THE EXTRAORDINARY EXTRATERRESTRIAL ABDUCTION OF BETTY ANDREASSON and More True Tales! #WeirdDarkness
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IN THIS EPISODE: In March of 2000, a New South Wales mother did the unthinkable: and twenty-three years later the first officer on the scene shares what he encountered; and it is extremely disturbing. We’ll look inside the mind of the sadistic murderess, Katherine Knight. (Katherine Knight: Cannibal Killer) *** Image is everything, as they say – and nowadays it seems the perfect image is to either have all of the right curves in all of the right places – or to be stick thin. But imagine being so thin that you could pass for a living skeleton. Such was the life of Claude Ambroise Seurat. (The Living Skeleton) *** Essie Dunbar was 30 years old when she had an epileptic seizure that left her doctor certain she was dead. However, when her sister arrived at her funeral and asked to see her one last time, the story goes that Dunbar sat right up inside her coffin. (The Premature Burial of Essie Dunbar) *** Did King Solomon possess a magical ring – given to him directly from heaven – with which he could control Astaroth, a Prince of Hell? (The Ring That Could Control Demons) *** Two men are recovering after surgery in their hospital beds in two different hospitals, two years apart – one in 2017 and the other in 2019. Both men suddenly disappear from their beds without a trace – until later, when both men are found dead, in the ceiling of their respective hospitals. Two different men. Two different hospitals. Two years apart. Both disappear and are later found in the hospital ceilings. What happened? (The Bodies In The Ceiling) *** But first… although not the first high-profile claim of alien abduction, the extraordinary case of Betty Andreasson is considered by many to be one of the most important and unique. Not least because the incidents stretch over several decades and share details with many other cases over the years. We begin with that story. (The Extraordinary Extraterrestrial Abduction of Betty Andreasson) *** (NEW episode November 06, 2023)
SOURCES AND REFERENCES FROM THE EPISODE…
BOOK: “Buried Alive – The Terrifying History of Our Most Primal Fear” by Jan Bondeson: https://amzn.to/3MuLbni
“The Extraordinary Extraterrestrial Abduction of Betty Andreasson” by Marcus Lowth: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/4u5vwmzc
“Katherine Knight: Cannibal Killer” by Jasmine Kazlauskas for News.com.au: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/yckv8swz
“The Premature Burial of Essie Dunbar” by Amber Breese for All That’s Interesting: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/3zwd2z5y
“The Bodies In The Ceiling” posted at Strange Outdoors: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/5n77dncd
“The Living Skeleton” by Kaushik Patowary for Amusing Planet: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/2p97szc3
“The Ring That Could Control Demons” by Ashley Cowie for Ancient Origins: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/4x32zp3e
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In the city of South Ashburnham, Massachusetts on the night of January 25, 1967, one of the most celebrated cases of UFO abduction began. Betty Andreasson was working in her kitchen while her seven children, mother, and father were in the living room. The lights in the house briefly blinked, then a reddish light began to beam through the kitchen window. Betty ran to comfort her frightened children; her father ran into the kitchen to peer out the window, and find the source of the unusual light. To his utter shock, he saw five odd-looking beings coming toward the house! The beings came walking in, right through the wooden door! What happened next would test the imagination and strength of even an open-minded, adventurous person. The entire family was suddenly put into a state of suspended animation… which would usher in the most nightmarish events that would take place.
I’m Darren Marlar and this is Weird Darkness.
Welcome, Weirdos – (I’m Darren Marlar and) this is Weird Darkness. Here you’ll find stories of the paranormal, supernatural, legends, lore, the strange and bizarre, crime, conspiracy, mysterious, macabre, unsolved and unexplained.
Coming up in this episode…
In March of 2000, a New South Wales mother did the unthinkable: and twenty-three years later the first officer on the scene shares what he encountered; and it is extremely disturbing. We’ll look inside the mind of the sadistic murderess, Katherine Knight. (Katherine Knight: Cannibal Killer)
Image is everything, as they say – and nowadays it seems the perfect image is to either have all of the right curves in all of the right places – or to be stick thin. But imagine being so thin that you could pass for a living skeleton. Such was the life of Claude Ambroise Seurat. (The Living Skeleton)
Essie Dunbar was 30 years old when she had an epileptic seizure that left her doctor certain she was dead. However, when her sister arrived at her funeral and asked to see her one last time, the story goes that Dunbar sat right up inside her coffin. (The Premature Burial of Essie Dunbar)
Did King Solomon possess a magical ring – given to him directly from heaven – with which he could control Astaroth, a Prince of Hell? (The Ring That Could Control Demons)
Two men are recovering after surgery in their hospital beds in two different hospitals, two years apart – one in 2017 and the other in 2019. Both men suddenly disappear from their beds without a trace – until later, when both men are found dead, in the ceilings of their respective hospitals. What happened? (The Bodies In The Ceiling)
But first… although not the first high-profile claim of alien abduction, the extraordinary case of Betty Andreasson is considered by many to be one of the most important and unique. Not least because the incidents stretch over several decades and share details with many other cases over the years. We begin with that story. (The Extraordinary Extraterrestrial Abduction of Betty Andreasson)
If you’re new here, welcome to the show! While you’re listening, be sure to check out WeirdDarkness.com for merchandise, to visit sponsors you hear about during the show, sign up for my newsletter, enter contests, connect with me on social media, plus, you can visit the Hope in the Darkness page if you’re struggling with depression or dark thoughts. You can find all of that and more at WeirdDarkness.com.
Now.. bolt your doors, lock your windows, turn off your lights, and come with me into the Weird Darkness!
STORY: THE EXTRAORDINARY EXTRATERRESTRIAL ABDUCTION OF BETTY ANDREASSON=====
The alien abductions of Betty Andreasson took place not just once or twice, but multiple times over several years. Following her reports to MUFON of partial memories, Betty Andreasson would work with Dr. Raymond Fowler, using hypnotic regression to unlock a lifetime of abduction experiences. These sessions would take place in “phases” and would last from the late-1970s into the mid-1990s. The case is also intriguing as it blurs heavily into such territory as faith and perception. This is perhaps due to Betty’s determination to make sense of the bizarre events that appear to have been unfolding around her most of her life.
Although it would prove not to be the first encounter, the incident that would spark enough memory to have her look at the events again took place at her home in the northeast of the United States over fifty years ago.
On the evening of 25th January 1967, a little after 6:30 pm, Betty Andreasson, along with her parents and seven children were at their Massachusetts home in South Ashburnham. Suddenly, a flickering of the lights captured everyone’s attention before absolute darkness took hold around them. Within a matter of seconds, a strange glow shined through the windows from outside. It would turn a warm orange color as it illuminated the inside of the property.
She would later describe the scene as if someone had put them into a vacuum. As if “time were standing still!”
Betty would tell the children to wait in the living room. She was in the kitchen, along with her father who had moved towards the window to get a better view. He could make out several “humanoid creatures” approaching out of the lights. Then, he could see one of them right outside the window. It turned to look at him, and upon making eye contact, Betty’s father appeared to go into a strange trance-like state of suspended animation. He would not remember anything more of the encounter.
Suddenly, the five humanoids “came through the walls” and were inside the Andreasson’s home. Betty would describe this passing through the walls as if “they faded in and out of existence!”
All of those in the house aside from Betty were placed into the same kind of “suspended animation” like Betty’s father. They then asked her to join them outside. Fearing for the safety of her family, however, one of the humanoids had to release one of the children, Becky, from her suspended state so as to prove no harm would come to them. Interestingly, years later, Becky would recall this incident through regression.
Following the demonstration of her family’s safety, Betty agreed to follow these strange creatures. She would explain later that she felt “compelled” to do so. One of the visitors would remain behind to “guard” the house and the remaining members of the Andreasson family.
Not at all aware of how she did so, Betty would “float through” the solid wood door of the kitchen as she followed her other-worldly guides. She “floated” onboard an oval-shaped craft and before she had time to fully take in her surroundings she could feel the momentum shift as the craft raced upwards to the sky.
Betty described various procedures and examinations taking place before entering a tank of liquid. She was also given a strange liquid to drink that was to have a “tranquilizing effect!” The next thing she knew she found herself floating towards another chamber. A chorus of strange voices met her telling her of their choosing her to “show something important to the world!”
Following this, Betty would find herself back in her home, the humanoids still there, but now systematically placing each member of the family into their beds. All were still in their trance. Betty would watch these events take place, with one of the humanoids stating they “were here to help” humanity but that humans “will fear them!” Betty also claimed she was told that these creatures were “not bound by time”. And perhaps most intriguingly that “man is not made of just flesh and blood!”
It wasn’t until a decade later that Betty would begin to recall the events of that evening. And even then, it wasn’t until she underwent hypnotic regression under the watch of Dr. Raymond Fowler that everything aside from the strange lights and the five creatures entering the room came back in full. Her first set of hypnotic regressions would take place over a twelve-month period between January 1977 and January 1978.
Although she would undergo further sessions with Dr. Fowler that would stretch right through into the 1990s, the accounts of her first experience were fascinating. Perhaps not least due to the amount of supporting, if circumstantial evidence that would lend them credence.
For example, Betty would claim the reason her parents were with her was due to her husband being in hospital following a car crash. Hospital records do show that this was true and show her husband’s admittance from mid-January to early March 1967.
Furthermore, she recalled there was snow on the ground, but the air felt warmer than it should, and there was fog. Weather records show that there was “mist rising from melting snow” due to an increase in temperatures.
There was also a power failure in the region that evening, at the same time Betty recalled the power going out in their home. Her father, who was in a trance throughout the episode, could recall a “child in a Halloween” costume looking through the window. Even records with the television schedules would prove their statements of what was on the television prior to the incident proved to be correct.
Betty would reveal other abduction experiences during future sessions with Dr. Fowler. Her first experience happened as far back as 1944 when she was merely seven-years-old. She was in a playhouse waiting for a friend when a strange red orb entered the small play space and settled between her eyes. As it did so, her head began to ring out with strange voices telling her they were watching her.
They also claimed they would meet again when she was twelve years of age, which they did five years later in 1949. She was walking in woodland in nearby Westminster when a grey creature dressed in a one-piece coverall awash with buttons and symbols stepped out before her. It pressed a button on its coverall and a red orb emerged. The orb, like before, settled on her face between her eyes. And again, her head filled with the strange, but now familiar voices.
A year later in 1950, an orb-like object would take her on what is arguably one of the most bizarre encounters on record.
Once on board, a strange instrument was placed inside her mouth which held down her tongue. She found herself on a bizarre wheel made of a rubber-like substance. The craft entered a body of water (she did not know where) and would emerge in an underground base. Betty would recall going through a “Museum of Time” with different versions of humans throughout history on show in glass-like containers.
Also during this encounter, although she didn’t elaborate on how, she was “caused to have an out of body experience” and would enter into a “world of light”. She would describe this encounter as one of “feeling at oneness with all things!”
As the decades were re-explored through the hypnosis sessions, Betty would reveal more and more encounters. On several occasions, she would describe waking from sleep to find “strange entities” in her bedroom. She would even receive forewarnings of upcoming “trying events” in her life. In 1975, for example, a bedroom visitor informed her that her marriage would end in divorce (it did shortly after). Two years later in 1977, she was warned that two of her sons would meet an untimely end. A short while later both were killed in a car accident.
She would also undergo several out-of-body-experiences. One particular time in 1978 she even experienced a shared encounter with her second husband, Bob. Each found themselves – or at least the essence of themselves – in a large, round, alien facility. They witnessed a bizarre and advanced operation taking place on three of their family members, meaning they too were subject to abductions. This last point is interesting as many abduction cases not only reveal a long history in the subject but often incidents of family members sharing such encounters.
There was also increasing signs of implants inside their bodies. Even more disturbing was evidence of “scoop-marks” which looked similar to biopsy tests. Chillingly for Fowler, he would discover these marks on his arm also, suggesting that whatever had an interest in the Andreasson’s, now had an interest in him.
For much of the sessions and her memories of the encounters, Betty would call the entities that visited her, angels. She was a religious person, and this may have simply been her way of interoperating such strange encounters. For example, when she was twenty-four-years-old in 1961, she felt a strange luring from her home into the woods nearby. She would encounter a “tall grey humanoid” in the woodland, who she believed was a messenger of “The Lord”.
Although it is not unique, connections to religion or some kind of “supreme entity” in modern-day UFO accounts are rare. Encounters that reference a specific “god” or religion, however, are even rarer.
This assertion that these entities were “angels from The Lord” would lead many to accuse Andreasson of seeking monetary gain. Indeed, the several books on her encounters over two decades did little to dissuade those who felt this way. However, many who have studied the case more in-depth disagree. They believe there is more to it than merely looking for money or fame by Andreasson or Fowler.
Many UFO cases from antiquity were often perceived to be divine events. Indeed, one could make a good argument that the vast majority of ancient and religious writings, particularly in the western world, have their basis in a misunderstanding of events and incorrect inter-operations. Perhaps, given Betty’s already strong faith, this is a similar modern-day example of such a “divine” perception.
Coming up… in March of 2000, a New South Wales mother did the unthinkable: and twenty-three years later the first officer on the scene shares what he encountered; and it is extremely disturbing. We’ll look inside the mind of the sadistic murderess, Katherine Knight.
Plus… imagine being so thin that you could pass for a living skeleton. Such was the life of Claude Ambroise Seurat! These stories and more when Weird Darkness returns!
STORY: KATHERINE KNIGHT, CANNIBAL KILLER=====
If you were to imagine a twisted, cold-blooded killer who brutally stabbed, skinned, decapitated and cooked their significant other’s head in a pot, before serving them up on a plate with some vegetables…
What kind of monster would you be picturing in your mind?
It sounds like the work of the same horror movie screen writers that conjured up Silence of the Lambs’ menacing Hannibal Lecter or Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s terrifying Leatherface.
But this particular figure’s stomach-turning crimes were not some fanciful work of fiction written for a gory Hollywood script.
They were 100 per cent real.
It was in the tiny Australian town of Aberdeen in country New South Wales that one of the most gruesome crimes in the history of the nation took place in March of 2000.
The sadistic nature of the crime was just as shocking as the person responsible for it: an average, normal looking, run-of-the-mill Aussie mother and wife.
Katherine Knight’s wavy auburn locks, soft round face and wide relaxed smile are not the usual features that spring to mind when one thinks about what a murderer might look like.
But behind this seemingly unassuming exterior is a dangerous and violent criminal.
She was born in Tenterfield, New South Wales, in October 1955, half an hour after her twin sister Joy.
Her home life was highly dysfunctional, allegedly tainted with domestic violence, rife alcoholism and sexual abuse within her childhood home.
Knight claimed she had been sexually abused from a young age by different men as she was growing up, but asserted that it was never by her own father.
Some of her classmates remembered her as a bully, who would stand over smaller children and fly into a “murderous rage” if things did not go her way.
On the flip side, others have stated she could be a very dedicated student, and even earned awards for her good behaviour.
Knight was reportedly fascinated with knives, and was over the moon to score her “dream job” as an abattoir worker when she was just 16.
She was later promoted and given her own set of butcher knives, which she would hang up above her bed wherever she lived “in case she needed them”.
Before moving in with her would-be murder victim John Price in 1995, the mum-of-four had a string of relationships that all had one thing in common – her extreme violence.
She married David Kellet in 1976, and reportedly tried to strangle him on their wedding night after he fell asleep following three rounds of intercourse.
While heavily pregnant, she burnt all her husband’s clothing and shoes before hitting him across the back of the head with a frying pan, all because he had arrived home late from a darts competition after making the finals.
She continued her violent behaviour into her next relationship with David Saunders, who she met in 1986.
The following year, she reportedly cut the throat of his two-month-old puppy right in front of his eyes, for no other reason than to demonstrate what she would do to him if he ever cheated on her.
On another occasion, Knight was said to have hit his face with an iron before stabbing him in the stomach with a pair of scissors.
Reprehensible and sickening, these incidents were just stepping stones to the stomach-turning horror of what was to come.
John Price, or “Pricey” as he was known about town, was a popular local figure in Aberdeen.
He was known for being a “top bloke” with a charming and down-to-earth demeanour.
John was likeable, generous, kind, and would always be the first to lend a helping hand to someone in need.
At the start of Knight and John’s relationship, it was said that she treated him well, and the pair enjoyed a romantic partnership and vigorous sex life.
But sadly, this honeymoon period would not last.
The gruesome bloody crime scene that detective Sergeant Robert Wells walked into on the morning of the March 1, 2000, will be etched into his psyche forever.
The now 65-year-old husband, father, and grandfather, from the New South Wales north coast, has since retired but has never forgotten the horrors he saw during his time on the force.
Officially diagnosed with severe chronic post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), he now visits a psychologist regularly to help manage his condition.
While he does not feel that Katherine Knight’s case was the sole contributor to his diagnosis, Mr Wells said it was certainly one of the worst cases he had ever witnessed.
“We didn’t get much information about what was going on at the house, just that we had to get there quick,” he told news.com.au.
“I was actually stationed in another police station, about 40 minutes away.
“By the time I got to the scene, Katherine was leaving in an ambulance. She had taken some pills. Not enough to kill her, but they made her sleepy.
“I walked inside and saw the human skin pelt hanging up, completely in tact in one piece.
“John Price’s decapitated and skinned body was lying on the floor in the lounge-room.
“We found his head, it had been boiled and cooked in a pot on the stove.
“There were a number of slices of rump, taken off his human rump, baked in the oven with some vegetables and put on plates, with the name of two of his children on them.”
After it was determined that she was lucid, and not suffering from any mental health conditions, detective Sergeant Wells sat down to talk with her.
He recalled how she was ranting and raving, claiming she had been a victim of domestic violence and abused by men throughout her life, but there was never any admission of guilt in relation to John’s murder.
Mr Wells recalled how there was a moment when he looked at her face and instantly knew everything she was saying was a lie.
“The fact was that Katherine Knight had been violent towards the men she had been in relationships with over the years,” he said.
“They were all quite smaller than her. It is very unusual for a woman to do this.
“In all my years on the force, I’ve never once been called to a scene where a woman was violently beating up on a man.
“Most of the time, from my experience, it is men being violent towards their female partners. Katherine Knight was a very unique case.
“In cases where men were hurt or killed in a domestic setting, it was by another male partner, family member, friend or acquaintance.”
New South Wales Supreme Court Justice Barry O’Keefe sentenced Katherine Knight to life in prison on November 8, 2001.
She was the first woman in Australia’s history to be sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
Speaking about the case, the judge said she “did not qualify for mercy” because of her “cruel, vicious behaviour”.
“She showed him no mercy. She has not expressed any contrition or remorse. If released, she poses a serious threat to the security of society,” he said.
“I’m satisfied beyond any doubt that such a murder was premeditated. I’m further satisfied in the same way that not only did she plan the murder, but she also enjoyed the horrific acts which followed in its wake as part of a ritual of death and defilement.
“The things which she did after the death of Mr Price indicate cognition, volition, calm and skill.
“I am satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that her evil actions were playing out of her resentments arising out of her rejection by Mr Price, her impending expulsion from Mr Price’s home, which he wanted to retain for his children.
“The last minutes of his life must have been a time of abject terror for him, as they were a time of utter enjoyment for her.”
Knight is now 67 years old and is serving out her life sentence at Silverwater Prison, a women’s correctional centre located 20km west from Sydney’s Central Business District.
Mr Wells was diagnosed with chronic severe PTSD after his retirement in 2011.
He advocates for mental health awareness, and encourages all men and women – especially those working in emergency services – to seek help if they need it.
“Although things have gotten better, I think there is still a lot of stigma around the issue of mental health,” he said.
“After 20-plus years on the job, you become a bit numb to everything you see. You might not feel like you’re affected at the time, but it can catch up with you later.
“My condition is something I manage. I see psychologist once a month, sometimes I depend on medication, sometimes I don’t.
“I have a good partner who keeps me level, and good, strong, loving children, and grandchildren.
“They make me want to wake up everyday and keep going. That’s my therapy.”
STORY: THE LIVING SKELETON=====
Freak shows were a very popular medium of entertainment in Europe and the United States of America for the major part of the 19th century. These formally organized exhibitions presented people with various physical deformities and anomalies, such as conjoined twins, people with extra limbs or no limbs, midgets, giants, as well as fabricated human exhibits such as cannibals and savages. “Living skeletons” were part of the freak show’s repertoire. These were often men with unusually thin bodies.
One of the most famous ‘living skeletons’, or ‘human skeletons’ as they were sometimes referred to, was Claude Ambroise Seurat.
Claude Seurat was born in Troyes, in the department of Champaign, France, on the 10 April, 1797. At birth, Seurat seemed healthy and normal, but as the child grew, he began to display symptoms of bodily wasting. At the age of ten, Seurat was “as healthy as other children, except that his chest was depressed, and he was much weaker”. By the age of fourteen, his frame “dwindled away to the skeleton form”, which it ever afterwards retained. At the age of 28, he was reported to be 5 feet 7 inches tall, and weighed only 78 pounds (about 35 kg).
Seurat’s case excited great interest in France, and a number of medical men offered Seurat’s father considerable sums of money to acquire the body of Seurat after his death. But Seurat’s father refused, stating that in the event of his son’s death, he should be peacefully consigned to the cemetery of his native city.
In 1825, Seurat travelled to London to be exhibited at the Chinese gallery in Pall Mall. One of the visitors, William Hone, who went to attend the exhibition wrote:
“I was instantly riveted by his amazing emaciation; he seemed another ‘Lazarus, come forth’ without his grave-clothes, and for a moment I was too consternated to observe more than his general appearance. My eye then first caught the arm as the most remarkable limb; from the shoulder to the elbow it is like an ivory German flute somewhat deepened in colour by age; it, is not larger, and the skin is of that hue, and, not having a trace of muscle, it is as perfect a cylinder as a writing rule. Amazed by the wasted limbs, I was still more amazed by the extraordinary depression of the chest. Its indentation is similar to that which an over-careful mother makes in the pillowed surface of an infant’s bed for its repose. Nature has here inverted her own order, and turned the convex inwards, while the nobler organs, obedient to her will, maintain life by the gentle exercise of their wonted functions in a lower region. Below the ribs, the trunk so immediately curves in, that the red band of the silk covering, though it is only loosely placed, seems a tourniquet to constrict the bowels within their prison-house, and the hip-bones, being of their natural size, the waist is like a wasp’s. By this part of the frame we are reminded of some descriptions of the abstemious and Bedouin Arab of the desert, in whom it is said the abdomen seems to cling to the vertebrae. If the integument of the bowels can be called flesh, it is the only flesh on the body: for it seems to have wholly shrunk from the limbs; and where the muscles that have not wholly disappeared remain, they are also shrunk. He wears shoes to keep cold from his feet, which are not otherwise shaped than those of people who have been accustomed to wear tight shoes; his instep is good, and by no means so flat as in the generality of tavern waiters. His legs are not more ill-shaped than in extremely thin or much wasted persons; the right leg, which is somewhat larger than the left, is not less than were the legs of the late Mr. Suett, the comedian.”
Contemporary physicians regarded Seurat as a case of “marcores, an early obliteration of the lacteal vessels and mesenteric glands.” Richard Park, a senior registrar in gastroenterology and general medicine in Glasgow Royal Infirmary, suggests that there is little evidence for malabsorption, and the emaciation was likely caused by inadequate oral intake of food (Seurat’s daily intake of food amounted to a penny roll and small quantities of wine)due to dysphagia, which is evident from a description of Seurat by William Hone, who said:
“In eating, he masticates his victuals very much, taking small pieces, as the passage to the stomach would not admit of any great repletion, and in drinking the same precaution is required, otherwise suffocation would ensue… a slight impediment to his swallowing with despatch, of such morsels as are not cut very small.”
Seurat also suffered from a number of congenital deformity such as Sprengel’s deformity, which was first identified in 1891, sixty six years after Seurat’s exhibition in London. Park believes that Seurat may have been the earliest recorded case of Sprengel’s deformity. Seurat may also have had Klippel-Feil syndrome, a triad of short neck, low posterior hair line, and reduced neck movements.
A year after his exhibition in Britain, Seurat went back to France where he became part of a travelling circus that arrived in Bordeaux in 1826. His last recorded performance was in 1833 at Dinan in Brittany, after which Seurat disappeared from the public eye. Nobody knew where he went, but it was rumored that he went back to London, where he died, after which Sir Astley Cooper performed the necropsy. Seurat’s skeleton was allegedly placed in the museum at the Royal College of Surgeons in London, although there are no records of Sir Astley Cooper’s findings nor of Seurat’s skeleton in the college museum.
Writing in 1868, historian Gilbert Richard Redgrave commented: “I have not yet been able to ascertain the date of his death. Who knows whether the poor fellow may not still be going the round of the French fairs?”
When Weird Darkness returns… Did King Solomon possess a magical ring – given to him directly from heaven – with which he could control Astaroth, a Prince of Hell? We’ll look into the possibility.
But first – Essie Dunbar was 30 years old when she had an epileptic seizure that left her doctor certain she was dead. She was then buried – but that’s only the story of her first death. You see, she was buried prematurely! That story is up next!
STORY: THE PREMATURE BURIAL OF ESSIE DUNBAR=====
During a hot South Carolina summer in 1915, 30-year-old Essie Dunbar “died” of an epileptic seizure. Or so her family thought.
They called a doctor, who confirmed that Dunbar showed no signs of life. The family then arranged a funeral, placed Dunbar in a wooden coffin, invited friends and family to mourn her death, and finally buried her.
At the request of Dunbar’s sister — who arrived late to the funeral — Dunbar’s coffin was dug up so that her sister could view Dunbar’s body one last time. To everyone’s profound shock, Dunbar was alive and smiling.
Essie Dunbar had been buried alive, and she went on to live another 47 after her first “death” — or so the story goes.
Not much is known about Essie Dunbar’s life before her “death” in 1915. Born in 1885, Dunbar apparently lived a quiet existence in South Carolina for the first 30 years of her life. Most of her family lived nearby, though Dunbar also had a sister in the neighboring town.
But in the summer of 1915, Dunbar suffered an epileptic seizure and collapsed. Dunbar’s family called a doctor, Dr. D.K. Briggs of Blackville, South Carolina, for help, but he appeared to arrive too late. Briggs found no signs of life and told the family that Dunbar was dead.
Heartbroken, Dunbar’s family started to plan a funeral. According to the book, “Buried Alive: The Terrifying History Of Our Most Primal Fear” by Jan Bondeson (link in the show notes), they decided to hold the funeral the next day, at 11 a.m., to give Dunbar’s sister time to travel to the service.
That morning, Essie Dunbar was placed in a wooden coffin. Three preachers conducted the service, which should have given Dunbar’s sister plenty of time to arrive. When the service finished, and Dunbar’s sister was still nowhere to be seen, the family decided to proceed with the burial.
They lowered Essie Dunbar’s coffin six feet into the ground and covered it in dirt. But her story didn’t end there.
A few minutes after Essie Dunbar was buried, her sister finally arrived. She begged the preachers to allow her to see her sister one last time, and they agreed to dig up the coffin which had just been buried.
As the funeral attendees watched, Dunbar’s freshly buried coffin was dug up. The lid was unscrewed. The coffin was open. And then shocked gasps and cries rang out — not in anguish but in shock.
To the astonishment and terror of the crowd, Essie Dunbar sat up in her coffin and smiled at her sister, looking very much alive.
According to Bondeson’s book, “Buried Alive”, the three ministers conducting the ceremony “fell backward into the grave, the shortest suffering three broken ribs as the other two trampled him in their desperate effort to get out.”
Even Dunbar’s own family ran from her as they believed that she was a ghost or some type of zombie sent to terrorize them. When she climbed out of her coffin and tried to follow them, they grew even more terrified.
But Essie Dunbar was not a ghost nor a zombie. She was just a 30-year-old woman who’d had the bad luck of being buried alive — and the good luck of being quickly dug back up again.
Following her “funeral,” Essie Dunbar appeared to return to her normal, quiet existence. In 1955, the Augusta Chronicle reported that she spent her days picking cotton, and that she’d outlived Briggs, the doctor who had first pronounced her dead in 1915.
“[Dunbar] has many friends today,” a local doctor, Dr. O.D. Hammond, who treated one of the injured preachers during Dunbar’s funeral, told the paper. “She gets a nice-sized welfare check monthly and earns some money picking cotton.”
In fact, Dunbar lived for almost another decade more. She passed away on May 22, 1962, at Barnwell County Hospital in South Carolina. Local papers reported her death with the headline: “Final Funeral Held For South Carolina Woman.” And, this time, there were apparently no shocking moments during Dunbar’s burial.
But though Dunbar became something of a local legend, it’s difficult to discern the fact and fiction of her story.
In their fact-check of Essie Dunbar’s story, Snopes determined that the veracity of Dunbar’s premature burial was “unproven.” That’s because no contemporary accounts of Dunbar’s 1915 funeral exist. Instead, the story seems to come from the book Buried Alive (published in 2001, almost 100 years after the event) and from stories about Briggs’s death in 1955.
Thus, Essie Dunbar’s story may not be entirely accurate. But hers is just one of many stories of people who were mistakenly buried alive.
There’s Octavia Smith, for example, who was buried in May of 1891 after she fell into a coma following the death of her infant son. It was only after Smith was buried that the townspeople realized that a strange sickness was going around, in which the infected appeared dead but awoke a few days later.
Smith’s coffin was dug up, but the townspeople were too late to save her: Smith had indeed woken up underground. Her horrified family found that she’d shredded the inner coffin lining and died with bloody fingernails and a look of horror frozen on her face.
As such, it’s no surprise why stories like Essie Dunbar’s — or Octavia Smith’s, or any other accounts of being buried alive — strike such fear into our hearts. There is something incredibly terrifying about the thought of waking up underground, in an enclosed space, where no one can hear you scream.
STORY: THE RING THAT COULD CONTROL DEMONS=====
The Seal of Solomon (or Ring of Solomon) is known as the Star of David in Jewish tradition and was the magical signet ring attributed to King Solomon in medieval Jewish tradition and in both Islamic and Western occultism. Described as a pentagram or hexagram the ring was said to give Solomon the power over demons and jinn (genies) and enabled him to speak with animals, thus it became a powerful magical motif, amulet and talisman in medieval and Renaissance-era occultism, alchemy and ceremonial magic.
Constructed of brass and iron the two parts of the ring sealed written commands addressed to a range of good and evil spirits. The origins of the legends surrounding the Seal of Solomon are difficult to establish, but it is known medieval Arabic writers developed the legend and the hexagram association claimed that the ring was engraved by God and sent directly to Solomon from heaven. The hexagram was placed on the flag of Israel in 1948 but has its origins in 14th-century depictions of the Seal of Solomon. Because hexagrams were used so prominently on Jewish esoteric literature from the early medieval period it is generally agreed by most scholars that the symbol entered the Kabbalistic tradition of medieval Spain, from Arabic literature.
References to the Seal of Solomon being a pentagram first appeared in western Renaissance magic, for example, when English bishop and antiquarian White Kennett (1660–1728) referred to a ‘Pentangle of Solomon’ having to the power of exorcising demons. In Heptameron (1496) by Peter de Abano the ‘Pentacle of Solomon’ was in reality a hexagram drawn out on floors in which magicians stood for protection while invoking demons.
King Solomon’s experiments with supernatural phenomena included his constraining of ‘72 spirits in a bronze vessel’, about which he wrote to his son Rehoboam, who himself hid the book in his grave upon death. A group of Babylonian philosophers later discovered the book but none could interpret it until the ‘Angel of the Lord appeared to Iohé Grevis’ who placed a conjuration on the book: “that the unworthy, the unwise or those who did not fear God would not attain the desired effect from any of the workings contained therein.”
The legendary books of magic associated with the Biblical King Solomon appear translated in the 15th to 17th century Italian Renaissance grimoires. The earliest is titled Key of Solomon and the later 17th-century grimoire is known as Clavicula Salomonis Regis, Lesser Key of Solomon. Influenced by earlier works of Jewish kabbalists and Arab alchemists the Key of Solomon appears on early Greek manuscripts dating to the 15th century known as The Magical Treatise of Solomon.
An English translation titled The Clavicle of Solomon, revealed by Ptolomy the Grecian is dated to 1572 and a Hebrew text survives in two versions. Dated to the 16th century, the first is kept in the British Library and the second Hebrew text was published by the famous British rabbi and Hebrew scholar Hermann Gollancz in 1903. A translation of the Latin manuscripts held at the British Library was published in 1889 by S. L. MacGregor Mathers and in 1914 L. W. de Laurence published The Greater Key of Solomon.
The Key of Solomon is written in two parts and provides magicians with the necessary information, including highly mystical drawings, required to perform specific magical ‘operations’. Besides rituals to make one invisible, to find stolen items and to make someone fall in love, the book teaches how to draw on the power of God. Ultimately, using the perceived wisdom of Solomon, invocations and curses are used to command control over demons bringing them into alignment with one’s will.
Book 1 details the correct astrological conditions required to bless magical symbols and amulets with appropriate words to purify and prepare them and Book II describes the magical operator’s clothing, tools and animal sacrifices required in order to order to purge themselves of the evils caused by sin, before invoking God’s protection. One particular prayer was used to cast out demons: “Lord Jesus Christ, the loving son of God, which dost illuminate the hearts of all men in the world, lighten the darkness of my heart, and kindle the fire of thy most holy love in me. Give me true faith, perfect charity, and virtue, whereby I may learn to fear and love thee and keep thy commandments in all things; that when the last day shall come, the angel of god may peaceably take me, and deliver me from the power of the devil, that I may enjoy everlasting rest amidst the company of the holy saints, and sit on thy right. Grant this, thou son of the living God for thy holy name’s sake. Amen.”
The Lesser Key of Solomon was also based on the magical rituals, invocations and demon binding spells of the Biblical King Solomon, which he supposedly used to summon the spirits of demons that he commanded to build his temple. A 1904 publication by and Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers and Aleister Crowley (1875 – 1947) has become and ‘industry standard’ for most ceremonial magicians.
Crowley said in the foreword: “I am not concerned to deny the reality of all magical phenomena; if they are illusions, they are at least as real as many unquestioned facts of daily life; and … they are at least evidence of some cause. What is the cause of my illusion of seeing a spirit in the triangle of Art? Every smatterer, every expert in psychology, will answer: “That cause lies in your brain.”
Embracing the empirical stance that ‘magical experiences are all in the mind’ Crowley reasoned: “This being true for the ordinary Universe, that all sense-impressions are dependent on changes in the brain, we must include illusions, which are after all sense-impressions as much as realities are, in the class of phenomena dependent on brain-changes. Magical phenomena, claimed Crowley: “come under a special sub-class, since they are willed,” and he attributed their cause to a series of ‘real’ phenomena called ‘the operations of ceremonial Magic’.
These ‘operations’ are of the most empirical nature being described by Crowley as: (1) Sight: the circle, square, triangle, vessels, lamps, robes, implements; (2) Sound: the invocations; (3) Smell: the perfumes; (4) Taste: the sacraments. (5) Touch; (6) Mind: the combination of all these and reflection on their significance. Operations 1-5 were sensory, which according to Crowley were “unusual impressions” because they produce “unusual brain-changes” and (6) The Mind, were impressions “of usual kind because they projected back into the apparently phenomenal world consisting of the ‘reality’ of the (5) operations and effects of ceremonial magic.”
When Crowley referred to the effects of magic, he referred only to: “phenomena which appear to the magician himself” and “the spirits listed in The Goetia are portions of the human brain.” The seals, invocations and visualizations represented to Crowley: “methods of stimulating or regulating those particular spots [of the brain].” Salomonic magic, therefore, teaches practitioners how to tap into different regions of their psyche and stimulate specific aspects of their personality, presented in terms of invoking spirits and demons. The whole idea that ancient entities can bring changes in nature by operating with their differing energies is another way of saying the magicians can bring positive change into their lives by addressing all of the potential states of mind, desires and inspirations.
Bringing all this demonology into the real world, the ancient demon Astaroth featured in the 1971 film Bedknobs and Broomsticks where the ‘Star of Astaroth’ is the artifact that the protagonists get from the Isle of Naboombu, and in the 1884 adventure classic Ghoulies as one of the demons summoned throughout the film. However, Astaroth first appeared in early 15th century grimoires including: The Cambridge Book of Magic, The Discoveries of Witchcraft, Three Books of Occult Philosophy, The Book of Abramelin and The Lesser Key of Solomon and The Magus in the early 19th century.
In the Crowley-Mathers version of The Lesser Key of Solomon Astaroth was the 29th spirit described as a powerful male entity, ’Great Duke of Hell’ in the first hierarchy of demons and sitting alongside Beelzebub and Lucifer in the unholy trinity. Astaroth featured as an archdemon associated with the qliphoth,the adverse forces in the contrary tree of life in later Kabbalistic texts and Crowley translated the description of Astaroth as follows: “A Mighty, Strong Duke, and appeareth in the form of a hurtful Angel riding on an Infernal Beast like a Dragon, and carrying in his right hand a Viper. Thou must in no wise let him approach too near unto thee, lest he do thee damage by his Noisome Breath. Wherefore the Magician must hold the Magical Ring near his face, and that will defend him. He giveth true answers of things Past, Present, and to Come, and can discover all Secrets. He will declare wittingly how the Spirits fell, if desired, and the reason of his own fall. He can make men wonderfully knowing in all Liberal Sciences. He ruleth 40 Legions of Spirits. His Seal is this, which wear thou as a Lamen before thee, or else he will not appear nor yet obey thee, etc.”
The magic of Solomon is an ancient system of universal understanding built upon Kabbalah, therefore self-development, and if it were not for the early mediaeval grimoires and the works of Victorian magicians it might have been lost forever.
Up next… Two different men. Two different hospitals. Incidents taking place two years apart. Both patients disappear from their beds without a trace. Then later, both are found in their respective hospitals – stuffed into the ceilings! How did that happen?
STORY: THE BODIES IN THE CEILING=====
In 2017 and 2019 there have been two mysterious cases in South African hospitals, involving 53-year-old Sandile Sibiya and 61-year-old Teteteke Gqotsi. Both men were recuperating from surgery or trauma, vanished from their hospital rooms, and then some days later were found dead and decomposing in the ceiling spaces of the medical facilities. They would have been unable to get into the ceilings themselves. Were they Kidnapped from their beds, murdered and stuffed into the resting places, or could their cases be evidence of Spontaneous Teleportation?
Sandile Sibiya, 53, from Amaoti, had come to Durban’s Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Hospital in South Africa with a broken femur on May 10, 2019. He had injured his leg whilst fixing a house. Sandile was married with four children.
His cousin Dudu Mthembu said the family visited him on May 12 and he had been waiting to be taken for an X-ray and to see an orthopedic doctor at the nearby Addington Hospital. When hospital staff arrived to take him for the tests, Sandile was nowhere to be found.
The KwaZulu-Natal health department said security staff searched the hospital and its ground and when this came up with no sign of him, the hospital contacted the South African Police Department. The hospital had tight security measures in place with a security guard in every unit. However, the quality of this security has been questioned after a survey of Durban hospital security in 2017, found that a number of hospitals and clinics did not have a security policy in place and that often there was no record of how security incidents were resolved. The Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Hospital was not audited as part of this report.
The family was notified that he was missing on May 18 and his children went to the hospital to look for him, but also could not find him.
But then the hospital began to be enveloped by an unbearable stench and staff searched for the source of this odor. Eventually, it led to the storeroom, where fluid dripping from the ceiling provided the tell-tale signs that something was amiss. The ceiling tiles were removed and a decomposing body was found.
The family identified Sibiya’s body by the mark on the top of his eye as his body was so putrified.
Although initial media reports claimed that Sibiya was a mental health patient at the hospital, the health department quickly debunked this. He was a builder and an otherwise healthy man, apart from the broken leg. How on earth did he end up among the ceiling panels of the hospital?
Police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Thulani Zwane said an inquest docket was opened at the Phoenix police station. Forensic Pathology Services (FPS) in Durban performed an autopsy on the body, but the results of this have not been released to the public.
Dudu Mthembu said, “All I want to know is what was he doing in the ceiling with an injured leg? How many days did he spend in that ceiling? We wouldn’t have so many questions or be confused if he died on the bed he was in.”
It is still not clear what the post-mortem examination found in relation to the cause of death were and the investigator’s explanation for Sibiya’s strange disappearance and death.
On October 5, 2017, Teteteke Gqotsi, 61, had just undergone abdominal surgery, after which he was placed in a room in Stellenbosch Provincial Hospital on Merriman Street in Stellenbosch, east of Cape Town, in South Africa. The area is well known for its university and wine production.
A nurse visited him in his room at 5.15 am and went out to get some fresh linen for the bed, and when she returned minutes later, Teteteke had vanished from the room. For two days, the hospital authorities kept his disappearance quiet whilst they searched the hospital. Then the police and family were informed of his mysterious disappearance from his room.
Teteteke’s brother, Christmas Khethwane said, “We received a phone call on October 7 asking us if he was not here at home. We told them that he was at the hospital, but they said he was not there and that he had left. We then rushed to the hospital.”
15 days later, on October 20, Teteteke’s body was found in the ceiling in an isolated area of the hospital in a place where it would be virtually impossible for him to reach by himself. Some workers doing renovations at the hospital had discovered the body and everyone was completely baffled as to how he had got there.
Christmas Khethwane, said that the surgery that had been performed on him meant that he shouldn’t have been able to walk, never mind climb up into a ceiling,
An autopsy on Teteteke’s body showed he had not died from complications resulting from the abdominal surgery procedure and that the cause of death was “natural causes”. The post-mortem hypothesized that he was placed in the ceiling after he was already dead. But by whom?
Christmas said, “They (hospital management) said it was clear that my brother did not die as a result of natural causes. He died as a result of something and was placed where he was found. We suspect that someone may have placed him there. They say the autopsy results have come out, but there were some still outstanding. They will wait for those results to determine whether it was the hospital that killed him or the doctor or even the nurse, because clearly he did not die as a result of his health problems. We will wait for them. They must take responsibility.”
So what happened to these two men? The two theories for the disappearances and deaths are:
Theory one: Kidnapped from their beds, murdered and stuffed in the ceiling space. This is, as bizarre as it seems, the most likely scenario – because theory two is even more bizarre.
Spontaneous teleportation. Human teleportation (also called parateleportation) is the hypothetical phenomenon where a human being (more precisely, its physical body) suddenly disappears from a location in space and almost instantaneously reappears in another (usually distant) location in space. This usually happens in a way that is not under the control of the teleported individual, that is, in an unexpected and generally unwanted way.
I’ll let you decide which theory is the most plausible.
Thanks for listening (and be sure to stick around for the bloopers at the end)! If you like the show, please share it with someone you know who loves the paranormal or strange stories, true crime, monsters, or unsolved mysteries like you do! You can email me anytime with your questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org. WeirdDarkness.com is also where you can find information on any of the sponsors you heard about during the show, find all of my social media, listen to audiobooks I’ve narrated, sign up for the email newsletter, find other podcasts that I host including “Church of the Undead”, visit the store for Weird Darkness merchandise, and more. WeirdDarkness.com is also where you can find the Hope in the Darkness page if you or someone you know is struggling with depression or dark thoughts. Also on the website, if you have a true paranormal or creepy tale to tell, you can click on TELL YOUR STORY. You can find all of that and more at WeirdDarkness.com.
All stories on Weird Darkness are purported to be true unless stated otherwise, and you can find links to the stories or the authors in the show notes.
“The Extraordinary Extraterrestrial Abduction of Betty Andreasson” by Marcus Lowth
“Katherine Knight: Cannibal Killer” by Jasmine Kazlauskas for News.com.au
“The Premature Burial of Essie Dunbar” by Amber Breese for All That’s Interesting
“The Bodies In The Ceiling” posted at Strange Outdoors
“The Living Skeleton” by Kaushik Patowary for Amusing Planet
“The Ring That Could Control Demons” by Ashley Cowie 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… Proverbs 18:12, “Before his downfall a man’s heart is proud, but humility comes before honor.”
And a final thought… “Always be a first rate version of yourself instead of a second rate version of someone else.” -Judy Garland
I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me in the Weird Darkness.