“THE LEFLORE COUNTY BIGFOOT WAR” and 4 More Freaky True Stories! #WeirdDarkness
PLEASE SHARE THIS EPISODE in your social media so others who loves strange and macabre stories can listen too! https://weirddarkness.com/listen
Listen to ““THE LEFLORE COUNTY BIGFOOT WAR” and 4 More Freaky True Stories! #WeirdDarkness” on Spreaker.
IN THIS EPISODE: Did you hear about the time Bigfoot and humans went to war against each other? It supposedly did happen in real life and I’ll tell you the story! (The Leflore County Bigfoot War) *** The body of 25-year-old Jason Chase was found several weeks after he had gone missing – but the cause of his death was a mystery to everyone for almost twenty years. (The Eerie Death of Hiker Jason Chase) *** There are people in life that you just would rather not deal with. Wouldn’t be great if you could just put them on ice and let some other future generation deal with that person? Well, aside from the morally unacceptable actions you’d have to take to make that happen, the technology for doing so might not be too far away. Some of the ulta-wealthy are making plans to be brought back to life later, or to live for a very long time, or… even to be immortal. (How The Super Rich Plan To Live Forever) *** Soon after moving into their quaint Massachusetts country home in 1981, Lui and Dale Passetto encountered a force of pure evil that almost destroyed them and their family. (The Passetto Family Possession) *** On August 29, 1890, a 16-year-old boy named Otto Lueth was hanged at the Ohio State Penitentiary in Columbus. He had been tried and convicted of the murder of Maggie Thompson, age 9 – a murder for which he had shown no remorse. It is a sad and tragic story… but also one of utter horror. (Otto Leuth and the Girl in the Cellar) *** (Originally aired September 21, 2020)
SOURCES AND REFERENCES FROM THE EPISODE…
“The Eerie Death of Hiker Jason Chase” from StrangeOutdoors.com: https://tinyurl.com/y4kpf4dn
“The Leflore County Bigfoot War” by Michael Mayes for the Texas Cryptid Hunter website: https://tinyurl.com/y3lzcs3j
“How The Super Rich Plan To Live Forever” by Michael Moran for The Daily Star: https://tinyurl.com/y6sphdwf
“The Passetto Family Possession” by Jamie Bogert for TheLineUp.com: https://tinyurl.com/y3endz3u
“Otto Leuth and the Girl in the Cellar” by Troy Taylor: https://tinyurl.com/y47sg32c
Visit our Sponsors & Friends: https://weirddarkness.com/sponsors
Join the Weird Darkness Syndicate: https://weirddarkness.com/syndicate
Advertise in the Weird Darkness podcast or syndicated radio show: https://weirddarkness.com/advertise
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Weird Darkness theme by Alibi Music Library. Background music provided by Alibi Music Library, EpidemicSound and/or StoryBlocks with paid license. Music from Shadows Symphony (https://tinyurl.com/yyrv987t), Midnight Syndicate (http://amzn.to/2BYCoXZ) Kevin MacLeod (https://tinyurl.com/y2v7fgbu), Tony Longworth (https://tinyurl.com/y2nhnbt7), and Nicolas Gasparini (https://tinyurl.com/lnqpfs8) is used with permission of the artists.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
OTHER PODCASTS I HOST…
Paranormality Magazine: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/paranormalitymag
Micro Terrors: Scary Stories for Kids: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/microterrors
Retro Radio – Old Time Radio In The Dark: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/retroradio
Church of the Undead: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/churchoftheundead
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
(Over time links seen above may become invalid, disappear, or have different content. I always make sure to give authors credit for the material I use whenever possible. If I somehow overlooked doing so for a story, or if a credit is incorrect, please let me know and I will rectify it in these show notes immediately. Some links included above may benefit me financially through qualifying purchases.)
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
“I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” — John 12:46
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
WeirdDarkness® is a registered trademark. Copyright ©2023, Weird Darkness.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
DISCLAIMER: Stories and content in Weird Darkness can be disturbing for some listeners and intended for mature audiences only. Parental discretion is strongly advised.
The telling of scary stories around a campfire is a tradition that is likely nearly as old as mankind itself. While tales of ghosts, goblins, and murderous psychopaths can rattle the cage of nearly anyone, what better subject for a campfire story could there be than a cannibalistic and murderous Sasquatch? The story of a haunted house might be creepy, but unless you are actually staying in the house in question it is easily and quickly forgotten once the marshmallows, chocolate, and graham crackers appear at the fire. Tales of a creature – a creature many people regard as being real – stalking the very woods in which you have pitched your tent, however, are not always so easy to put aside. One such terrifying tale is the story of a war against Sasquatch that allegedly took place in eastern Oklahoma during the mid 1850s. The story of the LeFlore County Bigfoot War.
I’m Darren Marlar and this is Weird Darkness.
Welcome, Weirdos – (I’m Darren Marlar and) this is Weird Darkness. Here you’ll find stories of the paranormal, supernatural, legends, lore, the strange and bizarre, crime, conspiracy, mysterious, macabre, unsolved and unexplained.
Coming up in this episode…
The body of 25-year-old Jason Chase was found several weeks after he had gone missing – but the cause of his death was a mystery to everyone for almost twenty years. (The Eerie Death of Hiker Jason Chase)
If you could afford it, would you pay to be able to live forever? Some of the ultra-rich are trying to do just that. (How The Super Rich Plan To Live Forever)
Soon after moving into their quaint Massachusetts country home in 1981, Lui and Dale Passetto encountered a force of pure evil that almost destroyed them and their family. (The Passetto Family Possession)
On August 29, 1890, a boy, only 16 years old, named Otto Lueth was hanged at the Ohio State Penitentiary in Columbus. He had been tried and convicted of the murder of Maggie Thompson, age 9 – a murder for which the boy had shown no remorse. It is a sad and tragic story… but also one of utter horror. (Otto Leuth and the Girl in the Cellar)
But first… did you hear about the time Bigfoot and humans went to war against each other? It supposedly did happen in real life and I’ll tell you the story about the LeFlore County Bigfoot War. We’ll begin with that story. (The Leflore County Bigfoot War)
If you’re new here, welcome to the show! While you’re listening, be sure to check out WeirdDarkness.com for merchandise, to visit sponsors you hear about during the show, sign up for my newsletter, enter contests, connect with me on social media, plus, you can visit the Hope in the Darkness page if you’re struggling with depression or dark thoughts. You can find all of that and more at WeirdDarkness.com.
Now.. bolt your doors, lock your windows, turn off your lights, and come with me into the Weird Darkness!
STORY: THE LEFLORE COUNTY BIGFOOT WAR=====
It is said that in or around 1855, a band of Choctaws in what is now LeFlore County, Oklahoma and farmers in what is now Arkansas were experiencing some terrifying events. It all began in a rather benign way with the theft of vegetables, a few head of livestock, and other foodstuff by stealthy bandits in the night. The thieves were cagey, quiet, and never seen. They were also smart, as somehow they never ventured into Choctaw encampments on nights when a watchman was in place. Neither did the bandits ever fall into the traps set for them by farmers outside of Indian Territory. Those charged with finding and capturing these marauders began to develop a begrudging respect for the wiliness of their adversaries as time went by and the petty thefts continued. While the thefts were annoying and did cause some hardships, neither the Choctaw or the neighboring Anglo farmers were afraid of the food bandits; however, things changed once women and children began to go missing.
Spurred by reports of these kidnappings, a group of 30 Choctaw cavalrymen was organized to hunt down the abductors. The group was led by Joshua LeFlore, a man of mixed Choctaw and French blood, who was deeply respected by his fellow tribesmen. Also joining the search party was a Choctaw warrior named Hamas Tubbee and his six sons. The Tubbees were huge men – all approaching seven feet in height and weighing in at more than 300 pounds each – and were regarded as fierce warriors and expert horsemen. The Tubbees were so effective in mounted warfare that despite their massive size, they became known as the “Lighthorsemen.” The contingent of searchers, armed to the teeth, set out into the region known today as the McCurtain County Wilderness Area to search for the kidnappers.
After riding all day, the searchers finally arrived in the area where they believed the bandits to be hiding. LeFlore brought his troops to a halt, stood up in his stirrups, and surveyed the area with a spyglass. It is unclear exactly what LeFlore saw but whatever it was, he ordered his men to charge toward a stand of pines roughly 500 yards distant. LeFlore and the Tubbee men led the attack. As the troops closed the distance between themselves and the stand of pines where the kidnappers were thought to be hiding, they were assaulted by a tremendous stench, the unmistakable odor of decay and decomposition. The horses of most of the men began to buck and rear, tossing their riders. Only the mounts of LeFlore and the Tubbee men were disciplined enough to remain composed, allowing the eight men to continue through the pines. As the men cleared the small wooded patch they came upon a large earthen mound. Scattered across the mound were the bodies of children and women in various stages of decomposition. LeFlore and the Tubbees caught a glimpse of a number of the murderers fleeing into the tree line on the opposite side of the mound. Only three of the killers stood their ground to meet the charge of the “Lighthorsemen.” It was at this time that the cavalrymen realized they were not going up against any human foe; rather, standing before them, snarling and beating their chests, were three huge, hair-covered creatures. Despite what must have been a shocking sight to him, LeFlore drew his pistol and sabre, spurred his mount, and charged. As LeFlore approached the nearest ape, it took a mighty swipe and struck his horse in the head, killing it instantly. LeFlore managed to roll off the falling horse, quickly jumped to his feet, and fired multiple shots into the chest of the creature. Once his pistol was empty, LeFlore attacked the ape with his sabre, opening up gaping wounds on the animal which roared in rage and pain.
LeFlore’s assault on the creature was so quick, and the shock of seeing hair-covered monsters so great, that the Tubbee men hesitated, completely stupefied, before entering the fray. This delay allowed one of the other two apes to get behind LeFlore, who was intensely focused on the ape he had engaged. The second beast grabbed LeFlore’s head with two huge hands and ripped it from his shoulders. The horrible sight jolted the Tubbee warriors into action and they opened fire on the three sasquatches with 50-caliber Sharp’s buffalo rifles. Two of the beasts were killed instantly, dropping in their tracks. The third creature was wounded but turned and fled before the lethal shot could be fired. Robert Tubbee, only 18 years old but already 6’ 11” and well over 300 pounds, spurred his horse, ran down the injured ape, and dispatched him with his hunting knife.
As the rest of the troop, after gathering their panicked horses, joined them, the “Lighthorsemen” surveyed the area. The bodies of dead women and children, most partially devoured, littered the area. The smell of decay, along with the terrible odor of the beast’s feces, caused many of the men to vomit. After composing themselves, the men gathered the remains of the unfortunate women and children and buried them. They also buried their leader, Joshua LeFlore. As for the three ape-like monsters, their bodies were placed upon a huge bonfire and burned. Their hellish task complete, the Choctaw warriors returned to Tuskahoma, where it is said even the mighty Tubbee men were plagued by terrible nightmares for years afterward.
Some story, is it not? But is any of it true? While I could not find much, it does appear the Tubbees existed. So, too, did a man named Joshua LeFlore. What I could not find was any mention – at least in any official documents – that Leflore died in battle. For that matter, I have been unable to find any information leading me to believe that the LeFlore County bigfoot war took place anywhere outside of the realm of folklore.
Having said that, is it possible that the LeFlore County incident was actually based on a real event that took place in a different location? According to a bigfoot researcher named Jim King, the answer might be yes. King believes the LeFlore County story is based on an event that took place much farther west in Kiowa territory, an event related to him by an Indian elder. According to the story, Kiowa women were placed in a special teepee or tent on the edge of camp when they started their menstrual cycle. The women stayed there, being tended to only by older women, until their cycle was complete. The elder told King that women were considered “unclean” during their cycles and Kiowa warriors were not only forbidden any physical contact with the females during this time, they were not even to look upon them (This seems harsh but it not too different than the way many cultures treated menstruating women in the past.) The elder said that once, long ago, there had been trouble with ape-like creatures who were attracted by the scent and pheromones emanating from the tent where the menstruating women were housed. Since the tent was on the edge of the encampment, it proved to be an easy target for renegade apes who are said to have entered and carried off women on several occasions. To make a long story short, the Kiowa leadership decided this was unacceptable and put together a group of warriors to hunt down the kidnappers. The searchers did manage to track an ape back to its lair and killed not only it, but an entire family unit.
Could the LeFlore County story have its roots in the tale told to Jim King by the Kiowa elder? Is there any truth at all – even the smallest of grains – in either tale? I have heard many put their faith in the LeFlore County version simply due to the name of the unfortunate Joshua LeFlore. “They wouldn’t have named the county after him if it wasn’t true,” and other similar statements abound. I, however, have not been able to find anything saying LeFlore County was named after Joshua LeFlore. According to the Oklahoma Historical Society’s website, “The name honors the prominent LeFlore family of the Choctaw Nation.” Could Joshua LeFlore have been one of the “prominent LeFlore family?” It is certainly possible, but there does not seem to be any documentation singling out Joshua or his actions as the reason for the naming of the county.
The story of the LeFlore County bigfoot war, even if totally fictional, does seem to point to the fact that enormous, hair-covered, ape-like animals have been thought to reside in the region for a very long time; a time long before the Patterson-Gimlin film brought bigfoot into America’s consciousness. Add this to the beliefs of many other Native American tribes from across the North American continent who have long told stories of these creatures snatching women and children and the anecdotal evidence stack grows taller. Truth be told, the idea of child- or woman-snatching sasquatches continues to thrill, terrify, and enthrall us to this very day. One needs to look no farther than the success of David Paulide’s Missing 411 books to confirm this.
It may very well be the tale of the LeFlore County bigfoot war was inspired by actual, less dramatic events (think the siege of Honobia, the Ape Canyon incident, etc.) Over the years, such a story would be embellished and grow to mythic proportions. It is all but inevitable as a good scary story is irresistible. Do not be too hard on those who might have added to the original facts. After all, we all know the most frightening types of campfire stories will always have one thing in common… they could really happen.
Coming up… tThe body of 25-year-old Jason Chase was found several weeks after he had gone missing – but the cause of his death was a mystery to everyone for almost twenty years.
And… soon after moving into their quaint Massachusetts country home in 1981, Lui and Dale Passetto encountered a force of pure evil that almost destroyed them and their family. Those stories and others are still to come when Weird Darkness returns.
STORY: THE EERIE DEATH OF HIKER JASON CHASE=====
25-year-old, Jason Chase went missing on December 13, 2002. He was a 25-year-old sheep shearer who had been staying in the Gisborne region of New Zealand, on the east coast of the North Island. His body was found several weeks later but the cause of his premature death baffled the authorities for nearly two decades.
Recently an unusual cause of death has been postulated and a reminder that plants can be as deadly as weather, terrain and animals in the great outdoors.
On December 13th, 2002, Jason Chase left Gisborne and was headed back home to Dannevirke to his family for Christmas. But, he never arrived. He was fit and healthy with no known illnesses.
He was wearing a short-sleeved, multi-coloured rugby shirt with a bright-red back displayed to the sky. His pale shorts were either cream-coloured or were a very faded khaki.
At first, Jason’s disappearance went unnoticed by friends and family, as there wasn’t a specific date for his arrival. Then an abandoned car was reported in the Tamaki Reserve, just out of Dannevirke, at the base of the Ruahine Range. It was confirmed to be Jason’s car.
It was reported that he knew the area fairly well, but it was out of character for him to go missing or go for an extended overnight camp. He had been somewhat depressed but there was nothing to suggest he was suicidal.
The Ruahine Range area was beautiful but a wild place to hike. If you get lost, it’s a very hard place in which to be found with punishing terrain of very steep mountainsides clad in dense native bush with intervening, rock-strewn gullies. These gullies carry torrents of water in the wet season, but they were dry and hard and irregular in December time. Periodically, slips scar the steep sides of the ranges, disgorging yet more rocks into the gullies and even in summer there is some snow.
The Palmerston North rescue helicopter flew several missions to try and locate Jason, but all efforts were in vain and the search was officially suspended just before Christmas. Hundreds of volunteers rallied and continued their private search after the official search was terminated.
There was no sign that Jason had even entered the area. If it weren’t for the presence of his car, there would have been no reason to suppose he was there at all.
Around the middle of the afternoon on Friday, January 3, Jason’s remains were found. He was lying on his left side with his legs stretched out and his feet bare – no shoes or socks. If he hadn’t been on a rocky river bed, you’d have thought he’d just laid down there for a comfortable snooze. There were no signs of his footwear in the vicinity of the body. It was as if he had settled down here for the last time, making himself as comfortable as he could, and then died. There was no sign of injury, blood, or bones fractured.
Police quickly decided there were no signs of foul play as there were no signs of a struggle or animal attack. His death baffled authorities as the body lacked any serious injury or malnourishment, and the cause of death was eventually determined to be of ‘obscure natural causes’. Jason appeared to be well hydrated and fed. He even had food in his stomach and urine in his bladder.
But where had Jason been all that time since mid-December? He didn’t look as though he had been lost and stumbling around, trying to find his way out. His clothes were tidy and not weather-beaten. He must have been under shelter most of the time. His feet were bare, but they were totally uninjured, so he must have been wearing shoes. Where were they?
However, the autopsy report undertaken by Pathologist Cynric Temple-Camp showed there were two shallow “stress” ulcers in his duodenum that hadn’t been there long, maybe a few hours. These ulcers develop very quickly and they point to a time of significant stress just before death, but they don’t tell you what the stress was. So what was that final stress caused by? Was it just simple exposure? Heatstroke? Seeing something that terrified him? Encountering someone or something that scared him to death?
The toxicology report showed that blood, urine and stomach contents were all negative for all drugs, medications, and a range of common poisons.
Time of death was somewhere around four to six days prior to when Jason was found, around 30 December. That was long after the official search had been called off, and it meant he had been alive during the search-and-rescue operation which had failed to find him.
Temple-Camp told Jason’s story to a retired surgical colleague and friend John Coutts. “In the Ruahines, you say? In the foothills? That rings a bell.” John went to his attic, stuffed full of surgical notes, papers and memorabilia collected from a lifetime of medicine in the Manawatu. John said “It happened back in 1961. It was over Dannevirke way in the Ruahines, pretty much where your chap was found. That’s what reminded me. Two young men, 18 and 21 years old, went up there shooting. It was the same time of year too — Boxing Day, in fact, and pretty warm so they were lightly clad. They left coming down until quite late and it was early evening when they did. They couldn’t see quite clearly where they were going as it was getting dark and they pushed through quite dense bush. They ran into a bank of tree nettles called Urtica Ferox, which means Fierce Itch. It’s a native found on the fringes of the bush. They grow to two meters and their leaves are covered with rigid stinging hairs, each about six millimetres long. There are patches of them clumped in small localities over several parts of the ranges. Anyway, these blokes were wearing shorts, just like your man Jason. They said they had run into a lot of stinging nettle and it felt like a million needle pricks. Less than an hour later, one of the lads developed a guts ache and couldn’t go on. He just lay down and soon became paralysed. He said he had trouble breathing and shortly afterward he became blind, too. His friend managed to get help and they got him out and to the hospital. He died five hours later. His mate developed similar symptoms but not quite as severe and he eventually recovered. They’re known to kill animals, too. Horses are particularly prone and can die quite quickly. They usually have fits and become paralysed. It does something to the nervous system. There was a group of trampers back then who got stung and they had serious incoordination for three days.”
Urtica Ferox, commonly known as tree nettle, or ongaonga in Māori, is a nettle that is endemic to New Zealand. It is sometimes known as “Taraonga”, “Taraongaonga” or “Okaoka”.
It is a large woody shrub and has woody stems and unusually large stinging spines that can result in a painful sting that lasts several days. The shrub can grow to a height of 3 m (9.8 ft) with the base of the stem reaching 12 cm (4.7 in) in thickness. The pale green leaves are very thin like a membrane, the surface of the leaf, stems and stalks are covered in stiff stinging hairs can grow up to 6 mm (0.24 in) long. This nettle is winter deciduous in cold climates, evergreen in mild climates and can lose its leaves in drought conditions if it is growing in shallow soils.
It may well leave no sign on the skin and its poison, called triffydin is exotic and not well known and named after the Triffids, moving plants that stung people to death and then ate them, from John Wyndham’s famous sci-fi book, “The Day of the Triffids”. The tox report wouldn’t have found triffydin, because they didn’t know to test for it and death can be very rapid.
Was it a tree nettle that killed Jason? His body was found in a Nettle covered gully and difficult to get through. Cynric Temple-Camp certainly seems to think he succumbed to triffydin poisoning.
But there are some puzzling aspects.
1. Jason was found on January 3rd and went missing December 13. What happened in that 3 week period? He had food in his stomach and was well nourished. There were no signs of torn clothing or that he had been sleeping rough. Did he leave and re-enter the area where he was found?
2. Where are Jason’s boots and why were his feet showing no signs of damage
3. Why did the Search and Rescue crews miss him when he was in an area clearly visible from the air?
Respect the plants around you for sure when hiking, wherever you are – but especially when it comes to hiking in New Zealand!
STORY: THE PASSETTO FAMILY POSSESSION=====
For some, exorcisms are best left to the big screen. 90 minutes of fear, Holy spirits, and demonic encounters, then the lights come up and life returns to normal. For the Passetto family, however, possession was anything but make-believe.
During the year of 1981, their home in Lee, Massachusetts was besieged by paranormal activity that surged through every room. Lui and Dale Passetto, an average hardworking American couple, along with their two children, endured a range of otherworldly occurrences that nearly destroyed them.
The devout Catholic clan lived peacefully in the house that had been in their family for decades. It wasn’t until two years after moving in that the hauntings commenced.
On March 19, Mrs. Passetto began receiving nightly visits from a white image that took the shape of a non-threatening young boy who spoke in a kind voice. While the apparition was gentle, the Pasettos felt they should rid their home of the supernatural entity. When a priest eventually came to perform a blessing ritual, Mr. and Mrs. Passetto believed their troubles were over.
Unfortunately, the demonic activity had only just begun.
In place of the sweet spectral boy grew an unearthly creature—hunch-backed and dressed in black robes—that loomed over the Passettos in the night. It growled and snarled “nasty things…vulgar things,” Mrs. Passetto is recorded saying. “It called itself ‘The Minister of God.’” Beyond the verbal attacks, the apparition soon unleashed its physical wrath on Mrs. Passetto.
She suffered claw marks on her back, stomach, breasts, and face after being dragged around the bedroom. Mr. Passetto watched in terror as his bed levitated with Mrs. Passetto on it, vibrating while hovering above his head.
The malevolent force attacked the house, as well. Refrigerators were ripped from walls, metal bookcases toppled to the floor, and in one instance, a crucifix was yanked from the hand of their 14-year-old son. Such terrors occurred day after day and night after night, with no end.
The Passettos reached out to medical professionals for help, but they rejected their experiences, calling them nonsensical and fabricated. So Mr. and Mrs. Passetto turned to professionals of a different nature. Ed and Lorraine Warren, self-proclaimed demonologists, were called upon to fight the horror taking over their home.
As the founders of the New England Society for Psychic Research in 1952, Mr. and Mrs. Warren devoted much of their life to the supernatural. Their experiences in the field served as inspiration for the 1979 film, The Amityville Horror and The Conjuring.
When the Warrens visited the Passettos they instantly detected the classic signs of paranormal activity pulsing through the home. In a description eerily similar to the film, Poltergeist, which came out the following summer, Mrs. Warren saw half-dollar sized ghost lights moving around the room until they combined to create a towering shadowy figure.
The room suddenly went cold, according to the Warrens, and a force clawed Mrs. Passetto, who then fled with her family. At this point, the Warrens deemed the home demonically active enough to conduct an exorcism. A priest was brought in to perform the ritual.
Mrs. Warren claimed the floor began to vibrate soon after the exorcism commenced. The basement then filled with smoke. When the ritual was complete, the Warrens deemed the home clear of its evil. The Passetto family moved back in and reported no further activity. In 2004, the family finally moved on, leaving their Lee, Massachusetts home—and its haunted past—for good.
When Weird Darkness returns… there are people in life that you just would rather not deal with. Wouldn’t it be great if you could just put them on ice and let some other future generation deal with that person? Well, aside from the morally unacceptable actions you’d have to take to make that happen, the technology for doing so might not be too far away. Some of the ulta-wealthy are making plans to be brought back to life later, or to live for a very long time, or… even to be immortal.
Plus… on August 29, 1890, a 16-year-old boy named Otto Lueth was hanged at the Ohio State Penitentiary in Columbus. He had been tried and convicted of the murder of Maggie Thompson, age 9 – a murder for which he had shown no remorse. It is a sad and tragic story… but also one of utter horror.
STORY: HOW THE SUPER RICH PLAN TO LIVE FOREVER=====
Over the years, the gap between the super-rich and the rest of us has grown wider than ever before.
But the difference between ordinary people and billionaires might be more than just money. Some high net worth individuals have been looking into extending their lives far beyond the 70 or 80 years most of us common peasants might hope for.
Peter Thiel, for example, the billionaire co-founder of PayPal, has invested in a number medical research start-ups looking at extending life expectancy though his Breakout Labs fund.
One of the companies longevity obsessive supporters that Thiel has bankrolled is Ambrosia.
Ambrosia is one of three outfits looking at experimental “vampire” blood transfusions that put the blood of young people into the veins of oldies.
According to commercial finance experts ABC Finance, the cost of the trials currently ranges from £6,000 to about £215,000.
The technique has worked well in mice, although as yet there are no positive results from human trials. The US Food and Drug Administration has issued a statement waning that the process “has no proven clinical benefits” and could be “potentially harmful.”
If warm blood can’t make you immortal, what about freezing it instead? The idea of chilling a body to postpone death until a future society has the technology to repair any injury or illness.
For years, the story circulated that Disney founder Walt Disney had been frozen shortly before his death from lung cancer in December 1966. There’s no evidence that there’s any truth in the rumour, but research into cryonics has been progressing since the early 60s.
The first living subject was frozen in 1967. No-one has yet been revived after cryonic freezing but several people have been frozen, or had their heads removed and frozen, over the years.
Thiel, his PayPal colleague Luke Nosek and US talk-show host Larry King are all known to have signed up for freezing at the point of death.
Based on figures from the Alcor Life Extension Foundation, one of the leading cryonics providers, it would set you back £152,000 to have your entire body frozen and preserved, or a more affordable £61,000 if you just wanted your head put on ice.
There’s also the option to take a beloved companion with you into the future. One cryonics provider also offers a range of options for pets – £4,000 for cats or dogs and even £760 for a pet bird.
But if cryonics and vampire transfusions are limited by the capabilities of the human body, why not get rid of the human body altogether?
The idea of recording a human personality into a computer and somehow turning that recording into a sentient living being has been the stuff of science fiction for decades. But it’s edging ever closer to science fact.
Elon Musk’s Neuralink device promises to monitor and record the entire output of a human brain. Two companies, Nectome and the Terasem Movement Foundation, are working on turning this recordings into fully-functional personalities.
It’s early days though. The process is described as “100% fatal” and we are a long way from turning ourselves into living computers.
Still, Sam Altman – the dot com billionaire who partnered with Musk to found artificial intelligence research company OpenAI – is reportedly one of 25 people who have paid Nectome a £7,600 deposit to have their thoughts uploaded into a mainframe.
All these advances in biotechnology and robotics will remain expensive for a long time to come, so only the super rich can afford them.
American futurologist Paul Saffo predicts that the multi-billionaire class could evolve into a separate species entirely. “I sometimes wonder if the very rich can live, on average, 20 years longer than the poor,” he says.
“That’s 20 more years of earning and saving. Think about wealth and power and the advantages that you pass on to your children.”
Access to the finest foods and exercise equipment money can buy will definitely make anyone live a little longer, but one of these bizarre ideas could just make a few eccentric billionaires effectively immortal.
STORY: OTTO LEUTH AND THE GIRL IN THE CELLAR=====
On August 29, 1890, a 16-year-old boy named Otto Lueth was hanged at the Ohio State Penitentiary in Columbus. He had been tried and convicted of the murder of Maggie Thompson, age 9 – a murder for which he had shown no remorse.
The story of Maggie Thompson is one of true American horror and one that will chill anyone to the bone. Even in the era that we think of as the “good old days” children were never truly safe. Monsters walked among us, even then. In this case, though, the monster in question was not an adult that preyed on a child, it was what the newspapers would soon call the “Murderer in Short Breeches.”
Maggie Thompson fell victim to the depravity of another child.
Little Maggie was the daughter of Jacob and Clara Thompson, who lived on the edge of Cleveland. She walked to the Tremont School each day – only four blocks from home – but she never returned on the afternoon of May 9, 1889.
Many of the details of Maggie’s last day are part of the record. She arrived at Tremont Street School and began her day promptly at 8:30 a.m. She left the school at 11:15 a.m., dismissed by her teacher, Miss Cottrell, so that she could have lunch at home. After that, things become murky. It seems that Maggie walked north down Pelton Avenue to Fairfield with a classmate named Mary Hull, who wanted Maggie to see some flowers behind her family’s home at 17 Fairfield. Maggie was next seen several houses away at 5 Fairfield, where she played briefly with three-year-old Gracie Larsen. She had wanted to show Maggie her new tricycle. Maggie left the Larsen home about 11:30, turned the corner to walk the last block home – and disappeared.
Maggie was missed almost immediately. When she didn’t come home for lunch, Clara woke Jacob just after noon and sent him to look for Maggie at school and at the homes of neighbors and Thompson relatives who lived nearby. It was a close-knit neighborhood. Everyone knew Maggie and each other – but no one had seen her.
When the quick search turned up no trace of her, the police were notified. Detectives – aided by family and friends – began a thorough search of every street, sewer, outbuilding, and waterway in the area. The frantic search continued for more than 24 hours. Notices were posted all over the city, instructing citizens to be on the lookout for the little girl. Her detailed description was given to the newspapers and handed out to passersby. All of Cleveland seemed to be in an uproar over the missing girl.
By Friday, the search had become bogged down in the all-too-familiar chaos of false leads and people looking for attention. Cranks and curiosity-seekers – always a part of every investigation – hindered the police and plagued the Thompsons with wild tales of clairvoyant visions and mysterious men who lurked on street corners. A number of “eyewitnesses” proved to be no more helpful. Even the police muddied the investigation. They stoked the rumor mill themselves, using dark and repeated hints – both on and off the record – that Jacob Thompson knew more than he was telling about Maggie’s whereabouts and fate.
But Jacob knew no more than the police did. The search for his daughter continued for days, then weeks. May gradually turned into June and the case of Maggie Thompson grew cold.
The month of May 1889 had been cool and rainy in Cleveland, so the warmth of June was welcomed by all the people who lived on Merchant Avenue – well, almost all of them. There was one resident — Mrs. Clarissa Shevel of 42 Merchant, a two-family house that was just seven doors away from the Thompson home — who was bothered by something that was caused by the warm weather. There was a terrible smell in her home that had just started after the weather changed. She had no idea what was causing the foul stench, but it was driving her mad.
Clarissa and her husband, Joseph, lived in the back part of the house, which they rented from owner Henry Lueth, who lived in the front section of the home with his wife, Lena, and 16-year-old son, Otto. Henry had been out of town for most of the previous six months. He was a cabinet-maker and had been working in Fremont. During that same time, Lena had been residing part-time in a private insane asylum, where she had gone for treatment for her “nerves.” With her landlords away, Clarissa had been unable to find someone to deal with the odor. It had become so bad that even neighbors were starting to smell it.
Finally, in early June, she saw Otto and asked him to do something about it. He took a nickel from her, bought three boxes of chloride of lime, and put them down a ventilation hole in the Shevel parlor. He told Clarissa that the smell was probably caused by dead rats in the cellar or even a pet cat that had not been seen for several weeks. If it had gotten into the cellar and died, well, that would certainly explain the stench.
The following day, Otto also purchased some sulfur from a store in the neighborhood and asked the clerk for direction on the best ways to burn it as an antidote for odors. The clerk showed him how to do it, and even offered to help him, but Otto refused his assistance.
Several days later, Otto was seen carrying some badly stained, maggot-infested bedding into a smokehouse at the back of the Lueth yard. He offered the information to a neighbor that he had vomited on the bedding after drinking too much a few weeks before. He’d forgotten about the mess and needed to clean it up. More days passed and the smell coming from 42 Merchant Avenue got worse.
By the evening of June 9, Lena Lueth had also reached her limit with the stench. Something had to be done about it. She had endured it since she had returned home from Dr. C. B. Humiston’s asylum the previous week and she could stand it no more. Her husband, Henry, was also home and that evening, she confronted him and demanded that he go down to the cellar, search until he found what was rotting down there, and get rid of it.
He dutifully went down into the dank cellar, which was little more than a circular, brick-lined chamber that was only about nine-feet in diameter. Henry descended the ladder-like staircase into the dark room and raised his lantern high above his head. He peered into the shadows – and let out a choked cry. Henry turned and ran back up the stairs to where his wife was waiting. His face was ashen.
“There’s a corpse down there!” he shrieked.
Henry hurried out of the house and went up the street. In those days, policemen still walked the neighborhood beat and it didn’t take him long to find one. They ran back to the house together and Henry volunteered to go back into the cellar through a small window that was accessed by a dirt crawlspace under the house. As the police officer held the light, Henry wriggled through the window and disappeared into the shadows. He soon returned with a pungent bundle of clothing in his arms. He pushed it out into the yard and the officer pulled aside the cloth to see what had been concealed in what turned out to be one of Lena Lueth’s old housedresses.
It was the nude, badly decomposed body of Maggie Thompson.
The little girl had been wrapped in the housedress with her own clothing underneath her. Her skin had rotted completely off her skull. Her brain was missing. Her lower limbs had detached when she was pulled out of the dark hiding place. She was a horrific sight – and one like nothing Henry or the police officer had ever seen. The young officer vomited in some bushes along the side of the yard.
Within minutes, the house and lot were full of policemen and neighbors. A hysterical Jacob and Clara soon identified Maggie by the scars on her hips, the result of a childhood accident.
Henry and Lena Lueth – along with Clarissa and Joseph Shevel – were placed under arrest, as was Otto Lueth, who returned home from a nearby ice cream parlor at 9:30 p.m. “Do you know anything about this?” his mother demanded. But Otto swore to his mother and to detectives that he knew nothing. It was the first lie that he told – it would not be the last.
The five occupants of the house were taken to the 9th Precinct Station on Barber Street for questioning. The coroner determined that Maggie had been beaten to death with a hammer-like object. There were three holes in her skull, her nose and jaw were broken, and she had been hit so hard that her teeth had been driven into her palate. Her right arm had been torn off at the elbow – probably before she died.
This news did not sit well with friends and relatives of the Thompsons. A crowd gathered outside the police station, calling out for justice. Someone that had been brought into the station from 42 Merchant Avenue was guilty of murder. If the police didn’t find out who it was soon, there were Cleveland residents willing to lynch all five to make sure that the guilty one was punished.
The interrogations went on for more than five hours, but almost from the start, detectives settled on their prime suspect – Otto Lueth. From 10:30 p.m. until the early morning hours of June 10, Captain E. K. Hutchinson, Captain A.S. Gates, and detectives Jake Lohrer, A.A. Lawrence, and Francis Douglass questioned the 16-year-old boy in isolation, constantly moving him from room-to-room around the station. They knew that both his parents had been largely absent from the home for the past month and they were also aware of his reputation in the neighborhood for mischief and bullying younger children. Even before Otto returned home on the night the body was discovered in the cellar, Clara Thompson asked one of the police officers at the scene if they had arrested Otto yet.
Once in an interrogation room, Otto was cooperative with the police at first, probably until he realized they suspected him. However, he grew more sullen and nervous as the hours passed. The inconsistencies in his story multiplied and he told several different versions of what he had been doing on May 9, the day Maggie disappeared. Finally, he broke and Otto screamed, “I killed her! I killed her! Please give me your revolver so I can kill myself!”
A moment later, officials came into the interrogation room, wrote out Otto’s confession, and had him swear to it and sign it. He was led away in manacles to a cell at the Cleveland Central Police Station on Champlain Street.
Otto’s confession was brief and to the point. He told the police that he had been standing at the gate of his home at about 11:30 on the morning of May 9, when Maggie walked by. She stopped and asked him if he had any buttons for the “button string” that she was collecting. He replied that he would give her some if she came into the house to get them. He took her upstairs to his bedroom and as soon as they walked in, he tried to assault her. Maggie screamed, and he hit her with a small tinsmith’s hammer that was lying nearby. He may have killed her with the first blow – we’ll never know, but we can hope so – but he kept on hitting her until the bed was covered with blood. Otto pulled off the little girl’s clothing and tried again to rape her. Unable to do so, though, he fled from the house. He returned briefly again that night, when he savaged her body, but then spent the next week at his brother John’s house.
Six days later – the following Wednesday – Otto returned to the murder room. He knew that his mother might be released from the institution at any time, so he needed to get the body out of the house. Not knowing what else to do, he took it down to the cellar. He told no one what he had done, coldly returning to his daily activities, and even helping with the neighborhood search for Maggie. Almost every day, he spoke to Clara Thompson and asked whether there had been any word about the lost little girl.
Otto Lueth was a psychopath before the word even existed.
At the same time that Otto was being arrested and questioned by the police, Maggie’s parents were faced with the sad business of burying their slain daughter. Two days after she was found, a service was held for the little girl at nearby St. Augustine Catholic Church. The original plan had been to hold the service at the Thompson home but on the night of the wake, more than 2,000 ghoulish curiosity-seekers turned up at the house to file past her coffin, which was on display in the parlor. The family did not want a repeat of that hellish experience.
After the service, Maggie was buried in St. Joseph Cemetery.
Meanwhile, Otto’s arrest and trial became the most sensational criminal proceedings in Cleveland up until that time. He spent his days in his cell, closely monitored by the newspapers, weeping, smoking cigars, reading the newspapers, and participating in the religious services offered to prisoners by the ladies of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union.
On June 14, 1889, he was indicted on four counts of murder and his trial was set for later that same month, although eventually, it was delayed until December. The main cause of the delay was Otto’s difficulty in finding an attorney to represent him. There were very few reputable lawyers in the city who wanted to represent a figure already known to newspaper readers as the “boy murderer-rapist.” Finally, W.S. Kerruish agreed to take the case, but tragedy delayed the trial once more.
Jacob Thompson had fallen between two railroad cars several nights after Maggie’s body was found and was badly hurt. At first, it seemed as though he would recover quickly but then he suffered a paralytic stroke and was gravely ill for some time. The death of Mr. Kerruish’s son, and then Clara Thompson’s serious illness, further delayed the trial. It did not begin until December 2.
The prosecution’s case was compelling and sufficiently gory to keep the attention of the audience – mostly female — that packed the courtroom on each day of the three-week trial. The jurors were presented with a narrative of Maggie’s last hours before she vanished, the discovery of the body in the cellar, and Otto’s anguished confession. The evidence that was brought into the courtroom was even more exciting. Maggie’s bloody dress, her felt hat, the blood-soaked headboard from Otto’s bed, and her abandoned “button string” were all held up by Prosecutor Hadden for everyone to see. Several jurors were even wiping away tears during Clara Thompson’s heartbreaking testimony.
But things took a turn on December 10 when prosecutors attempted to introduce the details in Otto’s confession. Kerruish objected. He was revolted by his client but he had to do his job and that meant providing him with the best defense possible. He was willing to concede the facts of Maggie’s murder in return for saving the boy from the hangman. To do that, though, he had to keep Otto’s written confession out of the record. That document included both the admission that he’d killed her because he wanted to rape her and that he tried to rape her again after she was dead. If the jury heard that, they would hang him for sure.
Judge Solders sent the jury out of the courtroom and listened carefully to Kerruish, as well as Hadden’s arguments. His subsequent ruling that the confession was admissible sealed Otto’s fate.
But Kerruish didn’t give up without a fight. He mercilessly grilled the prosecutors and detectives who had interrogated Otto on the night that Maggie’s body was found. He argued that Otto’s confession had not been voluntary, as they all claimed, stating that he was a young boy who had been terrorized by bullying adults into confessing. The problem was that Kerruish could make a case for Otto being pushed into a confession, but he couldn’t deny the fact that Otto confessed to something that he had actually done.
His other defense was to try and portray his client as the victim of “tainted genes.” Otto, he claimed, was an epileptic, which was a condition linked to insanity in those days. In addition, his family line was filled with other epileptics and insane relatives. Otto’s relatives claimed that the boy’s maternal grandmother, aunt, uncle, mother, and brother all suffered from epileptic “fits.” Otto himself, Lena Lueth testified, had suffered “spasms” and “night terrors” as an infant, suffered from debilitating headaches as an adolescent, and had a poor memory. Kerruish’s argument was that, on May 9, Otto had experienced a sudden epileptic “fit” and acted without knowing what he was doing.
Kerruish didn’t get far with his medical hypothesis, but he did manage to find several eminent physicians who supported his diagnosis of “masked epilepsy,” although none could say that Otto really suffered from it.
Interestingly, Kerruish didn’t pursue a line of argument that modern-day lawyers would have seized upon with ferocity – that he was an abused child. In the testimony about mental illness in his family history, it was well-established that his mother, Lena, suffered from maniacal fits of rage that were so fierce that she frequently spent time in an asylum. As her husband, Henry, her older son, John, and she herself swore under oath, Lena sometimes went into a demonic rage, during which she abused her children, especially Otto. From an early age, she admitted without expressing any guilt about it, she had pulled his hair, kicked him, beaten him, stomped on him, and hit him with any object she could reach. Once, when he was eight, she had beaten him with a chair leg and when Henry tried to intervene, she had stabbed her husband twice with a butcher knife. Just a few months before Maggie Thompson’s murder, Lena had repeatedly slammed Otto’s head with a wooden door.
It is a strange statement about parental discipline of the era that Lena’s brutality was dismissed – and even excused — because she was poor, and her methods were in “the German style.” The courts certainly didn’t feel that such treatment provided a reason for Otto to have committed rape and murder.
Lena’s behavior in the courtroom also did nothing to help Otto’s case. She constantly muttered to herself and experienced a number of “spasms” at climactic moments of the trial. Several times, she had to be removed from the courtroom until she returned to “normal.”
The jury deliberated for only four hours and 27 minutes before finding Otto Lueth guilty of murder. Otto took the news with white-faced calm, swaying only slightly when the verdict was read. But Lena refused to leave the courtroom after Judge Solders excused the jury. She began a sing-song chant: “No, I will not go. I might as well die here as outside. If they kill him, they kill me. If he is guilty, so am I. They are murderers. They will hang my poor boy though everybody says he is wrong in the head. I have no more use to live.”
And then she started it all over again. Henry Lueth had to forcibly drag her from the courthouse.
Four days later, on New Year’s Eve, Judge Solders sentenced Otto to hang on April 26, 1890, at the Ohio State Penitentiary in Columbus. Otto sank into his chair, but Lena let out another impassioned outburst: “Damn! Damn! Damn! The jury be damned! All 13 men be damned! They are fools! It is a damned shame to hang a child of 16 years. They all be damned, their children and grandchildren! I damn them, the mother of the murdered boy!”
When bailiffs Harry Lancefield and Peter Hill tried to restrain the crazed woman, she flew into a rage and screamed at them, “Don’t touch me! I’ll kill you! I’ll kill you!”
Over the next few months, Kerruish’s motion for a new trial made its way through the Ohio appeals system. The verdict was upheld but Otto’s death date, which had already been delayed allowing time for an appeal, was moved back to August 29 so that the Board of Pardons and Governor Campbell could consider Otto’s merits for clemency.
The decision to delay the execution came just three days after the death of Jacob Thompson, who succumbed to his physical ailments – and some say, a broken heart – exactly a year and a day after his daughter’s body was discovered in that dark cellar.
Otto’s time began running out. On August 22, the Board of Pardons turned him down, despite the pleas of former President Rutherford B. Hayes and four members of the original trial jury. Lena Lueth took the news badly. She threatened to kill herself — but didn’t.
Four days later, the governor refused to grant clemency and final preparations for Otto’s execution began. Otto didn’t take this news any better than his mother did. He cursed everyone that he could think of, aside from his mother.
Meanwhile, Lena had confronted the penitentiary’s Deputy Warden, screaming at him that she was going to shoot and poison Governor Campbell.
Considering the way that he had lived his life, Otto Lueth died with dignity. After a few tears, he pulled himself together, requesting only that newspaper reporters not “give it too hard to me” in their accounts and that the hangman do his business quickly and well. Wearing a black suit and white tie – and with a black hood over his face – Otto took his position on the gallows. At 12:05 a.m. on August 29, he spoke his last words: “All right, let her go.”
The trap was sprung, and he died a second later from a broken neck.
Otto’s short life had been an ugly one, leaving horror and chaos behind. Even his death was messy. When his family showed up at the church for his funeral, they found the doors were locked. There had been a misunderstanding about the time. His body was then shipped off to Fremont, Ohio, for a service and burial.
It should come as no surprise that Lena Lueth had the last word about the whole sorry situation. A week after the execution, she sent a letter to the Cuyahoga County sheriff in which she again cursed everyone who had participated in her son’s arrest, incarceration, trial, and death. She claimed the jury was bribed, so there could have been no other outcome than one that led the boy to the gallows.
“I tell you, I, the mother of the murdered boy, cursed be you all. May his shadow pursue you by day and by night and in the hour of your death may you suffer the pangs that I now suffer. He was a murderer against his will. You murdered him with premeditation. Therefore, once more, all will be cursed that lent their hands, you murderers.
Thanks for listening (and be sure to stick around for the bloopers at the end)! 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. WeirdDarkness.com is also where you can find information on any of the sponsors you heard about during the show, find all of my social media, listen to audiobooks I’ve narrated, sign up for the email newsletter, find other podcasts that I host including “Church of the Undead”, visit the store for Weird Darkness merchandise, and more. WeirdDarkness.com is also where you can find the Hope in the Darkness page if you or someone you know is struggling with depression or dark thoughts. Also on the website, if you have a true paranormal or creepy tale to tell, you can click on TELL YOUR STORY. You can find all of that and more at WeirdDarkness.com.
All stories on Weird Darkness are purported to be true unless stated otherwise, and you can find links to the stories or the authors in the show notes.
“The Eerie Death of Hiker Jason Chase” from StrangeOutdoors.com
“The Leflore County Bigfoot War” by Michael Mayes for the Texas Cryptid Hunter website
“How The Super Rich Plan To Live Forever” by Michael Moran for The Daily Star
“The Passetto Family Possession” by Jamie Bogert for TheLineUp.com
“Otto Leuth and the Girl in the Cellar” by Troy Taylor
WeirdDarkness® is a registered trademark. Copyright, Weird Darkness.
Now that we’re coming out of the dark, I’ll leave you with a little light… “A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.” – Proverbs 16:28
And a final thought… “Our character is not defined in the good times, but in the hard times.” – Paul Brodie
I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me in the Weird Darkness.