“PARANORMAL PROSE: BOOKS WRITTEN BY GHOSTS” and More Macabre True Stories! #WeirdDarkness
PLEASE SHARE THIS EPISODE in your social media so others who loves strange and macabre stories can listen too! Find all of podcasts I host at https://weirddarkness.com/links.
Listen to ““PARANORMAL PROSE: BOOKS WRITTEN BY GHOSTS” and More Macabre True Stories! #WeirdDarkness” on Spreaker.
IN THIS EPISODE: When hiring a ghost writer, you are paying someone to do some or even all of the writing of a book or novel for you – using your notes and outline – without taking any credit for themselves. But on the flip side, there are books written who give all credit to the ghost writers… because those ghost writers are literally authors who are ghosts. (Paranormal Prose: Books Written By Ghosts) *** When getting married, it’s always best to tell your future spouse everything about yourself – no matter how sordid it might be. For if the news comes out after you’ve taken your vows, not only might it lead to divorce – but it could also lead to murder! (A Double Murderer Murdered) *** And while we’re on the subject of marriage device – it’s also never a good idea to cheat on your spouse, not matter how powerful and influential you are in society. That too can lead to brutal murder, very possibly your own, as Harvey Burdell found out. (Bond Street Tragedy) *** There are numerous eerie tales of the supernatural involving ghost brides and haunted wedding dresses. It makes you wonder if you plan on saying “I do”, if you’re not also welcoming a residual haunting once “til death do us part” arrives. (Ghostly Bride of America) *** It happened in September of 2022 – hundreds of students all across the country of Mexico just fainted with no warning, while those around them were perfectly fine. Authorities still aren’t sure they have found the explanation. (The Case Of Passed Out Pupils) *** Berkely Square is one of the most famous places in London, known for its beautiful garden and upscale living. Winston Churchill once lived here, as did Charles Rolls – cofounder of Rolls-Royce. The location has also been used for works of fiction, such as the television miniseries “Berkeley Square”, and even the home of fictional character Cathy Lane – Patty Lane’s “identical cousin” from “The Patty Duke Show” on television. But Berkely Square also has a dark side – a building in the middle of the square, said to contain something not of this earth. (The Indescribable Beast of Berkely Square) *** But first… look out men, if you are approached by a beautiful woman seemingly out of nowhere – remember the saying: “if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.” She may be less interested in your looks or money – and more interested in whats on your insides. Literally. We begin there! (Kidney Crooks)
SOURCES AND REFERENCES FROM THE EPISODE…
“Kidney Crooks” by Nikkie Miller for Paranormal Daily News: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/yckshxzv
“Paranormal Prose: Books Written By Ghosts” by U Kate Gorisert for Moon Mausoleum: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/m7r3y4tu
“A Double Murderer Murdered” by Robert Wilhelm for Murder By Gaslight: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/yck5vxwv
“The Bond Street Tragedy” by Robert Wilhelm for Murder By Gaslight: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/2s44pkf5
“The Indescribable Beast of Berkely Square” by Brent Swancer for Mysterious Universe:https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/2p88rjy2
“The Case Of Passed Out Pupils” from Oddity Central: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/bdfsj85m
“Ghostly Brides of America” by Darren Marlar and ChatGPT; Source: Ashley Watson at Notebook of Ghosts:https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/4x9a9hb7
Visit our Sponsors & Friends: https://weirddarkness.com/sponsors
Join the Weird Darkness Syndicate: https://weirddarkness.com//syndicate
Advertise in the Weird Darkness podcast or syndicated radio show: https://weirddarkness.com/advertise
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Weird Darkness theme by Alibi Music Library. Background music provided by Alibi Music Library, EpidemicSound and/or StoryBlocks with paid license. Music from Shadows Symphony (https://tinyurl.com/yyrv987t), Midnight Syndicate (http://amzn.to/2BYCoXZ) Kevin MacLeod (https://tinyurl.com/y2v7fgbu), Tony Longworth (https://tinyurl.com/y2nhnbt7), and Nicolas Gasparini (https://tinyurl.com/lnqpfs8) is used with permission of the artists.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
OTHER PODCASTS I HOST…
Paranormality Magazine: (COMING SEPT. 30, 2023) https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/paranormalitymag
Micro Terrors: Scary Stories for Kids: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/microterrors
Retro Radio – Old Time Radio In The Dark: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/retroradio
Church of the Undead: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/churchoftheundead
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
(Over time links seen above may become invalid, disappear, or have different content. I always make sure to give authors credit for the material I use whenever possible. If I somehow overlooked doing so for a story, or if a credit is incorrect, please let me know and I will rectify it in these show notes immediately. Some links included above may benefit me financially through qualifying purchases.)
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
“I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” — John 12:46
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
WeirdDarkness® is a registered trademark. Copyright ©2023, Weird Darkness.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
DISCLAIMER: Stories and content in Weird Darkness can be disturbing for some listeners and intended for mature audiences only. Parental discretion is strongly advised.
It seems like everyone has heard the stories about a businessman waking up in a bathtub full of ice. He then finds a note instructing him to call 911 if he wants to live. When he gets to the hospital, he finds out his kidneys have been stolen. This scenario would be terrifying! What could be scarier than having an organ stolen while you sleep? This tale of warning has been passed along by email and word of mouth for years. The question is, where did this story originate? When surveyed, many Americans believe that there is an active black market for human organs and people are targeted in order to steal their organs. How much truth is there to this story?
I’m Darren Marlar and this is Weird Darkness!
Welcome, Weirdos – 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…
When hiring a ghost writer, you are paying someone to do some or even all of the writing of a book or novel for you – using your notes and outline – without taking any credit for themselves. But on the flip side, there are books written who give all credit to the ghost writers… because those ghost writers are literally authors who are ghosts. (Paranormal Prose: Books Written By Ghosts)
When getting married, it’s always best to tell your future spouse everything about yourself – no matter how sordid it might be. For if the news comes out after you’ve taken your vows, not only might it lead to divorce – but it could also lead to murder! (A Double Murderer Murdered) *** And while we’re on the subject of marriage advice – it’s also never a good idea to cheat on your spouse, no matter how powerful and influential you are in society. That too can lead to brutal murder, very possibly your own, as Harvey Burdell found out. (Bond Street Tragedy)
There are numerous eerie tales of the supernatural involving ghost brides. It makes you wonder if you plan on saying “I do”, if you’re not also welcoming a residual haunting once “til death do us part” arrives. (Ghostly Bride of America)
It happened in September of 2022 – hundreds of students all across the country of Mexico just fainted with no warning, while those around them were perfectly fine. Authorities still aren’t sure they have found the explanation. (The Case Of Passed Out Pupils)
Berkely Square is one of the most famous places in London, known for its beautiful garden and upscale living. Winston Churchill once lived here, as did Charles Rolls – cofounder of Rolls-Royce. The location has also been used for works of fiction, such as the television miniseries “Berkeley Square”, and even the home of fictional character Cathy Lane – Patty Lane’s “identical cousin” from “The Patty Duke Show” on television. But Berkely Square also has a dark side – a building in the middle of the square, said to contain something not of this earth. (The Indescribable Beast of Berkely Square)
But first… look out men, if you are approached by a beautiful woman seemingly out of nowhere – remember the saying: “if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.” She may be less interested in your looks or money – and more interested in whats on your inside. Literally. We begin there! (Kidney Crooks)
If you’re new here, welcome to the show! While you’re listening, be sure to check out WeirdDarkness.com for merchandise, to visit sponsors you hear about during the show, sign up for my newsletter, enter contests, connect with me on social media, plus, you can visit the Hope in the Darkness page if you’re struggling with depression or dark thoughts. You can find all of that and more at WeirdDarkness.com.
Now.. bolt your doors, lock your windows, turn off your lights, and come with me into the Weird Darkness!
STORY: KIDNEY CROOKS=====
A man awakens to find himself lying in a bathtub filled with ice. Groggy, he looks down to read a message written on his chest, which advises him to “Call 911 or you will die.” He later finds that one of his kidneys had been stolen for sale on the black market.
This urban legend is most often titled The Kidney Heist and seems like it first surfaced around the late 1980s and early 1990s. The current version can be traced back to chain letter styled emails that were directed towards men who were traveling to large cities for business. The message warned about a woman who lured a man back to their hotel room under the pretenses of sex, only to wake up the next day to find out they had been drugged and their organs stolen.
Research shows that the stories were based in the United States and in a large city. The victim is always male and was lured by a female. It is always suggested that the female has promised sex, and they return to the man’s hotel room. In some versions, the woman is identified as a prostitute. One of the most interesting aspects of the story is that there is always great care taken to preserve the man’s life.
The one documented case of organ theft in an industrialized country was debunked shortly after it was reported. In 1989, Ahmet Kroc from Turkey reported that he was lured to Britain with a job offer but shortly after he had his kidney stolen. After the kidney was taken, he was paid off and sent home. The story was later debunked when it was found that Kroc posted an ad to sell his kidney. It was discovered that he made up the story about the theft to get more money from the kidney recipient. This incident led to changes in British laws regarding the sale and receipt of organs.
Organ theft is represented throughout American culture. Having an organ stolen is an ultimate in personal violation. The thought of someone performing surgery without your knowledge is the thing of nightmares which makes for remarkable stories. Pop culture has capitalized on these types of stories, leading to this theme showing up in many TV shows, movies, and books. In 1991 Law & Order approached this topic with an episode titled Sonata for Solo Organ. Las Vegas followed suit in 2006 with an episode where a man was found in a bathtub full of ice in one of the hotel rooms. Of course, his kidneys had been stolen.
TV shows aren’t the only ones who have used this urban legend as inspiration. Scary movies such as The Harvest (1993) and Urban Legend (1998) touch on organ theft in order to elicit fear in their viewers. Bestselling author Riley Sager’s 2019 hit, Lock Every Door, uses the theme of organ theft to create an amazing story where residents of a luxury apartment are part of a black-market organ ring.
Every year about 6000 people die in the United States every year waiting on an organ transplant and there are about 100,000 people in the US waiting for an organ. There is a fine line for patients on the transplant list. They must be sick enough to qualify for an organ but healthy enough to tolerate transplant. To be placed on the transplant waiting list a patient must meet very specific criteria.
Patients must abstain from drugs, alcohol, tobacco. They are randomly tested and if they test positive, they are removed from the list for a period. People on the organ transplant waiting list must have a diagnosis of end-stage organ failure and have a critical need. While the patient must have organ failure to qualify, they must be healthy enough to tolerate a major surgery. Patients with active cancer do not qualify for organ transplant and there are also age restrictions with those over 70 not being eligible for a non-relative transplant.
There has never been a documented, creditable report of someone who had their organ stolen after being lured into a hotel room. To the average person this legend seems possible, but when we dive deeper into the medical requirements of organ transplant this would be near impossible to accomplish in a hotel room.
Organ transplant surgery is a tiny subspecialty of surgery, and each organ has its own expert. For example, a heart transplant surgeon is not necessarily qualified to perform a kidney transplant and vice versa. These specialized surgeons train for years and there are only about 2500 transplant surgeons across all specialties in the US. Transplant surgeons make an average salary of $450,000. With some making over a million dollars every year. This makes them less likely to be motivated by monetary gain.
There are two different teams in organ donation. One team removes or procures the organs and another team transplants the organ into the receiving patient. It takes a whole team to procure organs for the transplant process. Harvesting surgery is complicated and requires more than just a surgeon and a scalpel to remove the desired organ. Surgery will require someone to administer anesthesia, someone to assist with moving organs out of the way so the surgeon can see, and someone to hand items. A the very minimum this type of surgery will require 4 highly trained people.
Anesthesia will play an important part in not only keeping the patient alive but keeping the patient from waking up while their organs are being stolen. A few roofies in a drink isn’t going knock someone out enough to remove their kidneys. While the average person know anesthesia providers put the person to sleep for surgery what they don’t know is that they also insert the breathing tube, monitor the patient’s vital signs, provide medications to rise and lower blood pressure, and keep you asleep until it is time to wake up. Anesthesia providers keep you alive during surgery. You cannot do this type of surgery without someone who is skilled in anesthesia.
Then there is the improbability of performing the surgery alone in a hotel room. Surgery requires a sterile environment and specialized tools and machines. Hotels are far from sterile, and it would take a lot of work to get one ready to perform surgery. The front desk would (hopefully) notice someone wheeling by with an anesthesia machine and sets of sterilized surgical tools. Sterile surgical tools come in large metal crates and would be obvious.
There is also the challenge of scheduling when to steal an organ and matching. Organs must be harvested and transplanted quickly to preserve their function and in almost all retellings of this story care was taken to preserve the life of the victim. It is one thing to kill someone and steal an organ, it is another thing to perform a complicated surgery in a hotel room and keep them alive. By targeting a stranger there is also no guarantee that the patient is going to be a match for the anticipated recipient. Matching goes far beyond just blood type.
There are also many loopholes when it comes to the recipient of the organ. Organs must be transplanted within a few hours of harvesting. The longer the organ is outside the body the less likely it will be functional when transplanted. That leaves many questions unanswered as to where the recipient is having their surgery performed and who is performing that surgery, which is even more complicated than the harvesting. Then there is the post-transplant treatment. Organ recipients have many ongoing medical needs even after a successful transplant. You can’t just pop an organ out of one person and put it in another person. There is a lot of complicated care that goes into that patient, especially in the first month after transplant.
Post-transplant patients require medications to keep their body from rejecting the foreign organ. This medication isn’t something that could just be bought on the street. This medication is also very expensive and unique to the organ the patient received. They wouldn’t be able to fill the medication at the pharmacy. The patient would also require medical records of when and where they had the transplant performed to find continued surgical follow-up. These inconsistencies create even more doubt that this type of illegal activity would have any benefit.
A beautiful woman suggests going back to your hotel, eluding the promises of sex only to drug you and steal your kidneys. On the surface this urban legend seems like a very real risk, but it would be almost impossible to achieve. When it comes to surgery, preserving life is one of the most difficult things to do in the operating room. The amount of people and equipment this would take is more than would be possible to hide in a hotel room.
However, this urban legend does provide a good warning not to bring strangers back to your room. Just because there is almost no risk of having your kidneys stolen, there is the risk of being robbed or contracting a sexually transmitted disease. Moral of the story: boys and girls please don’t take strange men or women back to your hotel room. Your kidneys are about the only thing that is safe.
STORY: PARANORMAL PROSE=====
Through the popularity of spiritualism and mediums at the turn of the century, some books were written through a medium either using a ouija board or through automatic writings. When you find these strange ghost books in the library, they are all cataloged under the writer’s name, not the medium. They are also known as the last written work of said author if they ever were published because none could prove that they didn’t write them. Here are some examples of books written by ghosts, or at least that people claim are written by spirits long dead.
***Seven years after his death, the medium Emily Grant Hutchings together with Lola Hayes, claimed that a book was dictated to them from American author, Mark Twain. The book was written by his ghost and was published in 1917 after a two year communications through the ouija board according to Hutchings. The book came into notoriety when the New York Times published a piece on it, and many found the story indeed in Twain’s spirit. Spiritism was at its peak and it was not an uncommon thing that books were written by ghosts and it was only one of a few books published in that year that came through a medium as a channeled text, although Mark Twain was definitely one of the more well known authors. However, the daughter of Mark Twain, Clara Clemens did not find this publication to be that of her father and tried to take the case to court. She managed to get Hutchings to stop publishing the book and have copies of it destroyed.
***TAccording to the library, there are in fact more than one book written by the spirit of William Shakespeare. It is the book Shakespeare’s Revelations and My Proof of Immortality. And in Shakespeare’s bibliography there are more than one volume of books written by ghosts. It was actually through the medium Sarah Taylor Shatford these works were produced. She was a poet herself, and published the first book of poems in 1919, filled with poems reflecting the wartime, and encouraged readers to follow a Christian life. Shatford said that she first encountered the voice of Shakespeare through the ouija board, but later through a Clairaudient, where he was basically talking through her. This is not the only medium/writer that claims to have been the ghost writer of the great Shakespeare. In 1920, Gregory Thornton published Sonnets of Shakespeare’s Ghost. This piece of work was closer to Shakespeare’s voice we can find in his other writings from his living days. It turned out, Thornton was actually a pseudonym for a literature professor named T.G Tucker. But it wasn’t only poems Shakespeare allegedly wrote from the afterlife. In 1916, an author by the name Lincoln Phifer self published Hamlet in Heaven, a sequel to Hamlet. Apparently, Phifer received the writings from Shakespeare like he would have a telephone call.
***In 1964, Ian Fleming, most known for the James Bond novels, died. But it wasn’t the last James Bond novel written under his name. In 1970, a manuscript from a middle aged woman named Vera came to the author’s brother, Peter Fleming’s attention. The novel was called Take over: A James Bond Thriller and was apparently written by his brother’s ghost. Vera started corresponding with the dead after her mother’s death and had allegedly no literary background or desire to write fiction. She continued to explore this medium and found her handwriting becoming her mothers, writing her mother’s words to her from beyond the grave. Her mother started to dictate late authors works of fiction, including Arthur Conan Doyle, H.G Wells and Ian Fleming. Peter read the script they claimed was that of his lost brother, but was very skeptical as it was nothing like his brother’s writing. Even though he was skeptical, he was fascinated by Vera and how she wrote on a pad.
***The work of Ian Fleming was not Vera’s last work though. In 1971, Vera started to transcribe a full length novel by W. Somerset Maugham, authors of works like Of Human Bondage, The Painted Veil and The Moon and Sixpence. and now, he had books written by his ghost. It was given to Peter Fleming who remarked how the style of the author had changed dramatically since his death. But before she finished transcribing the novel, her husband died that year. After this, she devoted her time exclusively to correspond through automatic writing with her deceased husband.
The townhouse at 31 Bond Street was, to all appearance, a model of staid middle-class Manhattan decorum. In 1857 it was a boardinghouse run by Mrs. Emma Cunningham with the dental office of Dr. Harvey Burdell on the second floor. But after Dr. Burdell was found in his office strangled and stabbed fifteen times, 31 Bond Street was shown for what it was—a hotbed of greed, lust, intrigue and depravity! That story is up next!
STORY: THE BOND STREET TRAGEDY=====
Harvey Burdell had come to New York City in 1834 to join the dental practice of his brother John. The two were highly successful, catering to members of New York’s high society. Together they published a dental handbook entitled The Structure, Physiology, Anatomy, and Diseases of the Teeth, In Two Parts. They worked together for five years, then Harvey started his own practice.
Though his dental practice was thriving, Harvey Burdell made most of his money in banking and real estate speculation. While successful and highly regarded uptown, Burdell was also well known in the Bowery where he often went to gamble and visit brothels. He was also known to service the dental needs of prostitutes working in his Bond Street neighborhood and to take his fee in trade.
Sometime around 1854, Harvey Burdell met and began a whirlwind courtship with a young widow named Emma Cunningham. She was born Emma Hempstead in Brooklyn, New York in 1818. Her father, Christopher Hempstead, was a poor but devoutly religious rope maker. Emma knew from an early age that she wanted more out of life and as a teenager, using her beauty and sexuality, began her social climb. She married George Cunningham, twenty-two years her senior, who inherited a successful distillery from his father.
In 1844 the Cunninghams moved to a townhouse on Irving Place in Manhattan and became part of upper middle-class society. But George Cunningham was not the businessman that his father had been and in 1846 a series of business reversals and foreclosure drove the Cunninghams back to Brooklyn. Amid their growing poverty, George and Emma had five children. Out of desperation, George Cunningham joined the gold rush to California in 1849. He failed at this as well and returned to Brooklyn where he died in poverty in 1854.
Emma, now a 33-year-old widow, inherited property and life insurance benefits worth $10,000. She knew the money would not last long or allow her to live the life she desired, so Emma, still quite attractive, went looking for another husband. She had several other suitors but set her sights on Dr. Harvey Burdell. The following August she joined Burdell at the upstate resort of Saratoga Springs. That fall Emma and Harvey were still together and Emma determined that she was pregnant. Burdell persuaded her to have an abortion, and may have actually performed the operation himself.
Around this time Burdell leased Emma the house at 31 Bond Street and she and her five children moved in. She ran a boardinghouse in the four-story building with Dr. Burdell keeping his own room and dentist office on the second floor. Also living in the house were a tanner named John Eckel and an 18-year-old poet and banjo player, George Snodgrass.
By 1857 the relationship between Emma Cunningham and Harvey Burdell had grown strained to say the least. Emma was intensely jealous of Burdell’s 24-year-old female cousin, Dimis Hubbard, who was a frequent house guest. She was also, no doubt, aware of his trysts with female patients in his dental office. They had frequent arguments and Burdell no longer ate at Emma’s table, preferring to take his meals at the nearby Lafarge House.
About half past ten o’clock on the night of January 30, 1857 the man living at 36 Bond Street heard a blood-curdling cry of “Murder” but could not tell where it came from. The following morning, the boy hired to start the heat in Dr. Burdell’s office opened the office door to find the doctor’s mutilated body lying face down on the floor in a pool of blood with blood spattered more than five feet up the wall.
The body was examined and it was determined that the doctor had been strangled with a garrote and stabbed fifteen times with a long slender knife. News of the murder travelled swiftly through the streets of New York and throughout the day a morbidly curious crowd surrounded 31 Bond Street. The coroner was called in and an inquest that would last two weeks was begun in the house.
The house was searched and everyone living there was questioned, including some very observant maids. Quite a bit was learned about the character of the inhabitants of 31 Bond Street. Emma Cunningham produced a marriage certificate proving that she was actually married to Harvey Burdell, though Burdell had requested that the fact be kept secret. The search of George Snodgrass’s room turned up undergarments belonging to Helen Cunningham, Emma’s 15-year-old daughter. The maids testified to Burdell’s affair with his cousin Dimis Hubbard and to Emma’s anger over the matter. They also testified that Emma was sleeping with John Eckel.
Witnesses from outside the house included Burdell’s former business partner Alvah Blaisdell who said Burdell had asked him to sleep at 31 Bond Street because he feared violence from Emma, John Eckel, George Snodgrass, and Emma’s oldest daughter Augusta. Dimis Hubbard herself testified, claiming that her cousin had planned to end his deal with Emma Cunningham and replace her with another landlady. This was borne out by one of the maids who related this conversation with Emma Cunningham:
“Who was that woman, Hannah, you were showing through the house to-day?”
“That was the lady who is going to take the house.”
“Then the doctor is going to leave it, is he?”
“And when does she take possession?”
“The first of May.”
“He better be careful; he may not live to sign the papers!”
The coroner also established that the knife wounds indicated that the stabber was left handed. Emma Cunningham was left handed. Emma Cunningham and John Eckel were charged with murder; George Snodgrass was charged as an accessory. All three were taken to the Tombs prison.
Emma Cunningham was not allowed to attend the funeral of her alleged husband—which attracted a crowd of over 8000 people—but she was allowed to pay her last respects. She was taken to see his body before the coffin lid was screwed shut and amid hysterical tears, that all present believed authentic, she said:
“Oh I wish to God you could speak, and tell who done it.”
Before the murder trial began on May 6th, 1857, the issue of the authenticity of Emma Cunningham’s marriage to Harvey Burdell was taken up. Since Burdell died without a will, the outcome would have a significant impact on the distribution of his rather sizable estate. Burdell’s blood relatives had already begun maneuvering and the matter was still unresolved when the murder trial began.
The murder trial drew enormous crowds, with every available inch of space in the courtroom occupied by spectators. There was an especially high percentage of well-dressed women in attendance. Compared to the inquest, the trial of Emma Cunningham was very short, lasting only three days.
The prosecution’s case was a rehash of the testimony presented at the inquest, telling the story now familiar to anyone who read New York City newspapers. They also did everything they could to thoroughly tarnish the reputation of Emma Cunningham.
The defense attacked the circumstantial evidence and did a hatchet job on Harvey Burdell, specifically his dalliance with Dimis Hubbard, the “kept mistress of her own blood cousin.” Assuming the authenticity of Emma’s marriage to Burdell the defense asked why she would murder a husband with a steady and sizable income. They also posited many others who wished Burdell dead.
Though the judge did his best to suppress negative testimony on Burdell’s reputation, the defense did their job well. The jury returned a verdict of not guilty.
Eckel and Snodgrass were never tried.
In the matter of Emma’s marriage to Harvey Burdell, Burdell’s blood relatives hired prominent attorney and future presidential candidate Samuel Tilden to represent their interests. But it was Emma herself, and not Tilden’s oratory, that defeated her claim. While still in the Tombs, Emma claimed she was pregnant with Harvey Burdell’s baby. This fact, if true, would increase her claim on his estate from approximately one-third, to 100%. Emma, in fact, was not pregnant, though she continued this claim after she was acquitted and released.
She realize that, for her plan to work, she would need an accomplice. She confided with a Dr. Uhl who agreed to help her and, when the time came, to supply her with a baby to present as Harvey Burdell’s heir. Dr. Uhl, however, went straight to the district attorney.
When the time came for Emma to “give birth,” Dr. Uhl told her he had procured the baby of a woman who had become pregnant after her husband went to California. She now planned to join him and needed to give up the baby. In fact, the district attorney had gone to Bellevue hospital and borrowed the baby of an indigent mother. Emma, dressed as a Sister of Mercy, carried the baby from Dr. Uhl’s office in a basket.
The ruse was played out, with Emma faking delivery by screaming behind a closed door. But when Dr. Uhl emerged with the baby, policemen entered the room and charged Emma with fraud. The charge was eventually dropped but it was enough to invalidate her claim of marriage in the eyes of the Surrogate Court.
After seeing that her daughters were taken care of, Emma left for California. She married again in 1870 and was widowed again thirteen years later. She moved back to New York where she died in poverty. She is buried in Green-Wood Cemetery, a few hundred yards from Harvey Burdell.
STORY: A DOUBLE MURDERER MURDERED=====
John Walton was walking home from work with his cousin Richard Pascall down 18th Street in New York City at 11:30 the night of June 30, 1860. Walton owned a distillery on 18th Street and a store on 25th Street. At the time, Walton and Pascal shared a room over the store. At 3rd Avenue, they noticed a man leaning against a tree in the shadows but paid little attention as they walked past him. A few seconds later, the man darted up behind Walton and shot him in the head.
The shooter ran down 3rd Avenue, and Pascall followed, raising the alarm, shouting, “murder!” Several men heard the call and joined the chase. At the front of the pack was John W. Matthews, a well-known railroad contractor. Matthews was closing in as they neared 16th Street. The killer turned, drew his pistol, and fired, hitting Matthews in the chest. In the confusion that followed, the killer dropped the pistol and made his escape.
The men lifted Matthews and carried him to a nearby drugstore, but he died in their arms before he reached it. Walton was still breathing and was taken to Bellevue Hospital, but he died at 8:30 the next morning.
None of the witnesses recognized the shooter, but Pascall was convinced it was John Walton’s stepson, Charles Jefferds. About a year earlier, Walton’s wife died, leaving him with two daughters. About six months later, Walton married a widow named Ellen M. Russell. She told him she had been married twice before, but both of her husbands were dead. She had two sons from the first marriage, Charles and Edwin Jefferds, aged 22 and 19, respectively. She had one son, Frank Russell, 12, from her second marriage. She also said she had adopted her sister’s four-month-old daughter. After the wedding, they all lived together in a house on 23rd Street.
Ellen Russell was an attractive woman; Walton believed her to be a fine, upstanding person. This opinion would soon change. He “observed transactions of a suspicious character on the part of his wife” and decided to make some inquiries. He learned that at least one of her former marriages had ended in divorce, and the husband was still living. Additionally, she had a third husband, a Mr. Morrison, between Jeffers and Russell, who was living in Ohio, and it was doubtful that they ever had a legal separation. Walton also learned that the four-month-old was not the daughter of Ellen’s sister but her own illegitimate offspring.
The New York Atlas called Mrs. Walton “a woman fond of money, luxury and intrigue.” Comparing her to Emma Cunningham, who murdered Dr. Harvey Burdell three years earlier, they called her “…one of those smart, intriguing adventurers of the Mrs. Cunningham school, who are constantly laying in wait to trap wealthy middle-aged bachelors and widowers.”
Soon after the marriage, Mrs. Walton’s eldest son, Charles Jefferds, began misbehaving. He drank heavily and brought unsavory people back to the house. Walton objected, scolding both mother and son. This only made them angrier, and several times Charles threatened Walton’s life.
After several months of this, Walton decided the marriage was over and resolved that they separate. He rented a smaller house on 23rd Street for Ellen and her children, and he moved into the room over the store. He rented the big house to someone else. This angered Ellen and her sons even more since the separation would mean the end of Walton’s wealth. Charles and Edwin continued to harass Walton. On one occasion, Charles showed Walton a pistol which he said he had bought to shoot him. At another time, Walton suddenly took sick and believed he had been poisoned. He changed his will, leaving the bulk of his estate to his daughters, to make it less likely that he would be murdered for his money.
The double murder created quite a sensation in New York City. The mayor offered a $500 reward for the arrest and conviction of the killer. Walton’s estate added another $1,000 to the reward. The police began a manhunt for Charles Jefferds. Jefferds, who fled to Long Island, learned they were looking for him and decided it was safer to turn himself in. The Monday after the murder, Jefferds surrendered to the police but declared his innocence.
The coroner began an inquest into the murders. Among the many witnesses were Richard Pascall, who positively identified the pistol found at the scene as the one Charles Jefferds had used to threaten Walton, and Ellen Walton, who testified that there was no animosity between her son and her husband. The inquest lasted two weeks, and although there was little evidence against Jefferds, he was charged with first-degree murder.
The prosecution was reluctant to bring the case to trial because of the lack of evidence. After an eight-month delay, ignoring two regular terms of the Court of Oyer and Terminer, Jefferds’s attorney moved, unsuccessfully, for his client’s release. The trial for the murder of John Walton finally began on June 10, 1861, and lasted about a month. Though nearly everyone believed that Jefferds was guilty, the evidence against him was so thin that no one was surprised that the jury found him not guilty.
After being free for six months, Jefferds began to get cocky. At an impromptu meeting in the 25th Street store with John Walton’s brother, William, Jefferds said, “Do you know who I am? I am Charles Jefferds, the man who murdered your brother, and I can shoot you as quick as I shot him.”
William Walton asked Jefferds for the details of the murder, assuring him that he had been acquitted and could not be tried again. Police Detective Moore, who was also present, confirmed that Jefferds could not be retried. Jefferds told them that he had gone out that night specifically to kill Walton. It was after Walton had a quarrel with his mother, and she offered Jefferds $2,000 to kill her husband.
They were correct in telling Jefferds he could not be retried for Walton’s murder, but Jefferds had forgotten that he was also charged with murdering John Matthews. The new confession was enough for the district attorney to take that case to court.
The trial for the murder of John Matthews began on December 18, 1861. This time the testimony of William Walton and Detective Moore was enough to convince a jury. Jefferds was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death.
The law at the time stated that Jefferd had to serve one year in prison before he could be executed, and after that, the date would be set by the governor. During that time, his attorney tried unsuccessfully to appeal the verdict. But as of May 1868, more than six years later, Jefferds was still on death row at Sing Sing Prison.
On May 15, 1868, Charles Jefferds was found dead in the stable loft of the prison. He had five axe wounds on his body, any one of which could have been fatal. Jefferds had been unwell the day before and was allowed to skip dinner and do some light work at the stable instead. He had been reading a book in the hayloft when he was attacked.
Two inmates who had been chopping wood in the work yard, Thomas Burns and George Whittington, were charged with the murder. Burns and Jefferds had been enemies because Burns had caught Jefferds in the commission of what was called “a beastly crime” and “an infamous crime against nature” and reported it to other inmates. The following December, Burns was found not guilty, and charges were dropped against Whittington.
In February 1869, the New York World published a long article saying that a detective using the pseudonym “Jefferson Jinks” had spoken with Jefferds before his arrest. He claimed that, after a few drinks, Jeffereds declared that he had murdered Dr. Harvey Burdell three years before and provided intricate details of the crime.
The murder of Dr. Burdell had caused a sensation in New York and was one of the first great murder cases to be followed nationwide. The World article was reprinted or summarized in newspapers throughout America. However, Jefferds’s confession, if he made it at all, was not likely to be true. The matter was soon forgotten.
When Weird Darkness returns… it happened in September of 2022 – hundreds of students all across the country of Mexico just fainted with no warning, while those around them were perfectly fine. Authorities still aren’t sure they have found the explanation. (The Case Of Passed Out Pupils)
But first… there are numerous eerie tales of the supernatural involving ghost brides and haunted wedding dresses. It makes you wonder if you plan on saying “I do”, if you’re not also welcoming a residual haunting once “til death do us part” arrives. That story is up next! (Ghostly Bride of America)
STORY: GHOSTLY BRIDES OF AMERICA=====
***Nestled within the breathtaking expanse of Yellowstone National Park lies the enigmatic Old Faithful Inn. With a history dating back to the early 1900s, the inn boasts a rich tapestry of tales that have woven themselves into its very walls. Among the various accounts of paranormal phenomena, one story stands out—the legend of the headless bride. As the story goes, a young woman hailing from the bustling streets of 1915 New York found herself entangled in a whirlwind romance with an older male servant. This union, borne out of affection but defying societal norms, would lead to tragedy. Despite her father’s vehement objections, the couple exchanged vows and embarked on a honeymoon to the iconic Old Faithful Inn. Room 127 would be their honeymoon suite. Unfortunately, the honeymoon would soon be over – shattered by the groom’s reckless gambling and squandering of the dowry. In a sudden turn of events, the husband vanished, leaving behind a heartbroken bride – and then she, too, mysteriously disappeared. Days turned into weeks, and the bride’s disappearance became an unsolved mystery that plagued the inn’s history. It wasn’t until the discovery of a hidden chest in the attic, years later, that the truth was unearthed. Inside lay a skeletal remains dressed in a tattered wedding gown—a grim reminder of a love story that turned into a haunting tale.
***New Orleans, a city drenched in history and steeped in mystique, provides the backdrop for another tale of spectral romance. Within the confines of the Dauphine Orleans Hotel, the spirit of a young bride-to-be named Millie is said to linger. Millie’s life took a tragic turn on the day she was to exchange vows with her beloved. In a twist of fate, her groom-to-be was fatally shot during a gambling dispute, leaving her with a future that was forever altered. Millie’s attachment to the world of the living endures even in death. Still dressed in her bridal gown, she is said to roam the corridors of May’s Place, a bar within the hotel… love unfulfilled, a bride forever waiting for her groom to return.
***The Driskill Hotel in Austin, Texas, boasts a reputation not only for its luxurious accommodations but also for the spectral visitors that are said to traverse its halls. Within the confines of Room 525, the echoes of not one, but two ill-fated honeymoons have been haunting through the years. Allegedly, two young brides ended their lives within the same room, separated by two decades of time. The chilling tales of their fates have lent an air of melancholy to the room. Guests have reported experiencing unexplained phenomena, from eerie apparitions to mysterious leaks and distant whispers. It is as if the residual energy of the brides’ tragic endings has left an indelible mark on the space, an indelible, frightening mark.
***Overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, the Hotel Galvez stands as a testament to both beauty and sorrow. The story of the ghost bride that haunts Room 501 began with beauty – and ended in sorrow. In life, she was engaged to a mariner who set sail from Galveston with the promise of returning to her. As days turned into weeks, her anticipation turned to despair upon learning of his ship’s sinking. Consumed by grief, she met a tragic end at her own hands, her spirit forever tethered to the halls of the hotel. Guests and staff have reported encountering her apparition.
***Philadelphia’s historic City Tavern, a venue steeped in the lore of both patriotism and paranormal, sets the stage for a haunting tale involving a bride and her bridesmaids. The charming setting belies the dark history that lingers here. According to legend, a bride and her bridesmaids were preparing for her wedding day when a tragic accident occurred—a knocked-over candle ignited a devastating fire that claimed allof their lives. The spectral presence of the bride is said to be especially active during wedding events at the tavern, a reminder of the fragility of life and the tragedy that can accompany even the happiest of occasions.
***The Emily Morgan Hotel, occupying a historic building in San Antonio, Texas, holds within it the enigma of the unknown. The seventh floor, in particular, has garnered a reputation for harboring a phantom bride. The details of her story remain elusive, leaving guests and staff to ponder what brought about her ghost to begin with. Reports of shrill screams echoing through the hallways have left many terrified, prompting speculation about whether the spirit is malevolent or not. While her origins may remain shrouded in mystery, her presence is all too real to those who have encountered her.
***Nestled on the shores of Lake Conneaut in Erie, Pennsylvania, the Hotel Conneaut carries a tale that revolves around a newlywed couple who embarked on their honeymoon, but found tragedy instead. A raging fire erupted within the hotel. While the husband managed to escape the inferno, his bride, Elizabeth, met a heartbreaking end as she became trapped in Room 321. Her spirit is said to still roam the third floor of the hotel today, clad in her wedding attire and carrying with her the scent of jasmine.
***Amidst the hallowed halls of the Alpha Gamma Delta House at the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia, the echoes of a heart-wrenching tale linger. This mansion, known as the “wedding cake house,” was built by William Winstead Thomas in 1896 as an engagement gift for his daughter, Isabel, and her fiancé, Richard W. Johnson. The mansion exudes an air of elegance and romance. However, Isabel’s dreams of a joyful marriage were shattered when her fiancé left her at the altar, driving her to suicide within the confines of the very house that was meant to be a symbol of their lifelong love and commitment. Today, the house is said to be haunted by Isabel’s restless spirit, with faucets turning on of their own accord and lights flickering in empty rooms.
***Amidst the serene landscape of the Long Island Campgrounds in Bolts Landing, New York, another ghostly bride roams. In the 1960s, a newlywed couple sought romance here as they embarked on their honeymoon. Their idyllic getaway, however, was cut short by a violent act of murder while they slept, both dying in the marriage bed. The bride’s spirit is said to linger, forever searching for her husband among the living campers.
***The picturesque Phelps Grove Park in Springfield, Missouri, provides the setting for a haunting tale of love and loss as well. The story centers around a newly married couple whose hope-filled journey took a tragic turn when they lost control of their vehicle one night. The bride’s spirit is said to linger near a bridge within the park, forever holding the hem of her wedding dress as if frozen in time.
***Onondaga Hill, New York, is home to a similarly haunting tale that has woven itself into local folklore. The story revolves around a young couple who, about six decades ago, tragically lost their lives in a car crash shortly after their wedding. The bride’s spirit is said to manifest on Halloween nights, her ethereal figure drifting down the road in her wedding gown, searching for her beloved husband. Some accounts even describe her carrying a bright orange lantern, a beacon of light in the darkness that envelops her spectral existence.
***The Baker Mansion in Altoona, Pennsylvania, holds within its walls a story of love, defiance, and lingering resentment. Anna Baker, the daughter of a wealthy figure, found herself entangled in a forbidden love affair with a local steelworker. Despite their affection for each other, Anna’s father forbade her from marrying her love, believing him to be “beneath the family”… inevitably leading to a lifetime of bitterness and regret between father and daughter. Anna’s spirit is said to haunt the mansion, and her anger is believed to be the cause of a peculiar phenomenon—a wedding dress displayed within a glass case in her bedroom shaking violently, as if animated by her suppressed emotions. T
***Amidst the vast expanses of North Dakota, a story of sibling rivalry and sorrow unfolds from the shadows of the 1930s. The tale revolves around two sisters, Lorna Mae and Carol, whose differences led to a chain of events marked by jealousy and deceit. Both sisters vied for the affections of a widower named Ben, but it was Lorna Mae who captured his heart. The bitterness within Carol’s heart turned her actions sinister, and a series of events would lead to Lorna Mae’s untimely demise. What followed was a sequence of events that culminated in Carol’s own tragic end, forever linking their fates in a tale of familial strife and unresolved emotions.
STORY: THE CASE OF THE PASSED OUT PUPILS=====
Mexican authorities are still struggling to find answers to the seemingly unexplained fainting of hundreds of middle school students all over the country in the fall of last year.
On September 23, 2022, 12 students (11 girls and 1 boy) at the Federal 1 public secondary school in Tapachula, Mexico spontaneously collapsed in their classrooms, in the bathrooms, and in the school courtyard. Another 22 middle school students reported symptoms like severe headaches and vomiting. Interestingly, some of the affected students reported smelling something smoky in the air, like the scent of burning leaves, which led investigators to believe that drugs like marijuana had probably been to blame, but tests came back negative. Other students reported seeing a mustard-color powder in the bathroom on that day, but toxicology analysis again revealed nothing of interest. Eventually, doctors concluded that the kids had suffered panic attacks, but in the following days, similar incidents started being reported at other schools across Mexico…
Two weeks after the Federal 1 middle school incident, at least 68 students lost consciousness, started vomiting, or suddenly became disoriented at a middle school in Bochil, a rural community in the Mexican state of Chiapas, around 150 miles from Tapachula. Several of the children needed to be hospitalized, but this time toxicology tests detected traces of cocaine in four of them.
On October 11, there was another incident at the Federal 1 school in Tapachula. This time, another 18 children started fainting on school grounds for no apparent reason. One of them, a girl named Esmeralda, was also involved in the first fainting incident. Once again, she lost consciousness but was back to her normal self in about 12 hours. She told her mother that she had smelled the strange burning odor while in the girls’ bathroom before starting to feel dizzy and collapsing to the ground. This time, a team of specially-trained sniffer dogs were brought in, but they didn’t detect anything.
Over the next couple of months, hundreds of students at six different middle schools in four Mexican states hundreds of miles apart experienced fainting, unexplained dizziness, headaches and vomiting, and several of them needed several days, even weeks, to recover. In total, 227 children, mostly girls, were affected across the entire country, and authorities still don’t have a proper explanation for what happened.
At one point, Mexican President Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador included updates about the school fainting episodes in his daily press conferences, and even after the incidents stopped occurring, theories about their cause flooded social media networks. They included fertilizer poisoning, bacteria contamination, drugs, gas leaks, and water contamination, but no one had any evidence.
“It’s possible there’s something going on at the school and they don’t want us to find out,” Esmeralda’s mother said, adding that she had paid for drug tests, believing that her daughter had been drugged, but they all came back negative.
Despite the lack of conclusive evidence, over time, the general consensus became that drugs had been involved. Some expressed concern about increasing drug use among middle school children, while others feared a twisted plot orchestrated by Mexican drug cartels. The latter theory was fueled by reports of shady characters hanging around schools in Bochil, and that several episodes had occurred in Chiapas, which lies on a well-known path for drug and migrant smugglers.
Six of the kids involved in the original episode at Federal 1 were called to the Chiapas district attorney’s office to be questioned by a psychologist, but their depositions didn’t really help the investigation. In the DA report, there were mentions of “probable intoxication through food” and “probable transmission through the air”, while another report blamed a “probable intoxication with stimulants” for the episode in Bochil.
The mystery of this fainting “epidemic” intrigued many experts throughout Mexico and one of them, Dr. Carlos Alberto Pantoja Meléndez, an epidemiologist from Mexico City, actually conducted his own investigation based on the data available. He gradually ruled out drugs, because so many of the affected children had tested negative for a variety of psychotropic substances, and bacteria from contaminated food, insecticide poisoning, or heatstroke were also unlikely because they would have required too many coincidences to occur simultaneously.
Pantoja Meléndez deduced that, because most of the children had not felt sick prior to fainting or exhibiting symptoms like vomiting or dizziness, the episodes could not have been caused by anything ingested orally. Furthermore, many of the affected schools were not located close to farms or factories, so intoxication with pesticides or other industrial chemicals was also ruled out. In the doctor’s view, the only possible, albeit unlikely, cause was mass hysteria, aka mass psychogenic illness.
Apparently, mass hysteria is an extremely rare phenomenon where someone exhibits symptoms like fainting, twitching or screaming and then other people in their proximity involuntarily replicate the symptoms. It sometimes occurs in people who are emotionally close and where people spend a lot of time together, and it can last anywhere from a few hours to a few months. However, a big question remains – how could hysteria spread across hundreds of miles, through different states, among people who had never interacted with each other? The answer could be social media.
“It used to be that you had to be there. You had to be in the room,” Dr. Robert Bartholomew, a psychology professor at the University of Auckland, told Insider Magazine. “But now social media is an extension of our senses, and we’re always playing catch up… I think we are on the verge of a much bigger, global epidemic.”
Meléndez and Bartholomew are now the only two people still investigating the fainting epidemic, and their theory is that it was an episode of mass hysteria caused by the Internet and a combination of psychological and developmental disturbances due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“These children were in their homes for almost two years. That is significant in relation to the connection between the brain and the immune system,” Pantoja-Melendez said. “We’ve seen all sorts of weird things happen the past year.”
The two doctors plan to continue investigating and hope to eventually find an answer to this enigma.
Coming up… Berkely Square is one of the most famous places in London, known for its beautiful garden and upscale living. Winston Churchill once lived here, as did Charles Rolls – cofounder of Rolls-Royce. The location has also been used for works of fiction, such as the television miniseries “Berkeley Square”, and even the home of fictional character Cathy Lane – Patty Lane’s “identical cousin” from “The Patty Duke Show” on television. But Berkely Square also has a dark side – a building in the middle of the square, said to contain something not of this earth. (The Indescribable Beast of Berkely Square)
STORY: THE INDESCRIBABLE BEAST OF BERKELEY SQUARE=====
There are cases out there in the realm of the paranormal that are really hard to classify. It is sometimes difficult to ascertain if we are dealing with a supposed ghost, a mysterious lifeforms of some sort, or something else altogether. Such accounts can baffle and confuse, often accompanied by a blurring of facts and historical records to the point that it is nearly impossible to disentangle fancy from reality. Among the truly strange stories of the unexplained, we have that of a building situated right in the middle of London’s swankiest and most historical areas, which has long been said to be the lair of something not of this earth.
The whole very bizarre series of events begins first and foremost with a place called Berkeley Square, which lies at Mayfair, Central London, and was originally laid out in the mid 18th century by famed architect William Kent. It would go on to become a place for the wealthy to reside, a symbol of opulence and a marquee area to live in, with many rich, famous, and influential figures such as George Canning and Winston Churchill himself staying here over the years. Yet this place of wealth and eminent stature would go on to accrue a rather sinister reputation as the haunt of something beyond our understanding, and it begins at house number 50, a single four-story brick townhouse right in the middle of the square.
Although there have been rumors of something strange going on in the dwelling since it was erected, our story truly starts to take off in 1840, when 20-year-old Sir Robert Warboys was supposedly at his local watering hole one evening and talk turned to 50 Berkeley Square and the rumor that it was haunted by some sort of ghost or demon. The somewhat inebriated Warboys thought the story was a bunch of “poppycock,” and flatly let everyone know as much, completely dismissing any tales of ghosts and goblins.
His fellow bar patrons then dared Warboys to stay in the accursed place, telling him that if he really disbelieved that the place was haunted so much then he would agree to spend the night in the building’s most cursed and haunted 2nd floor. Warboys then immediately accepted, and that night trudged over to the house to arrange accommodations with the landlord to stay in the designated room. The landlord himself seemed to be quite sure that it was a bad idea to stay there, and apparently highly recommended keeping a pistol handy throughout the ordeal, also insisting on rigging a makeshift line attached to a bell so that the foolhardy young man could signal for help if he saw anything out of the ordinary. Still highly skeptical, Warboys settled down in the room for the night without much thought to all of this superstitious talk.
It was not even an hour later, just after midnight, that the landlord’s jury-rigged bell supposedly began to ring incessantly, waking him from his sleep. The landlord got out of bed and was thinking about what to do next when a single shot from the pistol echoed out through the building from the 2nd floor. This was enough to spur him into action, and he rushed up the stairs to see what was wrong with his patron, the whole way expecting the worst.
When he arrived at the room and forced his way in he found it to be mostly the way it had been, save for the body of Warboys slouched in the corner, the pistol still gripped tightly in his still hand. A closer look at the fallen man showed that he seemed to be dead, and that his pale, lifeless face was twisted and contorted into a grimace of terror, lips drawn back and eyes bulging, as if he had seen something that had literally scared him to death. Across from the corpse was a single bullet hole in the wall, but of any intruder or what had apparently had scared Warboys so much there was no sign, nor was there any trace of what the dead man had frantically fired at.
The legend of this evil place would only grow from there, with others reportedly seeing some sort of entity on the premises over the years, which varied in description from a amorphous blob of mist to a “collection of shadows,” to the humanoid form of a shadowy man, to a slimy ooze with claws and even tentacles, that made “sloppy noises” as it travelled. Whatever it was also apparently had the ability to drive whoever saw it absolutely mad if they gazed upon it long enough, such as was the case of a maid who had allegedly gone into the residence to clean and had later been found stark raving insane. In another case a nobleman purportedly spent the night there and was found the next day a blithering, drooling basket case, his mind shattered by some unseen force.
Similarly to Warboys, another young man by the name of Lord Lyttleton decided to try to bravely stay a night in the attic of the residence in 1859, where he supposedly encountered a strange apparition with tentacles, sort of like an octopus, which he had then fired upon with a rifle. When he went to see if he had killed it he found nothing there, just bullet holes and shells. This particular description would become common in many reports of the “thing,” that it looked like some sort of globular phantom octopus, although with twisted, deformed features, and which would leave a viscous trail of stinking ooze in its wake. Whatever it was, in 1870 an W. E. Howlett would write of this sinister place and its unearthly inhabitant:
***”The mystery of Berkeley Square still remains a mystery. The story of the haunted house in Mayfair can be recapitulated in a few words; the house contains at least one room of which the atmosphere is supernaturally fatal to body and mind. A girl saw, heard and felt such horror in it that she went mad, and never recovered sanity enough to tell how or why. A gentleman, a disbeliever in ghosts, dared to sleep in number 50 and was found a corpse in the middle of the floor after frantically ringing for help in vain. Rumour suggests other cases of the same kind, all ending in death, madness, or both as a result of sleeping, or trying to sleep in that room. The very party walls of the house, when touched, are found saturated with electric horror. It is uninhabited save by an elderly man and his wife who act as caretakers; but even these have no access to the room. This is kept locked, the key being in the hands of a mysterious and seemingly nameless person who comes to the house once every six months, locks up the elderly couple in the basement, and then unlocks the room and occupies himself in it for hours.”***
Interestingly, it is worth noting that although the place was located in one of the most affluent areas of London it would be often be abandoned for long stretches of time, sometimes for years on end. In 1887 we have perhaps one of the better known incidents at 50 Berkeley Square, when two sailors by the names of Robert Martin and Edward Blunden were enjoying some R & R in London as their ship, the Penelope, was docked there. During their stay they ended up rooming at 50 Berkeley Square, staying in exactly the same room that Warboys had died in.
They were allegedly awoken just after midnight by something moving in the room, creating “wet noises” and causing the wooden floorboards to creak and groan. When Blunden tried to investigate who the apparent trespasser could be he reportedly came across an amorphous, pulsating mass of grey blocking his way, which according to the report had leapt to attack him even as Martin woke up to join him. Upon seeing his friend fall to the ground, the thing attached to his throat, Martin supposedly ran out of the building and flagged down a police officer, yet when they arrived just a few minutes later the room seemed to be completely empty, with no sign of where Blunden had gone. Depending on the source, the policeman and Martin then eventually found the missing man either mauled and dismembered in the basement, or dead on the street, having jumped from the window to escape the mysterious assailant. In both versions the body is found to have a face contorted with terror.
Sightings and incidents were rather common for the building from then on as well, in particular the notorious 2nd floor, and this went on until the 1930s, when an Ed Maggs turned the place into a bookstore and antique shop called Maggs Brothers, which it remained until 2015. Apparently when Maggs moved in there was a lock placed on the 2nd floor and it has been totally off-limits, with whatever was up there gone or pacing about waiting for a victim that would never come. Although there have been no new spooky incidents, the building has never really lost its ominous reputation, and is still widely touted as one of the most haunted places in London.
There have been many theories of what has gone on to be called “The Nameless Thing of Berkeley Square” could be. One is that this was just a particularly intense haunting, and indeed the building’s history would fit in nicely with this, as there are legends that a little girl was once killed here by a servant and another that a previous tenant, a young woman, committed suicide by jumping from the top window after being physically abused by her uncle. Another tenant only known as Mr Myers was a reclusive hermit who apparently went insane and died within the house. Could the phenomena reported be the result of these restless spirits roaming about, some particularly intense poltergeist?
There is also the idea that some demon resides here or even that the house serves as some sort of doorway between dimensions, through which strange entities venture through. Still another wild idea is that this was not the result of a phantom, specter, or ghost, but rather some sort of mysterious octopoid cryptid that had managed to crawl up the pipes from London’s sprawling sewer system after coming up the Thames River from wherever it had been spawned. In other theories this was the doing of some sort of mutant or even an experiment gone awry, or even that it was just a fabricated rumor spread by counterfeiters holing up in the house in order to keep nosy people away.
Then again there is also the very distinct possibility that considering the variation between reports and the way some details have changed or been exaggerated over time we could simply be dealing with an urban legend. After all we have here a spooky old house that went for long stretches without occupants, so perhaps these stories just naturally congregated to it and were later embellished and retold until the legend took off. Indeed, skeptics have been quick to point out that many aspects of the tales from 50 Berkeley Square bear a strong resemblance to fictional works, such as the story of the sailors, which is thought to have likely come from a story by an author in the 1870s named Elliott O’Donnell.
Since many of the events that have supposedly happened at 50 Berkeley Square have not been corroborated or verified as historical fact, is there a chance that these are just eerie stories from the imagination? Is this a case of a ghost, spirit, demon, or poltergeist? Is it an inter dimensional interloper? Is it more cryptozoological in nature? Or is this just all distorted creepy tales pulled from fiction and sprung from the imagination? Whatever the case may be, the Nameless Thing of Berkeley Square still incites discussion and debate, and remains a very strange case indeed.
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 email@example.com. WeirdDarkness.com is also where you can find information on any of the sponsors you heard about during the show, find all of my social media, listen to audiobooks I’ve narrated, sign up for the email newsletter, find other podcasts that I host including “Church of the Undead”, visit the store for Weird Darkness merchandise, and more. WeirdDarkness.com is also where you can find the Hope in the Darkness page if you or someone you know is struggling with depression or dark thoughts. Also on the website, if you have a true paranormal or creepy tale to tell, you can click on TELL YOUR STORY. You can find all of that and more at WeirdDarkness.com.
All stories on Weird Darkness are purported to be true unless stated otherwise, and you can find links to the stories or the authors in the show notes.
“Kidney Crooks” by Nikkie Miller for Paranormal Daily News
“Paranormal Prose: Books Written By Ghosts” by U Kate Gorisert for Moon Mausoleum
“A Double Murderer Murdered” by Robert Wilhelm for Murder By Gaslight
“The Bond Street Tragedy” by Robert Wilhelm for Murder By Gaslight
“The Indescribable Beast of Berkely Square” by Brent Swancer for Mysterious Universe
“The Case Of Passed Out Pupils” from Oddity Central
“Ghostly Brides of America” by Darren Marlar
WeirdDarkness® is a registered trademark. Copyright, Weird Darkness.
Now that we’re coming out of the dark, I’ll leave you with a little light… (John 8:12) When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
And a final thought… “Everybody is somebody else’s weirdo.”
I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me in the Weird Darkness.