“THE TWO YEAR TERROR OF THE CO-ED KILLER” and 8 More Scary True Horror Stories! #WeirdDarkness
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IN THIS EPISODE: A creepy video shows something that the one who recorded it never saw. (The Office Video) *** The “Ypsilanti Ripper” terrorized the college community for two years. We share the savage crimes of John Norman Collins. (Campus Terror) *** Alfred Packer was found guilty of a murder that he committed in the mountains of Colorado. But this just wasn’t any murder – Packer was charged with killing and eating his victims. (The Colorado Cannibal) *** A Native American hunting party tracks down a large hair-covered creature and finds a giant mound with bodies of 19 human children. The children had not only been kidnapped, they had also been consumed… by Sasquatch. (The Human-Bigfoot War of 1855) *** Within the UFO files of the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations that are held at the National Archives, there is a USAF document which is dated July 23, 1952. That document describes a UFO crash in the woods of Maryland. (The 1952 UFO Crash) *** Two Missouri teenagers and one teen’s mother vanished without a trace after a high school graduation ceremony and have never been seen again. (The Vanishing of the Springfield Three) *** Henry Kendall was found in a graveyard with a bullet hole between his eyes. How he met his fate may be a mystery, but his reason for being in the graveyard was certain, he was there to snatch a body. (A Grave-Robber’s Fate) *** Everything seems bigger when you are a child… even shadow people. (A Very Tall Man) *** Glowing eyes, flapping wings, 7-foot wingspans… what are these strange, frightening flying creatures being reported in Japan? (Weird Winged Monsters of Japan)
SOURCES AND ESSENTIAL WEB LINKS…
“The Office Video” by Emily Maltas – submitted directly to WeirdDarkness.com
“Campus Terror” by Orrin Grey: http://bit.ly/31ehfBF
“The Colorado Cannibal” by Troy Taylor: http://bit.ly/2M1O5lB
“The Human-Bigfoot War of 1855” by Brent Swancer: http://bit.ly/2yTsLpS
“The 1952 UFO Crash” by Nick Redfern: http://bit.ly/2YTlxRn
“The Vanishing of the Springfield Three” by Troy Taylor: http://bit.ly/2KKYU8W
“A Grave-Robber’s Fate” by Michael Wilhelm: http://bit.ly/33pFPS6
“Weird Winged Monsters of Japan” by Brent Swancer: http://bit.ly/2YWhfVp
“The Very Tall Man” by Anthony Mask, submitted to WeirdDarkness.com: http://bit.ly/2MTbZPT
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Depending on whom you ask, he may be called the “Michigan Murderer,” the “Co-Ed Killer,” or the “Ypsilanti Ripper,” but no matter who gives you an account of the crimes attributed to John Norman Collins, it will sound like something straight out of a slasher film–or perhaps even more brutal. Between 1967 and 1969, seven young women between the ages of 13 and 23 went missing in and around Washtenaw County, Michigan. Several were students at Eastern Michigan University or the University of Michigan, giving the unidentified killer the nickname of the “Co-Ed Killer.” Each woman was later found dead and badly mutilated; several had been sexually assaulted and tortured before their deaths, with police officials describing the havoc inflicted upon the young women’s bodies as among the worst they had ever seen.
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…
A creepy video shows something that the one who recorded it never saw. (The Office Video)
Alfred Packer was found guilty of a murder that he committed in the mountains of Colorado. But this just wasn’t any murder – Packer was charged with killing and eating his victims. (The Colorado Cannibal)
A Native American hunting party tracks down a large hair-covered creature and finds a giant mound with bodies of 19 human children. The children had not only been kidnapped, they had also been consumed… by Sasquatch. (The Human-Bigfoot War of 1855)
Within the UFO files of the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations that are held at the National Archives, there is a USAF document which is dated July 23, 1952. That document describes a UFO crash in the woods of Maryland. (The 1952 UFO Crash)
Two Missouri teenagers and one teen’s mother vanished without a trace after a high school graduation ceremony and have never been seen again. (The Vanishing of the Springfield Three)
Henry Kendall was found in a graveyard with a bullet hole between his eyes. How he met his fate may be a mystery, but his reason for being in the graveyard was certain, he was there to snatch a body. (A Grave-Robber’s Fate)
Everything seems bigger when you are a child… even shadow people. (A Very Tall Man)
Glowing eyes, flapping wings, 7-foot wingspans… what are these strange, frightening flying creatures being reported in Japan? (Weird Winged Monsters of Japan)
But first… the “Ypsilanti Ripper” terrorized the college community for two years. I’ll tell you about the savage crimes of John Norman Collins. We begin there. (Campus Terror)
If you’re new here, welcome to the show! While you’re listening, be sure to check out WeirdDarkness.com for merchandise, my newsletter, enter contests, to 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.
And this month we’re celebrating Weird Darkness’ birthday… this month makes seven years of Weird Darkness as a podcast. And to recognize our birthday, every October we ask you to make a donation to our Overcoming The Darkness fundraiser. Every dollar we raise through donations and the Weirdling Woods painting auction will go to organizations that help people who struggle with depression. You can learn more about the fundraiser and what we’re doing with it on the Hope in the Darkness page at WeirdDarkness.com.
Now.. bolt your doors, lock your windows, turn off your lights, and come with me into the Weird Darkness!
STORY: CAMPUS TERROR==========
The first victim of the Michigan Murderer was found on August 7, 1967–almost a full month after she was last seen alive. The body of Mary Terese Fleszar was found by two 15-year-old boys near a farm in Superior Township, but the body was so heavily mutilated and already so badly decomposed that it wasn’t formally identified until the police were able to compare dental records the following day. In fact, when the boys first discovered the body, they weren’t even sure that the remains were human, and the first investigators on the scene had difficulty discerning whether they were dealing with the remains of a man or a woman.
The body of Mary Terese Fleszar bore all the signs of what would become the calling cards of the Ypsilanti Ripper. She had been badly beaten and stabbed approximately 30 times, and investigators believed that she had also been raped, although the heavily deteriorated condition of the body made it impossible to know for sure. She had been killed around the time of her disappearance, but her body had lain undiscovered for most of a month, and there were signs that her remains had been moved several times during the interim.
In one of the many strange occurrences that would surround the series of brutal crimes, a young man claiming to be a friend of the family arrived at the funeral home that was holding Mary Fleszar’s remains for burial and asked to be allowed to take a picture with the body, as a keepsake for her parents. The receptionist turned him away and was unable to provide the police with a detailed description, though there is reason to believe that the young man in question might have been none other than John Norman Collins, who was a student at Eastern Michigan University majoring in elementary education at the time.
Over the next two years, six more bodies were found in the same small area: each belonging to a young woman and each the victim of a brutal murder. There were enough similarities across all seven victims for authorities to conclude that they were dealing with a serial killer, and a particularly brutal one at that.
In an ultimate act of irony, the final victim of the Ypsilanti Ripper may, in fact, have been killed in the basement of State Police Sergeant David Leik. Leik was Collins’ uncle and had asked his nephew to housesit for him while he and his family were away on vacation. Upon returning from their trip, the Leik family noticed strange differences in their home—a missing bottle of ammonia; a missing can of spray paint; odd stains on the basement floor.
Then clippings of hair were discovered.
Investigators scoured the scene and analyzed the evidence; the hair clippings found in Leik’s basement matched those recovered from the body of the most recent murder victim, 18-year-old Karen Sue Beineman, whose remains were found in late July 1969.
It wasn’t long until John Norman Collins was brought in for questioning. While he maintained his innocence, evidence linking him to the victim, as well as forensic evidence found in his uncle’s basement, was enough to convict him of the murder of Karen Beineman.
Collins, who had been studying to become an elementary school teacher, clearly had a dark side. Locals and fellow college students remember Collins hitting on women in relationships, aggressively pursuing those who were not interested, and expressing disgust toward women in general. It seems that this eventually tipped over into assault and murder.
While the district attorney opted not to charge Collins with the murders of the other six girls in order to ensure his conviction in the case of Karen Beineman, authorities were convinced that Collins was the so-called Ypsilanti Ripper. The murders came to a stop after his arrest. He is currently serving a life sentence at the Marquette Branch Prison in Marquette, Michigan.
After his arrest, Collins was also linked to the death of a 17-year-old girl in Salinas, California, but several attempts to extradite Collins to California to stand trial for the death after his conviction in Michigan were blocked by Collins’ attorney. The crimes have been covered in several books, including the Edgar Award finalist The Michigan Murders, written by Edward Keyes just a few years after the murders were committed.
STORY: OFFICE VIDEO==========
My sister sent me a video on snapchat of some empty offices in a trailer at her job.
Until she started speaking on the video explaining it, I assumed she got into work and offices were hasitly emptied while being rushed out by authorities (imagine Walking Dead rush to leave).
There was her voice and another girl’s mentioning how weird it was that these offices were empty and discarded in the state they were.
She starts walking back down the hall in the video toward a man I had assumed was her supervisor. He just stood there at the end off the hall staring at her. She’s not supposed to be on her phone, so I assumed she was about to get in trouble for videoing her trip through the offices.
He never said anything and the video ended.
A few weeks later, my sister was talking about that video.
She found out she wasn’t supposed to be in those rooms as an ongoing investigation was taking place (and as much as she asked, no explanation was given as to reason for investigation). She mentioned her supervisor by name and I asked if he was the man on the video.
She paused…”what man?”
“The one at the end of the hall staring at you. Was that “George”?”
“My (female) co-worker and I were the only people in that hallway. I don’t know who you saw.”
Coming up on Weird Darkness… Alfred Packer was found guilty of a murder that he committed in the mountains of Colorado. But this just wasn’t any murder – Packer was charged with killing and eating his victims. That story is up next.
STORY: COLORADO CANNIBAL==========
Cannibalism, the practice of consuming human flesh, is considered one of the great taboos in human history. And yet, from the dawn of time, man has devoured the bodies of his enemies after triumph in battle or has consumed them for nourishment under conditions when no other food is available. North America has been cursed with cases of cannibalism since the beginnings of its recorded history.
While some tribes of American Indians practiced cannibalism, most abhorred it. Indians in the Great Lakes region even told an evil spirit they called the Windigo. It was a monster that was once a man who ate human flesh and then was banished to the forests to prey on the helpless.
Stories of cannibalism also emerged from the settlers who came to North America. Some have become famous, like that of the Donner Party, a group of settlers who were stranded in the Sierra Nevada Mountains during the winter months and turned to eating the dead to survive. But there are other cases in American history where a taste for human flesh came about not from gnawing hunger and desperate circumstance. In some cases, men resorted to cannibalism by choice, engaging in bloodshed, murder and depravity to fulfill their horrific needs.
Alfred Packer earned his place in the history of the American West during the late fall and winter of 1873. The cold temperatures of autumn promised a bitter winter ahead but this meant little to men seeking gold. There were 20 would-be prospectors who left Bingham Canyon, near Salt Lake City, to seek their fortune in the San Juan Mountains. All of the men were novices and newcomers with no knowledge of the wild regions of the area; all except one, the self-proclaimed mountain man named Alfred G. Packer, who the other men had hired as their guide.
Alfred Packer was born on November 21, 1842 in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. He learned the cobbler trade as a boy but enlisted in the army when the Civil War broke out. Instead of joining up with a local unit, he went west and joined the 16th U.S. Infantry in Winona, Minnesota. Strangely, though, he was mustered out by the end of the year with “epilepsy,” which earned him an honorable discharge. In June 1863, he joined up again, this time with the 8th Regiment of the Iowa Cavalry, but was again discharged because of “epilepsy.” In those days, “epilepsy” was often a word used to describe a strange condition or bizarre behavior but whether or not Packer actually suffered from the illness, or was mustered out for some other odd condition, is unknown.
After leaving the military, Packer came west and worked odd jobs. In 1873, he was among the men who left Utah on the mining expedition. He told the men who hired him that he had driven ore wagons in some mining camps, which gave him the expertise needed for him to be their guide, but it turned out that he really knew very little about the area into which they were going. Packer was leading them to their doom.
As the men crossed into Colorado, their enthusiasm for gold-seeking began to wane. They began to bitterly complain as they stumbled through the wilderness, fighting winter winds and snow. They lost most of their equipment and their food ran out but fortunately, since most of Packer’s claims of wilderness skill were nothing but lies, the band wandered into the camp of a friendly Indian, Chief Ouray. The tribe fed them and the chief warned them not to go any farther. The mountains were snowed in for the winter and it would not be gold that they found in the snow-covered passes, but death.
The prospectors argued among themselves about what they should do. Out of the group, 10 of the prospectors elected to return to Salt Lake City, while the others were swayed by Packer’s belief that gold could be found along the Gunnison River. He convinced the men that a huge strike was waiting for them and to bolster his argument, he convinced Chief Ouray to give the remaining men enough food to get them to the river. Ouray reluctantly agreed but warned the men to stay near the river. He told them that venturing into the mountains during the winter months meant certain death. Packer all but ignored the chief’s warnings, telling the men that if things got bad, they could also find shelter at the Los Pinos Indian Agency, a camp that was not far from their intended diggings.
The party left Ouray’s camp the following day and began to work their way up the river. They had a 10-day supply of food to make the 75-miles trip, which Packer convinced them was only 40 miles. As the food supply began to dwindle, vicious arguments broke out, causing four of the men to leave and to try and make it to the Los Pinos Agency camp. Only two of them ever arrived. The other men, swayed by Packer’s tales of gold, continued on. The doomed men who stayed with Packer were Shannon Wilson Bell, Israel Swan, James Humphrey, Frank “Reddy” Miller, and George “California” Noon, who was only 18. Aside from Packer, this was the last time anyone ever saw these men alive.
On April 6, 1874, a man walked into the Los Pinos camp. His clothing was in rags and his eyes were wild but otherwise, he was in good condition. Oddly, he had several wallets in his possession, from which he removed wads of money, and although he claimed to have gone more than a day without food, he asked for nothing to eat. He just wanted whiskey. The man said that his name was Alfred Packer and that he had become separated from his party after injuring his leg. He said he expected the other prospectors had beaten him down from the mountains.
But the other men had not been seen. People who listened to Packer’s tales in the saloon thought that perhaps he had robbed the other men but then an Indian guide, who had passed along a nearby trail, found strips of meat which turned out to be human flesh. Packer’s stories now began to sound like lies and the pressure was on to try and get the facts out of him. Packer’s answers were vague and evasive and General Charles Adams, the commander of the agency, had him arrested. It would be more than a month before Packer would reveal what happened to the others in his party. On May 8, he gave his confession to General Adams.
Packer told Adams that the poor weather conditions had hindered the party’s progress from the beginning. Their supplies soon ran out and the lakes were too treacherous to fish and wild game became scarce. They were soon trapped by the snow and unable to turn back. Packer’s statement claimed that the other five men had died at various stages of the journey, either as starvation overtook them or when they were killed during attacks by men who were driven mad with hunger.
Israel Swan, the oldest man at 65, died first, about 10 days after the group left Ouray’s camp. The survivors had all taken pieces of him to eat. Then, four or five days later, James Humphrey died and was also eaten. He had $133 in his coat and Packer confessed to taking it. The third man to die was Frank Miller, who met his end in an “accident” while Packer was searching for wood. The other men decided to eat him and Packer returned to the camp after they had already butchered him and placed his flesh on the fire. The next victim was young George Noon. Packer claimed that he was away from camp for several days hunting game and when he came back, Bell had killed the boy. Packer admitted that he had taken part in eating him.
Packer told General Adams that he had killed Bell in self-defense. His confession stated, “Bell wanted to kill me. He struck at me with his rifle, struck a tree and broke his gun.” This left only Packer alive and he sustained himself on Bell’s flesh until he could make it back to the Los Pinos Agency.
Why Packer did not offer this story when he first came down from the mountains is unclear but regardless, questions soon began to arise about his account. A search party was sent out, led by a reluctant Packer, and he took them to where the men had last been seen, but failed to find the bodies of the prospectors. It was now apparent that the prospectors had not been killed one by one and left along the trail. Packer’s confession was a lie and he had obviously been scheming for a way to get himself released from custody so that he could disappear. Before that could happen, he was jailed in Saguache on suspicion of murder.
In August 1874, John A. Randolph, an artist sent to Colorado by Harper’s Weekly magazine, came across a gruesome scene at Slumgullion Pass: five sets of human remains near the bank of the Gunnison River. Among the remains were pieces of clothing, blankets and even a few scraps of flesh. Animals and the elements had clearly been at work but Randolph quickly realized that the bodies must belong to the vanished prospectors. Upon examination, he found that the men’s feet had been tied with piece of torn blanket and there were no shoes, cooking utensils or guns around them. The men appeared to have been murdered and horribly ravaged. One set of remains was even missing its head. The victims had obviously been butchered and likely eaten. Randolph quickly sketched the scene and then reported his discovery.
The Hinsdale County coroner, W. F. Ryan, hurried to the scene to hold an inquest and brought 20 men along with him. A member of the original party that had left Utah, Preston Nutter, identified the remains as those of his former companions, and eventually, it was determined that Frank Miller was the man without a head. The bodies were buried together on a nearby bluff and in time, the area became known as “Dead Man’s Gulch.”
Once this grim task was completed, the men returned to town to confront Packer with his lies. Word had spread of Randolph’s discovery and apparently, Packer heard about it in the jail. Desperate, he escaped and vanished into the wide open country of the west. Months passed, then years, but the “Colorado Cannibal” was nowhere to be found.
Packer managed to stay ahead of the law for the next nine years, living under the assumed name of John Schwartze. It is unknown what he did to earn a living during this time but whatever his work, it brought him to Fort Fetterman, Wyoming, in March 1883. Frenchy Cabizon, a former member of the original mining party, recognized Packer’s laugh while drinking in a local saloon. Exposed, Packer was arrested again and a grand jury returned five indictments against him for the hatchet murders of the five luckless prospectors. Packer offered a second confession on March 16, 1883.
He said that he and the others had left Ouray’s camp with only seven days’ worth of food for one man – hardly enough to sustain their numbers for even a few days. After two or three days, a snowstorm swept into the area and made conditions even worse. By the fourth day, only a pint of flour remained from their provisions. They had no choice but to keep going, barely surviving on rosebuds and pine sap. They tried to catch fish on the frozen lakes but had no luck. The men were now showing signs of depression and even madness.
Israel Swan ordered Packer to go up on the mountain and scout out the terrain. When Packer returned with nothing to report, he found Shannon Bell, who had been acting “crazy” all morning, roasting a large piece of meat over the fire. The meat turned out to be the leg of Frank Miller. Bell had apparently gone berserk and slaughtered all of the men while Packer was away. Packer said: “The latter’s body was lying the furthest off from the fire down the stream, his skull was crushed in with a hatchet. The other three men were lying near the fire, they were cut in the forehead with the hatchet. Some had two, some three cuts.”
As Packer came closer, Bell picked up the bloody hatchet and tried to attack him. In self-defense, Packer claimed that he shot the man through the stomach. When Bell dropped the hatchet and collapsed, Packer said that he used the weapon on the other man, hitting him in the top of the head to insure that the man was actually dead. He spent the night in despair. He tried to leave the camp the next day, leaving the men behind, but the snow was too deep and he was forced to stay. He covered the dead men, but for weeks, lived on the flesh that Bell had already cut from them.
Each day, he tried to leave, but the weather was just too fierce. He survived on the cuts of flesh for about two months. He confessed, “I could not eat but a little at a time.”
Finally, as the snow began to thaw, Packer took a few strips of flesh, a gun, about $70 that he found on the dead men, and started down toward the Los Pinos camp. Just before he reached the agency, at his last camp, he ate what was left of the meat that he had preserved, not accounting for how some strips of flesh were discovered on the trail.
Once again, Packer claimed that this was a true confession but it would turn out not to be his final version of the story.
Alfred Packer’s trial began on April 6, 1883 at the Hinsdale County Courthouse in Lake City, Colorado. He was placed on trial for the murder of Israel Swan. Preston Nutter, who had identified the five victims that John Randolph had discovered, testified as a witness. Using illustrations, he described for the jury the positions that the men had been found in and said that all but one had suffered hatchet wounds to the head. When he was recalled later in the trial, Nutter described a hole that he had seen in one of the bones that were severed from a body. He said that it looked like a gunshot wound. He also described how the clothing of the dead men had been “cut and ripped up.” He never explained what he meant by that, or what he was inferring that Packer might have done with the bodies.
Oddly, the coroner, who was the only one able to offer a professional opinion about the remains, was never called to testify in the case. For some reason, he had never recorded his observations about the bodies or the details of the inquest that was held at the murder scene. With nothing in writing that the court could refer to, his testimony was meaningless. In fact, no one with any experience in criminal investigation testified during the trial. It was mostly a matter of who the jury would believe and there was no one who really knew what happened in the mountains except for Alfred Packer, who had already changed his story twice.
Packer took the witness stand and defended himself for more than two hours. In the process, he told several significant lies. He lied about his age, the nature of his military service (that he had enlisted and been discharged two times) and the cause of his epilepsy, which he claimed that he got from walking guard duty.
When it came to the case at hand, Packer denied that he had any part in the deaths of the men, aside from the hatchet-wielding Shannon Bell. He spoke of the deaths of the other men and said that some of them had survived longer by eating the flesh of those who died first (a direct contradiction of his second confession, which named Bell as the killer and cannibal). Packer continued to claim that he was not present when the murders took place and only ate the dead men to stay alive.
Because he had offered several versions of events at different times, and had admitted to stealing the victims’ belonging and money, things did not go well for him at the trial. To make matters worse, he was argumentative and sarcastic on the witness stand. Most of his story was an obvious lie, concocted to try and save himself. The jury wasn’t having any of it and on Friday, April 13, 1883, they returned a verdict of guilty against Packer for the murder of Israel Swan.
Judge Melville B. Gerry pronounced a death sentence on Packer. Although convicted only of Swan’s murder, the judge was convinced that Packer had murdered all five men. He issued a long statement on the fairness of the trial and the impartiality of the jury. He refused to address Packer’s cannibalism, on the grounds that the trial had been about murder and robbery. He finally stated, “You, Alfred Packer, sowed the wind. You must now reap the whirlwind. Your life must be taken as a penalty of your crime.”
Alfred Packer was sentenced to hang on May 19, 1883, but it was not over yet. The Colorado Cannibal was not about to go willingly to the gallows; he still had one more version of his story to tell.
Two years later, Packer was able to get a new trial. The Colorado Supreme Court had set aside the murder conviction, based on a technical legislative oversight. Packer could not be tried in 1883 for a crime that he had committed in 1874, because there had been no state murder statute in 1874 that allowed for it. He had been arrested when Colorado was still a territory but had been tried when Colorado was a state, making the verdict worthless. Packer was tried again in 1886 for all five deaths – not just for that of Israel Swan – on the charge of voluntary manslaughter. The jury quickly convicted him. He managed to avoid the death penalty this time and was sentenced to 40 years (eight years for each of the five men) in the state penitentiary.
Eventually, Packer wrote another version of the events that occurred along the Gunnison River. He sent it to D.C. Hatch of the Denver Rocky Mountain News and much of it was reprinted in the newspaper. The story had changed yet again.
This time, Packer claimed that even before the last party of men set out, the entire group had been suffering from extreme hunger due to a shortage of supplies on the trip from Utah. They ended up living on horse feed until Chief Ouray gave them assistance and let them camp near his settlement. Packer said that a man named Lutzenheiser and four others decided to go across the mountains to the Indian Agency. Ouray supposedly told them that it was 40 miles but it was actually closer to 80. They soon ran out of supplies and cast lots to see who would become sustenance for the others. Luckily, they killed a coyote soon after, then came across a cow and killed that, too. The cow’s owner followed Lutzenheiser’s tracks and took him back to camp. He also found the others and helped them but the men later set off again. They were found later near exhaustion and starved.
At this point, Packer returned to the travails of his own party. They left about a week after Lutzenheiser departed and they took a different trail. Their supplies lasted for about nine days and three days after they ate the last of their provisions, they boiled and ate their rawhide moccasins, wrapping their feet with cloth and blankets.
They kept going into the mountains. He insisted that Bell was deranged from hunger and that the others were afraid of him. They finally descended to the lake fork of the river and camped there. In the morning, Packer went looking for help and when he returned, he found Bell alone with the bloody corpses of the other men. In this version, though, he did not know the other men were dead until after Bell attacked him. He also claimed that he did not willingly eat any of the men’s flesh. He said that his “mind failed him” and that he did not want to believe that he had eaten any of the flesh but that he could not recall.
Packer went on to say that he did not remember how long he stayed at the bloody encampment but one day when he was out looking for food, he wandered into the agency camp. Without realizing it, he had traveled 40 miles. Although by all reports he came to the camp looking healthy, Packer claimed in his letter that he had to be nursed back to health over a three-week period. He learned that Lutzenheiser and his party had made it out of the wilderness alive, and that the rest of the men who had begun the trip had also survived. Packer said that he confessed at once to the murder of Bell (not based on the original confession given to General Adam) and that he had been unable to show anyone where his companions had been killed because deep snow had driven the search party back to the Los Pinos Agency.
In addition, he had not escaped from jail at the time the remains were discovered. He insisted the sheriff had let him go. He had been unjustly dealt with, Packer complained, for there was no motive for him to have killed his comrades. He wrote, ‘The ghosts of the dead men know me to be innocent.’
After serving 16 years in prison, Packer made a petition for parole. His case was reviewed and parole was denied. A reporter at the Denver Post, Polly Pry, grew interested in his case and for some reason, came to believe that Packer was innocent. She began a campaign for his release and, with the newspaper’s assistance, gained the attention of the governor.
Packer made another petition for parole, this time based on his deteriorating physical condition and, in 1901, his parole was finally approved. The prison doctor certified that Packer was suffering from Bright’s Disease, a kidney ailment which made further confinement dangerous in that it would aggravate his illness. Packer had also persuaded a number of prominent men around the state, notably reporters and the owners of the Denver Post, to sign a petition on behalf of his release. The newspaper owners were swayed more by greed than by any conviction about Packer’s innocence. They believed they could get him to be a sideshow attraction in the Sells-Floto Circus and make a fortune.
Packer was released, but not pardoned, and took a job at the newspaper, working as a security guard. City life did not please him, though, and he moved to Deer Creek Canyon in Jefferson County. His final years were spent managing two mines and telling stories to children about his adventures as he lived with liver and stomach ailments. He was remembered by everyone as a nice old man.
Late in 1906, Packer was found unconscious on a trail a mile from his home. He lived for only a few more months and just before he died from a stroke on April 24, 1907, he wrote a letter to the governor and asked for a full pardon. No action was taken and Packer was buried in Littleton, Colorado, in the Prince Avenue Cemetery. He went to his grave still claiming his innocence and as time passed, he gained many supporters who believed that he was a victim of tragic circumstance. He had killed other men because he was starving, they believed, even though Packer denied this during both of his trials.
It would be more than 80 years before the truth would actually be known and what was revealed was something that many people knew all along: that Alfred Packer was a liar and a cannibal.
In the summer of 1989, James E. Starrs, a law professor from George Washington University in Washington, D.C., took an interest in the Packer case. He managed to get permission from land owners around Dead Man’s Gulch to start an archaeological dig that would unearth and examine the remains of the five men that Packer had allegedly murdered and eaten. After the bodies were found, they were carefully studied by forensic anthropologists, who not only found evidence of murder but also found nicks on the bones that appeared to have been made by a knife during the process of cutting away flesh.
While not everyone on the team agreed about how much support there was for making a definitive statement, Professor Starrs went on record as saying that Alfred Packer was a murdering cannibal and a liar.
The strange story of Alfred Packer remains mired in controversy, even after all of these years. There are those who believed that he murdered and cannibalized five men and those who insist that he was innocent of murder and only ate human flesh to survive.
Was Alfred Packer a guilty man, as Professor Starrs believed, or was he a victim himself, forced to survive in whatever way that he could? According to evidence, Packer likely killed his five companions, stripped them of their flesh and ate the meat over the course of the next several weeks. Was he forced to do so? Perhaps, but if this was the case, why hide the fact by trying to dispose of the strips of flesh on the trail before coming to the agency camp? And why continue to lie about what he had done, telling story after story until no one could believe anything but the worst?
Was he guilty of stupidity when he took those men into the mountains to search for gold, knowing that the trails were impassable during the coldest months of the winter? Or did he lure them to their deaths, either for profit or for some dark reasons of his own? Was it really “epilepsy” that got him drummed out of the military, or did his commanding officers see a pattern of disturbing behavior that made him unfit for duty?
And perhaps most frightening of all, did Alfred Packer commit cold-blooded murder and then dine on the corpses of his victims, driven not by starvation but by blood lust and depravity?
In the end, I suppose the man’s life and motivations will always remain a mystery. From books to newspaper accounts to official documents, there are as many versions of Alfred Packer’s life as Packer himself told. Only Packer and the men who died really knew the truth and tragically, the true story died with all of them.
When Weird Darkness returns…
Glowing eyes, flapping wings, 7-foot wingspans… what are these strange, frightening flying creatures being reported in Japan? That story in just a moment.
STORY: WINGED MONSTERS OF JAPAN==========
One fairly well-known account of what appears to be some sort of flying humanoid comes from one night in 1952, which started off just as any other for an Air Force Pvt. Sinclair Taylor when he started his watch duty at Camp Okubo, which is near Kyoto, Japan. However, the evening took a turn for the decidedly strange when he heard an inexplicable flapping sound in the darkness beyond. Peering into the black night to ascertain where the unusual sound was coming from, Taylor alarmingly noticed what he at first suspected to be a very large bird flying towards him, framed against the moon and drawing ever nearer. As the creature inexorably drew closer, it soon became apparent that this was no bird at all. Instead, Taylor saw before him a large, man-like being, humanoid in form, that was estimated as being 7 feet tall, with a 7 foot wingspan, which was flapping its expansive wings towards him. Whereas this bizarre apparition had been flapping its wings earlier, it then began to simply hover in the air near the startled soldier.
Depending on the report you read, there is also sometimes mention of glowing eyes. However, it is difficult to say if this was in Taylor’s original report or an embellishment added later. The panicked guard began firing his weapon towards it, but when he looked at the spot where the being had been hovering and where he had been shooting, it was gone. Whatever the bizarre creature was, it had vanished into the night as suddenly as it had appeared. There was no blood or any evidence that Taylor had hit it with any of the rounds he’d fired, and he would say himself, “When I looked to see if my bullets had found home there was nothing there.”
Taylor was also not the only witness to whatever this thing was. When he reported it to his sergeant, it was revealed that another guard had seen what was apparently the same thing the year before. Although Taylor did not know of this other sighting and had had no contact with the other eyewitness, the descriptions of the creature were remarkably similar. In addition to these sightings by personnel on the base, there were other strange happenings occasionally reported in the vicinity of Camp Okubo. Residents in the area had reported seeing what they believed to be giant birds, and there were sporadic reports of strange lights in the sky as well. The sightings all seem to have happened over just a couple of years, and seemed to stop as suddenly as they started.
In more recent times there was In 2011, in the days leading up to the deadly earthquake and massive tsunami in Fukushima, Japan, a witness named Marcus Pules claims to have made a sighting of what he describes as the Mothman in the area. Pules said that he had been in Japan on business in February of 2011, and had decided to stay with a friend who had long lived in Japan teaching English in the rural town of Okuma, in the Fukushima region. One day the two friends went out to look around the town, and in the evening they went to the seaside, walking along a trail that meandered near the Daiichi Fukushima nuclear power plant, at this point still in normal working condition, with no hint as to the major disaster and specter of doom it was to become.
As they walked along, Pules claims that he heard a sudden “Whoosh,” which he at first took to be the sounds of the nearby ocean waves crashing against rocks, but his mind was changed when the sound repeated and then was followed by an ear piercing shriek the likes of which he had never heard before. His friend heard it as well, as did a couple who had been on the same path out for a romantic evening stroll. Pules would say:
We heard it again (the whooshing noise), followed by a ear pitching screech that shook me down to the bone and made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. We looked around for the cause of the noise, when we heard the sound again. The best way I can describe it is a city bus’s brakes when they are in need of service, loud and ear splitting. We both continued to look around when my friend’s attention was drawn toward the plant by another nearby couple. A younger couple, out for a walk were staring toward the plant, arms outstretched and the obvious fear in their voices showing itself.
Pules then looked out towards the power plant looming in the distance and thought he could make out a large, shadowy figure silhouetted by the plant’s lights and the moonlight, which appeared to be sitting perched atop one of the buildings. As he stared at it trying to figure out who or what it could be, the figure suddenly unfurled what looked like a massive set of black wings and took to the sky, where it circled the plant several times. Pules described the frightening events that followed thus:
The creature then took flight and circled the plant at least 4-5 times, some circuits he took at a fast pace, some he seemed to slow down, all the while he kept his attention on the row of square shaped buildings that I later found out housed the reactors. The creature then came toward us, flying at least 25-30 feet off the ground. The younger couple who had noticed the creature first were now screaming and cowering, the man shielding the woman while shielding his head with a jacket. My friend and I looked in awe as this creature flew over us. That’s when I noticed the two large red eyes; they seemed to glow from within and with a blood red hue. They were unblinking in the 3-4 seconds we saw them, we knew they were looking straight at us, we knew this creature knew we could see it and it made no attempt to disguise itself. The sick, intense and overwhelming feeling of dread came over us. A feeling that we shouldn’t be there was to say the least, overwhelming.
Then the bizarre flying humanoid creature suddenly flew off towards town as the friend fumbled with his cell phone trying to take pictures of it, until it eventually faded away into the distance to leave the witnesses in a state of terrified confusion. Pules and his friend quickly vacated the area, and as soon as they got home the two panicked men talked about what they had seen, trying to come to grips with what it had been and settling on the explanation that it must have been a large bird or optical illusion caused by the lights of the plant, although they both knew deep down that this was not the case. Because of the dark conditions at the time, none of the pictures the friend had tried to take turned out well. In the following days they tried not to bring it up, and Pules would try to put the strange encounter out of his mind.
It was not until after he had returned to the States that he would be reminded of the creature once again, when the same friend woke him in the middle of the night in March, frantically talking about the huge earthquake that had just struck the area where he lived, practically leveling the town he was in. Pules turned on the TV and over the next few days was bombarded with images of the devastation that the earthquake and resultant tsunami had dealt out, including the meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, which happened to be the very same plant where they had seen the frightening winged humanoid. Pules would muse on the relationship between the disaster and what he had seen, saying:
The Fukushima Daiichi was the exact same plant we had seen the strange bird like creature circling. Was it pure coincidence or was it the mythical Moth-Man doing his strange work of predicting disasters? I may never know and may go to the grave wondering that, but one thing is certain for sure, I don’t think that neither of us is going to forget this event, no matter how long we live.
A similarly bizarre report was posted on the Phantoms and Monsters website in 2016, and describes a report from an Australian man who had visited a friend in Japan in 2015. While he was there his friend told him of a bizarre encounter he had had on the slopes of Japan’s majestic Mt. Fuji at the Komitake shrine. He would relate his friend’s strange experience thus:
They had been at the shrine and other local sites throughout the day. While they were leaving the parking lot they both noticed a strange looking man crouched down by a tree near the edge of the forest. My friend slowed down his car as they continued to watch this man. The forest was dark, but they could see a halo of red light over his head. About that time he turned and stood up. Instantly a pair of huge dark butterfly-like wings sprung open from his back and he shot up into the canopy. As it ascended, they noticed the wings reflected light.
They then noticed that two older women had been watching this man as well, who screamed and ran away towards a nearby building. Other people then reacted to the screams and were looking towards the forest. My friend did not stay and drove off. They were both frightened and his fiance cried most of the way home.
Other winged monsters said to lurk in Japan go way back into history and folklore, such as the bird-like humanoids called the Tengu. These Tengu were often seen as mountain gods, but there are many traditions for what they are. They are variously described as being cursed humans, demigods, demons, spirits, or a separate race of living beings. Tengu were said to be hatched from eggs, like birds, and stories abound of travelers coming across Tengu nests filled with their giant eggs high in the remote mountains. One egg was said to be enough to feed an entire family, but few would dare to disturb them for fear of the Tengu’s bloody wrath. They were often said to favor Cryptomeria trees for their nests, which are known for their aromatic wood, so people were especially weary of Tengu when near these particular trees.
Tengu have been known to possess a wide array of supernatural powers, including teleportation, telepathy, premonition, thought projection (they were thought to be able to invade a person’s mind and drive them insane), and shape shifting. Tengu were said to be able to take the form of a man, woman, or child, but were most fond of taking the shape of a monk or elderly mountain hermit. In some areas, Tengu were thought to be able to take the forms of tanuki (raccoon dogs) and kitsune (foxes), which were also known as shape shifters. It is even suggested in some traditions that foxes and raccoon dogs were not in fact shape shifters themselves, but rather merely alternate forms taken by Tengu.
Tengu translates to “Heaven Dog,” but this name is misleading as the they look nothing like dogs. It is thought that the name “heaven Dog” was derived from a somewhat similar creature in China that was known as the Tiangou, or “celestial hound.” It is not known for sure why these strange Chinese creatures were called this, but one hypothesis holds that they were named after a devastating meteor that hit China somewhere around the 6th century BC. Accounts describe the tail of this falling meteor as looking like the tail of a dog, hence the name “Celestial Hound,” and the powers of destruction that were associated with these creatures. There are various hypotheses proposed for why these Chinese Tiangou became the “Tengu” of Japan, but it seems that at least the name has its origins there.
The most common modern image of Japanese Tengu is not of a dog at all, but rather that of a humanoid, bird-like creature with a very long nose, a human’s body, arms, and legs, yet possessing wings and feathers. The contemporary Tengu is often depicted as looking more or less like a human warrior monk with wings and an abnormally long nose, a somewhat angry looking face, and frequently with deep, red colored skin. However, in the long histroy of the Tengu, they have undergone somewhat of an evolution in both form and purpose.
The original incarnation of the Tengu was animalistic, more avian than human, and was typically portrayed as looking variously like anything from simply a giant bird of prey, to a vaguely humanoid form covered in feathers, with wings, piercing eyes, a compact head with a prominently beaked face, and heavy, vicious looking talons. They are depicted both with clothing and without. These animal-like beings were known as the Karasu Tengu, or literally “Crow Tengu,” although they could just as often look like eagles or other birds. The Karasu Tengu were known as evil creatures, prone to abducting children, starting fires, and savagely killing anyone foolish enough to do damage to their forest lair. They were even known to slaughter people for no discernible reason at all. These were violent and malicious creatures, said to enjoy ripping travelers limb from limb, and they were thought to be heralds of disaster, war, misfortune, and doom wherever they went.
In later times, the Tengu underwent a gradual transformation, becoming increasingly more anthropomorphized over time. The beaks became humanized into long, sometimes hooked noses, and the bodies became more clearly humanoid in form. These more human-like Tengu were often depicted holding feathers in their hand, and wearing a monk’s garb. These later versions became known as the Konoha Tengu or Yamabushi tengu, which means “mountain monk Tengu.”
The Tengu became increasingly known as great warriors, skilled martial artists, and expert weapon smiths. In fact, they were often given the reputation of being the best martial arts instructors. In addition, they were gradually seen as more benign creatures, even helping, or protecting humans. Whereas the more ancient forms of malicious Tengu were said to abduct children or attack travelers, the later, more benevolent Yamabushi Tengu were often enlisted to help find missing children. The Tengu still maintained their love of war and fighting, but their overall evil and sinister reputation was softened somewhat. In some cases, these more intelligent, more civilized Yamabushi Tengu were seen as coexisting with the earlier Karasu Tengu as their leaders.
Regardless of how benevolent they were seen to be, all forms of Tengu were known to have a mischievous streak to some extent. They were known for deceiving and playing tricks or pranks on humans, or sometimes kidnapping people only to disorient them and set them loose just to see what would happen. It was said that shoguns would sometimes go so far as to formally request that any Tengu leave the area in advance of important visits in order to reduce the chance of embarrassing incidents and tomfoolery. There is even a scroll at a temple in Shizuoka prefecture which allegedly contains a written apology penned by a Tengu. It is told that the creature was captured in the 17th century by the high priest of the temple and forced to write the apology after relentlessly harassing travelers in the area.
Other such relics related to Tengu can supposedly be found in temples around Japan. For instance, the Hachinohe Museum in Aomori prefecture houses the alleged mummified remains of a Tengu. The skull of these remains is humanoid, while the body is covered with feathers and the feet are like that of a bird. Another temple in Saitama prefecture keeps what is said to be the talon of a Tengu, while still another supposedly has the beaked skull of one. Is there any grain of truth at all behind any of these stories? Does the Tengu have any cryptozoological significance? Of course the sword wielding, magic using, telepathic, winged humanoids seem far fetched, but what of the earlier versions of the Tengu? It seems at least worth considering the cryptozoological possibilities behind this creature’s origins.
Another type of winged beast that is said to prowl the skies of Japan is less humanoid in nature but just about as strange, and are described as monstrous crows. A sight that is familiar to anyone who has been to Japan for any length of time is the large populations of crows. They are everywhere, and in recent years their population has exploded. Although they have a powerful place in Japanese folklore and myth, these ubiquitous birds are clever, bold, and even aggressive to the point that they have become a real nuisance in many areas. Although Japanese crows tend to be quite large to begin with, in some countryside areas, there have been reports of of crows far larger than the normal carrion crow (Corvus corone) and jungle crow (Corvus macrorhynchos) that are found in Japan. Some remote, rural farmers have described being alarmed by crows at least twice as large as usual and with wingspans estimated as 6 feet or even more.
One sighting from the 80s was made by a group of kindergarten schoolchildren walking home from school in a rural village. The children were startled when a huge crow landed on the road in front of them. A teacher with the children also saw the crow, and described the bird as being almost as tall as the children, which would make it an enormous bird indeed. The giant bird appraised the group briefly before flying off into the trees. Another sighting was made in the late 1990s by a farmer and his wife in Shizuoka prefecture. The man claimed that they had been out in the field one day watching their shiba-inu dog run about when a massive black shape dashed down from the sky to land on the ground near the dog, startling it in the process. The witness claimed that the bird was an enormous crow that was bigger than their dog and with an estimated 8-foot wingspan. The gigantic bird hopped about for a bit and then flapped its vast wings to take off into the sky once more.
These super-sized crows are said to be most active at dusk, and are generally reported as being shyer and less bold than usual crows. When they sense a human nearby, they are known to retreat quickly. They also do not seem to be as vocal as more normal sized crows. It seems most likely that perhaps larger individuals of regular Japanese crows are being misidentified as something bigger, or perhaps some larger out of place bird or escaped exotic animal is behind the reports. The Steller’s sea eagle is found in Japan and is one of the world’s largest birds, with wingspans up to 8 feet. In Japan, The sea eagle is typically found only in the northernmost island of Hokkaido. However, vagrant sea eagles have been known to venture all the way down the east coast of Japan.
The sea eagle is typically dark brown to black all over the body except for some white markings. With it’s typically dark coloration, could a sea eagle be misidentified by someone not acquainted with them as a very large crow in the dusk hours these giant crows are seen? It would certainly explain the large sizes reported, as well as the behavior that diverges from typical crows, such as shyness and lack of vocalizations. Whatever they are, the giant crows of Japan remain a perplexing avian mystery.
Winged monsters seem to be a permanent feature upon the landscape of the weird. Whether they take the form of giant flying creatures or winged humanoids, they remain mysterious enigmas that pervade regions around the world. What lies at the heart of such accounts? Are these biological entities or something altogether different. It appears that it depends on the particular case involved, but until we have answers either way the phenomenon of winged cryptids will continue to stoke our imaginations.
Henry Kendall was found in a graveyard with a bullet hole between his eyes. How he met his fate may be a mystery, but his reason for being in the graveyard was certain, he was there to snatch a body.
Plus… Within the UFO files of the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations that are held at the National Archives, there is a USAF document which is dated July 23, 1952. That document describes a UFO crash in the woods of Maryland.
And… Everything seems bigger when you are a child… even shadow people.
But first… A Native American hunting party tracks down a large hair-covered creature and finds a giant mound with bodies of 19 human children. The children had not only been kidnapped, they had also been consumed… by Sasquatch. That story is up next when Weird Darkness returns.
The year was 1855, in the region of the present U.S. states of Oklahoma and Arkansas, where the once mighty Choctaw Nation of Native Americans once ruled over all they saw. In this year there was an apparent scourge of unseen bandits venturing forth from the wilderness to steal vegetables and even livestock. This might have been the end of it if it were not for the claim that the trespassers are said to have soon graduated to kidnapping people, mostly children, which provoked a fierce reaction in the tribe.
A search party was allegedly formed, composed of a group of uncommonly large cavalry warriors called the “Lighthorsemen,” the largest of whom was the towering Hamas Tubbee and his six sons, who were widely reported as standing at around 7 feet or more in height. These real giants, along with a contingent of 30 other very large and fierce horseback riding warriors, headed out led by a part French, part Choctaw general by the name of Joshua LeFlore, and their mission was to find the culprits and put an end to their reign. As they headed out into the wilderness in the early morning hours from the tribal capital in Tuskaloma, fully armed with high powered rifles and pistols and thirsty for vengeance, these menacing, proud warriors no doubt thought that this would be a simple matter of routing some ragtag group of bandits, yet they were in for quite a bizarre surprise, to say the least.
The group of warriors penetrated deep into the region which is now known as the “McCurtain County Wilderness Area” of present-day Oklahoma, and after 8 hours of riding nonstop through the blazing June sun they stopped at a spot near the Clover River to rest and eat, before remounting and continuing on the last leg of their tiring journey. It was after nearly 14 hours of almost nonstop riding that the men reached the area where the bandits were said to be most active, and it was here that LeFlore suddenly gave the order to halt, as if he has seen something that had caught his attention.
Using a crude telescope, LeFlore peered off into the distance as the men rumbled amongst themselves and the horses huffed and chuffed. The general claimed that he could see something moving about ahead, and voiced his confidence that it was the enemy before putting the telescope aside and giving the warriors the order to charge. The massive, bloodthirsty warriors must have been quite a sight as they howled and rushed their horses through the trees in a mad dash into battle, weapons drawn and ready to fight. Yet their powerful drive forward was soon brought to a halt when the unbearably stench of decay hit them like a wall and their steeds began to inexplicably buck and rear in an abrupt, profound panic, knocking several of them to the mossy ground to writhe around hacking and coughing, such was the intensity of the supposed olfactory assault.
Some of the warriors, including the Tubbees and LeFlore himself, were allegedly able to control their animals and advance past this nauseating wave of rotting stink to rush towards the bandits, and as they exploded out into a forest clearing the source of the stygian stench was clear. There in the center of the clearing they found what was described as some sort of earthen mound that had embedded within it and strewn about it numerous corpses in varying levels of decomposition, drawing a fog of flies that droned all about the startled warriors. Of human bandits there was no sign, but looming nearby were three enormous, ape-like creatures covered with hair, so tall as to dwarf even the most statuesque of the Tubbees themselves. These beast-men purportedly stood there glaring in their direction, completely unafraid of the tribal warriors.
What purportedly followed next is just as dramatic and over-the-top as any action movie. LeFlore is said to have charged the strange beasts without hesitation, pistol and saber in hand and howling the whole time. One of the creatures stepped forward and lashed out with a massive hand to swat the general’s horse to the side of its head with a thunderous blow that sent it sprawling to the ground dead. LeFlore was ejected to the ground but was soon on his feet with pistol blazing, managing to hit the wildman several times but barely slowing it down at all. Even after sustaining several gunshot wounds it barely bled at all, seemed to have not even felt it, and lunged forward to grab the man by the head and rip it clean off.
All of this had happened before the others had even had any time to react, nor indeed even process the situation at all, and they had witnessed it in a wide-eyed stupor. Upon seeing their general slump to the ground without a head as this vicious ape-creature loomed over his carcass, they produced their rifles and launched a withering volley of bullets at the monsters, which managed to drop all but one of them. The grievously injured creature purportedly limped off in a bid to escape, but was set upon by one of the Tubbee brothers, who pounced and apparently cut its head off with his hunting knife.
In the aftermath it was just a few scattered Native warriors, poised and ready for the next attack that would never come, the smell of gun smoke and that fetid stench of dead bodies, feces, and urine lingering all around them, in the background that Tubbee brother crouched over the hulking beast with blood on his knife and hands. The Natives then went about the grim work of burying the dead, finding the bodies of at least 19 children among them, and the bodies of the hulking beasts were burned on a bonfire.
It is without a doubt a harrowing, terrifying tale, filled with mysteries, monsters, and sheer, otherworldly bizarreness. The tale has been passed around the Internet quite a lot, it seems, and if it seems too good to be true then it may be because it perhaps is. The tale does indeed incorporate various historical facts, as LeFlore seems to have indeed been a real person who did die in 1855, and the Tubbees are apparently real as well, but this means little in the larger picture, as any historical figure can be inserted into any wild story you like, sort of like a fan fiction.
Not helping matters is that, while the story has made the rounds on the Internet, the best source I can truly link it back to is a book with the rather unwieldy title of True Bigfoot Horror: The Apex Predator – Monster in the Woods: Cryptozoology: Terrifying, Violent, and True Encounters of Sasquatch Hunting People (Cryptozoology, Sasquatch, Paranormal) (Volume 1), by Jeremy Kelley, which seems to have just a collection of unconfirmed Bigfoot anecdotes, as well as reviews that are, well, shall we say, not kind. This is not to say it is all bunk, but there is also very little in the way of actual verification or corroboration of this amazing tale, and for all intents and purposes it may as well have come from the depths of the imagination. Nevertheless, from this source has sprung a persistent Bigfoot legend, all without any way to know just how believable it is, further cementing its power in the world of the weird. Is this a case of an urban legend in the making and a twisting of history, or is there something more to it? Whatever the case may be, it is a damn strange account.
STORY: A GRAVE-ROBBER’S FATE==========
Dr. Henry W. Kendall was found in the graveyard of the Onondaga County Poorhouse with a bullet hole between his eyes the morning of May 19, 1882. He was alive but unconscious when found and died in the hospital later that day.
Exactly how Dr. Kendall met his fate was a mystery, but his reason for being in the graveyard was certain, he was there to snatch a body. He was found surrounded by tools of the grave robber’s trade—two shovels, a piece of old carpet, and a satchel containing a cant hook, a length of rope, a dark-lantern, and a bottle of whiskey. He was also found with a dirk and two revolvers. In his pocket was a card which read “Be sure 8 o’clock.”
Dr. Kendall made no secret of being a “resurrectionist” and bragged that he had stolen bodies from cemeteries in Manlius, Cicero, Cazenovia, and Syracuse and sold them to medical schools for dissection. It was not clear why he did it since he was a promising young doctor with a thriving medical practice in Syracuse. Dr. Totman, who had performed the post-mortem on Dr. Kendall, and had known Kendall in life described him as a monomaniac on the subject of grave robbing and said, “I have known him to rob a grave where there was no necessity for it and no demand for the body. He seemed to think there was something brave and daring in it.”
Kendall was known to use morphine; some believed that under its influence he became frightened and accidentally or intentionally shot himself. But the shot could not have been accidental, the angle of the wound indicated that the gun had been level with the forehead. The lack of powder burns near the wound ruled out suicide.
Perhaps Kendall had gone to the graveyard with an assistant and the two had quarreled. Kendall was described as “fearfully reckless” with a violent temper and he was always armed with a revolver. He may have drawn his pistol on the assistant who fired back in self-defense. But if Kendall had an assistant, no one could say who it was.
An organization called the Grave Protectors had recently been formed to combat the rash of graverobbing around Syracuse. Kendall might have lost a gunfight with one of its members, he had boasted that he would shoot any person who had the temerity to disrupt his right to steal a corpse. Even if Kendall had been caught in the act of robbing a grave, his shooter would face murder charges, and no one came forward.
None of these theories could be proved. With the lack of any suspects, the coroner’s jury found that Dr. Henry Kendall “came to his death from the effects of injuries received from a pistol shot in the hands of some person unknown.”
STORY: UFO CRASH==========
Within the UFO files of the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations that are held at the National Archives, there is a USAF document which is dated July 23, 1952. It briefly describes an event that occurred in Maryland, only twenty-four hours earlier. The document reads like this:
“On 22 July 1952, Colonel Smith, Executive Officer, Directorate of Intelligence, USAF, advised that his office had just received a call from the above captioned individual, and that he was concerned over some object that had apparently fallen in a wooded area behind his home. According to Colonel Smith, Mr. [Deleted] resides on Layhill Road, Silver Springs, Maryland, and is employed by some Buick Company in the Silver Springs area. Colonel Smith further stated that Mr. [Deleted] reported this incident to the local police on 19 July 1952, the date the incident occurred, but having received no satisfaction decided to call the Air Force on 22 July 1952. I telephonically communicated the above information to Colonel White, District Commander, DO #4.”
While the matter was not resolved, there is one issue that is worth noting when it comes to this particular account. That issue is the time-frame. July 1952 was also when a UFO “invasion” occurred in Washington, D.C. It was an affair that disturbed elements of the military and caught the deep attention of the CIA. UFOs were not just seen: they were also tracked on radar. It was a major development in the UFO phenomenon.
Keeping in mind the D.C. wave of July 1952, and the “object that had apparently fallen in a wooded area” in Maryland in the same time-frame, it’s worth noting the words of a Canadian engineer named Wilbert Smith. According to Smith – who shared the story with U.S. Navy Rear Admiral H.B. Knowles – he knew of the recovery of a piece of a flying saucer that had “…been shot from a small flying saucer near Washington in July .” Not only that, Smith claimed possession of that same “piece.”
Smith said, in an interview with UFO researcher C.W. Fitch in November 1961: “I showed it to the Admiral. It was a piece of metal about twice the size of your thumb which had been loaned to me for a very short time by [the United States] Air Force. As a general thing they differ only in that they are much harder than our materials. In reality a matrix of magnesium orthosilicate. The matrix had great numbers – thousands – of 15-micron spheres scattered through it.”
According to Smith, he handed the material over to an agency that he would only describe as being “much higher” than the Air Force. When asked if the agency might have been the CIA, Smith refused to say anything more, except that the debris was in “…the hands of a highly classified group.”
It’s important to note that much of what has been said about Smith has been distorted (see Paul Kimball’s on-target article “Oh Canada – Wilbert Smith & UFOs”), and particularly so certain issues relative to controversial tales of dead aliens and crashed UFOs. Kimball suggests that what Smith learned about crashed UFOs may actually have been disinformation, “aimed at the Soviets,” and possibly “designed to convince Stalin that the United States had access to advanced alien technology.”
Whatever the truth, it might be worth someone’s time to look further into the matter of the incident at Silver Springs, Maryland in July 1952, the UFO wave of the summer of 1952 in D.C., and the words of Smith. Maybe, somewhere, there’s a connection. Maybe.
STORY: THE VERY TALL MAN==========
This happened when I was about 6 or 7 years old (about 40 years ago). But, I still remember this vividly. I was in the tub, which was my daily ritual before getting to bed. It was around 7 or 8pm ( I was in bed by 9 or 9:30 at the latest. )
The bathroom door was open, so in case I fell or something was wrong my parents would hear.
The bathroom was literally beside my bedroom. I was almost done and there it was. This very tall man, by tall I mean tall, the ceilings in my parents house are 10 feet. I saw a man in dark pants, and plaid long sleeve button up shirt walk by the bathroom right into my room. His head would have been in the attic, all I saw walk by was literally from the shoulders down.
He made no noise, just simply walked by and that was it.
Never saw it or him again.
Of course, the shadows of people or something that go by the windows at my parents and by the windows of my own house which is behind theirs. They do not do anything, no noise, no nothing, but simply put, you glance a shadow at the window, walking toward the door and that’s it. Gone. Sometimes they weird me out, sometimes they don’t.
The very tall man, yeah he weirded me out. I started taking showers due to his appearance. And have ever since.
Coming up… Two Missouri teenagers and one teen’s mother vanished without a trace after a high school graduation ceremony and have never been seen again. We’ll look at the disappearance of “The Springfield Three” up next.
STORY: THE VANISHING OF THE “SPRINGFIELD THREE”==========
On June 6, 1992, two Missouri teenagers and one teen’s mother vanished without a trace after a graduation ceremony and have never been seen again. It was a shocking and tragic end to what should have been the event of a lifetime and it remains a haunting, unsolved mystery to this day.
Best friends Suzanne “Suzie” Streeter, 19, and Stacy McCall, 18, had just graduated from Kickapoo High School and they spent the evening celebrating with friends. They visited several different graduation parties and then decided to go to Suzie’s house – which she shared with her mother, Sherril Levitt, a 47-year-old cosmetologist – for the rest of the night. Sherrill was probably happy to see them. Her night had been quiet. She had been on the phone with a friend, talking about painting furniture, until about 11:15 p.m.
What happened after that remains a chilling puzzle.
Since all of Suzie and Stacy’s belongings were later found at Sherrill’s house – purses, clothes, makeup, etc. – it was assumed that they did make it there. Their cars were also in the driveway. But when friends arrived at the Levitt house the next morning, Suzie, Stacy, and Sherrill were missing.
A group of graduating friends all planned to go to the Whitewater water park the next day, so friends Janelle and Kirby came to the Levitt house at 8:00 a.m. on June 7. They knocked, but there was no answer. They went home and then returned at noon, thinking that perhaps the two girls had left for the water park without them. As they approached the house, they saw that the porch light was broken. They swept up the glass – trying to be helpful – but unknowingly contaminated a crime scene.
Janelle and Kirby checked the door – it was unlocked. That was their first inkling that something might be wrong. When they entered the house, though, everything seemed intact. There were no signs of a struggle. The house was just empty as if they had simply walked away. But to where? The cars were all parking in the driveway, but Suzie, Stacy, and Sherrill were nowhere to be found.
Just before the two teenagers left, the telephone rang. Janelle answered. The caller didn’t identify himself but began making lewd comments, so Janelle hung up, assuming it was a prank call. She and Kirby left the house.
A little while later, Stacy’s mother, Janis McCall, arrived at the house. She had tried to call, but there was no answer, so she had driven over. She hadn’t heard from her daughter since early the previous evening. There was no answer when she knocked, so she went inside. She looked around and found Stacy’s belongings. Her daughter’s underwear and t-shirt were missing, but the rest of her clothes were neatly folded on a chair. It looked like both girls had removed their makeup in the bathroom the night before. Janis also found all three of the missing women’s purses lined up on the floor outside of Suzie’s room, which seemed odd. The television was on, and Janis saw there was a message flashing on the answering machine. When she tried to listen to it, she accidentally deleted it.
She was convinced that something was wrong. It had been 16 hours since the three women had been seen. Janis and her husband decided to contact the police. When the authorities arrived, they tried to nail down just how many people had been inside of the house, possibly contaminating the crime scene, and tried to figure out what had happened. It was a baffling situation but suspects soon emerged.
The first suspect was Sherrill’s son, Bartt Streeter, who had recently argued with his mother and sister about his drinking problem. But Bartt had a solid alibi and was soon ruled out. Authorities also questioned Suzie’s ex-boyfriend, Dustin Recla. He’d been in trouble before. A short time back, he and a friend were arrested for vandalizing cemeteries. Suzie had given a statement to the police that stated that the boys had been digging up graves and stealing gold teeth from the corpses. Threats had been made against Suzie and her mother. When questioned, though, the boys were cooperative and also ruled out as suspects.
The investigation then focused on Robert Craig Cox, an Army veteran who had been arrested and convicted of a woman’s murder in Florida. The case was overturned due to a lack of evidence. In 1985, Cox was convicted of two different abduction attempts and sentenced to nine years in prison. His case was appealed and overturned in 1992 when a judge ruled that the evidence only gave the suspicion of guilt rather than proof of it. He was released in 1992 and sent to live with his parents in Springfield, Missouri – which put him in the right place at the right time to have been potentially involved in the disappearance of the three women.
Cox worked as an electrician, which the police speculated could have given him an excuse to enter the home. They also found that Cox had previously worked with Stacy’s father at his car lot. Cox’s girlfriend gave him an alibi at the time but, years later, she admitted that she lied. Cox had convinced her to make up the story if the police asked where he was during that weekend in June. Her story seemed solid, so the police had no choice but to let him go.
But Cox found it impossible to stay out of trouble. A short time later, he was arrested again for an unrelated crime. Detectives still believed that he had something to do with the missing women and took the opportunity to question him again. Cox laughed at them. He said that he knew the women were dead and, he claimed, he knew where their bodies were buried. Was he telling the truth? The police didn’t know. Cox loved attention, and this was the perfect way to get it. He was their most promising suspect, but he wouldn’t talk, and they had no hard evidence against him. Eventually, the case went cold.
The case of the “Springfield Three” officially remains open. Tips and stories have led to nothing but dead ends over the years. Theories abound. Some say they were victims of sex trafficking, while others claim they were carried off by a satanic cult. One tip – claiming that the women were buried in the foundation of a parking garage at a local hospital – was so convincing that the authorities tore up the concrete to look for them. And they found nothing.
What happened that night in 1992? There was no sign of a struggle. The three women were simply gone. They were declared legally dead in 1997 but the questions that linger still weigh heavy on surviving family members and on detectives who refuse to close the case.
Where are the “Springfield Three?” After all these years, no one knows.
SHOW CLOSE, CREDITS, A LITTLE LIGHT, AND A FINAL THOUGHT==========
Thanks for listening. If you like the show, please share it with someone you know who loves the paranormal or strange stories, true crime, monsters, or unsolved mysteries like you do! And please leave a rating and review of the show in the podcast app you listen from! You can email me anytime with your questions or comments at email@example.com. WeirdDarkness.com is also where you can find all of my social media, listen to audiobooks I’ve narrated, shop the Weird Darkness store, sign up for monthly contests, find other podcasts that I host, and find the Hope in the Darkness page if you or someone you know is struggling with depression or dark thoughts.
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All stories in Weird Darkness are purported to be true (unless stated otherwise) and you can find source links or links to the authors in the show notes.
“The Office Video” by Emily Maltas
“Campus Terror” by Orrin Grey
“The Colorado Cannibal” by Troy Taylor
“The Human-Bigfoot War of 1855” by Brent Swancer
“The 1952 UFO Crash” by Nick Redfern
“The Vanishing of the Springfield Three” by Troy Taylor
“A Grave-Robber’s Fate” by Michael Wilhelm
“Weird Winged Monsters of Japan” by Brent Swancer
“The Very Tall Man” by Anthony Mask
Again, you can find links to all of these stories in the show notes.
WeirdDarkness™ – is a production and trademark of Marlar House Productions. Copyright, Weird Darkness, 2022.
Now that we’re coming out of the dark, I’ll leave you with a little light… “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.” — James 1:13-14
And a final thought… “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking.” – Steve Jobs
I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me in the Weird Darkness.