“THE SKELETON FACTORY” and 4 More True and Morbid Stories! #WeirdDarkness

THE SKELETON FACTORY” and 4 More True and Morbid Stories! #WeirdDarkness

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Listen to ““THE SKELETON FACTORY” and 4 More True and Morbid Stories! #WeirdDarkness” on Spreaker.

IN THIS EPISODE: Seeing a lifelike human skeleton in a doctor’s office, especially in the past couple of centuries, was – and in many cases still is – commonplace. But where did one go to get such lifelike skeletons if you were a doctor in the 1800s? Why, a skeleton factory, of course! (The Skeleton Factory) *** When you think of a mad scientist you most likely think of Victor Frankenstein – but it’s rumored Mary Shelley took inspiration for the character from a real mad scientist by the name of Andrew Ure. (Andrew Ure: A Real Life Mad Scientist) *** The story of Kate Watson is a grim one – living as a prostitute in the Old West, and when that wasn’t enough she took up cattle rustling. Her husband wasn’t any better. So it’s probably no surprise that she was strung up until dead. But maybe you should wait to pass judgement until you hear the whole story. (The Lynching of Cattle Kate) *** In March of 2004, teenager Brianna Maitland left work in the late evening hours and was never seen again. To this day it is still one of Vermont’s most infamous mysteries. (The Vanishing of Brianna Maitland) *** In June of 1989 a nurse was found dead, drugged, strangled, and tied up outside of Vancouver, British Columbia with her hands and feet bound behind her. So how could police conclude she committed suicide? (The Murder of Nurse Cindy)
“The Skeleton Factory” from Strange Ago: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/2j8reje3
“Andrew Ure: A Real Life Mad Scientist” posted at The Scare Chamber: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/3n5tfpeh
“The Murder of Nurse Cindy” posted the The Trouble With Justice: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/2kfah7mv
“The Lynching of Cattle Kate” posted at Strange Company: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/utdy2sh6
“The Vanishing of Brianna Maitland” by Orrin Grey for The Line Up: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/je9s98ru
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Did doctors use real skeletons long ago and how did they get those human skeletons? It turns out that the wired skeletons that hung from a pole were made in various major cities around the world, including New York City, London, and Paris.

According to the article below, originally published in the late 1800s, the human skeletons were often the remains of people left unclaimed in the morgues. Travelers would also gather “unusual specimens” of people from other countries to be shipped to the skeleton factories, de-fleshed, and made into a lovely skeleton for display. According to the Los Angeles Herald, July 18, 1897…

“A skeleton factory has been discovered in London. From it are procured the majority of the skeletons owned by doctors, anatomical museums, etc. It has existed for some time, but never before has the public been made aware of the fact. Its story is told here for the first time, and the facts presented explain in large measure what has heretofore been one of the mysteries.

“Never was Masonic secret more carefully guarded than this one which included the location and methods of this skeleton factory.  It is certain that many of the medical men, in fact the greater proportion, who are customers of the skeleton factory, are in absolute ignorance of its existence. They know that certain persons can supply them with skeletons all wired and ready for use. They are wise enough to ask no question, for if the story that lies behind every skeleton were told, many a tale of savagery and of wanton desecration would be revealed that it is better should be kept secret.

“At the English hospitals, dissection is not allowed, so all unclaimed bodies are, after the lapse of a certain time, transferred to the medical schools, where, in the dissecting pavilions, they become “subjects,” and the students are taught the science of anatomy by means of these realistic object lessons. The medical schools have no means of utilizing the bones of the subjects and so, when the operation of dissecting is complete, the subject is turned over to the representatives of the skeleton factory and promptly shipped by them to the place where the skull and crossbones are truly emblematic of the institution’s character.

“The factory, which was visited by the writer, who therefore tells only that which he saw and has learned authoritatively, is conducted on as strict a system as the most punctilious business house in the United Kingdom. Never was the old adage, ‘a place for everything and everything in its place,’ more strikingly exemplified. Every bone of the human body has its particular place, but when I had completed my inspection the fact was forced upon me that hardly a single skeleton among the countless ones that we see from time to time, is composed of the bones which nature originally placed together.

“In addition to the bodies that are sent to the factory from the dissecting school, I learned that travelers often have the curious desire to secure what they know are genuine skeletons of inhabitants of far-away countries. Therefore, they obtain bodies of such persons, and after having them embalmed, send them to London agents of the skeleton factory, who at once see to it that the desire of the shipper is carried out. Many such skeletons are to be seen today in the anthropological museums in different parts of the world.

“It takes twelve months to put the human bones in proper condition for wiring. The first step, after the subject reaches the factory, is to cleanse the bones of the flesh. The subjects are therefore placed in tanks filled with  water and phonic acid. The next process is that of boiling in strong soda water, after which the subject is consigned to a tank. When the bones have been thoroughly cleansed they are turned over to skilled anatomists who wire them together so strongly that each is sure to retain its proper place.

“It is not always the case that bones are wired together by the anatomists as soon as they are in proper condition. A visit I paid to the stock rooms of the factory indicated that. There were shelves upon shelves on which were arranged with gruesome regularity skulls that seemed to represent every type of humanity that has ever existed. Some of them had been, for one reason or another, broken into pieces and were held in proper semblance by fine brass wires.

“Beneath these shelves ranging upward from the floor to a height of about four feet were huge drawers filled with bones of every description, although they were not fixed together, but the different sorts scrupulously kept by themselves. There were vast heaps of ribs and thigh bones. Every one of the bones in these drawers was lettered and numbered, so that when the anatomist desired to wire a skeleton they would simply write out an order for exactly what they wanted, by number and letter, and the component parts of the skeletons were soon brought to them by one of the workmen.

“Not the least important feature of the skeleton factory is the task of the workmen who make it possible for the anatomists to wire the bones together. It may easily be understood that in every bone there must be bored a hole at each end of sufficient size to permit the passage through of a wire. This is a very delicate task, for the bones split easily and, ordinarily, when once split they are useless.

“In the workrooms where the more delicate portion of the task of placing the skeletons together is performed, the sight is so odd that one really forgets its gruesomeness. Here an anatomist is engaged in putting together the various bones which go to make up the hand.

“Another is putting the finishing touch on the bones of the foot, just as the shoemaker carefully examines the shoe before he turns it over to his assistant to be made presentable. When the task of the anatomist is completed, the skeleton is taken into an adjoining apartment and mounted on a stand attached to an iron rod or the ring which is inserted into the skull is placed upon a hook at the end of a rope which comes down from the ceiling and hangs suspended.

“The showroom of the factory indicated perhaps better than all else the exceedingly business-like methods of the establishment. It is very large and light and lined with glass cases containing specimen skeletons of giants, dwarfs, and strange races discovered by travelers in foreign lands. Then there are skeletons of criminals with the name, date of execution and a record of their crimes on attached labels; skeletons of males and females of all ages; shelves of baby skeletons, huge of head and small of body, and others of all sorts.

“It was a strange place, and the strangest of all things to me was the absolute nonchalance of everybody about. They appeared to consider the skeleton business nothing more out of the ordinary than the selling of dry goods or the manufacture of toys. I do not believe that one of the persons in this place over which, it seemed to me, the shadow of death and the funeral pall always hung, had any of the physical fear of the discarded mortal tenement that exists in the heart of almost everyone.

“I learned in the course of investigating that matter that the London skeleton factory is an offshoot of a parent establishment in Paris which has existed for nearly a century. I also learned that a similar institution was in full operation in New York, and that both places were as busy as they could possibly be filling the orders. This is perhaps accounted for by the statement to me by well posted men that ten thousand skeletons a year are needed to supply the demand. Personally, I think this is an exaggeration, but the demand is certainly very great.

“The Parisian factory is under government supervision, but its secret is well guarded, and a few persons know of its existence outside the pale of those who have daily business connection therewith. The factory in New York is located on the East Side. It is said to employ nearly a hundred persons. One of the most curious things about these establishments is the fact that all about them is kept secret so well. One would think in employing so many persons the facts would leak out, but they do not seem to.

“Certainly the skeleton factory is one of the most curious of modern institutions. I would not recommend it, however, to any one who is inclined to be nervous.”


Coming up… the story of Kate Watson is a grim one – living as a prostitute in the Old West, and when that wasn’t enough she took up cattle rustling. Her husband wasn’t any better. So it’s probably no surprise that she was strung up until dead. However, maybe you should wait to pass judgement until you hear the whole story. (The Lynching of Cattle Kate)

But first… in March of 2004, teenager Brianna Maitland left work in the late evening hours and was never seen again. To this day it is still one of Vermont’s most infamous mysteries. (The Vanishing of Brianna Maitland)

That story and more when Weird Darkness returns.



On March 19, 2004, 17-year-old Brianna Maitland left her shift at the Black Lantern Inn around 11:20 P.M. What happened next remains a mystery to this day.

Earlier that same day, Maitland had completed a test to obtain her GED and had lunch with her mother, Kellie, to celebrate. The two then went out shopping where, according to Maitland’s mother, something–or someone–caught Maitland’s eye outside a store. She went outside to investigate, and when her mother joined her there later, the young woman seemed “tense, shaken, and agitated”. Maitland said that she needed to get home to prepare for her evening shift at the Black Lantern Inn and, not wanting to pry into her daughter’s private life, Kellie drove Maitland back to the apartment that she shared with her friend Jillian Stout. It was the last time she would see her daughter.

The year before, Brianna Maitland had decided to move out of her family home in order to be closer to her friends, who attended a different high school 15 miles away. Things did not go according to plans, however, and soon after Maitland dropped out of school entirely. Despite this rough patch, it took the young woman only a few months to secure more stable living arrangements, including working two jobs. According to those who knew her, Brianna Maitland had gotten her life back together–she was even talking about attending college part-time once she received her GED results.

Before leaving for her shift at the Black Lantern Inn, Maitland had left a note for her roommate saying that she would be home after work. When her shift at the restaurant was over, several of her coworkers asked her to stay and have dinner with them, but she said that she was tired and needed to get home and rest because she had to work at her second job in the morning. Her coworkers said that Maitland got into her 1985 Oldsmobile alone and drove off into the night.

The next day, several passing motorists reported an abandoned car with its rear end stuck in the wall of a vacant building, the Dutchburn Farmhouse, about a mile from the Black Lantern Inn. When state troopers investigated, they found Brianna Maitland’s 1985 Oldsmobile. Around the car, police found loose change, a water bottle, and an unlit cigarette. Inside the car, two of Brianna Maitland’s uncashed paychecks and various other personal effects were found. The trooper who first visited the scene assumed that the car had been abandoned there by a drunk driver and had a tow truck take it to the impound lot. He drove down to the Black Lantern Inn in an attempt to get more information but finding it closed, radioed in his report and thought little more of it at the time.

However, even before the trooper came to the car, several passers-by found the scene suspicious, or at least interesting enough to stop and take photographs. The resulting image of the car stuck partway into the wall of the old, gray house presents a strangely haunting tableau, and more than one observer, including both Maitland’s mother and the host of the Trace Evidence podcast, has said that they felt a sort of instinctive chill upon seeing the photograph. “My stomach rolled,” Kellie Maitland later said of her immediate reaction to the photo,” I started to shake. I saw evil in the picture.” Maitland’s mother said that she knew immediately that it wasn’t her daughter who had left the car in such a state.

However, it wasn’t until several days after the car was discovered that Brianna Maitland’s disappearance was recognized. With plans already in place to spend the weekend with her boyfriend, Jillian Stout thought little of Maitland’s note when she saw it that Friday night. It wasn’t until Jillian returned home the following Monday and found the note in the same place that she began to worry. Assuming that her roommate had spent the weekend with her parents, Jillian didn’t call until that Tuesday, when she phoned Kellie and Bruce Maitland. They, in turn, began calling around to their daughter’s various friends, none of whom reported having seen her since her final shift at work.

Finally, Maitland’s panicked parents called the police and filed a missing person’s report, but by then their daughter had already been gone for almost a week. In the years since, innumerable theories have come forward about what happened to Maitland that night. Police and Brianna’s family almost immediately began receiving phone calls from people claiming that the young woman had been kidnapped, that her body was at the bottom of a river or lake, had been “tied to a tree in the woods” or disposed of at a hog farm. One call claimed that Brianna Maitland was being held against her will in the house of two known drug dealers in a town not far away. While the two men were investigated in relation to the disappearance, neither was ever charged.

This was only one avenue investigated by police: Maitland had recently been in an altercation with another teen at a party, supposedly over a boy. The other young woman had punched Maitland in the face, leaving her with a broken nose and concussion. She filed charges against the friend, which were dropped by the police three weeks after her disappearance. Police stated that they investigated the friend, and she had been cleared of any involvement.

A more chilling possibility was that Brianna Maitland’s disappearance might have been somehow connected to the disappearance of Maura Murray just a month before and about 90 miles away. Investigators, however, never revealed any connections between the two cases. Later, a potential connection between Brianna Maitland’s disappearance and serial killer Israel Keyes was brought to light, but the FBI eventually ruled out Keyes’s involvement in the case. Keyes later killed himself in prison in 2012 after confessing to a string of rapes and murders.

Other theorists speculated that Brianna Maitland was still alive–either she had run away or been sold into sex slavery. In 2006, a woman who resembled Maitland was spotted on security footage at the Caesar’s World casino in Atlantic City, though the woman was never identified. In 2016, police revealed that they had recovered DNA samples from the car at the time of Maitland’s disappearance, but to this day, what happened to her on that dark March night remains a mystery.


“Cattle Kate” Watson was one of early Wyoming’s most scandalous outlaws. She was a prostitute, a cattle thief, and a mean, aggressive Amazon who would beat you up as soon as look at you. She was, in short, a public menace. In 1889, her harassed neighbors finally had had enough, and resorted to classic rough frontier justice. Watson, along with her equally disreputable husband/pimp, were captured and strung up. No one mourned them.
It is a colorful story, one which made Watson one of the Old West’s most famous villains. There is just one problem: not one of the “historical facts” listed above is even close to being true.
Aside, unfortunately, for the lynching part.
Ellen Watson was born in Ontario in July 1860. When she was 17, her large family–she was the eldest of ten surviving children–moved to Lebanon, Kansas. Soon afterward, Watson began to work as housekeeper for one H.R. Stone. In 1879, she married a farm laborer named William A. Pickell. During this period, she was described as a tall, solidly-built woman with a pronounced accent inherited from her Scottish parents.
Unfortunately, Ellen’s marriage was a disaster practically from the start. Pickell was an alcoholic who treated his wife with great emotional and physical brutality. In early 1883, Ellen finally had enough, and fled to her parents. Pickell followed her and tried to force her to return to him, but Ellen’s father put such a scare into him, he decided it was wisest to leave Ellen’s life for good.
Finally a free woman again, Ellen moved to Red Cloud, Nebraska, where she made her liberation official with a divorce. She then went to Cheyenne, Wyoming, where she worked as a cook and seamstress. As Cheyenne proved to not be to her liking, Ellen–who seems to have had a decidedly restless and independent personality–moved on to Rawlins, Wyoming, where she found work in the town’s main boarding place, the Rawlins House.
In early 1886, one James Averell claimed land along the Sweetwater River, where he opened a restaurant and general store. He hired Watson as a cook. Several months later, James and Ellen applied for a marriage license. Although there is no proof the pair actually wed, historians have surmised that they did make their relationship legal, but kept it a secret so that Ellen could apply for land through the Homestead Act. (This 1862 legislation allowed women to buy 160 acres of land, but only if they were unmarried.) In May 1888, Ellen filed a homestead claim to land adjacent to her sub rosa spouse. She lived in a small cabin on the property, where she supplemented her income by doing sewing for the many cowboys who passed through the area.
When she had saved enough money, Watson began accumulating a small herd of cattle. Although she never could have dreamed it at the time, this investment was to prove her undoing. It was a tricky time to be a small-scale rancher. At the time, it was common for cattle owners to graze their animals on public land. However, in 1872, owners of the larger ranches came together to create the Wyoming Stock Growers Association, and claimed rights to the open range. In the terrible winter of 1880-81, cattle were unable to get enough grass. As a result, ranchers began growing hay to feed their animals in winter. This meant that in this generally arid land, water suddenly became a particularly precious resource. And the land claimed by Ellen and her husband contained one mile of Horse Creek. Thus, the formerly humble Watson/Averell property suddenly became of great value. A wealthy rancher named Albert Bothwell made numerous offers to buy this land from them, only to be repeatedly rebuffed. Averell and Ellen began to prosper. James became postmaster, a notary public, a justice of the peace and an election judge. This hardly fits the popular image of Averell as a pimp, outlaw, and cattle thief.
Inevitably, the WSGA used their newfound self-created power to crowd outsiders out of the ranching business. They used their influence to pass a law decreeing that all unbranded calves automatically became WSGA property. They limited independent ranchers from bidding at auctions, and announced that all cattle owners, no matter how small, must have a registered brand. Naturally, they also engineered it so that the cost of these brands was so high that few could afford it. Additionally, the WSGA had the power to have brand applications either accepted or rejected. This all went just about the way you would think.
Watson and Averell filed five different brand applications, only to have them all thrown out. Finally, in 1889, Ellen bought a previously registered brand from a neighbor, John Crowder, and began branding her cattle. Although records show that she had bought only 28 cattle, she branded 41, leading historians to surmise that many of them were calves born in the wild (“mavericks”) which the WSGA considered to be rightfully theirs. Averell had also taken to writing a number of letters to local newspapers, exposing the corrupt practices of the WSGA and its campaign to stifle rival homesteaders.
In short, conditions were ripe for Ellen and her husband to have some sort of showdown with the more powerful ranchers. That showdown began taking place in July 1889, when Ellen filed for permission to build a water ditch to irrigate her land. This would mean less water from Horse Creek would be available to her neighbors, most particularly Albert Bothwell. Bothwell decided it was time to teach this upstart a lesson. He began–entirely unlawfully–fencing in parts of Ellen’s land, and began sending his workers over to harass her and Averell. The beleaguered couple–apparently tragically ignorant of just how far Bothwell was prepared to go–tried ignoring the persecution, and carried on with their lives as best they could.
On July 20, Bothwell had a meeting with other powerful ranchers, where he announced that he had evidence that Watson was a cattle rustler. In 19th century Wyoming, those were, quite literally, hanging words. Although some of Bothwell’s neighbors protested against his assertion that Watson and her partner must be lynched for this crime, five of them agreed.
Bothwell and his cohorts rode to Ellen’s ranch, where at gunpoint they forced her and Averell in their buckboard. Gene Crowder, a young boy who lived with the couple, saw what was happening and ran for help. Tragically, by the time he returned with a neighbor, Frank Buchanan, it was too late. Bothwell’s men began a gunfight that forced the would-be rescuers back long enough for Ellen and James to be hanged.

Bothwell and his five co-murderers were arrested, but before their trial date, Gene Crowder–apparently warned that he would share Watson’s and Averell’s fate if he stuck around–fled town. Although Frank Buchanan had been taken into protective custody, he too disappeared. Whether he, like Crowder, ran for the hills or was murdered was never established. With both witnesses to the lynching now unavailable, the charges against Bothwell and his allies were dropped. Watson’s executor, George Durant, sued Bothwell and another of the lynch mob, John Durbin, accusing them of stealing Watson’s cattle and rebranding them as their own. The case was eventually dismissed. Bothwell wasted no time acquiring the properties of the couple he had murdered. He continued to prosper right up to the time he died in Los Angeles in the 1920s. And I’m willing to bet his conscience never pained him once.
After the couple was hanged, it was naturally advisable for Bothwell and his allies to come up with a good cover story. Even in the Old West, the ruthless murder of innocent people was frowned upon. Happily for them, the WSGA controlled all of the West’s major newspapers. Editors were given their instructions, and the lurid legend of thieving, whoring “Cattle Kate”–a name never given to her in life–was born. The lynching was explained in editorials as merely a “lawless but justifiable deed,” the sort of thing cattlemen were “forced” to do in order to protect their rightful property from desperadoes. In brief, the victims were asking for it. Averell’s brother, R.W. Cahill, tried to set the record straight, telling reporters that the lynching was “cruel and cold-blooded murder,” but he was ignored.
Given the choice between a good story and tedious truth, most will opt for the former. Increasingly colorful and fictitious accounts of Watson’s life spilled over from the newspapers into numerous Western TV shows, movies, and even so-called history books. The myth of “Cattle Kate” would possibly be reigning unchallenged to this day, if, in the late 20th century, a composer named George Hufsmith had not begun researching Watson for an opera he planned to write about her. He learned that the accepted history about Watson was, in his words, “pure fabrication.” Family and friends described Ellen Watson as brave, honest, hard-working, and generous. In the words of one acquaintance, Harry Ward, “Other women looked down on her in those days, but no matter what she was or did she had a big heart. Nobody went hungry around her.” Hufsmith eventually published the fruits of his groundbreaking research in his 1993 book, “The Wyoming Lynching of Cattle Kate.”
Although Watson’s and Averell’s murderers were never brought to justice, perhaps history can give them some small measure of reparation.


When Weird Darkness returns, in June of 1989 a nurse was found dead, drugged, strangled, and tied up outside of Vancouver, British Columbia with her hands and feet bound behind her. So how could police conclude she committed suicide? (The Murder of Nurse Cindy)

That story is up next.



On June 8, 1989, a 44-year old Canadian nurse named Cindy James was found dead in Richmond, a suburb of Vancouver. She had been drugged and strangled, with her hands and feet tied behind her back. 

She was found in the yard of an abandoned home a mile and a half from a small shopping mall where her car was parked.  She had been missing since May 25th, when her car was discovered in the parking lot. There was blood on the driver’s side door and items from her wallet were found under the car.

When her body was discovered at the abandoned house, it looked like Cindy James had been brutally murdered. A black nylon stocking was tied tightly around her neck and the autopsy revealed that Cindy died from an overdose of morphine and other drugs.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, however, believed her death to be an accident or a suicide. The Vancouver coroner ruled that Cindy’s death was not suicide, an accident, or a murder, claiming that she died of an ‘’unknown event.’’ This was despite the fact that in the seven years preceding her death, Cindy had reported nearly a hundred incidents of harassment beginning four months after she divorced her husband.

To this day, her death remains a mystery even after a public inquest at which 84 witnesses were called to testify. Her father Otto Hack and his wife Matilda never believed that Cindy killed herself or that she would have been able to stage the death scene. 

Her sister Melanie Hack, who was 27 when Cindy died and who is now married with two children and lives in British Columbia, ended up writing a book titled Who Killed My Sister, My Friend.

It took her 14 years to conduct research into the toxicology, the autopsy, and the medical and police reports to obtain enough information into her sister’s unsolved death.

This case, which became the subject of the show Unsolved Mysteries and was discussed on some American TV talk shows including A Current Affair and Maury Povich, was not really sensationalized or kept alive to fuel anger towards a specific perpetrator. There was no villain or hero in this story; rather, it was the puzzling case of an upstanding nurse who struggled for seven years with an imagined or real threat and ended up losing her life in the most mysterious and baffling way. This story had legs and created endless speculation.

In 1989, forensics investigation was in its infancy and the technology did not exist to solve a case the CSI way, or to determine if James was creating her own drama. Instead, the investigators had to rely on basic traditional techniques to determine if her stories of attacks, kidnapping and harassment were true.

Cindy was the eldest of six children. At age 19, she had married Dr. Roy Makepeace who was 18-years her senior. She worked as a nurse but also loved to counsel children with emotional problems. She seemed happy but when she decided to end her marriage in 1982 and move on with her life, all hell broke loose.

She had a fairly good relationship with her parents and she approached them first with stories of harassment. She ended up going to the police because she was getting death threats by phone and by mail. With each incident, this beautiful, vibrant woman took one step down physically and mentally.

Three dead cats were found hanging in her garden, her porch lights were smashed and her phone lines cut. Bizarre notes began to appear on her doorstep and five violent physical attacks were reported.

One night, Cindy’s good friend, Agnes Woodcock, dropped by and when there was no answer when she knocked on the door, she went around the back of the house and found Cindy crouched down with a nylon stocking tied around her neck. She had gone to the garage to get something and was allegedly grabbed from behind by an unidentified intruder.

Messages were left on the windshield of her car along with a picture of a covered corpse being wheeled into a morgue. Raw meat was delivered to her house and even her dog, Heidi, was found shaking with fright sitting in her own feces with a cord tied tightly around her neck. 

The harassment would stop and start again, leaving Cindy feeling more and more destabilized. She expressed her despair in her private journals.

Cindy moved to a new house, painted her car and changed her last name. She finally hired Ozzie Kaban, a local private investigator. The police were investigating but as time passed, they were starting to doubt her stories. Ozzie reported later that Cindy would be evasive at times and withhold information.  Her mother thought that her daughter was reluctant to tell the truth because she was threatened and feared for her sister and family.

Her private investigator installed lights at her residence and gave her a two-way radio and a panic button. The police would do surveillance on a regular basis. 

One night, Kaban heard strange sounds coming from the radio and rushed to the house. He found Cindy on the hallway floor with a paring knife through her hand with a note on it saying ‘you are dead bitch’. He checked her pulse and thought she was dead.

She was hospitalized and only recalled that a needle was put into her arm. The police did not take fingerprints and were growing tired of the whole saga. But Kaban was adamant that nobody could have done that to themselves. Cindy subjected herself to several hypnosis sessions and polygraph tests to try to get to the bottom of this but was considered too ‘traumatized’ to be a good candidate.

The threatening phone calls continued but could never be traced because they were too short. Mind you, there were never any calls when the police was doing 24-hour surveillance so you cannot blame them for growing suspicious. The incidents always happened when they were not around.

Her parents thought her attacker was smart enough to stay away at the proper times in order to make Cindy look more and more suspicious. Nowadays, we could trace the calls and know exactly who is zooming who.

After an “attack’’, Cindy was found lying in a ditch six miles from her home, wearing a man’s work boot and glove. She was suffering from hypothermia and had cuts and bruises all over her body. She also had a black nylon stocking around her neck, a trademark of her alleged attacks. 

She did not remember the event and asked her parents to stay with her. One evening, they were awakened by noises in the basement and saw flames. After realizing the phone was dead, they went outside to alert the neighbors. They saw a man at the curb and asked him to call the fire department but instead, he ran off. It was the second ‘arson.’

The police determined that the fire was started from inside the house because they saw no fingerprints on the window they think the perpetrator would have used to gain entry into the house. Therefore, they determined that Cindy had staged the incident. They also found it quite odd that Cindy would walk her little dog alone late at night when she feared being attacked. I must admit that they had a point there.

Her parents saw her condition deteriorating further and feared for her mental state. She was terrified and going downhill steadily. Believing she was suicidal, her doctor committed her to a local psychiatric ward. Ten weeks later, she was released. That’s when she admitted to friends and family that she knew more than she was saying about the perpetrator and would go after him/them herself. Was she falling deeper into delusion or was there a real person behind all this?

Cindy became very depressed because she felt that her credibility was destroyed and that no one believed that someone wanted her dead or was pushing her towards insanity. Her life was a living hell and while hospitalized, she wrote about committing suicide.

She finally told police that she believed her tormentor was her ex-husband Roy Makepeace. They encouraged her to phone him to confront him and they taped the conversation.

As a psychiatrist, Roy would have been familiar with the fine art of playing with her mind, but he totally denied any involvement during the conversation. This phone tape was played at the public inquest. In fact, Makepeace gave the police a recording from his own answering machine that contained a death threat – which, though hard to hear, says “Cindy… Dead Meat Soon”.

If the poor man had nothing to do with his former wife’s demise, imagine how awful it must have been for his reputation.

Cindy James was either confused, psychotic or totally innocent, but she was sounding more and more out of it as her despair deepened. And it all ended when they found her body two weeks after she was reported missing. 

She had gone to the shopping mall to deposit her hospital paycheck and do some grocery shopping. We have to wonder why she would bother doing all this if she intended to kill herself. Plus, why not end it quietly in her bed to avoid causing her family so much pain and sorrow? After all, she loved them dearly.

Neal Hall, a Canadian journalist who wrote a book about the case now thinks she killed herself but her investigator Ozzie Kaban disagrees. He does not buy that her body took two weeks to be found when it was so close to traffic and pedestrian walks. He believes her body might have been dumped.

The fact that she had an injection mark on her arm makes it hard to believe that she could have walked a mile and a half to the spot where they found her and then tie herself up after injecting herself. They found no needle close to her car or around the crime scene. The police think she ingested the morphine and had plenty of time to do the rest. But they found no evidence to that effect and no proof of purchase of black nylons.

Cindy also had a lover named Pat McBride who happened to be a cop. The police suspected him and Makepeace but had no concrete evidence against either one of them. 

The evidence in this case was quite contradictory, incomplete and very baffling, so the police opted to blame Cindy.

Her ex-husband came to believe that Cindy had multiple personalities and was unaware that she was tormenting herself. She adored her dog and her parents and would have never tortured them willingly. Her father was convinced that the investigation was never aimed at finding a perpetrator but at pinning the responsibility on his daughter.

The only undeniable truth in this story is that Cindy James suffered immensely in this saga and she paid with her life. Her journals tell the heart-wrenching story of a woman tortured mentally and physically — either by her own hand and mental illness or because of an unscrupulous and sadistic perpetrator who wanted to drive her crazy and eventually killed her. If she was an innocent victim, the lack of support from the police must have caused her excruciating pain. In my opinion nurse Cindy James was a victim either way.

Otto Hack died in 2010 after a distinguished career in the military. His wife Tillie passed away in 2012. They believed till the end that their daughter did not commit suicide. Their daughter Melanie continues their search for the truth.


When you think of a mad scientist you most likely think of Victor Frankenstein – but it’s rumored Mary Shelley took inspiration for the character from a real mad scientist by the name of Andrew Ure. (Andrew Ure: A Real Life Mad Scientist)

That story, when Weird Darkness returns.



Andrew Ure was born on May 18, 1778, in Glasgow, United Kingdom. The son of a wealthy cheesemonger, he received an expensive education, studying at both Glasgow University and Edinburgh University. He received his MD from the University of Glasgow in 1801 before spending a brief time with the army, serving as a surgeon. In 1803, he finally settled in Glasgow; becoming a member of the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons.

In 1804, at the newly formed Andersonian Institution (now the University of Strathclyde), Ure became a professor of chemistry and natural philosophy. He gave evening lectures on chemistry and mechanics, which he encouraged the average working man and woman to attend. With audiences of up to 500, his lectures inspired the foundation of numerous mechanical institutions throughout Britain.

In 1807, Ure married Catherine Monteath, and the couple had three children, one daughter, and two sons (one of whom became a surgeon in London). One year later he founded and became the director of the Garnet Hill observatory, which was run by the Glasgow Society for Promoting Astronomical Observations. He met with Sir William Herschel, a German-born British astronomer. Herschel was giving lectures to the local Astronomical Society, and even helped install a 14 ft reflecting telescope that was designed and built by Ure. In 1811 Ure was elected Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society.)

During this same time, Ure worked as a consultant for the Irish linen board. There he devised his alkalimeter for volumetric estimates of the true alkali contents of various substances that were being used in the linen industry. By this time, he had successfully earned himself a reputation as a highly competent practical chemist.

It was at Glasgow University where Andrew Ure became acquainted with James Jeffray, a professor of anatomy and physiology. Jeffray was a renowned teacher, attracting over 200 students to his classes each year. An innovative surgeon, he is credited (along with Edinburgh obstetrician James Aitken) with the invention of the chainsaw for use in the excision of diseased bone. As a teacher in anatomy, a field that was growing in demand, his options for teaching instruments was limited. The only legal supply of material for dissection was the bodies of hanged criminals. On November 4, 1818, Ure joined Jeffray in the dissection of one such criminal.

Matthew Clydesdale was a weaver, arrested and found guilty of murdering a 70 year old man in a drunken rage. He was sentenced to death by hanging, and on November 4, 1818, that execution was carried out. Upon his death, his body was placed in a cart and transported up to Glasgow University and into the Anatomy Theatre.

During this time, people, especially scientists, were fascinated with electricity. In fact, in 1780, Italian anatomy professor, Luigi Galvani, discovered that by utilizing sparks of electricity he could make a dead frog twitch and jerk. This discovery quickly led to others experimenting with electrical currents on other animals. Shows were made where scientists would electrify the heads of pigs and bulls.

James Jeffray and Andrew Ure would take that expirement one step further. The crowd gathered in the Glasgow University Anatomy Theatre where they would learn what would happen when electricity was exposed to a deceased human body.

With his galvanic battery charged, the experiments commenced.

Incisions were made at the neck, hip, and heels, exposing different nerves. Ure stood over the body, holding two metallic rods, charged by a 270 plate voltaic battery. Those rods, when placed to the different nerves, caused the body to convulse and writhe. When the rods were touched to Clydesdale’s diaphragm, his chest heaved then fell. “When the one rod was applied to the slight incision in the tip of the forefinger,” Ure later described to the Glasgow Literary Society, “the fist being previously clenched, that finger extended instantly; and from the convulsive agitation of the arm, he seemed to point to the different spectators, some of whom thought he had come to life.”

The experiment lasted about an hour. Ure wrote his account of the experiment, and even delivered a lecture. Oddly, only one of the three Glasgow newspapers took the time to write up a coda to the execution.

Ure, however, wrote down his descriptions of the experiment, noting how the convulsive movements resembled “a violent shuddering from cold” and how the fingers “moved nimbly, like those of a violin performer.” Regarding the stimulation of muscles in the forehead and brow, Ure wrote this, “Every muscle in his countenance was simultaneously thrown into fearful action; rage, horror, despair, anguish, and ghastly smiles, united their hideous expression in the murderer’s face, surpassing far the wildest representations of a Fuseli or a Kean,” wrote Ure, comparing the result to the visage of tragic actor, Edmund Kean, and the fantastical works of romantic painter Henry Fuseli. He continued: “At this period several of the spectators were forced to leave the apartment from terror or sickness, and one gentleman fainted.”

Ure and Jeffray did not bring Matthew Clydesdale back to life, though they did not believe it was a failure on their methodology. Instead, Ure believed that if his death had not been caused by bodily injury, there was a possibility that his life could have been restored. He also noted that if their experiment had succeeded in bringing him back to life, it would not have been celebrated. After all, he was a murderer.

The story eventually took on a life of its own. Memories and accounts differed, and one such account is that of Peter Mackenzie. In 1865, Mackenzie claimed to have been present at the Glasgow University Anatomy Theatre that day. He claims that Ure had actually been successful, and Clydesdale had been brought back to life. To abate the risen fear among the crowd, one of the scientists grabbed a scalpel and slit his throat. Clydesdale fell down, once again, dead.

Andrew Ure has been painted a mad scientist for these experiments, even considered inspiration for the novel, Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley, though the story had been written two years earlier, and published in 1818, the same year as the experiment.

Ure’s book and encyclopedic work, “A Dictionary of Arts, Manufactures and Mines” was published in 1837, for which he received 1,000 guineas (approximately $35,000 today). His work has been translated into almost every European language, including Russian and Spanish.

Andrew Ure died in 1857 in London. Michael Faraday, a fellow scientist, posthumously wrote “…his skill and accuracy were well known as well as the ingenuity of the methods employed in his researches … and it has been stated that no one of his results has ever been impugned. His extensive knowledge enabled him to arrive at conclusions, and to demonstrate facts considered impossible by his compeers in science.”

Ure is buried in Highgate Cemetery. A secondary memorial was erected in Glasgow Cathedral by his daughter, Katherine MacKinlay.

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