“SHAPESHIFTERS & THERIANTHROPES” and 3 More Disturbing But True Horrors! #WeirdDarkness
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Listen to ““SHAPESHIFTERS & THERIANTHROPES” and 3 More Disturbing But True Horrors! #WeirdDarkness” on Spreaker.
IN THIS EPISODE: The idea of a person changing into a wolf, or shape-shifting into some type of animal or cryptid is mostly confined to the authors of fictional horror. But not all societies and cultures are so quick to label shape-shifting as make-believe. (Shapeshifters And Therianthropes) *** In the 1960s, Brian Leathley-Andrew investigated and reported on numerous cases of strange objects in the sky, trying to get to the truth of what people were seeing. But when sinister events began happening to him, he knew he had to walk away from his career in Ufology – or the government might make him go away. (UFO Hunter Becomes The Hunted) *** A man goes off for supplies, leaving his wife behind to tend to the home in his absence – but not only did he never come home with the groceries, but a ghost story grew out of it. (The Ghosts of Hunger Valley) *** Saying the disappearance of David Glenn Lewis is bizarre doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface. What started out as a strange missing person’s case would eventually be resolved. But the answer that would come would pose even more questions, proving the adage that “truth is stranger than fiction”. (The Disappearance of David Glenn Lewis)
SOURCES AND ESSENTIAL WEB LINKS…
“UFO Hunter Becomes The Hunted“ by Mike Lockley for Anomalien.com: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/1fxu6h8y
“The Ghosts of Hunger Valley” by Charles Skinner, edited by Kathy Weiser, posted at LegendsOfAmerica.com:https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/111pegi3
“Shapeshifters And Therianthropes” by James Fenner for List Verse: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/1qqh0ult
“The Disappearance of David Glenn Lewis” by CrystalDawn for Lost N Found Blogs: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/1shqwhrt
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STORY: SHAPESHIFTERS AND THERIANTHROPES==========
For countless years, humans have sat around campfires and regaled one another with tales of mythical, shape-shifting beasts. These macabre creations horrify and thrill in equal measure. They chase us through our nightmares. They play tricks on the mind during those dark winter nights.
We seem equally fascinated by the idea of humans transforming into animals, or therianthropy. The transformation scene from An American Werewolf in London remains an iconic depiction of this otherworldly change. Such horror reminds us of our own animalistic roots.
In modern times, most cultures see shape-shifting and therianthropy as the work of overactive imaginations or the remnants of a superstitious past. But, as some of the entries in this list will show, shape-shifting demons and witch therianthropes are not quite in the rearview mirrors of all cultures.
THE TANUKI: Go to Japan, and you will find the landscape peppered with statues of creatures baring inordinately large testicles. These ceramic sculptures are depictions of the tanuki—small, raccoon-like animals that are common to Japanese folklore. (Actual Japanese raccoon dogs are also referred to as tanuki.)
Japanese legend speaks of a tile-maker who was made wealthy from a dancing tea kettle. The kettle was said to be a shape-shifting creature called a tanuki. These mythical beings were raccoon dogs that used their shape-shifting abilities to reward the kindly acts of strangers.
The tale begins with a Shinto priest repairing an old tea kettle. He places the kettle, now spick and span, on a hot stove. The priest is horrified when, all of a sudden, the object sprouts arms and legs. “Ouch!” cries the tanuki. Thinking the kettle is cursed, the priest gives it away to a local tile-maker. Now in the possession of a new master, the shape-shifter strikes a deal. It promises to serve as the man’s “dancing kettle” in exchange for his kindness and respect.
Some tanuki are said to have a much darker side to them. In the tale of the “Farmer and the Badger,” a tanuki shape-shifter destroys a Japanese farmer’s rice field. The farmer ensnares the mischievous animal and vows to turn it into tanuki soup. But the farmer’s wife takes pity on the tanuki and lets it escape. In an act of vengeance, the tanuki murders the woman and turns her into soup. The tanuki then transforms into the farmer’s wife and tries to make the farmer eat a bowl of his beloved’s delicious remains. The story gets stranger yet. An enraged rabbit—one of the farmer’s friends—takes exception to the horror show. The rabbit punishes the tanuki by playing a series of tricks on it. The rabbit hurls a bee’s nest on the tanuki, sets him on fire, and thwarts him in a boat race.
CHANGELINGS: It was once believed that fairies, elves, or witches would abduct human infants and replace them with their own sinister offspring. The original babies were either raised by the mythological creatures or handed over to the Devil as a sacrificial gift.
While the changeling takes on the guise of a small child, there are obvious signs that a swap has taken place. Changelings were said to speak with greater wisdom than that expected of a normal child. They also liked to dance, drink, and eat. However, despite their insatiable appetite, the creatures often displayed stunted growth.
Changelings are common to European folklore and may even have pre-Christian roots. The first documented case of a changeling was described by the Bishop of Paris William of Auvergne in 13th-century France: “They say they are skinny and always wailing and such milk-drinkers that four nurse maids do not supply sufficient milk to feed one. These appear to have remained with their nurses for many years, and afterward to have flown away, or rather vanished.”
The “brewery of eggshells” test was commonly used to confirm the presence of a changeling. The child was placed in front of a roaring fire. A series of eggshells were filled with water and set ablaze. The display was enough to impress the changeling, prompting it to exclaim: “I have seen the acorn before the oak: I have seen the egg before the white chicken: I have never seen the equal to this!”
Parents who felt they were the victims of changeling swaps took extreme measures. It was thought the fairies would return the original baby if the changeling was harmed. This meant the “counterfeit children” were often burned, beaten, or starved.
In reality, the “changeling” was probably just a sickly child. The parents were likely confusing simple childhood disorders like autism or birth defects like spina bifida with superstitious manifestations.
THE POOKA: A mythical fairy of Celtic folklore, the pooka is a dark-furred creature that assumes a variety of forms. The name stems from the Old Irish word for “goblin,” puca. Legend has it that the pooka have used their shape-shifting powers to change into cats, rabbits, horses, ravens, goats, goblins, and even humans. One of the most famous stories of a pooka is a film starring James Stewart and his best friend – an invisible giant rabbit named “Harvey” – the title of the film and stage play it was based upon. When asked by others what Harvey is, Jimmy Stewart’s character says that Harvey is a pooka.
Any pooka’s motives are usually unclear, demonstrating both malevolent and benevolent intentions. According to some folklorists, the pooka usually comes out to wreak havoc at night. These sly pranksters leave their mountaintop homes to roam the countryside, smashing fences and spoiling crops.
Its most common form is reported to be that of a black horse with golden eyes. The horse gallops around remote areas looking for a suitable rider. Those who fail to answer the creature’s calls have no alternative but to watch as the horse destroys their earthly possessions.
It is said that Ireland’s King Brian Boru once tamed the fabled beast. He leashed the pooka with a bridle made from its own tail. The king rode the pooka until it was utterly exhausted. He made the creature promise to leave both Christians and Irishmen in peace. The pooka was given a slight concession, though. It was still permitted to play its devilish tricks on unsuspecting drunkards and evildoers.
Pooka can, on occasion, show a more caring side. Some of the more superstitious parts of Ireland believe the pooka reveals prophecies and warns people about evil fairies. They also reward acts of kindness by helping out with manual labor.
SKINWALKERS: Skinwalkers were once normal members of the Navajo and Ute tribes. But after embracing dark magic and witchcraft, these former tribesmen ended up traveling a very different path.
The skinwalker cloaks itself in the skin of whatever animal it wishes to become. These therianthropes can become bears, wolves, owls, coyotes, and crows. According to Navajo mystics, the skinwalker takes on the properties of that animal. For example, a tribal shaman could change into a wolf to gain speed and agility.
To become a skinwalker, a medicine man must commit an act of great evil, like killing a close family member or friend. These disgraced shamans are permanently exiled from Navajo life. They have become, in Navajo tongue, yee naaldlooshii : “With it, he goes on all fours.”
Skinwalkers are often cast out because of necrophilia, murder, or grave robbery. They also play sadistic practical jokes on others. They plant dismembered fingers in homes to lure apparitions and chase frightened motorists in dead of night.
But the skinwalker’s secret weapon appears to be “corpse powder.” The powder induces convulsions and causes the recipient’s tongue to drop out. Because they possess such formidable knowledge of spiritual medicine, the Navajo people blame skinwalkers for death, disease, and famine.
THE KUMIHO: Popularized in Korean folklore, the kumiho (aka gumiho) is a nine-tailed fox with a penchant for young men. The kumiho is actually a demon who tries to lure men to their deaths by shape-shifting into a seductive woman. The demon fox uses a magical stone to extract the soul of its besotted victim. In some versions of the story, the fox rips out the liver or heart. This can take place while the demon is engaging in sexual acts.
In the story of “The Jewel of the Fox’s Tongue,” a shape-shifting kumiho slays 99 schoolboys, siphoning off their human energy. In accordance with similar tales of the kumiho, the fox needs to claim just one more soul to reach heaven. But she is bested by her final victim. The fox tries to take the boy’s energy by rolling an enchanted jewel (yeowu guseul ) over his mouth. He sees through the fox’s ploy and swallows the jewel. This grants him great wisdom. He sees no other option but to rally his fellow villagers and hunt down the deceitful kumiho.
While calling a woman a fox in Western culture typically refers to her beauty and desirability, the Korean word for “fox,” yowu, has negative connotations. It is often used to describe women who are cunning and manipulative. Tales of the kumiho aim to promote Confucian principles, warning Korean women against engaging in sexual deviancy.
THE NAGUAL: The Aztecs believed that animal spirits were linked to each person’s life energy. The nature of this spirit was determined through the Mesoamerican calendar. Sorcerers who had the power to transform into animals, and were born on certain dates, were known as naguals. The Olmecs and the Maya thought naguals were stealthy night stalkers who drank the blood of innocent mortals. Other reports suggested they could control the weather and cast bizarre illusions.
The historian Antonio de Herrera penned one of the earliest accounts of these mysterious figures. He argued that the Devil would assume the form of a “lion, tiger, coyote, lizard, snake, bird, or other animal” to con the Maya tribespeople of Cerquin, Honduras. Herrera spoke of a tribesman who, in a desperate bid to achieve the wealth of his ancestors, embraced nagualism. After performing a sacrificial ritual in which he laid waste to a dog or a fowl, the man slept. Talking spirit animals filled his dreams and delivered the following prophecy: “On such a day go hunting and the first animal or bird you see will be my form, and I shall remain your companion and Nagual for all time.”
It is likely this prophecy was the work of an intoxicating plant called peyote (peyotl ). Its hallucinogenic properties were often mistaken for supernatural divinations.
In many parts of rural Mexico, the legend of the nagual lives on. Recent sightings suggest the beast has now taken on a more feral appearance, looking like a large dog or wolf. The naguals have been blamed for missing persons, stolen goods, damaged property, and dead livestock.
MADAME PELE AND THE HOG CHILD: Madame Pele is an ancient deity who played a major role in shaping the Hawaiian Islands. It is no wonder, then, that Pele plays such a pivotal role in Hawaiian culture. Stores feature her memorabilia. The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has a large painting of the goddess. And there is a volcanic rock formation called Pele’s Chair.
The shape-shifting goddess is also known by the name Pelehonuamea, or “she who shapes the sacred land.” Locals claim they have seen their goddess in the form of a white dog or a beautiful woman.
Legend has it that Madame Pele was born in Tahiti. She was forced to flee, however, after seducing her sister’s husband—a wise decision, considering that her sister was the goddess of the sea. The voyage took her to the islands of Hawaii, where she used a divining rod (pa`oa) to create a series of giant fire pits. These pits represent the region’s many volcanoes.
Madame Pele eventually settled down in Hawaii and created the most active of the island’s volcanoes, Kilauea. Today’s volcanic activity is said to be more pronounced when Pele is angered. It is, therefore, not unusual for local islanders to leave offerings to ease her mood.
In 2018, many locals celebrated the eruption of Kilauea. The event triggered a number of earthquakes and destroyed many homes. “My house was an offering for Pele,” explained retired schoolteacher Monica Devlin. “It’s an awe-inspiring process of destruction and creation and I was lucky to glimpse it.”
The goddess was romantically pursued by another shape-shifter—the demigod Kamapua’a (aka the Hog Child). Kamapua’a could transform into fish, plants, and a powerful human-hog hybrid. Madame Pele was repulsed by the Hog Child’s advances, attacking him with a torrent of fire. In the ensuing battle, Kamapua’a wielded an unstoppable army of hogs to defeat Pele and her relatives.
THE ILIMU: Horrifying accounts of a predatory demon have spread throughout parts of Africa. One of the Bantu tribes of Kenya, the Kikuyu, names this evil hunter the ilimu. Some tribe members say the ilimu takes on the form of a healthy man. Others claim he looks more like a deformed village elder, with one of his feet jutting from the back of his neck.
According to Kenyan folklore, the ilimu is a flesh-eating terror that can shape-shift into a replica of another human. To do this, the ilimu must steal the target’s hair, nail clippings, or blood.
The demon can also possess a range of animals, most often lions. Some African tribes attribute lion attacks to ilimu activity, consulting medicine men for solutions.
In 1898, the British Empire coordinated the construction of a railway bridge over the Tsavo River. A large camp was established near the site to accommodate thousands of Indian workers. This served as an ideal hunting ground for a pair of highly intelligent lions—the Tsavo Man-Eaters (aka “The Ghost and The Darkness”). The duo worked together to outmaneuver their prey. During a series of nightly skirmishes, the lions negotiated their way around the camp’s man-made traps and fortifications. They would then target the slumbering workmen, one by one, spiriting them away into the undergrowth.
These attacks went on for months, prompting hundreds of workers to flee. News of demon tigers had spread like wildfire through the camps. The bridge project’s overseer, Lieutenant-Colonel John Henry Patterson, spent weeks hunting the animals. But they were too clever to fall victim to Patterson’s many and varied traps. Eventually, after several direct encounters, Patterson shot and killed the Man-Eaters. Incredibly, one of the lions took nine bullets before succumbing to its injuries.
THE LEYAK: On the Indonesian island of Bali, the Witch Widow, Rangda, reigns supreme. She uses a formidable cult of child-eating witches to terrorize the island’s superstitious population. Together, they are known as the leyak.
During the day, the leyak blend in with the crowds. It is only after sunset that the leyak reveals its true form. They spend their nights desecrating grave sites, looking for body parts to steal. These organs are used to craft a magical concoction that grants the leyak its shape-shifting power. Leyak can transform into monkeys, goats, lions, or other animals.
If that was not bizarre enough, a leyak can deliberately rip off its own head. It then flies around, entrails dangling in the wind, in search of sustenance. While the creature will happily feast on almost any animal, it favors the blood of mothers and their newborn babies.
According to Balinese legend, Rangda’s witch army once waged a war against the king of good spirits, a lion-like beast called Barong. Rangda cast a spell on Barong’s warriors, forcing them to fall on their own swords. But the great guardian prevented this massacre by turning his people invincible. Barong used his mighty powers to overcome the Witch Widow, restoring balance to the Hindu island. The events of this battle are proudly depicted in Balinese ceremonial dances.
THE LAGAHOO: Many communities throughout the Caribbean still believe in black magic (obeah ). It is not uncommon to see citizens sporting protective amulets, which are designed to ward off malevolent entities called “jumbies.” Trinidad and Tobago is no exception.
The people of the West Indies nation fear a shape-shifting jumbie named Lagahoo (also spelled “La Gahoo”). Derived from French folklore, the Lagahoo is a muscular man with a coffin for a head. His torso is sheathed in heavy chains, which rattle as he hunts for food. Lagahoo feasts on the blood of livestock and, more rarely, humans. While the Lagahoo spends much of its time looking like a weight-lifting pallbearer, the beast can transform into a variety of animals, including a centaur-like creature.
Defeating the Lagahoo is no small task. He must be captured and, for nine long days, beaten with a holy stick. During this rather unforgiving process, the creature will shape-shift into a variety of animals, eventually disappearing in a puff of smoke.
The Lagahoo’s French counterpart, the werewolf Loup Garou, is not quite as unshakable. Simply throwing grains of rice into the air is enough to stop this dopey brute in his tracks. Since Loup Garou appears to suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder, the creature must then spend the rest of the night counting each grain of rice.
In the 1960s, Brian Leathley-Andrew investigated and reported on numerous cases of strange objects in the sky, trying to get to the truth of what people were seeing. But when sinister events began happening to him, he knew he had to walk away from his career in Ufology – or the government might make him go away. (UFO Hunter Becomes The Hunted)
Plus, a man goes off for supplies, leaving his wife behind to tend to the home in his absence – but not only did he never come home with the groceries, but a ghost story grew out of it. (The Ghosts of Hunger Valley)
These stories and more when Weird Darkness returns.
STORY: UFO HUNTER BECOMES THE HUNTED==========
Brian Leathley-Andrew chronicled reports of a plethora of strange craft in the late 1960s. Press cuttings at the time suggest that, in the Swinging Sixties, the truth was definitely out there – and lurking in the skies over the West Midlands.
But his work made shadowy figures in the halls of power twitchy, Brian believes.
They were concerned, he reckons, that he’d tripped upon dark technology being developed in secret locations. This former electrical engineer said: “Society is being watched by the Department of Them. Say hello to System X. Quite clearly, I had problems with phone tapping, bloody crude phone tapping. You could hear the click. There were too many people looking, in hindsight.”
It has been more than 50 years since Brian turned his back on the UFO bureau and his interest in Close Encounters has diminished.
“These days I’m retired,” he admits. “I struggle to find time to tie my shoelaces.”
But he’s convinced of the validity of some of the sightings, even if work was sometimes bogged down by hoaxers.
He is also adamant that Big Brother was, indeed, watching – and listening in. His personal security, even safety, he says, were compromised.
“There were a lot of mickey-takers,” he admits. “One man sent me pictures of a UFO. It was the lid of exactly the same handcream my wife used. The jar was there on the table in front of me.”
Half a century on, the work of Brian’s bureau lives on through the yellowed archives of The Coventry Telegraph.
On December 3, 1968, Brian publicly admitted he was a scared man. Under the banner headline “Worried UFO Man Gives Up”, he announced the organisation’s closure.
In the bombshell article, Brian alleged:
– He had been watched by a man with a glowing orange face;
– His phone cut off whenever he attempted to talk about UFOs;
– He had a phone message from a caller “speaking unusual English”.
“I have given this thing up and destroyed all the papers,” he told the Telegraph. “There have been happenings which have worried me and frightened my wife.”
For Brian, the alarm bells rang while repairing his mother’s car.
“Suddenly, I noticed a man standing by the next door garage,” he told the paper. “Nobody had been there before.
“His face was glowing orange. As I watched, the face changed to that of an old man before my eyes. Then he turned and walked away. You could not describe the first face in normal terms. It had eyes, nose and mouth in the proper places – but not of the shape that we associate with the human figure.”
Soon afterwards, a visit to a fellow UFO watcher in Stoke was strangely scuppered.
“All the lights in the house suddenly dimmed as though a huge electrical load had been put in the circuit,” he said. This will happen once in a while normally, but it kept on happening. This is most unusual. All this started two days after I opened my bureau. I want to publicly warn all teenage hobbyists that this is nothing to dabble in lightly.”
Judging by the flood of reports, Brian was in the right place to experience extra-terrestrial activity. At the time, the Coventry Telegraph carried page after page of sightings.
And he was not alone in being gripped by ET fever. He believes the flood of sightings coincided with experimental research by the Government. The Rolls Royce factory was nearby, he pointed out.
Coventry folk – even city policemen – were experiencing close encounters on a daily basis.
The dramatic reports can best be described as “of their time”. Frankly, some of the Coventry Telegraph reporters seem to have approached the topic with tongue firmly in cheek.
“UFO Became A Mum” (September 28, 1968): “A flying saucer which gave birth over Willenhall has been reported to the Unidentified Flying Object Information Centre of Mr Brian Leathley-Andrew.
“An eye-witness phoned Mr Leathley-Andrew to report that the mother UFO was a giant sphere-like object seen in 1953. Sparks came from the underside of the UFO which gave birth to a small sphere. The incident was seen by people in a bus queue near Willenhall traffic island.”
And there’s more…
“Flying Saucers Not A Load of Tripe” (September 24, 1968): “Flying saucers were the greatest mystery of our time and should not be dismissed as a load of tripe, Mr Wilf Grunau told Nuneaton Rotary Club.
“Mr Grunau is managing director of the Awson Motor Carriage Company which has works at Solihull and Nuneaton. Mankind, he said, had been seeing strange things in the sky since the beginning of recorded history. Mr Grunau spoke of making two sightings himself over Coventry through binoculars. He said: ‘As a result, I believe in UFOs. All I can repeat is UFOs must be piloted by beings from other worlds or else they are a natural phenomena in our atmosphere’.”
And yet more…
“Saucer Over City Say Women” (March 31, 1969): “Two Coventry women believe there may have been a flying saucer over the city during the weekend after they were woken by an ‘unearthly’ high-pitched whining accompanied by a glowing light.
“‘I have been over all the possibilities and that is the only explanation I can think of,’ said 28-year-old Patricia Hughes.”
‘Do not be too sceptical about UFOs’
Back in the 1960s and early 1970s members of the constabulary were less shy about admitting they had seen UFOs.
After all, the whole nation were closet believers.
On February 24, 1971, four bobbies gave their story to the Coventry Telegraph.
It reported: “PC Brian Hewitt of B sub-division said: ‘We were attending a job in Lythall’s Lane at 6.15am when we all saw a strange object in the sky.
“‘It was not a meteorite or anything like that. There were three single white lights in the sky over the Nuneaton area and moving at a great spread in a westerly direction towards Birmingham. They then turned northwards.
“‘They were at the height of about two miles and the lights did not belong to the same object because they were so far apart. They appeared to be in formation.
“‘They were also travelling at a tremendous speed because an aircraft flying at, say, 600mph at that height would appear to be going very slowly.
“‘I don’t know what they could have been. I don’t believe in flying saucers or anything like that and I have tried to look at it in a reasoned way. I have checked with air traffic control at Birmingham Airport and the first aircraft to land there was later than the time we saw those lights. I cannot explain it.’”
Such was the space fever that the police actually appealed for UFO sightings.
On January 4, 1972, Warwickshire police sergeant Mike Davies told the Telegraph: “Don’t be too sceptical about UFOs.
“I ask people to whom sightings are reported to listen to what is said. Then they can deduce what the object was not, and speculate what it was. I believe there is something beyond our comprehension and our technology.
“The tendency is to take a few statements and then to make a sweeping statement about what an object was. People are too prepared to dismiss the subject.”
The officer added: “I have yet to be convinced that some information about UFOs is not withheld by the authorities.
“But supposing there was a statement that we were being invaded by people from another planet, what do you think the reaction of the public would be?”
STORY: THE GHOSTS OF HUNGER VALLEY==========
East of San Francisco, California is a narrow valley opening to the bay of San Pablo. In spite of its pleasant situation and fruitful possibilities, it had no inhabitants until 1820, when Miguel Zamacona and his wife Emilia strayed into it, while on a journey, and, being delighted with its scenery, determined to make it their home. In playful mockery of its abundance, they gave to it the name El Hambre [Hunger] valley.
After some weeks of such hardship as comes to a Mexican from work, Miguel had built an adobe cabin and got a garden started, while he caught a fish or shot a deer now and then, and they got on pretty well. At last, it became necessary that he should go to Yerba Buena, as San Francisco was then called, for goods.
His burros were fat and strong, and there should be no danger. Emilia cried at being left behind, but the garden had to be tended, and he was to be back in exactly three weeks.
She waited for 22 days; then, her anxiety becoming unendurable, she packed an outfit on a burro and started on the trail. From time to time she called his name, and “Miguel!” echoed sweetly from hills and groves, but there was no other answer, save when an owl would hoot. Rolled in a blanket she slept on lupin boughs, but was off at peep of day again, calling — calling — high and clear among the solitudes.
During the second day, her burro gave a rasping bray, and a hee-haw answered from the bush. It was Miguel’s burro. He had come at last! Leaping to her feet, in her impatience, she ran to meet him and found him lying on the earth, staring silently at the sky. All that day she sat beside him, caressing his hand, talking, crying, bathing his face with water from the marsh — the poison marsh — and it was not until sunset that she could bring herself to admit that he was dead–had been dead for at least two days.
She put the blanket over him, weighted it with stones, and heaped reeds upon it; then she started for home. A wandering trader heard her story, but years elapsed before any other settler entered Hunger valley. They found her skeleton then in the weedy garden. The adobe stands tenantless in the new village of Martinez, and the people have so often heard that the ghosts of the Zamaconas haunt the place that they have begun to disbelieve it.
Up next on Weird Darkness…
Saying the disappearance of David Glenn Lewis is bizarre doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface. What started out as a strange missing person’s case would eventually be resolved. But the answer that would come would pose even more questions, proving the adage that “truth is stranger than fiction”. (The Disappearance of David Glenn Lewis)
That story is up next.
STORY: THE DISAPPEARANCE OF DAVID GLENN LEWIS:
Although the case of David Glenn Lewis is so bizarre, there really isn’t much out there about it. Information that is available comes from a few scant newspaper articles, online entries and several detailed posts from a family friend on a message board.
David Glenn Lewis was born on December 11, 1953 in Borger, Texas. He graduated in 1979 from Texas Tech University School of Law with a doctor of Jurisprudence. After practicing law for several years, he was eventually elected as a Court of Law judge in nearby Moore County, TX from 1986-1990. After recently losing his bid for re-election, he once again was practicing law in Amarillo, TX. He lived in nearby Dumas with his wife Karen and their 9-year-old daughter Lauren. He was very active in his church as well as several charitable organizations. He was also a night instructor at nearby Amarillo College.
The last weekend in January in 1993 was Super Bowl weekend. It was Super Bowl XXVII that featured the Dallas Cowboys vs. Buffalo Bills. David Glenn Lewis was looking forward to watching the game as he was said to be a big Cowboys fan. His wife and daughter had decided to spend that weekend flying to Dallas and doing some shopping. David would be able to have a nice relaxing weekend at home rooting his team on. That was initially the plan anyway.
David Lewis’ wife and daughter would arrive home from their trip late at night on Sunday, January 31, 1993. They did note that the light and tv had been left on and the VCR had recorded the Super Bowl. David’s wedding ring and watch were on the kitchen counter. The dryer was on and what appeared to be 2 freshly made turkey sandwiches were in the refrigerator. There was only thing missing from the house….David.
At first David’s wife wasn’t concerned that he wasn’t at home. She thought perhaps he had gone in to work to get some things done or even decided to watch the Super Bowl somewhere else. The next morning her husband still wasn’t home. Karen started to become concerned and when she learned he had missed 2 appointments that day, she called the Amarillo Police Department and reported her husband as missing.
The police did begin an investigation into the disappearance of David Glenn Lewis. After interviewing friends and colleagues, here is what appears to be the actions of David in the days before he vanished.
On January 28th, David’s wife and daughter depart on their weekend trip to Dallas. David leaves work at the Buckner, Lara & Swindell law firm early that day telling co-workers he wasn’t feeling well and was going to go home. That afternoon, his credit card was used to purchase gas. He was also said to have taught his government class that night at Amarillo College. The class ended around 10 pm.
On January 29th, a friend from his church reports seeing David hurrying through the Southwest Airlines terminal at the Amarillo airport. They said he wasn’t carrying any luggage.
On January 30th is said to be the last day David was verified to have been seen but it is unclear who did see him. Someone did deposit $5000 in the couple’s joint bank account that day. Neighbors also reported seeing his red Explorer parked at his house.
On January 31st, the day he went missing, there weren’t any confirmed sightings of David Lewis. It was thought that whoever taped the Super Bowl (presumably Lewis) would have had to been there that night to start recording. The VCR either didn’t have a timer function or it wasn’t set up because the recording appears to have been started manually. By estimation, the recording was started around 5:15 pm that night.
On February 1st after missing two appointments, David’s wife reports him missing to Amarillo Police Department. An investigation is started.
On February 2nd, police found David Lewis’ red Explorer in front of the Potter County Courts Bldg. in downtown Amarillo. His house and car keys were found underneath the floor mat. His checkbook, credit cards and driver’s license were all found in his car as well which was customary of David, reports say.
During their investigation of David Lewis’ disappearance, police discovered that 2 plane tickets were purchased under the name “David Lewis” around the time he went missing. The first ticket was purchased on January 31st and was from Dallas to Amarillo. The second ticket was purchased on the next day, February 1st, and was from LA to Dallas, with a stopover in Amarillo. Back in 1993 however, you didn’t need to show ID to buy a ticket or show ID to fly so its unsure if it was actually David who purchased the tickets or if they were even used.
David’s family was convinced he would never leave voluntarily. They said he was too devoted to his family to ever consider that. According to his wife, David had gotten death threats during his time as a judge (1986-1990) and had recently told her his life was in danger but wouldn’t give her any details. David was also set to fly to Dallas the next week for a deposition in a $3 million conflict-of-interest lawsuit brought against his former law firm, Ham, Irwin, Graham & Cox, by a wealthy client. However, David’s lawyer didn’t think the deposition would be anything that would cause any harm to come to his client. I will add that David’s wife said that after he went missing, his files concerning the deposition apparently were missing too.
After investigating David’s case for 11 months with no developments, the Amarillo Special Crimes Unit canceled their probe into David Lewis’ disappearance. They could find no evidence of foul play and believed that David purchased the two tickets willingly. They declared David Lewis as “missing voluntarily”.
I do want to mention a few other possible sightings of David Lewis around the time he went missing. These are not confirmed, but if they are him certainly add to the odd circumstances around the time he went missing.
On February 1st, a Sheriff’s Deputy saw a man resembling David Lewis outside the Potter County Courts Bldg. taking photos of a red Explorer. Remember that is what David drove and his vehicle would be discovered there, unattended, the next day. Later that same day, a cab driver said he drove someone resembling Lewis from a hotel to the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport. He said the man seemed very nervous and paid in cash and said he had a wad of $100 bills.
Eleven years would go by and there would be no leads or information about the whereabouts of David Glenn Lewis. Then across the country, a most unlikely break in the case would come to light that would shock everyone.
In 2003 the Seattle Post Intelligencer printed an investigative series titled “Without a Trace”. It documented serious shortcomings in the way police handled adult missing person’s cases, in and outside the state. It also talked about the problem with law enforcement missing person’s data bank, namely the NCIC (National Crime Information Center). It stated that many of these cases sadly slip through the cracks.
Washington State Police Detective Patrick Dutter read the article with interest. His thoughts were “if it can be wrong there, it can be wrong here”. Detective Dutter then had an idea. He would do an extensive search on Google of some John and Jane Doe’s they had never identified in the area and see if he could come up with any leads. He painstakingly put details in like height, weight, etc. and it took him to various missing person’s websites. Within a week, Dutter had accomplished what expensive law enforcement databases were unable to, a list of possible victims. One of the John Doe’s from Washington looked very much like a missing person out of Texas. His name was David Glenn Lewis.
The only thing that gave Detective Dutter pause with the photo of the John Doe is he wasn’t wearing glasses whereas David Glenn Lewis wore distinctive glasses. Dutter did a little more digging and located the evidence list of the John Doe in question and discovered the John Doe did have eyeglasses in his pocket when his body was recovered. They looked very similar to David Glenn Lewis’ glasses. After contacting the Amarillo Police Department and sending a tissue sample of the victim (that had been preserved since 1993) as well as the victim’s shoes, a DNA sample was then compared with the missing person’s mother in Amarillo. It was a match. David Glenn Lewis had finally been found.
The circumstances of David Glenn Lewis’ death are even more bizarre than his disappearance. He was killed in a hit and run on a lonely two-lane highway close to Moxee, Washington, about 10 miles from the Yakima Airport. He was killed at 10:24 pm on February 1st, the day after he went missing. So, David Glenn Lewis had traveled about 1600 miles and was killed only about 29 hours after he was thought to be at his home recording the Super Bowl.
The circumstances of David’s last moments, according to witnesses, absolutely defy logic. It was reported that David was walking down the center line of the road in the pitch dark. One concerned driver turned their vehicle around to warn other motorists there was a man in the road, but it was too late. They returned to find David’s crumpled body on the pavement deceased. It is reported that a Chevy Camaro was seen leaving the scene but the identity of the car who hit David Lewis has never been discovered. There were no drugs or alcohol in his system.
Another completely bizarre revelation was what clothes David Lewis had on that night. He was found wearing worn military fatigues and work boots, clothing that his wife was adamant David did not own. When the unknown person was hit that night, it is also reported that he was not wearing glasses yet glasses were found in his clothing. David Glenn Lewis is said to need glasses badly in order to see.
David Glenn Lewis’s family was completely baffled by the circumstances leading to his death. They said he had no known ties to the Yakima area. The trip would have taken about 23 hours by car or several hours by plane. There were no direct flights to Yakima so it is unknown how he even got to the area especially in the short amount of time that he did. The family had concerns that their loved one may have even been kidnapped and that perhaps David Lewis’ thoughts his life was in danger could be true.
Although I don’t think the two mysterious disappearances are related, there is another person who went missing not too long after David Lewis vanished and not too far away that I want to mention. Johnny Lee Baker, 47, also from Borger, TX vanished on June 21, 1994 from his home. He was reported to have grown up with David Glenn Lewis in the same small town. Baker called his son at 9:30 pm the night of his disappearance and after speaking with him vanished. None of his belongings, wallet or vehicle had been taken and the only thing missing was his garage door opener. Johnny Lee Baker was a pharmacist and said to be a prominent figure in the community. He has never been found.
Back to David Glenn Lewis. This is definitely one of those cases where one theory doesn’t make perfect sense and will answer all the unknowns. I’ll break it down into three possible scenarios that could have happened but first I’ll say what I don’t think happened.
I don’t think David Glenn Lewis was kidnapped or murdered. It wouldn’t make sense to take him so far away so quickly. There were no signs of a struggle at his house or in his car. There were never any sightings of him with anyone, he was always alone. Also, he wasn’t murdered. Things just don’t add up that there were others involved.
The first theory, what if David Glenn Lewis’ life really was in danger? If he had actually been threatened, his first concern would probably be protecting his family. Perhaps he left the area so they wouldn’t be in danger. He did all these things that didn’t make any sense in an effort to throw the people after him off track. The fact that he was killed wasn’t something he anticipated, just a very unfortunate accident.
The second scenario is that David Glenn Lewis was battling some inner demons. He did tell his wife his life was in danger. What we don’t know is if that was actually true or in David’s mind it was true. I can envision a possible scenario where David wanted to flee, and in his mind, protect his family from the perceived danger they were in. He leaves everything behind (including ID, ring, watch and even clothing) so he can’t be identified. If the plane tickets were not used, they could have just been a red herring to throw people off the track as he didn’t want to be discovered. I also can’t understand why if David needed his glasses so badly, why he wouldn’t have been wearing them late at night on a dark road. So many of the things David did in the last few days of his life didn’t make sense and showed that David was not thinking clearly.
The third one I’m going to bring up I first read about when a clinical psychologist commented on an online post about David Lewis’ case. He said his actions sounded like a “dissociative fugue state”. After doing some research here are some of the symptoms: “sudden and unplanned travel away from home, inability to recall past events or important information from the person’s life, confusion or loss of memory about their identity”. It is also said that “In dissociative fugue, people lose some or all memories of their past and they usually disappear from their environments, leaving their family and job.” I think this could be another scenario for why David Glenn Lewis disappeared abruptly that night and why his actions in his final days made no sense.
By all accounts, David Glenn Lewis was a very kind and loving man who enjoyed helping others. There was nothing but words of praise about him in all of my research. The tragic and unexplained way he disappeared and later died shouldn’t take away from that or the upstanding life that he lived.
When David was finally discovered, his remains were brought home to Texas for a proper burial. Here is what part of the obituary read: “Your love and devotion have been missed so very much. You touched so many lives while you were here. How sad that many of your dreams were left unfulfilled. We know that God is using you for his almighty work.” David Glenn Lewis had so much of his life left to live and it is tragic how and why his life was cut short. This is one of those cases where we won’t get the answers we seek. Only David Glenn Lewis knows what was going through his mind in those final days and why he traveled on a cross country conundrum.