“THE KELLY-HOPKINSVILLE SHOOTOUT WITH ALIENS” and More Strange True Stories! #WeirdDarkness

“THE KELLY-HOPKINSVILLE SHOOTOUT WITH ALIENS” and More Strange True Stories! #WeirdDarkness

Listen to ““THE KELLY-HOPKINSVILLE SHOOTOUT WITH ALIENS” and More Strange True Stories! #WeirdDarkness” on Spreaker.

IN THIS EPISODE: It’s considered one of the most bizarre and convincing extraterrestrial events ever reported… we’ll look at the alien encounter in 1955’s Hopkinsville, Kentucky that was experienced by two terrified families. (The Hopkinsville Encounter) *** In the deep jungles of the Congo, natives tell of a giant creature that, once described, sounds exactly like a long-necked dinosaur. But how could this be? And is it pure legend? Perhaps not, as one noted biologist from the area saw it with his own eyes and reported it. We’ll look at the supposed real sighting of Mokele-Mbembe, the living dinosaur of the Congo! (Dinosaur Observed In The Congo) *** Running a club during prohibition was extremely lucrative… and extremely dangerous, as one Theodore Lakoff would’ve learned… had he been awake when he was murdered. (The Mysterious Death of Theodore Lakoff) *** Benjamin Franklin was known not just as one of the father’s of the United States of America, but also as an inventor, a womanizer, and a man with a bit of an ornery streak in him – as is evidenced by a series of letters he wrote to the New England Courant, where he pretended to be a woman. (Who Was Mrs. Silence Dogood?) *** The internet is a vital part of modern life. Without web access, all kinds of businesses and jobs would be unable to function. So, as you can imagine, there are plenty of people who would love to see the internet crumble. And many have tried. (Taking Down The World Wide Web) *** In 1983 sightings poured in from people on the California coast who claim they saw a sea monster. (The California Sea Monster)

“The Hopkinsville Encounter” by Hannah Collins for Ranker.com’s Graveyard Shift: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/yp8pnfx7
“Dinosaur Observed in the Congo” by Richard Greenwell for the ISC Newsletter: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/yc3r3mpp
“The Mysterious Death of Theodore Lakoff” by Kathi Kresol for HauntedRockford.com: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/ku5x3cat
“Who Was Mrs. Silence Dogood?” by Bipin Dimri for HistoricMysteries.com: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/2p868eac
“Taking Down the World Wide Web” by Benjamin Thomas for ListVerse.com: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/c85j5cau
“The California Sea Monster” by Malcom Smith for Malcom’s Cryptids: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/yc2wts7h
Weird Darkness theme by Alibi Music Library.
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Originally aired: December, 2021


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.


In 1955, two families in Hopkinsville, Kentucky survived one of the craziest alien encounters ever recorded. Not only did they see a flying saucer, but they engaged in a gunfight with the group of mysterious creatures and survived multiple attacks on their home. The story of the Kelly-Hopkinsville visitation is one of the most interesting tales of an extraterrestrial meeting. It fits into an interesting narrative of the many cryptid and UFO sightings that plagued the Eastern Seaboard in the mid-20th century.  At the time of the attacks, the Kelly-Hopkinsville encounter turned the nation on its head. The visitation happened in the middle of UFO fever, when everyone was seeing flying saucers. But there was something different about this case; not only did the people involved see a spacecraft, but they came face-to-face with the creatures who were piloting it.  Did 11 people really fight off aliens in 1955, or did they make the whole thing up?

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. If you’re new here, welcome to the show! While you’re listening, be sure to check out WeirdDarkness.com for merchandise, my newsletter, to connect with me on social media, and more!

Coming up in this episode…

In the deep jungles of the Congo, natives tell of a giant creature that, once described, sounds exactly like a long-necked dinosaur. But how could this be? And is it pure legend? Perhaps not, as one noted biologist from the area saw it with his own eyes and reported it. We’ll look at the supposed real sighting of Mokele-Mbembe, the living dinosaur of the Congo! (Dinosaur Observed In The Congo)

Running a club during prohibition was extremely lucrative… and extremely dangerous, as one Theodore Lakoff would’ve learned… had he been awake when he was murdered. (The Mysterious Death of Theodore Lakoff)

Benjamin Franklin was known not just as one of the father’s of the United States of America, but also as an inventor, a womanizer, and a man with a bit of an ornery streak in him – as is evidenced by a series of letters he wrote to the New England Courant, where he pretended to be a woman. (Who Was Mrs. Silence Dogood?)

The internet is a vital part of modern life. Without web access, all kinds of businesses and jobs would be unable to function. So, as you can imagine, there are plenty of people who would love to see the internet crumble. And many have tried. (Taking Down The World Wide Web)

In 1983 sightings poured in from people on the California coast who claim they saw a sea monster. (The California Sea Monster)

It’s considered one of the most bizarre and convincing extraterrestrial events ever reported… we’ll look at the alien encounter in 1955’s Hopkinsville, Kentucky that was experienced by two terrified families. (The Hopkinsville Encounter)

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



…As night fell on Kelly, an unincorporated area outside of Hopkinsville, Kentucky, on August 21, 1955, Billy Ray Taylor was taking a trip to the family well. He was staying in Glennie Lankford’s farm house with the Sutton family and others, some of which, like Taylor, had recently left the carnival life. As Taylor drew his water, something bright shot across the sky.

Taylor believed that he saw a spaceship zip through the clouds and land behind a patch of trees. However, when he told everyone inside about the “round, metallic object, with rainbow-colored streaks trailing behind it,” no one believed him. Apparently, Taylor was known to tell tall tales, so everyone assumed he was trying to get a rise out of them.

No one believed Billy when he told them about seeing a spaceship pass overhead, but he was convincing enough that his friend Lucky went back to the well with him to check it out. There was nothing at the well, but on their way back to the house, the two men saw a glowing figure walking out of the woods, holding its hands over its head. The two men ran back to the house and began to barricade the doors.

The initial news report of the case claims that there were 12 creatures surrounding the household that evening. The “little grey men” seemed confused; they approached the house one by one and acted very strange. They peeked through the windows, tried to get in through the front door, and even floated up into a tree at one point.

The families armed themselves with a 12-gauge shotgun and a .22 caliber rifle, and they waited. When one of the creatures pressed its face against a screen window, Billy Ray Taylor fired, but nothing happened. The screen was destroyed but the creature simply disappeared.

Taylor, Lucky, and some of the other men went outside, where they were nearly ambushed by a creature waiting for them on the roof – a taloned claw allegedly swiped at Taylor before floating away. After going back inside, more creatures appeared and more shots were fired, but the bullets didn’t affect the creatures. They family said the sound of the bullets hitting the creatures was similar to that of ammunition hitting a sheet of metal.

After the one-sided gun battle, the families settled down and tried to figure out what to do next. The elderly Glennie Lankford came to the conclusion that the small gray creatures with “spindly, useless legs, and human-like hands” weren’t trying to harm anyone, but she also didn’t want them on her property. When the group felt the coast was clear, everyone piled into their cars and drove to the police station in Hopkinsville.

When the family arrived, they were pretty freaked out. The police didn’t know how to handle the situation; it occurred 8 years after the Roswell incident, and everyone was seeing flying saucers. The cops went out to the farmhouse to investigate, but all they found were signs of a gun battle.

Information travels quickly in a rural area like Hopkinsville, and within the hour, the small farm house was crawling with police and members of the local media. From there, the story exploded.

Rather than shy away from the fact that their town plays a part in a very strange UFO case, the good people of Hopkinsville, Kentucky have leaned into their mysterious past. In 2010, the town began hosting the Little Green Men Festival, a four day event filled with UFOlogists, hayrides, and crafts. There’s even live music.

Hopkinsville, not a town to shy away from the press, dubbed itself “Eclipseville” in 2017 to draw in tourists hoping to witness the totality of the coming eclipse. When asked if the celestial event might bring extraterrestrials to the area, Joann Smithey, vice president and chairperson of the Little Green Men Festival said, “As far as aliens returning, you never know. Some people say they are already among us, and others say they don’t exist, period.”

Critics of the encounter note that the details about the creatures, from the way they floated to the mention of glowing eyes to the talons with which the family was attacked, sound incredibly similar to that of a great horned owl. These owls are noted for their aggressive behavior and have been confused for aliens before, most notably, according to skeptics at least, in the Mothman case.

Great horned owls are fairly large; they can grow up to two feet tall and have little tufts of feathers on top of their heads that look similar to ears. They’re nocturnal, so it makes sense they would attack at night. The little gray men “floated away” when shot at, which sounds a lot like owls flying.

While some have tried to combat the claims of an encounter with paranormal beings by claiming those involved were likely drunk, there’s no evidence to support that theory. When the police investigated, they reportedly concluded alcohol wasn’t involved. And despite a spurious rumor of moonshine, the police didn’t find that, either.

For Joann Smithey, the idea of alcohol being involved is ludicrous: “We all laugh at that because [Lankford] didn’t allow alcohol, or even cursing, on her property. They were a very quiet, trustworthy family.”

Late in the evening on August 21, after the police and local media had gone home, the family tried to settle in for the night, but they weren’t able to rest. Around 3 am, the creatures allegedly returned. They began running across the roof and scratching at the house. The neighbors claimed that instead of fighting off aliens for the second time in one night, the families decided to pack up and head for Evansville, IN.

The families were definitely afraid of something, but whether it was aliens, gremlins (another claim), or owls is up for debate.

One of most consistent details of the Kelly-Hopkins event is the idea of an eerie glow. Billy Taylor saw a rainbow light following the spaceship, and after the shootout, the family claims they saw an emerald glow illuminating the woods. Not to mention the glowing figures and their glowing eyes.

Some skeptics believe the family was actually witnessing “foxfire,” or a bioluminescent fungus on decaying wood. The color of foxfire tends to be a bright green, which looks unworldly – even when you know what you’re looking at.

Project Blue Book, spearheaded by the United States Air Force from 1952 to 1969, sought to research claims of unidentified flying objects. It was the third project of its kind, following Project Sign and Project Grudge. According to researchers, the US military never found evidence of UFOs or extraterrestrial life.

Project Blue Book didn’t officially investigate this case, because they thought the whole thing was a hoax. They recorded the sighting with the notes “C.P.” – for “crackpot.”

Even though the Kelly-Hopkins sighting didn’t convince the world of extraterrestrials or little gray men with talons, it did inspire a rash of sci-fi stories. Supposedly Critters, a 1986 Gremlins knock-off about a farm family fighting off a bunch of creepy aliens who crash-land while riding a meteor, is based on the Kelly-Hopkinsville story.

The Kelly-Hopkinsville events also found their way into The X-Files comic book in an issue subtitled “Crop Duster.”

Despite what the people in charge of the Little Green Men festival say, many in Hopkinsville didn’t believe the story when it was first told. The details changed depending on which person was recounting them, and newspaper stories at the time were inconsistent.

Skeptics cling to these discrepancies, claiming they prove the families were all imagining things.

Over the course of the local news cycle, the descriptions of the creatures that attacked the farmhouse changed drastically. They were initially described as a little over two feet tall with thin legs and gray coloring. But then things changed. The beings went from gray to green in one newspaper article, and they were given a “greenish silver glow” in a later version of the story.

In one article, the creatures were described as four feet tall and were given bulbous heads, while in others they had pointed ears and claws for hands. It’s hard to tell if reporters were adding embellishments to the creatures to make the story more interesting, or if the various family members just saw different features – or imagined different things.


Up next, We’ll look at a supposed real sighting of Mokele-Mbembe, the living dinosaur of the Congo, when Weird Darkness returns!





When Weird Darkness returns… running a club during prohibition was extremely lucrative… and extremely dangerous, as one Theodore Lakoff would’ve learned… had he been awake when he was murdered.

But first, the internet is a vital part of modern life. Without web access, all kinds of businesses and jobs would be unable to function. So, as you can imagine, there are plenty of people who would love to see the internet crumble. And many have tried… up next!



Since Tim Berners-Lee launched the World Wide Web in the late 1980s, there have been numerous attempts to shut down the internet. Some of these attacks were carried out by coordinated military groups and governments in a bid for political control. Others consisted of one irate man ripping the wires out of a service box. From accidental cyber attacks to foiled terrorist plots, here are ten times people had a go – and in some cases succeeded – at shutting down the internet.

***Nobody likes to be humiliated online. But one man took his quest to hide embarrassing videos to the extreme. In 2016, a Chinese man known as Liu worried that someone would upload footage of him dancing to the web. So Liu decided to take matters into his own hands and set out to destroy the internet. That summer, having recently moved to the city of Weifang, he had decided to join in with a public fitness dance. In China, it is common for middle-aged women to gather in the streets and take part in “granny dances.” Liu chose to join one of these granny dances, to the amusement of some of the locals. He told police that passers-by were giggling and recording him on their phones. Liu thought little of it at the time, but a few months later he began to worry that the footage might be shared online. This was when he decided to take action. One night in August, Liu broke into four China Telecom service boxes and ripped out the insides. In total, he caused 10,000 Yuan ($15,000) worth of damage. But Liu was spotted multiple times on CCTV and subsequently arrested by local police.

***For sixteen months, starting in March 2018, Chad faced the longest social media blackout in African history. Only 6.5% of people had regular internet access. People were unable to interact with their loved ones. Local businesses struggled to advertise online. Journalists had to fight to get their voices heard. The government imposed the ban in response to growing dissent. Critics have described President Idriss Déby as a “democratically bankrupt” leader and accused him of mass censorship. They claim he is clinging to power, and that the social media ban was a desperate attempt to quell anti-government activists. As IT experts CIPESA explained in a recent report: “African governments with democracy deficits, regardless of the number of their citizens that use the internet, recognise – and fear – the power of the internet in…empowering ordinary people to speak truth to power.”

***The web is rife with hackers and malware, but few caused as much damage as the Mirai botnet. The attack devastated US systems when it brought down much of the country’s internet in October 2016. It targeted the IT company Dyn, which controlled a large amount of online infrastructure at the time. The digital assault caused a major internet outage. It affected major websites like Twitter, Netflix, and CNN. The Mirai botnet was a sophisticated kind of cyber attack, known as a distributed denial of service (DDoS). Computer servers are inundated with traffic until they become overwhelmed and the system shuts down. Experts estimate that Mirai was the largest DDoS attack in history. Hackers infiltrated a vast array of devices, including digital cameras and video players, then forced them to attack Dyn’s servers.

***Yemen is in the grip of one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world today. Since 2015, Houthi rebels have been locked in a devastating battle with Saudi-led coalition forces. The Houthis are known to use the internet as a weapon, plunging the country into a web blackout. In July 2018, 80% of internet users were left stranded after rebel forces severed the country’s main fiber optic cable. The rebel forces slashed the cable while strengthening their defenses in the Red Sea port of Hodeidah. “The rebels impose bans on social media networks and slow down the speed of the already weakened internet service,” explained telecommunications minister Lutfi Bashreef, “and this comes amid reports they intend to soon cut off the internet completely to cover their crimes.”

***As is the case with most modern political conflicts, in Myanmar the internet is a key battlefield. When the military junta seized power in February 2021, they were keen to suppress online dissent. The coup leaders quickly shut off all mobile data in the country, and wireless broadband soon followed. At least 535 have been killed since the military takeover. But the people of Myanmar are refusing to bow down to the hostile forces. The night before the broadband blackout, there was a surge of people pointing to radio channels and communication apps that can be used without internet access. Protestors took to the streets for a defiant vigil, using candles to declare: “We will never surrender.”

***In 1988, Cornell graduate student Robert Tappan Morris was working on a way to measure the size of the internet. Little did he know he would end up launching the world’s first cyber attack. Morris created a program that would jump from computer to computer, counting each one. Every time his program entered a new machine, it would send a brief signal back to a central server which kept count. The trouble is his program, now known as the Morris worm, spread too quickly and ended up clogging up much of the web. The bug tore through the net, copying itself between each device and pinging back to the server. Morris had inadvertently invented the DDoS cyber attack – a type of digital assault that forces devices to overwhelm a server with traffic. His accidental offensive brought the internet to its knees.

***Three scuba divers were arrested off the port of Alexandria after attempting to slice through an undersea internet cable and bring down the Egyptian web. The Egyptian coastguard intercepted the team before they were able to cause any disruption. In 2013, Egyptian naval forces published images online of three men tied up that they accused had tried to sabotage an internet cable. At the time of the attack, Egyptian online traffic was connected to Europe via eight cables. So cutting one of the cables would not have destroyed the web, but it would have caused a significant disturbance. The men refused to reveal the motive for their foiled attack, or if they were working for anyone.

***In recent years, India has blocked internet access more than any other country. The blackouts began around the time that the government introduced a contentious citizenship law in 2019. Since then the country has seen a surge in protestors taking a stand against the Hindu nationalist regime. Authorities often respond by suspending the internet. They claim it is essential to “keep the peace.” But many Indians have accused officials of attacking their free speech. The most prominent internet blackout occurred after Modi’s government shut down services in the regions of Jammu and Kashmir in August 2019. Over 13 million people were left stranded for eighteen months, before the web was finally restored in February 2021.

***In 2002, the internet was struck by what technology experts at the time called “the largest and most complex DDoS attack ever.” Cyber attackers orchestrated an onslaught of traffic against the thirteen root servers that, at the time, formed the heart of internet communications. Fortunately, built-in safeguards prevented the web from being taken offline. But had the hour-long offensive lasted longer, it could have had severe repercussions for internet users across the globe. Digital security expert Chris Morrow described the barrage as “probably the most concerted attack against the Internet infrastructure that we’ve seen.” “The only way to stop such attacks is to fix the vulnerabilities on the machines that ultimately get taken over and used to launch them,” another security expert, Alan Paller, told reporters. “There’s no defense once the machines are under the attacker’s control.”

***And the most recent attempt. In 2021, a man from Texas was arrested for plotting to blow up the internet. Seth Aaron Pendley allegedly planned to take out 70% of the web by destroying a data center in Virginia with a C-4 explosive. The US Department of Justice told reporters that Pendley planned to target the servers of the FBI and CIA. It is said that he wanted to tear down ‘the oligarchy’ that currently rules the United States. Authorities were tipped off to Pendley’s plot by one of his friends. According to reporters, he was an active member of extremist websites where he went by the name of Dionysus – the Greek god of wine and ritual madness. He wrote on the forum MyMilitia about his desire to “conduct a little experiment.” He also boasted about taking a sawed-off AR rifle to the storming of the Capitol building but claims he left it in the car. Had Pendley carried out his attack, it would not have destroyed 70% of the internet. The physical infrastructure is distributed across the world and backed up multiple times. Pendley now faces up to 20 years in federal prison if he is found guilty.


Theodore Lakoff had dreams like many who came from far away to call Rockford, Illinois their home. He traveled from his home country of Bulgaria to Liverpool England in 1911. He was only 18 years old when he stepped off the passenger ship, Baltic in the New York harbor.

Theodore traveled to Chicago and was living there in 1913. He would spend the next several years working a variety of jobs and moving around quite a bit before settling in New Diggins, Wisconsin. One article mentioned that the young man worked at several Supper Clubs in Wisconsin before arriving in the Roscoe, Illinois area in 1930.

Theodore operated his own roadhouse resort on Rockford’s North 2nd Street from 1930 to the beginning of 1931. The resort was long suspected of hosting illegal operations from serving alcohol (this was during Prohibition), to gambling and girls. Theodore also used several different names by early 1930. Tony Evanoff must have been a favorite. It appears in the newspaper articles as often as Theodore Lakoff.

On Saturday, January 3, 1931, Theodore had a full house. People were still celebrating the New Year and the card games were in full swing as well as the liquor sales. George Farmer from Beloit would later testify that he was one of the last to leave just after midnight. Theodore lived at the resort and he followed the stragglers outside to wish everyone a Happy New Year before heading back inside.

On Sunday, Ted Manley showed up for an appointment with Theodore at around 10:00 a.m. He thought it strange that the doors were still locked. He knocked but Theodore did not answer. Manley decided to check in with Theodore’s manager, Charles Smith to see if he knew of the man’s location. Smith was so startled to hear that the doors of the resort were still locked that he decided to accompany Manley back to the roadhouse.

They later stated that they both had an eerie feeling as they unlocked the door and stepped inside. This feeling grew as they made their way to the back portion of the place where Theodore was known to sleep on a couch. That is exactly where they found him. Theodore was curled up on the couch with his hands under his head. Or what was left of his head.

It wasn’t long before Sheriff William C. Bell and Coroner Walter Julian arrived. They theorized that whoever killed Theodore had hid in the roadhouse sometime during the evening’s festivities. The assailant waited in the dark until Theodore was asleep before he crept from his hiding spot and fired the gun into the top of Theordore’s head. The shot killed him instantly.

A thorough search was made but only deepened the mystery for the authorities. Theodore’s wallet was laying on the floor completely empty. Witnesses from the night before stated that Theodore had around $100.00 in the wallet. But the search proved that there was a lot more money on hand that was not taken. They believed the wallet was only emptied to make it appear that robbery was the motive for the shooting.

Of course, being a resort owner during the turbulent years of Prohibition opened the possible motives up tremendously. There were often rival gangs that used strong arm tactics to convince the owners to purchase their liquor from their particular stock. Authorities focused on this theory pretty quickly.

But after questioning several of Theodore’s closest friends, they began to change their minds. These friends told of a young woman who was giving Theodore some trouble. Viola Hunsficker may have only been 20 years old at the time of Theodore’s murder but she had earned the reputation of being very street smart. Viola had worked for Theodore at the roadhouse for a short time. But something must have happened between Theodore and the young woman. The witnesses told the authorities that Viola was extorting money from Theodore. They heard horrible arguments between the two and stated that Theodore had stated he wasn’t going to pay her any more money.

When Viola was picked up by the Sheriff’s deputies and her apartment searched, they found two guns. One of them was Theodore’s gun that many people had seen him carry. The other gun was of the same caliber of the weapon that was used in the murder. Viola stated she had never seen the guns before. Sheriff Bell arrested the young woman but continued to question acquaintances of the slain man.

Bell also sent the slug retrieved from Theodore and the gun found in Viola’s possession to Chicago. The results came back after two weeks. They did not match and Viola was released.

As the police delved into Theodore’s personal life they were astonished to find 5 other women who were under the impression that they were Theordore’s only girlfriend. Some of these women also had boyfriends and even husband’s that added to the potential motives for wanting Theodore dead.

The authorities developed many other theories in the days following Theodore’s death and followed many leads. They always believed that whoever had killed Theodore was probably close to him. But like several other killings during Prohibition, Theodore’s murder was never solved. He was buried in the Eastlawn Cemetery in Beloit.


Coming up… Benjamin Franklin was known not just as one of the father’s of the United States of America, but also as an inventor, a womanizer, and a man with a bit of an ornery streak in him – as is evidenced by a series of letters he wrote to the New England Courant, where he pretended to be a woman… when Weird Darkness returns.



In 1722, a series of letters was published in the New England Courant by a middle-aged widow called Silence Dogood. The letters were extremely witty and it seemed she had a gift for satire. A new letter appeared from her every few weeks, poking fun at religious hypocrisy, life in colonial America, the persecution of women, fashion, and the pretensions of Harvard College.

The letters from Silence Dogood became hugely popular, but no one had any idea who she was or where she came from. However, many male readers were so impressed and delighted with her writing that they even offered to marry her.

But unfortunately, Silence Dogood never existed in reality. Instead, she was a creation of none other than Benjamin Franklin, a Founding Father who helped to draft the Declaration of Independence and the US constitution.

Many know Franklin as a Philadelphia writer. However, the popular printer, inventor, statesman, and writer started out as a mischievous boy from Boston. He was born in 1706 and was the fifteenth child of Josiah Franklin, a shop owner and candle maker. During his childhood, he explored the colonial city, mill ponds, streets, getting into trouble and getting an education along with it.

When Benjamin was eight years old, his father enrolled him in grammar school and prepared him for a life in the ministry. Benjamin was a quick learner and did very well in his studies. However, the fees were too expensive for his father, who later withdrew Benjamin from school and put him to work in the shop.

After that, Benjamin Franklin educated himself from books he borrowed or brought and whenever he was able to find time from his work. And then, when Franklin was sixteen years old, he introduced the readers of Boston to a funny middle-aged widow named Mrs. Silence Dogood.

After few years working in his father’s shop, the 12-year-old Franklin apprenticed to his elder brother James Franklin, a printer. While working in the print shop he was able to read the books before returning them, which helped him to gain knowledge. When his brother started publishing The New England Courant, a local newspaper, Benjamin used to carry the papers to the customers.

James Franklin often published his friends’ writing which created eagerness in his younger brother to have his own writing in the paper. Therefore, the sixteen-year-old Franklin devised a plan to disguise himself as a writer. At night he would put the letter in front of the printing house door, from where it was retrieved and published.

James and his friends never guessed the true identity of the author who wrote the letters, and Benjamin his authorship. For over six months, Benjamin’s letters were published, written from a perspective and voice of “Mrs. Silence Dogood”, who was witty, charming, and satirical. All the letters were quite delightful, criticizing in a fun way the manners in Boston, Harvard, fashion-related things, and the colonial streets.

The letters were especially sarcastic about Harvard college, saying that the students there learned nothing so much as how to become boastful. She commented on certain fashion absurdities of the time, drinking habits of Boston, and much more.

Silence Dogood was free with her advice and wrote openly about the way women should be treated. Her writings charmed the people of Boston, who appreciated them as social satire. Several men in Boston were so impressed with her work that they wrote to the paper offering proposals of marriage.

After writing for six months, the letters from Silence Dogood suddenly stopped, leaving her readership distraught. In response, James Franklin published an advert about her in his paper, saying that whoever finds the true Mrs. Silence Dogood account at any cost will get thanks for such pains.

After this, Benjamin Franklin unveiled his identity and disclosed that he was the widow to all Boston people, including his brother. James Franklin was not at all happy with his brother’s success. The rivalry between the siblings caused Benjamin Franklin to break the apprenticeship terms and go away from Boston. He then went to Philadelphia, where he set up his own press and started publishing Pennsylvania Gazette.

In 1730, the Pennsylvania Gazette published a sensational article, describing a witch trial that happened in Mount Holly near Burlington. As per the article, more than 300 people witnessed the trial of a man and woman who were accused of conducting witchcraft. They were accused of making sheep dance, hogs speak, and many other unnatural acts. As a result, they were put to the test to prove their innocence.

In one of the tests, they were weighed and compared to the weight of a bible. If they weighed more, then they were considered not to be witches. In another, they would be tied and thrown in water. If the suspects floated, then they would be considered witches. All of the accused passed the bible test, but in the second test one of the accusers panicked and floated. Dissent broke out, with some people supporting the accuser while others did not.

Such an account of the witch trial had a major grip on the readers of Philadelphians. Nevertheless, the story was not true because, apart from anything else, witch trials did not happen in America in 1730. The report was not true at all.

The author behind the Pennsylvania Gazette account of the witch trial was not known for over a century, until the research of John McMaster showed that the article was another work of Benjamin Franklin. Franklin was responsible for several more such hoaxes throughout his life, on his way to becoming one of the most famous Americans of all time.


Personally, I consider sea serpents more credible than lake monsters. It’s the logistics of it all. The sea is vast, and we move across it with noisy vessels along narrow sea lanes. Anything could be there. Lakes are small, and tend to be surrounded by people. What lives there ought to be seen a lot more often. Yet, when I was researching the digitalised files of Australian newspapers for Australian and foreign sea serpents, I noticed something peculiar: up to the Second World War, it was respectable to see and report sea serpents, often uncritically. However, once the war started, people had much more important things to talk about, and after that date, although it has become respectable to see and report lake monsters, reports of sea serpents dropped off  dramatically. But they still turn up. One case was in late 1983, off the coast of California. Again, I have the old International Society of Cryptozoology to thank for the summary. Although it is anonymous, the author was almost certainly the editor, J. Richard Greenwell. Here is the article:

“Sea serpents” seen off California coast.

The ISC Newsletter, Volume 2, Number 4: pages 9-10 (Winter 1983)

A new “sea serpent” sighting took place at Stinson Beach, north of San Francisco, California, on October 31, 1983. The incident involved several witnesses, five of whom were members of a construction crew repairing Highway 1 on a Marin County cliffside overlooking the sea. Shortly before 2 p.m., according to Steven Rubinstein of the San Francisco Chronicle, who interviewed the witnesses, a flagman named Gary saw the unidentified animal swimming towards the cliff, and he called Matt Ratto, another crew member, on his two-way radio, telling him to get his binoculars. The binoculars were reportedly used by the crew to observe distant objects of interest, particularly nude sunbathers on the beach below during their lunch breaks.

Ratto watched the animal through the binoculars; it was reportedly only a quarter of a mile [400 metres] away and 100 yards off-shore. Of particular interested was the detail that the animal was being followed by about 100 birds and two dozen sea lions. “There were three bends, like humps, and they rose straight up,” said Ratto. “Then the head came up to look around.” The “serpent” then turned, lowering its head beneath the surface, and moved out to sea, gradually lowering its humps beneath the water until it disappeared. “Look,” Ratto told reporters, “I’m not a psycho, I’m a regular guy. If I was going to make up something, I’d make up something like a 12-foot Mickey Mouse with five arms.” The animal was described by all witnesses as dark, slim, and about 100 feet [30 metres] in length.

Another witness, truck driver Steve Bjora, said, “The sucker was going 45 to 50 miles an hour [70 – 80 kmh]. It was clipping. It was boogeying. It looked like a long eel.” But Bjora says he saw only two humps. Marlene Martin, a safety inspector with the Department of Transportation, also saw the animal. She was subsequently “unavailable for comment,” but her daughter told the Chronicle: “Mom came home and told us it was the biggest thing she ever saw in her life, and my Mom doesn’t lie. She said it made ‘Jaws’ look like a baby.” Apparently, Mrs. Martin described four humps to her family.

According to the tabloid Weekly World News, another witness surfaced – on the beach itself. Roland Curry, 19, said it was the second time he’d seen the “sea serpent” in less than a week. On the first occasion, he claims, it was visible for about 30 seconds, but the head appeared for only about 2 seconds, just before the body submerged. “I told my girlfriend about it, and she said I was nuts,” commented Curry, “but this time I saw it and there were other people who said they saw it. That makes it real in my book. From now on, when I go to the beach, I’m bringing my camera.”

The Chronicle also spoke to Jack Swenson, a biologist of the nearby Point Reyes Bird Observatory, who said there have been “periodic sightings” of unknown marine animals off the Marin County coast, and that “no one every figures out what the sightings are … A whale surfacing in backlit sunshine, silhouetted with a lot of glare, could look like the Loch Ness Monster. On the other hand, there may be all sorts of prehistoric creatures swimming around out there that we know nothing about.”

Witness Ratto was emphatic that “there’s no way it could have been a whale or a porpoise, and it was too graceful to be a machine. Anyway, a submarine doesn’t have a head.” Two points add credibility to the incident: 1) the construction crew members admitted to having the binoculars to observe nude sunbathers, and although this in itself is of little (if any) significance in California, the admission tends to indicate a truthful version of the events; and 2) a separate witness, Mrs. Martin, who holds a responsible job, saw the same phenomenon, although she later was “unavailable”. This gives independent support to the claimed sighting by the construction crew.

Later in the week, on November 2, a group of surfers reported seeing a “sea serpent” near Costa Mesa. “It was just the way they described it up there – a long black eel,” said Young Hutchinson, 29. The sighting took place in the mid-afternoon, about 60 feet [18 metres] off the Santa Ana River Jetty. He thought the observation was “too crazy” to report, until he read about the Marin County sightings.  “At first I thought it was a whale, but I’ve seen a lot of whales and it didn’t look the same, ” said Hutchinson, who claims that it surfaced only 10 feet [3 metres] from his surfboard. “There were no dorsal fins,” he added. “The skin texture wasn’t the same [as a whale], and when it broke water it wasn’t like a whale at all. I didn’t seen the head or the tail.”

The Costa Mesa Daily Pilot quoted a spokesman for the Corona del Mar marine facility of the California Institute of Technology as stating: “It could have been a pilot whale or a gray whale … It also could have been three or four porpoises in a line jumping from the water.” The spokesman preferred to remain anonymous.

“It was really moving,” concluded Hutchinson, “like a whale with a purpose … We got the hell out of there and paddled for shore.”


Thanks for listening. If you like the show, please share it with someone you know who loves the paranormal or strange stories, true crime, monsters, or unsolved mysteries like you do! And please leave a rating and review of the show in the podcast app you listen from – doing so helps the show to get noticed! You can also email me anytime with your questions or comments through the website at WeirdDarkness.com. That’s also where you can find all of my social media, listen to free audiobooks, shop the Weird Darkness store, sign up for the newsletter to win monthly prizes, find my other podcast “Church of the Undead”, and more. Plus if you have a true paranormal or creepy tale to tell, you can click on TELL YOUR STORY.

All stories in Weird Darkness are purported to be true (unless stated otherwise) and you can find source links or links to the authors in the show notes.

“The Hopkinsville Encounter” by Hannah Collins for Ranker.com’s Graveyard Shift

“Dinosaur Observed in the Congo” by Richard Greenwell for the ISC Newsletter

“The Mysterious Death of Theodore Lakoff” by Kathi Kresol for HauntedRockford.com

“Who Was Mrs. Silence Dogood?” by Bipin Dimri for HistoricMysteries.com

“Taking Down the World Wide Web” by Benjamin Thomas for ListVerse.com

“The California Sea Monster” by Malcom Smith for Malcom’s Cryptids


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

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

Now that we’re coming out of the dark, I’ll leave you with a little light… “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” – 1 Timothy 6:6-10

And a final thought… “Hang out with people who make you forget to look at your phone.” – Unknown

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


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