“THE BUTCHER OF BUCHAREST: LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON” and More Disturbing True Stories! #WeirdDarkness
Find Weird Darkness wherever you listen to podcasts: https://weirddarkness.com/listen. #ai #edmundkemper #necrophilia #butcherofbucharest #ionrimaru #florearimaru #vampire #cannibal #unit731 #paranormal#truecrime #weirdhistory #ghoststory #horrorstory #cryptid #trueparanormal #truestory
Listen to ““THE BUTCHER OF BUCHAREST: LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON” and More Disturbing True Stories! #WeirdDarkness” on Spreaker.
IN THIS EPISODE: A neural network named “Norman” is disturbingly different from other types of artificial intelligence. How? Well, for one… it’s a psychopath. (Meet Norman, The Artificially Intelligent Psychopath) *** Twenty high school students all lost consciousness and collapsed under mysterious circumstances during class on Tuesday, July 3. Was it mass hysteria? Juju in Ghana? Or did the students actually see ghosts as they claim? (Ghana Students Faint After Seeing Ghosts) *** At a young age, Edmund Kemper decapitated his sisters’ dolls and even stalked his second-grade teacher with a bayonet. But he was young and just getting started. (Serial Killer Edmund Kemper) *** During the Second World War, in the gruesome world of Unit 731, the unthinkable was done on a daily basis. Prisoners, were subjected to unimaginable horrors. Today, ghostly voices are heard and anomalies frequently appear in photographs. (Unit 731) *** Ion Rimaru is a murderer like no other – vampirism, cannibalism, necrophilia – and why shouldn’t he? After all, he’s taking after his serial killer father. (The Disturbing Crimes of a Father and Son)
SOURCES AND ESSENTIAL WEB LINKS…
“Ghana Students Faint After Seeing Ghosts” by Sequoya Kennedy for Mysterious Universe: http://bit.ly/2oqghUU
“Serial Killer Edmund Kemper” by Gabe Paoletti for All That’s Interesting: http://bit.ly/2nDRLiF
“Unit 731” posted at Ghost-Story.co.uk: http://bit.ly/2nGqXyg
“The Disturbing Crimes of a Father and Son” by Les Hewitt for Historic Mysteries: http://bit.ly/2nG8phK
“Meet Norman, The Artificially Intelligent Psychopath” by Mindy Weisberger for Live Science: http://bit.ly/2m8n2d7
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
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.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
(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
Weird Darkness®, Weird Darkness© 2022
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
In the few months either side of Christmas 1970, a bizarre crime wave shocked the city of Bucharest. At the time, nobody knew who ventured out late at night with an axe, an iron bar, a hammer, and a knife to target lone restaurant staff on their way home from work. All of these attacks took place in the early hours of the morning. Each time, the weather was extreme. Mild and calm nights seemed to keep the criminals at bay. As a direct result of these attacks, the women of Bucharest were fearing for their lives. They would only go out after dark in the company of chaperones, either large groups of women or in the company of a trusted man. The lack of details issued by the investigating officers didn’t help ease any fears. If anything, withholding crucial information only acted as fuel that sparked wild imaginations. With such random weapons being used, were they looking at one killer or several?
I’m Darren Marlar and this is Weird Darkness.
Welcome, Weirdos – I’m Darren Marlar and this is Weird Darkness. Here you’ll find stories of the paranormal, supernatural, legends, lore, the strange and bizarre, crime, conspiracy, mysterious, macabre, unsolved and unexplained.
Coming up in this episode…
A neural network named “Norman” is disturbingly different from other types of artificial intelligence (AI). How? Well, for one… it’s a psychopath.
Twenty high school students all lost consciousness and collapsed under mysterious circumstances during class. Was it mass hysteria? Juju in Ghana? Or did the students actually see ghosts as they claim?
At a young age, Edmund Kemper decapitated his sisters’ dolls and even stalked his second-grade teacher with a bayonet. But he was young and just getting started.
During the Second World War, in the gruesome world of Unit 731, the unthinkable was done on a daily basis. Prisoners, were subjected to unimaginable horrors. Today, ghostly voices are heard and anomalies frequently appear in photographs.
Ion Rimaru is a murderer like no other – vampirism, cannibalism, necrophilia – and why shouldn’t he? After all, he’s taking after his serial killer father.
If you’re new here, welcome to the show! While you’re listening, be sure to check out WeirdDarkness.com for merchandise, my newsletter, enter contests, to connect with me on social media, plus, you can visit the Hope in the Darkness page if you’re struggling with depression or dark thoughts. You can find all of that and more at WeirdDarkness.com.
Now.. bolt your doors, lock your windows, turn off your lights, and come with me into the Weird Darkness!
STORY: FATHER AND SON=====
People have often questioned what exactly makes a killer. Is it nature or nurture: heredity or upbringing? This case of Ion Rimaru, dubbed the Vampire of Bucharest and the Wolf Man, may reveal that it’s actually both. Interestingly, both Ion and his father, Florea Rimaru, were extremely brutal serial murderers in their own times.
Ion Rimaru’s animalistic murder spree from 1970-1971 in Romania was so notorious that innocent namesakes legally altered their surnames rather than have any association with Rimaru. Bucharest was on high alert during that year when the so-called Vampire of Bucharest of the blonde’s killer was on the loose. Rimaru’s final tally entered into double figures, with four murders from the umpteen attacks on women. Each time, his method was identical and brutal to the extreme. Ion used an axe and a metal rod to mutilate the women. He bit flesh off of all his victims repeatedly, and authorities believe that he ate the parts. Some victims who survived also testified that Ion poked holes in them and drank their blood.
Little did anyone know that Ion’s father, Florea Rimaru, had committed four murders in 1944, two years before Ion was born in October 1946. All the crimes occurred during stormy weather at the victims’ ground floor apartments. Also, they had all been bashed in the head with a blunt weapon. As you will see, the details of these cases will match closely to the crimes of Ion Rimaru. Florea left behind shoe and fingerprints at his crime scenes, however, authorities never caught him. Those pieces of evidence would later reveal his guilt, but not until it was too late to punish him.
Ion’s father planted the seeds for his child’s brutality early in Ion’s life. As the eldest child, Ion witnessed his father’s abuse of his mother on a daily basis. Florea Rimaru finally left and moved to Bucharest, but he left behind a raging misfit that courted trouble.
Before his conviction of aggravated theft when he was 18, Ion had already forged a reputation for himself. Forced to repeat the ninth grade, it was discovered that he had an ongoing sexual relationship with his teacher’s underage daughter. Despite all of this though, Ion passed his formal education and acquired passing grades.
In 1966, a grade of 5.33 out of ten was good enough to see Ion secure a place at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine University. One of the professors there noticed that Ion was shy and semi-literate with a limited vocabulary and not many interests. These are facts that might explain why he had to repeated his second and third years of study. Roommates also noticed that he tended to behave oddly and they preferred to ignore him whenever possible. According to one other student, Rimaru opted to patrol the dormitory outside a female’s room one night rather than get some sleep. On top of these bizarre behaviors, a year after entering university, doctors diagnosed Ion with esophageal spasms – a reactive nervous syndrome – and other mental problems.
In the few months either side of Christmas 1970, a bizarre crime wave shocked the city of Bucharest. At the time, nobody knew who ventured out late at night with an axe, an iron bar, a hammer, and a knife to target lone restaurant staff on their way home from work. All of these attacks took place in the early hours of the morning. Each time, the weather was extreme. This paralleled Ion’s father’s crimes. Mild and calm nights seemed to keep the criminals at bay.
As a direct result of these attacks, the women of Bucharest were fearing for their lives. They would only go out after 9 pm in the company of chaperones, either large groups of women or in the company of a trusted man. The lack of details issued by the investigating officers didn’t help ease any fears. If anything, withholding crucial information only acted as fuel that sparked wild imaginations.
Only after Ion committed several crimes did police officers realise that they were the work of the same individual. The investigation lasted a year and survivors did help with the arrest of Rimaru in May 1971. Being just one of the estimated 2500 suspects interviewed, the decisive factor in his arrest was a medical diagnosis sheet that investigators found at the scene of a murder.
On March 4, 1971, six doctors all came to the conclusion that Ion suffered from periodic bouts of epilepsy. A note from one of the doctors, Octavian Ieniste, was discovered beneath the brutalised body of Mihaela Ursu. Clutched between her fingers was a strand of hair that was all investigators needed to identify the man responsible. However, this identification came too late to prevent additional attacks. Rimaru no longer targeted waitresses. He was willing and more than able to target any woman, whether they were alone or not.
Rimaru’s reign of terror came to an end when the police investigating the medical note were in the midst of a process of elimination for all of that particular doctor’s patients. Rimaru was not at his dorm room when police arrived, but they went in and searched the premises. During this search, Rimaru returned with his arsenal of weapons inside a bag. Forensic investigation matched the hair at the crime scene to Ion’s. Hence, they had an open and shut case.
Police charged Rimaru with 23 violent crimes. The worst of these included:
- 8 April 1970 – The premeditated murder of Elena Oprea. A neighbour interrupted the attack and forced him to flee. No rape took place this time.
1 June 1970 – Rimaru beat Florica Marcu unconscious in front of her home. He took her to the Sfânta Vineri cemetery where he pushed her off a fence, raped her and stabbed her. Ion did drink some of her blood. A truck driver saved her life.
19 July 1970 – Olga Bărăitaru became Rimaru’s third victim after he raped her. During the attempt on her life, she also sustained serious injury from an aggravated theft.
- 15 February 1971 – Just like Olga, Gheorghita Sfetcu was lucky to survive Ion’s attack.
17 February 1971 – 48 hours after Gheorghita narrowly survived an assault, Rimaru struck again. Elisabeta Florea also escaped with her life.
4 March 1971 – Fănica Ilie found herself in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong man and paid the ultimate price.
8 April 1971 – This is perhaps the most sadistic of all of his crimes to date. The unfortunate Gheorghita Popa suffered 48 stab wounds to her head, chest and limbs. Subsequently, he stamped on her ribs and bit her corpse.
- 1 May 1971 – Stana Saracin managed to fend off a sexual assault.
4/5 May 1971 – Rimaru raped and murdered Mihaela Ursu. Someone interrupted him in the middle of this crime and he managed to escape. However, his bloodlust was unsatisfied so he went on the hunt. Two hours later, he managed to find Maria Iordache and he inflicted a terrible assault upon her. Despite being repeatedly battered with an iron bar, she somehow managed to escape his clutches, forcing Rimaru to drop the blunt instrument.
6/7 May 1971 – Rimaru tried to add two more murders to his catalogue of horrendous crimes. Both Viorica Tatu and Elena Buluci survived their encounters with Rimaru.
Investigators had initiated Operation Vulture and had managed to draw on the services of 6,000 members of law-enforcement agencies, 100 cars, 40 motorcycles and various members of the public from many walks of life. Even with this impressive dragnet scouring the streets of Bucharest, Rimaru managed to commit one more murder and scores of frenzied attacks before finally being caught.
Once he was arrested, Rimaru took the right to remain silent … literally. In custody he did little more than stare into space without any apparent emotion. This was a far cry from the ferocious and cruel sadist that had scared an entire city witless for close to an entire year. Women, especially, began to feel a little safer with Rimaru safely behind bars. The threat of being attacked or mauled while alive, or beaten and raped after death by a misogynistic lunatic meant that urban life could begin to return to normal.
Since he was not volunteering any additional information, the police plotted a strategy of placing an undercover officer in with him in order to prise a confession from him. The undercover officer posed as a thief and managed to get a confession for over 20 violent crimes after two months of painstaking work. However, they only charged Rimaru with three murders.
At first, Rimaru tried to convince the authorities that he was not responsible on the grounds of insanity. He claimed he didn’t realise that the women involved would suffer or die. However, he did actually admit to the charges. Police asked him to visit the scenes of his atrocious crimes. Additionally, surviving witnesses participated in line-ups, and they would tremble visibly when they made eye contact with Ion.
Authorities generally concluded that comments made by his own father, Florea, had a large part to play in the transformation from innocent child to insane monster. It is possible that Florea coached or counseled Ion, but there is no evidence of this. While the initial manhunt was taking place for Ion, police arrested Florea three times. However, this was in connection to Ion’s crimes, rather than his own. Each time though, they released him because Romanian law would not allow close family members to testify against each other.
Ion Rimaru’s trial hinged largely on the insanity defense. Public attention to the trial was immense, and the proceedings took a dramatic turn when Rimaru pleaded insanity. Although Rimaru thought he had convinced officials of his mental instability, a report stated otherwise. Mental illness did not cloud Rimaru’s judgment, and he knew what he was doing all along. Rimaru changed his plea and subsequently refused to answer any questions from that point onwards.
The judge sentenced Ion Rimaru to death by firing squad and all his appeals failed. So, on October 23, 1971, officers took Ion to his place of execution. Three of the officers had to physically move him. After they tied him to the stake, Rimaru tried to bite off his own clothes. He twisted himself around the pole in a futile effort to avoid punishment. Rimaru begged for his own father to come and witness the execution as he said, ‘he was the only one who was guilty’. The firing squad carried out the sentence. Ion Rimaru lies in the town cemetery in an unmarked grave.
Oddly, exactly one year to the day after the execution of Ion Rimaru, Florea Rimaru officially “fell” off a train. However, other Romanian sources say that “security” pushed him out. Florea died that day. Followup forensic tests determined that his shoe size, fingerprints, and height all matched the evidence and testimony from the serial murders of 1944.
“Dr. Butoi, the psychologist, theorizes that a gene predisposing one to violent crimes was transmitted from father to son, as the murders happened under remarkably similar circumstances” (Wikipedia, Ion Rimaru).
Twenty high school students all lost consciousness and collapsed under mysterious circumstances during class; did the students actually see ghosts as they claim?
Plus… At a young age, Edmund Kemper decapitated his sisters’ dolls and even stalked his second-grade teacher with a bayonet. But he was young and just getting started. (
And… during the Second World War, in the gruesome world of Unit 731, the unthinkable was done on a daily basis. Prisoners, were subjected to unimaginable horrors. Today, ghostly voices are heard and anomalies frequently appear in photographs.
These stories and more when Weird Darkness returns!
STORY: GHANA GHOST=====
Is it mass hysteria, or another case of juju in Ghana? Is there a difference? According to Daily Guide Africa, 20 high school students lost consciousness and collapsed under mysterious circumstances during class on Tuesday, July 3. The affected students had complained about seeing ghosts, including the spirits of classmates who had died, before collapsing, according to classmates.
The incident occurred at Nungua Senior High School in Accra on Tuesday morning. The group of students all seemingly collapsed and lost consciousness at the same time. Whether it was instantaneous or just roughly at the same time was not stated. There seemed to be no material cause for the students’ collapse and they were rushed to the nearby LEKMA Hospital, where they are being treated.
According to the Guide, doctors at LEKMA Hospital have attributed the bizarre event to mass hysteria, yet at least the claims of a paranormal aspect have been corroborated. Dr Joseph Oliver Commey, who is treating the students at LEKMA says:
*****“They rushed to the emergency room with some behaving abnormally. But we found out that most of them were suffering from hysteria. They said they had seen things, some seeing ghosts, some seeing other students who are dead. We can’t work with that as clinicians so we have managed them. They are currently very stable and they are waiting to see the clinical psychologist. We’ve seen close to 18 students, and we are observing three others. By the end of the day, we’ll hand them over to the school authorities who are still here”*****
It’s a tough nut to crack. If they had indeed seen visions of spirits, including some they know, and then lost consciousness and collapsed, seeming a little hysterical after the fact is probably pretty normal. Of course, in a place where there is a real fear and belief in juju and the paranormal, seeing one or two of your friends collapse from mundane causes—like heat exhaustion or any of the other myriad reasons that people pass out—could very well trigger a cascade of panic attacks resulting in more collapsing and more panic.
Mass hysteria is one of those catch-all terms to describe bizarre things that no one understands. It’s not a disease in the regular sense. Having been blamed for both events like this as well as events like the Salem witch trials—although that is very much debated, it has still been considered a possible cause—which was an entirely different type of event, it seems like “mass hysteria” is just an easy thing to say when a group of people claim to have experienced something out of the norm.
Strangely, this isn’t the first time this has happened. A very similar event took place in Tanzania in 2008, when 20 girls all rapidly fell unconscious during school. Other mass collapses have been reported all over the world as well. Maybe mass hysteria, is the right term, sometimes groups of people do just completely lose their minds all at once. Does that make it any less strange? Would that be an argument against the paranormal or in favor of it? It’s hard to tell.
STORY: EDMUND KEMPER=====
Though recently revisited in the Netflix series Mindhunters, one of the most heinous and often overlooked serial killers of American history is “The Co-ed Killer,” Edmund Kemper III.
At 6 feet 9 inches and with an IQ of 145, Edmund Kemper was an intimidating killer in every sense of the word.
Kemper’s murderous impulses can be traced back to his childhood, where he presented troubling behavior in a family ill-equipped to deal with his problems. His father, Edmund Emil Kemper II, was a World War II veteran who was in a loveless and damaging marriage with his mother, Clarnell Elizabeth Kemper.
Clarnell was an alcoholic, possibly suffering from borderline personality disorder. The older Kemper, who had worked on nuclear bomb tests in the Pacific once said that “suicide missions in wartime and the later atomic bomb testings were nothing compared to living with Clarnell.”
Clarnell would berate her husband for what she perceived as his “menial” job and refused to coddle her son for fear that it would “turn him gay.”
At the same time, Kemper began to display dark fantasies relating to sexuality and death. He would decapitate his sister’s dolls in elaborate rites and even stalked his second-grade teacher outside her house, carrying his father’s bayonet.
At the age of 10, he killed his family’s pet cat, and at the age of 13, he killed another, this time keeping pieces of the animal in his closet until his mother found them.
In 1957, Kemper’s father left the family, leaving him in the company of just his mother and two sisters. His mother feared Kemper, who already stood 6’4″ at the age of 15, and made him sleep in a locked basement for fear that he would harm his sisters.
She would regularly berate and insult him, telling the boy that no woman would ever love him.
At the age of 14, Kemper ran away from his mother’s house to live with his father in California.
However, his father had remarried and sent Kemper to live with his grandparents on their ranch. There Kemper transferred much of his rage for his parents towards these his new stewards.
After getting into an argument with his grandmother, Kemper shot her in the head with his grandfather’s .22 caliber rifle.
He then killed his grandfather as he was walking up the driveway towards the house so, according to Kemper, he would not have to find out his wife was dead.
Kemper then turned himself into the police after calling his mother and asking what to do.
Kemper was then sent to the criminally insane unit of Atascadero State Hospital. It was there that he was first tested for his IQ, and learned of his high score.
On Kemper’s 21st birthday in 1969, he was finally released from Atascadero back into the care of his mother, who was now working as an administrative assistant at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
He still had to check in with probation psychologists, but knew what to say to them from his experiences at Atascadero and was considered a low risk.
After a year, Kemper began living in places across Northern California, periodically returning to his mother’s house in Aptos when he had run out of money.
It was at this time that Kemper embarked on his infamous murder spree where he would pick up young women who were hitchhiking and murder them, have sex with their corpses, and dismember their bodies.
His first victims were Mary Ann Pesce and Anita Luchessa, two Fresno State students he encountered while driving around Berkley, Calif. Kemper brought the women to a wooded area nearby where he originally intended to rape them, but panicked and ended up stabbing and choking the two women to death.
He then stuffed their bodies in his trunk and drove over to his house in Alameda where he was living at the time. On the way, a police officer stopped him for a broken taillight but did not search the car.
Once home, Kemper raped the bodies before dismembering them, placing the pieces of the bodies in plastic bags, and disposing of them in a ravine near Loma Prieta Mountain.
Kemper continued this formula of murder on his next victim, 15-year-old Korean dance student Aiko Koo. During this encounter, Kemper accidentally locked himself out of his car but was able to persuade Koo to let him back in.
By early 1973, Kemper had run out of funds and had moved back in with his mother at her home on the UC Santa Cruz campus. There he continued his killings, murdering three more college students he picked up around the campus.
He even buried one of the dismembered heads of his victims in his mother’s garden and left it facing upward toward her bedroom. According to him, he did this because his mother “always wanted people to look up to her.”
Then, on April 20, 1973, Kemper’s murders reached their natural culmination when he bludgeoned his mother to death with a claw hammer while she slept in her bed. Kemper then decapitated her and raped her severed head, before placing it on a shelf and using it as a dart board.
He cut out her tongue and larynx and placed them in the garbage disposal.
Kemper then invited his mother’s best friend over to the house, before murdering her and stealing her car. He drove to Colorado, but after not hearing any news of the murders, ended up calling the police from a phone booth to confess to murdering his mother.
The police did not take the call seriously prompting Kemper to admit to all of the murders he had committed to get their attention. When asked why he turned himself in, Kemper said that “the original purpose was gone…I just said to hell with it and called it all off.”
He was arrested and convicted of eight counts of first-degree murder. Kemper attempted suicide twice and even requested the death penalty, but failed on all counts and was given seven consecutive life sentences.
Edmund Kemper was imprisoned at the California Medical Facility alongside Herbert Mullin and Charles Manson, where he still resides to this day. While in prison, Kemper willingly participated in a number of interviews from reporters and law enforcement.
As detailed in Mindhunters, Edmund Kemper’s testimony as to his state of mind during his murders was integral to law enforcement’s understanding of the mind of serial killers.
Edmund Kemper became a model prisoner at the California Medical Facility, where he is in charge of scheduling other inmates’ appointments with psychiatrists and has spent over 5,000 hours narrating books on tape for the blind.
STORY: UNIT 731=====
Unit 731 was the code name of an Imperial Japanese Army unit officially known as the Kempeitai Political Department and Epidemic Prevention Research Laboratory. It was initially set up under the Kempeitai military police of the Empire of Japan to develop weapons of mass destruction for potential use against Chinese, and possibly Soviet forces. Unit 731 was based at the Pingfang district of Harbin, the largest city in the Japanese occupied state of Manchukuo (now Northeast China).
More than 95 percent of the victims who died in the camp based in Pingfang were Chinese and Korean, including both civilian and military. The remaining 5 percent were South East Asians and Pacific Islanders, at the time colonies of the Empire of Japan, and a small number of the prisoners of war from the Allies of World War II.
According to the 2002 International Symposium on the Crimes of Bacteriological Warfare, the number of people killed by the Imperial Japanese Army germ warfare and human experiments is around 580,000.
In the gruesome world of Unit 731 the unthinkable was done on a daily basis. Prisoners, were subjected to unimaginable horrors. They were infected with diseases such as anthrax, cholera and even bubonic plague. To gauge the effect of these diseases on their subjects whom they dehumanized by calling them “logs”. Un-anesthetized vivisection was performed in many cases the subjects would be consciousness while the dissection was taking place.
Whole towns and villages were decimated by the ghoulish doctors and researchers of Unit 731 and the effects of their horrible crimes still resonate there to this day. Parts of the Unit 731 complex still remain. there are buildings where frostbite experiments were performed, courtyards and open areas where prisoners were subjected to live bombs detonated at close range to enable researchers to evaluate the effect of explosives of the sort that Japanese soldiers were encountering in the fields. Other buildings where the live human vivisections took place overlook the prisoner holding area and the long-unused railway station where the prisoners were offloaded for their horrible fate.
The Chinese government sanctioned the Unit and the surrounding area as a learning centre for future generations of Chinese, and just recently visitors from the West have been allowed access to the killing fields at Harbin. But for many years there have been reports of paranormal activity associated with the old charnel houses: ghost lights and apparitions are frequently seen, including a ghostly figure that walks the empty precincts surrounding the frostbite units.
Ghostly voices have been heard and anomalies frequently appear in photographs taken in the area. Recently, during the filming of a BBC television documentary, the English film crew experienced unexplainable problems with their lights and batteries often a sign of ghostly activity. Many speculate that as the story of Unit 731 is more widely told, the ghosts of those tragically tormented and murdered there are becoming more and more active.
When Weird Darkness returns… A neural network named “Norman” is disturbingly different from other types of artificial intelligence (AI). How? Well, for one… Norman is a psychopath. That story is up next.
A neural network named “Norman” is disturbingly different from other types of artificial intelligence (AI).
Housed at MIT Media Lab, a research laboratory that investigates AI and machine learning, Norman’s computer brain was allegedly warped by exposure to “the darkest corners of Reddit” during its early training, leaving the AI with “chronic hallucinatory disorder,” according to a description published April 1 (yes, April Fools’ Day) on the project’s website.
MIT Media Lab representatives described the presence of “something fundamentally evil in Norman’s architecture that makes his re-training impossible,” adding that not even exposure to holograms of cute kittens was enough to reverse whatever damage its computer brain suffered in the bowels of Reddit.
This outlandish story is clearly a prank, but Norman itself is real. The AI has learned to respond with violent, gruesome scenarios when presented with inkblots; its responses suggest its “mind” experiences a psychological disorder.
In dubbing Norman a “psychopath AI,” its creators are playing fast and loose with the clinical definition of the psychiatric condition, which describes a combination of traits that can include lack of empathy or guilt alongside criminal or impulsive behavior, according to Scientific American.
Norman demonstrates its abnormality when presented with inkblot images — a type of psychoanalytic tool known as the Rorschach test. Psychologists can get clues about people’s underlying mental health based on the descriptions of what they see when looking at these inkblots.
When MIT Media Lab representatives tested other neural networks with Rorschach inkblots, the descriptions were banal and benign, such as “an airplane flying through the air with smoke coming from it” and “a black-and-white photo of a small bird,” according to the website.
However, Norman’s responses to the same inkblots took a darker turn, with the “psychopathic” AI describing the patterns as “man is shot dumped from car” and “man gets pulled into dough machine.”
According to the prank, the AI is currently located in an isolated server room in a basement, with safeguards in place to protect humans’ other computers and the internet from contamination or harm through contact with Norman. Also present in the room are weapons such as blowtorches, saws and hammers, for physically disassembling Norman, “to be used if all digital and electronic fail-safes malfunction,” MIT Media Lab representatives said.
Further April Fools notes suggest that Norman poses a unique danger, and that four out of 10 experimenters who interacted with the neural network suffered “permanent psychological damage.” (There is to date no evidence that interacting with AI can be harmful to humans in any way).
Neural networks are computer interfaces that process information similarly to the way a human brain does. Thanks to neural networks, AI can “learn” to perform independent actions, such as captioning photos, by analyzing data that demonstrates how this task is typically performed. The more data it receives, the more information it will have to inform its own choices and the more likely its actions will be to follow a predictable pattern.
For example, a neural network known as the Nightmare Machine — built by the same group at MIT — was trained to recognize images that were scary, by analyzing visual elements that frightened people. It then took that information and put it to use through digital photo manipulation, transforming banal images into frightening, nightmarish ones.
Another neural network was trained in a similar manner to generate horror stories. Named “Shelley” (after “Frankenstein” author Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley), the AI consumed over 140,000 horror stories and learned to generate original terrifying tales of its own.
And then there’s Norman, which looks at a colorful inkblot that a standard AI described as “a close-up of a wedding cake on a table” and sees a “man killed by speeding driver.”
But there may be hope for Norman. Visitors to the website are offered the opportunity to help the AI by participating in a survey that collects their responses to 10 inkblots. Their interpretations could help the wayward neural network fix itself, MIT Media Lab representatives suggested on the website.
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! And please leave a rating and review of the show in the podcast app you listen from! You can email me anytime with your questions or comments at email@example.com. WeirdDarkness.com is also where you can find all of my social media, listen to audiobooks I’ve narrated, shop the Weird Darkness store, sign up for monthly contests, find other podcasts that I host, and find the Hope in the Darkness page if you or someone you know is struggling with depression or dark thoughts. Also on the website, if you have a true paranormal or creepy tale to tell, you can click on TELL YOUR STORY. You can find all of that and more at WeirdDarkness.com.
All stories in Weird Darkness are purported to be true (unless stated otherwise) and you can find source links or links to the authors in the show notes.
“Ghana Students Faint After Seeing Ghosts” by Sequoya Kennedy for Mysterious Universe
“Serial Killer Edmund Kemper” by Gabe Paoletti for All That’s Interesting
“Unit 731” posted at Ghost-Story.co.uk
“The Disturbing Crimes of a Father and Son” by Les Hewitt for Historic Mysteries
“Meet Norman, The Artificially Intelligent Psychopath” by Mindy Weisberger for Live Science
WeirdDarkness® – is a production and trademark of Marlar House Productions. Copyright, Weird Darkness, 2022.
Now that we’re coming out of the dark, I’ll leave you with a little light… “Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.” — Revelation 1:3
And a final thought… “The top of one mountain is the bottom of the next… so keep climbing.” (Unknown)
I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me in the Weird Darkness.