Listen to ““THE MYSTERIOUS DEATH OF A CONSPIRACY FILMMAKER” and More True Stories! #WeirdDarkness” on Spreaker.

IN THIS EPISODE: A Minnesota man espousing a coming “New World Order” was found dead with his family in 2015. Was it a murder-suicide as investigators say, or could it be that the government had him silenced to keep from speaking the truth? (Death of a Conspiracy Theorist) *** A girl finds out her family all her life had hidden the fact that she grew up in a haunted house. But the secret came out when she found the photos that were taken of the evidence ghosts left behind. (We Only Knew It As The Entity) *** In the early 1900s women simply weren’t usually allowed to take part in murder investigations. But Mary E. Holland was no ordinary woman. And the case of Margaret Grippen was no ordinary murder. (A Famous Woman Detective and The Murder of Margaret Grippen) *** For your next move to a new home, do you want a little peace and quiet? Something a bit more secluded so you can get away from nosy neighbors? You might consider Garnet, Montana… population zero. It’s scenery is beautiful, but nobody wants to live there – despite the government offering to pay people to do so. Why is that? (The Montana Town No One Wants To Live In) *** In Louisiana’s Honey Island Swamp, you’re sure to find alligators, turtles, snakes, and other creepy critters. But legend has it, the swamp is home to something that is much more wild. (Swamp Monster of Honey Island)

“Death of a Conspiracy Theorist” by Pat Pheifer for the Star Tribune https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/yf6chbzd; and David Neiwert for SPL Center https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/2p8anexh
“Gray State” 2013 trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=igH_7EndvyM
“Gray State: The Rise” uncompleted documentary from 2015: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5651026
“A Gray State” 2021 documentary: https://amzn.to/3Xuik5A
“Gray State” Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/graystatemovie
“Justice For David Crowley” Facebook page: https://facebook.com/justicefordavidcrowley
David Crowley Speaks at Ron Paul Festival in 2012: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hDqdOjfNXcU
“A Famous Woman Detective And The Murder of Margaret Grippen” by Kathi Kresol for Haunted Rockford:https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/mv8fav3k
“The Montana Town No One Wants To Live In” by Brad Smith for Relatively Interesting: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/u8v636vf
“We Only Knew It As The Entity” by Jessica Moffitt for Huffington Post (INCLUDES PHOTOS): https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/yc3w7zfe
“The Swamp Monster of Honey Island” by Cole Kinchen for Pelican State of Mind: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/3e4dp8fn
Book: “Honey Island Swamp Monster Documentations” by Dana Holyfield: https://amzn.to/3iOKcmf
Film: “The Legend of the Honey Island Swamp Monster”: https://amzn.to/3WhwNAL
Weird Darkness theme by Alibi Music Library.
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(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.)
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“I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” — John 12:46
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WeirdDarkness® is a registered trademark. Copyright ©2024, Weird Darkness.
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Originally aired: January 18, 2023


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


It’s mid January, 2015. In the white rambler in the 1000 block of Ramsdell Drive in Apple Valley, a terrible sight awaited police: The bodies of a man, woman and child lying in the living room, long dead. The bodies may have been there for up to four weeks before they were found that Saturday afternoon; neighbors next door and across the street said they hadn’t seen the family since before Christmas. Investigators concluded that the husband and father shot his family, then shot himself. But there is a large group of people who say it wasn’t a murder-suicide at all… but a “silencing” of a man about to expose secrets the government didn’t want us knowing about.

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…

A girl finds out her family all her life had hidden the fact that she grew up in a haunted house. But the secret came out when she found the photos that were taken of the evidence ghosts left behind. (We Only Knew It As The Entity)

In the early 1900s women simply weren’t usually allowed to take part in murder investigations. But Mary E. Holland was no ordinary woman. And the case of Margaret Grippen was no ordinary murder. (A Famous Woman Detective and The Murder of Margaret Grippen)

For your next move to a new home, do you want a little peace and quiet? Something a bit more secluded so you can get away from nosy neighbors? You might consider Garnet, Montana… population zero. It’s scenery is beautiful, but nobody wants to live there – despite the government offering to pay people to do so. Why is that? (The Montana Town No One Wants To Live In)

In Louisiana’s Honey Island Swamp, you’re sure to find alligators, turtles, snakes, and other creepy critters. But legend has it, the swamp is home to something that is much more wild. (Swamp Monster of Honey Island)

A Minnesota man espousing a coming “New World Order” was found dead with his family in 2015. Was it a murder-suicide as investigators say, or could it be that the government had him silenced to keep from speaking the truth? (Death of a Conspiracy Theorist)

If you’re new here, welcome to the show! While you’re listening, be sure to check out WeirdDarkness.com for merchandise, my newsletter, enter contests, to connect with me on social media, plus, you can visit the Hope in the Darkness page if you’re struggling with depression or dark thoughts. You can find all of that and more at WeirdDarkness.com.

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



(Continued from introduction…)

David T. Crowley, 29; his wife, Komel Crowley, 28, and their 5-year-old daughter, Rani were found dead in their home. A black handgun lay nearby.

The family’s dog was still alive, but wild and aggressive when police arrived, said neighbor Collin Prochnow, who discovered the bodies.

Crowley’s father, Daniel, who lives in Owatonna, Minn., said he hadn’t heard from his son and daughter-in-law over the holidays. “We tried,” he said in a brief telephone interview.

The neightbor, Mr. Prochnow said he assumed the Crowleys had gone out of town for awhile. He shoveled their driveway a couple of times, even though they usually did it themselves. When Prochnow and his wife returned from an out-of-town visit, he noticed packages had piled up on the front stoop. Shortly after noon on that dreadful Saturday, he walked next door to take the packages to his home and glanced in the large front window.

“To me, they just didn’t look human,” Prochnow said.

“He came home and said there were dummies [mannequins] on the floor. And a gun,” his wife, Judy, added.

Judy Prochnow said another neighbor had commented to her about the curtains at the Crowleys’ home being wide open when, usually, they were closed. But neither the Prochnows nor Alice and Bill Hixson, who live across the street, heard any gunshots or a dog barking.

David Crowley worked out of his home as a filmmaker and screenwriter. In a 2013 trailer on YouTube (which I will link to in the show notes), he is credited as writer and director of a movie-in-progress called “Gray State.” The frenetic trailer shows scenes of a militarized police force, gun violence and some kind of citizen insurgency.

Mitch Heil, Crowley’s former business partner, said they had known each other since high school and served in the Army together.

Heil is listed on the “Gray State” trailer as the movie’s director of photography. He said the two started a company called Bullet Exchange, which trained actors to use weapons in films.

But, he said, their business partnership had broken up in September of 2014, and he hadn’t talked to Crowley in months. Local actor Charles Hubbell starred in the movie trailer and contacted Heil about a month previous to the crime scene discovery, saying he had been trying unsuccessfully to reach Crowley.

The next-door neighbors said Crowley changed his appearance the that fall, cut his hair short and started wearing fatigues. “We noticed the change in his appearance,” Collin Prochnow said. “His personality (however) didn’t seem to change. We never got into any kind of ­politics.”

Photos on Crowley’s Instagram account show him posing with an arsenal of firearms in his garage. One image shows him in a flak jacket, another in a gas mask. It was not known if the weapons and paraphernalia were real or props for his movie.

Crowley met his wife, Komel, while he was stationed in Texas, and they married just before he was sent to Iraq. Komel Crowley was a registered dietitian with her own business. Her website said she offered services for everything from eating disorders and weight problems to autoimmune ­disorders, autism and fatigue. Her profile said she was an amateur cake decorator, and she was active on Pinterest.

Inside the Crowleys’ home, a small tinsel tree sat on the kitchen island/bar and a string of garland hung from it. The sectional sofa in the living room was torn apart, apparently by the dog, as were several small stuffed animals on the floor.

The mailbox and front stoop were bare.


This Minnesota man who had been making an independent film depicting the coming of a “New World Order” in America was found dead with his family; and investigators have said it appears to be a murder-suicide… with Crowley as the apparent perpetrator.

However, in the conspiracy theory industry in which Crowley operated his home-based filmmaking business, the deaths were immediately assumed to be not a man killing his family – but outside assassinations carried out by nefarious “New World Order” agents.

One website, the controversial InfoWars site, reported on the story at the time, describing the “suspicious circumstances surrounding the deaths,” saying, “the controversial nature of Crowley’s latest project, entitled ‘Gray State’, a highly-anticipated independent film envisioning a brutal police state, martial law crackdown, complete with biometric identification, a ubiquitous surveillance state and FEMA stormtroopers rounding dissidents up into camps.”

Indeed, a look at the trailer Crowley created for Gray State reveals it to be an attempt to film nearly every fever-dream conspiracy theory about the New World Order of the past ten years.

Crowley successfully raised over $60,000 in 2012 in an Indiegogo campaign to make the film, and a number of scenes were filmed on sets with professional actors. These included scenes involving roundups and executions of American citizens, home surveillance and forcing children to have chips implanted in their bodies.

Crowley’s project was enthusiastically supported by members of the antigovernment movement, where most of these conspiracy theories originate, and he was also apparently well connected to the far-right “Oath Keepers” movement, frequently posting their material on the film’s Facebook page. I’ll link to that in the show notes as well.

In one Facebook photo posted in January 2014, Crowley can be seen conferring with Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and far right Constitutionalist pastor Chuck Baldwin, among others. Another Facebook photo meme lionizes “III Percent” movement founder Mike Vanderboegh. That was one of Crowley’s last posts.

Crowley’s wife and her daughter Rani can be seen in a video that Crowley shot to promote a “documentary” to support his feature film, to be titled Gray State: The Rise. The video shows him at home devising lighting for specific shots he had planned. “Gray State: The Rise” was, unfortunately, never released, as Crowley wasn’t alive to complete it – but it does have an IMDB page which I’ll link to in the show notes.

On the Facebook page for Gray State: The Rise, the administrator posted a notice about the deaths, saying: “Gray State founder, director and screenwriter David Crowley and his family have passed away. Please pray for their families and friends of which they had many. … We will try and keep you all posted, but this page will go dark for awhile as the future of Gray State is uncertain.”

Stewart Rhodes chimed in, saying: “I was honored to know David, to see him work, and to help, in a small way, with this project. This is a great and tragic loss, and comes as such a shock.” Others across the Web were not so measured. One site reporting on the case asked: “Who really murdered them?”

Commenters at the Gray State Facebook page were far more certain that the family had been “suicided” – a term popular with conspiracy theorists who believe that nefarious New World Order assassins frequently kill the people who try to expose them by staging their deaths and making it appear to be suicide.

“The Creator of Gray State was killed by our Gov’t… watch the Concept trailer,” wrote one. “This will shine some light on what this movie was about and will have you know why he was murdered by our Gov’t. Everyone knows except those who haven’t seen this yet.”

“DEMAND JUSTICE FOR DAVID CROWLEY! We must not allow his good name to be soiled. He did not kill anyone, this was an assassination!” wrote another, who was especially persistent in pursuing this claim. In another post, he wrote: “DAVID CROWLEY WAS ASSASSINATED!! No doubts. He is not part of a psyop but a real person, one of the major players behind exposing the horror of the upcoming police state.”

He then apparently set up a separate Facebook page (which I will also link to) dedicated to the concept, saying “David Crowley and his family were murdered by those who want to shut down the Gray State project. Help expose what really happened and demand justice.”

Something else I’ll place in the show notes is a link to a video one of his admirers posted – a video of Crowley speaking at a “Ron Paul Festival” held in Tampa, Fla., in 2012, while he was raising funds for the film.

“This man did NOT kill himself. He was SUICIDED,” wrote the post’s author.

So where did this all end? It hasn’t. David Crowley’s supporters are still demanding justice, and they have even created a documentary that was released in 2021 called “A Gray State” which, at the time of this recording, is available to watch via online streaming. I’ll place a link to the film in the show notes along with everything else.


When Weird Darkness returns… in the early 1900s women simply weren’t usually allowed to take part in murder investigations. But Mary E. Holland was no ordinary woman. And the case of Margaret Grippen was no ordinary murder.

But first… Garnet, Montana is a beautifully scenic outdoor paradise where you can get away from it all and soak in the nature. But even with the state government offering to pay people to move to this town, the population still remains at zero. Why is that? We’ll find out up next.



Did you know that the town of Garnet, Montana has a population of zero? For years, the US government has tried to get people to move to the ghost town, but no one is interested. They seem to have their own justifications for it. But why is everyone staying away from this free town? Maybe there is more than meets the eye when it comes to Garnet.

A lot of people might like the idea of moving from living in a busy city to a quiet town in the middle of the woods. They could immerse themselves in nature and enjoy the crisp air.

Going from a life of car horns and crime in a concrete jungle to a more organic setting. There they could live in peace and quiet among the animals and trees. But there are certain things that nature can’t provide.

The first thing that people would be reminded about is the fact that there wouldn’t be fast food places around every corner or even movie theaters, arcades, and other things like that.

The internet if there even was any would be slower than in the city. And let’s not even mention the economy. What jobs would even be offered in a town like that? The government seems to know about that fact and has given people an incentive to be there.

People who move to the town will be treated to accommodation free of charge and even an allowance for basic meals. So people moving into the town will be looked after.

So the government is paying people to move into the small town of Garnet, but what’s the catch? Well, there’s one thing that the government asks in return.

Any resident of Garnet is obligated to help work at the souvenir shop or even be a tour guide for tourists.

That doesn’t sound too bad, right? But the town is shrouded in a dark history that has people reluctant to move in even if they would literally be paid to be there.

The town’s name was inspired by the ruby-colored stones found in the area. While these weren’t “precious stones”, they were still valuable. The mountainous areas on the outskirts of Garnet offered more appeal as they were rich with gold-brearing quartz deposits.

In the 1800s, people from around the country flocked there for their piece of the pie. A century ago, the town used to have a population of more than 1,000 people. So what happened to them all?

While Garnet still had enough mineral wealth to offer prospectors a reason to stay, it was actually once a bustling town. However, its inhabitants were more interested in plundering its underbelly than building sustainable structures above ground.

As a result, many of the original buildings weren’t very structurally sound. A mere 20 years after its prime, with its mining areas virtually tapped out, the inhabitants began leaving as fast as they arrived.

Around 1934, the price of gold was doubled. For a brief time, this led to a resurgence of families moving back there. This period was swiftly followed by one of the most tumultuous periods in world history.

As the calamities of World War II took over, people began leaving again. Strangely enough, one of the townsfolk actually stayed.

It was a woman named Marion Dahl. She was the widowed owner of what used to be the saloon. She had been a witness to the old town’s prosperity, to its countryside lavishness.

And she had also been a witness to its demise. Marion was like a living relic, and she had a lot of stories to tell to every passerby or visitor who set their feet in the town.

And when she died, Garnet was left wholly deserted. The limitations on dynamite mining during WWII really took a toll on the town’s economy, and it became an absolute ghost town.

However, the government has been trying to repopulate it. Its closeness to beautiful natural sights and its unusually well preserved antique houses make it a town worth keeping on the map somehow. But nobody seems too eager to go there.

And there is one reason for this. There are a bunch of legends from the hey-dey of the gold mining going around the surrounding towns. Some of them are deemed as mere inventions.

But some other ones are usually told and listened to with an uneasy, dreary air, like it’s a serious matter that shouldn’t be taken lightly. And one among them in particular is the one that keeps people from moving to Garnet.

Many people believe that Garnet is a ghost town in the most literal sense of the expression. They believe that the souls of the people who used to live in the town, particularly those who died in the mines, are still wandering around its houses.

This might come across as just gossip to anyone who hears about it for the first time. But almost everyone who visits the town comes back with some strange, disturbing experiences.

Locals and visitors have claimed to hear eerie noises at night: voices coming from the old saloon, laughter, and even cries… just like there was still a party going on at the saloon.

Others say they have seen ghostly figures of people wearing period clothes wandering about at night. Even Bureau of Land Management historian Allan Mathews has had a disturbing experience in Garnet.

Allan wasn’t usually one to believe old tell-tale ghost stories. When the incident happened, his presence in Garnet was just a matter of scientific, factual research.

But something happened to him that made him think twice about the truthfulness of those old stories. He wouldn’t ever be the same after having an eerie experience in Montana’s ghost town.

One evening, as the sun was setting, he saw what seemed to be the figure of an old lady staring at him through one of the windows of the old hotel. The longer he kept looking back at her, the longer the figure would stay there.

He even entered the hotel and looked around to see if there was someone there. But naturally, it was empty. Allan was creeped out by this experience.

According to Montana resident and writer for its historical society, Ellen Baumler, there have been many reports of spooky incidents over the years.

With so many people recounting the same eerie tales, it’s enough to make even the biggest skeptic wonder if there maybe is some truth to these ghostly stories. Here’s some of the more famous stories that pop up.

Many a modern day lodger in Garnet have reported hearing the sound of piano music playing. The music is reputed to carry a slow and mournful tune that wafts through the empty buildings.

The mere thought of such an occurrence is enough to send a tingle through anyone’s spine. As if this isn’t enough, the stories of the strange piano music contain an even more disturbing detail.

During the day, the town is usually as quiet as a deserted town could be expected to be and is usually just a lonely place.

However, a common thread among the ghost stories is that the strange disturbances mostly seem to occur when darkness falls. In fact, people who have reported hearing the piano music all agree on one thing—it usually only starts playing around midnight.

It should be stated that most of these stories have never been conclusively proven. This doesn’t make them any less unnerving to hear. Just as night time seems to bring out the worst in this spooky town, it appears that even the time of year has a role to play in its mystique.

Historically, most of the reported incidents seem to be less frequent during summer months. During winter, on the hand, the stories usually take a more ominous turn.

While the odd piano music is usually reported in isolation during other times of the year, as the winter months creep in, the stories grow creepier. During the dead of winter, most stories of the piano music are accompanied by tales of unearthly sounds and ghastly visions.

The old saloon appears to be most haunted during these months. The kind of things that visitors report seeing during these months are almost too terrifying to contemplate.

The haunted saloon, as far as the stories go, becomes most active in winter. During these months, visitors have reported seeing ghostly visions of people dancing and figures leaving footprints and strange gouge marks in the snow.

Worse still are the reports of human-shaped figures reflecting in and out of the shadows and the sound of laughter that is reported to drift around with the wind.

While these kinds of stories are enough to ward off most people thinking of spending time in Garnet, there are some people who love them enough to keep coming back.

In fact, there have reportedly been a few loyal volunteers who come back ever year for decades now. It seems that despite all the reasons not to visit Garnet, the town’s intrigue among visitors has never completely disappeared.

Between the saloon and the tales of winter wanderings, Garnet’s darker side has always proven to be as intriguing to some, as it is frightening to others.

The haunted saloon aside, just as recounted by Allan Matthews, the town’s old hotel is believed to be haunted by the ghost of a woman. All sigtings of her relay that she is usually to be found at one of its windows, gazing out at the town below.

Stories of ghostly apparitions and haunted dwellings are nothing new. While government websites and official information about Garnet make no mention of it being haunted, stories continue to flourish.

While most people believe that these tale are all just a bunch of nonsense, many people still swear by them. Garnet is by no means an exception in this regard and there are endless other conspiracies of the like out there. Here’s two few of the most famous ones.

The Denver Airport Conspiracy: Conspiracy theorists and paranormal buffs continue to harp on this one. For decades now, it is widely believed among such folk that this famous airport is either haunted, has ties to the illuminati, links to demonology, or all of the above.

The truth around these rumors is certainly debateable, however, like it is with Garnet, the stories never seem to go away.

Skinwalker Ranch: This famous (or rather infamous) ranch has been the subject of much speculation too. Reputed to be a hotbed of alien activity and other paranormal occurrences, the ranch enjoys an almost cult-like following among extraterrestial chasers.

Located in Southeast Utah, it was named after the famous navajo legends. According to the legends, the term “skin-walker” refers to a vengeful witch that has the ability to possess and take over the bodies of animals.

When placed in the company of legends like these, the tales surrounding Garnet fit right in. Since the government actively tries to get volunteers to live there, the stories do the town far more harm than good.

The evidence for this is clear. While the government reports thousands of applications to live in the town, once people hear about its history and legends, many of these applications end up being revoked each year.

We may never truly know how much of the tales are true. Either way, the town of Garnet remains one of the most mysterious historical towns around.

Given its rich history and the fact that it was once a thriving center for business and residency, it’s actually sad that the town struggles to regain its former glory. Whether it ever experiences a second revival, only time will tell.

The government keeps trying to sell the virtues and perks of living in this town; they talk about the beautiful nature, fascinating wildlife, and benefits for whoever settles in Garnet.

But not one word has been said about the rumors surrounding this enigmatic town. And it will probably remain like that for some time.


When local farmer John McDougall knocked on the door of Margaret Grippen’s home on April 29, 1909, he couldn’t know that he was about to be swept up in the worst crime ever seen in the small town of Winnebago, Illinois.

Margaret Grippen was a 60-year-old widow and had lived in Winnebago with her husband, Demus for many years. The couple were farmers and when Demus died in 1895, he left Margaret in good financial standing. The newspapers of the day told of Margaret’s fears that something terrible would happen to her. Her house set near the both the railroad line and the interurban line and this caused the old lady concern.

The night that Margaret was murdered there was a fierce spring storm that kept all of her neighbors inside. The heavy rain and almost continuous thunder covered the sounds of her screams as she fought for her life.

Coroner McAllister was shocked at the damage that had been done to the elderly woman. By the condition of her body and the damage done to the inside of her home, he could state that Margaret had fought hard for her life on that stormy night..

The only real clue that was left by the killer was found on a glass chimney from a lantern. The lantern had been set on the floor by Margaret’s body and covered with one of the lady’s shawls in hopes that this would set a fire to the home. But that is not what happened. Some called it divine intervention when they discovered that the shawl had actually smothered the flame of the lantern. When the chimney was examined, authorities found three blood stained fingerprints.

Fingerprinting was just beginning to used in the country at this time. In 1904, one of the country’s only instructors was Detective John Kenneth Ferrier, an inspector at London’s New Scotland Yard. Ferrier was traveling the country and during 1904, he was demonstrating the art of fingerprinting at the World’s Fair in St. Louis. Two of his pupils were owners of the Holland Detective Agency in Chicago, Illinois. Phil and his wife Mary attended the Fair and met Ferrier. Fascinated by the science of fingerprinting, Mary decided to join Ferrier for classes.

This was extremely significant and unusual for this time period. Women were not usually allowed to take part in actual investigations. But Mary Holland was not your typical woman. She would eventually visit London and learn the fingerprint technique called the Henry Classification System. This system used a counting system for the whorls, ridges and loops to identify criminals. Authorities would obtain suspect’s fingerprints along with other identifying features and keep them on file. When a crime was committed and fingerprints were left, the authorities would spend hours comparing the known criminals prints to their samples.

At the time of the Grippen murder, Mary Holland was one of the top fingerprint experts in the country. In 1907, she was hired by the United States Navy as one of the first professional fingerprint trainers. Mary traveled all over the country to teach members of the Military and Police forces how to collect, store and compare fingerprints.

The fact that the authorities reached out to Mary Holland with the evidence from Margaret’s murder speaks to the dedication they had to solve this case. Mary began her work by comparing the collected prints to thousands of already processed fingerprints on file in Chicago.

She worked many long hard hours, bent over the prints with her magnifying glass but could find no match. Mary then sent the fingerprints on to other Police Bureaus in the midwest to see if they had a match in their files.

Mary became completely absorbed by Margaret’s murder and decided that she needed to see the crime scene for herself. Mary had been involved with murders before but she would later state that nothing she had witnessed up to that time could prepare her for the scene that she found in the Grippen home. The entire hallway was smeared with Margaret’s blood from the attack and more had been cast off the iron as the murderer brought it down on Margaret’s face time after time.

Mary Holland’s next move was to fingerprint the men of first Winnebago and then Rockford. m. She and the men that assisted her, gathered and compared the fingerprints of 1,000 men. The people who knew and loved the elderly victim were only too glad to give up their fingerprints to help catch  the killer.

Unfortunately, though every avenue was explored, the owner of those three bloody fingerprints was never found. Mary Holland worked this case to the best of her ability and the fact that she didn’t solve it, never left her. She would go on to consult with authorities in some of the country’s worst crimes and put many criminals behind bars. This amazing woman who earned herself the name “the most famous woman detective of her time”, would remain haunted by Margaret’s murder. Her greatest fear in all her cases would be that if she did not catch these killers then someone else would die.

Margaret Grippen’s murder has never been solved. Mary E. Holland died on March 27,1915.


Coming up… a girl finds out her family all her life had hidden the fact that she grew up in a haunted house. But the secret came out when she found the photos that were taken of the evidence ghosts left behind. That story is up next when Weird Darkness returns.


(The following story by Jessica Moffit came with photos of what she describes, and you can see the photos by clicking on the source link in the show note. Here is her story…)

When you’re brought up in a household suffocating in secrets, you learn to keep the silence. Or maybe the silence keeps you. You might not learn the difference until it’s almost too late. My grandmother constantly warned my brothers and me never to speak about anything we witnessed in our home. She always delivered this warning in the trembling, fragile voice of a plea.

It didn’t matter who I talked to ― family friends, other kids, people I’d see once in my life and then never again ― I was constantly worried that the forbidden details of my home life might slip out between my carefully picked words, and then what? How could I explain to anyone why I had to escort my father through the house after dark, or why my grandmother flew into a series of panic-fueled prayers if she ever found a picture frame slanted on the wall? Especially because, at the time, I didn’t even know myself.

These weren’t topics for casual discussion. They weren’t topics for family discussion, either. I couldn’t explain what I was never told. I just knew that something was very wrong in our home. My family and I lived in Rancho Cucamonga, a sun-drenched suburb in Southern California. From the outside, our house was like so many others in the neighborhood. Inside, things were much, much different.

Odd, smooth patches blotched the stucco-textured walls like faded wounds, some bearing the faint impressions of triangular shapes that had been scratched into the plaster. The second floor was completely off-limits. Annexed by the permanent shadow at the height of the staircase, no one ever ventured up there.

My parents and grandmother never discussed these oddities. And as bizarre as they were, the strangest sight of all was the unexplained behavior of my family. At sunset, Dad would creep through the halls like a trespasser. After dark, he wouldn’t leave my parents’ bedroom unless Mom or one of us kids escorted him. Grandma gave a panicked once-over to every room she entered, no matter the time of day. If so much as a knick-knack was out of place, she would completely lose it.

If my brothers or I questioned any of it, Mom would tell us everything was fine ― the same words we’d often overhear her whispering to our father and grandmother. If that were true, then what were they frightened of? I didn’t know.

Dad attributed his peculiarities to a perpetual case of nerves stemming from his poor health. Grandma offered no rationale to excuse herself. Her demands for secrecy and her bouts of terror echoed throughout my childhood years, eventually drowning out Mom’s reassurances and overriding my cautious wonder. It wasn’t necessary for me to understand my grandmother’s fear for me to become infected with it. I soon carried it with me wherever I went.

At first, the only refuge I found against this undefined dread was in the silence Grandma begged me to keep. And I figured that if silence was safety, then solitude may be my salvation. So hiding away in the house became an increasingly attractive option. I had all the companionship I needed in my brothers, so why take chances braving the outside world?

My mother clearly didn’t agree. She constantly sought out social activities to involve us in, from art classes to karate, anything to get us out and around other people. Her efforts were commendable but ran contrary to my own. My goal was to sneak through life, mute and unnoticed ― that way, no one would ever know about my strange family.

This strategy worked until college. By then, I had matured from a timid girl into a reserved young woman, woefully unprepared for the new setting I was thrust into. Participation and communication were obviously not my strong suits, but I knew I would have to make an effort if I wanted to succeed academically. The campus was teeming with confident students, and I told myself I had to be more like them ― I wanted to be more like them.

But I just couldn’t. Away from my brothers and my few childhood friends, I realized how isolated my life had been and still was. If this was a preview of where I was heading, I knew I was destined for a lonely future.

My father died suddenly in 2012, only a few years after my grandmother passed in 2009. A month later, I found my mother cleaning out the bedroom closet. She was sitting on the bed, which was mostly covered with photographs. I assumed she was reviewing the happy memories from her life with my father, but when I looked at the photographs, I didn’t understand what I was seeing.

Every photograph was strange ― some horrifying: a knife thrust into a picture of my grandmother on the wall; a group of bizarre shapes scratched into a door; bright words written on a mirror that read, “Lee die.”

I flinched when I saw my grandmother’s name.

“What is all this?” I asked.

“I can’t believe your father kept any of these,” she replied instead of offering a direct answer. “He and your grandmother were afraid to talk about it. I wasn’t, but they thought we’d bring it back if we did.”

My gaze shifted to a photo of a sprawling white shape. Drawn in some sort of powder on a brown rug, it had a windswept, spectral look. It was a triangle ― the cryptic motif I’d seen in the house so many times over the years ― with an S-styled tail extending from the base.

“You’re going to have a hard time believing what I want to tell you,” my mom continued. “Maybe I shouldn’t. You and your brothers have come along this far without knowing. But something horrible happened to us a long time ago. It’s up to you if you want to hear it.”

I took my place at the end of the bed, ready to listen.

“There was something with us for a long time,” she continued. “Some people told us it was a ghost or a demon. We only knew it as ‘the entity.’”

“We were haunted?” I asked, bewildered.

“We were terrorized.”

And so my mother’s account began. She explained that In 1987, three years before I was born, an unknown presence invaded our home. It revealed itself with two words, written on the bathroom mirror: “No escape.”

She claimed that inexplicable acts of destruction and incomprehensible phenomena soon consumed my family. The photographs showcased the daily damages levied against our house, with symbols gouged into walls and whole rooms tossed into disarray.

And there was more writing. Other photographs depicted single words or whole lines of communication scrawled over glass. Demands, insults, threats ― every message conveyed a chilling, human intelligence.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing and seeing. It was just too fantastical ― literally like something out of a horror movie. But my mom told me the story calmly and clearly, as though she was telling me about any other part of her life. Like it was something that had … just happened.

After finding no logical explanation for what was occurring, my mother said that our family consulted anyone professing any kind of spiritual expertise. Among the deluge of self-proclaimed magicians and local lightworkers, the leading paranormal experts of the day broke through the tide to offer occasional hope.

It seemed everyone from Dr. Evelyn Paglini to Ed and Lorraine Warren, now famous from the “Conjuring” films based on their work, had an opinion as to what the entity was. My mom said that Lorraine Warren believed it was one of the most ancient, evil and powerful demons she’d ever encountered, but, demon or not, no one knew why the entity had targeted my family.

My mom said that our family kept the entity’s presence secret. Other than the “professionals” who tried to help us, they told no one what was happening. My mom explained that at first, my grandmother insisted they stay quiet because other people would think they were crazy, but she later confessed that she feared the entity was punishment from God for the sins of her father, who had been a hitman for one of the Cosa Nostra families of Southern California.

As my mom continued, the story became stranger and even more sinister. According to her, the entity itself eventually announced its purpose, writing that my grandmother “belonged” to it. It alleged she had been promised in a past life, and it had come to collect its dues.

The entity’s attacks against my grandmother were vicious and inescapable. My mom said that it destroyed her personal possessions, planted knives in her furniture, chased her out of the upstairs bedroom she’d been sleeping in and continuously invented new ways to antagonize her.

I asked why we didn’t just move, and she said that moving wasn’t an option ― apparently, they tried to leave, but the entity followed my family members wherever they went. It reminded them of its existence by drawing symbols on hotel windows and causing other havoc if they decamped somewhere else in hopes of escaping its wrath. Wary of being put in compromised situations in public, she said our only recourse was to endure it alone in the house.

My mom said it seemed impossible that the haunting would ever end, and the way she claimed it eventually did was its own unbelievable story.

During her investigation of our home in 1989, Dr. Paglini informed my mother that she believed that for the entity to be so entrenched in our lives, a family member was giving it permission to remain. Years after Dr. Paglini’s visit, my mother discovered my grandfather, whom I had never known, wiping away conversations he was having with the entity from the bathroom mirror.

Shockingly, my mother told me that my grandfather was urging the entity to kill my grandmother so that he would gain control of their finances ― including access to the large inheritance my grandmother’s parents had left her.

Confronted with his grand betrayal, my grandmother demanded that he leave the house and our lives. My grandfather eventually moved out of the state, and we never saw him again. My mom said that although she and my grandmother were relieved to see him go, my dad was traumatized by this turn of events and horrified by the man his own father revealed himself to be.

“But that wasn’t enough,” Mom explained. “Even with your grandfather gone, no one could force the entity out. We couldn’t go on like that. You kids were getting older ― old enough to start asking questions ― and we didn’t want you to be affected by what was happening. So I finally took matters into my own hands and told the entity to leave.”

“And it listened?” I asked, somewhat incredulously.

“Yes. It wrote that it wanted to stay, but I told it again it had to leave.”

The entity reluctantly complied, but it wouldn’t go alone. My mother revealed that a paranormal researcher had been living with us to study the entity. He told her that he believed the entity had the power to change his life and begged it to go with him. When the researcher departed in 1992, the paranormal activity in our house immediately ceased. The last message the entity ever wrote was, “Goodbye, my family.”

I didn’t know what to make of any of this. How could any of it be real? It was all too much. Still, I knew that even if I couldn’t immediately believe these stories, I believed in my mom. I just needed time to digest her shocking revelation and make sense of the haunting on my terms.

I was open-minded about the paranormal, a quality I had inherited from my mom, who never shied away from any subject of the supernatural, but I wasn’t sure I actually thought any of it was real. If spirits and demons were somewhere out there, I never knew them to be in our home or our lives. Could that have been because the entity had left before I was old enough to remember it?

Yet as I continued to examine the events of the supposed haunting, the parallels between my family’s unspoken past and my childhood memories stood out as boldly as the white triangle I had seen blazed into our dark carpet.

Even though the entity had left, my dad and grandmother continued to live in fear ― terrified that it could return at any moment. I remember Dad and Grandma creeping through the halls with their eyes pried wide open by dread, always on guard. I recalled the bizarre damages that had been patched up all around the house. I relived the terror that rolled through our home whenever Grandma discovered anything out of place, and I was muted by her constant begging for silence.

It was all there, every homebound mystery of my youth, eerily mirrored between Mom’s memories and mine. It was the closest I’d ever been to understanding why my family lived the way they lived ― and why I grew up the way I did.

Once I put all of the pieces together, I believed that something extraordinary had been happening all of those years. Despite my rational mind telling me these things simply couldn’t have happened, my experience and the things my mother told and showed me eventually led me to accept them as true.

I finally had a reason ― however shocking and hard to grasp ― for why my dad and grandma had behaved so strangely for most of my life. I finally knew the source of their terror and the dark inspiration for the silence and dread that plagued them ― and me ― my entire childhood.

Some people may think that I believed my mother’s account because I was desperate to find an explanation for my upbringing ― that the haunting allowed me to recontextualize my experiences and imbue them with meaning where there was none. I can’t account for how other people feel about my or our story. Once I saw my past superimposed over this secret that had been kept from me for so many years, so many things finally made sense, and I now believe in our haunted history as well.

Some people have asked me if I felt betrayed by my parents and grandmother for not telling me the truth all those years ago, but I don’t. I understand that they were simply trying to protect my brothers and me ― to keep us safe from questioning every shadow we saw in the house or fearing that an attack might transpire at any moment.

Once my brothers and I finally knew the truth, Mom asked us how we’d feel about sharing our story with others. We all decided we didn’t have to remain silent any longer.

Soon after, Mom invited our closest family friends to our house to reveal the events that had transpired years ago. She enraptured them with tales of her interactions with the entity during the six years it was in our house. She revealed how it communicated with our family and the unreal things it did.

The haunting was still very new to me. As I heard the stories again, more memories returned and more pieces continued to fall into place for me.

Despite my belief in my mother’s story ― which had become my story ― I still wasn’t prepared for our friends to ask me what it was like to grow up in a haunted house. There was a second of hesitation, then my voice broke free.

For the first time in my life, words flowed effortlessly as I recounted my experiences growing up in a house that was once haunted and being in a family that still was. I felt an unfamiliar rush of exhilaration. When I looked at my mom as animated and eager as I ever saw her, I knew she felt it, too. This was the thrill of being free from secrets.

Our friends received our accounts with startled amazement and genuine fascination, and this encouraging reception motivated my mom to tell more and more people. She began to speak publicly and gave interviews on radio shows and podcasts about what had occurred. Her determination inspired me to follow suit. I began discussing the haunting with newspapers, local paranormal investigators and researchers online, hopeful that every new opportunity might bring more light to those dark years. It wasn’t easy, especially since I lived so much of my life silent and afraid of any attention. But the more I told the story, the more incredible I realized our story was ― and the more I wanted people to believe us. Still, I wasn’t sure anyone would.

“You can’t worry about changing anyone’s mind,” Mom told me. “That’s not what’s most important. I just want others to be aware of what happened.”

Since we’ve begun this endeavor, most of the people who’ve reached out to us directly have been supportive. Some identified as survivors of paranormal experiences who wanted us to know we weren’t alone in what we went through. Others simply wanted us to tell us that they believed.

Still, I realize that many of the people reading this will doubt us. There are already those who claim the entity was a hoax ― a fabrication my family concocted to cash in on the ever-rising mainstream interest in the paranormal.

I was born after the haunting had started, but it ended before I was old enough to know what was happening. I have no recollection of the entity or the chaos it plunged our lives into, but I lived in that house of silence and secrecy. I grew up in a family that had been warped by fear. I felt the shadow of the past fall over us again and again. I truly believe something terrible once reigned over our home.

What I don’t believe is that you can invent the fear that haunted my father and grandmother until their dying days, or feign the courage my mother mustered when she first decided to reveal the haunting to the world.

Coming forward with our experiences hasn’t earned us wealth or legions of admirers. Far from it. We’ve stepped into the firing line of skeptics and disbelievers, and their shots are endless. We’ve been insulted. We’ve been called liars and frauds. We’ve been told we’ve perfected the art of the long con.

None of it is fun. None of it has made us rich. And in the end, none of that matters. We’ll persevere, just like my family did years ago. We have faith in our story, and we’ll keep telling it. That’s the most important part of this for me: that we believe.

That belief has granted me the clarity I’ve sought after years of solemnly accepting circumstances I couldn’t comprehend. I questioned why I grew up the way I did, and now I have answers. I understand my family, their trials and the decisions they made, and I’ve realized how those choices affected me. And finally, after all of it ― the silence and the ignorance, the discovery and the belief ― I’ve found my voice. My family’s history ― scars and all ― belongs to me too. At long last, I can speak for it.


When Weird Darkness returns… in Louisiana’s Honey Island Swamp, you’re sure to find alligators, turtles, snakes, and other creepy critters. But legend has it, the swamp is home to something that is much more wild.



It’s dusk on the bayou. The sun sets in the Western sky and illuminates the Louisiana horizon a wondrous glow. Moss-filled cypress trees cast their gloomy shadows, the water is ominously still, and crickets chirp in the distance.

Suddenly, leaves on the ground start to crackle to the rhythm of stomping footsteps, bushes rustle, and an awful smell permeates the air.

The noise is faint, but only getting louder and louder. It’s apparent at this point that something is coming toward you—and whatever it is, it knows you’re here and doesn’t want you to be.

That sinister figure standing behind mangled tree branches and staring you down with haunting yellow eyes? Yeah, it’s time to get out of there.

Before you can even process what you just saw from across the bayou, you’re already in your car headed Westbound down I-12.

You just had an encounter with the Honey Island Swamp Monster—and there’s definitely nothing sweet about it, as its name would otherwise imply.

Just North of Lake Pontchartrain and on a bend of Old Pearl River, you’ll find the one and only Honey Island Swamp.

Earning its name from the abundance of honeybees (Louisiana’s state insect) that once inhabited the isle, Honey Island is one of the most pristine marshlands in the United States. Much of the nearly 70,000-acre swamp is government-protected, as it is part of the Pearl River Wildlife Management Area.

If you find yourself in the area, or on a guided tour, you’ll see just why Honey Island Swamp is the tourist attraction that it is.

You’re sure to find alligators, turtles, snakes, raccoons, wild boar, dozens of species of birds, and so much more—not to mention the absolutely incredible scenery.

There’s all kinds of wildlife that inhabit Honey Island, but legend has it, the swamp is home to something that is much more wild.

The Honey Island Swamp Monster has been called many different names—Louisiana’s Bigfoot, the Bayou Beast, and even the “Wookiee,” not to be confused with Chewbacca (for all you Star Wars fans listening).

Theories and speculations about the beast started swirling nationally in the early 1960s, but stories from some locals date back hundreds of years.

Cajun and Native American folklore associates the swamp monster with the Letiche, which is described as a human-like creature that was raised by alligators after wandering into the swamp as an abandoned child.

Other tales allege that the swamp monster is the offspring of an alligator and chimpanzee, after a circus train crashed near the Pearl River resulting in several circus animals escaping.

Little to no evidence suggested the existence of such a creature, until one day, two hunters saw something they couldn’t believe.

The first documented sighting of the beast was from Harlan Ford in 1963.

Ford, a retired air traffic controller, used to fly a twin-engine plane to scout hunting grounds and potential hunting camp locations. He found the perfect spot for the camp, but it was so deeply secluded in Honey Island Swamp, he would have to drive half way by boat, then walk the other half of the way.

One day, Ford and a friend were hauling supplies to their camp when they noticed, from a distance, what seemed to be a large animal on all fours feeding on another animal.

Fearing the animal would get frightened and try to attack them, they quickly drew their guns. As soon as they did, the creature quickly stood up on two feet, looked them in the eyes, then took off running.

Ford documented what he saw that day in a letter that he later wrote. He described the creature as being over seven feet tall, having dingy, grayish hair, yellow eyes, and being accompanied by a disgusting stench.

“It looked like something from a horror movie,” explained Ford.

Having witnessed something so strange, Ford became determined to spot the creature again.

Persisting to gather evidence for some 10 years, he eventually went back to the location where he first saw the creature.

On a trail near a small watering hole, Ford noticed what looked like the aftermath of a fatal fight for survival. Seeing spots of spattered blood on the ground, he crawled through shrubbery to the other side of the watering hole to find a wild boar that had just been killed and had its throat ripped completely out.

Next to the boar was a series of large foot prints in the mud. The foot prints, which were later cast by Ford using liquid plaster, indicated a massive, three-toed webbed foot.

Ford took the track castings to the local game warden and LSU’s College of Agriculture to be analyzed, but they could not identify what kind of animal left these tracks.

Ford went a step further in trying to find out more about what he saw that day. He decided to bring his camera with him every time he went to his camp.

It was thought that he was unable to ever capture any evidence of the beast on film, until a startling discovery was made.

Even after all these years, local hunters and fishermen, news stations, the Discovery Channel, and more have continued to preserve the legend of the Honey Island Swamp Monster. None, though, have covered the story as closely as Dana Holyfield.

Dana Holyfield is the granddaughter of Harlan Ford and has continued her grandfather’s research in the form of a film documentary, and a book titled “Honey Island Swamp Monster Documentations,” (both of which I’ve linked to in the show notes) and more. All of her works can be found at HoneyIslandSwampMonster.com.

She was kind enough to tell of some experiences and stories her grandfather used to tell her.

When her grandfather passed away, Holyfield was given a roll of 8mm film labeled “Honey Island Swamp Monster” that was stored in a box that Ford kept in his home. It had not been seen by anyone besides Ford.

The film reveals what Ford was shooting one day from a tree bling he set up. A large, bi-pedal creature is faintly seen in the video roaming the woods from about a hundred yards away.

Cryptozoologists have analyzed the footage and, while a bit unclear, they didn’t rule out the possibility that such a creature exists.

When asked about her thoughts on the existence of the monster, Holyfield told me that if there were a creature like this out there somewhere, Honey Island Swamp would be the place for it. “Wildlife and Fisheries protects large sections of the swamp and there are parts of the swamp that man has not set foot on.”

I was intrigued on why Ford decided not to show anybody what he captured on video. Holyfield said that her grandfather was worried that someone would mistake the monster for a fellow hunter and get hurt or killed.

More on her grandfather’s decision to not reveal some of his research findings, Holyfield said, “He was so interested in learning more about what he saw, maybe he learned more than what we thought he did.”


Thanks for listening. If you like the show, please share it with someone you know who loves the paranormal or strange stories, true crime, monsters, or unsolved mysteries like you do! You can email me anytime with your questions or comments at darren@weirddarkness.com. WeirdDarkness.com is also where you can find all of my social media, listen to free audiobooks I’ve narrated, visit the store for Weird Darkness t-shirts, hoodies, mugs, phone cases, and more merchandise, sign up for monthly contests, find other podcasts that I host, and 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 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.

“Death of a Conspiracy Theorist” by Pat Pheifer for the Star Tribune; and David Neiwert for SPL Center

Links to the Gray State trailer from 2013, the uncompleted 2015 documentary, the completed 2021 documentary, and the Facebook pages and YouTube video mentioned in this story are included in the show notes.

“A Famous Woman Detective And The Murder of Margaret Grippen” by Kathi Kresol for Haunted Rockford

“The Montana Town No One Wants To Live In” by Brad Smith for Relatively Interesting

“We Only Knew It As The Entity” by Jessica Moffitt for Huffington Post – and photos are included in that link to the story

“The Swamp Monster of Honey Island” by Cole Kinchen for Pelican State of Mind, along with links to the book “Honey Island Swamp Monster Documentations” by Dana Holyfield, and her documentary film “The Legend of the Honey Island Swamp Monster”


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

Now that we’re coming out of the dark, I’ll leave you with a little light… “Stand firm, and you will win life” – Luke 21:19.

And a final thought… “Remember that your life goals list will always reflect your true self, even if you don’t know who that is.” – Jessica Angelique

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



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