“THE DEMONIC TORTURE OF THE SMURL FAMILY” and 4 More Horror-Filled True Stories! #WeirdDarkness
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IN THIS EPISODE: In 1974, the Smurl family was tormented by supernatural forces so intense, the haunting even withstood intervention by demonologists. Who or what was behind the terrifying oppression of this previously normal Pennsylvania family? (The Demonic Torture of the Smurl Family) *** There are numerous tales of ships simply disappearing without a trace. Some are never heard from again… others have created legends that terrify sailors to this day. (Ghost Ships Lost at Sea) *** Weirdo family member Jan Daniels relates events that happened to her on a new job – with odd happenings in the women’s restroom among other things! (Scarecrows and Towel Dispensers) *** In 1992, runners came across a gruesome discovery in a South Wales state park… a dead body. But it was only the beginning of what quickly became a string of murders by a serial killer. (The Australian Backpacker Murderer) *** Azrael is known by many names in numerous cultures… but he is most famously, or infamously known as the angel of destruction. And not only are his powers terrifying – so is his appearance. (Azrael: The Angel of Destruction)
TRANSCRIPT FOR THIS EPISODE…
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MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE…
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“Ghost Ships Lost at Sea” by Elizabeth Lundin: http://bit.ly/2K0h0TY
“Azrael: The Angel of Destruction” by Nathan Gibson: http://bit.ly/2JWkIOk
“The Demonic Torture of the Smurl Family” by Jacob Shelton: http://bit.ly/32PYAhl
“Scarecrows and Towel Dispensers” by Weirdo family member Jan Daniels
“Australian Backpacker Murderer” by Catherine Phalan: http://bit.ly/2YpkYPc
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Beginning in 1974, the Smurl family went through one of the worst hauntings ever that lasted 15 years. For an intense two-year period, the family was subject to a series of physical assaults perpetrated, allegedly, by a mysterious demon and a horde of ghosts. The haunting affected everyone in the Smurl family — even the dog had a run in with one of the angry ghosts. Out of all the families that have claim to be haunted over the years, the Smurls claimed to deal with some of the most aggressive entities of the 20st century, these ghosts lasted for a great part of their lives. The haunting became so bad that the Catholic Church got involved in an attempt to exorcise the demon. Even after the Smurls called in demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren, they still weren’t able to rid themselves of the horrible creatures that seemed set on ripping their family apart, and they ultimately lived with remnants of the haunting for the next 15 years, even after the most vicious attacks seemed to simmer. In the 1990s, the Warrens’ experiences trying to rid the Smurls of their hauntings were turned into a made-for-TV movie called, appropriately, “The Haunted”. The Smurl family haunting facts include everything from ghosts attacking children to the demonologists who tried to stop them. The question remains as to whether there truly were evil forces at work, and whether the demonologists held any sway over the atrocities the Smurls experienced.
I’m Darren Marlar and this is Weird Darkness.
Welcome, Weirdos – this is Weird Darkness. Here you’ll find stories of the paranormal, supernatural, legends, lore, crime, conspiracy, mysterious, macabre, unsolved and unexplained.
Coming up in this episode…
There are numerous tales of ships simply disappearing without a trace. Some are never heard from again… others have created legends that terrify sailors to this day.
Weirdo family member Jan Daniels relates events that happened to her on a new job – with odd happenings in the women’s restroom among other things!
In 1992, runners came across a gruesome discovery in a South Wales state park… a dead body. But it was only the beginning of what quickly became a string of murders by a serial killer.
Azrael is known by many names in numerous cultures… but he is most famously, or infamously known as the angel of destruction. And not only are his powers terrifying – so is his appearance.
In 1974, the Smurl family was tormented by supernatural forces so intense, the haunting even withstood intervention by demonologists. Who or what was behind the terrifying oppression of this previously normal Pennsylvania family?
While you’re listening, you might want to check out the Weird Darkness website. At WeirdDarkness.com you can sign up for the newsletter and also get entered into a random monthly drawing for Weird Darkness merchandise, you can find transcripts of the episodes, paranormal and horror audiobooks I’ve narrated, a FREE 24/7 streaming video channel of old horror movies and hilarious horror hosts, you can find my other podcast, “The Church of the Undead”, you can visit the “Hope In The Darkness” page if you are struggling with depression or dark thoughts. And you can shop the Weird Darkness store where all profits I receive go to support depression help and awareness. 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!
In 1974, Jack and Janet Smurl moved out of their flood-damaged home and into a West Pittson, Pennsylvania duplex that’s been lovingly described by all sources as a “fixer-upper.” Jack, Janet and their kids lived on one side of the duplex while Jack’s parents, John and Mary, lived on the other. It didn’t take long for the haunting to start.
The first instances of their ghostly visitors were benign. A tool would go missing, a stain on the wall would seep through the paint, nothing too scary. But then kitchen appliances started to go up in flames even when they weren’t plugged in – and then there was the smell. The odor wafted through the house at random intervals and was absolutely stifling. During his investigation Ed Warren described the smell as something akin to “rotting flesh.”
Shortly after the haunting began, Mary suffered a heart attack and the family began to struggle to pay bills. It seemed that the haunting was taking a toll on more than the family’s living space.
One of the creepiest ways in which the haunting manifested was the sound of it: moans and blood-curdling screams ripped through the house at all hours of the day and night. Many of the chilling sounds reportedly took on the voices of the Smurl family, a particularly cruel way to haunt the family. It wasn’t just the Smurls who heard the ghostly sounds; allegedly their neighbors claimed to hear screams coming from inside the house when no one was home.
As the weeks went on the haunting increased from sounds to floating black creatures and shadow people. Self-taught, self-proclaimed demonologist Ed Warren later claimed that he saw “…a mucous-like, smoky-type substance” that began to whirl and materialize “on the mirror, spelling out filthy obscenities, telling me in no uncertain terms to get out of the house.”
The creature (or creatures) haunting the Smurl family were hell-bent on ripping the family apart. The worst indignity suffered by both Jack and Janet were separate sexual assaults that happened numerous times. First, Janet claimed she was woken up in the middle of the night by an unknown figure sexually assaulting her. Then Jack claimed that while he was watching a baseball game in the living room he was also assaulted in the same way by a succubus. He later claimed that while he attempted to say the rosary the creature dragged him around his room.
During the 15-year haunting no one in the Smurl family made it out of the haunting without being harmed. One of the daughters was sliced open by a flying wall fixture, and the family’s German Shepherd was thrown against the wall. Janet claims that she was grabbed by the creature before being hurled across her living room. On another occasion an invisible entity bit Jack in the face and threw another one of their daughters down a set of stairs.
A skeptic’s view of this situation says that all of these attacks are similar to those of domestic violence. It’s completely that the Smurls were in the middle of a turbulent marriage and that they covered their screaming matches and physical altercations with an interesting ghost story — but nothing like this has ever been verified.
As with all hauntings in the ’70s and ’80s, the Warrens — yes, they of the Amityville Horror — finally worked their way into the story. Supposedly, the Smurls were reluctant about calling the Warrens because they were worried about drawing unwanted attention on themselves. After the investigation, Warren said, “The Smurls are truly a family coming under a visual attack. The ghost, devil, demon – or whatever you call it – is in that home.”
Ed Warren claimed that on his very first night in the home he experienced a major cold spot and saw a shadow person. He explained: “I did not have to wait moments when the very thing I felt was a drop in temperature of at least 30-some degrees. Then, a dark mass formed about three feet in front of me.”
After the appearance of the shadow person Ed Warren claimed that that something in the home began throwing things around the house, including the mattress in the master bedroom.
Judging from the amount of stories that came out of the Smurl haunting it seems like there wasn’t a day that went by without something creepy happening. Janet Smurl claimed that while she was in the kitchen one evening the house grew cold and she felt a hideous presence. That’s when a black, human shaped form appeared in her kitchen. It had no face, but it was more tangible than a shadow. The shape passed through her wall and appeared to Mary on the other side of the duplex.
Whatever was haunting the Smurls, it absolutely hated religious iconography. One night the Warrens tried to draw out one of the entities with a group prayer they got more than they bargained. In the middle of th prayer something began screeching, “you filthy bastard, get out of this house!” Then the house started shaking and two female ghosts that looked to be from colonial America era slunk through the house.
This was the only time that the appearances of the colonial ghosts were recorded but it’s possible that one of these two was the succubus that had assaulted Jack while he watched a baseball game.
Try as they might, the Smurls couldn’t shake the ghosts that made their every waking moment total hell. Even though priests from the Scranton branch of the Roman Catholic Church blessed the home and formed multiple exorcisms on the house the family continued to experience pure terror. Despite priests saying that they saw “no harmful activity while on the property,” Janet claims that the demons were able to avoid their Catholic banishment by moving back and forthbetween the two sides of the duplex.
After 15 years of being harassed by invisible entities the Smurls finally moved to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. There are no reports as to whether or not they ever experienced another haunting.
After an in depth investigation of the Smurl home the Warrens were able to pin down exactly what was assaulting the family, more or less. Lorraine Warren, a clairvoyant, claimed that there were definitely four entities roaming the duplex. The first was an elderly woman who mostly kept to herself. There was also an older man who died in the home, which is oddly similar to the Enfield haunting – a case that the Warrens also investigated. Lorraine said that the violence that the family experienced came from the ghost of a young woman and a demon who was able to control the other entities.
Even though the Warrens claim that the Smurl family was haunted by a gang of ghosts lead by a demon, there’s another explanation for the nearly two decades of terror — a mass hallucination. Apparently in 1983, Jack Smurl went under the knife for complications stemming from a case of meningitis he’d had as a child. Smurl said that the doctors were trying to “remove water” from his brain. It’s possible that Jack had a brain tumor and that’s why he was experiencing such violent attacks, but the Warrens’ stories don’t really corroborate this.
Professor Paul Kurtz of State University of New York at Buffalo believes that the haunting started with Smurl’s brain impairment and that the rest of the family followed suit. It’s possible that the family fell under the delusion through which Jack Smurl was living, but that doesn’t explain why they would follow along with his bonkers behavior for more than a decade.
This next story comes from Weirdo family member, Jan Daniels. Here is her story:
After working in a building that was reportedly haunted for 27 years, I retired this summer and went to work part time for a different company. The company that I work for is right in the middle of farmland so I’m sure it has a lot of history. Right after I started working there I was asked by a co worker if I believed in ghosts. I told her I did and she asked me if I had ever noticed anything weird that went on especially in the women’s rest room. I mentioned that I had heard water run and the hand towel dispenser go off when I was in there by myself, but had just put it down to people running in and out, although I have to admit I never heard the door open or shut.
Then one night, something had happened that cant be explained. The entry to our foyer was decorated for Fall with strawbales, pumpkins and two scarecrows that were propped up on sticks.
My co worker and I work in the front and were working late one night. It was still early in the evening but dark outside. We heard someone knock on the windows of the foyer. We kind of looked at each other and kept working shrugging it off to being the only ones in the building. A few minutes later we hear the knocking again. Thinking that it’s another employee that forgot their key and needed in, I go and look out the entrance door. Nothing. I went back to my desk and proceeded to try to finish my work, when we heard the knocking again. This time my co worker went and looked and again saw nothing, She swears that one of the scarecrows was not in its original spot. I don’t know about that but both of us decided our work could wait for the next morning, quickly shut down our computers and left. I made sure that I didn’t look at the scarecrows on my way out. Did they or something else knock on the windows? I don’t know, but since then I make sure I leave before dark.
When Weird Darkness returns…
In 1992, runners came across a gruesome discovery in a South Wales state park… a dead body. The first of many to be found.
The angel Azrael is not only terrifying to look at – but his powers are even more so.
We’ll look at some ships that disappeared at sea – and the stories are still scary decades or even centuries later.
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On a fine September day in 1992, two runners were working their way through New South Wales’s Belanglo State Forest and made a horrific discovery: a decaying body. This body would only be the first of seven discovered as part of the string of killings now known as the “Backpacker murders”, committed by one Ivan Milat.
The runners reported their discovery to local police, who found a second corpse less than 100 feet from the first upon their investigation. It was quickly assumed that the bodies found were one of two pairs of tourists who had gone missing in late 1991 and early 1992: either Caroline Clarke and Joanne Walters, or Gabor Neugebauer and Anja Habschied. Both pairs had disappeared from Kings Cross in Sydney.
Soon, the police had successfully identified the corpses as Caroline Clarke and Joanne Walters. Clarke had been shot 10 times in the head–seemingly as a bizarre, disturbing form of target practice. Walters, instead, had been stabbed 14 times before her death. The police, hopeful that the discovery of these two corpses would lead to the discovery of other missing persons, continued their investigation deeper into the State Forest, spending five days searching the brush and wilderness, but with no success.
With no new information to go on, the investigation soon came to a halt–but it would be revived over a year later, when another man discovered human bones in a remote area of the state park. Two more bodies were found: Deborah Everist and James Gibson, who had been missing for four years. Gibson had been stabbed eight times. Everist had been severely beaten before being stabbed in the back. It had long been known that Everist and Gibson had likely been the victims of foul play. After the pair had gone missing, Gibson’s backpack and camera had been found alongside the road in Sydney. But the location of the bodies, nearly 75 miles south of that site, baffled investigators.
Within a month, three more bodies were found in the forest. They were identified as Neugebauer, Habschied, and one other missing tourist, Simone Schmidl. With these discoveries, investigators became certain that they were dealing with a serial killer.
Although the methods used to murder each victim differed, they had all been posed, face-down and hands behind their backs. They had also been hidden from view by sticks, ferns and other brush. There were also campsites near each burial ground, suggesting that the killer had camped out with the victims both before and after their deaths. Police began using vehicle and gun records, among other information like gym memberships, to create a list of possible suspects who operated in the area and owned a gun that could have been used in the shooting deaths, like Clarke’s.
They had narrowed their suspect list from over 200 to about 30, when Paul Onions, a United Kingdom resident, called the New South Wales police. He shared a terrifying story of his own near-death encounter. In 1990, Onions, like all of the other victims, had been backpacking through Australia. Outside of Sydney, he hitchhiked, and caught a ride with a man who introduced himself as Bill.
About an hour and a half from Sydney, the man pulled ropes out of the car–pointing a gun at Onions, “Bill” attempted to tie his hands. Onions managed to escape and flag down another car as Bill continued to shoot at him. He was picked up by a woman named Joanne Berry.
When contacted, Berry confirmed Onions’s account. By this point, the suspect pool had narrowed enough that Onions’s description of his attacker’s large and memorable mustache made it clear that one Ivan Milat was the most likely perpetrator.
Milat and his brother worked on road gangs between Sydney and Melbourne, the killer’s main striking ground. He’d sold a car soon after the discovery of the first bodies, and friends and acquaintances reported an obsession with weapons and death to police. Hoping to peg their killer, police flew Onions to Australia to identify his attacker. Once they received confirmation that Milat had attempted to kidnap Onions, police were able to arrest Milat and search his home.
An alarming stash of weapons was discovered at Milat’s home, including two rifles that fit the gun types used in the seven murders. Even more conclusively, a number of items that belonged to the seven victims had been kept as trophies.
Soon, Milat had been charged with robbery, unlawful possession of weapons, and seven counts of murder. In July 1996, Milat was found guilty of the seven murders and of the attempted murder of Paul Onions. He received a life sentence for each victim, with an additional 18 years for his crimes against Onions. He was not made eligible for parole.
It’s believed that Milat was responsible for more murders than the seven for which he was brought to trial. His culpability has been proposed for at least eight other murders. His crimes also spurred a copycat killing–chillingly, by his own great-nephew. Matthew Milat killed David Auchterlonie in the very woods that his great uncle hid his victims. The killing, filmed by Milat’s friend Cohen Klein, occurred on Auchterlonie’s 17th birthday.
Milat remains in prison to this day. He attempted to escape from jail in 1997, unsuccessfully. He has consistently appealed his case, and once cut off his own little finger, planning to send it to Australia’s High Court as a sign of his displeasure at continued imprisonment. He also began a hunger strike in 2011–hoping to lose enough weight that the prison would be forced to give him a PlayStation. Unsurprisingly, this ploy did not work either.
Milat continues to gain notoriety as the inspiration for the killer in the disturbing Australian slasher film, Wolf Creek. He and Bradley Murdoch, another Australian killer, are cited as the main inspiration for the film, in which three backpackers found themselves held hostage and tortured by a man who despises any and all tourists.
Humans are fascinated by stories of ghost ship disappearances. Why? Because humans are drawn to tales that leave us without answers. Stories of ghosts, the supernatural, alien intervention, and conspiracies may sound like something from science fiction, but these are the stories that have captured the human imagination since they first came to us through newspaper headlines and the mouths of whispering sailors. These are the stories of ghost ships that haunt the high seas and the minds of everyone who reads about them. These are ships that disappeared without a trace, that simply stopped sailing, and that may have even murdered their own crews. History proves over and over that sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction. These are stories of eerie ghost ships that really happened, and nobody can explain how.
The Crew Of The Mary Celeste Jumped Ship For No Reason = In November of 1872, the Captain of the Mary Celeste, Benjamin Briggs, set sail from New York to Italy. He was traveling with his wife, daughter, and eight other shipmates.
On December 4 of the same year, the Mary Celeste was discovered, abandoned by her crew and set adrift in the Atlantic Ocean. According to the men of the British ship, Dei Gratia, who found her, the ship was completely intact with plenty of food and water to last her six months more of sailing. The ship’s log was written up to the 24th of November. The ship’s only lifeboat was missing.
To this day, nobody knows what caused the crew and passengers of the Mary Celeste to abandon a perfectly seaworthy ship in the middle of the Atlantic. The only thing anyone knows for sure is that the ship’s occupants left in a hurry. The Captain of the Dei Gratia wrote in his log that the crewmen of the Mary Celeste had left behind their smoking pipes. To him, this seemed a clear sign that the crew had abandoned the ship in a panic.
Today, the mystery of the Mary Celeste has still not been explained. Many theories have been broached, including mutiny, madness, and murder, but none have held water.
The Ourang Medan Murdered Its Crew = In June of 1947, an officer aboard the British vessel the Silver Star picked up a mysterious, unsettling distress signal. It said: “All officers including captain are dead lying in chartroom and bridge. Possibly whole crew dead.” Silence crackled across the line, then, one simple sentence: “I die.”
The message was picked up by several other ships in the area, but the Silver Star reached the source first. It was the Dutch freighter, Ourang Medan, floating adrift in the Straits of Malacca. The Star’s officer and crew boarded the ship to find bodies strewn about the decks, their faces fixed in a cry of pain. Even the ship’s dog was dead.
The bodies were unharmed. There was no sign of injury or attack. Before any further investigation could be done, however, the crew of the Silver Star smelled smoke and quickly abandoned the ship. They boarded their own escape vessel, cut the ties to the Ourang Medan, and sailed away. Within seconds, the ship exploded, leaving only empty water and debris in its wake.
To this day, no-one knows what really happened aboard the Ourang Medan in the seconds before the crew of the Silver Star arrived. As far as anyone knows, the ship murdered its captain, passengers, and crew, killing them without a trace. Some people believe that the ship was carrying biological weapons manufactured by the Japanese, but the mystery remains unsolved. The ship lives on in an infamy that rivals the mystery of even the Mary Celeste.
The Legend Of The Flying Dutchman Haunts The High Seas = The Flying Dutchman first appeared in popular folklore in Holland. For years, Dutch sailors told the tale of a cursed sea captain, doomed forever to sail around the Cape of Good Hope. German sailors voyaging in this area of the world corroborated the legend, saying they had seen such a ship.
The tale emerged out of folklore and into reliable reports in the 19th century. One 1835 ship’s log stated that the Flying Dutchman appeared out of nowhere in a storm, with all sails unfurled, “bearing down on them.” Later, in 1881, another ship’s log wrote that the Flying Dutchman passed them, emitting an eerie red light. The same red light pops up in a tale told by two other ships in the surrounding area. How many logs and reports constitute a real phenomenon?
The Frozen Ghosts Aboard The Octavius Still Sail The Arctic = In 1761, the Octavius loaded up with cargo from China and set sail for London. The crew would never be seen alive again.
The Captain of the Octavius thought it’d be a great idea to try and shorten his trip back to London by making the Arctic passage – a trip that had never before been made successfully. So, they set sail northward. It was a mistake that would cost every crew member his life.
The ship went missing for 13 years. Finally, in 1775, a whaling ship, the Herald, was sailing just off the coast of Greenland when it spotted the Octavius floating in the icy waters. The crew of the Herald boarded the Octavius and found the ship’s crew frozen solid below decks. The Captain of the ship was found at his desk, upright, frozen to death while in the middle of penning a ship’s log dated to 1762.
The crew of the Herald fled the ship immediately, leaving the Octavius to continue to wander the Arctic Ocean. Nobody has seen the ghost ship since.
The Young Teazer Returns Every Year To The Site Of The Crew’s Suicide = The Young Teazer wasn’t an innocent merchant ship or cruise ship making a return trip home. No, the Young Teazer was a pirate ship, an incredibly fast one. In 1813, the Young Teazer had made several successful raids around the coast of Nova Scotia when she was cornered in Mahone Bay by a Nova Scotian schooner captained by Sir John Sherbrooke.
Just moments before the British boarding parties could approach the boat, the Young Teazer exploded. According to reports, the first officer of the privateer had been seen rushing to the magazine, fire in hand.
The story of the Young Teazer might not seem like something too crazy. The pirates chose suicide over capture, sure, but the Teazer has inspired one of Nova Scotia’s most famous ghost stories: the story of the “Teazer Light.”
According to folklore, an orange glow can be seen in Mahone Bay and one can hear the crew screaming into the foggy night. Accounts say this happens every year on the anniversary of the explosion: June 27.
The Eliza Battle Still Burns On the Tombigbee = On March 1, 1858, the huge steamboat Eliza Battle caught fire in what would become the biggest maritime disaster in Tombigbee River – which flows between Mississippi and Alabama – history. 33 people died.
The Ship had been loaded with over 1,200 bales of cotton. Sometime during the night of March 1, a strong north wind began to blow, and somehow the cotton bales on deck caught fire. The flames soon engulfed the ship, and the passengers and crew jumped overboard.
Today, people still tell tales of sightings of the Eliza Battle floating down the river, wreathed in fire, and the sounds of 33 people screaming in pain and calling out for help.
The SS Valencia’s Lifeboat Was Untouchable = In 1906, the SS Valencia was caught in a terrible storm off the coast of British Columbia. The ship was carrying 108 passengers. Only 37 of these were eventually rescued, and the ship itself became the subject of ghost stories from that day forward.
It began in 1910 when The Seattle Times reported sightings of a “phantom ship” that resembled the Valencia adrift in the area. Other reports from fishermen around British Columbia told the story of a lifeboat manned entirely by skeletons.
But stranger still, in 1933, the Valencia’s No. 5 lifeboat was found empty in Barkley Sound. Even after years of exposure to the harsh oceanic elements, the lifeboat was completely untouched and unharmed. Part of it is now on display at the Maritime Museum of British Columbia. While the wreckage of the Valencia was eventually found near a 100-foot-high bluff, this one detail has never been explained.
The Lady Lovibond Ruined Valentine’s Day = In the year of 1748, just before Valentine’s Day, the Lady Lovibond was sailing the high seas in honor of its Captain’s wedding. Unfortunately for the Captain, his best friend had been in love with his new bride, and in a fit of jealousy, he ran the ship aground on the Goodwin Sands of the English Channel, killing everyone on board.
Since then, there have been many reported sightings of the ship. The Captain of the Edenbridge reported that he nearly collided with a three-masted vessel off the Goodwin Sands, and the captain of a smaller fishing schooner reported the same. Many thought the ship had run aground, but no wreckage nor survivors were found in the nearby sands.
50 years later, local residents in Kent saw a ship with three masts heading on a collision course with the Goodwin Sands. Like before, a rescue party was sent. Yet no survivors or wreckage were ever found.
The MV Joyita Was Found Empty And Decaying In Fiji = In 1955, the MV Joyita was overdue for its return home. Five weeks after its missed return date, the ship was found 600 miles off course in the South Pacific, completely abandoned and in bad condition. No distress signals had ever been received. The ship had never run into bad weather. The crewmen examining the ship smelled decay but found no signs of foul play or dead bodies anywhere. They did find a doctor’s bagon deck, however, littered with bloody bandages.
To this day, all anyone knows is that the crew abandoned ship. The pipes may have been corroded, and the radio may have not worked due to faulty wiring, but investigators still haven’t pieced together why the crew didn’t simply stay aboard and wait for help.
The Carroll A. Deering Might’ve Been Taken By The Bermuda Triangle = On January 29, 1921, the schooner Carroll A. Deering was returning home from Hampton Roads to Barbados when she passed the Cape Lookout lightship. Something seemed a little off to the Captain of the lightship. He reported that the Carroll’s crew seemed intact, but they wandered idly around on the deck of the ship. A crewman who didn’t look or act as if he was in charge told the lightship’s captain that the Carroll had lost her anchors.
The ship was later spotted by the SS Lake Elon, behaving strangely and steering a “peculiar course.” After that, the ship just disappeared.
Two days later, on January 31st, the Coast Guard discovered the Carroll run aground on the Outer Shoals. The weather was too treacherous for a better look, but C.P. Brady of the Cape Hatteras Coast Guard Station reported that the ship was missing her lifeboats, and the decks were covered with water. Later, when the weather was better, another Coast Guard ship, Rescue, showed up to investigate further.
They found that the ship was missing all its important papers, equipment, and personal belongings. The lifeboats were, indeed, missing, as were the anchors. This wasn’t a strange find for a ship run aground in dangerous waters, but then the crew found something that has baffled conspiracy theorists to this day: a meal, perfectly laid out for the entire crew, untouched.
There have been all sorts of theories about the ghost ship. Some believe that the crew mutinied. Others think that the ship was stolen by rogue Russians. Due to the proximity of the location, some reports even believe that the Bermuda Triangle might be to blame for the crew’s disappearance. The ship was scrapped in 1921, but the mystery still remains.
Despite being a lesser-known angel, Azrael is an important figure within several major religions, including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. He is an archangel in Heaven, similar to Gabriel and Samael, but wields frightening power. The angel of destruction is commanded by God himself to eradicate and renew all life.
Though he’s said to be a being of light, Azrael has a horrifying dark side. Similar to the fallen angel Abaddon, he is tasked with carrying out the will of God – whether it be collecting the souls of the departed or meting out punishments to sinners. Regardless of the chaos that he may cause, Azrael puts his loyalty to God above all else.
Although none of the various religious texts that mention Azrael pinpoint his exact size, one common theme is that he has a massive form. Azrael doesn’t just look like a human with wings – his body stretches across multiple levels of Heaven.
Azrael is said to have four faces and a body covered in countless eyes and tongues. These features represent the billions of people alive on Earth. Islamic teachings also describe Azrael as having 70,000 feet and 4,000 wings.
Although Azrael is commonly regarded as the angel of destruction, he also carries other monikers. These include “the Angel of the Lord,” “the Messenger of Death,” and simply “the Destroyer.” It is unclear in some of these cases whether the title is a specific name for the angel or a generic term used for several angels.
For instance, the title “Angel of Death” is also used about Abaddon. He is referred to as such in Judaism. According to Hebrew tradition, the name Azrael translates to “whom God helps,” nodding to him being a direct servant of God who carries out his wishes.
Azrael often carries a huge sword to match his giant form. It not only symbolizes his power and abilities as a warrior in defense of Heaven, but also of his responsibilities on Earth. As an angel of destruction, Azrael must carry out vicious acts at the behest of God.
The blade identifies Azrael as a loyal soldier; the angel, like a soldier, slays those that his lord commands. Later depictions of Azrael replace his sword with a knife or a cord – to tie around the necks of those he dispatches.
Another Hebrew tradition states that Azrael plays a significant role in keeping track of humanity. Some texts indicate he holds a record of every single living person. To do this, Azrael writes down the name of every person in a ledger, which gives them life.
When God has ordained the person’s passing, Azrael erases their name and ends their life.
Azrael is almost always portrayed as an incredibly powerful angel. He holds the ability to command life itself. Traditionally on the same level as the archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, he is entrusted with the ability to separate body from soul after he provides God with seven handfuls of earth to help create Adam.
In the Book of Exodus, the slaying of the firstborn in Egypt was the 10th and final plague set against Ramses for his refusal to free the Israelites. God’s followers were to sacrifice a lamb and use its blood to mark their doors so the condition would not affect them. The mark on the door would ensure those inside would not “suffer the destroyer to come into your houses and smite you.”
While Azrael is not mentioned by name, scholars believe the angel referenced in the text is the same entity who was also called upon to eliminate various other people and locations within the Bible.
In II Samuel, King David commits adultery with a woman called Bathsheba. He confesses his sins to God, but God rules the king can choose what punishment shall befall him and his people. David leaves the decision in the hands of his master, so God instructs the angel of the Lord to spread a plague on Israel.
Some “70,000 men” perish at the hands of Azrael. The decimation of Jerusalem is only prevented when God commands the angel to stop his work after David pleads for mercy.
In the Biblical book of II Kings, when the Assyrian army of Sennacherib prepares to strike Jerusalem and defeat Hezekiah, God answers the prayers of his followers and intervenes. Their lord sends the angel to carry out his will to ensure the city is not besieged. During the night, Azrael slays thousands of Assyrian soldiers and ends the conflict in one swift move.
Although the Bible does not mention Azrael by name, it states that “it came to pass that night, that the angel of the Lord went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians [a] hundred fourscore and five thousand.”
According to Islamic tradition, Azrael not only keeps the records of who is alive, but he must also transport the recently perished to the afterlife. Once someone has passed, Azrael removes their soul from their body and severs the link between the spiritual and physical worlds.
The angel then takes the soul either to Heaven or Hell, as decreed by God.
Azrael is known to have several different forms. He’s said to typically appear as a warrior or a giant being with thousands of eyes, wings, and feet, but he also takes the shape of a reaper or an old man.
Azrael also frequently assumes the appearance of a wanderer or beggar. This allows the angel to carry out his tasks and travel among humans without attracting attention.
Azrael is a powerful entity capable of carrying out harsh acts at a moment’s notice, but he cannot do anything of his own accord. Instead, he is an obedient and loyal servant of God. This means that everything the angel does is at the command of his lord.
God reveals when a person is due to pass so that Azrael can collect their soul, and also indicates when the angel should punish those who have sinned.
While still associated with the grisly duty of helping those that have departed, Azrael supposedly holds a secondary function. According to some spiritual experts, Azrael essentially acts as a grief counselor to those who have lost a loved one.
The angel can advise those who are grieving and aid them through an emotionally difficult time. He will also try to make the journey from the physical world to a spiritual existence as comfortable and pain-free as he can for those who have passed.
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Do you have a dark tale to tell of your own? Fact or fiction, click on “Tell Your Story” at WeirdDarkness.com and I might use it in a future episode.
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.
“Ghost Ships Lost at Sea” by Elizabeth Lundin
“Azrael: The Angel of Destruction” by Nathan Gibson
“The Demonic Torture of the Smurl Family” by Jacob Shelton
“Scarecrows and Towel Dispensers” by Weirdo family member Jan Daniels
“Australian Backpacker Murderer” by Catherine Phalan
Weird Darkness theme by Alibi Music.
WeirdDarkness™ – is a registered trademark. Copyright ©Weird Darkness 2020.
If you’d like a transcript of this episode, you can find a link in the show notes.
Now that we’re coming out of the dark, I’ll leave you with a little light… “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11
And a final thought… “Choose to be kind and you will be right every time.” – Unknown
I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me in the Weird Darkness.