“JANET WISHART’S WITCHY WAYS” and More Strange True Stories! #WeirdDarkness

“JANET WISHART’S WITCHY WAYS” and More Strange True Stories! #WeirdDarkness

Listen to ““JANET WISHART’S WITCHY WAYS” and More Strange True Stories! #WeirdDarkness” on Spreaker.
IN THIS EPISODE: Janet Wishart loved practicing her evil Satanic magic – and equally loved boasting about it; something you really shouldn’t do if you happen to live in the days of the Great Scottish Witch Hunt. (Janet Wisharts’s Witchy Ways) *** Have you ever seen the movie “Going In Style” about some retired elderly men deciding to do one last robbery just to see if they had the stuff? Whether you watched the 1979 original or the 2017 remake, the premise is hilarious and fun. But apparently several men in 2015 decided to do it for real – and almost walked away with $200-million in cash and jewels! (The Grandpa Gang Jewel Robbery) *** The encounter of Gerry Anderson is one of the most intriguing claims of alien abduction in the United Kingdom. Not least as he wouldn’t fully recall the incident that occurred in the early 1950s when he was a 12-year-old boy until decades later under hypnotic regression. (The Alien Abduction of Gerry Anderson) *** In November, 1980 the MGM Grand in Las Vegas caught fire, claiming numerous lives. Decades later we learn what went wrong, how it can be avoided in the future, and we hear the haunting details of what happened during the fire – as well as the hauntings that are taking place even now so many years later. (A Grand Fire in Las Vegas)
“Janet Wisharts’s Witchy Ways” from Strange Company: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/4rakh24p
“The Grandpa Gang Jewel Robbery” by Laura Allan for Unspeakable Times: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/yuu3bxnc, and Jon Rogers for The Sun: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/27esvy74
“The Alien Abduction of Gerry Anderson” by Marcus Lowth for UFO Insight: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/2zznednd
“A Grand Fire in Las Vegas” by Rachel Souerbry for Weird History: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/fwzhe9js, Vegas.com: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/z7krdayv, VegasForAll.com: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/2hj566nw, and TripAdvisor: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/3vez7tvm, https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/u5k8f8cj
Weird Darkness theme by Alibi Music Library.

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Originally aired: March 13, 2023


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.


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…

Have you ever seen the movie “Going In Style” about some retired elderly men deciding to do one last robbery just to see if they had the stuff? Whether you watched the 1979 original or the 2017 remake, the premise is hilarious and fun. But apparently several men in 2015 decided to do it for real – and almost walked away with $200-million in cash and jewels! (The Grandpa Gang Jewel Robbery)

The encounter of Gerry Anderson is one of the most intriguing claims of alien abduction in the United Kingdom. Not least as he wouldn’t fully recall the incident that occurred in the early 1950s when he was a 12-year-old boy until decades later under hypnotic regression. (The Alien Abduction of Gerry Anderson)

In November, 1980 the MGM Grand in Las Vegas caught fire, claiming numerous lives. Decades later we learn what went wrong, how it can be avoided in the future, and we hear the haunting details of what happened during the fire – as well as the hauntings that are taking place even now so many years later. (A Grand Fire in Las Vegas)

Janet Wishart loved practicing her evil Satanic magic – and equally loved boasting about it; something you really shouldn’t do if you happen to live in the days of the Great Scottish Witch Hunt. (Janet Wisharts’s Witchy Ways)

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 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!



Back when there was a common belief in witchcraft, a surprising number of people openly boasted to their neighbors about their alleged Satanic powers.  Whether it was from a desire to feel superior to their peers, a mischievous delight in inspiring fear, or sheer bloody-mindedness, some “witches” proudly identified as such.  Such boasting, of course, brought a great many of them to the gallows.

Deliberately allowing those around you to think you have sinister supernatural powers was a particularly dangerous pastime during certain eras.  A fine example is the case of one Janet Wishart, who was among the most prominent figures in what has gone down in history as the Great Scottish Witch Hunt.  If her trial testimony is to be believed, Wishart was a veritable Energizer Bunny of Evil.

For some 25 years, the residents of Aberdeen, Scotland were convinced that Wishart was a witch–a belief she did absolutely nothing to contradict.  Everyone in town lived in supernatural terror of her.  Her diabolical ways were first recorded in 1573, when two boys, John Leslie and John Johnson, caught her stealing from a neighbor.  When the boys were found drowned a short time later, townsfolk were convinced that Wishart had bewitched them into committing suicide.  In 1581, she cast a spell upon the wife of one Malcolm Carr, causing the woman to be ill with fever for six months.

Four years after that, Wishart was involved in a more complicated affair.  After a brewer named Katherine Rattray managed to get on Janet’s bad side (reportedly not a difficult thing to do,) Wishart cursed Rattray’s stock of ale, leaving it all spoiled.  When Rattray’s daughter, Katherine Ewin, begged Wishart to restore the ale, the witch relented.  She told Ewin to go to the brewery before dawn, taking care beforehand not to cross herself, speak, wash her hands, pass over water or breastfeed her baby.  Then Ewin was to say, “I to God, and thou to the Devil” three times and throw a charm of red, green, and blue threads into the fire.

This brought the ale back to normal, but when Ewin was indiscreet enough to teach the ritual to others, Wishart, irked at having her trade secrets revealed, placed a fatal curse on Ewin’s baby.  Then Ewin’s store of ale disappeared from a locked room where only she had the key.  As if all this wasn’t bad enough, for the next twenty nights, a cat appeared in the bedroom of Ewin and her husband Ambrose, keeping them awake and, on one visit, biting off a chunk of Ambrose’s arm.

In 1591, Wishart was seen hobnobbing with Satan himself at a military blockhouse.  In the following year, she placed a curse on one Andrew Ardes, causing him to come down with a fever which killed him eight days later.  In 1593, a merchant named Walter Healing refused to sell Wishart some wool.  She responded by placing a spell on Healing’s child which soon led to the infant’s death.  In 1594, Wishart’s servant, James Ailhows, decided he had enough of working for a witch, and handed in his notice.  By this point in our little tale, you will not be surprised to learn that Wishart then put a spell on Ailhows which left him bedridden for months.  He was only cured when he paid another witch to lift the curse.  (For those of you curious about such things, Ailhows was brought back to health by washing in south-running water and passing through a horse’s saddle-strap.)

In that same year, she placed a spell on one Bessie Schives, which for over four months left the unfortunate woman “the one half-day roasting as in a fiery furnace, with an extraordinary kind of drought, that she could not be slaked, and the other half-day in an extraordinary kind of sweating, melting, and consuming her body, as a white burning candle, which kind of sickness is a special point of witchcraft.”

In 1596, Elspeth Reid, the sweetheart of Wishart’s son Thomas, caught Janet and another woman performing some manner of Midsummer ritual.  Wishart’s response was entirely predictable: Reid fell into an illness which lasted for six months.

It must be said that on at least one occasion, Wishart used her powers in a commendable manner.  When her son-in-law, John Allan, took to beating his wife, Janet avenged her daughter by coming through Allen’s window in the form of a brown dog and attacking him.

Although all the above were the high points of Wishart’s resume, history records a miscellany of other disagreeable doings: causing stillbirths, dedicating a section of farmland to the Devil, causing a neighbor’s cow to produce poison instead of milk, bewitching some sheets into turning another neighbor insane (don’t ask,) killing hens, “raising the wind” in order to winnow malt barley (thus leaving her neighbors with no wind at all,) destroying businesses, and the like.

Wishart’s son Thomas Leys proudly carried on the family tradition.  It was said that he helped his mother bewitch the property of one Andrew Clark.  When Clark threatened to sue, Thomas warned Clark would receive a fatal curse if he persisted.  On Halloween night in 1596, Leys led a group of witches, dressed “some as hares, some as cats, some in other likenesses” in a dance around the Mercat Cross.  The music was provided by the Devil himself.  There was one unfortunate moment in this diabolical rave, when Thomas hit one of the participants, Kathren Mitchell, “because she spoilt the dance and ran not so fast as the rest.”

Given all this, it says a lot about Wishart’s formidable reputation that it wasn’t until early 1597 that the authorities decided that something had to be done about her.  Janet, along with her husband John Leys, her son Thomas, her daughter Violet, and Elspeth Reid, were all arrested.  It is recorded that as Janet and Thomas sat in their cells awaiting trial, they were visited by the Devil.  Mother and son asked, “What will become of us?”  The Devil replied, “Deny everything.”  Although he promised to return later with more legal advice, they never saw him again.  (Pro tip: Satan makes a lousy defense attorney.)

To no one’s surprise, Janet was found guilty of eighteen of the thirty-one witchcraft accusations brought against her.  On February 17, 1597, she was burned at the stake.  Thomas followed her into the flames a short while after.  Elspeth Reid and the rest of Wishart’s family were freed, but banned from Aberdeen for the rest of their days.

And thus ends our look at domestic life in 16th century Scotland.



When Weird Darkness returns… Have you ever seen the movie “Going In Style” about some retired elderly men deciding to do one last robbery just to see if they had the stuff? Well, in 2015 some men decided to do it for real – and almost walked away with $200-million in cash and jewels! That story and more, coming up.



Know what most men in their 60s and 70s don’t do? Decide to rob a bank. And yet, in 2015, eight elderly men almost pulled off the biggest jewelry heist in British history, known as The Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Box Robbery. This was no small job, and required both heavy lifting and extreme cleverness, yet these old men very nearly got away with it. Some of the facts about the great Hatton Garden Heist are enough to leave you speechless.

Not only is this one of the few elderly British jewel heist examples in history, it’s also the one with the biggest score. The deposit they were breaking into was heavily guarded for a reason, and these men managed to smuggle out millions and millions of dollars in jewels and cash. You might think of old men robbing jewels as just plain silly, but they cleaned out 73 boxes before escaping.

Whether you see these old men as the protagonists in the story, or as the antagonists, it’s hard to deny the whole thing seems like something from fiction.  But that just makes the Hatton Garden jewelry robbery all the more intriguing.

One of the things that makes this heist so unusual and infamous is the ages of the people who carried it out. Of the eight men involved, all but one of the men were over the age of 50, and the majority were over 60. Terry Perkins was 67, John “Kenny” Collins was 75, Daniel Jones was 61, William “Billy the Fish” Lincoln was 60, Carl Wood was 59, and Hugh Doyle was 49, and ‘Guvnor’ Brian Reader was 76. The other thief, only known as Basil, – he remained missing… well get back to him in a bit.

Reader – the oldest and the original mastermind behind the scheme – was enjoying his retirement at the time of the heist. Although most of the men had a rather shady past, people who knew them described them as harmless, friendly, and kind; not at all the sort of people you’d expect to rob a jewelry deposit. This facade of mild old age actually played a major part in how they were able to manage the job.

So how many valuables were in the score? Well, it was the biggest jewel heist in England’s history. Some reports estimate about £40 million in jewels was lifted, others say about £7 million in valuables was taken. Plus there was a whole mess of cash that was taken as well. In the end, the crew cracked open all the safety deposit boxes they could out of the roughly thousand inside the vault. It came to 73 boxes before they had to run, and this was enough to total £200 million worth of valuables, gems, and cash, according to some sources.

While the whole event sounds pretty “cool,” the fact is it had real, lasting damage on the bank, as well as the people who had things stored there. This wasn’t just cash they were stealing, but actual, real valuables, including a few objects that are utterly irreplaceable and historically relevant.

Many of the deposit boxes contained diamonds and gems from jewel traders in the area, all of whom took major losses to their businesses. One man was an an Orthodox Jewish diamond dealer, whose family had escaped Nazi Germany. They’d sewn diamonds into their clothing in order to preserve some of their family’s valuables, and the diamonds were then stored in Hatton Garden. Those same diamonds were stolen and never recovered. Another box belonged to an Indian family who was saving gold jewelry for a dowry for their daughter. Without the jewelry, they feared for their child’s future. In other words, this heist hurt a lot of people, not just the bank.

There were no signs of breaking and entering at the bank, and the front door had not been breached by force. So, how did they manage to get inside? The police said it did not look like an inside job, so they had to have tricked their way into the building. And that is precisely what happened.

No one ever looks twice at an aging maintenance man or janitor. They seem harmless, and given the age of these men, they probably didn’t seem capable of doing something so criminal. It was because of this, as well as clever planning, the men were able to just walk into the building disguised as municipal workers. They wore reflective yellow vests that said “gas” on the back, hard hats, and white surgical masks to keep their identities hidden. Basil simply stayed in the building after people had gone home, and then let the rest of the men in through the fire escape.

This robbery was not a simple smash and grab, and the kind of physical activity needed to pull it off was hardly easy for men of their age. When they first got into the building, they called the elevator, and then disabled it on the second floor. They then pried open the elevator doors and repelled down the elevator shaft about 14 feet to the basement. From there, they opened the steel shutter covering the door leading to the vault and disable the alarm by cutting the telephone wires. The alarm did sent an alert to the monitoring company, but not in time to stop them from getting away with the jewels.

After they drilled holes in the back of the safe, three circular holes overlapping side by side, they had to crawl through the tight opening, of only 10 by 18 inches. Then, the man inside had to smash open the deposit boxes and pass all the jewels through to their partners.

As Reader saw it, if you wanted to steal diamonds, you wanted the diamond of drills to do it. He’d had experience with robbery before in his younger years, though nothing of this magnitude, and he decided to research what sorts of drills he could buy online. He finally settled on the Hilti DD350 diamond coring drill to go through the back of the vault to get at the jewels inside.

Unfortunately, the eventual attempt was fraught with issues, and one of them turned out to be the drill. When they initially tried to drill through on April 4, 2015, their placement was a bit off, and they instead drilled into the rear of the cabinet made of steel they couldn’t get through. They prepared to use the drill again, but the pump jammed, rendering the drill completely useless. Eventually, they decided they had to give up and try again the next day with a better functioning drill.

If you’ve seen the original Oceans 11, you might recall the would-be thieves used garbage bins to try to transport their loot. It didn’t work out so well for them, but it worked out splendidly for the Grandpa Gang.

When the Grandpa Gang first arrived on scene, they got out of a white rented van, unloaded bags, tools, and of course, garbage bins. They brought them to the fire escape and left them there. Surveillance footage then showed them eventually coming back out, and loading tools and equipment into the van. They wheeled the garbage bins to the van, and it was obvious they were much heavier. No one batted an eye as they loaded up, because they were dressed as maintenance men, so it was easy for them to work without attracting too much attention. From there, they sped away into the night with their loot.

While the Grandpa Gang finally was eventually caught, they got to savor sweet, wealthy freedom for more than a month. The Hatton Garden investigative teams began looking into the crimes right away, and it didn’t take them long to get leads, but because the gang had done such an in-depth planning job, it took quite a while to put all the pieces together. They had to trace the car, examine all the surveillance photos, set up cameras and microphones to record conversations, then wait for the men to talk about the crime so they’d have evidence for an arrest.

When planning a major heist, it stands to reason you would take time to prepare. The “Grandpa Gang,” as they’re sometimes known, were extremely patient. They waited and planned for three years until they were sure everything was perfect.

In 2012, Daniel Jones – one of the ringleaders – first brought up the idea to a few others. It began as a simple musing by a retired man, but he couldn’t get the thought out of his head. When he found that others had interest in the plan as well, he started the initial reconnaissance. And it took a whole lot of reconnaissance. The men would go in to observe the Hatton Garden hours, how workers moved, and began to do research on the vault itself. Before long, Jones was beginning to research and buy equipment online, and they had a plan to complete the plan a few years down the line.

There are some advantages to being a senior citizen, and one of them is transportation options. As the oldest member of the group, Reader easily old enough to have a senior citizen bus pass, which he used regularly. While others in the group were discussing rental cars to get to and from the scene, Reader was busy checking bus routes, trying to take full advantage of that senior discount.

On the night of the first robbery attempt on April 2, 2015, everyone else transported themselves in groups, but not Reader. Instead, he waited at the No. 96 bus stop near his home in Kent. He then swiped his senior pass, boarded the bus, and took it all the way to Hatton Garden, an 80-minute journey. Lucky for him the bus ride was free because of his age. Forget all those youngsters renting cars for a jewel heist, public transportation is the way to go!

While these men were definitely professionals, they weren’t above getting help. Self-help, that is! After police finally caught some of the men involved, they raided their houses searching for jewels, cash, and evidence of the heist. They found one particular piece of evidence that was particularly damning – a self help book titled Forensics For Dummies – that the gang used to research police investigation techniques, and how to avoid getting caught. And it probably was a pretty good investment. Police found no fingerprints, hair, or any forensic evidence at the scene.

In Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs, all of the would-be thieves are referred to by color-coded nicknames, like Mister Pink and Mister White. The Grandpa Gang had a very similar situation. Instead of colors, the thieves were called by various nicknames a la Tarantino’s style: The Gov, The Gent, Mr. Ginger, Mr. Basil, Mr. Strong, Mr. Montana, The Tall Man, and The Old Man.

These names came to be after CCTV footage of the robbery went public. A British newspaper started using these terms, and their popularity caught on.

When planning the biggest jewel heist in English history, you want to sit someplace secret and private, right? Well, the Grandpa Gang didn’t exactly see it that way. Instead they preferred to do their planning and discussion sessions at a local pub. The Castle in Islington was where they decided to set up shop. There, they went over the details of the upcoming raid, even days before it happened. They also returned there afterwards to discuss how to split up the loot and what they would do with it.

The pub is still open, and the staff has been told not to talk about the Hatton Garden Heist. That being said, there are those that come there out of fascination, so business is still booming.

While these men may have appeared to be the unassuming sort, most of them had a rather shady past. Terry Perkins, in particular, had a long history of jail time and violence. He spent years in Spring Hill prison, and had been on the run for 17 years until 2012, when he finally was arrested. He had robbed a bank before, and during that time, he’d doused an employee in gasoline then threatened him with a box of matches. Hardly your cuddly old grandpa, more like a hardened criminal.

All the others had skills too. They were either good muscle, smart book-keepers, mechanics, or organizers, and each man brought his own expertise to the crime. In fact, two of the men, Perkins and Danny Jones, had attempted a very similar robbery only five years before. They’d made off with around £1 million in a smash-and-grab of jewels and cash, using maintenance disguises and a drill to get in.

Let’s say you’ve robbed a bank, and you’ve got a lot of cash and jewels burning a hole in your pocket. Where do you stash the moola until it’s safe to become a big spender? This was the dilemma the Hatton Garden heist members faced once the deed was finally done.

Each man had their own ideas about what to do with their share. Police found gems at the homes of several of the men, and other valuables were found, ironically, in deposit boxes. Kenny Collins, their logistics man, even hid his loot in casserole dishes. One man’s ingenuity stands above the rest, though. Danny Jones took a portion of his jewels and money, and went to a graveyard where his family was buried. Then, he put his share beneath the graves, where they remained stored until police recovered them. Grim, but at least it was more creative than casserole dishes.

On April 2 – the first attempt to breach the safety deposit area – they rented vans and cars to get to the scene, their oldest member and leader took the bus, and they were careful to hide their faces and characteristics from security footage. They even used walkie-talkies to avoid phone records. During their second try on April 8, however, they made one of the most basic mistakes you can make during a heist: Picking a bad getaway car.

Before the crime, Kenny Collins had driven his car – registered under his name – past Hatton Garden many times for scouting work. As it turns out, he drove past one too many times for investigative teams to ignore. He also took the car to the scene on the night of the successful robbery. The license plate was clearly visible, and because the car had long belonged to Collins, it was easy to trace back. The car showed up on previous footage too, and it only took a few days for investigators to decide this was their best lead. A month later, most of the other thieves were brought in.

Despite being caught, the Grandpa Gang didn’t exactly rush to turn each other in, and one of the men remained an enigma to police and investigators. He was only known as “Basil,” and stayed on the run with his share of the dough and jewels until finally being caught in 2018. His name is Michael Seed.

So what happened to them?

Brian Reader: Known as ‘The Master’ Reader pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit burglary and was locked up for six years and three months for his part. The 79-year-old was released in July 2018 after serving just over three years. He was released with remission having suffered from prostate cancer and a series of strokes. Reader had faced a further seven-year term if he could not pay a £6.5million confiscation ord­er imp­osed on him and three other ringleaders. Due to his health, Reader received a sentence seven months shorter than his fellow Hatton Garden ringleaders.

John Collins: The 79-year-old was known as Kenny and was sentenced to seven years for his part in the raid. He was released in late 2018 having served half his sentence. He served as the lookout and getaway driver for the gang. Collins was described in court as “instrumental in gaining access to the vault”, visiting the area many times to assess its weaknesses. He also purchased the extra equipment needed to drill through the wall of the vault. His £175,000 flat on the Costa del Sol in Spain has been seized by police, who also froze nearly £700,000 in his bank accounts.

Daniel Jones: Jones, 63 from Enfield, was jailed for seven years for his part in the Hatton Garden raid. He climbed through the hole bored in the wall with Basil to break into the boxes. While in custody, awaiting trial, Jones claimed he wanted to “come clean” and give back his share of the robbery. To that end he wrote a letter to the media offering to show police where he had hidden it. But when he was escorted to Edmonton Cemetery, in north London, he only showed them a small portion of his stash and lied under direct questioning when asked if he knew about any more loot buried about 20m (65ft) away, which the police had already found. But the criminal was handed a three year sentence on top in July 2018 having taken part in a £1m gem heist at Amal Clooney’s wedding jewellers. Jones stole about £1m worth of jewellery, gems and watches from the Old Bond Street shop’s display cabinets, as well as £45,000 in cash. The family-owned firm, which owns a collection of rare and expensive gems and is popular with the world’s rich and famous, was burgled over the 2010 summer bank holiday weekend, between 27 and 31 August.

Terry Perkins: Sadly, Perkins died in prison in February 2018 of natural causes, aged 69. He died just one week after being ordered to repay around £6.5m in missing cash. A Prison Service spokesperson confirmed Perkins died in custody. He suffered from diabetes and heart problems.

Carl Wood: Wood, 58 from Cheshunt, was handed a six year prison sentence for his part. He suffers from Crohn’s disease and lives on disability allowance. He is thought to have become involved in the job because he was £8,890 in debt. Wood pulled out of the heist on the second night when he found the fire escape door was closed. His friend Jones subsequently refused to give him any of the spoils to help clear his debts and no loot was found at his house. Wood was arrested on 19 May 2015.

William Lincoln: Lincoln, 60, who was known as ‘Billy the Fish’ was given a seven year stretch. He acted at the gang’s getaway driver. Lincoln got his nickname because he used to visit Billingsgate Fish Market on Fridays. He was arrested on 19 May 2015 driving his black Audi A3. The arresting officers found a torn up, handwritten note on the floor beside him. The writing on the note gave the address of the Wheatsheaf pub, where some of the loot was handled.

Hugh Doyle: The 50-year-old gas fitter was found guilty of conspiracy to conceal, convert or transfer criminal property and given a suspended prison sentence. There was no evidence he ever went to Hatton Garden. His role was to provide an exchange point for the final handover of loot outside his business premises.

Jon Harbinson: The 42-year-old was cleared of all charges.

And finally, the elusive “Basil”, Michael Seed, the tenth person in connection with the heist. He managed to evade being caught for three years despite living in a council house less than two miles away from the robbery. Seed was eventually caught  in 2018. Police are believed to have identified Seed in November 2015 but waited until March 2018 to arrest him when they could catch him red-handed. He was convicted in March 2019 and sentenced to ten years in prison.

Given the popularity of heist movies, and how fantastical this whole tale seems, it makes perfect sense that Hollywood would want to get their hooks into the Hatton Garden heist. One movie that came out in 2017, titled The Hatton Garden Job, received very poor reviews, leaving many people thinking that there’s still a chance to make this into a successful movie. Even the Morgan Freeman movie Going in Style (a remake of the 1979 classic starring George Burns) has many similarities to this infamous heist.

It’s hard to deny that, whether you see them as villains, heroes, or just strange, the Grandpa Gang captured the attention of the word.


Coming up… In November, 1980 the MGM Grand in Las Vegas caught fire, claiming numerous lives. Decades later we learn what went wrong, how it can be avoided in the future, and we hear the haunting details of what happened during the fire – as well as the hauntings that are taking place even now so many years later.

But first… it’s the strange story of the alien abduction of Gerry Anderson. That story is up next on Weird Darkness.



The encounter of Gerry Anderson is one of the most intriguing claims of alien abduction in the United Kingdom. Not least as he wouldn’t fully recall the incident that occurred in the early 1950s when he was a 12-year-old boy until decades later under hypnotic regression.

The account that was revealed almost a quarter of a century after it took place was fascinating and startling in equal measure. And what’s more, many of the details revealed match those of other apparent alien abduction accounts around the world. Some of which, incidentally, would happen years and even decades later.

How credible the account might be remains open for discussion. Perhaps not least due to the involvement of hypnotic regression, over which there remain significant questions as to its accuracy and authenticity, at least for some. It is, however, an account that if there was any truth in it, it should make us wonder what other reality is seemingly happening all around us without our knowledge.

The encounter first appeared in the book Without Consent by veteran researchers and authors Philip Mantle and Carl Nagaitis, from whose research we base the following account.

It was in the 1960s when Gerry Anderson witnessed a strange light in the sky while out with his wife in London. The brief but bizarre sighting, however, would unlock remnants of an incident in his mind that he had all but forgotten about. What’s more, he would continue to witness UFOs over the years that followed, something which would continue even when he moved to Canada.

When he was 12 years old, in 1953, during a summer camp when he should have been playing hide-and-seek with the rest of the participants and the teacher in charge, he had snuck off to a quiet area of woodland in order to lie down and smoke a cigarette.

As he lay there, however, he soon fell asleep. The next thing he knew, the teacher in charge of the group, Mr. Rice, was towering over him asking where he had been all this time. Gerry didn’t know it immediately, but he soon discovered that he had been missing for seven hours. The time was now 8 pm.

Mr. Rice would claim he and the rest of the party had been searching for him for several hours. Even stranger, they had previously searched the place where they had found him. Gerry, however, had no memory of having moved anywhere. He had simply fallen asleep.

He was taken to be overlooked by a doctor. Due to the redness on the back of his neck and his general feeling of exhaustion, it was suspected he had a mild case of sunstroke. It was only years later, sparked by the UFO sightings, first in London and then in Ontario, Canada.

By 1978, still unable to fully recall the events of that summer’s day in 1953, he would seek the help of a hypnotherapist who would agree to hypnotically regress Gerry back to when he was 12 years old. The revelations were fascinating.

Upon lighting the cigarette, Gerry did not simply fall asleep. Instead, he noticed a strange light moving in the sky overhead. He continued to watch it, noticing that it appeared to land in the woodland nearby. Several moments later, he would notice “two strange figures” making their way through the trees toward him.

It was around this time that he began to sense fear running through him. Even more so when he realized that he could not move from the ground. The fear turned to fright the more he struggled to free himself from paralysis.

As the figures got closer to him, he sensed a voice in his head telling him there was no need to be afraid. The next thing he knew, the two strange creatures were on each side of him. Then, after they reached down toward him, he began to float through the air. As he did so, he could see the bright lights of the object that had landed only minutes earlier. By the time he was close to it, he seemingly had regained the use of his limbs. He was told to climb the ladder that waited, hanging out of the strange craft. Before he did so, however, he snuck a look at his captors.

His description was exactly as we would now recognize a grey alien. They were shorter than he, with pale-grey skins and large eyes.

He turned his attention to the waiting ladder.

It was as he began claiming that he suddenly felt a pressure on the back of his neck. He wasn’t sure what it was, but he sensed it was an intentional pressure somehow applied by the creatures that had brought him here.

He would find himself in a round-shaped room. Although it was brightly lit, he noticed that he could not make out where the light was coming from. It was both everywhere and nowhere at the same time. This is an interesting detail as it comes up often in such cases as alien abduction.

After several moments he was led to another room by the strange creatures. In this one was another strange figure. However, this one was dressed in red attire and would call Gerry “My son”. Gerry would later recall how he believed this figure was perhaps in charge of the others, and certainly appeared older.

It was then that the figure dressed in red drew his attention to a screen, upon which was a small globe. When he was told that what he was looking at was Earth, the feeling of fear and uneasiness returned to him. As if sensing this distress, the figure in red would reach out and place a hand on his head. As it did so, an immediate feeling of calm came over him.

Then, while he was contemplating this sudden and serene feeling of calm, he noticed that the craft had seemingly come to a stop. The figure in red motioned to Gerry that he should follow. He did so, finding himself on a long ramp heading downward. He would continue down it. Upon reaching the bottom, a huge door opened revealing a domed shaped room beyond.

As he looked deeper, he could see that it was “full of children”.

Then, as he was staring fascinated into the domed room, the figure in red would hand him a strange globe. As it did so, the words “understand, be taught” entered his mind.

Then, he would find that he was alone and so would begin to look around the room. As he was doing so, he noticed a woman had appeared in the room. She approached him and took hold of the cross that was on a chain around his neck. He noticed that the figure in red had appeared once more. When he too studied the cross, the voice once more appeared inside his mind. It would claim that “it was not right to worship”.

He was then asked to watch a screen nearby, which he duly did. In what seemed like only moments, he was falling to sleep.

When he awoke, he would seemingly find himself back in the woods where he had gone to smoke the cigarette. He was, though, being carried by the creatures who had first approached him. They would calmly place him back at the spot where they had first found him.

He would simply fall asleep once more. The next thing he realized Mr. Rice was standing overhead asking him where he had been.

The account of Gerry Anderson is certainly one of the most intriguing on record. Not least due to the many details contained in it that appear in multiple other accounts across the years.

There are also several intriguing insinuations made. Perhaps most interesting that “it is not right to worship”. While there are several close encounters on record that do speak of a “supreme being” or “deity”, many UFO encounters and the details that come with them are often a contrast to organized religion and worship.

Indeed, many would argue that a civilization that has managed to conquer space would perhaps feel superior in themselves and not feel a need to believe in a higher being. We might suspect, for example, that their existence would very much be grounded in science, even if it were a science that we didn’t fully understand.

There is also the underlying insinuation of a hybridization program involving many children around the world. We might recall, for example, how the figure in red referred to Gerry as “My son” and the room full of children the young boy peered into. And while such notions sound bizarre and outlandish to many, there are many such claims on record.


On November 21, 1980, the MGM Grand fire claimed the lives of 85 people and sent 650 more to the hospital. The tragedy shook Las Vegas to its core and destroyed what was supposed to be one of the city’s most luxurious hotels. But how did the MGM Grand fire start?

The fire was caused by a chain of negligence, from the construction of the building itself to the installation of fire prevention devices to updates that were in the process of being made the year of the fire. The lack of oversight that led to the fire horrified the country, sending sweeping policy changes into effect, not just for other casinos, but for the entire country.

The city of Las Vegas was haunted for years by the tragedy, and many hotels and casinos suffered due to the impact on the city’s image. Decades later, the MGM Grand fire stills stands as a testament to the bravery of the city’s firefighters and the massive changes in fire safety that sadly came too late for its victims.

A process called galvanic corrosion was the ultimate cause of the catastrophic fire. A pastry case in one of the hotel’s restaurants, The Deli, was installed improperly. Over time, vibrations from the refrigerated case caused its copper pipes to shift and come into contact with an ungrounded aluminum conduit inside the wall. The two pipes rubbed against each other, causing the wire insulation to wear away, heat up the copper pipe, and start a fire within the wall.

It’s unclear how long the fire smoldered inside the wall because the restaurant was closed overnight. On the morning of November 21, a hotel employee walked through the restaurant on his way to another part of the casino and saw a wall of flames reaching up to the ceiling. The heat was so strong that it knocked him down, but he wouldn’t have been able to do anything to stop the fire anyway because the restaurant’s fire extinguisher was missing.

The construction of the brand-new, top-of-the-line MGM Grand Hotel and Casino complex came to around $106 million. Despite the amount of money put into the building, there was one crucial expense that they had balked at: fire sprinklers. They did have fire sprinkler systems in a few parts of the complex, but not in several critical areas, like The Deli, where the fire started, or the casino floor, where the fire quickly spread. The additional cost to add the sprinklers throughout the hotel and casino would have been $192,000.

Officials from the fire marshal to an independent risk management consultant had either strongly recommended or insisted that the MGM Grand install the sprinklers. However, they were allowed to proceed with construction without them because they insisted that The Deli would be open 24 hours a day – if a fire began, an employee would always be nearby to handle the situation. However, after a few years, The Deli’s business had slowed and it started to close overnight. Despite this schedule change, sprinklers were still not added.

The MGM Grand itself lost several hundred million of dollars between settlement payments, reconstruction costs, and a lack of gaming income while out of operation. Other hotels and businesses in Las Vegas suffered for years after the incident, due to the newly perceived lack of safety.

There were 85 deaths and 650 injuries (14 of those injured were firefighters) in the MGM Grand fire. Even though the fire was contained to the first floor and extinguished fairly quickly, casualties reached all the way to the top of the building. Because the air conditioning units didn’t have smoke detectors, they kept running, thereby circulating smoke and carbon monoxide throughout the building. It was this combination of smoke and carbon monoxide that killed 80 victims, many trapped between the 16th and 26th floors of the building.

But how did the smoke get to the upper floors? During construction, the MGM Grand was improperly fitted with fire dampers inside the ventilation system that were supposed to shut and stop the spread of smoke. The dampers didn’t shut after sensing the fire, so the carbon monoxide spread throughout the building.

It took less than 10 minutes for the fire to completely engulf the casino after it was discovered. The casino was essentially filled with fuel since almost all of the decor was made out of a combination of either plastic or wood. Leather stools were filled with foam padding, “chrome” finishes were actually plastic, not to mention plastic casino chips, and decorations like chandeliers and wood moldings that only looked like crystal and wood – they were plastic as well.

The ceiling compounded the problem. Ceiling tiles were installed using adhesive that was so flammable the state of Nevada banned its use three years earlier. Once the fire exploded into the casino, the ceiling went up in flames as fast as five to 10 feet per second. This allowed the fire to spread quickly, while all the burning plastic generated a deadly amount of smoke.

One of the major flaws in the construction of the MGM Grand was its stairwells. The 26-floor hotel had multiple stairwells for guests to exit the building during the fire, but the doors automatically locked from the inside. So, guests could enter the stairwells to head downstairs, but once inside they were trapped. Many died in the stairwells, as they were filled with toxic black smoke from the casino. However, hundreds of guests found their way up the stairs to the hotel’s roof, where helicopters assisted with the evacuation.

Although sprinkler systems were installed in select sections of the MGM Grand complex, many critical areas weren’t covered, including the casino itself. The casino was the size of three football fields, and the open space allowed the fire to blaze out of control. Not only was the large room pumped full of oxygen to feed the flames, it was packed with wooden and plastic decor. Luckily, since the fire began around 7 am, there were relatively few guests in the casino at the time. After the fire was extinguished, the casino had been reduced to heaps of burned plastic and rubble.

Today, buildings are outfitted with alarms that activate on their own when they detect a fire, but the MGM Grand wasn’t equipped with automatic alarms in 1980. Staff had to set the alarms manually once a fire was identified. To make things worse, there were no alarm boxes in the casino area of the complex where the fire started. Employees interviewed after the tragedy said they initially doubted the existence of a fire because the alarms weren’t triggered. Without proof, they hesitated to evacuate guests. Many guests remained asleep in their beds, unaware of the catastrophe that was unfolding.

As the fire quickly spread downstairs, hundreds of guests were trapped on the floors above. Due to the delay in activating the manual fire alarm, many guests didn’t realize they would need to get out until it was too late to go downstairs. Even after the evacuation had begun, some guests dismissed the activity outside of their room as typical Las Vegas revelry.

Most of the people who died were found between the 19th and 26th floors. After the fire, victims were found with a “black kiss” around their mouths from the smoke they’d inhaled. Others left bloody handprints on doors and desperate messages for help on their mirrors. Survivors took serious measures as well. Some fled to the roof, where helicopter pilots airlifted them to safety, while others shattered windows so they could try to get fresh air and wait for rescue.

Las Vegas firefighters arrived on the scene of the MGM Grand two minutes after being called. Within about an hour, they had extinguished the blaze. However, the process of evacuating the roughly 5,000 guests from the hotel took another three hours. There were 300 people evacuated from the roof by helicopters, and firefighters rescued many people using ladders that reached up to the 9th floor.

The firefighters weren’t the only heroes that morning. Guests who had successfully escaped the fire themselves went back in to help with the evacuation. One man allegedly carried an elderly guest down 21 flights of stairs, and a security guard dragged multiple unconscious people from the building. Local hotels offered 1,500 rooms to those affected by the fire, and Las Vegas residents opened their own homes to the victims.

Reports revealed there were 83 different building violations and errors of installation in the MGM Grand that contributed to the fire. Investigations also surfaced the extent of the danger in the Grand’s building materials. In the wake of the disaster, 1,327 lawsuits were filed against 118 companies.

Within three years, a settlement pool of $223 million was distributed to victims of the fire. Although they received financial compensation, the victims never had the satisfaction of hearing MGM claim responsibility for the part they played in the tragedy. MGM never admitted to any negligence.

The MGM Grand and its owners came under serious scrutiny after the horrific fire. The incident seemed to reflect the hotel’s values, especially after the cost to install a fully functional sprinkler system was revealed. When compared to the lavish and expensive marble flooring in the hotel, it was considered an unacceptable way to save money.

The Arizona Republic ran an editorial that cut right to the heart of what people around the country were feeling, saying that Las Vegas was “a town without heart… a town without pity… a town without shame.”

The MGM Grand fire was a huge wake-up call for Las Vegas. It cut through the attitude that the city was somehow protected from harm, an oasis of luxury and fun in the desert. Nevada quickly set out to rebuild its reputation by enacting new fire codes requiring complete sprinkler coverage in high-rises, extensive alarm systems, and evacuation maps inside hotel rooms. These codes were required across the state, not just in Vegas.

The changes may have started in Nevada, but the effect spread across the entire country. After the events of November 21, 1980, fire codes and insurance policies around the US were changed to reflect the increased awareness of fire safety and the desire for fire prevention.

The building was eventually rebuilt, sold, and renamed Bally’s Las Vegas in 1985. Guests who stay in the refurbished North Tower claim they have experienced the overwhelming smell of smoke and the sounds of people screaming from down the hallway, making Bally’s one of the scariest haunted hotels in Las Vegas. Guests have reported strange, inexplicable shadows in the hallways, as well as strange noises and furniture that seems to move of its own accord. The paranormal activity gets worse the higher up the tower you ascend.

The most chilling ghostly encounter is an elderly woman who is said to occupy a bank of slot machines on the casino floor. She calmly plays two games at once as her dress engulfs her in flames. If approached, she disappears.

One person on TripAdvisor left a review after staying at the refurbished hotel, saying:

“Not trying to scare anyone but went to Vegas for fun and what an experience i had at the MGM Grand floor 14 room 447. Two of my friends, My sister and I had a blast while there but experience things missing and then returning in plain sight when we would come back to the room. In the mist of all that, the second night we heard a lot of chaos in what we the thought was in the room above us. It sounded more like furniture being moved constantly and running and jumping to say the least. We thought some people were doing their thing until we heard a man scream which i thought was odd–especially when his screams lasted more than 10 seconds. Appox 30 or more to be exact. The next night I again awoke to the noise i thought was coming from the room above us. After listening to it thinking ‘groupies are in the building’ (there was a NHL team there) I turned to the window and saw a long line of thick smoke lingering then suddenly disappeared. I got up to look out the window thinking maybe someone threw a cigar or something out the window but realized you can’t open the window. I brushed it off and went back to sleep. Needless to say i told my girls the next morning. My sister then tried to bang on the ceiling but we immediately realized that it was made of concrete and it was impossible to make any type of noise as loud as what we were hearing. Got back to work and told my coworkers of my experience and soon found out the MGM burned in 1980. It all made sense at that point why i heard a man scream that long and why things would disappear and then reappear and lastly the smoke that evaporated suddenly.”

Another reviewer on TripAdvisor said:

“I have booked the weekend for four nights. The hotel was good and the location is right in the middle of the strip. I had a nice room on the 23rd floor. The only odd thing was that at 0630 one morning I observed a women standing in my room for about 3 minutes until she slowly faded away. I later learned that Bally’s used to be the MGM in but in 1980 there was a traggic fire that left 84 people dead. I have since researched the event and found several reports of the top floors of the hotel being haunted. There have been numerous reports from guests and employees seeing apparitions. I would have never beleived it until I saw it myself.”


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, if you have a true paranormal or creepy tale to tell, 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.

“Janet Wisharts’s Witchy Ways” from Strange Company
“The Grandpa Gang Jewel Robbery” by Laura Allan for Unspeakable Times and Jon Rogers for The Sun
“The Alien Abduction of Gerry Anderson” by Marcus Lowth for UFO Insight

“A Grand Fire in Las Vegas” by Rachel Souerbry for Weird History, plus Vegas.com, VegasForAll,com, and TripAdvisor


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

WeirdDarkness™ – is a production and trademark of Marlar House Productions.

Now that we’re coming out of the dark, I’ll leave you with a little light… “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” – 2 Corinthians 5:17

And a final thought… “Life is short, time is fast. No replays, no rewinds. So just enjoy every moment you have and make the best out of it.” – Unknown

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


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