“OBSCURE LEGENDS, MYTHS, AND GHOSTS” and More True Terrors! #WeirdDarkness

“OBSCURE LEGENDS, MYTHS, AND GHOSTS” and More True Terrors! #WeirdDarkness

Listen to ““OBSCURE LEGENDS, MYTHS, AND GHOSTS” and More True Terrors! #WeirdDarkness” on Spreaker.

IN THIS EPISODE: Spine-tingling ghost stories and eerie myths… come to life! Are any of them actually true? We’ll explore the more obscure side of folklore with ghosts and legends that don’t get the same amount of attention others do – but are certainly not to be ignored! (Myths And Ghosts You May Never Have Heard Of) *** In the quiet town of Essex, Maryland, the disappearance of nine-year-old Alva Jean Parris shattered the peace of summer 1960. Walking just three blocks to her aunt’s house, she vanished without a trace, only for her body to be found days later, hidden beneath a makeshift grave. Decades have passed, but the mystery of who took Alva Jean and why remains unsolved. (Who Killed Alva Jean?) *** He’s a little-known serial killer. Ronald J. Dominique, dubbed the Bayou Strangler, went on a decade-long murder spree in rural Louisiana, killing 23 men. (The Bayou Strangler)

“Myths And Ghosts You May Never Have Heard Of” sources: Cara Duke at ListVerse.com:https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/bddryv6h; Mysteries of Canada: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/yckwn5y5; Brendan-Noble.com: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/2p8audhk; Factschology.com: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/ycxzdhwa,https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/v7rdp57c, https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/bdfcswwk; InuitMyths.com: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/puzuc272, TheIrishRoadTrip.com: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/vj824vwb; DallasTerrors.com: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/2p8s8crn; NewEnglandHistoricalSociety.com:https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/8r4zmkpt
“The Bayou Strangler” by Oliver Mason for The-Line-Up.com, used with permission: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/mt8tnyh4 (BOOK: “The Bayou Strangler” by Fred Rosen: https://amzn.to/49RIiWj)
“Who Killed Alva Jean?” source: Robert A. Waters at KidnappingMurderAndMayhem.com: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/2p8ab932
Weird Darkness theme by Alibi Music Library.

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Originally aired: April 23, 2024


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


Welcome, Weirdos – (I’m Darren Marlar and) this is Weird Darkness. Here you’ll find stories of the paranormal, supernatural, legends, lore, the strange and bizarre, crime, conspiracy, mysterious, macabre, unsolved and unexplained.

Coming up in this episode…

In the quiet town of Essex, Maryland, the disappearance of nine-year-old Alva Jean Parris shattered the peace of summer 1960. Walking just three blocks to her aunt’s house, she vanished without a trace, only for her body to be found days later, hidden beneath a makeshift grave. Decades have passed, but the mystery of who took Alva Jean and why remains unsolved. (Who Killed Alva Jean?)

He’s a little-known serial killer. Ronald J. Dominique, dubbed the Bayou Strangler, went on a decade-long murder spree in rural Louisiana, killing 23 men. (The Bayou Strangler)

Spine-tingling ghost stories and eerie myths… come to life! Are any of them actually true? We’ll explore the more obscure side of folklore with ghosts and legends that don’t get the same amount of attention others do – but are certainly not to be ignored! (Myths And Ghosts You May Never Have Heard Of)

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, hear my other podcasts including “Church of the Undead” and a sci-fi podcast called “Auditory Anthology,” listen to FREE audiobooks I’ve narrated, plus, you can visit the Hope in the Darkness page if you’re struggling with depression, dark thoughts, or addiction. 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!


Even if you’re skeptical about the supernatural, there’s an undeniable allure to a spine-chilling ghost tale or an age-old myth. From the infamous Chupacabra to the enigmatic Loch Ness Monster, certain legends have captured widespread attention. But what about those lesser-known yet equally spine-tingling myths waiting to be explored?

***The tale of the Dungarvon Whooper centers around a young cook named Ryan, who arrived at a lumber camp by the Dungarvon River with all his belongings, including a money belt visibly full of coins and large bills. His origins and the source of his wealth remained unknown, but Ryan didn’t hide the fact that he was carrying a significant amount of money. Handsome, tall, and strong with ruddy cheeks and black, curly hair, Ryan quickly became popular in the camp. His ability to whoop loudly was especially admired, a valuable skill among the woodsmen. Ryan’s routine was to wake early each morning, prepare breakfast, and pack lunch pails with bread and salt pork for the lumberjacks, rousing the camp with his powerful whoops. However, one fateful morning, the camp boss decided to stay behind with Ryan instead of heading out with the others. Tragically, when the lumberjacks returned in the late afternoon, they found Ryan dead, his body sprawled on the cabin floor and his money belt missing. The boss claimed that Ryan had suddenly fallen ill and died, but no one dared to challenge his authority, despite their suspicions about the missing money belt. That night, a violent storm hit the camp, preventing any departure and forcing the men to bury Ryan in a shallow forest grave. As they returned to the camp, the wind carried eerie whoops and screams that sounded all too similar to Ryan’s. These dreadful sounds persisted through the night and into the next day, instilling terror in the hearts of the woodsmen who soon abandoned the camp, never to return. The haunting cries, known as the Dungarvon Whoop, echoed in the area for years until Father Murdock, a priest from Renous, was called upon to appease Ryan’s restless spirit. Performing a sacred rite over the grave, he read holy passages and made the sign of the cross. While some believe Father Murdock succeeded in silencing the ghostly cries, others claim that Ryan’s eerie whoops can still be heard to this day. Adding to the legend, the whistle of a train passing by the Dungarvon area would mimic the ghost’s whoops, leading it to be named THE DUNGARVON WHOOPER, further entwining the ghostly figure with the local lore.

***The strzyga is a terrifying entity from Slavic mythology, notorious for its vampiric qualities and a chilling presence in the acclaimed Witcher series, which draws on both Polish and Celtic lore. Traditionally depicted as a female with two sets of teeth, two hearts, and dual souls, strzygas are often ostracized from communities at a young age, labeled as malevolent spirits. Upon their death in the wilderness, while one of their souls may transition to the afterlife, the other is left to transform into a full-fledged demon. Initially, a strzyga might look relatively normal, perhaps distinguished by a bluish tint to the skin. However, they soon evolve, adopting owl-like characteristics including feathered wings, elongated, pointed ears, and lethal claws. Armed with their double row of sharp teeth, these traits forge them into fearsome hunters of humans. As true demons, strzygas depend on the life energy of others for sustenance. They take refuge in graves by day and prowl by night. Initially, they may subsist on animal blood, but eventually, they develop a gruesome appetite for human victims—often those who wronged them in their previous existence, consuming not just their blood but also their organs. Strategically, strzygas might disguise themselves as barn owls, leveraging the common shape-shifting theme in Slavic mythology, before revealing their true, monstrous form to attack. This link to owls is likely a factor in the mixed feelings towards these birds in Polish culture. To avoid encounters with strzygas, folklore advises walking in the middle of roads at night, steering clear of dense brush, and avoiding cemeteries altogether. There are several folk methods believed to prevent a strzyga’s return after their initial death. These include burning the body, decapitating the corpse, or the more bizarre practices such as burying small objects with the body to occupy the strzyga with counting, slapping the corpse with your left hand, burying it upside down, or severing the leg tendons. Hence, if someone you know boasts a double set of teeth and hearts, it might be wise to treat them kindly to avoid their wrath in a potential demonic afterlife. While drastic measures like decapitation and cremation exist, fostering good relationships is certainly the preferred route.

***In the boarding schools of Nigeria, Ghana, and parts of South Africa, students whisper about the ghost of a vengeful spirit known for the distinctive sound of her red heels. They call her Lady Koi Koi, and at the mere echo of her footsteps in the corridors at night, they know she roams, seeking new victims. The legend of Lady Koi Koi traces back to the mid-20th century in a Nigerian boarding school, where a new teacher joined the staff. Her beauty was striking, causing many of her colleagues to vie for her attention. However, beneath her stunning exterior lurked a dark secret that her students soon discovered. Behind the closed doors of her classroom, this teacher transformed into a tyrant. She was harsh and abusive, punishing her students physically for the slightest errors and inventing cruel new ways to inflict pain. The students lived in fear of her, and their attempts to alert the headmaster or other teachers were dismissed, likely due to disbelief or an unwillingness to suspect a woman of her charm. Her signature red heels, which clicked menacingly with each step, earned her the nickname Lady Koi Koi. The students used this nickname as a coded warning. They learned to stay in their rooms until the haunting sound of her heels had faded. The situation escalated when one of Lady Koi Koi’s beatings sent a student to the hospital. Despite their urgent pleas, the infatuated headmaster dismissed the accusations as an accident. Fed up, the students decided to take matters into their own hands. They ambushed her one night as she left the building, muffling her screams and subduing her in a violent frenzy until she ceased to struggle. After disposing of her body outside the school gates, the students thought the ordeal was over, attributed to a random burglary. A new, kinder teacher replaced her, and peace seemed to return. But it wasn’t long before the chilling sound of clicking heels began to haunt the halls again. Initially dismissed as guilt-induced hallucinations, the eerie reality became undeniable as students involved in the attack began to vanish one by one. The last student to disappear had barricaded himself in his room, his screams piercing the night. The next day, his body was found in the exact spot where Lady Koi Koi’s life had ended. The chilling occurrences left no doubt among the survivors; Lady Koi Koi’s spirit had returned for vengeance. The nightmarish events led to the school’s closure, but the legend of Lady Koi Koi spread far and wide as the students moved to other schools. Tales of her haunting “koi koi koi koi” echoed through dozens of institutions, a ghostly reminder of her unresolved wrath. While the story of Lady Koi Koi varies slightly in its telling—some calling her Madam Koi Koi, others attributing different origins to her malevolence—the core of the legend remains a chilling caution about the consequences of cruelty and the eerie persistence of vengeance beyond the grave. As this tale travels from generation to generation, the true origin of Lady Koi Koi’s story remains shrouded in mystery, a spectral figure forever embedded in the lore of countless boarding schools across Africa.

***Centuries ago, during the tumult of the American Revolutionary War, whispers spread about a wailing spirit known as a banshee haunting the banks of North Carolina’s Tar River. But how much truth lies behind these chilling tales? As the Revolutionary War raged, British loyalists were under constant threat from the opposing forces. Properties were seized, and lives were often endangered. In 1780, an Englishman named Dave Warner, aware of these perils, nevertheless established a flour mill near the Tar River to support the colonial militia. His decision made him a target but also a hero to some. A local, grateful for Dave’s support of the militia, warned him of eerie happenings along the river. He spoke of a banshee whose mournful screams filled the air during full moons when the river’s waters turned ominously black. Dave, a man of peace, believed his goodwill would protect him from any malevolent spirits. And for a time, it seemed to work. Despite hearing the banshee’s wails, Dave was unharmed. However, in August 1781, the same man brought dire news of a more tangible threat: British troops were coming, aware of Dave’s activities and intent on stopping him. Unfazed, Dave prepared to defend his mill. When the redcoats arrived, they brutally attacked him, accusing him of treason. As they dragged him to the river to drown him, Dave warned them of the banshee’s curse. Ignoring his warnings, they tied him to a rock and threw him into the water. Moments after Dave’s demise, a chilling wail echoed through the fog rolling in from the trees, sending the redcoats into a panic. They barricaded themselves inside the mill, but by midnight, under the haunting glow of the moon on the blackened river, their fate was sealed. One by one, they walked into the water, lured by the banshee’s cries, never to resurface. Legend has it that the banshee of the Tar River still lingers, a foreboding presence especially during full moons. If her screams pierce the night, it is said she is hunting for souls. While the core elements of the legend remain consistent—Dave running a mill, warnings of redcoats, a fatal confrontation, and supernatural retribution—details vary. Some accounts have the redcoats scoff at Dave’s warnings, others say they debated before killing him under pressure. The method of the redcoats’ demise also changes, from suicidal trances to mysterious deaths found by a general the next day. Investigations into the historical accuracy of the Tar River Banshee legend yield little evidence. Records from North Carolina during the Revolutionary War, including those detailing the movements of British troops under Charles Cornwallis, show no trace of a Dave Warner or any incidents involving redcoats near the Tar River. Furthermore, the concept of a banshee, traditionally part of Irish and Celtic folklore, suggests that the story may be an amalgam of cultural myths brought by immigrants and local colonial history. Despite thorough searches, no definitive origins of the banshee legend tied to this specific location have been confirmed. The legend of the Tar River Banshee likely remains a blend of folklore and historical events, reshaped over generations. While the tale captures the imagination, it also reflects the fears and struggles of a community during one of America’s most tumultuous periods. Whether or not the banshee ever haunted the Tar River, her story continues to haunt those who hear it.

***During the 17th century, many Europeans traveled and settled in what became known as New France in North America. However, the 18th century brought intense conflicts between the British and the French over this land, giving rise to a haunting legend of a nun whose spirit is said to still roam the area today. After the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, France ceded much of its territory in present-day Nova Scotia to the British, displacing the French colony of Acadia to what is now New Brunswick. Over the following decades, British settlers, mainly Protestant, moved into areas predominantly inhabited by the Catholic Acadians. This migration stoked tensions, eventually leading to Father Le Loutre’s War in 1749. The British victory resulted in the tragic Expulsion of the Acadians, where over ten thousand were deported to the American colonies or France, and more than five thousand perished from hardships during their forced migration. Approximately two thousand Acadians managed to evade capture and remained in New Brunswick, clinging to hopes of avoiding detection. During this turbulent period, a French nun, Sister Marie, moved by the plight of the Acadians, requested to be sent to the remaining colony to assist the sick and wounded. Upon her arrival in what is now Miramichi, Sister Marie quickly became a beloved figure, establishing a community fund to support families in need. However, the peace was short-lived. Soon, word spread that the British had learned of their enclave and were on their way to seize it. Fearing for their possessions, the community entrusted all their valuables to Sister Marie, who hid them in a secret location. Tragically, days later, while walking home at night, Sister Marie was ambushed by several men who demanded she reveal the hiding place of the treasures. Despite being brutally beaten, she refused. In a gruesome act, one of the attackers decapitated her. Her cries had alerted nearby residents who arrived too late, only witnessing the culprits disposing of her head into a lake and fleeing the scene. Despite extensive searches, her head was never recovered, and her headless body was sent back to France for burial. The perpetrators remained at large. Almost immediately after her body was shipped to France, local residents began reporting sightings of a figure resembling Sister Marie, walking her usual path at night. The legend says that under a full moon, a headless figure in a nun’s habit can be seen, and some have even heard a ghostly voice asking, “Where is my head?” Over the centuries, the tale of the Headless Nun has persisted in Miramichi and the area now known as French Fort Cove. While variations of the story exist, some suggesting Sister Marie was killed by a mad trapper or pirates, the core legend remains—a spirit wandering in search of her lost head. Despite attempts to validate the legend, historical records from the time are scarce, and details about Sister Marie, often referred to by the last name ‘Inconnue’ (meaning ‘unknown’ in French), are elusive. The origin of the story is attributed to historian Harold W.J. Adams by Doug Underhill in his 1999 book “Miramichi: Tales Tall & True,” but further documentation, including archives from the Miramichi Leader where the story was supposedly published, is lacking. Today, visitors to French Fort Cove sometimes report eerie experiences, though like many haunted locales, definitive proof of the supernatural remains as elusive as the tale of Sister Marie, the Headless Nun herself. Whether fact or folklore, the legend endures, a chilling reminder of the region’s turbulent past and the enduring mysteries of New France.

***They often say that a dog is man’s best friend, but you’d surely think twice before befriending the Kludde. This creature from Dutch folklore is a malevolent shapeshifter, often manifesting as a colossal dog. However, it can also disguise itself as a small shrub or tree, ominously growing larger as you watch. According to legend, the Kludde lurks on the secluded roads of Belgium, preying on unsuspecting nighttime travelers. The eerie sound of chains is the only warning before it strikes. Once it targets its victim, the Kludde is said to leap onto their back, pinning them down with its immense weight, then tearing them apart with its sharp claws and teeth. So, if you find yourself wandering the Dutch countryside after dark, it’s wise to steer clear of remote roads. But if you ever hear chains rattling, don’t hesitate—run as fast as you can!

***The Inupasugjuk are mysterious giants of the north, shrouded in secrecy and rarely discussed even among elders. These immense beings are seldom seen, with the males being particularly elusive—so much so that their very existence is barely documented, possibly because no known encounters with them have left survivors.

Females of the species, on the other hand, appear more frequently. They are said to find humans intriguing and are known to snatch people up, treating them as playthings. Elders caution that these female giants might carry individuals away. Should you ever encounter an Inupasugjuk, the best strategy is to crouch down and stay motionless. Remaining unseen is your safest bet for escaping unnoticed.

***The tale of Dearg Due is a chilling narrative from Irish folklore. The story begins with a young Irish woman who falls deeply in love with a local farmer. Despite her feelings, her malevolent and greedy father, seeking to enrich himself, marries her off to an abusive chieftain in exchange for a substantial fortune. Tragically, the woman soon meets her untimely death, and it is from this point that the story of Dearg Due morphs into one of the most blood-soaked tales in Irish mythology. While some interpret “Dearg Due” to mean ‘Red Blood Sucker,’ it’s essential to clarify that ‘Dearg’ indeed translates to ‘red,’ but ‘Due’ does not correspond to any term for ‘blood’ in Irish, which is ‘fuil.’ Regardless, the saga of Dearg Due is both tragic and terrifying. In a small village in what is now known as Waterford, the woman’s love story began innocently, filled with dreams of marriage and family. However, her father, a man devoid of empathy, secretly plotted to exploit her beauty for personal gain. Knowing that a wealthy and influential local chieftain would pay handsomely for her hand in marriage, the woman’s father made a fateful deal. Despite her objections and heartbreak, she was powerless to resist the arranged marriage. The marriage was a catastrophe. The chieftain was brutal, treating his new wife as little more than a trophy, isolating her and subjecting her to relentless cruelty. Eventually, broken in spirit and body, she died from despair. Her burial was modest, overshadowed by her husband’s quick remarriage and her father’s continued greed. The only person who mourned her genuinely was her first love, whose grief soon turned to a burning desire for vengeance. From the depths of her grave, fueled by rage and a thirst for retribution, the woman’s spirit arose, transformed into the fearsome Dearg Due. Her first act of vengeance was against her own father, whom she killed in his sleep. Next, she targeted the chieftain, finding him unrepentant and surrounded by other women. Overcome with fury, she attacked and killed him, draining his blood and beginning her infamous legacy as a vampire. Rejuvenated by the blood of her vile husband, Dearg Due developed an insatiable thirst for human blood. Using her stunning beauty, she enticed young men into secluded areas where she would feast on their blood under the cover of night. Her reign of terror continued, growing more gruesome with each victim, until she mysteriously vanished. This enigmatic end to her story has left many to wonder about her fate and whether she might still roam the earth.

It is said that her grave lies near the Tree of Strongbow in Waterford. The story of Dearg Due, with its elements of love, betrayal, and vengeance, remains one of the most haunting tales of Irish folklore, continuing to both terrify and fascinate those who hear it.

***Crossing an old, creaky bridge like Old Alton can naturally make anyone feel a bit uneasy. However, this particular bridge has reasons for its unsettling aura that go beyond its age and structural groans. According to local legend, the historic Old Alton Bridge serves as the gateway to the territory of a sinister demonic force known as “the Goatman.” Some even suggest that crossing the bridge at certain nighttime hours might open a portal directly into Hell itself. If you dare to test your courage on the haunted Goatman’s Bridge, proceed with caution—this creature is said to manifest whenever his name is spoken. The Old Alton Bridge, an iron truss bridge spanning Hickory Creek between Denton and Copper Canyon, Texas, was constructed by the King Iron Bridge Manufacturing Company in 1884. Originally designed to support the weight of heavy cargo carriages pulled by workhorses, the bridge has transitioned well into the automotive age, maintaining its integrity thanks to its robust truss design. Named after the now-defunct town of Alton, the former seat of Denton County from 1850 to 1856, the bridge gained a darker moniker by the 1930s—Goatman’s Bridge. In 2001, to accommodate modern traffic demands, a new bridge was built nearby, redirecting vehicle traffic and allowing Old Alton to become a serene passageway for hikers, cyclists, and horseback riders, connecting Elm Fork and Pilot Knoll trails. In July of 1988, the bridge was recognized both as a member of the National Register of Historic Places and as a Texas Historic Landmark, a testament to its historical and cultural significance. Unlike the mythical trolls of storybooks, the Old Alton Bridge harbors a much more menacing resident. The Goatman, as described by eyewitnesses, is a towering figure blending human and goat features, equipped with massive horns and glowing eyes. His presence is often linked to a series of mysterious disappearances and eerie occurrences. Legend has it that speaking the Goatman’s name while crossing the bridge can invoke his appearance. He’s believed to dwell beneath the bridge by day, emerging at night to hunt. Disturbing his slumber can reportedly provoke a ferocious response. Furthermore, crossing the bridge at 3 a.m. is said to reveal hellish visions, leading some to speculate about the bridge’s function as a diabolical gateway. Another spectral inhabitant is said to be the spirit of a distraught mother, eternally searching for her child, whom legend says was taken by the Goatman. Her mournful cries are heard by those crossing late at night, adding a layer of tragic depth to the bridge’s paranormal reputation. Another version of the Goatman’s Bridge legend centers around Oscar Washburn, a respected black goat farmer who lived nearby in the early 20th century. Known affectionately as “the Goatman,” his success stirred the ire of local Klansmen. In 1938, after Washburn advertised his business with a sign on the bridge, he was lynched by the Klan. Miraculously, he survived, and the bridge thereafter bore his nickname. This story serves as a grim reminder of the area’s troubled history, contrasting sharply with the tales of demonic activity. With its rich history and chilling legends, the Old Alton Bridge has attracted numerous paranormal investigators, including teams from shows like “Ghost Adventures” and “Buzzfeed Unsolved: Supernatural.” Reports of strange lights, mysterious figures, and unexplained noises continue to draw both thrill-seekers and nature enthusiasts. Whether you believe the bridge is haunted by a demonic Goatman or the resilient spirit of Oscar Washburn, Old Alton’s blend of natural beauty and spooky folklore makes it a fascinating destination—just maybe not after three in the morning.

***In 1850, Reverend Eliakim Phelps and his family returned to their home to find a scene straight out of a funeral: their house was draped in black crepe, a traditional sign of mourning. On one of the beds, Mrs. Phelps’ nightgown was laid out as if it was on a body in a coffin, with the arms folded across the chest. But for the Phelps family, this macabre setup was just another peculiar day at their haunted home. The Phelps mansion in Stratford, Connecticut, was infamous for its supernatural residents. There were malevolent spirits that would break windows, prick residents with pins, and generally cause mayhem. Then there were the benevolent spirits, who communicated through knocks and helped locate lost objects. This period marked the rise of spiritualism within Christian communities, particularly after the Fox sisters of New York gained fame in 1848 for supposedly communicating with spirits. It was against this backdrop that the so-called Stratford Knockings began to gain notoriety. The eerie events started in earnest on March 10, 1850. Upon returning from church, the Phelps family found their home in disarray—clothes thrown about, drawers opened, and belongings scattered. Initially suspecting a burglary, Phelps soon realized nothing was stolen, leading him to suspect supernatural forces at work. The Phelps mansion, constructed in 1826 by Matthias Nicoll for his daughter and her husband, Captain George Dowdall, had always been intended as a retirement home, though Dowdall died before he could make use of it. Phelps had bought the house years later and used it seasonally. In the days that followed, the paranormal activities escalated. Objects like books and tools appeared in strange places, windows shattered without explanation, and items vanished from locked spaces. Phelps consulted spiritual investigators and ministers to try to understand these occurrences. Media attention soon followed, with newspapers from across the region reporting on the bizarre events. The Phelps mansion quickly became a hotspot for the curious and the brave, drawn by the tales of hauntings documented in popular spiritualism books of the time. Within the Phelps household, 11-year-old Harry seemed particularly connected to the spirits, with many considering him a medium. Séances were conducted, and spirits communicated via taps and knocks, sometimes claiming they caused disturbances just for amusement. When the family relocated to Philadelphia in the fall, the activities dwindled but did not cease completely, suggesting a link to the family’s presence in the house. Upon their return in 1851, the strange happenings resumed with renewed vigor. While newspapers and the public were enthralled with the Stratford Knockings, skepticism grew. Some speculated that the phenomena were orchestrated by Phelps’ younger wife and stepchildren to break the monotony of life in Stratford. Suspicion often fell on young Harry, particularly since the occurrences seemed to revolve around his presence. The Phelps family eventually moved away in 1852, selling the mansion to Moses Beach, publisher of the New York Sun, who continued to exploit the story. Over the years, some linked the hauntings to the historical execution of Goody Bassett, a local woman hanged for witchcraft in 1651 near the house. As decades passed, the Phelps mansion was demolished, and reports of the Stratford Knockings faded into local legend. Whether the events were true hauntings, clever hoaxes, or something in between, the story of the Phelps mansion remains a fascinating chapter in the history of American spiritualism.


Up next on Weird Darkness… He’s a little-known serial killer. Ronald J. Dominique, dubbed the Bayou Strangler, went on a decade-long murder spree in rural Louisiana, killing 23 men. (The Bayou Strangler)



When we think of serial killers, the name Ronald Joseph Dominique doesn’t necessarily come to mind. But while Dominique—who was later given the moniker “the Bayou Strangler”—never gained the notoriety of the Dahmers and Gacys of the world, his crimes were no less heinous. In fact, his body count makes him one of the most prolific killers in American history: 23 men died at Dominique’s hands between 1997 and 2006.

So how did a vindictive killer evade the police for nearly a decade? Dominique’s success can be attributed to two factors: As a pizza delivery man, he maintained a low profile in his Louisiana town. No one suspected that Dominique—an overweight and balding 30-something—was capable of murder. Likewise, his victims—primarily gay African American men—lived on the fringes of society. With the promise of paid sex, Dominique would lure these men into his car before raping and then strangling them to death. Only years later, after DNA evidence linked him to the crimes, was he finally put behind bars.

Dominique’s little-known but staggering murder spree is examined in Fred Rosen’s book, The Bayou Strangler. The excerpt I’m about to read to you describes one of Dominique’s first killings—that of Oliver LeBlank, a man he picked up at a gay bar—and introduces one of the detectives who brought Dominique to justice. Here’s the excerpt…

He’d had enough, and he’d been forced to put up with too much to stop there. The ridicule, the stone glances from his family, and now just thinking someone was about to violate him again made him want, finally, to do something about it. It was an intoxicating combination of fear and retribution. And he had prepared for just such an eventuality.

Reaching down to the floorboards, he felt the cold metal of the tire iron in his strong hand. He brought it up quickly and slammed it into the side of Oliver LeBanks’s head. He brought up the iron and hit him again. As the smaller man’s brain began leaking out blood inside his cranium, the struggle seeped out of him. His limbs stopped pushing, then twitched, finally going slack.

Physicians call it a concussion. Unless LeBanks were operated on immediately, the twin concussions he had sustained when the tire iron impacted his head would soon kill him. Dominique showed no mercy. He got on top of LeBanks and began to choke him.

Already unconscious from the blows, LeBanks started twitching again, and then Dominique heard the death rattle, the last gasp of the life that he had just violated. He took off his belt, wrapped it around the now unmoving figure. Putting his weight on top of him again, Dominique pulled the belt tight, so it bit into LeBanks’s skin.

After a while—Dominique wasn’t sure how long it was—he realized the guy was once and for all not breathing anymore. He threw open the back door and jumped out of the station wagon into the deserted street. Dominique had killed before. He knew what he had to do. He got into the driver’s seat, fished his keys out of his pocket, plunged the key into the ignition, and started up the car.

Dominique began driving down dark streets, not really knowing where he was, looking for the right place to dump the body. He’d know when he saw it. He wound up driving into Kenner, the oldest city in Jefferson Parish, established in 1855. Back then, the place was known by its French name, Cannes Brûlées (burnt cane fields).

It was a landmark on the banks of the Mississippi River. The family of its founder, William Kenner, owned many of the area’s larger plantations and farms. Everything changed in 1915 when a commuter rail line was established from Kenner to New Orleans, bringing in manufacturing. That, in turn, brought in new roads and the airports.

A full-fledged suburb, Kenner was connected to the Big Easy by Interstate 10, the major east/west interstate in the southern United States. Interstate 10 goes all the way from Jacksonville, Florida, on the Atlantic Ocean, across the southwestern United States, terminating at Santa Monica on the Pacific Ocean in California.

A few miles north of the busy New Orleans International Airport, Dominique turned his tan Malibu wagon south. He took a left down Airport Road. As he circled the airport looking for a location that he would know instinctively was right, the overhead jets had a bird’s-eye view of his travels.

Too many people, too many cars; the place was just too active. What had he been thinking? No place to do it that wouldn’t be easily found. But that was part of the kick for Dominique. It couldn’t be too easy, he wanted the body to be found. Had he not, he could have easily just gone over a bridge and dumped it into some dark waters.

Or he could have driven to a nearby bayou and let the alligators take care of things, neatly and tastily, without leaving a trace for a forensic specialist to work with. It just wouldn’t scratch that itch inside him if he did that. What fun would it be? What pleasure it would give him when the body was found!

The body had to be found.

He was sick and tired of people not giving him credit for things. Now he’d show them. He’d killed again and the body would be proof. Proof.

He took a left onto Airline Drive, also known as Federal Highway 61. Heading east, back toward New Orleans, he passed the Hilton and Lexington hotels again, their entrances lit up like it was Christmas.

Dominique was one of those people who loved Christmas all year round. He kept Christmas decorations up full-time in his trailer. But this wasn’t the holiday season. Those lights meant people were around, people who might see him and what he was doing, what he had done.

Again, too busy, too many people driving in and out. No, that wouldn’t do, and he kept going.

He passed food management and construction offices. Airline Drive is host to a variety of businesses that cater to the airline traveler going through New Orleans. After a few miles, Airline Drive passed into the town of Metairie (pronounced MET-ur-ee).

Dominique saw Providence Memorial Park Cemetery on his right, where Mahalia Jackson, the celebrated gospel singer, had been laid to rest. But he was hardly into gospel. Leaving Mahalia and the cemetery behind him, he continued east toward New Orleans, still on Airline Drive, passing the fast food and chain restaurants, gas stations, and strip malls that dotted the highway.

Passing Little Farms Avenue, he approached Dickory Avenue. Just past the light at the intersection of Dickory Avenue and the end of the Earhart Expressway was a speed trap. Waiting for speeders at the bottom of the elevated highway was Louisiana state trooper Cal Calhoun. His job was to catch and ticket speeders, who would not see his car hidden in a parking lot at the bottom of the exit ramp.

Obeying the speed limit as he always did, Dominique drove right past the cop. Dickory Avenue rose as it got to the six-­thousand block of Stable Drive before hitting the railroad tracks. Below Stable was a feeder road into Zephyr Field a quarter of a mile east, where the Triple-A New Orleans Zephyrs minor-league team played its home games.

There was nothing special about the overpass except that it was conveniently there, secluded but accessible to passersby. Perfect for dumping a body. The tan Malibu wagon tooled down Stable Drive, deserted at this hour. Dominique pulled the wagon to the side of the road, hopped out, went around to the passenger-side door, and threw it open.

“Pulling LeBanks’s corpse by the belt still wrapped around its neck, he struggled until he had it fully out under the overpass. Then he let it go. The body plunked down on the sand, face down. Cutting back quickly to the station wagon, Dominique closed the rear passenger-side door, which made a hollow sound in the empty darkness.

Getting back behind the wheel, he turned the ignition on and put the car into drive. A moment later, Ronald J. Dominique was well away, driving the few blocks north to Airline Drive. This time, he didn’t circle the airport, but kept going. Ten miles down the road, he saw the interstate looming overhead.

Interstate 310 is a freeway linking US 90 and Southern Louisiana to Interstate 10 and metropolitan New Orleans. He turned right up the ramp, then took a left and headed southwest. In seven miles, the road climbed higher and passed over the Mississippi River, providing Dominique with a great view of the Big Muddy flowing below him.

On the other side, the road passed over Westbank Bridge Park and curved south. In front of him were two signs. The one for the right lane said “90 West, Houma,” while the one for the left said “90 East, Boutte, New Orleans.” Dominique followed the sign to Boutte, at the southern end of the roadway. He turned north on the Old Spanish Trail, pulling off at the trailer park where he lived.

Trailers were everywhere. Some were set on wooden foundations, some on concrete; some had gardens in front; and some were really modular homes. The one thing they had in common: anonymity.

The next day, a passerby saw the body below the freeway ramp and called the police. Because the corpse had been dumped in Jefferson Parish, the lead homicide investigator from the sheriff’s office was summoned to the scene. If it should turn out that the victim was killed in, say, Terrebonne Parish, the latter would then assume venue, but for now, Jefferson was up at bat.

This guy is sloppy, thought Dennis Thornton. Otherwise, how come we find a fresh body?

Dressed like a banker in charcoal-gray suit, blue tie, and wing-tipped shoes, Detective Lieutenant Dennis Thornton bent over and examined the partially clothed body of the man he would eventually identify as Oliver LeBanks.

Murder was a much more frequent occurrence in Louisiana than in other places, and therefore, not unusual. Louisiana and in particular the New Orleans metropolitan area has the highest per capita homicide rate in the country. Sorting through the similarities and differences between so many homicides can be a daunting task.

Linkage. It was all about linkage in serial-killer cases. Do that and you’d save lives. Link homicides to the same perpetrator and concentrate your resources there. It was an inviolable clock, ticking away the life-seconds of the next victims.

Thornton looked up at the jets flying overhead. The airport was nearby. Did the killer live near the airport? he wondered.

“Yes, he did. But what Thornton didn’t know was that the killer was closer than anyone realized. And LeBanks had not been his first victim. The first had been David Mitchell, a nineteen-year-old African American, who was last seen on July 13, 1997, in St. Charles Parish. That’s right up Interstate 310, not far from where Dominique was living in Boutte.

Mitchell’s fully clothed body was discovered the day after his disappearance on Louisiana Highway 3160, off Highway 18 in an industrial area of the parish. He had been anally raped before being drowned.

Dominique next struck exactly five months later to the day, again close to home.

Gary Pierre, a twenty-year-old African American, was found dead on December 14 in St. Charles Parish. The coroner ruled that Pierre had been murdered “by asphyxiation, due to neck compression.” He too had been raped.

Serial killers can change patterns. Sometimes they have a cooling-off period between crimes. Dominique seemed to be one of those. Consistent to his pattern, at least for the moment, Dominique once again took a vacation from killing, this time for seven months. Then Larry Ranson showed up.

Like Mitchell and Pierre, he was African American and had last been seen in St. Charles. Ranson was thirty-eight years old. Dominique was changing his victim of choice, showing age wasn’t a factor. Serial killers usually zero in on a type and remain constant.

Ranson’s fully clothed body was discovered the day after he disappeared on July 31, off Louisiana 316 in an industrial area of the parish. The coroner later said Ranson’s manner of death was “asphyxiation due to neck compression.” Ranson would have been conscious the whole time he was being choked until, mercifully, he blacked out because his brain wasn’t getting air and drifted into death.

Because the bodies had been dumped close to one another off the same road, the police in St. Charles suspected one killer. But the culprit had left nothing behind for the cops to work with—no fibers, no prints, no hair. The lack of DNA, plus the anal bruising of the victims, made the cops figure he was using a condom. They sorted through the usual list of parolees with charges of sexual abuse of one sort or another in their files, but came up with nothing.

What Southern Louisiana was unknowingly facing was a serial killer, and a successful one. Once a serial killing has been confirmed in a locality, the FBI is contacted and they make a profile of the killer. The profiles are generally cookie-cutter.

“The serial killer is white, poor, and doesn’t have much of an education.”

While that profile would certainly fit Dominique, it also fit a couple million other guys in Louisiana and would be of no practical use.

Solving a serial killing means thinking outside the box. Once in a while, a detective will get assigned to investigate and no matter where the trail leads, no matter how long it takes, the detective decides to dedicate part of his life to tracking down a murderer who had the audacity to kill in his parish. Dominique didn’t know it, but he had made an enemy of Dennis Thornton.

Evidence markers were set up near tire imprints in the soft sand where LeBanks’s body had been dumped. There was no evidence of a murder weapon. Examining the body, Thornton saw that the victim had been bludgeoned on one side of the head. The killer had left the pants of the victim down below his knees. His shirt was off.

Thornton wore surgical gloves to prevent contamination. Not that he was afraid the dead man could contaminate him; it was the other way around. The idea was that the detective bring nothing to the scene, including his own fingerprints, that could contaminate the evidence. Thornton picked up the wrists and noted the ligature or binding marks. It looked like the guy’s wrists had been tied together. Thornton was going to be very interested in what the coroner had to say about them.

As the morgue attendants moved in with the bags, tarps, and collapsible table that formed the tools of their trade, Thornton stepped back to allow them to do their job.

You can never be sure how wrists are tied together until the coroner weighs in. And details like the pants around the victim’s ankles could turn out to be the killer’s signature behavior.

If you’d like to hear the entire book, “The Bayou Killer” by Fred Rosen, I’ve placed a link in the episode description.


Up next… In the quiet town of Essex, Maryland, the disappearance of nine-year-old Alva Jean Parris shattered the peace of summer 1960. Walking just three blocks to her aunt’s house, she vanished without a trace, only for her body to be found days later, hidden beneath a makeshift grave. Decades have passed, but the mystery of who took Alva Jean and why remains unsolved. (Who Killed Alva Jean?)



In the quiet suburb of Essex, Maryland, the Riverdale Apartments stood as a modest housing project where many families, including Fredonia Parris and her children, called home. This seemingly peaceful setting was shattered on June 10, 1960, when nine-year-old Alva Jean Parris vanished while walking just three blocks to her aunt’s house. Her disappearance and the subsequent discovery of her body five days later in a nearby marsh remain unsolved, haunting the community and investigators for over six decades.

Alva Jean Parris was known for her “big saucer eyes and pretty bangs,” a beloved member of her fourth-grade class at Middlesex Elementary School and an active attendee at a nearby church. On the fateful day, as routine dictated, her grandmother watched over her while her mother worked a day shift at Western Electric. The alarm was raised when Alva Jean did not arrive at her aunt’s residence, leading to a frantic search by family and eventually the police.

As darkness fell on June 10, the Baltimore County Police launched a full-scale search operation. Officers and volunteers combed through every conceivable hiding spot in the neighborhood, including basements and dense wooded areas near the Parris home. The discovery of Alva Jean’s discarded shoes in a marshy area led investigators to a decrepit farmhouse surrounded by thick woods, a setting straight from a Grimm’s fairy tale. Here, in a shallow grave concealed with linoleum, sod, and twigs, lay the body of Alva Jean, marking a tragic end to the search.

The state of her body suggested a brutal assault; reports indicated she had been dressed in green shorts, a figured blouse, and pink socks, her abdomen and private area covered in lye—a disturbing effort to possibly mask evidence of sexual assault. The killer’s attempt to hide their tracks spoke of a sinister familiarity with crime scene manipulation.

Despite rigorous investigations, including the interrogation of various suspects and numerous polygraph tests, no substantial leads or motives surfaced. Alva Jean’s family, particularly her mother Fredonia, faced intense scrutiny, though her alibi was solid. The lack of conclusive evidence left authorities grappling with numerous questions: Who could have committed such a heinous act? What was the motive? Why was Alva Jean targeted?

Dr. William Lovitt, the Assistant Medical Examiner, faced his own challenges with the autopsy. Advanced decomposition hindered efforts to determine a cause of death, though strangulation was suspected. His findings only deepened the mystery surrounding the circumstances of Alva Jean’s death.

The media coverage of the case painted a vivid picture of the community’s grief and the baffling nature of the crime. Local newspapers chronicled each development, from the initial disappearance to the heart-wrenching discovery and the subsequent dead ends faced by detectives. The community’s involvement, from the search efforts to the attendance at Alva Jean’s funeral, reflected the profound impact of the tragedy on the local populace.

Years later, the case remains active in the minds of those who remember it and the officers who continue to seek closure. Theories about the perpetrator’s identity range from a local with a criminal past to a transient taking advantage of the area’s secluded spots. The use of lye, a tactic not common even among seasoned criminals, suggests a perpetrator with a specific knowledge of forensic science, predating the advancements that would come in later decades.

The reliance on polygraph tests, now considered unreliable in court, may have allowed the real culprit to evade justice. The focus on the abandoned farmhouse, where clues to the crime were literally covered up, might have diverted attention from other viable leads. Community tips about suspicious individuals, like the man in a sailor’s hat seen on the day Alva Jean disappeared, never resulted in actionable intelligence.

As forensic methods have evolved, there is hope that renewed interest and technological advances could one day provide answers to the many questions that remain. Until then, the memory of Alva Jean Parris and the mystery of her untimely death continue to linger..


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 and follow me on social media through the Weird Darkness website. WeirdDarkness.com is also where you can find information on sponsors you heard during the show, listen to FREE audiobooks I’ve narrated, get the email newsletter, find my other podcasts including “Church of the Undead” and a sci-fi podcast “Auditory Anthology”. Also on the site you can visit the store for Weird Darkness tee-shirts, mugs, and other merchandise… plus, it’s where you can find the Hope in the Darkness page if you or someone you know is struggling with depression, addiction, or thoughts of harming yourself or others. And if you have a true paranormal or creepy tale to tell of your own, 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, authors, and sources I used in the episode notes.

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Now that we’re coming out of the dark, I’ll leave you with a little light… Romans 12:19-21, “My friends, do not try to punish others when they wrong you, but wait for God to punish them with his anger. It is written: ‘I will punish those who do wrong; I will repay them,’ says the Lord. But you should do this: If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink. Doing this will be like pouring burning coals on his head. Do not let evil defeat you, but defeat evil by doing good.”

And a final thought… “Feelings are neither right nor wrong. It’s what you do with them that causes the problems.” – Dr. James Dobson

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



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