“THE EARTHQUAKE THAT RELEASED A DEMON FROM HELL” and More True Horror Stories! #WeirdDarkness

“THE EARTHQUAKE THAT RELEASED A DEMON FROM HELL” and More True Horror Stories! #WeirdDarkness

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IN THIS EPISODE: True crime lovers will most readily admit that the strange cases are the juiciest. Some cases are bizarre, some are odd, others can be brutal… but whatever your preference, I’ve got some of the weirdest ones to share with you. (Strange Stories of True Crime) *** It seems most all states or territories in northern America have their own version of a big, hairy, bipedal creature we’ve all come to call Bigfoot. Ohio has their own, which has been dubbed the “Grassman.” (Buckeye Bigfoot of Ohio) *** Residents of Christchurch and the surrounding areas of Canterbury in New Zealand would suffer two huge earthquakes within six months – one September 2010, then another February 2011.  And if the hundreds of souls who perished wasn’t enough, it appears the earth cracking open as it did unleashed something evil from the bowels of hell. (The Earthquake That Released a Demon) *** Sadly, child abuse and murder is not only a modern crime – it has been happening since the beginning of human history. But some cases are so severe or brutal, they rise to the surface and point out just how evil some people can be – such as Elizabeth Brownrigg, who was hanged for her crimes – and deservedly so. (The Inhumane Actions of Elizabeth Brownrigg) *** Slicked back hair, black cape, long white canines, maybe a mesmerizing stare… the image of the vampire has become iconic, if not a bit predictable. But bloodsucking creatures around the world aren’t all the same – and while the traditional look of a vampire might frighten some, there are much more terrifying versions to fear in the night. (Lesser-Known Vampire Myths Around The World)

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DISCLAIMER: 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…

True crime lovers will most readily admit that the strange cases are the juiciest. Some cases are bizarre, some are odd, others can be brutal… but whatever your preference, I’ve got some of the weirdest ones to share with you. (Strange Stories of True Crime)

It seems most all states or territories in northern America have their own version of a big, hairy, bipedal creature we’ve all come to call Bigfoot. Ohio has their own, which has been dubbed the “Grassman.” (Buckeye Bigfoot of Ohio)

Residents of Christchurch and the surrounding areas of Canterbury in New Zealand would suffer two huge earthquakes within six months – one September 2010, then another February 2011.  And if the hundreds of souls who perished wasn’t enough, it appears the earth cracking open as it did unleashed something evil from the bowels of hell. (The Earthquake That Released a Demon)

Sadly, child abuse and murder is not only a modern crime – it has been happening since the beginning of human history. But some cases are so severe or brutal, they rise to the surface and point out just how evil some people can be – such as Elizabeth Brownrigg, who was hanged for her crimes – and deservedly so. (The Inhumane Actions of Elizabeth Brownrigg)

Slicked back hair, black cape, long white canines, maybe a mesmerizing stare… the image of the vampire has become iconic, if not a bit predictable. But bloodsucking creatures around the world aren’t all the same – and while the traditional look of a vampire might frighten some, there are much more terrifying versions to fear in the night. (Lesser-Known Vampire Myths Around The World)

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!


Perhaps no fear is more primal than that of being consumed. That ancient terror is likely the root of the bloodsucker myths that darken folklore around the world. Vampire myths and tales of other bloodsucking creatures of the night are found in just about every culture across the globe, and date back centuries. Each story takes on its own sinister dimensions. In some regions, blood drinkers are demons or evil spirits with the power to possess and reanimate the dead. In others, vampire lore shared some grisly details with the werewolf legend, as the creatures were said to shift their shapes. As for the dreadful creatures that were rumored to haunt Germany, they fed on fear as much as on blood. These vampires from around the world still frighten as much as they fascinate. Discover their stories, and maybe consider investing in some garlic.

***Many Celtic fairies were believed to have a less-than-whimsical diet. On the Isle of Man, it was once tradition to leave water out each night for the fairies – or they would drink the blood of those asleep inside the house. Some said the fairies would even bake the family’s blood into a blood cakeand hide it in the house. If the people didn’t find and consume the cake, they would wither away and die.

***A malevolent entity known as the Alp is said to haunt the people of Germany, especially young women. More specifically, any woman who commits an unforgivable sin while pregnant, like eating something “unclean,” will suffer at the hands of an Alp. The Alp enters humans through their mouths by turning into mist or a snake, or by using its tongue. Then it plagues its victims with terrifying nightmares. Fits, sleepwalking, and night seizures are all the work of an Alp. The Alp sucks blood from a person’s nipples and is said to enjoy breast milk as well.

***This bloodsucking demon goddess has the ferocious head of a lion, the body of a donkey, and an appetite for babies. The Mesopotamian Lamashtu prefers newborns and will stalk a mother until the moment she gives birth – then she will swoop in and eat the baby’s flesh and drink its blood. An ancient incantation against her reads, “Great is the daughter of Heaven who tortures babies/Her hand is a net, her embrace is death/She is cruel, raging, angry, predatory/A runner, a thief is the daughter of Heaven.”

***Vampiric lore in India includes tales of a creatures known as Vetalas. These entities are said to lurk around cemeteries and feed on corpses. The Vetalas can inhabit corpses as well, and may impersonate dead animals as well as people. These creatures of the night are said to take especial pleasure in killing children, causing miscarriages, and spreading destruction.

***One Irish legend tells the chilling tale of the Dearg-Due. Her name is Gaelic for Red Blood Sucker, and she was once a beautiful young woman who was forced into an abusive marriage. She committed suicide, but rose from her grave as a vampire. Her first mission was to kill her husband and her father. But she didn’t stop there, and supposedly still continues to feed on young men. Like a siren, she lures them out into the night as they sleep and drains them of life.

***According to Filipino lore, the Aswang is an incredibly attractive, seemingly normal woman by day; she may even be married and have children. But by night, she is a demonic, blood sucking bird. She has a long, hollow tongue that she slides through open windows or ceiling cracks and inserts into her sleeping victims, sucking their blood like nectar. The lick of an Aswang is so potent that it can mean death if the creature so much as grazes its tongue on a person’s shadow.

***According to Hindu lore, pishacha can drive you insane. These flesh-eating demons have dark skin with bulging veins and prominent red eyes protruding from their sockets. Like many creatures with vampiric attributes, they have the power to shape-shift. This particular breed, however, is also able to become invisible, and feeds on human energies, invades their minds, and even alters their thoughts. Some stories say that anyone who sees a pishacha is doomed to die within nine months.

***The Romani people put their own twist on vampire stories. In their tales, female vampires returned to married life after rising from the grave. They were just as blood-thirsty as their male counterparts, but also had a voracious sexual appetites and were said to exhaust their human husbands. Male vampires could father children, and those children would have special senses when it came to vampire detection. Known as dhampirs, the half-vampires could later become professional vampire hunters.

***The lilitu are descended from Lilith, a demon queen of Hebrew lore. In Jewish texts, Lilith was Adam’s first wife and was cast out of the Garden of Eden for refusing to be subservient to him. From there, her name became demonized, and legends describing her as a succubus came about. Lilith and her horde of demonic children are said to feed on flesh and blood in the night. And while they’ll dine on men, they prefer to sink their teeth into babies.

***The bruxsa of Portugal are female vampiric spirits that were once witches, and their powers are said to come from Satan himself. They are able to shapeshift into the form of many animals, including wolves. But they most often appear as birds of prey, and are known to swoop down on travelers and feed greedily on the blood of small children.

***The draugr is a mythical Icelandic ghost with some vampiric tendencies. The spirit seeks out humans to drive mad, and can enter a person’s dreams. The creature enjoys drinking blood, but may also consume its victims’ flesh. According to lore, draugr were created when a Viking failed to die honorably. Its spirit would come back as a reeking, hulking figure with a penchant for crushing human prey.


Up next… True crime lovers will most readily admit that the strange cases are the juiciest. Some cases are bizarre, some are odd, others can be brutal… but whatever your preference, I’ve got some of the weirdest ones to share with you.



Whether you’re reading a true crime article, listening to a podcast, or watching a show, the weirdest true crime cases are often the ones that stick the longest. While some cases are just plain weird, others can be as equally odd as they are terrifying. Take Carl Tanzler, who kept his beloved’s remains in his home for seven years, regularly buying new clothes for her corpse. Then there’s Danny LaPlante, who held a family hostage in their basement with a hatchet. The world of true crime is full of bizarre stories that can seem too strange to possibly be true, until you realize that they were all real people with real lives that were suddenly upended. We’re about to explore some of the strangest and creepiest cases throughout true crime history.

***In The Middle Of The Night In 1939, A Blindfolded Man Stumbled Onto A Highway And Was Struck By A Car = Around 3 am on December 22, 1939, a blindfolded man stumbled onto a snowy highway in Mishawaka, IN, and was immediately hit by a car and killed. The man turned out to be 44-year-old factory worker Stephen Melkey. Melkey was found with his hands bound behind his back, and both his eyes and mouth had been covered with surgical tape. Inside his mouth, police found a handkerchief covered in red lipstick. A police investigation revealed that Melkey had been dropped off by a vehicle about 140 feet from the place he was struck. While initially bound at the ankles, he managed to free his legs and walked blindfolded through the snow before crossing the highway. More perplexing, though, was the parallel set of footprints through the snow, suggesting that the person responsible for tying him up was also following him. Some even theorize that Melkey was pushed onto the road. Three suspects were taken into custody, including local tavern waitress Bertte DeVos and her fiance Allan Polomskey. Melkey and DeVos reportedly had some sort of relationship that made Polomskey jealous, and he’d been seen fighting with Melkey prior to his passing. Another man involved with DeVos, George Smith, had also argued with Melkey before the incident. While all three were questioned, none of the tire tracks from their cars were determined to match those of the car that dropped off Melkey. No one was ever apprehended and Melkey’s case remains unsolved.

***Brian Wells Showed Up To Rob A Bank With A Bomb Around His Neck = On August 28, 2003, a man walked into a Pennsylvania bank and handed a note to the teller demanding $250,000. The note also warned that a bomb would go off if he didn’t get the money. Leaving the bank with just $8,000, the man was surrounded by police, and revealed himself to be Brian Wells, a pizza delivery driver who had been forced to rob the bank. He claimed the device around his neck was a bomb, and it eventually went off in front of police and media, killing Wells. Police soon uncovered detailed instructions in Wells’s car of actions he’d need to complete to turn off the bomb, including the bank heist. But they determined that there was no way that Wells could’ve possibly finished all the tasks before the device exploded. Authorities would later attribute the plot to three people: Majorie Diehl-Armstrong, Kenneth Barnes, and William Rothstein. After Wells’s death, Rothstein turned on Diehl-Armstrong, even leading police to a body he’d kept in his freezer for her – that of her ex-boyfriend James Roden. Investigators believe Diehl-Armstrong killed Roden after he threatened to inform police about the impending bank heist. Diehl-Armstrong was alleged to be the mastermind of the robbery, reportedly needing the money so she could have a hit taken out on her father, who she wrongly believed to be wealthy. For her part, Diehl-Armstrong claimed that Rothstein was the real brains of the operation. Debate remains on whether Brian Wells had any involvement in the plot or not. Diehl-Armstrong was eventually sentenced to life in prison in 2011. She passed in prison and was buried in an unmarked grave in 2017. The complicated case gained attention the same year with the release of a Netflix docuseries centering on Diehl-Armstrong, Evil Genius.

***A Teen Boy Lived In A Family’s Walls For Weeks = In 1986, Tina (15) and Karen (9) Bowen began noticing items moving and disappearing in their Pepperell, MA, home. They wondered if the source of the disturbance was a ghost, but their father, Frank, simply thought their imaginations were running wild. Everything changed on December 8, 1986, when a teenage boy with spiked hair suddenly appeared in the family’s home and forced them into an upstairs bedroom. He wore face paint and wielded both a hatchet and a wrench. The family’s eldest daughter, Tina Bowen, escaped through a window and called police, but when they arrived to investigate, the boy was gone. Two days later, Frank Bowen returned to their home to collect some belongings when he saw the boy staring out a second-floor window. This time, police found the boy, 16-year-old Daniel LaPlante, hiding in a wall cavity in the family’s bathroom. LaPlante had been secretly living in the Bowens’ home for days, slowly tormenting the family before finally revealing himself. The space where LaPlante hid was just large enough for him to squat in place, and he apparently even slept this way, all while the family continued using the bathroom. LaPlante was arrested and sent to juvenile hall but received a lenient sentence. One year later, in 1987, LaPlante murdered a woman named Priscilla Gustafson and her two young children in their home. He received three life sentences for his crimes and began practicing Wicca in prison.

***Donna Doll Mysteriously Ingested 5 To 6 Pounds Of Potatoes Before Her Death = Donna Doll was last seen leaving her job at the school library on October 2, 1970, before disappearing. Doll was a 21-year-old senior at Northern Illinois University who was studying Russian and planned to be a teacher. Doll’s remains were found in a cornfield about a mile from the university nine days after she went missing. The coroner marked her cause of death as suffocation with a bag or pillow, but something didn’t add up. To begin with, even though the COD was suffocation, no fibers were found in Doll’s mouth. Furthermore, there were “mystery substances” found in her system that couldn’t be identified. Perhaps the oddest finding was that Doll had apparently eaten 5 to 6 pounds of potatoes before she was murdered. Doll’s killer has never been identified and the case remains open.

***While Searching The Tombs Of The Vatican For A Missing Girl, Investigators Uncovered Chambers Containing Thousands Of Bones = In July 2019, authorities in Vatican City received a new tip in a 35-year-old cold case. In 1983, 15-year-old Emanuela Orlandi, the daughter of a Vatican employee, disappeared in Vatican City on her way home from a music lesson and was never seen again. The anonymous tip said to look where the statue of an angel was pointing, leading investigators to the tombs of two 19th-century German princesses in the Pontifical Teutonic College. Although Orlandi’s remains were not found, two ossuaries containing thousands of boneswere discovered. It was eventually determined that the bones were at least 100 years old and belonged to dozens of unknown individuals.

***Anchorman Dan Rather Was Walking Home When He Was Attacked By Two Men Asking, ‘Kenneth, What Is The Frequency?’ = On October 4, 1986, NBC news anchor Dan Rather was walking home from dinner when he realized two men were following him. The men began asking Rather, “Kenneth, what is the frequency?” When Rather explained they had the wrong person, the men began beating Rather, who fled into a nearby apartment building. Rather’s attack made headlines and became a part of pop culture with songs and a graphic novel containing the altered phrase, “What’s the frequency, Kenneth?” R.E.M. even released a hit single of the same name in 1994. That same year, a man named William Tager shot and killed a stagehand on The Today Show. Tager claimed NBC had been sending messages to him through the television. In 1997, Tager confessed to being one of the men who attacked Rather over a decade earlier. Tager claimed to be a time traveler, and said that Rather resembled his timeline’s vice president Kenneth Burrows. While the case seemed solved, the other man involved in the assault on Rather has never been identified. Also, some have continued to theorize about other possible motives for the attack. Some have connected the incident to author Donald Barthelme, who wrote a story with a character named Kenneth and the line “What’s the frequency?” Others believe the real target was a man named Ken Schaffer, who found a way to use satellite dishes to receive Soviet television broadcasts toward the end of the Cold War, when they weren’t available in the US. As many wanted to know how Schaffer was accessing the signals, “What’s the frequency” might have been a logical question to ask him. Schaffer set up these broadcasts for the public, and one such visitor was Dan Rather. Rather and Schaffer even talked outside of the broadcasting event – the same night he was later attacked.

***A Doctor Lived With The Body Of His Deceased Patient For Years = We’ve covered this story more than once here in Weird Darkness – but it’s so strange and dark, it deserves repeating. In 1931, 54-year-old radiology technician Carl Tanzler fell in love with 22-year-old Maria Elena Milagro de Hoyos. Tanzler had met Hoyos at the hospital he worked at in Key West, where she was being treated for tuberculosis. Though not qualified to treat tuberculosis, Tanzler claimed he could cure Hoyos, but she succumbed to her illness in October 1931. A grief-stricken Tanzler paid for Hoyos’s mausoleum, and would visit her corpse every night for the following two years. In 1933, Tanzler took Hoyos’s corpse out of the mausoleum and brought it back to his home, unbeknownst to her family, where he lived with it for seven years. He kept the body from decomposing by stuffing it with rags and wire hangers, and covering the body in plaster of Paris. Hoyos’s body was eventually removed from the home in 1940 after a neighborhood boy saw Tanzler dancing with what the boy claimed to be a giant doll. Charges were pressed against Tanzler for grave robbery, but he eventually walked free, as the statute of limitations had expired. In fact, the media portrayed the ordeal as a romantic story, often mentioning that Tanzler believed he could someday bring Hoyos back to life.

***Colin Howell And His Lover Gassed Their Spouses With Carbon Monoxide And Got Away With It For 20 Years = In 1991, Lesley Howell and Trevor Buchanan were found deceased, their bodies in a fume-filled car. Investigators concluded that the two had committed suicide after learning of the affair between their respective spouses, Colin Howell and Hazel Stewart. It wasn’t until 2009 that Colin Howell, an esteemed dentist, confessed that he and Stewart had murdered their spouses and made it look like a double suicide. Howell had first eliminated his own wife, attaching his baby’s feeding bottle to a garden hose and running it into the house, gassing her with carbon monoxide while she slept. He then went to the house Buchanan and Stewart shared and did the same thing to Buchanan, staging their bodies in the car and inventing a suicide story. After his relationship with Stewart later ended, Howell got remarried to a woman named Kyle. He told his wife what he’d done in 1998, and though she said she urged him to confess, he swore her to secrecy. Howell was known to be deeply religious, and followed certain “signs” to let him know when and how he should confess. As a dentist, Howell was also accused of assaulting female patients while they were under sedation. After the arrest, Kyle described Howell as follows: “Everyone thought he was this great Christian guy but they were so wrong. He was a monster.” Colin Howell and Hazel Stewart were both convicted for the 1991 murders, with Howell sentenced to a minimum of 21 years in prison and Stewart to a minimum of 18 years.

***A Welshman Known As ‘The Silent Man’ Stood In Front Of Traffic And Refused To Tell Police Why = In 2015, 45-year-old David Hampson of Swansea, Wales, was found guilty of breaching a criminal behavior order and being “mute of malice.” Beginning in 2014, Hampson developed a habit of standing in front of cars to prevent traffic from moving. When police would speak to him, he wouldn’t say anything. However, Hampson was known to have the ability to speak. Hampson had previously been taken into custody for stopping traffic, and would commit the same offense as soon as he got out of jail. At one point, he even climbed on the hood of a mail van and pressed his face against the glass. The jury in Hampson’s trial found him unanimously guilty after deliberating for five minutes.

***The Tromp Family Fled Their Home Together – And Not Even They Know Why = On August 29, 2016, Mark and Jacoba Tromp, along with their three children, fled their home just outside Melbourne, Australia. Mark and Jacoba believed their lives were in danger, and made their three adult children, Riana, Ella, and Mitchell, leave their phones and other identifying belongings behind. As the trip wore on, the children began leaving. Mitchell left after it was discovered he had brought his cell phone, and his parents made him throw it out the window. Riana and Ella stole a car, but later separated. Riana was found “catatonic” in the back of a stranger’s car. Jacoba and Mark were then somehow separated from each other. Jacoba was eventually found wandering in Yass, Australia, in an agitated state, and received psychiatric care along with Riana. Mark was the last Tromp family member to be found, six days after the trip began, on the side of a road near Wangaratta airport. Based on the back and forth directions of their movements, it didn’t seem as though the Tromp family had any destination in mind. Authorities did not believe that the family was in any actual danger or that anyone was out to get them. They weren’t in any debt, there was no evidence of drug use, and none of the family members had any history of mental illness. Some theorized that the Tromps could have been affected by chemicals on the family farm. Others believed that the family was suffering from a collective delusion known as “folie a deux” or “madness of two.” The term was coined for a French couple in the 1800s who shared the same paranoid delusions with each other. Doctors couldn’t tell which had become psychotic first, as the couple had evidently fallen into a cycle where they each reinforced the false beliefs of the other.  However, we may not ever know what caused the unusual incident, as members of the Tromp family were also mystified. As Ella Tromp put it in a press conference, “It is very confusing, I still feel confused… I think our state of minds wasn’t in the best place, um, and yeah, I can’t even really… There’s no one reason for it – it’s bizarre.”

***Marty Markowitz Accused His Psychiatrist Of Taking Over His Life = Millionaire Marty Markowitz claims that his psychiatrist, Isaac “Ike” Herschkopf, took over his life for 30 years beginning in 1981. Herschkopf allegedly made his patient set up a foundation that Markowitz funded, but was controlled by Herschkopf. Herschkopf would host parties for the foundation at Markowitz’s Hamptons home, and forced Markowitz to serve guests as part of the catering staff. Herschkopf also reportedly persuaded Markowitz to disinherit his sister and subsequently rewrite his will to leave his entire estate to the foundation Herschkopf controlled. He also gave Herschkopf power of attorney. Markowitz told Forward: “I was living a lie when I was with Ike. Ike sucked me into this cult of Ike and I was spending six or seven hours a week with him, he kept me constantly busy transcribing his handwritten books, throwing these parties, and I didn’t appreciate what was going on. He didn’t let me have a girlfriend. I would go on a date, and he’d call her a gold digger. He would say, ‘Everyone is out to get you, I’m going to protect you.’ And I was stupid enough to buy it.” Markowitz eventually broke ties with Herschkopf in 2010, and Herschkopf lost his medical credentials based on testimony from Markowitz and two other patients. The story was turned into a limited series called ‘The Shrink Next Door’ starring Paul Rudd and Will Ferrell.


Coming up… Residents of Christchurch and the surrounding areas of Canterbury in New Zealand would suffer two huge earthquakes within six months – one September 2010, then another February 2011.  And if the hundreds of souls who perished wasn’t enough, it appears the earth cracking open as it did unleashed something evil from the bowels of hell.

But first… It seems most all states or territories in northern America have their own version of a big, hairy, bipedal creature we’ve all come to call Bigfoot. Ohio has their own, which has been dubbed the “Grassman.” That story is up next on Weird Darkness.



The legend of Bigfoot appears in various regions across America. These cryptids may vary in description, traits, and body odors, but they have all captured the collective curiosity of dedicated cryptologists and casual Bigfoot fans alike.

In the Buckeye State, locals whisper about a creature called the Ohio Grassman. The Buckeye Bigfoot is far from the only creepy thing from Ohio, but it is one of the most interesting. Its alleged sociability, stench, and varying accounts of whether or not the Grassman is vicious make this cryptid fascinating.

The Ohio Grassman is often physically described in the same manner as Bigfoot: It is large, standing between six and eight feet tall, and weighing anywhere between 500 and 800 pounds. The creature is covered in hair, typically described by alleged witnesses as dark, reddish-brown, or black.

The Ohio Grassman is also known for its eyes, which many who claim to have seen the creature say are menacing and red. An 1869 article in the H​​​illsdale Standard describes the creature’s eyes as “burning and maniac.

People who claim to have seen Bigfoot typically say they have seen the creature on its own. The Ohio Grassman, however, has been said to travel in packs of up to five creatures.

Enthusiasts believe this means the Grassman is a much more social, pack-like creature than Bigfoot. Some accounts even describe seeing a mother Grassman with child-like Grassmen.

While Bigfoot is known for its fear-inducing howls and roars, the Grassman is known for a different guttural cry.

People who have allegedly seen the Ohio Grassman say that it cries like a baby and screams as if it were a woman. Given that some witnesses have claimed to have seen a mother Grassman with her children, this alleged cry could be coming from different ages and sexes of the cryptid.

The Ohio Grassman might have a description similar to Bigfoot, but the Ohio creature’s diet differentiates it from the most famous cryptid.

According to enthusiasts, the Grassman is partial to eating the tall grasses of its habitat. Some Ohioans have said they spotted the beast at the edges of farms, munching on things like wheat. Roughly 50% of Ohio is considered “prime farmland” by the US Department of Agriculture, which means there are plenty of places for this alleged beast to snack.

Even if you can’t see the Grassman, believers say you sure can smell him. The massive creature reportedly reeks of rotten eggsThe Weiser Field Guide to Cryptozoology describes the beast’s scent as a “wild odor.” The Grassman also might wipe its feces on trees, which only adds to its awful scent.

The creature’s stench might be aggressive, but many cryptid enthusiasts believe that the Grassman is anything but when it comes to human interactions.

In 1869, the Grassman became one of the first cryptids to get its own newspaper story. The article ran in the Hillsdale Standard, a Michigan newspaper, and was called “Hairy Man Attacks.”

The paper referred to the creature as a “wild man” who appeared “naked…[and] covered with hair.” The article also alleges that the mysterious creature went after a father and his daughter as they made their way through Gallia County, OH, by carriage. The father and daughter said they had to fight for their lives. Fortunately, the daughter was able to fend off this vicious creature with a bash of a rock to the ear. Reportedly, the beast simply got up and walked away after that, uninterested in pursuing them further.

In 1978, the Caytons had their first encounter with the alleged Grassman. Evelyn and Howe Cayton were sitting inside when their children came inside screaming. The kids said that they saw a monster in a gravel pit nearby. When the parents went out to investigate, Evelyn claims she saw a seven-foot-tall, 300-pound beast with dark hair. According to her account, the creature simply stood there until she ran away.

This wasn’t the Cayton’s only encounter with the Grassman, though. In fact, the Grassman visited frequently enough that one of the Cayton daughters started referring to him as a “pet.” The Caytons said the creature never really bothered them, but they always knew when he was there due to his strong stench.


Residents of Christchurch and the surrounding areas of Canterbury in New Zealand would suffer two huge earthquakes within six months. The first occurred in September 2010, with the second coming in February 2011. The death toll would enter the hundreds, and the damage was of an astronomical cost. On top of this real loss, a surge of paranormal incidents and reports would surface in the days and months following the events. Some researchers began to connect the two, as if the earthquake had somehow brought forth something from deep within the earth.

This phenomenon of paranormal and unusual sightings in the run-up to, or in the immediate aftermath of such catastrophic events occurs more than we might think.

Perhaps the story of Allan and Sandra Bennett is one of the more chilling of the accounts to later emerge. In the case of the Bennetts, their strange encounter would actually begin in the days leading up to the earthquake. One morning in September 2010, Allan answered the knocking on his front door. In front of him, he could see a strange, menacing looking man on his doorstep. In his hand was a large manila envelope, which he would hand to Allan before leaving without saying a word. The envelope contained an unsettling black and white photograph of the Bennett’s house, but how it looked in the 1930s. Allan kept the picture for several days before he tore it to pieces. For reasons he didn’t understand he was unable to stand it being in his home any longer.

When the first earthquake brought chaos and misery to the town the following day, the Bennett’s property would suffer extended and severe damage. They themselves though were unhurt.

However, according to Allan, he could now sense “a presence” in the house. A threatening presence at that. In fact, Allan believed the “feel” of the property – their dream home – had now changed, and he couldn’t explain why. He would keep remembering the strange, dark-dressed man with the creepy photograph of his property from years ago. Did it have anything to do with the earthquake and the atmosphere he could now feel?

Several nights later, Allan and Sandra sat bolt upright in their bed. A loud thud was shaking their bed, and at first, they feared another earthquake. The rest of the room, however, was calm. Something strange was happening.

They both gasped inwardly when strange footprint indents appeared on the bed clothes in front of them. They approached the pair. Then, Allan felt a tight vice-like grip around his throat and he instantly struggled for breath. He clawed at “invisible hands”, and just as he felt himself losing consciousness, the grip loosened. As he drew breath deeply into his deprived lungs, the presence seemed to vacate the room, and the banging ceased.

The Bennett’s would have no more strange experiences in the house, and they never did discover who the strange man who appeared at their door before the earthquake was. They, like many others in the area, reached out to local paranormal investigators for answers. One of the leading investigators into many of these strange reports and the person who researched the Bennett’s encounter is Anton Heyrick.

According to details of their case, investigations suggest that a demon had manifested in the Bennett’s property. Whether its presence is a result of the earthquake is unknown. As is whether it has left the Bennett’s home, or if it still lies dormant there.

Several weeks following the disaster in Christchurch an earthquake would strike off the coast of Japan. This would result in one of the largest and deadliest tsunamis to ever strike the country. The death toll is in the thousands, with thousands more still missing. Even today many remain missing.

As the hours of news and amateur footage made its way online, many eagle-eyed researchers would spot numerous UFO craft in the skies of the crippled nation. Many others would highlight strange “creatures” seemingly unleashed with the deadly wave. Many bizarre theories surfaced. Some believed the UFO sightings and reports of strange creatures suggested an invasion. Others theorized about the possible opening of portals to other dimensions as a result of the 9.0 earthquake.

Perhaps of more interest, was the cigar-shaped glowing object clearly seen over the Fukushima Nuclear Plant. Later reports would confirm that the week before, at nearby Haneda Airport, reports of four similar objects hovering overhead surfaced.

When you look at many other disasters, there are often reports of strange sightings either before or after them.

Six months before the deadly quake in Christchurch, and on the other side of the world in Chile, another equally deadly earthquake would strike. Over five-hundred people would lose their lives, while the infrastructure in some cases was all but flattened.

In the midst of all the chaos, however, came a wave of sightings of strange lights in the skies over the region. To the locals, there was no doubt these were UFOs, and they were of intelligent occupation. One couple would even tell UFO researcher, Rodrigo Fuenzalida, that one such UFO was observing the residents of their apartment block. Despite the building only suffering minimal damage, the couple chose to flee the area due to fears of the UFOs possible intentions.

Even more interesting were the many reports of strange “humanoid luminous beings!” Many of these strange “otherworldly” beings were often seen walking and vanishing into surrounding lakes.

There were reports of similar sightings prior to the Oklahoma Tornado of 2013. And in 2005, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, came not only reports of UFOs, but in some cases of “humanoid reptilian beings” in the ruined streets. There are also the stories of the Birdman of Chernobyl, and the Mothman of Point Pleasant. Are these also examples of similar sightings and strange activity in run up to disasters?

Assuming for one moment, these sightings are real, are they merely incidental of the circumstances? Or might they be altogether more entwined and purposely connected to them?


When Weird Darkness returns… sadly, child abuse and murder is not only a modern crime – it has been happening since the beginning of human history. But some cases are so severe or brutal, they rise to the surface and point out just how evil some people can be – such as Elizabeth Brownrigg, who was hanged for her crimes – and deservedly so.



On the morning of Monday, September 14th, 1767, in the Tyburn Gallows , a 47 year-old Elizabeth Brownrigg stood in a cart awaiting her execution by a noose. So great was the uproar from angry crowds that Brownrigg herself, who was found guilty for the cruel torturous murder of 17 year-old Mary Clifford, was petrified with fear. The groups were so filled with hate that Brownrigg trembled and needed to be held down firmly. It was then that the hangman Thomas Turlis noosed her, tied the rope to the overhead beam of the gallows connected to pullies by a horse, tapped the horse’s flanks to move forwards, pulling her up to swing, choke, and suffocate until she was dead. As her body lay limp, the crowd cheered. Her body was then taken to the Surgeons’ Hall, where she was processed, and her skeleton was laid on display opposite the surgeon’s theater for all to be reminded of her crimes.

But even though her crimes were inexcusable, only Elizabeth was sentenced to execution while her husband James and eldest son John, who also took part in the abuse of their servants, were only sentenced to six months in prison.

Is evil inherently human, and is there no answer for how to deal with abuse? Or was Elizabeth Brownrigg and her family an outlier example to the ills that masters could execute on servants? To understand how her end came to be, one must understand her origins, her crimes, and inevitably the life of people in 18th century England.

Elizabeth Brownrigg was born in 1720 to a working-class family. In 1745, she married James Brownrigg, who was an apprentice house painter at the time. Though Elizabeth Brownrigg gave birth to 16 children, only three survived to adulthood.

Of the three children, only one is ever mentioned as living with them. In 1765, the Brownrigg family, Elizabeth, her husband James, and their eldest son John moved to Flower de Luce Road in London’s Fetter Lane. James earned a prosperous career as a house painter and Elizabeth became a respected midwife.

She was also appointed as overseer of women and children at Saint Dunstan’s Parish workhouse. She was given custody of two girls Mary Mitchell and Mary Clifford, along with five pounds per girl for payment of their apprenticeship.

Another girl, Mary Jones, was to be a servant from the London Foundling Hospital. However, Elizabeth Brownrigg soon began to engage in severe physical abuse of her foundling domestic servants.

Though reports were often ignored in the 18th century regarding the abuse of servants, what made the Brownrigg family’s case quite interesting was the severe abuse that their servants endured. In the case of the only girl to escape their torment, Mary Jones, her pleas for sanctuary went largely unnoticed, leaving at most the Brownriggs with an angrily worded letter rather than any real legal action against them.

The 14 year-old Mary Jones was bound to James Brownrigg on May 13th, 1765. However, she would only remain there for two months before running away from the household and hoping to find sanctuary back at the Foundling Hospital. During her initial trial period with the Brownrigg family, Mary Jones was treated relatively well until the period ended. Her relationship with the Brownriggs soon changed.

Elizabeth and James Brownrigg would take turns whipping Mary Jones frequently. They would sometimes strip her naked and then fasten her to a hook on a beam above the kitchen. They would beat her until either Elizabeth or James grew tired.

In another account by Mary Jones, sometimes when she cleaned one of the rooms or the stairs, Elizabeth would purposefully find fault, and they would punish her by holding down her arms and then ordering Mary Mitchell to douse her with the dirty cleaning water several times.

Although the Brownriggs made sure to lock their doors so no one was able to leave, one night, a key was left in the front door. Mary Jones escaped that night and ran back to the London Foundling Hospital.

The governors of the hospital examined Mary Jones and found several wounds around her neck, several bruises, and whip marks all over her back. Mary Jones pleaded not to return to the Brownriggs. Rather than press charges, the governors merely sent James Brownrigg a strongly worded letter demanding that he discipline his wife and restrict her abusive tendencies.

Unfortunately, no further action was taken. Though Mary Jones got away, there were still two girls who continued to endure the Brownriggs’ punishments.

Mary Mitchell was from Whitefriars. Like Mary Jones, Mitchell endured a considerable amount of physical and verbal abuse along with regular beatings for the slightest mishaps. In total, Mary Mitchell remained with the Brownriggs for roughly two and a half years, enduring a plethora of mistreatments.

Similar to Jones, her beatings began after her probationary trial period ended. Mitchell endured the first 12 months of abuse before deciding to escape. Like Jones, she managed to escape from the house but was spotted by the eldest son John Brownrigg who forced Mitchell to return to the home.

She was then treated with even greater cruelty for trying to leave. A similar fate was shared by Mary Clifford, who soon was to completed her one-month trial period when she would became legally bound to the Brownriggs.

Mary Clifford was the daughter of a shoemaker in White Friars, whose wife’s death left him with several children to take care of. Being that he was unable to give them proper care, he sent all his children to the Saint Dunstan’s Parish workhouse. He then remarried.

However, regardless that Mary was sent away by her father, she and her stepmother became friends. She was taken in by James Brownrigg on February 18th, 1766.

Mary Clifford was the third apprentice to Elizabeth Brownrigg and endured the most abuse. In the Brownrigg’s trial, it was described how Clifford had been repeatedly beaten over the head and shoulders with a walking cane and an earth-brush by both Elizabeth and her son John Brownrigg.

Clifford’s phase of beatings began in 1767, soon after her trial period had ended. Like the other girls who had been tortured, Mary Clifford was stripped naked. Her wrists were tied up to a hook on a beam in the kitchen to be whipped.

However, for Mary Clifford, this was a consistent weekly ritual. In other instances, Clifford was chained to a door by her neck when she attempted to steal food and drink from a cupboard.

In the first year of Clifford’s employment with the Brownriggs, Clifford stopped writing to her stepmother. She grew curious about Clifford’s well-being after hearing what had happened with Mary Jones. Clifford’s stepmother immediately went to the Brownrigg household but was refused entry. She was then told by James Brownrigg that Mary Clifford did not live there, nor did the Brownriggs have an apprentice by that name at all and that if she proceeded to make further inquiries, she would pay for it.

One of the Brownriggs’ neighbors named Mr. Deacon, a baker’s apprentice, took notice of James’s unusual behavior with Clifford’s stepmother and then approached her when she was leaving. He waited until James returned to his home and then whispered to her that her stepdaughter Mary was indeed there.

Both Mr. Deacon and Clifford’s stepmother went to the local authorities and convinced officers of their suspicions. The officers, along with Clifford’s stepmother, proceeded to the Brownrigg’s household and forcibly demanded to see Mary Clifford. Though James continued to deny the girl existed, he soon changed his story mentioning that she was not home and but was in the countryside.

After further threats of incarceration, James finally allowed the authorities to see one of the girls and revealed Mary Mitchell, who contained several bruises and lash marks up and down her arms and legs. Seeing how badly Mitchell appeared, the officers pushed through to investigate the entire household. It was then Clifford was found locked behind a cupboard.

Mary Clifford appeared beaten and emotionally broken. Except for two bits of rags acting as clothing, she was naked and smeared in her own filth.

Her face was swollen. Her head was severely cut with many open and bleeding gashes. Her back, legs, and thighs were blackened from severe bruising. Her entire body contained several whip scars, some fresh and others almost two years old.

Her throat was terribly swollen. Her mouth was so swollen that she could not shut her lips or even speak. She appeared to have been beaten by all manner of tools.

The officers and Clifford’s stepmother were left stunned by witnessing the results of the Brownriggs’ torments. James Brownrigg was then arrested and taken into custody, but Elizabeth Brownrigg made her escape.

The officers removed both Mary Mitchell and Mary Clifford from the house and returned them to the Parish Workhouse. As they were being examined by physicians, the girls were ordered to be undressed and put to bed. But when Mitchell was being removed of her leather bodice, she screamed in agony.

Her wounds had not correctly healed and were stuck to the leather. Due to Mary Clifford’s dangerous condition, she was moved straight to the St. Bartholomew’s Hospital for further care. Unfortunately, on August 9th, 1767, Mary Clifford succumbed to her infected wounds and died.

In the following days after her death, a warrant was issued against Elizabeth and John Brownrigg. Both Elizabeth and John shifted from place to place in London. They wore worn clothing to stay anonymous and inconspicuous until finally taking lodgings in Wandsworth at the house of a Mr. Dunbar who kept a chandler’s shop.

Dunbar inevitably turned both of them into the police for a reward. Both Elizabeth and John were taken to Newgate.

On September 7th, 1767, the trial for the murder of Mary Clifford appeared before Judge Sir Robert Kite. The case took 11 hours in which Mary Mitchell appeared as the star witness to the persecution, along with George Benham. Medical evidence and autopsy results from Clifford’s body was also used in the trial against Elizabeth Brownrigg.

In the trial, Mitchel stated that Mary Clifford was forced to sleep on boards in the parlor and sometimes in the passage. Most times, both Mitchell and Clifford were locked in the cellar at night. Mitchell also testified that James and John occasionally beat Clifford. Their whippings would often re-open wounds from previous beatings.

In another testimony, George Benham, one of James Brownrigg’s house painting apprentices, confirmed much of Mary Mitchell’s statements. He also mentioned that he visited James in prison shortly after the arrest, to which James asked him to return to the household to remove the hook from the beam in the kitchen and burn all the sticks in the house. Benham finally confessed that Elizabeth had warned him and other neighbors that if Mary Clifford’s stepmother visited the house and asked for her, she was not allowed to be admitted in, for fear Clifford’s stepmother would “give the girls bad ideas”.

On Friday, September 11th, 1767, Judge Kite pronounced Elizabeth Brownrigg to be hanged until dead on Monday, September 14th. Afterward, her body be publicly dissected and then atomized. John and James, on the other hand, were acquitted of their higher charge and instead were sentenced to misdemeanor charges and imprisoned for six months.

She was then hung. As her body swung, the crowd cheered three times and clapped. Her body was left hanging for half an hour before her remains were put into a hackney-coach and taken to the surgeon’s hall for dissection and eventual atomization.

Brownrigg’s final verdict was indeed a fitting end to the horrors and crimes she committed against Mary Jones, Mary Mitchell, and Mary Clifford. Forever after, Elizabeth Brownrigg’s case and name would become synonymous with the abusive rich cruelly manipulating the working poor, the exploitation, and murder of child servants, as well as the evil an 18th century woman could carry in the darkest of hearts.

However, even though Elizabeth Brownrigg was brought to justice, there is one question that remains: of the three Brownrigg’s who were charged with the murder of Mary Clifford, only Elizabeth Brownrigg was convicted and executed for that crime while her husband James and son John, who were just as guilty of torture and abuse, were merely given six months sentences. Why was Elizabeth Brownrigg given the maximum charge?

Perhaps this will be a question that will forever be debated by historians and scholars of the 18th century in the years to come.


Thanks for listening! If you like the show, please share it with someone you know who loves the paranormal or strange stories, true crime, monsters, or unsolved mysteries like you do! You can email me anytime with your questions or comments at darren@weirddarkness.com. WeirdDarkness.com is also where you can find information on any of the sponsors you heard about during the show, find all of my social media, listen to audiobooks I’ve narrated, sign up for the email newsletter, find other podcasts that I host including “Church of the Undead”, visit the store for Weird Darkness merchandise, and more. WeirdDarkness.com is also where you can find the Hope in the Darkness page if you or someone you know is struggling with depression or dark thoughts. Also on the website, if you have a true paranormal or creepy tale to tell, you can click on TELL YOUR STORY. You can find all of that and more at WeirdDarkness.com.

All stories on Weird Darkness are purported to be true unless stated otherwise, and you can find links to the stories or the authors in the show notes.

“Lesser-Known Vampire Myths Around The World” by Lyra Radford for Sematary Shift

“The Earthquake That Released a Demon” by Marcus Lowth for UFO Insight

“Buckeye Bigfoot of Ohio” by Maggie Clancy for Ranker

“Strange Stories of True Crime” by Patrick Thornton” for Weird History

“The Inhumane Actions of Elizabeth Brownrigg” by B.B. Wagner for Ancient Origins

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… Colossians 3:12 = “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”

And a final thought… “Don’t let your loneliness make you reconnect with toxic people. You shouldn’t drink poison just because you’re thirsty.”

I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me in the Weird Darkness.



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