debts. Nearly everything he owned was liquidated to pay off the debt, including his collection of walking sticks — the world’s largest.
One year later, Paget died of tuberculosis at age 29. Paget’s cousin Charles inherited the title, subsequently tore down the theater, and eventually sold portions of the estate in the 1930s to pay down the lingering debt. He also burned every scrap of paper with Paget’s name on it, insisting he himself was the 5th Marquess of Anglesey — not the 6th. Charles did a pretty good job of almost erasing his cousin, one of the world’s weirdest people, from the family records.
STORY: Carl Tanzler, His Love For Her Lasted Beyond Her Death=====
Carl Tanzler’s twisted mentality and his inability to let go place him amongst history’s weirdest people.
Tanzler was an Austrian-born physician who lived a relatively normal life until 1931 when he fell head-over-heels in love with a young tuberculosis patient named Maria Elena Milagro de Hoyos.
Hoyos was a 22-year-old Cuban-American woman who was brought into the Key West, Florida Hospital where Tanzler worked. As soon as he first laid eyes on her, Tanzler was transfixed.
Tanzler had visions as a child of a stunning, dark-haired woman who was destined to be his true love and he was convinced that Hoyos must literally be the woman of his dreams.
At the time tuberculosis was still a deadly disease so Tanzler committed himself to caring for Hoyos and made every attempt to save her life while also showering her with gifts and professions of love.
Unfortunately, Hoyos died a few months later, sending Tanzler into deep heartbreak. With her parents’ blessing, Tanzler purchased an expensive mausoleum for Hoyos to be buried in. However, once her body was locked inside, Tanzler was the only one with the key and soon after, his macabre journey began.
Tanzler visited Hoyos’ body every night for two years until he evidently decided that he wanted her closer. In April 1933, he stole the decaying body from its tomb and kept it in his home with him.
Because Hoyos had been dead for two years, Tanzler had to provide extensive upkeep on the body. He used plaster of Paris and glass eyes to maintain the integrity of her face and stabilized her skeletal frame by using coat hangers and wires.
Once her hair began to fall out from her decomposing scalp, he replaced it with pieces of her real hair. He stuffed her torso full of rags to help it retain its normal shape and cloaked her in copious amounts of perfume to keep the stench at bay. He also added wax to her face to help it remain intact as well.
Tanzler lived with Hoyos’ dead body for seven years before her family became suspicious. Hoyos’ sister eventually confronted Tanzler at his home and made the grisly discovery in 1940.
Tanzler was arrested for grave robbing but because the statute of limitations on his crime had expired, he avoided any jail time.
STORY: Gloria Ramirez, The Toxic Lady=====
Gloria Ramirez’s life was pretty normal but the circumstances surrounding her bizarre death have made her one of history’s weirdest people.
Ramirez’s seemingly average life took its unusual turn on Feb. 19, 1994, when she was taken to General Hospital in Riverside, Calif. after she experienced a rapid heart rate, a drop in blood pressure, and was unable to form coherent sentences.
Ramirez was only 31-years-old and in the late stages of cervical cancer which was thought to have caused her sudden deterioration. Doctors quickly got to work trying to save her life, but nothing seemed to be working.
Nurses removed Ramirez’s shirt and saw a mysterious oily sheen on her skin and her mouth was emitting a fruity, garlicky smell. They took a blood sample and saw manila-colored particles floating in it. Her blood also alarmingly smelled like ammonia.
As if the situation wasn’t strange enough already, suddenly, one after the other, nurses in the room started to faint. Others developed breathing problems and one nurse experienced paralysis – and no one knew why.
Despite the hospital team’s best efforts, Ramirez died that night. A special team came in to examine her body while wearing hazmat suits to protect themselves from whatever had taken down the nurses.
Ramirez earned the nickname the “Toxic Lady” because no one could examine her body without exposing themselves to a wide range of medical problems.
All in all, officials conducted three autopsies on Ramirez’s body and concluded that she died of heart failure due to kidney failure brought on by her late-stage cancer. However, the autopsies never presented definitive reasons for Ramirez’s strange ailments and why several of the hospital staffers fell mysteriously ill.
Before we get to the sinister psychopaths in tonight’s episode, I still have a few more odd individuals to tell you about, such as Sawney Bean – the Scottish Cannibal; Anneliese Michel – a young girl possessed by demons; plus Margaret Lovatt – who had a sexual relationship… with a dolphin. These stories and more when Weird Darkness returns!
STORY: Anneliese Michel, A Young Girl Possessed By Demons=====
The bone-chilling story Anneliese Michel has terrified people for decades and even served as the inspiration for the 2005 movie The Exorcism of Emily Rose and ranks her as one of history’s weirdest people.
Anneliese Michel was born in the 1960s in Bavaria, West Germany. She was deeply religious and a devout Catholic who attended mass twice a week. Her normal life was flipped upside down when she was 16. Anneliese blacked out at school and began to walk around in dazed state.
She experienced a similar episode the following year and also had a series of body compulsions. She was taken to the doctor who diagnosed her with temporal lobe epilepsy. The disorder is marked by seizures, loss of memory, hallucinations, and can also cause Geschwind syndrome which can lead to hyperreligiosity.
Michel took a series of medications to keep her epilepsy at bay, but they did not help. She later began to see and hear the devil, and heard demons telling her that she was “damned” and would “rot in hell.”
Michel was convinced that she was possessed by demons and sought out priests for help. They initially refused her but finally, priest Ernst Alt believed her story and got a local bishop to consent to exorcisms.
Over the next ten months, Alt and a local priest conducted 67 exorcisms on Michel. In the sessions, Michel claimed that she was possessed by the demons Lucifer, Cain, Judas Iscariot, Adolf Hitler, and Nero.
During this ten-month period, Michel’s body began to physically deteriorate. She broke the bones in her knees from excessive prayer and slowly stopped eating. She eventually died on July 1, 1976, from malnutrition and dehydration.
Michel’s parents and the priests were charged with negligent homicide for her death. They all were found guilty but escaped prison time.
No one knows for sure why Michel’s life came to a tragically short end but some people believe that something much weirder, and more human than supernatural, caused her death.
STORY: Sawney Bean, The Scottish Cannibal=====
The legend of cannibal Sawney Bean and his family has scared Scottish children for hundreds of years. Some are convinced that it is just folklore, but others think that the terrifying man and his family really did exist.
Bean’s cannibalism and reclusiveness secured his place amongst history’s weirdest people. Legends say that in the 15th and 16th centuries in Scotland, Bean and a female companion hid out in a cave for 25 years. They had multiple kids who ended up having children of their own through incest.
The Bean clan had 48 members and they are allegedly all responsible for eating over 1,000 people who they caught and brought back to their secluded cave.
Sawney Bean led his family on this gruesome journey. They operated in complete secrecy, only leaving the cave to hunt at night. Once they captured their prey, they would take them back home where they would be promptly dismembered and eaten. The pieces of their victims that weren’t eaten right away would be pickled and saved for later.
However, one night, the clan chose to attack a man who proved to be a more than worthy opponent. The man was highly skilled in combat and fought the Bean family long enough for others to hear the commotion and come to help.
They retreated back to their cave but the damage was done. A search party was organized and the family was found. They were all captured and sent to a jail in Edinburgh, and a short time later they were executed for their horrendous crimes.
There is much debate over whether or not Sawney Bean was an actual person or if his crimes were as grisly as legends say they were. But one thing everyone can agree on is that throughout history, no one’s story is quite as weird as the reclusive, cannibal Sawney Bean.
STORY: Margaret Howe Lovatt, The Woman Who Had A Sexual Relationship With A Dolphin=====
Margaret Howe Lovatt’s sexual relationship with a dolphin during a NASA-funded experiment definitely qualifies her as one of the weirdest people in history.
Neuroscientist Dr. John Lilly and astronomer Frank Drake partnered together in the 1960s to secure funding for research on how to create a communicative bridge between humans and dolphins.
They built a lab that was part workspace and part dolphin enclosure and when 23-year-old Margaret Howe Lovatt got wind of the facility, she stopped by to check it out. The lab’s director eventually agreed to let the curious young woman help out.
She taught the dolphins in daily lessons with the goal to help them create human-like sounds. She threw herself into the work obsessively and even began living in the lab. She formed a special relationship with one of the dolphins, Peter, and he took a particular interest in her as well.
Peter was obsessed with Lovatt and would express sexual urges by rubbing himself on her. Eventually, Howe relented and began manually satisfying Peter’s urges so she didn’t have to keep returning him to the female dolphins whenever he felt a certain way.
Lovatt insists “it wasn’t sexual on my part … sensuous perhaps. It seemed to me that it made the bond closer. Not because of the sexual activity, but because of the lack of having to keep breaking. And that’s really all it was. I was there to get to know Peter. That was part of Peter.”
Eventually, the lab lost funding and the relationship between Lovatt and Peter ended once he was moved to a lab in Miami. Peter was heartbroken to be separated from his love and committed suicide in his tank.
Ric O’Barry of the Dolphin Project validates the use of the term suicide. “Dolphins are not automatic air-breathers like we are … Every breath is a conscious effort. If life becomes too unbearable, the dolphins just take a breath and they sink to the bottom.”
The story of Lovatt and Peter’s unusual relationship could sound to some people like a tragic love story, but to others, Lovatt simply qualifies as one of the world’s weirdest people.
We’ve covered some of the biggest weirdos in history… next, it’s the biggest psychopaths. Everyone is well aware of the atrocities committed by Adolf Hitler. And many know that under Joseph Stalin’s leadership, the number of those killed via starvation and murder ranges from about 10 to 60 million.
Unfortunately, these tyrants aren’t the only ones who have taken history and left a nasty stain in its pages. I’ll introduce you to a few famous psychopaths from history that rank right up there with the worst of them, when Weird Darkness returns.
STORY: King Leopold II=====
King of Belgium from 1865 to 1909, Leopold II is best known for ruling over the Congo Free State in central Africa between 1885 and 1908.
Under his brutal rule in Africa, millions of Congolese people died. The death toll estimates vary wildly (and the true number will never be known for sure), but low figures are still around 5 million while high figures sit near 20 million.
Leopold’s aim was to extract rubber and ivory from the Congo region. To do so, he used forced Congolese labor that toiled under threat of horrific abuse from Leopold’s army, the Force Publique.
The atrocities committed under his regime involved enslaving the native population, torture, maiming, and slaughter.
For example, Leopold II imposed quotas on every man in his realm for the production of raw materials. Men who failed to meet their ivory and gold quota even once would face mutilation, with hands and feet being the most popular sites for amputation. If the man could not be caught, or if he needed both hands to work, Force Publique men would cut the hands off of his wife or children.
International pressure over reports of abuse that had leaked out finally forced Leopold to change some of his policies and cede some of his land in 1908. Nevertheless, the Congo was still a Belgian colony and widespread atrocities persisted until the country’s independence in 1960 (when civil war and atrocities of other varieties began).
STORY: Pol Pot=====
Born in 1925, Pol Pot became the leader of the Khmer Rouge party and Prime Minister of Cambodia from 1976 to 1979. He had held the position in a de facto role since mid-1975, but after coming into power officially, he imposed a fierce agrarian policy that led to the demise of about 25 percent of the Cambodian population.
Pol Pot formed a Communist peasant farming society, where all of Cambodia’s cities were forcibly vacated, and the 2 million residents were forced to live and work in the countryside. Citizens were forced into slave labor: work began from 4 AM and lasted until 10 PM, overlooked by Khmer Rouge soldiers.
Aside from slave labor, the citizens had to endure malnutrition (workers were permitted one 180-gram tin of rice every two days), poor medical care, and executions if there were any infractions.
Worst of all, the Khmer Rouge committed mass executions and burials in “Killing Fields,” carried out using hammers, axe handles, spades or sharpened bamboo sticks. The killings targeted all sorts of perceived threats and undesirables, including intellectuals, urban professionals, supposed foreign sympathizers, opponents of communism, and others.
His regime came to an end in 1979 when the Vietnamese army invaded Cambodia and drove out Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge. It is estimated that 2 million people died under his regime.
STORY: Ivan IV of Russia=====
Ivan IV of Russia – better known as Ivan the Terrible – was the Grand Prince of Moscow from 1533 to 1547, and the first Tsar of Russia from 1547 until his death in 1584. His lengthy reign was marked by the expansion of the Russian borders and its progression from being a medieval state to a powerful empire.
Ivan had a peaceful reputation at the beginning, not receiving the sobriquet until later. Unfortunately, this early benevolence was actually marked by a number of atrocities due to his quest for expansion and his tendency to control the population via strict military rule.
In 1570, for example, Ivan was under the impression that the elite of the city of Novgorod planned to defect to Poland, and led an army to stop them. His army subsequently built walls around the perimeter of the city to prevent escapees and rounded up civilians, torturing and killing between 500 and 1,000 of them in front of Ivan.
In what may be an explanation for some of his actions as a bloodthirsty, paranoid ruler, Ivan supposedly suffered from mental illness. Such illness may or may not also explain his decision to beat his pregnant daughter-in-law for wearing immodest clothing, causing a miscarriage. When Ivan’s son learned of his wife’s miscarriage, he confronted his father, the two fought, and Ivan ended striking his own son in the head with a staff hard enough to kill him.
STORY: Elizabeth Bathory=====
Born in 1560, she served as a countess in the Kingdom of Hungary but has since become known for her sadistic crimes. Though the number of her victims is disputed, it is believed that she was responsible for torturing and killing hundreds of girls between 1585 and 1610.
Her execution methods were incredibly disturbing, as she would torture the girls while naked, forcing them to eat their own flesh, stabbing them with needles and burning parts of the face, genitalia and other bits of their flesh. Bathory would torture them for weeks, and many would starve or else be burned or frozen to death.
It is also widely believed that she would bathe in their blood under the delusion that it would help her retain her youth. She was eventually caught in 1610, but her affluence and power shielded her from any serious consequences. She was simply forced to while away the remainder of her life in a small set of rooms while guards watched over her until her death in 1614.
STORY: Heinrich Himmler=====
Born in 1900, Heinrich Himmler was the second most powerful Nazi and possibly the most feared man in Nazi Germany. As the leader of the SS from 1929 to 1945, Himmler was responsible for conceiving and implementing the Holocaust.
Himmler served as the head of the unified police forces in Germany and also held command of the German concentration camps, organizing and ensuring that the death trains ran on time and that the camps adhered to strict standards of murderous efficiency.
His decisions and efforts helped cause the deaths of some 11 million people, including Jews, Poles, Russians, communists, and other groups deemed fit for death by the Nazis.
As for his own personal cruelty amid the enormous wave of murder, it is said that Himmler’s house contained furniture and books made from the bones and skins of his Jewish victims. He eventually committed suicide by poison in 1945 as the Nazi regime fell and his comrades were being taken prisoner or executed.
STORY: Adolf Eichmann=====
Like Himmler, Nazi leader Adolf Eichmann was another of the Holocaust’s main orchestrators.
He was an instrumental part of the 1942 Wannsee Conference, at which Nazi leaders first coordinated on the plan for the Holocaust. Once things were in motion, Eichmann helped preside over the mass deportation of Jews into concentration camps, tirelessly working to organize the transportation, murder, and disposal of Holocaust victims, largely Jews hailing from Eastern Europe.
After the war, Eichmann eluded capture for 15 years but was eventually tried and hanged for his crimes in 1962.
Showing neither hatred nor mental illness during his trial, Eichmann provided evidence that, according to Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal, you don’t need to be sadistic or mentally ill to kill millions; a desire to “do your duty” will suffice.
One of Eichmann’s Nazi comrades once heard him say that he would “leap laughing into the grave because the feeling that he had five million people on his conscience would be for him a source of extraordinary satisfaction.”
I still have a few more sinister psychopaths to tell you about tonight… including a man known as “The Angel of Death”; and the man that made the phrase “drink the Kool-Aid” a lot darker than it was originally. These stories are up next on Weird Darkness.
STORY: Tomás de Torquemada=====
Tomás de Torquemada was the Grand Inquisitor of Spain and a central architect and perpetrator of the Spanish Inquisition starting in 1478.
The Inquisition’s tribunal was created by the Spanish monarchy to weed out anyone that they believed to pose a threat to the Roman Catholic Church in Spain. The Inquisition led to the death, torture, and rape of thousands – usually without evidence.
Torquemada would order Jews and others perceived to be an anti-Catholic threat to be tortured or killed, inventing several specific torture techniques just for them. People were tortured by means of burning, suffocation, and starvation.
Specific torture schemes included the garrucha (pulling a prisoner’s arms and legs from their sockets), the toca (water was forced down the victim’s throat) and porto (tight cords tied around the victim to stop blood from flowing).
Tomás de Torquemada is believed to have presided over the killings of thousands of people, and to have helped cause the exile of 200,000 to 300,000 Jews or Muslims who did not embrace Catholicism from Spain. After all of his atrocities, Torquemada died of old age in 1498.
STORY: Josef Mengele=====
Known as the “Angel of Death,” Josef Mengele worked as a physician in the Nazis’ Auschwitz concentration camp. It was there that he oversaw countless murders as well as cruel, disturbing experiments on the imprisoned.
Mengele’s most popular experiment was with twins, as he would pour chemicals into their eyes to see if they would change color, try to change their sex, and literally sew them together to see if he could create conjoined twins. He experimented on thousands of twins, and just a tiny fraction survived.
The Angel of Death would sometimes force parents to kill their own kids, torture children to see how long they would survive, beat prisoners to death — or simply order them to the gas chambers by the thousands.
After the war, Mengele was able to escape to South America with his family and died in Brazil after suffering a stroke while swimming in 1979.
STORY: Vlad The Impaler=====
Vlad the Impaler is one of the most infamously deranged dictators in human history, in large part due to the iconic character he inspired: Dracula. The vampire was even named after the 15th-century prince of Wallachia (part of present-day Romania), but the truth is even stranger than fiction.
After being kept in a tower for most of his childhood, imprisoned there by one of his father’s enemies, Vlad decided to seek revenge. He took power back from his oppressors and decided that anyone who crossed him would end up dead.
To prove his point, Vlad hosted a dinner, to which he invited everyone who had voiced opposition to him. As they arrived, he stabbed them all, impaling their still-twitching bodies on spikes for all the townspeople to see. Because the tactic was so effective at striking fear into the hearts of his enemies, Vlad began using it on all who opposed him. Before long, the people began to call him Vlad the Impaler.
He certainly lived up to his name, impaling 20,000 of the 80,000 total people killed under his regime on spikes to send a message. Legend has it that he would even host dinner parties in a forest made of spikes, the bodies impaled on them still dripping blood.
He ultimately died a bloody death himself while fighting against the Ottomans circa 1476/1477.
STORY: Jim Jones=====
Though the phrase “drinking the Kool-Aid” is used a little bit as a joke today, to poke fun at someone who’s buying into a scam or a group mentality, the origins of the phrase are quite sinister. In 1978 in Guyana, 900 people – 300 of them children – drank cyanide-laced Kool-Aid and died at the behest of their cult leader: Jim Jones.
Until September 11th, the Jonestown Massacre as it came to be known, was considered the single largest deliberate loss of American civilian life in history.
Jones had started his Jonestown Colony in Guyana as a place for his Peoples Temple cult to escape what he perceived to be the stresses of modern American life.
Often strung out on various drugs, Jones brought his isolated followers to his colony, where he continuously told them he could help them while teaching them to fear the outside world.
However, the Peoples Temple started falling when members from the U.S. government traveled to Guyana to help bring members of the cult home. Jones had instilled so much fear in his followers that they believed the government officials were there to bring them to concentration camps, or kill them. Scared they would die as captives in the United States, they rallied together around Jones for support.
Rather than helping them, he killed them all, lacing large batches of an off-brand Kool-Aid with cyanide, and encouraging them to feed it to their children and take it themselves.
That same day, he killed himself with a gunshot to the head. He got off too easily.
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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.
“History’s Oddest Individuals” and “Sinister Psychopaths” by John Kuroski for AllThatsInteresting.com
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Now that we’re coming out of the dark, I’ll leave you with a little light… “And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness’ …Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Cor. 12:9-10
And a final thought… “The great pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.” – Walter Bagehot
I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me in the Weird Darkness.