“THE CHILD NOT REALLY THERE” and Other Strange True Stories – PLUS BLOOPERS!! #WeirdDarkness
PLEASE SHARE THIS EPISODE in your social media so others who loves strange and macabre stories can listen too! https://weirddarkness.com/listen
Listen to ““THE CHILD NOT REALLY THERE” and Other Strange True Stories – PLUS BLOOPERS!! #WeirdDarkness” on Spreaker.
IN THIS EPISODE: A child walking into their parent’s room in the middle of the night is something every parent who has ever had a child has experienced on multiple occasions – but one parent’s experience ended with a dark twist. (The Child Not Really There) *** Georgette Bauerdorf was a young socialite with a grand future – when her life was cut short in the dead of the night. Her screams went unanswered, and her murder became a mystery. And Georgette’s murder remains unsolved almost 80 years later. (The Unsolved Murder of Georgette Bauerdorf) *** The bat is a mysterious creature. To some, such as the Chinese, it is considered a symbol of luck. To others such as the Europeans and Americans, it is seen as something scary. And of course horror films see it as the flying form of Bela Lugosi. But the Mayans might have the strangest, or maybe coolest – depending on your outlook – opinion on the bat; they believe it is the representation of a deadly vampire god. (Camazotz: The Death Bat Vampire God) *** Helen Knabe’s life was remarkable, in the best sense of the word. Unfortunately, her death was also remarkable, but in the worst possible way. (The Deadly House Call) *** Blanche Monnier was kept locked in her bedroom for a quarter of a century. When finally rescued she looked inhuman. What her mother did to her was inhumane. (Locked In Her Room For 25 Years) *** An historian has come forward saying that his father, the former Commander of White Sands Missile Range in the 1940s, analyzed some of the material found at the UFO crash site at Roswell. I’ll tell you what he found.(Navy Captain Tested Roswell UFO Debris) *** The lynching of Sheriff Henry Plummer poses one of the most haunting mysteries of the Old West. But I’ll share some of the details that not everyone has heard about this grim 1863 incident. (The Lynching of Sheriff Plummer) *** (Originally aired June 17, 2020)
SOURCES AND REFERENCES FROM THE EPISODE…
“The Deadly House Call” from Strange Company: https://tinyurl.com/ybq4snl6
“The Unsolved Murder of Georgette Bauerdorf” by Elisabeth Tilsra for The Line Up: https://tinyurl.com/yae6ccll
“The Child Not Really There” by Kest from Your Ghost Stories: https://tinyurl.com/y8qvyp7u
“Camazotz: The Death Bat Vampire God” by A. Sutherland for Ancient Pages: https://tinyurl.com/ydbxxuaw
“Locked In Her Room For 25 Years” from Bugged Space: https://tinyurl.com/y9tsr6m7
“Navy Captain Tested Roswell UFO Debris” by Anthony Bragalia for UFO Explorations: https://tinyurl.com/yazkthbn
“The Lynching of Sheriff Plummer” by R.E. Matter and R.E. Boswell for Wild West Magazine: https://tinyurl.com/ydffcl8c
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: 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.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Stories and content in Weird Darkness can be disturbing for some listeners and intended for mature audiences only. Parental discretion is strongly advised.
Welcome, Weirdos – (I’m Darren Marlar and) this is Weird Darkness. Here you’ll find stories of the paranormal, supernatural, legends, lore, the strange and bizarre, crime, conspiracy, mysterious, macabre, unsolved and unexplained.
Coming up in this episode…
A child walking into their parent’s room in the middle of the night is something every parent who has ever had a child has experienced on multiple occasions – but one parent’s experience ended with a dark twist. (The Child Not Really There)
Georgette Bauerdorf was a young socialite with a grand future – when her life was cut short in the dead of the night. Her screams went unanswered, and her murder became a mystery. And Georgette’s murder remains unsolved almost 80 years later. (The Unsolved Murder of Georgette Bauerdorf)
The bat is a mysterious creature. To some, such as the Chinese, it is considered a symbol of luck. To others such as the Europeans and Americans, it is seen as something scary. And of course horror films see it as the flying form of Bela Lugosi. But the Mayans might have the strangest, or maybe coolest – depending on your outlook – opinion on the bat; they believe it is the representation of a deadly vampire god. (Camazotz: The Death Bat Vampire God)
Helen Knabe’s life was remarkable, in the best sense of the word. Unfortunately, her death was also remarkable, but in the worst possible way. (The Deadly House Call)
Blanche Monnier was kept locked in her bedroom for a quarter of a century. When finally rescued she looked inhuman. What her mother did to her was inhumane. (Locked In Her Room For 25 Years)
An historian has come forward saying that his father, the former Commander of White Sands Missile Range in the 1940s, analyzed some of the material found at the UFO crash site at Roswell. I’ll tell you what he found.(Navy Captain Tested Roswell UFO Debris)
The lynching of Sheriff Henry Plummer poses one of the most haunting mysteries of the Old West. But I’ll share some of the details that not everyone has heard about this grim 1863 incident. (The Lynching of Sheriff Plummer)
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: THE DEADLY HOUSE CALL=====
Helen Knabe’s life was remarkable, in the best sense of the word. Unfortunately, her death was also remarkable, but in the worst possible way.
Knabe was born in 1875, in Rugenwald, an area by the Baltic Sea that is now the Polish city of Darlowo. She grew up bright, fiercely ambitious, and determined to become a doctor. Feeling that her native land offered her few opportunities to follow her chosen profession, she decided to move to America. Her destination was Indianapolis, Indiana, where several relatives had already emigrated. Upon her arrival, she found work in the household of an Indianapolis doctor, acting as cook and general housemaid. She learned English, and through sheer hard work and self-denial, saved enough money to enter the Medical College of Indiana.
Knabe proved to have a great natural aptitude for medical research–so much so that by the time she graduated in 1904, she had become an instructor at the college. She eventually became the state board of health’s assistant pathologist, then Indiana’s very first official bacteriologist–an incredible career trajectory for a woman of her day, and a solid tribute to her skill and discipline. She was a recognized expert in rabies and sexually transmitted diseases. In 1908, she resigned in order to open her own medical practice, which was an immediate success. By the time Knabe was thirty-five, she was personal physician to many of Indianapolis’ elite. She had an unblemished reputation, and was highly and justifiably respected; the ideal example of a “self-made woman.”
So the obvious question is: Why would anyone want to murder her?
On the morning of October 24, 1911, Katherine McPherson, Knabe’s assistant, entered the doctor’s apartment house (which also served as her office.) The front doors had been locked from the inside, and everything in the outer rooms seemed completely normal. However, Knabe herself seemed to be absent. The puzzled McPherson searched the apartment for her employer.
The mystery of Knabe’s absence was quickly solved when McPherson entered the doctor’s bedroom, and found her dead body. The corpse lay on a blood-soaked bed. It was immediately obvious that this was a murder, and a particularly brutal one.
Unfortunately for the course of the investigation, McPherson completely lost her head. Instead of immediately phoning the police, she summoned some of Knabe’s friends and relatives to gawk at the horrid sight and generally do a splendid job of contaminating the crime scene and wasting valuable time.
When the police finally arrived–more than an hour after McPherson’s initial discovery–they found that someone had cut Knabe’s throat so viciously that she was nearly decapitated. As the body was wearing a nightdress, it was presumed she had been attacked while she slept, probably very quickly and efficiently. (Incidentally, there were no signs that she had been sexually assaulted.) Only one item was missing from the apartment: an instrument called a microtome, which was used to cut extremely thin sections of material for microscopic examination. It was presumed that this had been the murder weapon.
Investigators soon realized they faced a twin mystery: the question not only of who had murdered Knabe, but how the crime had been committed. All the doors and windows were locked from inside, with the exception of the windows in Knabe’s bedroom. These were open, but securely covered by screens. The outside windowsills were coated with a thick layer of dust, indicating that the murderer had not entered or exited through them. It was thought Knabe must have let her killer into the apartment, although no one was able to say who this person might have been, or why the doctor would admit this person into her apartment in the middle of the night.
This inability to satisfactorily explain how anyone could have gotten into, then out of, Knabe’s apartment, coupled with the lack of any evident motive for murder, led William Holtz, the chief of detectives, to argue that the doctor had not been killed at all: she had committed suicide. He pointed to the fact that Knabe’s launching of a private practice had left her heavily in debt, something that had worried the normally financially prudent doctor. Working against this theory was the fact that the knife used to slash Knabe’s throat was never found. It was pointed out that even the most determined suicide would have trouble nearly cutting off their own head and then disposing of the weapon. The body also had a defensive wound in one forearm.
Two days after Knabe’s death, police received their first lead: a man named Joseph Carr told them that on the night Knabe died, he had walked past her apartment at about 1 a.m. He heard two screams, which were followed by a man exiting the alley behind the building and running up the sidewalk. When this man realized he had been seen, he quickly covered his face with a handkerchief and dashed off. Carr thought the man was about forty years old, and was dressed in a dark suit. Another witness came forward to state that around 8 p.m. on that fatal night, a man who fit the description of the one encountered by Carr asked him for directions to Knabe’s apartment building. A woman who lived near Knabe stated that at the same time Carr saw this mystery man, she heard someone running past her house.
The particularly baffling circumstances of Knabe’s death proved to be an excellent breeding ground for increasingly crackpot theories. Some stubbornly clung to the suicide scenario. A letter of Knabe’s where she discussed her interest in Buddhism caused others to mutter of crazed Buddhist death squads. My favorite suggestion came from another female physician, Dr. Carrie Gregory. Gregory stated that one of Knabe’s female patients had been suffering from “an ailment that was drying up the blood.” Knabe opted to treat this woman by transfusing the patient with two quarts of blood from the Knabe’s own body. Sadly, this novel treatment wound up killing the doctor. In order to cover up this embarrassing turn of events, Knabe’s fellow physicians simulated a murder by slashing her throat and smuggled the body into her apartment.
I do not know how successful Dr. Gregory was in her chosen profession, but she would have wowed them as a Gothic novelist.
Knabe’s murder soon went into the police’s “cold case” files, and it remained there, getting chillier by the day. The Indianapolis chapter of the Council of Women hired a private detective named Harry Webster to look into the mystery, but he seemed to have as little success as the police. Then, in March 1912, a sailor named Seth Nichols was arrested for public drunkenness in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Before Nichols had a chance to sober up, he told police that a man he only knew as “Knight,” had paid him $1,500 to murder Dr. Knabe. However, it soon became disappointingly evident that Nichols’ story simply did not stand up under examination. When records proved that Nichols had been on board his ship the night Knabe died, authorities quickly lost interest in him. Nothing more was heard of the mystery until December 1912, when a grand jury was convened to debate the question of just how Dr. Knabe died. During this hearing, a vital piece of evidence was presented that had, inexplicably, been ignored until that time: a bloody handprint had been found on Knabe’s pillow. Harry Webster also presented his findings. The result of all this was that the grand jury returned two indictments in Knabe’s death: Dr. William Craig, president of the Indiana Veterinary College, was charged with murder, with an undertaker named Alonzo Ragsdale being named as Craig’s accessory.
Craig and Dr. Knabe had been “an item” since soon after they first met in 1908. However, shortly before Knabe’s death, their romance had hit a rocky patch, evidently over Craig’s assumption that she would give up her career after they married. According to some of their acquaintances, Craig had decided to break off their relationship–in fact, he was seeing another woman. Knabe, it was suggested, was not going to take the breakup quietly, thus giving Craig a motive for murder. A man named Harry Haskett claimed that he had seen Craig leaving Knabe’s apartment building around 11 p.m. on the night Knabe died. (Of course, if you wish to pin the murder on Craig, this testimony clashes with the other witnesses who allegedly saw a man fleeing the scene two hours later.) One Dr. Eva Templeton stated that Craig’s housekeeper told her that on the night of the murder, Craig arrived home late and had immediately changed his clothes. (Curiously, it is not clear if the housekeeper herself ever verified Templeton’s story.)
As for Alonzo Ragsdale, he had been the administrator of Knabe’s estate. Found in his possession was a kimono that had belonged to the dead woman. Tests showed that it had been bloodstained, then washed in “a strong chemical solution.” The assumption was that he had helpfully removed this bit of evidence, as a favor to Craig. (It was never explained why Ragsdale would keep such a massively self-incriminating item.) For his part, Ragsdale said that he had a number of Knabe’s more unimportant possessions, and there was no evidence that this kimono was even in Knabe’s apartment at the time of her death.
Craig stood trial in November 1912. When Harry Haskett was put under oath, he suddenly became much less certain that he had seen Craig leaving Knabe’s apartment. Several of Knabe’s neighbors testified to hearing screams around midnight–one hour after this alleged sighting of Craig. In short, the prosecution so singally failed to present any evidence that Craig was the murderer that on December 9, the judge instructed the jury to dismiss the case. Accordingly, the charges against Ragsdale were also dropped.
The ignominious failure of the case against Craig was the end of any formal investigation into Helen Knabe’s death. The question of who murdered the pioneering female doctor, and why, will almost certainly remain unknown. Indianapolis psychics and leaders of “ghost tours” insist that Knabe’s spirit still haunts the city. If such is the case, the lady’s wraith has shown a disappointing failure to elucidate the mystery.
Up next… Georgette Bauerdorf ‘s life was cut short in the dead of the night when her screams went unanswered, and her murder went unsolved… and still is, now almost 80 years later.
The Mayans might have a unique opinion on the bat; they believe it is the representation of a deadly vampire god.
Blanche Monnier was kept locked in her bedroom for a quarter of a century. When finally rescued she looked inhuman. What her mother did to her was inhumane. These stories and more when Weird Darkness returns.
STORY: CAMAZOTZ: THE DEATH BAT VAMPIRE GOD=====
Chinese cultures see the bat as a good luck sign and the Europeans fear it as evil. In ancient Maya beliefs, Camazotz (Camoazotz) was a vampire bat god. Camazotz means “death bat” in the Quiché Maya language.
Associated with night, death, and sacrifice, Camazotz was often depicted holding his victim and a knife.
The Maya considered him a terrifying god who served death and ruled the domain of twilight.
He lived in bloody grottoes and other dark places that people tried to avoid for fear of disturbing him.
In the beginning, bats in pre-Columbian cultures were not associated with evil. They were believed to be powerful creatures, spirits, and even gods. For example, in the Tajin pre-Columbian stone sculptures of Veracruz, vampire bats are depicted as gods and are also mentioned in epic myths and in the book of creation, “Popol Vuh”. In one story, Camazotz, a “death bat” takes the head of one of the twin heroes, who entered his underworld domain and this head is later used in the ritual ball game.
In most of the Pre-Columbian codices such as for example, Codex Borgia, bats (having human form or personality) are depicted as involved in human sacrifice.
Among many beliefs of the Zotzil Maya, an indigenous Maya people of the central Chiapas highlands in southern Mexico, there was one especially important because it explained the origin of these people. These Maya used to call themselves “Zotzil uinic”, which means – bat men. Their story of origin claims that their ancestors had once discovered a stone bat and considered it as their god.
Mayans of Central America believed the bat was the guardian of the Underworld and a powerful force against enemies.
According to one myth, the Hero Twins were skillful ballplayers. One day the lords of Xibalba, the Maya death gods who ruled the underworld in Quiche Maya mythology, organized a contest in the underworld. They summoned all the best ballplayers and the Hero Twins saw this as a great opportunity to avenge their own father’s death.
They successfully went through all the tests they were given, they survived in the House of Cold, escaped from the House of Jaguars and passed unharmed through the House of Fire.
Their problem appeared in the House of Bats, when one bat cut off one the Hero Twin’s head. The lords of Xibalba took the head to the ball court as a trophy, but the other twin luckily managed to return the head to his brother and rescued him.
STORY: LOCKED IN HER ROOM FOR 25 YEARS=====
Blanche Monnier was once a beautiful French socialite living in Poitiers from a well-respected bourgeoisie family. Monnier was renowned for her physical beauty and attracted many potential suitors for marriage.
The Monnier’s beautiful young daughter, Blanche was described by the neighbors as “very gentle and good-nature” the young socialite had simply disappeared in her youth, just as high-society suitors had begun to come calling. But no one had seen her in close to 25 years.
No one gave much thought to the disappearance of young girl and the family went about their lives as though it never happened.
Louise Monnier did not simply keep her daughter out of the public’s eye, she locked her in a dark room with sealed windows. Blanche had no interaction with outsiders except her mother, brother, and on occasions a servant.
The famous bourgeoisie family did not allow her daughter to get off the bed and did not permit her any sort of basic hygiene. For half of her life, Blanche Monnier laid in the bed where she ate, urinated, and defecated.
On 23rd May 1901, the attorney general of Paris received an anonymous letter claiming that a well know family in the city is hiding something beyond the closed walls. The author of the letter is still unknown – the letter revealed the incarceration:
“Monsieur Attorney General: I have the honor to inform you of an exceptionally serious occurrence. I speak of a spinster who is locked up in Madame Monnier’s house, half-starved and living on a putrid litter for the past twenty-five years – in a word, in her own filth.”
The letter prompted an investigation of the Monnier estate. At first the police was not certain as the community regarded Monniers as a pillar of virtue and service. So the police made a customary search of the estate but did not come across anything out of ordinary that would point to a foul case.
Until they noticed a rotting smell coming from one of the upstairs rooms. Upon further investigation, they realized that the door had been padlocked shut for years. The police smashed the lock and broke into the room, one policeman described the horror as:
“The unfortunate woman was lying completely naked on a rotten straw mattress. All around her was formed a sort of crust made from excrement, fragments of meat, vegetables, fish, and rotten bread… We also saw oyster shells, and bugs running across Mademoiselle Monnier’s bed. The air was so unbreathable, the odor given off by the room was so rank, that it was impossible for us to stay any longer to proceed with our investigation.”
The room was so dark that policeman did not notice the food and litter on the floor, only after they managed to crack the window down, they were able to see how the Monniers have kept Blanche locked in for 25 years. The stench was so overwhelming that they found difficult to breathe.
When the policeman cracked the window, it was the first time Blanche had seen the sunlight in 25 years. Blanche had been kept completely naked and chained to her bed since the time of her disappearance.
Her condition was so bad that she couldn’t even stand by herself and only weighed 25 kilograms (55lbs). Blanche was covered in her own filth and was surrounded by her own feces and rotting scraps.
Police covered the naked and frightened Blanche and transported her to a hospital. The hospital staff reported that Blanche was awfully malnourished, she was quite lucid and remarked “how lovely it is” to breathe fresh air again.
The New York Time published on June 9 read:
“Time passed, and Blanche was no longer young. The attorney she so loved died in 1885. During all that time the girl was confined in the lonely room, fed with scraps from the mother’s table–when she received any food at all. Her only companions were the rats that gathered to eat the hard crusts that she threw up on the floor. Not a ray of light penetrated her dungeon, and what she suffered can only be surmised.”
Turned out that when she was 25 years old she expressed her desire to marry the man of her dreams. Her mother, Louise disapproved and argued that her daughter could not marry a “penniless lawyer.” Louise looked her in a tiny darkroom in the attic of her home.
The years came and went, but Blanche Monnier had hope that someday she will see the sun again. Even after her lover died, she was kept locked in her cell, with only rats and lice to give her company. For more than two decades neither her brother tried to help her nor any of the family servants tried to help her.
Although it was never revealed who wrote the letter, one rumor suggests a servant told the secret to her boyfriend, who was frightened and sent a letter to the attorney general.
Blanche’s mother was arrested and was in fine condition but died 15 days later after seeing an angry mob in front of her house.
Blanche’s brother, Marcel Monnier appeared in the court, and in his own defense, Marcel Monnier claimed that it was his mother who was in charge of the family not him. Although the court had difficulty in finding him guilty, he received a 15-year sentence in prison for his role in Blanche’s imprisonment and mistreatment.
Marcel himself was a lawyer, so he appealed the decision by the court and stated that he never behaved the same as his mother and was not violent in any way to his sister. He won the appeal and the court dropped all the charges as France did not recognize it as a crime to not free someone whom you did not imprison yourself.
Life wasn’t easy for Blanche Monnier after she was released from the room, she continued to suffer from mental health problems. She was diagnosed with various disorders including anorexia nervosa, schizophrenia, exhibitionism, and coprophilia. All the disorders led to her admission into a psychiatric hospital in Blois France, where she died in 1913 in apparent obscurity. However, later the story was discovered and news of Blanche Monnier’s captivity was covered all over France and as a result Marcel’s family who was once the prestigious family had to go into hiding to escape the anger of the mobs.
STORY: THE UNSOLVED MURDER OF GEORGETTE BAUERDORF=====
Born to an oil tycoon in New York City in 1924, Georgette Bauerdorf lived a life of privilege. She and her older sister attended a convent school on Long Island, where they were trained in goodness and propriety. When the girls’ mother died in 1935, the Bauerdorf siblings and their father moved to California, where Georgette was once again enrolled in a school that befit her place in society—alumnae of the Westlake School for Girls in Los Angeles included Shirley Temple and Myrna Loy.
Upon graduation in 1941, young Georgette moved to West Hollywood to pursue an acting career. By the age of 20, she found work at the Los Angeles Times in the Women’s Service Bureau and at the Hollywood Canteen—a dining and dancing club that catered to young men in uniform. Georgette called El Palacia her home, a grand Spanish-style house that played host to numerous celebrities. Her evenings were filled with nights out on the town; she was courted often and enjoyed the attention of her many suitors.
Exactly what happened on the night of October 11, 1944 remains a mystery. It was a Wednesday; Georgette was at the Canteen, where her role as a Junior Hostess meant she danced with and entertained the servicemen on layover in Los Angeles. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary that night. At the end of her shift, she climbed into her sister’s Pontiac coupe and drove home.
At 11:00 a.m. that following morning, Georgette’s maid and a janitor arrived to clean her apartment. They were met with an unlocked front door. The cleaners entered and found Georgette’s lifeless body face down in her bathtub, the water still running.
She was wearing the top part of a pajama set. Her hair floated in the water. When police surveyed the scene, they found little evidence of a struggle—though the coroner later confirmed the bruises on Georgette’s body suggested she put up a fight before her death. A partially unscrewed light bulb outside her front door led investigators to believe that her killer had hidden in the darkness, perhaps even entering the apartment before Georgette arrived, lying in wait to make a move.
Police assembled a rough timeline of Georgette’s final moments: They believe she came home late, ate a snack in her kitchen, and was then killed by someone who may or may not have been a stranger. A downstairs neighbor heard screaming at about 2:30 a.m., along with shouts of “Stop! You’re killing me!” The neighbor assumed it was a domestic dispute and returned to sleep. The janitor himself claimed he heard the sounds of high-heeled footsteps from Georgette’s apartment, and then a crash—as if something had been dropped—yet he couldn’t confirm if there had been a second person in her apartment. Whatever occurred, Georgette’s last moments were certainly a desperate attempt to save her own life.
In the days following the murder, police received a letter from a Sergeant Gordon Aadland. Aadland claimed that a woman matching Georgette’s description gave him a lift through Hollywood on the night of October 11. In the letter, he described the woman as appearing quite nervous, though he would downplay this claim in later years.
The killer, meanwhile, vanished into the night after the slaying, driving off in Georgette’s car. The vehicle was found some distance away, abandoned and out of gas. It was the last trace of the killer in a case that quickly went cold.
Georgette Bauerdorf’s body was shipped back to New York, where it was interred in a family-owned plot in a Long Island cemetery. While much has been written about the killing, little is concretely known. Some speculators associate Georgette’s death with that of Elizabeth Short, a.k.a. the Black Dahlia, claiming that the same man murdered the two Hollywood hopefuls. Implicated in this theory is a tall individual with a limp named Jack Anderson Wilson, who plays a part—although peripherally—in both stories.
The murder remains a mystery to this day. Seventy years from that fateful night, there’s little chance that Georgette’s death will ever be solved.
When Weird Darkness returns… A child walking into their parent’s room in the middle of the night is something every parent who has ever had a child has experienced on multiple occasions – but one parent’s experience ended with a dark twist.
An historian has come forward saying that his father, the former Commander of White Sands Missile Range in the 1940s, analyzed some of the material found at the UFO crash site at Roswell. I’ll tell you what he found.
STORY: THE CHILD NOT REALLY THERE=====
We lived in Louisiana because my husband was military. We had lived on the base for 18 months. It was not a happy place to live, and when I finally learned that we were going to be stuck there for a while, I decided I wanted a house. We looked at 3 houses that were for sale, and settled on one. It was a little fixer upper, but I loved that little house. Now for fixer upper, it didn’t need a lot of work. It needed paint, some new flooring, and a few new appliances – mostly cosmetic. It was all of 1,200 square feet. It had 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. Coming from base housing it was a huge upgrade as we only had 900 square feet and 2 bedrooms, and 1 bathroom for our small family.
This happened at night. We had two small girls at the time. My husband has always been very big about not having the kids sleep with us. He’s kind of a big guy. He worried if a kid was in the bed he might squish them. I was always the one that if a kid woke up, they would wake me up and I’d usher them back to bed. I have always thought of myself as a heavy sleeper, but always woke when the kids came in the room. Nothing bothers my hubby when he sleeps. I remember it was 3:00 or 3:30 in the morning. I was woken by my daughter Jacey standing by the bed. There was a window next to my side of the bed, but she was standing just outside the light of the window in the shadows. She was holding her blanket (both of the kids had blankets they were very attached to). I remember sitting up, standing and saying, “Jacey, let’s go back to bed. Come on.” Now, I was NOT asleep, and this was not a dream. I am one of those people when I am woken at night, I am very awake and can struggle to go back to sleep. I got out of bed and walked the 3 or maybe 4 steps toward Jacey thinking that she was very “black” and was surprised not more light was coming in the window as there was quite a bit of light that came in that window (one of the reasons I liked my spot in the bedroom). As soon as I was maybe a step from her, I realized this was not Jacey. It didn’t feel like Jacey (feel as in feeling a person’s presence), it is too small to be Jacey, it looks wrong, and it is not responding to me. The supposed “Jacey” suddenly blew apart. The blackness exploded, and it reminded me of black glitter as she rained down and the black glitter just disappeared to nothing.
I remember I ran out of my bedroom across the hall to Jacey’s room. Jacey was in bed sleeping. I went back to my bedroom and stood there. I went back to Jacey’s room and I got very close to her. I thought maybe she was pretending to sleep. How did she make it back to her room and get to sleep so fast? Was she playing with me? I realized she was sleeping and the emotions/feelings I had knowing that what I saw was not Jacey came flooding back to me. I left Jacey’s room, checked on our other daughter who was also sleeping soundly. I was up for close to an hour and did one of my tours of the house where I would walk all through the house a few times over, and I went back to bed. I considered waking up my husband, but didn’t know what I’d tell him. It took me a long time to go to sleep after that.
STORY: NAVY CAPTAIN TESTED ROSWELL UFO DEBRIS=====
In an extraordinary confirmation that the Roswell UFO debris was tested by select engineers and scientists, a noted historian has come forward to state that his father, the former Commander of White Sands Missile Range in the 1940s, was made to analyze some of the material found at the crash site.
Robert McLaughlin, who died in 2000, was an engineering graduate of the US Naval Academy who had a remarkable career. With a demonstrated expertise in intelligent missiles, in time he was assigned to White Sands Proving Ground (now White Sands Missile Range) in New Mexico, as Commander overseeing all naval research units, and was also the Chief of the Naval Rocket Unit. He rose to the rank of Captain and was a patent-holder with Top Secret clearance.
His research skills and management skills were integral to the continued success of White Sands’ most vital programs in the 1940s. As such, he circulated on a personal and professional level with such well-known personages as Dr. James Van Allen (the Van Allen Belt), meteorologist Charles Moore, astronomer Clyde Tombaugh (the discoverer of Pluto) and aerospace and rocket pioneer Werner von Braun. McLaughlin had several German V-2 rocket engineers under his auspice.
McLaughlin maintained an interest in the UFO phenomenon. He reported his own UFO sighting of May 9, 1949 during a rocket launch at the Proving Grounds, and even wrote a piece for True magazine in March 1950 titled “How Scientists Tracked a Flying Saucer”. His son tells me that somewhere in storage he has correspondence of McLaughlin and James Van Allen discussing the possible origin of the disks.
This author has long suspected that White Sands’ capabilities would be tapped if the crash was of extraterrestrial origin. I located and contacted the son of Capt. McLaughlin, John McLaughlin. John is the President of the Silicon Valley Historical Association and is an acknowledged authority on the history of high technology companies in Silicon Valley.
Robert McLaughlin passed away in 2000, and from his son John we learn what he confessed about his involvement with the uncanny metal-like material that he was asked to have tested.
In the late 1960s, when John was in his early 20s, there was interest in UFOs amongst many young people, and John was no exception. He had a copy of the classic ‘60s book “Flying Saucers: Serious Business” by Frank Edwards. When he got the chance and the time was right, he discussed his father’s prior involvement in UFO study and an item that he had read in Edward’s book. Edwards makes one of the very few public references to Roswell prior to the early 1990s with the influx of Roswell books and documentaries. Edwards, on page 76 of his book, says: “There are such difficult cases as the rancher near Roswell, New Mexico, who phoned the Sheriff that a blazing disc-shaped object had passed over his house at low altitude and had crashed and burned on a hillside within view of his house. We were not told, however, why the military cordoned off the area while they inspected the wreckage.”
John was also astounded to see that his father was mentioned in the book. He is referred to as “R.B. McLaughlin” for his True article on flying saucers. Knowing this, and of his father’s high-level technical position at White Sands at the time of the Roswell crash, he asked his father about it. Was he aware of anything?
His father replied that in fact he himself knew something, implying that it might relate to the UFO subject they were discussing. He related to his son that in late 1947 an unusual event had occurred while at White Sands. McLaughlin was visited by an Army Major from the Roswell base (about a 45 minute flight) who arrived at McLaughlin’s office with a very strange piece of material. McLaughlin described it as a metal-like cloth or fabric with a peculiar drape or bend. But the feature that stuck in his mind the most was its sheer toughness and material strength. Two decades on and McLaughlin could still recall to his son the incredible, impenetrable properties of this material as the damndest thing.
The Major had one request of McLaughlin: Try to punch a hole in it. The military labs apparently did not have the needed equipment to try to penetrate the material because they were unsuccessful, but White Sands might. They took it to the workshop there. The metallurgical technicians tried repeatedly to drill the material to make a hole in it with an advanced carbide drill. John states: “According to my father, they couldn’t even make a scratch.” No doubt both perplexed and disappointed, the Roswell Army Major took back the material and abruptly left without elaboration.
At the time, White Sands (which is adjacent to and supports Holloman AFB) had a world-leading capability in aeronautical metals technology. There was astonishment that even with best-available equipment, they were unable to dent, scratch, or in any way perforate a metal fabric!
There were many types of debris found at the Roswell crash site from memory metal to larger, canoe-shaped pieces, to a weird filament-like material, to a metal-like I Beam with embossed ethereal violet hieroglyphic symbols. But another type of material found at the crash was a mysterious “metal cloth” or fabric that was very light and tough. This debris is not often discussed, but in fact several witnesses spoke of a similar metal-fabric material that was also recovered at Roswell:
Roswell base intelligence agent Jesse Marcel spoke of several types of debris including a dull, metal-like, porous fabric-like material with memory properties.
Dr. Robert Sarbacher, former consultant to the US R&D Board at the time of the crash, said that some of the debris comprised a strange, lightweight fabric. The structure of the “metal-fabric” didn’t become apparent until the 1960s when they finally developed suitable microscopic analysis tools. He was likely referring to the advent of the scanning electron microscope in the 1960s. He said they found out that the fabric had been “welded” or “machined” at the molecular level. This yielded impossibly tough material.
Mac Brazel’s neighbor Sally Strickland Tadolini recalled that as a child she was shown an odd piece of material by Bill Brazel, the young adult son of Mac Brazel, the manager of the ranch where much of the craft debris fell. It impressed her so much that even decades later she was able to vividly recall the metallic looking memory metal fabric that was incredibly strong, yet had a find “hand” to it, “smooth, like silk or satin.”
The fact that in the late 1960s Capt. McLaughlin said to his son that he suspected that the debris he investigated in 1947 was related to the crash, and that it was a strange, tough metal of a clothlike consistency, is extraordinary. The corroboration of some of the fallen debris being similar to an “indestructible metal cloth’” was not known until testimony was secured decades after the 1960s. It certainly makes the Captain’s claims to his son more credible.
Nothing short of amazing is that other sons of US Navy research officers have offered me similar stories as John McLaughlin. This includes the namesake son of George Hoover. His father is considered the “Godfather of Satellite Technology”. He was with the Office of Naval Research for many years and worked closely with Werner von Braun on various projects. Hoover’s namesake son, George Hoover Jr., JD, is an engineer and US Patent and technology attorney of some renown. He states that, like John, in the 1960s his father related to him his involvement in analysis of the debris material from the 1947 crash while he was a high-level officer with the Navy. This was itself corroborated by a researcher who met Hoover in retirement, where the senior Hoover confirmed this.
A common pattern to this aspect of the Roswell story is that when a materials scientist or engineer is presented with a piece of unusual material to test, they are never told that the material is from a UFO crash. They gather that because they know when a material is engineered, and what is possible to engineer on Earth. An unnamed officer presents a sample of the material to a laboratory with a simple, singular directive to achieve something with it or learn something about it. He returns, gets the material and results, and leaves without comment. He offers no explanation, no back story on the material, and often not even his name. This is precisely Capt. Robert McLaughlin’s experience.
Incredibly, Robert McLaughlin knew all about “Mogul” – the balloon project to ‘eavesdrop’ on Russian’s nuclear detonations that was the Air Force’s later explanation for what had crashed at the Foster Ranch near Roswell in July of 1947. In fact, McLaughlin knew about this project (and therefore that it could not be the cause of the Roswell debris field) back in the 1940’s, decades before it was proffered by the government as the cause of the Roswell Incident.
Writing in his blog in September 2008, noted researcher Kevin Randle states that in a letter dated May 12, 1949 to famed astronomer James Van Allen (the Van Allen Belt), Robert McLaughlin tells Van Allen about military meteorologist Charles B. Moore, “who has been head of Project Mogul for the Air Force.”
Some have speculated that the silver metal-like, porous “cloth” with unique drape as described by McLaughlin and others may be the material of the silver-metal, ultra-tough, skin-tight space suits, clinging around the alien bodies in the desert and difficult to remove. Maybe it is a material of construction of the craft. Or perhaps it was meant to cover or shield something. Though its existence will now forever be known, its purpose may never be.
Up next… The lynching of sheriff Henry Plummer poses one of the most haunting mysteries of the Old West. But I’ll share some of the details that not everyone has heard about this grim 1863 incident.
Plus, I’ve received even more feedback from the “Myths About Hell” afterword from the other day that I’ll share in the Chamber of Comments, along with a complaint letter! When Weird Darkness returns.
STORY: THE LYNCHING OF SHERIFF PLUMMER=====
The lynching of sheriff Henry Plummer poses one of the most haunting mysteries of the Old West. The story is well-known: in 1863, miners at the booming gold camp of Bannack (then in Idaho Territory, now in Montana) elected a sheriff. The soft-spoken young Easterner proved to be an efficient lawman, yet in 1864 he was lynched by vigilantes. Their apologist Thomas Dimsdale explained to the populace that the sheriff had been a ‘very demon’ who directed a band guilty of murdering more than 100 citizens.
The aunt of vigilante prosecutor Wilbur Sanders described the outlaw band’s countless atrocities: ‘The sheriff…was the captain,’ Mary Edgerton wrote, and ‘the victims were…murdered and robbed and then their bodies…cut into pieces and put under the ice, others burned and others buried.’ But, she continued, ‘these murders had not been discovered by the people here.’ Mrs. Edgerton was describing the mutilation of corpses that had never been discovered! Despite the absence of actual bodies and the vigilantes’ failure to so much as question the man hanged for directing the alleged mayhem, Dimsdale branded Plummer a murderous outlaw chief. (The June 1992 issue of Wild West Magazine includes a more traditional account of Plummer.)
Posterity has expressed little concern that the accused sheriff received no trial. Instead, historians have blithely accepted the story given out by the very men who plotted and carried out Plummer’s murder. Research of the past three decades, however, suggests that the Montana vigilantes may well have hanged an innocent man.
In Dimsdale’s 1866 book, The Vigilantes of Montana, he outlined Plummer’s supposed record of crime. It is understandable that posterity would trust Dimsdale; he was a pious teacher and editor. In addition, historians thought that Dimsdale’s name was not on the vigilante roll and therefore naively believed his claim that his book was impartial. And finally, criticism aimed at the vigilantes had been uniformly squelched. There is the glaring example of preacher’s son Bill Hunter, who expressed his outrage by shouting on a mining camp street that pro-vigilantes were ’stranglers.’ Weeks later, Hunter’s frozen corpse was found dangling from the limb of a cottonwood tree.
Despite such warnings to vigilante critics, a few rumblings of dissent did emerge, rumblings that should have raised doubt about the vigilantes’ version of events at Bannack. For example, in 1864 a Sacramento Union correspondent hinted that the gang’s high degree of organization and its atrocities may have been exaggerations. The number of murders, the correspondent suggested, could be fewer than 100, perhaps no more than 10. Decades later, Judge Lew L. Callaway (a friend and admirer of vigilante captain James Williams) admitted that at the time of the lynchings, ‘Some good people considered the vigilantes themselves outlaws.’ As for the true character of the maligned Plummer, Judge Frank Woody described him as ‘the last man that one would take to be a highwayman.’
William Henry Plummer (originally spelled Plumer) was born in 1832 in Washington County, Maine, the youngest child of a prominent pioneer family. His father, older brother and sister’s husband were all sea captains, but the youngest son–intelligent, good-looking, and of slight build–had consumption and could not carry on the seagoing tradition. Thus his parents provided him with what was described as ‘a good early education’ in a village near the family farm. But apparently William Henry shared the adventuresome spirit that had lured his sailing ancestors to such exotic spots as the Canary Islands. In 1851 the 19-year-old caught the California gold fever and on April 27 sailed from New York aboard the U.S. mail ship Illinois. Passengers debarked at Aspinwall, Panama, and by mule train crossed to Panama City to board a ‘floating palace’ named Golden Gate. At precisely midnight on May 21, they steamed into San Francisco. Plummer’s coast-to-coast trip to the gold fields took only 24 days.
His funds depleted, the eager youth had to take a job in a book store, but after a year he had saved enough to buy ranch and mine in Nevada County (about 150 miles northeast of San Francisco). A year later, he traded mine shares for a business in the county seat, and fellow merchants who were impressed by his business integrity persuaded him to run for the position of town marshal and city manager. Since Nevada City was at the time the third largest settlement in California, the job would offer state prominence.
In an election held in May 1856, Plummer won by the narrowest of margins, but it did not take the genteel young merchant long to earn the reputation of a dutiful marshal. ‘He was not only prompt and energetic,’ citizens noted, but ‘when opposed in the performance of his official duties, he became as bold and determined as a lion.’ Among the daring manhunts that kept him constantly in the public eye was his pursuit of Jim Webster, a murder suspect who was terrorizing two counties. ‘Our efficient city Marshal,’ the local newspaper crowed, found Webster and companion ‘asleep in bed, with their pistols under their heads. The pistols were quietly removed and the two…taken into custody.’
In 1857 Plummer handily won re-election. Recognizing the colorful 24-year-old as a rising star, Democrats chose him to run for the state assembly. Considered a shoo-in, he seemed destined to become the youngest man sent to the California Legislature. But in a twist of fate, the Democrats argued and split, one faction launching a devastating smear campaign against the other. Plummer went down to humiliating defeat.
Despite his blackened name, Plummer’s efficiency and charisma might have revived his faltering career had he not become involved in the marital problems of John and Lucy Vedder. John was an inept gambler who not only abused his wife but also at times abandoned her and their sickly daughter. Desperate because he could not find housing in the overcrowded town, John heard that residents in trouble could ‘go to Mr. Plummer…for advice.’ After listening to John’s plea, Plummer vacated his own home and allowed the Vedders to rent it. Soon after, a passing pedestrian heard cries coming from the house, rushed to the door, and saw John beating Lucy. Noting that he was observed, John shouted for the intruder to leave or he would kill him. On another occasion, a neighbor reported watching John knock Lucy to the floor and then ‘pinch her nose until she could scarcely get her breath.’
When the observers notified Plummer of this battery, he provided Lucy with a police guard and also sent a lawyer to counsel her. Although John had once held a knife to Lucy’s throat and demanded that she leave him, he now became livid when she asked the lawyer to arrange a divorce. Ranting that he would kill the marshal, John scurried from store to store asking to borrow a gun. Again, citizens notified Plummer, who confronted the raving husband, assuring him that he was a friend who ‘would not resent it’ even if John ’should spit in his face.’ This unexpected pacifism brought a temporary truce.
On the night Lucy was to catch the departing 2 a.m. stage, Plummer sent her usual guard and at midnight arrived to assume the duty himself. As Plummer sat by the stove watching Lucy pack, John tiptoed up the back stairs, swung open the door, and pointed a pistol at him. ‘Your time is come,’ the gambler said and quickly fired twice. Both shots missed, but when Plummer fired back, he was right on target. Mortally wounded, John fled down the stairs, collapsed, and drew his final breath, and Lucy dashed into the street crying hysterically that the marshal had killed her husband.
After two trials, a jury–which concluded that a marshal who would send a lawyer to break up a marriage must be a seducer–found the defendant guilty of murder in the second degree; the judge pronounced a sentence of 10 years in San Quentin. During the trials, Plummer had been ill with consumption, and under inadequate prison care, his condition rapidly deteriorated. But while he lay in the prison sick ward on the verge of death, a former policeman was hurrying to Sacramento with a petition for the governor. ‘Henry Plummer,’ the document read, ‘is a young man having an excellent character.’ This protest of Plummer’s innocence bore signatures of more than 100 officials of two counties. Governor John Weller immediately granted a pardon, but instead of exonerating Plummer, he chose to cite the less controversial grounds of ‘imminent dangers of death from Consumption.’
The disgraced and ailing ex-lawman returned to Nevada City, gradually recuperated, and then resumed mining. Though he did his best to behave like a miner–jingling ore samples in his pockets and supervising work at his claims–he could not shake his lawman ways. First, he made a successful citizen’s arrest of San Quentin escapee ‘Ten Year’ Smith, and later attempted an arrest of escapee ‘Buckskin Bill’ Riley. When Riley whipped out his bowie knife and slashed the ex-marshal across the forehead, Plummer shot his assailant, killing him instantly. Immediately, Plummer surrendered himself to police, who locked him in a cell and called a surgeon to suture the gaping wound. Police agreed that Plummer had acted in self-defense, but fearing that his prison record would prevent a fair trial, counseled him to leave the area and then allowed him to walk away from the jail.
Eventually Plummer followed the gold stampede trail to Washington Territory. Although he associated with other fugitives from justice, he continued to behave like a peace officer. In the streets of Lewiston, he dissolved a lynch mob with an eloquent address. ‘These men may be guilty of the crime of murder,’ he pled, ‘but we shall not be less guilty if we…put them to death other than by due process of law.’ This heroic effort on behalf of law and order put Plummer in bad stead with the pro-vigilante factions always present in the mining camps.
Soon after, saloonkeeper Patrick Ford ejected Plummer and companions from Ford’s Oro Fino dance hall, followed the men to the stable, and fired at them with two guns. In return fire, Plummer killed Ford, and the dead man’s Irish compatriots raised a mob bent on lynching Plummer. He fled to the eastern side of the Bitterroot Range, but a Sacramento Union correspondent residing in the area reported that ‘all unite in bearing testimony that Plumer acted on the defensive.’
After this third instance in which he had been forced to kill a man in order to stay alive, Plummer felt too disheartened to try to rebuild a career in the West, and decided to return to Maine. While he was at Fort Benton (head of navigation on the Missouri River) waiting for a steamer, the agent of the government farm on the Sun River rushed into the fort, begging for volunteers to defend his family against an anticipated Indian attack on the small stockade. Plummer agreed to ride back to Sun River with agent James Vail, as did Jack Cleveland, a rowdy horse trader who had trailed Plummer all the way from California. During his pursuit, Cleveland had loaded up on whiskey and then boasted at the saloons that he was the great hunter on the trail of his ‘meat,’ Henry Plummer. Cleveland kept from his audiences the information that he had gotten into trouble in California and that his pursuing law officer had been none other than Nevada City’s former marshal, Henry Plummer.
Within the stake walls of the small stockade set on the banks of the Sun River, both Cleveland and Plummer fell desperately in love with Electa Bryan, the delicate and pretty sister-in-law of Vail. Inspired by Electa’s returned love for him, Plummer rekindled his dream for a lofty career on the frontier. In an autumn courtship conducted alongside the peaceful river mirroring massive, yellow-leaved cottonwoods, Plummer promised that in the spring he would return to marry Electa. When he bid his betrothed farewell to head to Bannack, the latest gold discovery site, it was with the resentful Cleveland riding alongside.
Bolstered by whiskey courage, Cleveland finally put his long-awaited plan into effect on January 14, 1863. As Plummer sat warming himself at the fire in Bannack’s Goodrich Hotel saloon, the boisterous horse trader attempted to provoke a shootout. Even after Plummer fired a warning shot into the saloon ceiling, Cleveland would not back down. Twice he went for his revolver, and twice–before he could get off a shot–he took a ball from Plummer’s pistol. Cleveland died of his wounds, but following the code of justice at the mines (that self-defense was judged according to who first went for a weapon) a miners’ jury ‘honorably acquitted’ Plummer.
In May 1863, the same miners elected Plummer the sheriff of Bannack and all surrounding mines. The young man who now became the law at the new mines had received a majority that far surpassed that of any other official. ‘No man,’ a Sacramento Union reporter stated,’stands higher in the estimation of the community than Henry Plummer.’
The newly elected sheriff organized a deputy network throughout the camps and triumphantly rode to Sun River for a June wedding. After he had settled his bride into their log home at Bannack, he convinced citizens of the need for a detention facility, to end the current practice of immediate hangings. With subscriptions of $2.50, which Plummer personally collected, he constructed the first jail in what is now Montana. To his bitter political enemy Nathaniel Langford, Plummer confided, ‘Now that I am married and have something to live for, and hold an official position, I will show you that I can be a good man among good men.’ Even Langford conceded that Plummer had ‘wonderful executive ability’ and ‘was oftener applied to for counsel…than any other resident.’ Constituents praised the sheriff’s ‘exhaustive efforts’ to protect the camps, commenting that ‘crime in the area seemed to be played out.’ And the Union League (a Bannack political group) voted unanimously to recommend Plummer as a deputy U.S. marshal.
The Plummer depicted in early diaries and journals is a far cry from a bloodthirsty demon addicted to robbery and mayhem. Instead, pioneers recall seeing the ‘genteel-mannered’ peace officer, fastidiously neat in his elegant overcoat, patrolling Bannack’s streets at dawn.
But during the final months of 1863, a rash of crime swept the Bannack and Alder Gulch mines–not the alleged 100 murders and robberies, but four alarming occurrences: a murder, two stage robberies and the attempted robbery of a freight caravan. Although Plummer increased his efforts to offer protection, while he was escorting a freighting party to Fort Benton, pro-vigilante forces organized. In an ensuing hanging spree that lasted a month, vigilantes eradicated 21 men suspected of belonging to an outlaw gang. Among the untried victims was Plummer himself, who had publicly stated that he intended to put a stop to the lynchings.
Thus in 1864 a popularly elected law officer in a U.S. territory was, without due process of law, deprived of his inalienable right to life. The matter should not be taken lightly, for there is not a single shred of evidence linking Plummer to any crime committed at Bannack or Alder Gulch. Some historians now regard the rumored outlaw gang as mere myth. On the mining frontier, rumors of huge bands–complete with passwords, spy networks and codes for marking targeted coaches–were rife. In Vigilante Days and Ways, Langford wrote that Plummer had previously headed an outlaw band in Lewiston for three years. In fact, Plummer was residing in California at the time, and preserved documents suggest Plummer spent just three weeks in the Lewiston area.
As for the Bannack outlaw gang, vigilantes claimed that it was ‘the most perfect organization in the West.’ Yet study of the four aforementioned crimes in Plummer’s jurisdiction reveals that there was no connection between them, nor any earmarks of an outlaw organization. The two stages robbed were not even carrying gold shipments, while the botched robbery of the caravan transporting over $75,000 in gold dust was carried out by only two men, one timid and the other inept.
The method that vigilantes used to confirm that local outlaws had united into a fearsome gang was to loop a noose about the neck of suspect ‘Long John’ Franck and repeatedly hoist him until the nearly strangled man gasped that there was indeed a gang. But when Long John attempted to lead vigilantes to gang headquarters, he came up empty-handed. Erastus Yeager, another suspect put under similar duress, supposedly dictated to a vigilante scribe the names of the gang members. Though vigilantes claimed that this dictated membership roll had guided their executions, the authenticity of Yeager’s list is doubtful for several reasons. For one thing, none of the four copies of the list agree with each other. And oddly enough, the name of Deputy John Gallagher, lynched at Virginia City, does not appear on any of the four lists.
In addition to the suspicion aroused by the list discrepancies, the four bungled crimes, the forced confessions, and the lack of connection between the four crimes is the sobering fact that during their entire spree, the vigilantes never once encountered the resistance of the West’s most ‘perfectly organized’ gang. Instead, their own heavily armed band relentlessly tracked the victims through deep snows, victims who were too crippled and ill to walk to the shadowy cottonwood limb or the ominous pole slanted across a corral.
On January 10, 1864, a mob armed with revolvers, rifles and shotguns surrounded the ailing Plummer’s cabin and lured him from his sickbed by threatening to lynch a robbery suspect in custody. Unarmed, Plummer stepped outside and argued for the suspect’s right to a trial, but vigilantes surrounded him and marched him to the pine gallows up the gulch. They provided no drop, but instead bound his hands, slipped a noose over his head, and gradually hoisted him. In all probability, the peace officer who slowly strangled to death on that moonless winter night led no outlaw band, but instead had intentions of stemming the rise of vigilantism in Montana Territory.
On a positive note, Sheriff Henry Plummer, after 129 years, finally received due process of law. On May 7, 1993, a posthumous trial (Montana’s Twin Bridges Public Schools initiated the event) was held in the Virginia City, Mont., courthouse. The 12 registered voters on the jury were split 6-6 on the verdict, which led Judge Barbara Brook to declare a mistrial. Had Plummer been alive he would have been let got and not tried again, walking away a free man.
Thanks for listening (and be sure to stick around for the bloopers at the end)! 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
“The Deadly House Call” from Strange Company
“The Unsolved Murder of Georgette Bauerdorf” by Elisabeth Tilsra for The Line Up
“The Child Not Really There” by Kest from Your Ghost Stories
“Camazotz: The Death Bat Vampire God” by A. Sutherland for Ancient Pages
“Locked In Her Room For 25 Years” from Bugged Space:
“Navy Captain Tested Roswell UFO Debris” by Anthony Bragalia for UFO Explorations
“The Lynching of Sheriff Plummer” by R.E. Matter and R.E. Boswell for Wild West Magazine
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… “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.” – 2 Thessalonians 3:16
And a final thought… “Treat people like mirrors & watch how you reflect in their eyes.” – Nnamdi G. Osuagwu
I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me in the Weird Darkness.