The Midnight Train Podcast

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The Shocking History of Execution.

Tonight we are going to tell you a tale. A superb tale. A tale as old as time that takes us from the beginnings of civilization until today. This tale will thrill you and chill you. It may elicit feelings of dread and sadness. It may make you angry.  At times it may make you uneasily laugh like the friend at school that was kicked in the balls but couldn’t show his weakness. It's a subject that people continually argue about and debate with savage ferocity. Tonight we are talking about executions! We'll talk about the methods and the reasons behind executions throughout the years. Then we'll talk about some famous executions, as well as some of the more fucked up ones. And by fucked up, we mean botched. Bad stuff. This episode isn't meant to be a debate for or against executions but merely to discuss them and the crazy shit surrounding them. So with all that being said, Let’s rock and roll!


        Capital punishment has been practiced in the history of virtually all known societies and places. The first established death penalty laws date as far back as the Eighteenth Century B.C. in the Code of King Hammurabi of Babylon, which codified the death penalty for 25 different crimes.  The Code of Hammurabi was one of the earliest and most complete written legal codes and was proclaimed by the Babylonian king Hammurabi, who reigned from 1792 to 1750 B.C. Hammurabi expanded the city-state of Babylon along the Euphrates River to unite all of southern Mesopotamia. The Hammurabi code of laws, a collection of 282 rules, established standards for commercial interactions and set fines and punishments to meet the requirements of justice. Hammurabi’s Code was carved onto a massive, finger-shaped black stone stele (pillar) that was looted by invaders and finally rediscovered in 1901. The text, compiled at the end of Hammurabi’s reign, is less a proclamation of principles than a collection of legal precedents, set between prose celebrating Hammurabi’s just and pious rule. Hammurabi’s Code provides some of the earliest examples of the doctrine of “lex talionis,” or the laws of retribution, sometimes better known as “an eye for an eye the greatest soulfly song ever!
  The Code of Hammurabi includes many harsh punishments, sometimes demanding the removal of the guilty party’s tongue, hands, breasts, eye, or ear. But the code is also one of the earliest examples of an accused person being considered innocent until proven guilty. The 282 laws are all written in an “if-then form.” For example, if a man steals an ox, he must pay back 30 times its value. The laws range from family law to professional contracts and administrative law, often outlining different standards of justice for the three classes of Babylonian society—the propertied class, freedmen, and slaves.


A doctor’s fee for curing a severe wound would be ten silver shekels for a gentleman, five shekels for a freedman, and two shekels for a slave. So, it was less expensive when you were a lower-class citizen. Penalties for malpractice followed the same scheme: a doctor who killed a wealthy patient would have his hands cut off, while only financial restitution was required if the victim was a slave. Crazy!


Some examples of the death penalty laws at this time are as follows: 


     If a man accuses another man and charges him with homicide but cannot bring proof against him, his accuser shall be killed. Holy shit.


      If a man breaks into a house, they shall kill him and hang him in front of that same house.


       The death penalty was also part of the Hittite Code in the 14th century B.C., but only partially. The most severe offenses typically were punished through enslavement, although crimes of a sexual nature often were punishable by death. The Hittite laws, also known as the Code of the Nesilim, constitute an ancient legal code dating from c. 1650 – 1500 BCE. The Hittite laws were kept in use for roughly 500 years, and many copies show that other than changes in grammar, what might be called the 'original edition' with its apparent disorder, was copied slavishly; no attempt was made to 'tidy up' by placing even apparent afterthoughts in a more appropriate position. 


The Draconian constitution, or Draco's code, was a written law code enforced by Draco near the end of the 7th century BC; its composition started around 621BC. It was written in response to the unjust interpretation and modification of oral law by Athenian aristocrats. Aristotle, the chief source for knowledge of Draco, claims that he was the first to write Athenian laws and that Draco established a constitution enfranchising hoplites, the lower class soldiers. The Draconian laws were most noteworthy for their harshness; they were written in blood rather than ink. Death was prescribed for almost all criminal offenses. Solon, who was the magistrate in 594 BCE, later repealed Draco’s code and published new laws, retaining only Draco’s homicide statutes.


In the 5th century B.C., the Roman Law of the Twelve Tables also contained the death penalty. Death sentences were carried out by such means as beheading, boiling in oil, burying alive, burning, crucifixion, disembowelment, drowning, flaying alive, hanging, impalement, stoning, strangling, being thrown to wild animals, and quartering. We'll talk more about that later. The earliest attempt by the Romans to create a code of law was the Laws of the Twelve Tables. A commission of ten men (Decemviri) was appointed (c. 455 B.C.) to draw up a code of law binding on patrician and plebeian and which consuls would have to enforce. The commission produced enough statutes to fill ten bronze tablets. 


Mosaic Law codified many capital crimes. There is evidence that Jews used many different techniques, including stoning, hanging, beheading, crucifixion (copied from the Romans), throwing the criminal from a rock, and sawing asunder. The most infamous execution of history occurred approximately 29 AD with the crucifixion of that one guy, Jesus Christ, outside Jerusalem. About 300 years later, Emperor Constantine, after converting to Christianity, abolished crucifixion and other cruel death penalties in the Roman Empire. In 438, the Code of Theodosius made more than 80 crimes punishable by death. 


Britain influenced the colonies more than any other country and has a long history of punishment by death. About 450 BC, the death penalty was often enforced by throwing the condemned into a quagmire, which is not only the character from Family Guy, and another word for dilemma but in this case is a soft boggy area of land.

By the 10th Century, hanging from the gallows was the most frequent execution method. William the Conqueror opposed taking life except in war and ordered no person to be hanged or executed for any offense. Nice guy, right? However, he allowed criminals to be mutilated for their crimes. 


During the middle ages, capital punishment was accompanied by torture. Most barons had a drowning pit as well as gallows, and they were used for major as well as minor crimes. For example, in 1279, two hundred and eighty-nine Jews were hanged for clipping coins. What the fuck is that you may be wondering. Well, Clipping was taking a small amount of metal off the edge of hand-struck coins. Over time, the precious metal clippings could be saved up and melted into bullion (a lump of precious metal) to be sold or used to make new coins.

Under Edward I, two gatekeepers were killed because the city gate had not been closed in time to prevent the escape of an accused murderer. Burning was the punishment for women’s high treason, and men were hanged, drawn, and quartered. Beheading was generally accepted for the upper classes. One could be burned to death for marrying a Jew. Pressing became the penalty for those who would not confess to their crimes—the executioner placed heavy weights on the victim’s chest until death. On the first day, he gave the victim a small quantity of bread, on the second day a small drink of bad water, and so on until he confessed or died. Under the reign of Henry VIII, the number of those put to death is estimated as high as 72,000. Boiling to death was another penalty approved in 1531, and there are records to show some people cooked for up to two hours before death took them. When a woman was burned, the executioner tied a rope around her neck when she was connected to the stake. When the flames reached her, she could be strangled from outside the ring of fire. However, this often failed, and many were burnt alive.


In Britain, the number of capital offenses continually increased until the 1700’s when two hundred and twenty-two crimes were punishable by death. These included stealing from a house for forty shillings, stealing from a shop the value of five shillings, robbing a rabbit warren, cutting down a tree, and counterfeiting tax stamps. However, juries tended not to convict when the penalty was significant, and the crime was not. Reforms began to take place. In 1823, five laws were passed, removing about a hundred crimes from the death penalty. Between 1832 and 1837, many capital offenses were swept away. In 1840, there was a failed attempt to abolish all capital punishment. Through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, more and more capital punishments were abolished, not only in Britain but also all across Europe; until today, only a few European countries retain the death penalty.


The first recorded execution in the English American colonies was in 1608 when officials executed George Kendall of Virginia for supposedly plotting to betray the British to the Spanish. In 1612, Virginia’s governor, Sir Thomas Dale, implemented the Divine, Moral, and Martial Laws that made death the penalty for even minor offenses such as stealing grapes, killing chickens, killing dogs or horses without permission, or trading with Indians. Seven years later, these laws were softened because Virginia feared that no one would settle there. Well, no shit.


In 1622, the first legal execution of a criminal, Daniel Frank, occurred in, of course, Virginia for the crime of theft. Some colonies were very strict in using the death penalty, while others were less so. In Massachusetts Bay Colony, the first execution was in 1630, but the earliest capital statutes did not occur until later. Under the Capital Laws of New England that went into effect between 1636-1647, the death penalty was set forth for pre-meditated murder, sodomy, witchcraft, adultery, idolatry, blasphemy, assault in anger, rape, statutory rape, manstealing, perjury in a capital trial, rebellion, manslaughter, poisoning, and bestiality. A scripture from the Old Testament accompanied early laws. By 1780, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts only recognized seven capital crimes: murder, sodomy, burglary, buggery, arson, rape, and treason. And for those wondering, The Buggery Act of 1533, formally An Act for the punishment of the vice of Buggerie, was an Act of the Parliament of England that was passed during the reign of Henry VIII. It was the country's first civil sodomy law.


The Act defined buggery as an unnatural sexual act against the will of God and Man. This term was later determined by the courts to include only anal penetration and bestiality.


The New York colony instituted the so-called Duke’s Laws of 1665. This list of laws directed the death penalty for denial of the true God, pre-meditated murder, killing someone who had no weapon of defense, killing by lying in wait or by poisoning, sodomy, buggery, kidnapping, perjury in a capital trial, traitorous denial of the king’s rights or raising arms to resist his authority, conspiracy to invade towns or forts in the colony and striking one’s mother or father (upon complaint of both). The two colonies that were more lenient concerning capital punishment were South Jersey and Pennsylvania. In South Jersey, there was no death penalty for any crime, and there were only two crimes, murder, and treason, punishable by death. Way to go, Jersey Raccoons!


Some states were more severe. For example, by 1837, North Carolina required death for the crimes of murder, rape, statutory rape, slave-stealing, stealing banknotes, highway robbery, burglary, arson, castration, buggery, sodomy, bestiality, dueling where death occurs, (and this insidious shit), hiding a slave with intent to free him, taking a free Negro out of state to sell him, bigamy, inciting slaves to rebel, circulating seditious literature among slaves, accessory to murder, robbery, burglary, arson, or mayhem and others. However, North Carolina did not have a state prison and, many said, no suitable alternative to capital punishment. So, instead of building a fucking prison to hold criminals, they just made the penalty for less severe crimes punishable by death. What the shit, North Carolina?!?


The first reforms of the death penalty occurred between 1776-1800. Thomas Jefferson and four others, authorized to undertake a complete revision of Virginia’s laws, proposed a law that recommended the death penalty for only treason and murder. After a stormy debate, the legislature defeated the bill by one vote. The writing of European theorists such as Montesquieu, Voltaire, and Bentham had a significant effect on American intellectuals, as did English Quaker prison reformers John Bellers and John Howard.


Organizations were formed in different colonies for the abolition of the death penalty and to relieve poor prison conditions. Dr. Benjamin Rush, a renowned Philadelphia citizen, proposed abolishing capital punishment. William Bradford, Attorney General of Pennsylvania, was ordered to investigate capital punishment. In 1793 he published “An Enquiry How Far the Punishment of Death is Necessary” in Pennsylvania. Bradford strongly insisted that the death penalty be retained but admitted it was useless in preventing certain crimes. He said the death penalty made convictions harder to obtain because in Pennsylvania, and indeed in all states, the death penalty was mandatory. Juries would often not return a guilty verdict because of this fact, which makes sense. In response, in 1794, the Pennsylvania legislature abolished capital punishment for all crimes except murder “in the first degree,” the first time murder had been broken down into “degrees.” In New York, in 1796, the legislature authorized construction of the state’s first prison, abolished whipping, and reduced the number of capital offenses from thirteen to two. Virginia and Kentucky passed similar reform bills. Four more states reduced their capital crimes: Vermont in 1797 to three; Maryland in 1810, to four; New Hampshire in 1812, to two and Ohio in 1815 to two. Each of these states built state penitentiaries. A few states went in the opposite direction. Rhode Island restored the death penalty for rape and arson; Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Connecticut raised death crimes from six to ten, including sodomy, maiming, robbery, and forgery. Many southern states made more crimes capital, especially for slaves. Assholes.


The first profound reform era occurred between 1833-1853. Public executions were attacked as cruel. Sometimes tens of thousands of eager viewers would show up to view hangings; local merchants would sell souvenirs and alcohol. Which, I’m not sure if I hate or absolutely love. Fighting and pushing would often break out as people jockeyed for the best view of the hanging or the corpse! Onlookers often cursed the widow or the victim and would try to tear down the scaffold or the rope for keepsakes. Violence and drunkenness often ruled towns far into the night after “justice had been served.” People are fucking weird, dude.

Many states enacted laws providing private hangings. Rhode Island (1833), Pennsylvania (1834), New York (1835), Massachusetts (1835), and New Jersey (1835) all abolished public hangings. By 1849, fifteen states were holding private hangings. This move was opposed by many death penalty abolitionists who thought public executions would eventually cause people to cry out against execution itself. For example, in 1835, Maine enacted what was in effect a moratorium on capital punishment after over ten thousand people who watched a hanging had to be restrained by police after they became unruly and began fighting. All felons sentenced to death would have to remain in prison at hard labor and could not be executed until one year had elapsed and then only on the governor’s order. No governor ordered an execution under the “Maine Law” for twenty-seven years. Though many states argued the merits of the death penalty, no state went as far as Maine. The most influential reformers were the clergy, of course. Ironically, the small but influential group that opposed the abolitionists was the clergy. 


Ok, let’s talk about electrocution. Want to know how the electric chair came to be? Well, Electrocution as a method of execution came onto the scene in an implausible manner. Edison Company, with its DC (direct current) electrical systems, began attacking Westinghouse Company and its AC (alternating current) electrical systems as they were pressing for nationwide electrification with alternating current. To show how dangerous AC could be, Edison Company began public demonstrations by electrocuting animals. People reasoned that if electricity could kill animals, it could kill people. In 1888, New York approved the dismantling of its gallows and the building of the nation’s first electric chair. It held its first victim, William Kemmler, in 1890, and even though the first electrocution was clumsy at best, other states soon followed the lead.


Between 1917 and 1955, the death penalty abolition movement again slowed. Washington, Arizona, and Oregon in 1919-20 reinstated the death penalty. In 1924, the first execution by cyanide gas took place in Nevada, when Tong war gang murderer Gee Jon became its first victim. Get this shit. The frigging state wanted to secretly pump cyanide gas into Jon’s cell at night while he was asleep as a more humanitarian way of carrying out the penalty. Still, technical difficulties prohibited this, and a special “gas chamber” was hastily built. Other concerns developed when less “civilized” methods of execution failed. In 1930, Mrs. Eva Dugan became the first female to be executed by Arizona. The execution was botched when the hangman misjudged the drop, and Mrs. Dugan’s head was ripped from her body. More states converted to electric chairs and gas chambers. During this time, abolitionist organizations sprang up all across the country, but they had little effect. Several stormy protests were held against the execution of certain convicted felons, like Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were convicted of spying on behalf of the Soviet Union. The couple was convicted of providing top-secret information about radar, sonar, jet propulsion engines, and valuable nuclear weapon designs. At that time, the United States was supposedly the only country with nuclear weapons. Convicted of espionage in 1951, they were executed by the United States federal government in 1953 in the Sing Sing correctional facility in Ossining, New York, becoming the first American civilians to be executed for such charges and the first to receive that penalty during peacetime.

However, these protests held little opposition against the death penalty itself. In fact, during the anti-Communist period, with all its fears and hysteria, Texas Governor Allan Shivers seriously suggested that capital punishment be the penalty for membership in the Communist Party.


The movement against capital punishment revived again between 1955 and 1972.


England and Canada completed exhaustive studies which were largely critical of the death penalty, and these were widely circulated in the U.S. 

Death row criminals gave their moving accounts of capital punishment in books and films. Convicted robber, kidnapper, and rapist Caryl Chessman, published “Cell 2455 Death Row” and “Trial by Ordeal.” Barbara Graham’s story was utilized in the book and movie “I Want to Live!” after her execution. She was executed in the gas chamber at San Quentin Prison on the same day as two convicted accomplices, Jack Santo and Emmett Perkins. All of them were involved in a robbery that led to the murder of an elderly widow. 

Television shows were broadcast on the death penalty. Hawaii and Alaska ended capital punishment in 1957, and Delaware did so the following year. Controversy over the death penalty gripped the nation, forcing politicians to take sides. Delaware restored the death penalty in 1961. Michigan abolished capital punishment for treason in 1963. Voters in 1964 abolished the death penalty in Oregon. In 1965 Iowa, New York, West Virginia, and Vermont ended the death penalty. New Mexico abolished the death penalty in 1969.


The controversy over the death penalty continues today. There is a strong movement against lawlessness propelled by citizens’ fears of security. Politicians at the national and state levels are taking the floor of legislatures and calling for more frequent death penalties, death penalties for more crimes, and longer prison sentences. Those opposing these moves counter by arguing that harsher sentences do not slow crime and that crime is slightly or the same as in the past. FBI statistics show murders are now up. (For example, 9.3 persons per 100,000 were murdered in 1973, and 9.4 persons per 100,000 were murdered in 1992, and as of today, it's upwards of 14.4 people per 100,000. This upswing might be because of more advanced crime technology, as well as more prominent news and media.


Capital punishment has been completely abolished in all European countries except for Belarus and Russia, which has a moratorium and has not conducted an execution since September 1996. The complete ban on capital punishment is enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (EU). Two widely adopted protocols of the European Convention on Human Rights of the Council of Europe are thus considered a central value. Of all modern European countries, San Marino, Portugal, and the Netherlands were the first to abolish capital punishment, whereas only Belarus still practices capital punishment in some form or another. In 2012, Latvia became the last EU member state to abolish capital punishment in wartime.


Ok, so now let's switch gears from the history of capital punishment and executions in general and get into what we know you beautiful bastards come here for. Let's talk about some methods used throughout the years, and then we'll talk about some famous executions and some fucked and messed up ones.




We've discussed a few of these before, but some are so fucked up we're going to discuss them again.


Boiling To Death:


A slow and agonizing punishment, this method traditionally saw the victim gradually lowered — feet-first — into boiling oil, water, or wax (although uses of boiling wine and molten lead have also been recorded).


If the shock of the pain did not render them immediately unconscious, the person would experience the excruciating sensation of their outer layers of skin, utterly destroyed by immersion burns, dissolving right off their body, followed by the complete breakdown of the fatty tissue, boiling away beneath.


Emperor Nero is said to have dispatched thousands of Christians in this manner. At the same time, in the Middle Ages, the primary recipients of the punishment were not killers or rapists but coin forgers, particularly in Germany and the Holy Roman Empire. In Britain, meanwhile, King Henry VIII introduced the practice for executing those who used poison to commit murder.


Shockingly, the practice is believed to have been carried out as recently as 2002, when the government of Uzbekistan, led by Islam Karimov, was alleged to have tortured several suspected terrorists to death by boiling.


The Blood Eagle:


A technique ascribed to ancient Norse warriors, the blood eagle, mixed brutality and poetic imagery that only the Vikings could. First, the victim’s back would be hacked open, and the skin ripped apart, exposing the spinal column.


The ribs would then be snapped from the spine and forcibly bent backward until they faced outwards from the body, forming a pair of bloody, shattered eagle’s wings. As a horrifying finale, the lungs would then be pulled from the body cavity and coated with stinging salt, causing eventual death by suffocation.


There is some question whether this technique was ever actually used as the only accounts come from Norse literature. Odin did this shit, you know it.


Several scholars claim that the act we know of today is simply a result of poor translating and misunderstands the strong association of the eagle with blood and death in Norse imagery. That said, every account is consistent in that in each case, the victim is a nobleman being punished for murdering his father.


The good news for any poor soul who might have suffered this brutal death? The agony and blood loss from the initial wounds would probably have caused them to pass out long before the lungs were removed from their bodies. 




Most famously used by Vlad the Impaler, 15th-century ruler of Wallachia (in present-day Romania) and inspiration for Count Dracula, the act of impalement has a long, grim history. While images tend to depict people skewered through the midsection and then held aloft — in a manner that would almost certainly bring about a rapid death — the actual process was a much longer, horrifically drawn-out ordeal.


Traditionally, the stake would be partially sharpened and planted, point up, in the ground. The victim would then be placed over the spike as it was inserted partway into the rectum or vagina.


As their body weight dragged them further onto the pole, the semi-greased wooden stake would force its way up through their body, piercing organs with agonizing slowness as it eventually penetrated the entire torso, finally tearing an exit wound through the skin of the shoulder, neck or throat. Holy shishkabob. Or bill. Or Karen.


The earliest records of the torture come from 1772 B.C. in Babylon, where the aforementioned King Hammurabi ordered a woman be executed in this way for killing her husband. But its use continued until as recently as the 20th century when the Ottoman government employed the technique during the Armenian genocide of 1915-1923. Which is super fucked up.


According to some accounts, it could take the victim — exposed, bleeding, and writhing in tormented agony — as long as eight whole days to die. Oh my hell!




Walking the plank might not be the most pleasant of deaths, but it seems moderately more humane than the other favored maritime punishment of keelhauling.


A punishment that often ended in death due to the severity of the wounds sustained (or was simply carried out until the point of death), it saw the victim, legs weighted and suspended from a rope, dropped from the bow of the ship, and then rapidly pulled underwater along the length of the hull — and over the keel (the beam that runs longitudinally down the center of the underside to the stern.


In the age of old, old wooden sailing ships, the hull of a vessel would generally be coated in a thick layer of barnacles, whose shells could be rock hard and razor-sharp.


As the drowning sailor was yanked relentlessly through the saltwater, these barnacles would strip the skin from his body, gouging out raw chunks of flesh and even, by some accounts, tearing off whole limbs or severing the head.


If the sailor was still alive, they might be hung from the mast for 15 minutes before going in again. In some cases, the victim would have an oil-soaked sponge — containing a breath of air — stuffed into their mouth to prevent a “merciful” drowning.


Employed mainly by the Dutch and the French from the 1500s until it was abolished in 1853, accounts of its use date back to Greece in 800 B.C.


The Roman Candle:


Many of the worst execution methods ever devised involve fire — from burning witches at stake in medieval Britain to roasting criminals alive in the hot metal insides of the brazen bull in Ancient Greece — but few match the sheer lack of humanity as the Roman Candle.


A rumored favorite of the mad Roman Emperor Nero, this method saw the subject tied to a stake and smeared with flammable pitch (tree or plant resin), then set ablaze, slowly burning to death from the feet up.


What sets this above the many other similar methods is that the victims were sometimes lined up outside to provide the lighting for one of Nero’s evening parties.\


Being Hanged, Drawn, And Quartered:


First recorded in England during the 13th century, this unusually extreme — even for the time — mode of execution was made the statutory punishment for treason in 1351. Though it was intended to be an act of such barbarous severity that no one would ever risk committing a treasonous act, there were nevertheless plenty of recipients over the next 500 years.


The process of being hanged, drawn, and quartered began with the victim being dragged to the site of execution while strapped to a wooden panel, which was in turn tied to a horse.


They would then experience a slow hanging, in which, rather than being dropped to the traditional quick death of a broken neck, they would instead be left to choke horribly as the rope tore up the skin of their throat, their body weight dragging them downwards.


Some had the good fortune to die at this stage, including the infamous Gunpowder Plot conspirator Guy Fawkes, who ensured a faster death by leaping from the gallows.


Once half-strangled, the drawing would begin. The victim would be strapped down and then slowly disemboweled, their stomachs sliced open, and their intestines and other significant organs hacked apart and pulled — “drawn” — from the body.


The genitals would often be mutilated and ripped from between their legs. Those unlucky enough to still be alive at this point might witness their organs burned in front of them before they were finally decapitated.


Once death had finally claimed them, the recipient’s body would be carved into four pieces — or “quartered” — and the parts sent to prominent areas of the country as a warning to others.


The head would often be taken to the infamous Tower of London, where it would be impaled on a spike and placed on the walls “for the mockery of London.”


Rat Torture:


As recently depicted in that horrible show, Game Of Thrones, rat torture is ingenious in its disgusting simplicity. In its most basic form, a bucket containing live rats is placed on the exposed torso of the victim, and heat is applied to the base of the bucket.


The rats, crazy with fear from the heat, tear and gnaw their way into the abdomen of the victim, clawing and ripping through skin, flesh, organs, and intestines in their quest to escape.


Possessing the most powerful biting and chewing motion of any rodent, rats can make short work of a human stomach. Along with the unimaginable pain, the victim would also suffer the sick horror of feeling the large, filthy creatures writhing around inside their guts as they died.


While associated with Elizabethan England — where the Tower of London was said to have housed a “Dungeon of Rats,” a pitch-black room below high watermark that would draw in rats from the River Thames to torment the room’s inhabitants — the practice has been used far more recently.


General Pinochet is said to have employed the technique during his dictatorship of Chile (1973-1990), while reports from Argentina during the National Reorganization Process in the late 1970s and early ’80s claimed victims were subjected to a version in which live rats — or sometimes spiders — were inserted into the subject’s body via a tube in the rectum or vagina….yep.


Bamboo Torture


Forcing thin shards of bamboo under the fingernails has long been cited as an interrogation method, but bamboo has been used to creatively — and slowly — execute a person, too. Allegedly used by the Japanese on American prisoners of war, it saw the victim tied down to a frame over a patch of newly sprouting bamboo plants.


One of the fastest-growing plants in the world, capable of up to three feet of growth in 24 hours, the sharp-tipped plants would slowly pierce the victim's skin — and then continue to grow. The result was death by gradual, continuous, multiple impalements, the equivalent of being dropped on a bed of sharpened stakes in terrible slow motion.


Despite the practice having roots in the former areas of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and Siam (now Thailand) in the 19th century, there are no proven instances of it being used during WWII.


It’s certainly possible, however, and it has been shown that the technique, among the worst execution methods ever, works: A 2008 episode of MythBusters found that bamboo was capable of penetrating a human-sized lump of ballistic gelatin over three days.

Pro Wrestling Deaths

Today we're entering the world of sports. That's right, we're talking about everyone's favorite sport… Curling! Curling is a sport in which players slide stones on a sheet of ice toward a target area segmented into four concentric circles. It is related to bowls, boules, and shuffleboard. Two teams, each with four players, take turns sliding heavy, polished granite rocks, also called stones, across the ice curling sheet toward the house, a circular target marked on the ice. Each team has eight stones, with each player throwing two. The purpose is to accumulate the highest score for a game; points are scored for the stones resting closest to the center of the house after each end, which is completed when both teams have thrown all of their stones. A game usually consists of eight or ten ends… 

Um...What the fuck.. Fucking Moody… This is why we can't trust him to do research while hunting Sasquatch in Canada… Hold on, let me find the right notes… Son of a bitch, where are they… Ah, here we go. Today we are actually going into the wonderful world of… WRESTLING!!! But you know us… we're actually not looking at the wonderful part… No sirs and madams, we take it to the not-so-wonderful side. We'll be discussing some crazy and tragic wrestler Deaths. Many of our beloved childhood wrestling favorites have passed on over the past decade or so. Many were related to the job's rigors, leading to drug use and overdose, heart attacks, suicides, and a host of other causes. Today, we're going to look at some more… "interesting," if you will... wrestler deaths. Some of these guys you'll know, some only hardcore wrestling fans will know, and some, none of you may know, at all. Also, we're going to skip some of the biggest ones because they've been covered more times than podcasts covering Ted Bundy and in much more detail within the time we have, so you won't be hearing about some of the more popular ones. So without any more curling bullshit (fucking Moody). Let's get to it! 


First up is an old-timer that primarily wrestled in Australia… We love you beautiful sumbitches in Australia, so we wanted to throw this one in. Also, maybe you guys have some stories about this guy if you're old enough to remember him. His name is Brute Bernard! He initially made his name as tag team partner of Skull Murphy in the WWF. Brute toured the world with Skull until he died in 1969. Brute won the IWA World Tag titles in Australia with Murphy 6 times. They defeated Mark Lewin & Dominic de Nucci, Lewin & Bearcat Wright, Mario Milano & Billy White Wolf, Mario Milano & Antonio Pugliese, and Lars Anderson & Dick Murdoch. They lost to Lewin & Wright twice, Milano & Pugliese twice, Don Leo Jonathan & Antonio Pugliese, and Mario Milano & Spiros Arion. Brute continued as a solo wrestler in Australia, where he had his most tremendous success, winning the Austro-Asian title from Spiros Arion before dropping it back to him. He also wrestled extensively in the Carolinas, teaming up with the Missouri Mauler in Texas. Brute was also married to pro wrestler Betty Joe Hawkins.


He was famous for his 'camel walk.' I tried to look it up but couldn't find anything about it, but I think it was probably something like the iron Shiek's "Camel Clutch." 


So when you look up the cause of death of this guy, you get a common reason of "shot while cleaning gun," which is still fucked up. The thing is, if you do a little more digging, it doesn't seem so simple. While there isn't an incredible amount of information on his death, if you look, you can find enough people that are suspicious of the "accidental" death ruling. Some think it was an intentional self-inflicted gunshot. There is a small amount that believes it was murder. And then some say that he was drunk and decided to play a game of Russian roulette. So what is the real story? Who knows? But there are enough people asking questions and spewing theories to make this an exciting appetizer for the show! Suicide? Russian roulette? Courtney Love? Who knows! And if that's "too soon", fuck off... she had SOMETHING to do with it.


Ok, so who's next? Oh, how about Neil Allen Caricofe. His ring name "Neil Superior" was better known, and he was born on April 6, 1963, in Hagerstown, Maryland. He was at one point a corrections officer, and he also served in the army reserve. He was trained by one of the Wild Samoans, who you definitely remember if you're Chainsaw's age. Superior made his pro debut in 1989. He and his father, Dick Caricofe, founded the All-Star Wrestling League (later known as the National Wrestling League) in Hagerstown, Maryland, that same year. Caricofe formed a tag team with fellow Wild Samoan graduate Doug Stahl called The Superior Brothers, "Nasty" Neil, and "Desirable" Doug Superior. At some point, the two also wrestled under the team name...The Satanic Warriors… yea… Anyway.

After splitting with Stahl, Superior embarked on a singles career. One of his first significant opponents was "The Honky Tonk Man" (who I loved as a kid) and who he faced in Hagerstown on August 10, 1991. Superior also feuded with Rasta the Voodoo Mon. Later that year, Superior defeated Helmut Hesler to win the NWL Heavyweight Championship. After that, he worked for many other independent companies throughout the 90s. Finally, he became the south Atlantic pro wrestling heavyweight champion in 1992 and held the belt for 4 months until the promotion folded. He would then go back and finish his career in the NWL until his death… Which is why we're here. 


Early on the morning of August 23, 1996, Caricofe, who had left his hotel room around 4:00 A.M., was observed acting erratically and running naked on the seventh floor of the Fenwick Inn in Ocean City, Maryland. Which, of course, we've all done at some point in our lives. It was believed that Caricofe had left his room accidentally and was unable to find his way back. Caricofe may have suffered from a medical condition caused by seizures, which made him sleepwalk. According to the Caricofe family, it wasn't unusual for him to sleep either in his underwear or nude. The night desk clerk, Lisa Mulvihill, became aware of the situation when a concerned guest called the front desk. When Mulvihill investigated, she saw Caricofe "jumping around and banging himself against the wall ."She briefly attempted to communicate with Caricofe but returned to the front desk and called the police, finding him unresponsive. Mulvihill received a second call that Caricofe was banging on the doors of several rooms. Mulvihill then made a second call to the police, informing them that she was returning to the seventh floor and requesting that officers meet her there. Officers would arrive and find Superior roaming the hallway, and when they approached him, they said he appeared to be in a boxer's stance, dancing around on his tiptoes and doing some kind of shadowboxing. They say he was not responding to their commands, and they called for backup when they assumed he was under the influence and dangerous. An attempt by two officers to handcuff Superior failed. They continued shouting commands to lay down on the ground and, when Caricofe failed to respond, all four officers used pepper spray, which they later claimed had no effect. Caricofe then moved toward the officers, pinning Officer Freddie Howard up against the wall, and held the officer by his shirt. Sergeant Braeuninger and Officer Alban radioed for backup, the latter calling in a "Signal 13," indicating an officer needed emergency assistance. Alban, Braeuninger, and Jones began hitting Caricofe on his lower back and legs with nightsticks to free Howard. Caricofe would run away and mash his way down 7 flights of stairs; along the way, police say he ran into a vending area and began beating his head and shoulders into the vending machines. Once he made it down the stairs, he headed into the parking lot, where more police were waiting. They sprayed him with pepper foam and beat him with nightsticks in another attempt to subdue him. Finally, the over officer grabbed him and held him long enough for the others to restrain him. The group held Caricofe down while attempting to handcuff him and place the "violent prisoner restraining device" on his legs. While police were waiting for paramedics to arrive, the officers observed that Caricofe was no longer breathing. They assisted paramedics in performing CPR on Caricofe but could not revive him. He was pronounced dead at the hospital a short time later. The story does not end there, though. 


The circumstances surrounding Caricofe's death were questioned during the next few weeks. It was not learned until afterward that Caricofe had been diagnosed with a medical condition two years earlier, a neurological problem possibly resulting from a wrestling-related injury that caused seizures and made him appear to be sleepwalking. Ya know, CTE... for those that don't know, Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive brain condition that's thought to be caused by repeated blows to the head and repeated episodes of concussion. It's mainly associated with contact sports, such as boxing or American football. The Caricofe family was given little information from authorities regarding the death of their son. They learned from Gerald Minnich, director of Minnich Funeral Home in Hagerstown, who described their son's injuries, that Neil Caricofe had sustained "a possible broken nose, swelling around his eyes and a bruise on the back of his head ." Caricofe's father did not initially hold Ocean City police liable for the death of his son. He was told by a Maryland State Police investigator and a friend who was a state trooper at the Berlin police barracks that his son had hit his head on a vending machine as he was running from police. The family believed that the responding police officers, three of whom were temporary, seasonal patrolmen, were inexperienced and had overreacted due to Neil Caricofe's size. In an article from the Washington Post, shortly after the incident, a woman who said she was staying at the hotel and witnessed the incident said Caricofe "didn't yell back or attack but refused to lay down and kept running around."


The woman, who spoke on the condition that her name not be used, said she believes that officers put something resembling a dog collar around Caricofe's neck just before he became unconscious. "There were at least 10 of them on top of him," she said. "When they were finished, he was unconscious." 


City spokesman Jay Hancock said he had "not heard about anything being placed around {Caricofe's} neck at all." He said officers are trained to use a baton to strike someone in "the extremities."


The witness also said police officers did not attempt to revive Caricofe by giving him CPR, contradicting police statements that officers had done so.


The autopsy ruled the cause of death was heart disease combined with the ingestion of drugs and alcohol. A toxicology report found the presence of ephedrine, gamma hydroxybutyrate, anabolic steroids, and ethanol in his system. The family would challenge this ruling, though, as they believed he was perfectly healthy and that the police used excessive force, which caused his death. A year after Caricofe's death, his parents were still unable to find out the details of what occurred that night. The family's Baltimore attorney, Gerald Ruter, believed his clients were being stonewalled by law enforcement. So the family began their own investigation. On June 2, 1998, Caricofe's parents filed a $350 million federal lawsuit against the Ocean City Police Department, claiming that their son had died due to police brutality. The case was heard in U.S. District Court in Baltimore. Gerald Ruter, an attorney for the Caricofe family, claimed that the officers "jumped on him and knocked him down and emptied several cans of pepper spray into his face," causing him to suffocate to death. It was further claimed their use of nightsticks and pepper spray to subdue Neil Caricofe was unnecessary and constituted excessive force. Among those named in the lawsuit included former mayor Roland F. Powell, Police Chief David Massey, and 13 Ocean City police officers charged with wrongful death, excessive force, inadequate training and supervision of police, and false arrest. 


The case was dismissed by Judge Frederic Smalkin, who believed the officers had appropriately responded. The ruling was upheld by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on April 1, 2002, concluding that the officers had never resorted to deadly force.


Sounds pretty fucked up. More police bullshit? Justified force? Who knows, but that's a crazy tale!


Next is one of the more prominent wrestlers we're gonna talk about. He started out as the Blue Angel, which transformed him into the Blue Blazer, the character that first brought him success. He is none other than the legendary Owen Hart. This is another one that's been covered a ton, but we wanted to talk about it because some of us here at the train remember watching this happen live. A member of the Hart wrestling family, he was born in Calgary, Alberta, the youngest of twelve children of Stampede Wrestling promoters Stu and Helen Hart. Among other accolades, Owen was a one-time USWA Unified World Heavyweight Champion, a two-time WWF Intercontinental Champion, a one-time WWF European Champion, and a four-time WWF World Tag Team Champion, as well as the 1994 WWF King of the Ring. He headlined multiple pay-per-view events for the WWF and was widely regarded as one of the company's best in-ring performers. And if you've never seen him in action, the guy was an absolute specimen in the ring. On May 23, 1999, Hart fell to his death in Kansas City, Missouri, during the Over the Edge pay-per-view event.

Hart was in the process of being lowered via harness and grapple line into the ring from the rafters of Kemper Arena for a booked Intercontinental Championship match against The Godfather. In keeping with the Blazer's new "buffoonish superhero" character, he began a dramatic entrance, being lowered to just above ring level. At that time, he would act "entangled," then release himself from the safety harness and fall flat on his face for comedic effect—this necessitated the use of a quick-release mechanism. It was an elaboration on a Blue Blazer stunt done previously on Sunday Night Heat before Survivor Series in 1998. While being lowered into the ring, Hart fell 78 feet (24 m), landing chest-first on the top rope (approximately a foot from the nearest turnbuckle), throwing him into the ring. Hart had performed the stunt only a few times before. Hart's widow Martha has suggested that Hart unintentionally triggered an early release by moving around to get comfortable with both the harness and his cape. Television viewers did not see the incident. Instead, a pre-taped vignette was being shown on the pay-per-view broadcast and on the monitors in the darkened arena during the fall. A vignette is any piece of video footage featuring characters or events shown to the audience for entertainment or edification. It is usually meant to introduce a debuting character, get a wrestler over before their TV wrestling debut, or signify an impending return. Afterward, while medical personnel worked on Hart inside the ring, the live event's broadcast showed only the audience. Meanwhile, WWF television announcer Jim Ross repeatedly told those watching live on pay-per-view that what had just transpired was not a wrestling angle or storyline and that Hart was hurt badly, emphasizing the seriousness of the situation. Jim Ross would later say in an interview.


                  "Being at ringside the night he fell [and announcing live on air that he had died] was the toughest thing I ever did. To this day, I've still never seen the tape. I was pretty numb. Everyone was in shock that night. I still have nightmares about it. Owen was as warm-hearted as any human being I have ever known. He loved to laugh, and he loved to make other people laugh. He had a great spirit, a good soul, and a good heart."


Five months before his tragic death, Owen Hart opened up to Slam Wrestling about his desire to soon leave wrestling:


"When my contract is up, I'm out of wrestling. I've made plans. I've been smart with my fiscal affairs. Financially, I'll be set. I really want to devote a lot of time to my family. I've bought some property on a lake. I plan on doing a lot of boating and fishing. I want to continue to stay in shape. And who knows, I might do ten weeks a year in Japan. Something just to motivate me to keep in shape, keep involved a little bit but not have to deal with the politics, the pressures that are so intense right now. I've paid my dues for twelve years now. If I continue for five more, that's seventeen years working at a pretty hard clip. I think that at that point, my family, my wife, and my kids, have been compromised enough. I would like to kind of just disappear from wrestling fans and stuff. I don't want to forget the fans and what they've done. They've supported me and stuff, but at the same time, I'd like to just — I don't want to be hanging on like one of these wrestlers who's sixty years old, saying, 'Hey, I'm a wrestler.' Let it go. Make your money out of it and get on. Going out and performing- it's an art. I'd like fans to remember me as a guy who would go out and entertain them, give them quality matches. Not just the same old garbage every week."


There was a lot of controversy over the incident. One of the main things that people talked about was how they went on with the show that night after the fall. So many people were upset that they would do this. 


Vince McMahon would say of the decision:


           "Knowing Owen as the performer he was, it is my belief that he would have wanted the show to go on. I didn't know if it was the right decision. I just guessed that it was what Owen would want." This is bullshit and just shows the kind of person McMahon was, in my personal opinion.


Referee Jimmy Korderas, who Hart almost landed on when he fell, would say:


"It's easy for us to say afterward, 'Well, the show should have stopped…' I was kind of on the fence with that. I kind of liken it a little bit to a Nascar race, where the race continues even after a tragic accident. Again, it's a tough call. I'm just glad I'm not the one who had to make that call."


There were lawsuits filed by Hart's wife against the WWE and the harness company. A settlement was reached with the WWE for 18 million dollars which his wife used much to set up the Owen Hart Foundation. The lawsuit against the harness company was dropped after the settlement. 


A traffic end to the life of a great wrestler.


Next up Adolfo Bresciano! You may know him better as Dino Bravo! After training under Gino Brito, he started his career in Montreal in the 1970s, working for Lutte Internationale. He became one of Canada's top professional wrestling stars, winning several major titles, including the Canadian International Heavyweight Championship six times, the NWA Canadian Heavyweight Championship (Toronto version), and the NWA Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Championship. He later signed with the World Wrestling Federation, where, as a partner to Dominic DeNucci, he won the WWF World Tag Team Championship. He was also the sole holder of the WWF Canadian Championship before the title was abandoned in 1986. 

Bravo returned to the WWF in late 1986 with a new look. He was now noticeably more muscular and almost immediately began bleaching his brown hair blonde. Again, he was a heel and began working as part of Luscious Johnny Valiant's stable with Greg "The Hammer" Valentine and Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake. Bravo was known as more of a technical wrestler in his days of wrestling in Canada. Still, with his strongman gimmick, his technical side was pushed into the background and his style changed to using power (brawling) moves such as bodyslams, clotheslines, punches, kicks, and other power holds such as the bearhug.

In contrast, his finishing move changed from an airplane spin to a sidewalk slam. Bravo left the WWF and retired from wrestling following a European tour in April 1992. After retiring, he helped train wrestlers in Montreal. 


After retiring from the WWF, Dino reportedly struggled to make ends meet. Related by marriage to Montreal mobster Vic Cotroni, Dino became involved with crime. Using his status as a wrestling celebrity, he smuggled and sold illegal cigarettes in Canada, mainly to Aboriginals. The story goes that while his wife was taking his daughter to ballet class, he sat down to watch a hockey game on television and ended up shot 17 times with seven hits to the head and 10 to his torso. The crime remains an unsolved murder; however, it is widely accepted that Dino's involvement in smuggling was the reason for his death. As there were no signs of a break-in and no footprints outside the home's windows, there is speculation that Dino knew his killer, that the person was watching hockey with him when the assassination happened. While this can't be confirmed, what is certain is that Dino's wife found him later that evening when she returned home with their daughter. Dino Bravo was killed on Wednesday, March 10, 1993. 


In an interview, his former opponent Bret "The Hitman" Hart revealed that Bravo confided to friends shortly before his death that he knew his days were numbered.


Canadian Mafia… Not gonna lie… Didn't know that was a thing! 


Speaking of murdered wrestlers, it's time for everyone's favorite…. The midnight train's quick hits!


John Meek wrestled under the name "Iron" Mike Steele, and in his career, he shared the ring with the likes of Marc Mero and Dean Malenko. Unfortunately, his wrestling career and life came to an end on August 29, 2007.


Harry Brian Taylor intentionally ran over Steele from behind with his van while he was riding his motorcycle. Steele passed away two hours later next to his damaged motorcycle.


On July 10, 2008, Taylor was found guilty of second-degree murder for killing Mike Steele. He was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.


Frank' Bruiser Brody' Goodish found success as a main eventer and became one of the most talented big men in wrestling. Brody was scheduled to face Dan Spivey in Puerto Rico, but he was called into the shower area by wrestler José Huertas González to talk about some business.


Brody was stabbed in the gut by González and died in the hospital from his stab wounds. He was only 42. González was charged with murder but pleaded self-defense and was acquitted. 


Tank Morgan was born in 1933, and his name died down following his tenure in WWF (now WWE) from 1966-1967.


On December 12, 1966, he lost to former WWE Champion Bruno Sammartino in a two out of three falls match inside Madison Square Garden's, the world's most famous arena.


This was the most notable moment in Morgan's entire career, but sadly, he was gunned down in a drive-by shooting on August 15, 1991, while walking his dog. Unfortunately, the details concerning his death are pretty scarce.


Many people believed that Morgan was caught up in the crossfire and was a victim of mistaken identity. What we do know, however, is that he was murdered.


"Gentleman" Chris Adams had a successful wrestling career. He's also the man who trained a guy named Steven James Anderson, aka Steve Williams "The Ringmaster," aka "Stunning" Steve Austin, aka... you guessed it! Stone Cold Steve Austin. Adams worked for World Class Championship Wrestling as a mid-carder in the late 1990s.


After Adams' short-term girlfriend Linda was found dead in 2000 following a drug or alcohol overdose, Adams was charged for manslaughter. However, he was passed out too, but he survived the overdose.


He waited to find out whether or not the court found him guilty, but he never lived to hear the verdict. Adams was shot in the chest after a heated argument with his friend on October 7, 2001.


The charges were acquitted after the friend claimed that he shot Adams in self-defense.


Ricky Lawless was considered an excellent technician during his career in the '80s. He trained a lot of independent wrestlers such as Joey Maggs, Bobby Starr, and Axl Rotten.


Lawless was discovered dead at the age of 28 after he, too, was shot. It was determined by the police that Raymond Swartz, the husband of the woman Lawless had reportedly had an affair with, was the man responsible for the shooting.


There you have it… murdered wrestler quick hits.


No wrestling family has been through more tragedy than the Von Erichs. The family's actual last name is Adkisson. However, every member of the family who joined the wrestling business used the Von Erich name. This was in dedication to the patriarch of the family, Jack (Fritz Von Erich) Adkisson.


Fritz lived to the age of 68, though unpleasantly, five of his six sons preceded him in death, three by suicide.


The firstborn son, Jack Jr., was electrocuted at the age of six in 1959 in a household accident.


In 1984, David Von Erich died in Japan from an unconfirmed cause, although it is widely believed he died from a drug overdose.


On April 12, 1987, Mike Von Erich left a suicide note for his family, then went to Lewisville Lake, where he drank alcohol and overdosed on the sleeping aid Placidyl. A few days before his death, Mike was arrested after a DUI. His body was found four days later and buried at Grove Hill Memorial Park in Dallas.


On September 12, 1991, at about 9 P.M., Chris Von Erick was found by his brother Kevin and mother outside of their family farm in Edom, suffering from a self-inflicted 9mm gunshot wound to the head. According to Kevin, he discovered Chris sitting alone on top of a hill. Chris reassured him, and after Kevin left, he shot himself in the head. Although Chris was hospitalized at the East Texas Medical Center shortly after 10 P.M., he died 20 minutes after arriving, eighteen days before his 22nd birthday. Toxicology reports also revealed cocaine and valium were in his system at his death. Kevin had talked to Chris earlier that day about 100–150 yards north of their home where an apparent suicide note had been left. After the 1987 suicide of brother Mike, Chris began to experience depression and drug issues. He was also frustrated by his inability to make headway as a wrestler due to his physical build. His interment was located at Grove Hill Memorial Park in Dallas.


On June 4, 1986, Kerry von Erich was in a motorcycle accident that nearly ended his life. He suffered a dislocated hip and a badly injured right leg. Doctors were unable to save his right foot, eventually amputating it. According to his brother Kevin, Kerry injured the foot following surgery by attempting to walk on it prematurely, thus forcing the doctors to amputate it. He continued wrestling after the accident with a prosthesis. He kept the amputation secret to most fans and fellow wrestlers, even going to the extreme of showering with his boots on. His amputation was kept secret from the public until after his death. However, Roddy Piper stated in his autobiography: "We were the best of friends. In fact, he felt comfortable enough to sit with me in a hotel and shoot the breeze with his prosthetic off".


After the amputation of his foot, Kerry became addicted to pain killers, followed by several drug problems. Among the many of them were two arrests, the first of which resulted in probation. Kerry died by suicide with a single gunshot to the heart with a .44 caliber pistol on February 18, 1993, on his father's ranch in Denton County, Texas, just 15 days after his 33rd birthday. His death came just one day after being indicted for the second drug charge, which would have more than likely resulted in extensive jail time (being a violation of his probation),


In his autobiography, "My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling", Brett "the Hitman" Hart stated that Kerry had told him that he had decided to join his late brothers in heaven and was waiting for God to tell him when. Bret told Kerry that his living daughters would need him more than his late brothers. Kerry mostly convinced Bret that he had changed his mind, but Bret feared that it was only words. Kerry told Bret again in the summer of 1992 that he wanted to follow his three late brothers David, Mike, and Chris and that they were calling him. Kerry's marriage had fallen apart earlier in 1992, and according to Hart, Kerry believed that his death was inevitable.


Fritz lived to the age of 68 and had to bury 5 of his sons. 


Kevin Von Erich talks about being the last Von Erich brother left alive in an interview from 1994. He says:


"My brothers and I lived real dangerously.


"We were a really reckless group always showing off for each other – like walking on bridges in Japan and taking every chance we could. We were just young kids. I'm really surprised that I survived…


"We used to have this thing called the 'chance of the day,' where every day we'd take a chance on our lives. Dave was always too smart for that, so he'd just watch. We'd jump on wild bulls' backs, jump on trains going fast. "We'd get on the roof of a car at highway speed. You start thinking nothing can get you, and you're indestructible. That's part of being in sports. We were blessed with good bodies and good balance. We felt like we could do anything, and nothing would hurt us."


He goes on about the pain killers and drugs:


         "Mike was into painkillers. All the brothers had painkillers prescribed by doctors. Kerry was the only one who got into illegal drugs [that weren't prescribed].


"Kerry figured he didn't have anything to live for. He was rootless. He had no home. Seeing me with my family made his pain greater. It reminded him of what he was missing. It was such a sad, tragic thing.


"He had his two beautiful daughters and a wife he loved, but then he'd come home, and all his stuff would be moved out. She'd move all his stuff out. Kerry was no saint [but] they both treated each other kind of rough.


"He had pretty much come to an understanding the day he killed himself. He just left having lunch with Kathy, his wife. Kerry was going to jail*, and he was afraid of never seeing his girls again.


"He said, 'Kevin, I'm about to kill myself…'


"We had talked for about an hour. We told some good dirty jokes, we laughed, and he told me, 'I'm going to kill myself.' I thought I had him talked out of it.


"He said, 'I didn't want to be like Mike and not say goodbye.'


"That's when I begged him. I said, 'Don't do this. Don't leave me alone. You're my only brother. Don't leave me.'


"I thought I had talked him out of it.


"Thirty minutes later, they found his body. He must have gone right out and done it.


If you want to talk about tragic wrestler deaths, there you go. We can't even imagine going through something like that. And remember, if you or someone you know are having thoughts of harming yourself or someone else, please reach out to your local mental health professionals. It takes a stronger person to get help than to do something you can't take back.


Those are some of the crazier deaths we found. This list is but a small fraction of the tragic deaths from the world of wrestling. Tons of guys we grew up watching have died recently due to health complications and drug issues. There have been some younger guys that have passed on recently as well. There have been tons of suicides in wrestlers under the age of 50. Also, as we've seen, a pretty good amount of murders. As we stated earlier, we stayed away from many more prominent names, mainly because they were health-related and covered extensively in recent years. Also, we don't want to talk about a guy who decided it was best to end his wife's and son's lives, as well as his own. CTE is a raging bitch. We'd like to hear what you guys think and maybe some crazy ones we've missed since we're not perfect! But before we talk about anything else, I am going to show you wonderful listeners some of my favorite moves in the ring on my boy Logan and check this out on our youtube page!

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What happened to the Jeff Davis/Jennings 8? 

Hello, you crazy, beautiful bastards. And happy new year. We hope your Christmas or whatever holiday you chose to celebrate was a great one. As you probably know, we took the week off to be with our families, and this week we're back with another banger, as the cool kids say. We are hopping back into the dark, twisted world of UNSOLVED true crime—the best and only way to serve that horrible cold dish. We know you guys love that shit, and so do we. Of course, not in a weird "sitting alone in front of my computer masturbating to unsolved terrible crimes" sort of way, but in more of a "gee-whiz Mr. Wilson, that's interesting, I'd like to learn more" kind of way. And with that out of the way, let's get into today's episode on the Jennings 8!


The Jennings 8, sometimes also referred to as the Jeff Davis 8, is a series of unsolved murders in Jefferson Davis Parish in Louisiana between 2005- 2009. And for those of you wondering, no, Moody wasn't living there yet. So he's been cleared of this one. This one. 

Two of the victims had their throats slit; the other six were in such a bad state of decay that a cause of death could not be determined, but asphyxiation is thought to be the cause. Law enforcement would have you believe a serial killer was on the loose but is that really what happened? Or was something crazier going down? 

Let's take a look at the unfortunate victims first. 


The first body found was that of Loretta Lynn Chaisson Lewis. She was 28 and last seen on 05/17/05 in Jennings, Louisiana. Her body was found in the Grand Marais Canal 05/20/05 and floating in Grand Marais Canal's east fork, a few miles southwest of Jennings. She was partially clothed and shoeless. The advanced decomposition caused difficulty identifying and collecting evidence, and an autopsy found Loretta had no physical injuries. A toxicology report showed "high levels of drugs and alcohol" in her system, but no cause of death was determined. Investigators believe she may have been in the canal for three to four days. 


The second victim, Ernestine Patterson, was a mother of four and a lifelong Jennings resident. The 30-year-old was last seen on June 16, 2005. On June 18, her body was discovered in a drainage canal off LA Highway 102. She was partially clothed, and her throat had been slit. The death was ruled a homicide, and two people were arrested and charged with 2nd-degree murder but were later released due to "lack of evidence." She worked at Iota State University.


The third victim was Kristen Elizabeth Gary-Lopez. Kristen was last seen alive by friends and family on March 6, 2007. By all published accounts, Kristen was involved in a high-risk lifestyle of drugs and prostitution. Because it was not unusual to not hear from her for extended amounts of time, she was not reported missing until ten days later.


On March 18, a fisherman discovered Lopez's utterly nude body in the Petitjean Canal, a rural area near Cherokee Road right off LA 99, about 10 miles south of the town of Welsh. Investigators felt her body had been placed in that location but killed elsewhere. According to autopsy results, the cause of death for Kristen Gary Lopez is undetermined. However, toxicology results showed elevated levels of drugs and alcohol in Lopez's system. In May 2007, Frankie Richard and his niece, Hannah Conner, were arrested in connection with Lopez's death. Richard and Conner were also questioned about the other deaths before Lopez's body was found. Richard was reportedly seen with three of the victims in the last days of their lives. Charges were eventually dropped due to insufficient evidence and conflicting witness statements.


Also arrested in May 2007 was Tracee L. Chaisson. The police booked her on Accessory After the Fact charges. Chaisson was the person who reported Kristen missing. Investigators believed she knew where the body was when she made the report. Like Richard and Conner, charges were dropped against Tracee Chaisson due to lack of evidence and conflicting statements.


    Whitnei Charlene Dubois, 26, was last seen on 05/10/07. Her remains were found 05/12/07 at the intersection of Bobby and Earl Duhon Roads, approximately five miles outside of Jennings, Louisiana.


According to the family, "Whitnei enjoyed listening to music, absolutely adored her daughter, was tough on the outside despite her vulnerabilities within, and left a lasting impression on all those who knew and loved her."


The nude body of Whitnei Dubois was found 05/12/07 near the intersection of Bobby and Earl Duhon Roads, approximately five miles outside of Jennings. Investigators believe she had been dead "a couple of days." Officials never determined the cause of death, but high levels of alcohol and drugs were found in her body. 


Her family has doubts about the investigation into her death. Whitnei's sister Brittney Jones wonders, "why haven't we been questioned? Why haven't we been asked when was the last time we saw our sister? Where her whereabouts was? Why haven't we been asked about the evidence? Why haven't we been contacted?"


Lolita Doucet, her aunt, believes Whitnei and the other victims were dismissed as women who lived high-risk lifestyles involving drugs and prostitution.


23-year-old LaConia Shontel "Muggy" Brown was last seen on May 27, 2008. Around 2 am on May 29, a Jennings police officer discovered her body lying on Racca Road, leading to the police firing range. Although in a rural area, Brown's body was the first found within the city limits of Jennings. She would become the 5th victim of the Jennings 8. LaConia was clothed but had no shoes on. Her throat had been slit, and someone had doused her body with bleach. Brown was wearing a white, tank-top style shirt stained from white to pink. Police believed the stain to be blood and that some type of liquid had diluted it from red to pink. They discovered more evidence and potential leads in this case than in any of the previous deaths since Brown's body was found about six hours after it was left on the road.


LaConia's family stated that she may have known something horrible was about to happen to her and that she was living in fear just days before her death. She was a lifelong resident of Jennings and attended Jennings High School.


Crystal 'Shay' Benoit Zeno, 23, was last seen 08/29/08. Her remains were found on 09/11/08 near a dry irrigation canal a few miles from Jennings, Louisiana.


Crystal was employed with Sonic in Lake Arthur until May 2008, when she moved to Jennings. She enjoyed spending time with her daughter, fishing, singing, and listening to music. She was a people-person, who also enjoyed spending time with friends.


According to her parents, Shay was diagnosed with bipolar at 12 and started using drugs early to cope with the illness.


On 09/11/08, hunters reported a foul smell in a wooded area to authorities. The remains of Crystal Shay were found around 3:00 pm on the LaCour Road levee, off LA Highway 1126, a few miles southeast of Jennings. Due to the advanced state of decomposition, she was not identified with DNA until nearly two months later, on 11/07/08. Her death was ruled a homicide, although the cause of death and toxicology reports have not been released to the public.


Crystal, who went by "Shay," was married and had a young daughter. She also knew many of the other victims, including Brittney Gary.


17-year-old Brittney Gary became the 7th and youngest victim. Brittney walked out of the Family Dollar Store in Jennings, never to be seen alive again; sometime after 5:30 pm that day, she was abducted. Thirteen days passed as her family, and a concerned public held out hope that Brittney was safe and would be located soon. Sadly, on November 15, 2008, her deceased body was found in a grassy area outside Jennings. According to her family, Brittney loved to swim, hang out with her friends, and listen to music. She enjoyed spending time with her friends and family and was a friendly and loving person. She was also trusted by the third victim Kristine Gary Lopez. She also knew several of the other victims.

Necole Jean Guillory, 26, was last seen on 08/16/09. Her remains were discovered on 08/19/09 near the westbound I-10 exit in Egan, Louisiana.


She was a resident of Lake Arthur, and according to her family, enjoyed listening to music and loved being outdoors.


Necole's remains were discovered on 08/19/09 by a highway worker mowing grass. She was left between mile markers 72 & 73, near the westbound I-10 Egan exit (between Crowley and Jennings) in Acadia Parish. Mark Dawson, Acadia Parish Coroner, ruled the death of Necole murder by probable asphyxia. 


According to Necole's mother, shortly before her daughter's disappearance, she'd asked her what kind of icing she wanted for her birthday cake. Necole replied it didn't matter because she wouldn't see her birthday. Unfortunately, her premonition was correct: her body was found just days before her birthday. She also confided in her Mom that police killed the other young women, and it would only be a matter of time before she ended up dead too. Holy shit! What the hell is going on down there?


Ok, so those are the unfortunate victims in the case. Did a serial killer kill them? In December 2008, Officials formed a multi-agency investigative team (MAIT) of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to solve the killings. At the time, there were seven dead women, and the reward for information leading to the guilty party's arrest was increased from $35,000 to $85,000. From the outset, the task force was searching for a serial killer.

"It is the collective opinion of all agencies involved in this investigation," said then Jefferson Davis Parish Sheriff Ricky Edwards, who was flanked by FBI agents, Louisiana State Police, and sheriffs from neighboring parishes at a press conference announcing the task force's inception, "that these murders may have been committed by a common offender." 


In 2012 the new Jefferson Davis sheriff claimed they still had no evidence that these deaths were all related or even homicides. Now, he may be technically correct, but most find this incredibly hard to believe, given the evidence and connections. At the time, most people chalked this up to the work of a serial killer preying on sex workers. If you're interested in serial killers, you'll know that this is not unusual. Many serial killers get started by killing sex workers as they are viewed as less important and less likely to be missed. Killers believe they can easily get away with murders of women who partake in this work line because nobody cares about them. As far as suspects go, some were arrested and released, as we've mentioned earlier.  


However, one man believes that this was not the work of a serial killer. Writer Ethan Brown spent several years investigating this case and had discovered some interesting things in the process. 


Buckle up bitches. This is about to be a crazy ride!


In one article he wrote for, Brown says, "Over the past two years, I have obtained and reviewed hundreds of pages of task force witness interviews, the homicide case files on several of the victims, the Jeff Davis Parish sheriff's office's and Jeff Davis Parish district attorney's files on all of the victims, federal and state court records, and the complete personnel files of the cops and sheriff's deputies at the center of the case. I have interviewed friends and family of all eight victims, as well as some of the possible suspects.


The details of the Jeff Davis 8 case can be murky; the connections between victims, suspects, and police tangled. My investigation, however, casts serious doubt on the theory that the Jeff Davis 8 is the work of a serial killer."


Brown goes on to say, "One fact is clear: local law enforcement is far too steeped in misconduct and corruption—and this extends to the task force, which is dominated by detectives and deputies from the sheriff's office—to run an investigation with the integrity that the murdered women and their families deserve after nearly a decade in which no one has been brought to justice."


One reason Brown doesn't believe this was the work of a serial killer is the connections between all of the victims. Generally, serial killers kill victims who have no relation to other victims. However, the women themselves all knew one another intimately. Some were related by blood (such as cousins Kristen Gary Lopez and Brittney Gary) or lived together (Gary bunked down with Crystal Benoit in South Jennings just before being killed in 2008). They solicited prostitution at the Boudreaux Inn, a now-shuttered motel in Jennings that, with its sloping blue metal roof and nondescript white façade, could be mistaken for a storage facility. The inn was ideally situated in Jennings's heady drugs and sex trade—just off a 400-mile stretch of Interstate 10 connecting Houston to New Orleans, favored by marijuana and cocaine traffickers and prescription-pill "doctor shoppers"—and cops were there on a near-nightly basis for busts. Loretta Lewis, the first victim, was the subject of several complaints to the police based on her activity at the inn.


Brown also says, "It wasn't simply that they traded their bodies at the same address. According to my reporting, all but one of the victims—Ernestine Patterson—were associated with the same fixture of the Jennings underworld: a 58-year-old oil-rig worker turned strip-club owner named Frankie Richard. "We shared something," he said of the murdered women, his voice so raspy it sounded as though he had been gargling rocks. "When we were at the lowest point of our life, and no one wanted to have anything to do with us, we had something to do with each other. And that means something to me. Them girls were my friends no matter how fucking low my life was. And I was their friend no matter how fuckin' low their life was."


Richard described the city of Jennings when the killings began: "It was wide open… The drugs, the prostitution, the bars, the crooked cops." Since the early 1990s, there have been nearly 20 unsolved homicides, including the slain eight women, in Jefferson Davis Parish, a statistic any competent sheriff's department would regard as both a shallow clearance rate and an astonishingly high murder rate for a small area.


As for suspects, Brown had found several while going through the reports from the task force and interviewing witnesses. In 2007, Frankie Richard himself was briefly charged in the Lopez killing, but those charges were dropped after witnesses provided conflicting statements and an essential piece of physical evidence was mishandled. Richard died in 2020. 


Byron Chad Jones and Lawrence Nixon (a cousin of the fifth victim, Laconia Brown) were briefly charged with second-degree murder in the Ernestine Patterson case. But despite several witnesses implicating them, the sheriff's office did not test the alleged crime scene until 15 months after Patterson's murder and found it "failed to demonstrate the presence of blood." That messed-up crime scene work contributed, in part, to the collapse of the case against the two men. According to case files, Jennings street hustlers with connections to Richard were suspected in the deaths of some of the other women. 


Brown claims no credible suspects outside the Jennings drug circle have been found, yet the official narrative is still that of a serial killer. 


Another strange connection is that the murdered women of the Jeff Davis 8 (aka, the Jennings 8) provided information to law enforcement about other Jeff Davis 8 victims—and then turned up dead themselves. For example, Laconia Brown (the fifth victim) was interrogated about the 2005 killing of Ernestine Patterson (the second victim). Brown, the article author, obtained by a task force report in which one witness claims that Brown, the murder victim, spotted the body of Loretta Lewis (the first victim) floating in the Grand Marais Canal before Jerry Jackson discovered her there in May 2005. In 2006, detectives investigating Lewis's murder interrogated Kristen Gary Lopez (the third victim).


"She knew what was going on," Melissa Daigle, Lopez's mother, told Brown. She trailed off, tearing up at the memory. "They were scared, them girls. I think she knew about it and was too scared to say."


Brown also claims that he discovered that all of the women at one point had been informants for local law enforcement regarding the Jennings drug trade. 


When Brown confronted Sheriff Edwards with the allegation that the Jeff Davis 8 were informants, the sheriff stammered a non-denial. "I wouldn't respond," he told me. "If they were informants, I would still continue to protect their anonymity. I don't know that's the truth. I won't comment on it."


Brown writes that at the end of 2008, a Jennings prostitute warned task force investigators that Necole Guillory "might be the next victim."


Guillory was known for her street savviness, and in 2006, when she was 24, she savagely attacked a sex customer with the handle of a sledgehammer. 


Brown says of Guillory," I've reviewed the parish district attorney office's case files on Guillory, and in at least six cases, the charges against her ended in a nolle prosequi (a legal term meaning "be unwilling to pursue" on the district attorney's part). Though there is no record of Guillory's cooperation—excluding a theft case in which she agreed to testify against her codefendant—snitches routinely have charges nolle prossed in exchange for their off-the-record cooperation."


"Necole knew a whole lot," said Frankie Richard, "about a whole lot."


Necoles mother Barbara would tell Brown, "She was always paranoid," "It got to the point where she did not want to go anywhere by herself," she said. "I think she could feel that they were closing in on her." With her 27th birthday approaching, Guillory refused even to entertain the idea of celebrating. "I bought some icing and cake for her birthday," Barbara recalled. "She said, 'Momma, it doesn't matter—I'm not gonna be here.'"

Guillory also had her four kids placed with relatives. A task force witness supports the claim that in her final days, she "was scared of someone," but she would not say who and that she "knew who killed the girls."


Barbara believes that her daughter was murdered because she witnessed local law enforcement corruption or misconduct or worse. "She used to tell us all the time it was the police killing the girls," Barbara said. "We'd say, 'Necole, a name. Something. Write a letter and leave it somewhere. Let us know. We can help you.' No, momma. It's too far gone. It's too big. I'd rather y'all not know nothing, that way nothing can happen to y'all… She knew, she knew, she knew, and that's why they killed her."


Brown writes that several other families of victims have similar stories. 


He says, "Gail Brown, a sister of the fifth victim, Laconia "Muggy" Brown, told me that just before Muggy was killed, she worriedly informed her family that "she was investigating a murder with a cop; the cop wanted to give her $500 to tell what happened." Gail put it as bluntly as Barbara Guillory: "She knew what was going on," she told me, referring to her sister's work as a cooperator. "I think it was a cop that killed my sister."


Taskforce witness interviews corroborate the Brown family accounts; one was noted as saying that "Laconia Brown told her that…three police officers were going to kill her."


According to Brown, the Jennings police force and Jeff Davis sheriff's offices have been plagued by misconduct for years. 


Veterans of Jennings' streets trace the unwinding of local law enforcement back to the '70s when they say cops began getting involved in drug trafficking. But this is not merely street gossip. In March 1990, two local men burglarized the sheriff's office, making off with a staggering 300 pounds of marijuana. According to court documents, investigators interviewed one of the burglars. He named a surprising pair of accomplices—Frankie Richard and a man named Ted Gary, who was then chief deputy sheriff. (Officials brought no charges against Richard and Gary.)


From sheriff's using parish funds to purchase personal items illegally, to unlawfully and purposefully stopping cars with out-of-state plates, to improper dealings with inmates, and even the murder of one officer and his wife by another officer, things were getting pretty nuts. 


In October 2003, eight female Jennings cops filed a civil rights lawsuit in federal court against Jennings police chief Donald "Lucky" DeLouche, a gaggle of male cops, and the City of Jennings, alleging widespread acts of sexual violence and harassment. Among the allegations in the complaint: a captain who shook his penis at female officers, saying, "You know I like to lick pussy, I can numb it all night," and forced oral sex on a female officer, as well as a lieutenant who waved a knife at a female officer, warning, "Girl, I'll cut you."

In January 2013, former Jennings police chief Johnny Lassiter was hit with a battery of charges after a Louisiana State Police audit found $4,500 in cash, 1,800 pills, more than 380 grams of cocaine, and several pounds of marijuana missing from the department's evidence room.


In December 2007, Sergeant Jesse Ewing received word that two female inmates at the city jail wanted to talk about the unsolved homicides (at the time totaling four). He was stunned by what he heard: Ewing said both women told him that "higher-ranking officers" had been directly involved in covering up the murders.


Brown claims Ewing had long been wary of his fellow cops, and he feared that the audiotapes would simply vanish, just as drugs and cash had a way of disappearing from evidence. So Ewing handed the interview tapes over to a local private investigator named Kirk Menard, who rushed copies to the FBI's office in nearby Lake Charles.


Brown goes on to write, "Ewing's gambit to grab the attention of the feds backfired. The tapes ended up right back with the sheriff's office–dominated task force, and Ewing's fears of retaliation turned out to be justified. As a result, the parish district attorney charged Ewing with malfeasance in office and sexual misconduct. (One of the female inmates claimed that Ewing touched her inappropriately during the interview. Ewing denies it, and that charge was dismissed.)


Brown says, "Ewing and I sat in his trailer in the Paradise Park development in Jennings in July 2011. He is a short, wide-shouldered man with a cleanly shaved head, a graying goatee, and the bulky frame of a rugby player. Ewing decorated the trailer with little more than a TV set and a couch—a no-frills lifestyle that he blamed on employment troubles since his termination after 20 years on the job. "I felt screwed for doing the right thing," he said."


Although the tapes were never made public, Brown says he had listened to them in their entirety. He claims they provide highly specific information about the murders of two of the prostitutes—Whitnei Dubois and Kristen Gary Lopez—as well as local law enforcement's alleged role in covering up Frankie Richard's role in at least one of the killings.


The first inmate says that a prostitute named Tracee Chaisson had told her that she was there when Richard and his niece Hannah Conner killed Dubois. They'd all been getting high, and when Dubois refused Richard's sexual advances, he "got aggressive, he started fighting with her, and when she started fighting back he got on top of her and started punching her." According to the inmate, Chaisson then said that Hannah held her head back and drowned her. 


The two inmates told another story about a truck and a conspiracy between Richard and a top sheriff's office investigator to destroy evidence in the Lopez case.


The second inmate said Richard put Lopez's body "in a barrel," and used a truck to transport it. The truck, she said, was later purchased by "an officer named Mr. Warren, I don't know his exact name, he bought the truck to discard the evidence."


By "Warren," the inmate meant the sheriff's office chief criminal investigator, Warren Gary. The first inmate had also spoken of Lopez's body, a truck, and an officer named Warren.


Public records would seem to corroborate the second witness' account. On March 29, 2007, Warren Gary purchased a 2006 Chevy Silverado truck for $8,748.90 from Connie Siler, a Richard associate who had just been hauled into the sheriff's office for questioning in the case of a bad check.

On April 20, Gary resold Siler's Silverado for $15,500, a nearly 50 percent profit in less than one month. (Siler, in turn, used profits from the sale, $3,207.13, to pay the parish district attorney's office for the bad checks she had issued.)

Gary's truck purchase was possibly illegal and definitely unethical—the Louisiana Board of Ethics fined him $10,000 in the incident. "What [Gary] did with that was wrong," former sheriff Ricky Edwards told Brown. "Buying from an inmate, that's what was ethically wrong." He insisted, however, that his office "had no clue that [the truck] was even part of evidence [in the Lopez case]. That didn't come out until way after the fact."


Brown says there is some reason to doubt this claim. According to their reports, investigators knew that Siler was one of the last to see Lopez alive. In addition, Paula Guillory, a former detective in the sheriff's office who was later investigated for her ties to the Jennings drug scene, recently spoke to Brown and told him, "We knew that Connie Siler's vehicle was probably involved."


In a town where everyone was related and where the atmosphere had the feeling of a vicious family feud, it was Paula's then-husband Terrie Guillory, the warden at the jail, who brokered the Siler truck deal, according to the ethics board report on Gary. (Note: That he shares a last name with one of the victims is not a coincidence: Necole Guillory was his cousin.)


Because of Warren Gary and Terrie Guillory, two members of law enforcement, the Lopez case lost an essential piece of physical evidence. Because of Terrie Guillory, one suspect found herself with an alibi. And because Conner refused to flip on Richard, and Chaisson had changed her story repeatedly, the charges against all of them were dropped.


Brown writes, "Put simply: The statements from the two female inmates portrayed Richard and his associates working with the sheriff's office to dispose of evidence in the Lopez case. Yet the sergeant who took the statements was forced out of his job, and the allegations were ignored by law enforcement." 


A review of hundreds of pages of task force investigative reports by Brown reveals a series of witness interviews where local law enforcement was implicated in the murders. However, these allegations have never been made public.


Danny Barry, a 12-year veteran of the sheriff's office when he died in 2010 at the age of 63, was named a suspect by at least three separate task force witnesses in a single day of interrogations in November 2008. "Deputy Danny Barry would ride around on the south side with his wife," one witness said. "And they would try to pick up girls….[Barry's vehicle was] a small blue sports car…Barry would drop off his wife, Natalie, and she would get the girls. The couple would 'spike' a drink and then take the girls back to the Barrys' house…."


One witness even told investigators that "Danny Barry had a room in his trailer that had chains hanging from the ceiling and that a person could not see in or out of the room." What the fuck?


There was only one task force interview with Barry on February 25, 2009. He wasn't questioned about the abundance of allegations against him, and there hasn't been any substantive follow-up investigation.


Brown goes on to write, "As the murders in the parish crescendoed in 2009, Guillory participated in a raid on Frankie Richard's family home. This was part of a sprawling investigation by the sheriff's office into a drugs and theft ring that Richard, his mother, and Teresa Gary (the mother of the seventh victim, Brittney Gary) were later charged with running, in which guns, jewelry, and rare coins had been pilfered from residences across Jennings. Yet when Guillory turned over evidence, nearly $4,000 was missing. So the theft case collapsed under the weight of serious law enforcement misconduct."


"Guillory denies that she stole or disposed of evidence in the case. She told me that she realized the money was missing when she was cataloguing the evidence from the raid and immediately contacted her superiors. (Warren Gary, the former chief investigator who had purchased the truck allegedly used to dispose of Lopez's body, helped catalogue the evidence, which is another troubling coincidence.) She was sent home from work and, even though she offered to take a polygraph test regarding the missing money, she was promptly fired by Sheriff Edwards. "I never even gave my own side of the story," she told Brown.


Yet again, the charges against Richard were dropped. It was a break that he relishes to this day. "I'm not mad at that," Richard told Brown when he asked him about the missing evidence in his case. "In fact I thank her for doing that. If she had handled her business right, my momma would still be in jail."


Most of the murdered women seemed to know about the other prostitute killings. But at least one victim from the Jeff Davis 8 witnessed a killing at the hands of state and local law enforcement during a drug bust in Jennings that went awry.


During a drug bust brought on by a tip from a snitch, Leonard Crochet, a pill dealer, was shot and killed by Probation and Parole agent John Briggs Becton. Briggs Becton told Crochet to show his hands, and, according to a statement he gave later to investigators, Crochet "then made a sudden movement with his hands toward his belt line." Believing that Crochet was reaching for a weapon, Briggs Becton fired his departmentally issued Remington 870 12-gauge shotgun, with a single shot striking Crochet in the chest. 


According to a later statement by a fellow Probation and Parole agent at the raid, Briggs Becton approached Crochet's body, muttering, "Oh shit." Briggs Becton called an ambulance to the scene, and the inhabitants at 610 Gallup were taken into custody and transported to the Jennings Police Department for questioning. Police investigators concluded that they were "unable to locate any items near Crochet's location in the residence which could have been construed as a weapon. Further, no persons inside the residence at the time of the shooting, whether law enforcement or civilian, could provide any evidence that Crochet had brandished a weapon."

That July, a parish grand jury heard prosecutors make their case that Briggs Becton committed the crime of negligent homicide. However, they came back with a decision of "no true bill"—no probable cause or evidence to show that Briggs Becton had committed a crime.


Could this be the reason the Jennings 8 we're killed? It is one theory suggested by some in the parish. "The victims were being killed because they were present when Leonard Crochet was killed by the police," one witness told task force investigators. "The girls were being killed because they had seen something they were not supposed to see." Even Richard connected the Crochet killing to the murdered women: "Most of them girls was at a raid…when that Crochet boy got killed. Most of the girls that are dead today were there that night."


Brown obtained a witness list from the Louisiana State Police on the incident. He says, "it reads like a who's who of players in the Jeff Davis 8 case, including the third victim Kristen Gary Lopez, Alvin "Bootsy" Lewis (the boyfriend of the fourth victim, Whitnei Duboisi, and the brother-in-law of the first victim, Loretta Lewis), and Harvey "Bird Dog" Burleigh, who later told Dubois' older brother Mike that "I'm close to finding out who killed your sister" and was then found stabbed to death in his Jennings apartment. His murder, too, remains unsolved."


The slaying of witnesses appears to be a pattern in Jefferson Davis Parish. Soon after Crystal Shay Benoit Zeno (the sixth victim) was found in a wooded area in South Jennings in September 2008, a tip was called into the parish district attorney's office from a 43-year-old Lafayette man named Russell Carrier. Carrier said that he had seen three African-American men exiting the woods. Richard associate Eugene "Dog" Ivory, Ervin "Tyson" Mouton (who is named as another possible suspect in the Lopez homicide in the task force documents), and Ricardo "Tiger" Williams.

On October 10, 2010, Carrier was struck and killed by a Burlington Northern Santa Fe Train in Jennings early in the morning. Police Chief Todd D'Albor said that "for whatever reason," Carrier laid on the tracks and was run over.


God damn, this shit is nuts! 


Brown concludes his article with information about one of the leading players in the case, Frankie Richard, whom we've talked about a lot. 


Brown writes of Frankie, "Though Richard was well aware that I was deeply investigating the Jeff Davis 8, he never turned me down for an interview and didn't flinch when I confronted him with my reporting—he has a knack for explaining away bad facts and constructing theories on alternative suspects." Deceased deputy Danny Barry is also a favorite. "All these girls or most of these girls was found within a three-mile radius of Danny Barry's house," Richard told Brown. "Since he been dead, nobody died. All these motherfuckers on the sheriff's department are some crooked sons of bitches."


Brown describes one interview with Frankie as follows "On an unusually warm and muggy late spring night in 2012, Richard sat shirtless, exposing his meaty upper body, on a pair of rockers on the front porch of his family home in Jennings. He has expressionless brown eyes, a thick head of black hair streaked with gray, and a salt-and-pepper goatee. He was trying very hard to project the image of a wrongly accused, down-on-his-luck, sobered-up former hustler. "I was a dope addict, a coke head, meth head, alcoholic, no-good sonofabitch," Richard told me. "But I'm determined to get my head on right. I'm one year clean from meth and 100 days clean from alcohol and cocaine after 42 years. That's a long fuckin' time for a motherfucker like me." 


Brown continues, "Standing nearby, on the ground below, was an associate of Richard's, a towering African-American man in his 30s wearing baggy jeans and a white T-shirt. At one point, he interrupted the conversation to warn me that the story I'm working on will likely put me in the crosshairs of local law enforcement. "You a bold-ass little man, dog," he said. "Don't get caught in Jeff Davis Parish at night."


Brown continues about Frankie Richard:


"That Richard continues to sit atop what police files and my own reporting suggest is an empire of drugs and prostitution is no spectacular stroke of luck. He is a prized informant who, according to task force documents, has provided a steady stream of intel to investigators. (Richard was debriefed in 2008, which Brown says challenges another official narrative: that no one is talking to the multi-agency investigative team, and that all investigators have is a series of unhelpful dead ends.) He goes on to say, "Criminal activity sanctioned by high-level law enforcement is hardly uncommon; a 2011 FBI report concluded the agency gave its informants permission to break the law at least 5,658 times that year.

Richard would push back against the snitch label vigorously. But, in May 2012, Kirk Menard, the private investigator, sent a pair of female witnesses who said they had tips in the killings related to Richard to the task force offices to be interrogated. "Do not worry about Frankie," one high-ranking task force investigator told the stunned women, "because he works for me." According to the witness account, the investigator added that Richard has a task force–issued cellphone. Menard forwarded me an e-mail he sent to the task force outlining his concerns about the interview. Nearly two years later, he has yet to receive a response."


Brown says that the possibility that Richard is just circumstantially connected to all of the eight murdered women has also been undermined again and again. Soon after charges against Richard in the 2007 Lopez slaying were dismissed, he and associate Eugene "Dog" Ivory—who is, according to task force witnesses, a suspect in the murder of Crystal Benoit—beat a rape case in which, according to case files, Richard allegedly told the victim, "If you tell anyone, bitch, you will end up like the others."


Brown also recounts another story relayed to him: 


"One night, not long before Richard and I met, Beverly Crochet, the sister of slain drug dealer Leonard Crochet, was leaving Tina's Bar, a South Jennings haunt frequented by the Jeff Davis 8. Tracee Chaisson, the former prostitute who was once charged with being an accessory after the fact of second-degree murder in the slaying of Kristen Lopez, approached her in the parking lot.

"When I was walking out with my ride," Crochet told me when we spoke several weeks later on the front porch of her home, which is just down the street from the Richard family home, "she was screaming out the car with some black people, 'You're gonna be number 9.'"

Crochet said she reported the incident to the task force. She cleared her throat nervously. "I could tell you more," she said, "but I'm scared. I'm scared for my own life." The Jeff Davis 8 killings, she said, "started right after" her brother Leonard was killed. "Right after. All them girls were in there at one point. They were all in there for two days in and out."


Brown concludes his article by saying The Jeff Davis 8 case is begging for a takeover by the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division. They had intervened in a now-notorious New Orleans Police Department case from 2005, where cops shot and killed innocent bystanders on the Danziger Bridge in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Brown claims his investigation raises several genuine questions about the prevailing serial-killer theory of these murders. It also indicates that local law enforcement is a hindrance, not a help, to a resolution being reached. Whatever the truth, these eight women, and their surviving families, deserve a fresh inquiry by an outside investigative body.


Holy shit! What seemed like a pretty clear-cut case on the outside; Serial killer preying on sex workers turned into THAT fucking crazy story. Wow. What do you all think? Fucking nuts, huh! The case remains unsolved, and if the things Brown uncovered are accurate, we will most likely never get to the bottom of this! 




Top ten drug horror movies, keeping with the drug theme

A Midnight Carol (Rerelease) Our take on the Christmas classic, A Christmas Carol

Due to popular demand, we've decided to rerelease our epic remake of the the Dickens classic "A Christmas Carol". 


WARNING! This isn't exactly PG so listener discretion is always advised.

Happy Holidays! Thank you for listening.


Don't miss this years Christmas bonus as well as all of the other amazing content available only at

Christmas Disasters

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This week is our Christmas special here on the train. First, we've covered Krampus, Christmas killings, and ghost story Christmas traditions. Then, in keeping with our tradition of crazy Christmas episodes, today, we bring you some crazy Christmas disasters! Christmas isn't immune to crazy shit going on, from natural disasters to fires. Not only that, we're giving you guys a pretty good dose of history today. So with that being said, let's get into some crazy Christmas stuff!


While this first topic isn't necessarily a disaster in the usual sense, it definitely caused nothing but problems. And yes, it's a disaster. In 1865 on Christmas Eve, something happened that would change things for many people in this country and still causes grief to this day. While most people in the u.s. were settling down for the night with their families, leaving milk out for Santa, and tucking the kids in for the night, a group of men in Pulaski, Tennessee, were getting together for a very different purpose. Frank McCord, Richard Reed, John Lester, John Kennedy, J. Calvin Jones, and James Crowe were all officers with the Confederacy in the civil war. That night, they got together to form a group inspired at least in part by the then largely defunct Sons of Malta. While it started as a social club, within months, it would turn into one of the most nefarious groups around, the Ku Klux Klan. According to The Cyclopædia of Fraternities (1907), "Beginning in April, 1867, there was a gradual transformation. ...The members had conjured up a veritable Frankenstein. They had played with an engine of power and mystery, though organized on entirely innocent lines, and found themselves overcome by a belief that something must lie behind it all – that there was, after all, a serious purpose, a work for the Klan to do." It borrowed parts of the initiation ceremony from the sons of Malta with the same purpose: "ludicrous initiations, the baffling of public curiosity, and the amusement for members were the only objects of the Klan," according to Albert Stevens in 1907.

In the summer of 1867, local branches of the Klan met in a general organizing convention. They established what they called an "Invisible Empire of the South." Leading Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest was chosen as the first leader, or "grand wizard," of the Klan; he presided over a hierarchy of grand dragons, grand titans, and grand cyclops. The organization of the Ku Klux Klan coincided with the beginning of the second phase of post-Civil War Reconstruction, put into place by the more radical members of the Republican Party in Congress. After rejecting President Andrew Johnson's relatively lenient Reconstruction policies from 1865 to 1866, Congress passed the Reconstruction Act over the presidential veto. Under its provisions, the South was divided into five military districts. Each state was required to approve the 14th Amendment, which granted "equal protection" of the Constitution to formerly enslaved people and enacted universal male suffrage. From 1867 onward, Black participation in public life in the South became one of the most radical aspects of Reconstruction. Black people won elections to southern state governments and even the U.S. Congress. For its part, the Ku Klux Klan dedicated itself to an underground campaign of violence against Republican leaders and voters (both Black and white) to reverse the policies of Radical Reconstruction and restore white supremacy in the South. They were joined in this struggle by similar organizations such as the Knights of the White Camelia (launched in Louisiana in 1867) and the White Brotherhood. At least 10 percent of the Black legislators elected during the 1867-1868 constitutional conventions became victims of violence during Reconstruction, including seven who were killed. White Republicans (derided as "carpetbaggers" and "scalawags") and Black institutions such as schools and churches—symbols of Black autonomy—were also targets for Klan attacks. By 1870, the Ku Klux Klan had branches in nearly every southern state. The Klan did not boast a well-organized structure or clear leadership even at its height. Local Klan members, often wearing masks and dressed in the organization's signature long white robes and hoods, usually carried out their attacks at night. They acted on their own but supported the common goals of defeating Radical Reconstruction and restoring white supremacy in the South. Klan activity flourished particularly in the regions of the South where Black people were a minority or a slight majority of the population and were relatively limited in others. Among the most notorious zones of Klan activity was South Carolina, where in January 1871, 500 masked men attacked the Union county jail and lynched eight Black prisoners. Though Democratic leaders would later attribute Ku Klux Klan violence to poorer southern white people, the organization's membership crossed class lines, from small farmers and laborers to planters, lawyers, merchants, physicians, and ministers. In the regions where most Klan activity took place, local law enforcement officials either belonged to the Klan or declined to act against it. Even those who arrested Klansmen found it difficult to find witnesses willing to testify against them. 


Other leading white citizens in the South declined to speak out against the group's actions, giving them implicit approval. After 1870, Republican state governments in the South turned to Congress for help, resulting in three Enforcement Acts, the strongest of which was the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871.


For the first time, the Ku Klux Klan Act designated certain crimes committed by individuals as federal offenses, including conspiracies to deprive citizens of the right to hold office, serve on juries and enjoy the equal protection of the law. In addition, the act authorized the president to suspend the habeas corpus, arrest accused individuals without charge, and send federal forces to suppress Klan violence. For those of us dummies that may not know, a "writ of habeas corpus" (which literally means to "produce the body") is a court order demanding that a public official (such as a warden) deliver an imprisoned individual to the court and show a valid reason for that person's detention. The procedure provides a means for prison inmates or others acting on their behalf to dispute the legal basis for confinement.


This expansion of federal authority–which Ulysses S. Grant promptly used in 1871 to crush Klan activity in South Carolina and other areas of the South–outraged Democrats and even alarmed many Republicans. From the early 1870s onward, white supremacy gradually reasserted its hold on the South as support for Reconstruction waned; by the end of 1876, the entire South was under Democratic control once again.


Now, this was just the first version of the Klan. A second version started up in the early 1900s and later on another revival which is the current iteration of the Klan. We're not going to go into the later versions of the Klan because well…. Fuck 'em! We've already given them too much air time! But… This most definitely qualifies as a Christmas disaster.


Next up, we have a couple natural disasters. 


First up, Cyclone Tracy. Cyclone Tracy has been described as the most significant tropical cyclone in Australia's history, and it changed how we viewed the threat of tropical cyclones to northern Australia.


Five days before Christmas 1974, satellite images showed a tropical depression in the Arafura Sea, 700 kilometers (or almost 435 miles for us Americans) northeast of Darwin.


The following day the Tropical Cyclone Warning Center in Darwin warned that a cyclone had formed and gave it the name Tracy. Cyclone Tracy was moving southwest at this stage, but as it passed the northwest of Bathurst Island on December 23, it slowed down and changed course.


That night, it rounded Cape Fourcroy and began moving southeast, with Darwin directly in its path.


The first warning that Darwin was under threat came at 12:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve when a top-priority flash cyclone warning was issued advising people that Cyclone Tracy was expected to make landfall early Christmas morning.


Despite 12 hours' warning of the cyclone's impending arrival, it fell mainly on deaf ears.


Residents were complacent after a near-miss from Cyclone Selma a few weeks before and distracted by the festive season.


Indeed in the preceding decade, the Bureau of Meteorology had identified 25 cyclones in Northern Territory waters, but few had caused much damage. Severe Tropical Cyclone Tracy was a small but intense system at landfall.


The radius of the galeforce winds extended only 50 kilometers from the eye of the cyclone, making it one of the most miniature tropical cyclones on record, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).


Records show that at least six tropical cyclones had severely impacted Darwin before Tracy.


The worst of these was in January 1897 when a "disastrous hurricane" nearly destroyed the settlement, and 28 people died.


However, unlike Tracy, it is thought this cyclone did not directly pass over Darwin.


And while Tracy was reported as a category four cyclone, some meteorologists today believe it may have been a category five shortly before it made landfall.


At midnight on Christmas Day, wind gusts greater than 100 kilometers or over 62 miles per hour began to be recorded.


The cyclone's center reached East Point at 3:15 a.m. and landed just north of Fannie Bay at 3:30 a.m.


Tracy was so strong it bent a railway signal tower in half. 


The city was devastated by the cyclone. At least 90 percent of homes in Darwin were demolished or badly damaged. Forty-five vessels in the harbor were wrecked or damaged.


In addition to the 65 people who died, 145 were admitted to the hospital with serious injuries.


Vegetation was damaged up to 80 kilometers away from the coast, and Darwin felt eerily quiet due to the lack of insect and birdlife.


Within a week after the cyclone hit, more than 30,000 Darwin residents had been evacuated by air or road. That's more than two-thirds of the population at that time.


Cyclone Tracy remains one of Australia's most significant disasters.


As Murphy wrote 10 years after the cyclone: "The impact of Cyclone Tracy has reached far beyond the limits of Darwin itself. All along the tropical coasts of northern Australia and beyond a new cyclone awareness has emerged."


Merry fucking Christmas! Damn, that sucks. The information in this section came from an article on


Next up, we are going way back. The Christmas Flood of 1717 resulted from a northwesterly storm, which hit the coastal area of the Netherlands, Germany, and Scandinavia on Christmas night of 1717. During the night of Christmas, 1717, the coastal regions of the Netherlands, Germany, and Scandinavia were hit by a severe north-western storm. It is estimated that 14,000 people died. It was the worst flood for four centuries and the last significant flood to hit the north of the Netherlands.


In the countryside to the north of the Netherlands, the water level rose up to a few meters. The city of Groningen rose up to a few feet. In the province of Groningen, villages that were situated directly behind the dikes were nearly swept away. Action had to be taken against looters who robbed houses and farms under the fraudulent act of rescuing the flood victims. In total, the flood caused 2,276 casualties in Groningen. 1,455 homes were either destroyed or suffered extensive damage. Most livestock was lost.


The water also poured into Amsterdam and Haarlem and the areas around Dokkum and Stavoren. Over 150 people died in Friesland alone. In addition, large sections of Northern Holland were left underwater and the area around Zwolle and Kampen. In these areas, the flood only caused material damage. In Vlieland, however, the sea poured over the dunes, almost entirely sweeping away the already-damaged village of West-Vlieland.


We also found this report from a German website. It's been translated, so our apologies if it's wonky. 


"According to tradition, several days before Christmas, it had blown strong and sustained from the southwest. Shortly after sunset on Christmas Eve, the wind suddenly turned from west to northwest and eased a little. The majority of the residents went to bed unconcerned, because currently was half moon and the next regular flood would not occur until 7 a.m. At the time when the tide was supposed to have been low for a long time, however, a drop in the water level could not be determined.

Allegedly between 1 and 2 a.m. the storm began to revive violently accompanied by lightning and thunder. Between 3 and 4 o'clock in the morning the water reached the top of the dike. The current and waves caused the dike caps to break, so that the tide rolled over the dike into the flat land with a loud roar of thunder. Many only had time to save themselves in the dark on the floor under the roof. Most of the time there was not even time to take clothes, drinking water and some food with you. Numerous houses could not withstand the rising water and the current. In the higher and higher water and the increasing current, windows were Doors and entire walls dented. Allegedly the hurricane and the storm surge raged against the coast for three full days, so that it was not until December 28 that the water fell so far that one could come to the aid of one's neighbors with simply built "boats."

In many places, the dykes had been razed to the ground, which meant that in lower-lying areas, every regular flood caused renewed flooding. At the places where the dykes were broken, deep valleys, some of which were large, formed. In many places where the dike is led around in a semi-arch, these walls, also known as pools or bracken, are still visible and testify to the force of the water. At that time, many people are said to have believed that the march was forever lost. In the low-lying areas, the water was later covered with ice floes, sometimes held up for months. Up until the summer months, bodies were said to have been found repeatedly during the clean-up work on the alluvial piles of straw and in the trenches. Many people who survived the flood later fell victim to so-called marching fever. New storm surges in the following years ruined the efforts for the first time to get the dike back into a defensible condition, and many houses, which were initially only damaged, have now been completely destroyed. Numerous small owners left the country so that the Hanover government even issued a ban on emigration."


Looks like the Netherlands got a proper Christmas fucking as well! Some towns were so severely destroyed that nothing was left, and they simply ceased to exist. Damn. 


Cyclones and floods… What else does mother nature have for us? Well, how's about an earthquake! On Friday, December 26, 2003, at 5:26 a.m., Bam city in Southeastern Iran was jolted by an earthquake registering a 6.5 magnitude on the Richter scale. This was the result of the strike-slip motion of the Bam fault, which runs through this area. The earthquake's epicenter was determined to be approximately six miles southwest of the city. Three more significant aftershocks and many smaller aftershocks were also recorded, the last of which occurred over a month after the main earthquake. To date, official death tolls have 26,271 fatalities, 9000 injured, and 525 still missing. The city of Bam is one of Iran's most ancient cities, dating back to 224A.D. Latest reports and damage estimates are approaching the area of $1.9 billion. A United Nations report estimated that about 90% of the city's buildings were 60%-100% damaged, while the remaining buildings were between 30%-60% damaged. The crazy part about the whole thing… The quake only lasted for about 8 seconds.


Now I know what you're thinking… That's not Christmas… Well, there spanky, the night of the 25th, Christmas, people started to feel minor tremors that would preface the quake, so fuck you, it counts.


We have one more natural disaster for you guys, and this one most of you guys probably remember. And this one was another that started last Christmas night and rolled into the 26th, also known as boxing day. So we're talking about the Boxing Day Tsunami and the Indian ocean earthquake in 2004. 


A 9.1-magnitude earthquake—one of the largest ever recorded—ripped through an undersea fault in the Indian Ocean, propelling a massive column of water toward unsuspecting shores. The Boxing Day tsunami would be the deadliest in recorded history, taking a staggering 230,000 lives in a matter of hours.


The city of Banda Aceh on the northern tip of Sumatra was closest to the powerful earthquake's epicenter, and the first waves arrived in just 20 minutes. It's nearly impossible to imagine the 100-foot roiling mountain of water that engulfed the coastal city of 320,000, instantly killing more than 100,000 men, women, and children. Buildings folded like houses of cards, trees, and cars were swept up in the oil-black rapids, and virtually no one caught in the deluge survived.


Thailand was next. With waves traveling 500 mph across the Indian Ocean, the tsunami hit the coastal provinces of Phang Nga and Phuket an hour and a half later. Despite the time-lapse, locals and tourists were utterly unaware of the imminent destruction. Curious beachgoers even wandered out among the oddly receding waves, only to be chased down by a churning wall of water. The death toll in Thailand was nearly 5,400, including 2,000 foreign tourists.


An hour later, on the opposite side of the Indian Ocean, the waves struck the southeastern coast of India near the city of Chennai, pushing debris-choked water kilometers inland and killing more than 10,000 people, primarily women and children, since many of the men were out fishing. But some of the worst devastations were reserved for the island nation of Sri Lanka, where more than 30,000 people were swept away by the waves and hundreds of thousands left homeless.


As proof of the record-breaking strength of the tsunami, the last victims of the Boxing Day disaster perished nearly eight hours later when swelling seas and rogue waves caught swimmers by surprise in South Africa, 5,000 miles from the quake's epicenter.


Vasily Titov is a tsunami researcher and forecaster with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Center for Tsunami Research. He credits the unsparing destructiveness of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami on the raw power of the earthquake that spawned it. The quake originated in a so-called megathrust fault, where heavy oceanic plates subduct beneath lighter continental plates. 


"They are the largest faults in the world and they're all underwater," says Titov.


The 2004 quake ruptured a 900-mile stretch along the Indian and Australian plates 31 miles below the ocean floor. Rather than delivering one violent jolt, the earthquake lasted an unrelenting 10 minutes, releasing as much pent-up power as several thousand atomic bombs.


In the process, massive segments of the ocean floor were forced an estimated 30 or 40 meters (up to 130 feet) upward. The effect was like dropping the world's most giant pebble in the Indian Ocean with ripples the size of mountains extending out in all directions.


Titov emphasizes that tsunamis look nothing like the giant surfing break-style waves that many imagine.


"It's a wave, but from the observer's standpoint, you wouldn't recognize it as a wave," Titov says. "It's more like the ocean turns into a white water river and floods everything in its path."


Once caught in the raging waters, the debris will finish the job if the currents don't pull you under.


"In earthquakes, a certain number of people die but many more are injured. It's completely reversed with tsunamis," says Titov. "Almost no injuries, because it's such a difficult disaster to survive."


Holy fuck…

That's insane!


Well, there are some crazy natural disasters gifted to us by mother nature. So now let's take a look at some man-made disasters… And there are some bad ones. 


First up is the 1953 train wreck on Christmas Eve in New Zealand. So this is actually a mix of mother nature fucking people and a man-made structure failing. This event is also referred to as the Tangiwai disaster. The weather on Christmas Eve was fine, and with little recent rain, no one suspected flooding in the Whangaehu River. The river appeared normal when a goods train crossed the bridge around 7 p.m. What transformed the situation was the sudden release of approximately 2 million cubic meters of water from the crater lake of nearby Mt Ruapehu. A 6-meter-high wave containing water, ice, mud, and rocks surged, tsunami-like, down the Whangaehu River. Sometime between 10.10 and 10.15 p.m., this lahar struck the concrete pylons of the Tangiwai railway bridge.


Traveling at approximately 65 km per hour, locomotive Ka 949 and its train of nine carriages and two vans reached the severely weakened bridge at 10.21 p.m. As the bridge buckled beneath its weight, the engine plunged into the river, taking all five second-class carriages with it. The torrent force destroyed four of these carriages – those inside had little chance of survival.


The leading first-class carriage, Car Z, teetered on the edge of the ruined bridge for a few minutes before breaking free from the remaining three carriages and toppling into the river. It rolled downstream before coming to rest on a bank as the water level fell. Remarkably, 21 of the 22 passengers in this carriage survived. Evidence suggested that the locomotive driver, Charles Parker, had applied the emergency brakes some 200 m from the bridge, which prevented the last three carriages from ending up in the river and saved many lives. Even still, 151 of the 285 passengers and crew died that night in the crash.


This information was taken from 


Next up is the Italian Hall disaster. 


Before it was called Calumet, the area was known as Red Jacket. And for many, it seemed to be ground zero for the sprawling copper mining operations that absorbed wave after wave of immigrants into the Upper Peninsula.


Red Jacket itself was a company town for the Calumet and Hecla Mining Company, a large firm that in the 1870s was known as the world's largest copper producer. For a time, C&H had the world's deepest copper mines.


But the company wasn't immune from the organized labor push that swept across the Keweenaw Peninsula and other parts of the U.P. in 1913. Miners in Montana and Colorado had unionized, and in July of that year, the Western Federation of Miners called a strike against all Copper Country mines. According to a mining journal published that year, they were pushing for a $3 daily wage, 8-hour days, safer working conditions, and representation.


"The strike took place in a very complicated time in American history," said Jo Holt, a historian with the National Park Service's Keweenaw National Historical Park. "We had all these different things coming together. An increasingly industrialized country was grappling with worker's rights, gender issues, and immigration. We were moving from a gilded age into a progressive era, and recognizing the voice of labor.


"We see this event happen in the midst of that struggle."


"The reason it resonates today is we are still having these conversations. How do we create a just economy that functions for everybody? ... We are still, almost hundred and 10 years later, in the midst of these conversations."


As the strike wore into fall and the holiday season, a women's auxiliary group to the WFM organized a Christmas Eve party for the miners' families at the Italian Benevolent Society building, better known as the Italian Hall.


It was a big, boisterous affair, researchers have said. The multi-story hall was packed, with more than 600 people inside at one point. Children were watching a play and receiving gifts. Organizers later said the crowd was so large that it was hard to track who was coming in the door.


When the false cry of "Fire!" went up, pandemonium reached the sole stairway leading down to the street.


"What happened is when people panicked, they tried to get out through the stairwell," Holt said. "Someone tripped or people started to fall, and that's what created the bottleneck. It was just people falling on top of each other."


The aftermath was horrifying. As the dead were pulled from the pile in the stairwell, the bodies were carried to the town hall, which turned into a makeshift morgue. Some families lost more than one child. Other children were orphaned when their parents died.


One black and white photo in the Michigan Technological University Archives shows rows of what looks like sleeping children lying side-by-side. Their eyes are closed. Their faces were unmarred. The caption reads: "Christmas Eve in the Morgue."


After the dead were buried, some families moved away. Others stayed and kept supporting the strike, which ended the following spring.


Rumors emerged later that the Italian Hall's doors were designed to open inward, preventing the panicked crowd from pushing them outward to the street. Those were debunked, along with the suggestion in Woody Guthrie's "1913 Massacre" song that mining company thugs were holding the doors shut from the outside that night.


Damn… Mostly kids. On Christmas. That's a tough one.


Here's another touchy one. A race riot erupted in Mayfield, Kentucky, just before Christmas 1896.

Although slavery in the U.S. ended after the Civil War, the Reconstruction period and beyond was a dangerous time to be black. Things were awful for non-whites in the former Confederacy, amongst which Kentucky was especially bad for racial violence. In December 1896, white vigilantes lynched two black men within 24 hours of each other between the 21st and 22nd, one for a minor disagreement with a white man and the other, Jim Stone, for alleged rape. A note attached to Stone's swinging corpse warned black residents to get out of town.


In response to this unambiguous threat, the local African-American population armed themselves. Rumors spread amongst the town's white people that 250 men were marching on the city, and a state of emergency was called. The whites mobilized, black stores were vandalized, and fighting broke out between the two sides on December 23. In the event, three people were killed, including Will Suet, a black teenager who had just got off the train to spend Christmas with his family. It was all over on Christmas Eve, and a few days later, an uneasy truce between the races was called.



Y'all know what time it is? That's right, it's time for some quick hitters.


Many of us enjoy the Christmas period by going to the theatre or watching a movie. In December 1903, Chicago residents were eager to do just that at the brand-new Iroquois Theatre, which had been officially opened only in October that year. 1700 people in all crammed themselves in to see the zany, family-friendly musical comedy, Mr. Bluebeard. But just as the wait was over and the show started, a single spark from a stage light lit the surrounding drapery. The show's star, Eddie Foy, tried to keep things together as Iroquois employees struggled to put the curtains out in vain.


However, even the spectacle of a Windy City-native in drag couldn't stop the terrified crowd stampeding for the few exits. These, preposterously, were concealed by curtains and utterly inadequate in number. When the actors opened their own exit door to escape, a gust of wind sent a fireball through the crowded theatre, meaning that hundreds died before the fire service was even called. 585 people died, either suffocated, burned alive, or crushed. The scene was described in a 1904 account as "worse than that pictured in the mind of Dante in his vision of the inferno".

Next up, the politics behind this ghastly event are pretty complicated – one Mexican lecturer described the massacre as "the most complicated case in Mexico" – but here's an inadequate summary. The small and impoverished village of Acteal, Mexico, was home to Las Abejas (the bees'), a religious collective that sympathized with a rebel group opposing the Mexican government. Thus, on December 22, 1997, members of the then-ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party crept down the steep hill slopes above the village. They chose their moment to attack carefully as people gathered at a prayer meeting when they finally slunk into Acteal.


Over the next few hours, assassins armed with guns executed 45 innocent people in cold blood. Amongst the dead were 21 women, some of whom were pregnant, and 15 children. Worst of all, investigations into this cowardly act seem to implicate the government itself. Soldiers garrisoned nearby did not intervene, despite being within earshot of the gunfire and horrified screams. In addition, there was evidence of the crime scene being tampered with by local police and government officials. Though some people have been convicted, there are suspicions that they were framed and that the real culprits remain at large.


-Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring… except the Soviet Union. The Marxist-Leninist Khalq and Parcham parties had ousted the Afghan president in April 1978. Still, communism was so unpopular in Afghanistan that the mujahideen succeeded in toppling them just over a year later. So Khalq and Parcham turned to the Soviet Union for help, and on Christmas Eve that year, they obliged by sending 30,000 troops across the border into Afghanistan by the cover of darkness. Bloody fighting ensued, and soon the Soviet Union had control of the major cities.


The Soviets stayed for nine years, at which time the mujahideen, backed by foreign support and weapons, waged a brutal guerrilla campaign against the invaders. In turn, captured mujahideen were executed, and entire villages and agricultural areas were razed to the ground. When the Soviets finally withdrew in February 1989, over 1 million civilians and almost 125,000 soldiers from both sides were killed. From the turmoil after the Afghan-Soviet War emerged, the Taliban, installed by neighboring Pakistan, and with them Osama bin Laden. This indeed was a black Christmas for the world.


-How about another race riot… No? Well, here you go anyway. Although, this one may be more fucked up. The Agana Race Riot saw black and white US Marines fight it out from Christmas Eve to Boxing Day, 1944.

Guam was host to both black and white US Marines in 1944. But instead of fighting the enemy, the white troops elected to turn on the all-black Marine 25th Depot Company. First, the white Marines would stop their fellow soldiers from entering Agana, pelt them with rocks, and shout racist obscenities at them. Then, on Christmas Eve 1944, 9 members of the 25th on official leave were seen talking to local women, and white Marines opened fire on them. Then, on Christmas Day, 2 black soldiers were shot dead by drunken white Marines in separate incidents.


Guam's white Marines were decidedly short on festive cheer and goodwill to all men. Not content with these murders, a white mob attacked an African-American depot on Boxing Day, and a white soldier sustained an injury when the 25th returned fire. Sick of their treatment by their fellow soldiers, 40 black Marines gave chase to the retreating mob in a jeep, but further violence was prevented by a roadblock. Can you guess what happened next? Yep, the black soldiers were charged with unlawful assembly, rioting, and attempted murder, while the white soldiers were left to nurse their aching heads.


One more major one for you guys, and then we'll leave on a kind of happier note. This one's kind of rough. Be warned. 


In late December 2008 and into January 2009, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) brutally killed more than 865 civilians and abducted at least 160 children in the northern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). LRA combatants hacked their victims to death with machetes or axes or crushed their skulls with clubs and heavy sticks. In some of the places where they attacked, few were left alive.


The worst attacks happened 48 hours over Christmas in locations some 160 miles apart in the Daruma, Duru, and Faradje areas of the Haut-Uele district of northern Congo. The LRA waited until the time of Christmas festivities on December 24 and 25 to carry out their devastating attacks, apparently choosing a moment when they would find the maximum number of people altogether. The killings occurred in the Congo and parts of southern Sudan, where similar weapons and tactics were used.


The Christmas massacres in Congo are part of a longstanding practice of horrific atrocities and abuse by the LRA. Before shifting its operations to the Congo in 2006, the LRA was based in Uganda and southern Sudan, where LRA combatants also killed, raped, and abducted thousands of civilians. When the LRA moved to Congo, its combatants initially refrained from targeting Congolese people. Still, in September 2008, the LRA began its first wave of attacks, apparently to punish local communities who had helped LRA defectors to escape. The first wave of attacks in September, together with the Christmas massacres, has led to the deaths of over 1,033 civilians and the abduction of at least 476 children.


LRA killings have not stopped since the Christmas massacres. Human Rights Watch receives regular reports of murders and abductions by the LRA, keeping civilians living in terror. According to the United Nations, over 140,000 people have fled their homes since late December 2008 to seek safety elsewhere. New attacks and the flight of civilians are reported weekly. People are frightened to gather together in some areas, believing that the LRA may choose these moments to strike, as they did with such devastating efficiency over Christmas.


Even by LRA standards, the Christmas massacres in the Congo were ruthless. LRA combatants struck quickly and quietly, surrounding their victims as they ate their Christmas meal in Batande village or gathered for a Christmas day concert in Faradje. In Mabando village, the LRA sought to maximize the death toll by luring their victims to a central place, playing the radio, and forcing their victims to sing songs and call for others to come to join the party. In most attacks, they tied up their victims, stripped them of their clothes, raped the women and girls, and then killed their victims by crushing their skulls. In two cases, the attackers tried to kill three-year-old toddlers by twisting off their heads. The few villagers who survived often did so because their assailants thought they were dead. there's that. We could go much deeper into this incident, but we think you get the point. 


We'll leave you with a story that is pretty bizarre when you stop and think about it. But we'll leave you with this story of an unlikely Christmas get-together. This is the story of the Christmas truce. 


British machine gunner Bruce Bairnsfather, later a prominent cartoonist, wrote about it in his memoirs. Like most of his fellow infantrymen of the 1st Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, he was spending the holiday eve shivering in the muck, trying to keep warm. He had spent a good part of the past few months fighting the Germans. And now, in a part of Belgium called Bois de Ploegsteert, he was crouched in a trench that stretched just three feet deep by three feet wide, his days and nights marked by an endless cycle of sleeplessness and fear, stale biscuits and cigarettes too wet to light.


"Here I was, in this horrible clay cavity," Bairnsfather wrote, "…miles and miles from home. Cold, wet through and covered with mud." There didn't "seem the slightest chance of leaving—except in an ambulance."


At about 10 p.m., Bairnsfather noticed a noise. "I listened," he recalled. "Away across the field, among the dark shadows beyond, I could hear the murmur of voices." He turned to a fellow soldier in his trench and said, "Do you hear the Boches [Germans] kicking up that racket over there?"


Yes," came the reply. "They've been at it some time!"


The Germans were singing carols, as it was Christmas Eve. In the darkness, some of the British soldiers began to sing back. "Suddenly," Bairnsfather recalled, "we heard a confused shouting from the other side. We all stopped to listen. The shout came again." The voice was from an enemy soldier, speaking in English with a strong German accent. He was saying, "Come over here."


One of the British sergeants answered: "You come half-way. I come half-way."


In the years to come, what happened next would stun the world and make history. Enemy soldiers began to climb nervously out of their trenches and meet in the barbed-wire-filled "No Man's Land" that separated the armies. Typically, the British and Germans communicated across No Man's Land with streaking bullets, with only occasional gentlemanly allowances to collect the dead unmolested. But now, there were handshakes and words of kindness. The soldiers traded songs, tobacco, and wine, joining in a spontaneous holiday party in the cold night.

Bairnsfather could not believe his eyes. "Here they were—the actual, practical soldiers of the German army. There was not an atom of hate on either side."


And it wasn't confined to that one battlefield. Starting on Christmas Eve, small pockets of French, German, Belgian, and British troops held impromptu cease-fires across the Western Front, with reports of some on the Eastern Front as well. Some accounts suggest a few of these unofficial truces remained in effect for days.


Descriptions of the Christmas Truce appear in numerous diaries and letters of the time. One British soldier, a rifleman, named J. Reading, wrote a letter home to his wife describing his holiday experience in 1914: "My company happened to be in the firing line on Christmas eve, and it was my turn…to go into a ruined house and remain there until 6:30 on Christmas morning. During the early part of the morning the Germans started singing and shouting, all in good English. They shouted out: 'Are you the Rifle Brigade; have you a spare bottle; if so we will come halfway and you come the other half.'"


"Later on in the day they came towards us," Reading described. "And our chaps went out to meet them…I shook hands with some of them, and they gave us cigarettes and cigars. We did not fire that day, and everything was so quiet it seemed like a dream."


Another British soldier, named John Ferguson, recalled it this way: "Here we were laughing and chatting to men whom only a few hours before we were trying to kill!"


Other diaries and letters describe German soldiers using candles to light Christmas trees around their trenches. One German infantryman described how a British soldier set up a makeshift barbershop, charging Germans a few cigarettes each for a haircut. Other accounts describe vivid scenes of men helping enemy soldiers collect their dead, of which there was plenty.


One British fighter named Ernie Williams later described in an interview his recollection of some makeshift soccer play on what turned out to be an icy pitch: "The ball appeared from somewhere, I don't know where... They made up some goals and one fellow went in goal and then it was just a general kick-about. I should think there were about a couple of hundred taking part."


German Lieutenant Kurt Zehmisch of the 134 Saxons Infantry, a schoolteacher who spoke both English and German, described a pick-up soccer game in his diary, which was discovered in an attic near Leipzig in 1999, written in an archaic German form of shorthand. "Eventually the English brought a soccer ball from their trenches, and pretty soon, a lively game ensued," he wrote. "How marvelously wonderful, yet how strange it was. The English officers felt the same way about it. Thus Christmas, the celebration of Love, managed to bring mortal enemies together as friends for a time."


So much more can be said about this event, but that seems like an excellent place to leave off this Christmas episode! And yes, when you really do stop and think about it… That's a pretty crazy yet fantastic thing.


Greatest disaster movies of all time

Mary Shelley, The Birth of Frankenstein

We've all heard the story of "Frankenstein's Monster." A bat shit crazy scientist wants to reanimate dead tissue and basically create a fucking zombie baby… BECAUSE THAT'S HOW YOU GET FUCKING ZOMBIES! Anyway, Dr. Frankenstein and his trusty assistant, Igor, set off to bring a bunch of random, dead body parts together, throw some lightning on the bugger and bring this new, puzzle piece of a quasi-human back to "life." At first, the reanimated corpse seems somewhat ordinary, but then flips his shit and starts terrorizing and doing what I can only imagine REANIMATED ZOMBIES FUCKING DO! 


Mary Shelley was born Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin in Somers Town, London, in 1797. She was the second child of the feminist philosopher, educator, and writer Mary Wollstonecraft and the first child of the philosopher, novelist, and journalist William Godwin. 

So, she was brought into this world by some smart fucking people. Mary's mother died of puerperal fever shortly after Mary was born. Puerperal fever is an infectious, sometimes fatal, disease of childbirth; until the mid-19th century, this dreaded, then-mysterious illness could sweep through a hospital maternity ward and kill most new mothers. Today strict aseptic hospital techniques have made the condition uncommon in most parts of the world, except in unusual circumstances such as illegally induced abortion. Her father, William, was left to bring up Mary and her older half-sister, Fanny Imlay, Mary's mother's child by the American speculator Gilbert Imlay. A year after her mother's death, Godwin published his Memoirs of the Author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, which he intended as a sincere and compassionate tribute. However, the Memoirs revealed Mary's mother's affairs and her illegitimate child. In that period, they were seen as shocking. Mary read these memoirs and her mother's books and was brought up to cherish her mother's memory.

Mary's earliest years were happy, judging from the letters of William's housekeeper and nurse, Louisa Jones. But Godwin was often deeply in debt; feeling that he could not raise Mary and Fanny himself, he looked for a second wife. In December 1801, he married Mary Jane Clairmont, a well-educated woman with two young children—Charles and Claire SO MANY MARY'S! Sorry folks. Most of her father's friends disliked his new wife, describing her as a straight fucking bitch. Ok, not really, but they didn't like her. However, William was devoted to her, and the marriage worked. Mary, however, came to hate that bitch. William's 19th-century biographer Charles Kegan Paul later suggested that Mrs. Godwin had favored her own children over Williams. So, how awesome is it that he had a biographer? That's so badass. 

Together, Mary's father and his new bride started a publishing firm called M. J. Godwin, which sold children's books and stationery, maps, and games. However, the business wasn't making any loot, and her father was forced to borrow butt loads of money to keep it going. He kept borrowing money to pay off earlier loans, just adding to his problems. By 1809, William's business was close to closing up shop, and he was "near to despair." Mary's father was saved from debtor's prison by devotees such as Francis Place, who lent him additional money. So, debtor's prison is pretty much EXACTLY what it sounds like. If you couldn't pay your debts, they threw your ass in jail. Unlike today where they just FUCK UP YOUR CREDIT! THANKS, COLUMBIA HOUSE!!! 

Though Mary received little education, her father tutored her in many subjects. He often took the children on educational trips. They had access to his library and the many intelligent mofos who visited him, including the Romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge and the former vice-president of the United States Aaron Burr. You know, that dude that shot and killed his POLITICAL opponent, Alexander Hamilton, in a fucking duel! Ah… I was born in the wrong century.  

Mary's father admitted he was not educating the children according to Mary's mother's philosophy as outlined in works such as A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. However, Mary still received an unusual and advanced education for a girl of the time. She had a governess, a daily tutor, and read many of her father's children's Roman and Greek history books. For six months in 1811, she also attended a boarding school in Ramsgate, England. Her father described her at age 15 as "singularly bold, somewhat imperious, and active of mind. Her desire of knowledge is great, and her perseverance in everything she undertakes almost invincible." My father didn't know how to spell my name until I was twelve. 

In June of 1812, Mary's father sent her to stay with the family of the radical William Baxter, near Dundee, Scotland. In a letter to Baxter, he wrote, "I am anxious that she should be brought up ... like a philosopher, even like a cynic." Scholars have speculated that she may have been sent away for her health, remove her from the seamy side of the business, or introduce her to radical politics. However, Mary loved the spacious surroundings of Baxter's house and with his four daughters, and she returned north in the summer of 1813 to hang out for 10 months. In the 1831 introduction to Frankenstein, she recalled: "I wrote then—but in a most common-place style. It was beneath the trees of the grounds belonging to our house, or on the bleak sides of the woodless mountains near, that my true compositions, the airy flights of my imagination, were born and fostered."


Mary Godwin may have first met the radical poet-philosopher Percy Bysshe Shelley in between her two stays in Scotland. When she returned home for a second time on 30 March 1814, Percy Shelley became estranged from his wife and regularly visited Mary's father, William Godwin, whom he had agreed to bail out of debt. Percy Shelley's radicalism, particularly his economic views, alienated him from his wealthy aristocratic family. They wanted him to be a high, upstanding snoot and follow traditional models of the landed aristocracy. He tried to donate large amounts of the family's money to projects meant to help the poor and disadvantaged. Percy Shelley, therefore, had a problem gaining access to capital until he inherited his estate because his family did not want him wasting it on projects of "political justice." After several months of promises, Shelley announced that he could not or would not pay off all of Godwin's debts. Godwin was angry and felt betrayed and whooped his fuckin ass! Yeah! Ok, not really. He was just super pissed.

Mary and Percy began hookin' up on the down-low at her mother Mary Wollstonecraft's grave in the churchyard of St Pancras Old Church, and they fell in love—she was 16, and he was 21. Creepy and super fucking gross. 

 On 26 June 1814, Shelley and Godwin declared their love for one another as Shelley announced he could not hide his "ardent passion,." This led her in a "sublime and rapturous moment" to say she felt the same way; on either that day or the next, Godwin lost her virginity to Shelley, which tradition claims happened in the churchyard. So, the grown-ass 21-year-old man statutorily raped the 16-year-old daughter of the man he idolized and dicked over. In a graveyard. My god, how things have changed...GROSS!

Godwin described herself as attracted to Shelley's "wild, intellectual, unearthly looks." Smart but ugly. Got it. To Mary's dismay, her father disapproved and tried to thwart the relationship and salvage his daughter's "spotless fame." No! You don't say! Dad wasn't into his TEENAGE DAUGHTER BANGING A MAN IN THE GRAVEYARD!?! Mary's father learned of Shelley's inability to pay off the father's debts at about the same time. Oof. He found out after he diddled her. Mary, who later wrote of "my excessive and romantic attachment to my father," was confused. Um… what?

She saw Percy Shelley as an embodiment of her parents' liberal and reformist ideas of the 1790s, particularly Godwin's view that marriage was a repressive monopoly, which he had argued in his 1793 edition of Political Justice but later retracted. On 28 July 1814, the couple eloped and secretly left for France, taking Mary's stepsister, Claire Clairmont, with them. 

After convincing Mary's mother, who took off after them to Calais, that they did not wish to return, the trio traveled to Paris, and then, by donkey, mule, carriage, and foot, through France, recently ravaged by war, all the way to Switzerland. "It was acting in a novel, being an incarnate romance," Mary Shelley recalled in 1826. Godwin wrote about France in 1814: "The distress of the inhabitants, whose houses had been burned, their cattle killed and all their wealth destroyed, has given a sting to my detestation of war...". As they traveled, Mary and Percy read works by Mary Wollstonecraft and others, kept a joint journal, and continued their own writing. Finally, at Lucerne, lack of money forced the three to turn back. Instead, they traveled down the Rhine and by land to the Dutch port of Maassluis, arriving at Gravesend, Kent, on 13 September 1814.

The situation awaiting Mary Godwin in England was packed with bullshit, some of which she had not expected. Either before or during their journey, she had become pregnant. She and Percy now found themselves penniless, and, to Mary's stupid ass surprise, her father refused to have anything to do with her. The couple moved with Claire into lodgings at Somers Town, and later, Nelson Square. They kept doing their thing, reading, and writing and entertained Percy Shelley's friends. Percy Shelley would often leave home for short periods to dodge bill collectors, and the couple's heartbroken letters would reveal their pain while he was away.

Pregnant and often sick, Mary Godwin had to hear of Percy's joy at the birth of his son by Harriet Shelley in late 1814 due to his constant escapades with Claire Clairmont. Supposedly, Shelley and Clairmont were almost certainly lovers, which caused Mary to be rightfully jealous. And yes, Claire was Mary's cousin. Percy was a friggin' creep.

Percy pissed off Mary when he suggested that they both take the plunge into a stream naked during a walk in the French countryside. This offended her due to her principles, and she was like, "Oh, hell nah, sahn!" and started taking off her earrings in a rage. Or something like that. She was partly consoled by the visits of Hogg, whom she disliked at first but soon considered a close friend. Percy Shelley seems to have wanted Mary and Hogg to become lovers; Mary did not dismiss the idea since she believed in free love in principle. She was a hippie before being a hippie was cool. Percy probably just wanted to not feel guilty for hooking up with her cousin. Creep. In reality, however, she loved only Percy and seemed to have gone no further than flirting with Hogg. On 22 February 1815, she gave birth to a two-months premature baby girl, who was not expected to survive. On 6 March, she wrote to Hogg:

"My dearest Hogg, my baby is dead—will you come to see me as soon as you can. I wish to see you—It was perfectly well when I went to bed—I awoke in the night to give it suck it appeared to be sleeping so quietly that I would not awake it. It was dead then, but we did not find that out till morning—from its appearance it evidently died of convulsions—Will you come—you are so calm a creature & Shelley (Percy) is afraid of a fever from the milk—for I am no longer a mother now."

The loss of her child brought about acute depression in Mary. She was haunted by visions of the baby, but she conceived again and had recovered by the summer. With a revival in Percy's finances after the death of his grandfather, Sir Bysshe Shelley, the couple holidayed in Torquay and then rented a two-story cottage at Bishopsgate, on the edge of Windsor Great Park. Unfortunately, little is known about this period in Mary Godwin's life since her journal from May 1815 to July 1816 was lost. At Bishopsgate, Percy wrote his poem Alastor or The Spirit of Solitude; and on 24 January 1816, Mary gave birth to a second child, William, named after her father and soon nicknamed "Willmouse." In her novel The Last Man, she later imagined Windsor as a Garden of Eden.

In May 1816, Mary, Percy, and their son traveled to Geneva with Claire Clairmont. They planned to spend the summer with the poet Lord Byron, whose recent affair with Claire had left her pregnant. Claire sounds like a bit of a trollop. No judging, just making an observation. The party arrived in Geneva on 14 May 1816, where Mary called herself "Mrs Shelley." Byron joined them on 25 May with his young physician, John William Polidori, and rented the Villa Diodati, close to Lake Geneva at the village of Cologny; Percy rented a smaller building called Maison Chapuis on the waterfront nearby. They spent their time writing, boating on the lake, and talking late into the night.

"It proved a wet, ungenial summer," Mary Shelley remembered in 1831, "and incessant rain often confined us for days to the house." Sitting around a log fire at Byron's villa, the company amused themselves with German ghost stories called Fantasmagoriana, which prompted Byron to propose that they "each write a ghost story." Unable to think up an account, young Mary became flustered: "Have you thought of a story? I was asked each morning, and each morning I was forced to reply with a mortifying negative." Finally, one mid-June evening, the discussions turned to the principle of life. "Perhaps a corpse would be reanimated," Mary noted, "galvanism had given token of such things." Galvanism is a term invented by the late 18th-century physicist and chemist Alessandro Volta to refer to the generation of electric current by chemical action. The word also came to refer to the discoveries of its namesake, Luigi Galvani, specifically the generation of electric current within biological organisms and the contraction/convulsion of natural muscle tissue upon contact with electric current. While Volta theorized and later demonstrated the phenomenon of his "Galvanism" to be replicable with otherwise inert materials, Galvani thought his discovery to confirm the existence of "animal electricity," a vital force that gave life to organic matter. We'll talk a little more about Galvani and a murderer named George Foster toward the end of the episode.

It was after midnight before they retired, and she was unable to sleep, mainly because she became overwhelmed by her imagination as she kept thinking about the grim terrors of her "waking dream," her ghost story:

"I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy, half vital motion. Frightful must it be; for supremely frightful would be the effect of any human endeavour to mock the stupendous mechanism of the Creator of the world."

She began writing what she assumed would be a short, profound story. With Percy Shelley's encouragement, she turned her little idea into her first novel, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, published in 1818. She later described that time in Switzerland as "when I first stepped out from childhood into life." The story of the writing of Frankenstein has been fictionalized repeatedly, and it helped form the basis for several films.

Here's a cool little side note: In September 2011, the astronomer Donald Olson, after a visit to the Lake Geneva villa the previous year and inspecting data about the motion of the moon and stars, concluded that her waking dream took place "between 2 am and 3 am" 16 June 1816, several days after the initial idea by Lord Byron that they each write their ghost stories.

Shelley and her husband collaborated on the story, but the extent of Percy's contribution to the novel is unknown and has been argued over by readers and critics forever. There are differences in the 1818, 1823, and 1831 versions. Mary Shelley wrote, "I certainly did not owe the suggestion of one incident, nor scarcely of one train of feeling, to my husband, and yet but for his incitement, it would never have taken the form in which it was presented to the world." She wrote that the preface to the first edition was her husband's work "as far as I can recollect." James Rieger concluded Percy's "assistance at every point in the book's manufacture was so extensive that one hardly knows whether to regard him as editor or minor collaborator." At the same time, Anne K. Mellor later argued Percy only "made many technical corrections and several times clarified the narrative and thematic continuity of the text."

Charles E. Robinson, the editor of a facsimile edition of the Frankenstein manuscripts, concluded that Percy's contributions to the book "were no more than what most publishers' editors have provided new (or old) authors or, in fact, what colleagues have provided to each other after reading each other's works in progress." So, eat one, Percy! Just kidding.

In 1840 and 1842, Mary and her son traveled together all over the continent. Mary recorded these trips in Rambles in Germany and Italy in 1840, 1842, and 1843. In 1844, Sir Timothy Shelley finally died at the age of ninety, "falling from the stalk like an overblown flower," Mary put it. For the first time in her life, she and her son were financially independent, though the remaining estate wasn't worth as much as they had thought.

In the mid-1840s, Mary Shelley found herself in the crosshairs of three separate blackmailing sons of bitches. First, in 1845, an Italian political exile called Gatteschi, whom she had met in Paris, threatened to publish letters she had sent him. Scandalous! However, a friend of her son's bribed a police chief into seizing Gatteschi's papers, including the letters, which were then destroyed. Vaffanculo, Gatteschi! Shortly afterward, Mary Shelley bought some letters written by herself and Percy Shelley from a man calling himself G. Byron and posing as the illegitimate son of the late Lord Byron. Also, in 1845, Percy Shelley's cousin Thomas Medwin approached her, claiming to have written a damaging biography of Percy Shelley. He said he would suppress it in return for £250, but Mary told him to eat a big ole bag of dicks and jog on!

In 1848, Percy Florence married Jane Gibson St John. The marriage proved a happy one, and Mary liked Jane. Mary lived with her son and daughter-in-law at Field Place, Sussex, the Shelleys' ancestral home, and at Chester Square, London, and vacationed with them, as well.

Mary's last years were blighted by illness. From 1839, she suffered from headaches and bouts of paralysis in parts of her body, which sometimes prevented her from reading and writing, obviously two of her favorite things. Then, on 1 February 1851, at Chester Square, Mary Shelly died at fifty-three from what her doctor suspected was a brain tumor. According to Jane Shelley, Mary had asked to be buried with her mother and father. Still, looking at the graveyard at St Pancras and calling it "dreadful," Percy and Jane chose to bury her instead at St Peter's Church in Bournemouth, near their new home at Boscombe. On the first anniversary of Mary's death, the Shelleys opened her box-desk. Inside they found locks of her dead children's hair, a notebook she had shared with Percy Bysshe Shelley, and a copy of his poem Adonaïs with one page folded round a silk parcel containing some of his ashes and the remains of his heart. Romantic or disturbing? Maybe a bit of both.

Mary Shelley remained a stout political radical throughout her life. Mary's works often suggested that cooperation and sympathy, mainly as practiced by women in the family, were the ways to reform civil society. This view directly challenged the individualistic Romantic ethos promoted by Percy Shelley and Enlightenment political theories. She wrote seven novels / Two travel narrations / Twenty three short stories / Three books of children's literature, and many articles. Mary Shelley left her mark on the literary world, and her name will be forever etched in the catacombs of horror for generations to come.

When it comes to reanimation, there's someone else we need to talk about.

George Forster (or Foster) was found guilty of murdering his wife and child by drowning them in Paddington Canal, London. He was hanged at Newgate on 18 January 1803, after which his body was taken to a nearby house where it was used in an experiment by Italian scientist Giovanni Aldini.

At his trial, the events were reconstructed. Forster's mother-in-law recounted that her daughter and grandchild had left her house to see Forster at 4 pm on Saturday, 4 December 1802. In whose house Forster lodged, Joseph Bradfield reported that they had stayed together that night and gone out at 10 am on Sunday morning. He also stated that Forster and his wife had not been on good terms because she wished to live with him. On Sunday, various witnesses saw Forster with his wife and child in public houses near Paddington Canal. The body of his child was found on Monday morning; after the canal was dragged for three days, his wife's body was also found.

Forster claimed that upon leaving The Mitre, he set out alone for Barnet to see his other two children in the workhouse there, though he was forced to turn back at Whetstone due to the failing light. This was contradicted by a waiter at The Mitre who said the three left the inn together. Skepticism was also expressed that he could have walked to Whetstone when he claimed. Nevertheless, the jury found him guilty. He was sentenced to death and also to be dissected after that. This sentence was designed to provide medicine with corpses on which to experiment and ensure that the condemned could not rise on Judgement Day, their bodies having been cut into pieces and selectively discarded. Forster was hanged on 18 January, shortly before he made a full confession. He said he had come to hate his wife and had twice before taken his wife to the canal, but his nerve had both times failed him.

A recent BBC Knowledge documentary (Real Horror: Frankenstein) questions the fairness of the trial. It notes that friends of George Forster's wife later claimed that she was highly suicidal and had often talked about killing herself and her daughter. According to this documentary, Forster attempted suicide by stabbing himself with a crudely fashioned knife. This was to avoid awakening during the dissection of his body, should he not have died when hanged. This was a real possibility owing to the crude methods of execution at the time. The same reference suggests that his 'confession' was obtained under duress. In fact, it alleges that Pass, a Beadle or an official of a church or synagogue on Aldini's payroll, fast-tracked the whole trial and legal procedure to obtain the freshest corpse possible for his benefactor.

After the execution, Forster's body was given to Giovanni Aldini for experimentation. Aldini was the nephew of fellow scientist Luigi Galvani and an enthusiastic proponent of his uncle's method of stimulating muscles with electric current, known as Galvanism. The experiment he performed on Forster's body demonstrated this technique. The Newgate Calendar (a record of executions at Newgate) reports that "On the first application of the process to the face, the jaws of the deceased criminal began to quiver, and the adjoining muscles were horribly contorted, and one eye was actually opened. In the subsequent part of the process the right hand was raised and clenched, and the legs and thighs were set in motion." 

Several people present believed that Forster was being brought back to life (The Newgate Calendar reports that even if this had been so, he would have been re-executed since his sentence was to "hang until he be dead"). One man, Mr. Pass, the beadle of the Surgeons' Company, was so shocked that he died shortly after leaving. The hanged man was undoubtedly dead since his blood had been drained and his spinal cord severed after the execution.


Top Ten Frankenstein Movies

The Michigan Lake Triangle. Was it aliens?

We're going back to the creepy, mysterious, and strange this week. We're heading up to Lake Michigan, where tons of ships and planes have gone missing, and other odd things have occurred in what is known as the Lake Michigan triangle. Full disclosure, being from Ohio, the only reason we are covering this is that it's not the actual state of Michigan, just a lake that was unfortunately cursed with the same name. So we'll only discuss the state if we absolutely have to. We kid, of course.. Or do we… At any rate, this should be another interesting, fun, historically jam-packed episode full of craziness! So without further ado, let's head to lake Michigan! 


So first off, let's learn a little about Lake Michigan itself because, you know, we like to learn you guys some stuff! 


Lake Michigan is one of the five Great Lakes of North America. It is the second-largest of the Great Lakes by volume and the third-largest by surface area after Lake Superior and Lake Huron. Lake Michigan is the largest lake by area in one country. Hydrologically Michigan and Huron are the same body of water (sometimes called Lake Michigan-Huron) but are typically considered distinct. Counted together, it is the largest body of fresh water in the world by surface area. The Mackinac Bridge is generally considered the dividing line between them. Its name is derived from the Ojibwa Indian word mishigami, meaning large lake. We've also seen the title translated as "big water," so honestly, we're not sure of the translation, but those are the two we see most often. Lake Michigan touches Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin. According to the New World Encyclopedia, approximately 12 million people live along the shores of Lake Michigan. Major port cities include Chicago, Illinois (population: 2.7 million); Milwaukee, Wisconsin (600,000); Green Bay, Wisconsin (104,000); and Gary, Indiana (80,000). Water temperatures on Lake Michigan make it to the 60s in July and August and can sometimes make it into the 70s when air temperatures have been in the 90s for several successive days.


The water of Lake Michigan has an unusual circulatory pattern — it resembles the traffic flow in a suburban cul-de-sac — and moves very slowly. Winds and resulting waves keep Lake Michigan from freezing over, but it has been 90 percent frozen on many occasions. Ocean-like swells, especially during the winter, can result in drastic temperature changes along the coast, shoreline erosion, and difficult navigation. The lake's average water depth is 279 feet (85 meters), and its maximum depth is 925 feet (282 meters).


Marshes, tallgrass prairies, savannas, forests, and sand dunes that can reach several hundred feet provide excellent habitats for all types of wildlife on Lake Michigan. Trout, salmon, walleye, and smallmouth bass fisheries are prevalent on the lake. The lake is also home to crawfish, freshwater sponges, and sea lamprey, a metallic violet eel species.


The lake is also home to a wide range of bird populations, including water birds such as ducks, Freddy the fox in bird costume, geese, swans, crows, robins, and bald eagles. Predatory birds such as hawks and vultures are also prevalent on the lake. This is mainly due to the wealth of wildlife to feast upon. The pebble-shaped Petoskey stone, a fossilized coral, is unique to the northern Michigan shores of Lake Michigan and is the state stone.


Today, the formation that is recognized as Lake Michigan began about 1.2 billion years ago when two tectonic plates were ripped apart, creating the Mid-Continent Rift. Some of the earliest human inhabitants of the Lake Michigan region were the Hopewell Native Americans. However, their culture declined after 800 AD, and for the next few hundred years, the area was the home of peoples known as the Late Woodland Native Americans. In the early 17th century, when western European explorers made their first forays into the region, they encountered descendants of the Late Woodland Native Americans: the historic Chippewa; Menominee; Sauk; Fox; Winnebago; Miami; Ottawa; and Potawatomi peoples. The French explorer Jean Nicolet is believed to have been the first European to reach Lake Michigan, possibly in 1634 or 1638. In early European maps of the region, the name of Lake Illinois has also been found to be that of "Michigan," named for the Illinois Confederation of tribes.


The Straits of Mackinac were an important Native American and fur trade route. Located on the southern side of the straits is the town of Mackinaw City, Michigan, the site of Fort Michilimackinac, a reconstructed French fort founded in 1715, and on the northern side is St. Ignace, Michigan, the site of a French Catholic mission to the Indians, founded in 1671. In 1673, Jacques Marquette, Louis Jolliet, and their crew of five Métis voyageurs followed Lake Michigan to Green Bay and up the Fox River, nearly to its headwaters, searching for the Mississippi River. By the late 18th century, the eastern end of the straits was controlled by Fort Mackinac on Mackinac Island, a British colonial and early American military base and fur trade center founded in 1781. 

With the advent of European exploration into the area in the late 17th century, Lake Michigan became used as part of a line of waterways leading from the Saint Lawrence River to the Mississippi River and thence to the Gulf of Mexico. French coureurs des Bois and voyageurs established small ports and trading communities, such as Green Bay, on the lake during the late 17th and early 18th centuries. In the 19th century, Lake Michigan was integral to the development of Chicago and the Midwestern United States west of the lake. For example, 90% of the grain shipped from Chicago traveled by ships east over Lake Michigan during the antebellum years. The volume rarely fell below 50% after the Civil War, even with the significant expansion of railroad shipping.


The first person to reach the deep bottom of Lake Michigan was J. Val Klump, a scientist at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee in 1985. Klump reached the bottom via submersible as part of a research expedition. In 2007, a row of stones paralleling an ancient shoreline was discovered by Mark Holley, professor of underwater archeology at Northwestern Michigan College. This formation lies 40 feet (12 m) below the lake's surface. One of the stones is said to have a carving resembling a mastodon. The construction needed more study before it could be authenticated. The warming of Lake Michigan was the subject of a 2018 report by Purdue University. Since 1980, steady increases in obscure surface temperature have occurred in each decade. This is likely to decrease native habitat and adversely affect native species' survival, including game fish.

Fun fact… Lake Michigan has its own coral reef! Lake Michigan waters near Chicago are also home to a reef, although it has been dead for many years. Still, it is an exciting feature of the lake, and scientists at Shedd Aquarium are interested in learning more about its habitat and the lifeforms it supports. Dr. Philip Willink is a senior research biologist at the Shedd Aquarium who has conducted research at Morgan Shoal to find out what kind of life there is and what the geology is like. "Morgan Shoal is special because it is so close to so many people. It is only a few hundred yards from one of the most famous and busiest streets in Chicago (Lake Shore Drive)," he said in an interview. 


"Now that more people know it is there, more people can make a connection with it, and they can begin to appreciate the geological processes that formed it and the plants and animals that call it home. It is a symbol of how aquatic biodiversity can survive in an urban landscape."


"I hope people continue to study and learn from Morgan Shoal. We need to keep figuring out how this reef interacts with the waves and currents of Lake Michigan," he said. "We need to continue studying how the underwater habitat promotes biodiversity."

Passengers, have you heard about the Stonehenge under lake Michigan? Well, in 2007, underwater archeologist Mark Holley was scanning for shipwrecks on the bottom of Lake Michigan's Grand Traverse Bay. Instead, he stumbled on a line of stones thought to be constructed by ancient humans. They believe that this building, similar to Stonehenge, is about 9000 years old, but interestingly, on one of the stones, there is a carving in the form of a mastodon, which died out more than 10,000 years ago. The exact coordinates of the find are still kept secret – this condition was put by local Indian tribes who do not want the influx of tourists and curiosity seekers on their land. The boulder with the markings is 3.5 to 4 feet high and about 5 feet long. Photos show a surface with numerous fissures. Some may be natural while others appear of human origin, but those forming what could be the petroglyph stood out, Holley said. Viewed together, they suggest the outlines of a mastodon-like back, hump, head, trunk, tusk, triangular-shaped ear, and parts of legs, he said.


"We couldn't believe what we were looking at," said Greg MacMaster, president of the underwater preserve council.


Specialists shown pictures of the boulder holding the mastodon markings have asked for more evidence before confirming the markings are an ancient petroglyph, said Holley. "They want to actually see it," he said. But, unfortunately, he added, "Experts in petroglyphs generally don't dive, so we're running into a little bit of a stumbling block there."

Featured on ancient aliens below clip:

Stonehenge in Northern Michigan - traverse city skip to 4:40

Soooo what's up with that… Michigan Stonehenge? Well, maybe not…


Sadly, much of the information out there is incorrect. For example, there is not a henge associated with the site, and the individual stones are relatively small compared to what most people think of as European standing stones. It should be clearly understood that this is not a megalith site like Stonehenge. This label is placed on the site by non-visiting individuals from the press who may have been attempting to generate sensation about the story. The site in Grand Traverse Bay is best described as a long line of stones that is over a mile in length.


Dr. John O'Shea from the University of Michigan has been working on a broadly similar structure in Lake Huron. He has received an NSF grant to research his site and thinks it may be a prehistoric driveline for herding caribou. This site is well published, and you can find quite a bit of information on it on the internet. The area in Grand Traverse Bay may possibly have served a similar function to the one found in Lake Huron. It certainly offers the same potential for research. Unfortunately, however, state politics in previous years have meant that we have only been able to obtain limited funding for research, and as a result, little progress has been made.


Honestly, even if it's not a Stonehenge but still possibly dating back 10,000 years, that's pretty dang terrific either way. Hopefully, they can figure out what's really going on down there!


So that's pretty sweet! Ok with that brief history and stuff out of the way, let's get into the fun stuff!


The Lake Michigan Triangle is a section of Lake Michigan considered especially treacherous to those venturing through it. It stretches from Manitowoc, Wisconsin, to Ludington, Michigan, before heading south to Benton Harbor, Michigan.

It was first proposed by Charles Berlitz. A proponent of the Bermuda Triangle, he felt Lake Michigan was governed by similar forces. This theory was presented to the public in aviator Jay Gourley's book, The Great Lakes Triangle. In it, he stated: "The Great Lakes account for more unexplained disappearances per unit area than the Bermuda Triangle."


The Lake Michigan Triangle is believed to have caused numerous shipwrecks and aerial disappearances over the years. It's also been the scene of unexplained phenomena, from mysterious ice blocks falling from the sky to balls of fire and strange, hovering lights. This has led many to believe extraterrestrials are drawn to the area or perhaps home to a time portal.


Let's start with the disappearances. The first ship that traveled the upper Great Lakes was the 17th-century brigandine, Le Griffon. However, this maiden voyage did not end well. The shipwrecked when it encountered a violent storm while sailing on Lake Michigan.


The first occurrence in the Lake Michigan Triangle was recorded in 1891. The Thomas Hume was a schooner built in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, in 1870. The ship was christened as H.C. Albrecht in honor of its first owner, Captain Harry Albrecht. In 1876, the vessel was sold to Captain Welch from Chicago. In the following year, the ship was bought by Charles Hackley, a lumber baron who owned the Hackley-Hume Lumber Mill on Muskegon Lake. The boat was then renamed as the Thomas Hume in 1883, after Hackley's business partner. The Hume would make many successful trips across Lake Michigan until May 21, 1891, when it disappeared, along with its crew of seven sailors. After that, not even a trace of the boat was ever found. The Hume was on a return trip from Chicago to Muskegon, having just dropped off a load of lumber. The ship remained lost until Taras Lysenko, a diver with A&T Recovery out of Chicago, discovered the wreck in 2005. Valerie van Heest, a Lake Michigan shipwreck hunter and researcher who helped identify the wreckage, and Elizabeth Sherman, a maritime author and great-granddaughter of the schooner's namesake, presented the discovery at the Great Lakes conference at the Great Lakes Naval Memorial and Museum. The last trip of the schooner began like many others it had completed for two of Muskegon County's prominent lumbermen, Thomas Hume and Charles Hackley. It took a load of lumber to Chicago in May of 1891.


The unloaded vessel left to return to Muskegon, riding empty and light alongside one of the company's other schooners, the Rouse Simmons, which years later would go on to legendary status as the Christmas Tree Ship.


Sherman relayed the history of the Thomas Hume's final moments. She said the two vessels encountered a squall, not a major storm or full gale that took many Great Lakes ships. 


"It made the captain of the Rouse Simmons nervous enough to turn back to Chicago," she told conference members.


The Thomas Hume continued on, and no signs of the vessel, the captain, nor the six-man crew were ever seen again. Sherman said Hackley and Hume called for a search of other ports and Lake Michigan, but nothing was found, not even debris.


That's when the wild theories began. Sherman said one of the most far-fetched was that the captain sailed to another port, painted the Thomas Hume, and sailed the vessel under a different name. Another theory was a large steamer ran down the schooner, and the steamer's captain swore his crew to secrecy.


Hackley and Hume put up a $300 reward, which seemed to squelch that theory because no one stepped forward.


The wreck remains in surprisingly good shape. The video shot by the dive group of the Thomas Hume shows the hull intact, the three masts laying on the deck, the ship's riggings, and a rudder that is in quality shape. The lifeboat was found inside the sunken vessel, presumably sucked into the opening during the sinking.


So what happened? Simple explanation… Maybe a storm or squall. Better explanation… Probably aliens… Or lake monster… Yeah, probably that.


Another mysterious incident believers in the Triangle seem to reference is the Rose Belle. From their archives, the news bulletin for the day reads: "October 30, 1921: the schooner Rosabelle, loaded with lumber, left High Island bound for Benton Harbor and apparently capsized in a gale on Lake Michigan. She was found awash 42 miles from Milwaukee, with no sign of the crew. After she drifted to 20 miles from Kenosha, the Cumberland towed her into Racine harbor. A thorough search of the ship turned up no sign of the crew. She was purchased by H & M Body Corp., beached 100 feet offshore, and attempts were made to drag her closer to shore north of Racine. The corp. planned to remove her lumber."


According to the Wisconsin Historical Society's Maritime Preservation Program, the Rosabelle was a small two-masted schooner and was used to bring supplies to High Island for the House of David. It was 100 feet long, with a beam of 26 feet.


Despite appearing to have been involved in a collision, there were no other shipwrecks or reports of an accident. What's more, the 11-person crew was nowhere to be found. 


We're gonna go with aliens again.


Mysterious disappearances have continued to occur along the lake's waters. For example, on April 28, 1937, Captain George R. Donner of the freighter O.M. McFarland went to rest in his cabin after hours of navigating his crew through icy waters. As the ship approached its destination at Port Washington, Wisconsin, a crewmember went to wake him up, only to find him missing and the door locked from the inside. A search of the ship turned up no clues, and Donner hasn't been seen since.


Over the years, shipwrecks stacked up, drawing attention to this region of Lake Michigan. Then, during the blizzard of November 1940, three massive freighters and two fishing tug boats sank off the coast of Pentwater, Mich., well inside this triangular boundary. Wrecks of the three freighters have been found, but the two tugboats have yet to be discovered. Whether the wreckages are lost or found, experts find it highly unusual that five ships – killing a total of 64 sailors – all sank on the same day so close together.


But did aren't the only thing that had disappeared here. 


Theories surrounding UFOs and extraterrestrials roaming the skies of the Lake Michigan Triangle are spurred on by the mysterious disappearance of Northwest Airlines flight 2501. The plane was traveling from New York to Seattle, with a stop in Minneapolis, on June 23, 1950, when it seemingly disappeared out of the sky.


At 11:37 p.m. that evening, its pilot requested a descent from 3,500 to 2,500 feet due to an electrical storm. The request was denied, and minutes later, the plane disappeared from radar. Despite a massive search effort, only a blanket bearing the Northwest Airlines logo indicated the plane had gone into the water.


As days passed, partial remains began to wash ashore across Michigan, but the plane never resurfaced. According to two police officers near the scene, there had been a strange red light hovering over the water just two hours after the plane disappeared. This has led some to theorize it was abducted by aliens. However, their reason for taking the aircraft remains a mystery.


See, told you… Aliens!


Do you need more proof of aliens? Here ya go


Steven Kubacki was a 23-year-old student at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. On February 20, 1978, he was on a solo cross-country skiing trip near Saugatuck, Michigan, when he disappeared. 


The next day, snowmobilers found his equipment abandoned, and police located his footprints on the ice. The way they abruptly ended suggested Kubacki had fallen through the ice and died of either hypothermia or by drowning. Seems pretty cut and dry, eh... Well, you're fucking fucking wrong, Jack! The mystery appeared all but solved until May 5, 1979, when Kubacki showed up in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Fifteen months after seemingly disappearing into the icy depths of Lake Michigan, he found himself lying in the grass, some 700 miles away. 


Kubacki told reporters he had no memory of the past year and a half. However, when he awoke, he was wearing weird clothes, and his backpack contained random maps. This led him to believe he'd been traveling. He also had a T-shirt from a Wisconsin marathon, which he explained by saying, "I feel like I've done a lot of running."


The location of Kubacki's disappearance has led many to suggest he was yet another victim of the Lake Michigan Triangle. While some don't believe him regarding his supposed amnesia, others feel an alien abduction is a reason behind his disappearance and lack of memory.


So you may be asking yourself… But if this was all alien activity, why is that no mention of UFOs… Well, you're in luck cus… There are!!! In fact, Michigan, in general, has a pretty good share of UFO sightings; coincidentally, there was a sharp rise in sightings about a month after weed was legalized in the state. I'm kidding, of course…or am I. So let's take a look at s few sightings in the area!

On March 8, 1994, calls flooded 911 to report strange sightings in the night sky. The reports came in from all walks of life — from police and a meteorologist to residents of Michigan's many beach resorts. Hundreds of people witnessed what many insisted were UFOs — unidentified flying objects.


Cindy Pravda, 63, of Grand Haven remembers that night in vivid detail — four lights in the sky that looked like "full moons" over the line of trees behind her horse pasture.


"I got UFOs in the backyard," she told a friend on the phone.


"I watched them for half an hour. Where I'm facing them, the one on the far left moved off. It moved to the highway and then came back in the same position," Pravda told the Free Press. "The one to the right was gone in blink of an eye and then, eventually, everything disappeared quickly."


She still lives in the same house and continues to talk about that night.


"I'm known as the UFO lady of Grand Haven," Pravda laughed.


Daryl and Holly Graves and their son, Joey, told reporters in 1994 they witnessed lights in the sky over Holland at about 9:30 p.m. on March 8.


"I saw six lights out the window above the barn across the street," Joey Graves told the Free Press in 1994. "I got up and went to the sofa and looked up at the sky. They were red and white and moving."


Others gave similar accounts, including Holland Police Officer Jeff Velthouse and a meteorologist from the National Weather Service Office in Muskegon County. What's more, the meteorologist recorded unknown echoes on his radar the same time Velthouse reported the lights.


"My guy looked at the radar and observed three echoes as the officer was describing the movement," Leo Grenier of the NWS office in Muskegon said in 1994. "The movement of the objects was rather erratic. The echoes were there about 15 minutes, drifting slowly south-southwest, kind of headed toward the Chicago side of the south end of Lake Michigan."


The radar operator said, "There were three and sometimes four blips, and they weren't planes. Planes show as pinpoints on the scope, these were the size of half a thumbnail. They were from 5 to 12,000 feet at times, moving all over the place. Three were moving toward Chicago. I never saw anything like it before, not even when I'm doing severe weather." Hundreds of reports of suspected UFOs were called in not only to 911 dispatchers but also to the Mutual UFO Network's (MUFON) Michigan chapter. 


MUFON, an all-volunteer nonprofit organization founded in 1969, bills itself as the "world's oldest and largest civilian UFO investigation and research organization."


The reported UFO sightings were the largest since March 1966, Bill Konkolesky, Michigan state director of MUFON, told the Free Press.


"It was one of the big ones in the state. We haven't seen a large UFO (reported sighting) wave since that time," Konkolesky said.


Wow… Awesome! 


A mysterious video, apparently shot from Chicago in late 2020 or early 2021, shows a fleet of UFOs above Lake Michigan, and most of them look like bright orbs. These UFO orbs hovered in the skies for several minutes, and at one point in time, some of these lights disappeared before appearing again. 

The eyewitness who witnessed this eerie sighting claimed that these UFO lights used to appear above Lake Michigan several times in the past.


The video was later analyzed by self-styled alien hunter Scott C Waring, who enjoys a huge fan following online. After analyzing the mysterious footage, Waring claimed that something strange was going on in the skies of the United States. He also suggested that there could be an underground alien base in Lake Michigan.

"The lights were so close to the water that sometimes the reflection of the UFOs could be seen. Aircraft can be seen flying over the lights once in a while, but the lights and aircraft stay far apart. These lights are a sign that there is an alien base below lake Michigan. Absolutely amazing and even the eyewitnesses noticed other people not looking at the UFOs. Very strange how people are too busy to look out the window. 100% proof that alien base sites at the bottom of Lake Michigan off Chicago coast," wrote Waring on his website UFO Sightings Daily. 


There have been shitload UFO sightings in the area of the Lake Michigan Triangle, only fueling more speculation. So here are some of the patented midnight train quick hitters!


An early sighting occurred in November 1957, when a cigar-shaped object with a pointed nose and blunt tail, with low emitting sounds, was seen. Subsequent civilian and military air traffic controllers cited no aircraft were in the vicinity at the time.


In July 1987, five youths had seen a low-level cloud expel several V-shaped objects which hovered quietly, with bright lights. Then, the things reentered the cloud formation and rapidly departed toward the lake's north end.


In August 2002, seven miles off the Harrisville shoreline, two freighter sailors observed a textured, triangular-shaped object soar above and follow their ship. Then, the thing made a 90-degree turn and quickly disappeared.


In September 2009, a couple left their residence to close their chicken coop for the evening. They jointly observed a large, triangular object pursued by a military jet. In addition, they noted two bright and beaming white lights when the object was overhead.


In June 2007, an 80-year-old resident inspected what appeared to be a balloon-shaped object near his fenceline. Upon his arrival, the object immediately increased to the size of a car and shot upward. He stated his body hair stood on end and when he later touched where the thing was, his hands became numb.


In October 2010, a couple experienced a sky filled with a variety of low-flying white and red objects. The couple returned to the village, where five individuals from a retail establishment joined in the observation. Later, a massive yellow orb appeared and quickly exited into the sky. The viewing lasted for nearly an hour.


Well… We're convinced, well maybe at least Moody is anyway. 


Anything else weird, you ask? Why yes… Yes, there is. 


Yet another odd aerial phenomenon occurred on July 12, 1883, aboard the tug Mary McLane, as it worked just off the Chicago harbor. At about 6 p.m., the crew said large blocks of ice, as big as bricks, began falling out of a cloudless sky. 

The fall continued for about 30 minutes before it stopped. The ice was large enough to put dents in the wooden deck. The crew members brought a two-pound chunk of ice ashore with them that night, which they stored in the galley icebox, proving they didn't make up the story. Ouch… That's nuts. 


Littered on the bottom of the Great Lakes are the remains of more than 6,000 shipwrecks gone missing on the Great Lakes since the late 1600s when the first commercial sailing ships began plying the region, most during the heyday of commercial shipping in the nineteenth century. Just over twenty percent of those vessels have come to rest on the bottom of Lake Michigan, second only in quantity to Lake Huron. So many of those have disappeared mysteriously in the Michigan triangle area. What the hell is going on there! Aliens? Weather? Portals to other dimensions?


We may never know for sure, but most likely… Aliens


The Banana Massacre - Yep, bananas. Happy Thanksgiving 2021

So we're gonna get into something a bit different this week. Not really truecrime, not unsolved, but definitely crazy. This is another one we got from a listener that we had no clue ever happened. While the official death toll of this incident is usually put at around 45, some estimates say it could be up to 2000. Those bodies are said to either have been dumped in the sea or buried in mass graves. So what was the incident about you ask? Well, long story very short… Bananas. We're gonna dive into what is simply known as the Banana massacre,  a crazy tale of a government squashing a banana strike with excessive force and what came after. Buckle up guys, here we go!


Before we start, I want to acknowledge the great sources of info for this episode. 90% of the information on this week's episode came from two amazing sources that had tons of info that we couldn't find anywhere else. First a paper by Jorge Enrique Elias Caro and Antonino Vidal Ortega on the website was our source for the actual massacre info while an article called Rotten Fruit by Peter Chapman on the Financial Times website was our source for the company history. 

So, let's start by talking about a fruit company. United Fruit company to be exact. United Fruit began life in the 1870s when Minor Cooper Keith, a wealthy young New Yorker, started growing bananas as a business sideline, alongside a railway line he was building in Costa Rica. Both ventures took off, and by 1890 he was married to the daughter of a former president of Costa Rica and owned vast banana plantations on land given to him by the state. The bananas were shipped to New Orleans and Boston, where demand soon began to outstrip supply.Keith teamed up with Andrew Preston, a Boston importer, and in 1899 they formed United Fruit. Bananas sold well for their tropical cachet: they were exotic, a luxury only affordable to the rich. But the rapidly rising output of United Fruit’s plantations brought down prices. The company created a mass market in the industrial cities of the US north-east and Midwest. The once bourgeois banana became positively proletarian.


By the 1920s, United Fruit’s empire had spread across Central America. It also included Jamaica, Cuba and the Dominican Republic. In South America the company owned chunks of Colombia and Ecuador. It came to dominate the European as well as the US banana markets with the help of its Great White Fleet of 100 refrigerated ships, the largest private navy in the world.


There are more than 300 varieties of banana, but United Fruit grew only one: the Gros Michel or ”Big Mike”. This variety suited most tastes; it was not too big or too small, too yellow or too sweet - if anything, it was a little bland. This was the forerunner of the transnational products we have today.


        But mass production took its toll. In 1903, disease hit United Fruit’s plantations in Panama. An array of pathogens kept up the attack, and the banana was discovered to have a genetic weakness. Its seeds are ill equipped for reproduction, so growers take cuttings from one plant to create another. The banana is a clone, with each inbred generation less resilient. 


Although the banana was diseased, United Fruit marketed it as a product that exemplified good health. Banana diseases did not affect humans, and the fruit was said to be the cure for many ills: obesity, blood pressure, constipation - even depression. In 1929, United Fruit set up its own ”education department”, which supplied US schools with teaching kits extolling the benefits of the banana and the good works of the company. Meanwhile, United Fruit’s ”home economics” department showered housewives with banana recipes.


One of United Fruit’s most successful advertising campaigns began in 1944, designed to boost the banana’s profile after its scarcity during the war. It featured Senorita Chiquita Banana, a cartoon banana who danced and sang in an exuberant Latin style. Senorita Chiquita bore a close resemblance to Carmen Miranda, the Brazilian entertainer who, in her ”tutti-frutti” hat, wowed Hollywood at the time. Sales soon regained prewar levels.


By the 1960s, the banana had become an inseparable accompaniment to the morning cereal of most American children. And today, in countries such as the US and Britain, it has ousted the apple as the most popular fruit. In the UK, figures indicate that more than 95 per cent of households buy bananas each week, and that more money is spent on them than on any other supermarket item, apart from petrol and lottery tickets. 


Soooo sounds like a pretty typical big business rise to power by providing a wholesome treat to the people right? Wrong… There was more going on than almost everybody knew. 


Over the years, United Fruit fought hard for low taxes and light regulation. By the beginning of the 20th century, troublesome anti-trust laws had been passed in the US to crack down on business behaviour such as price-fixing and other monopolistic practices. Taxes on large corporations were increased to fund welfare benefits in the US and fully fledged welfare states in Europe. But, with a centre of operations far from the lawmakers of Washington DC, United Fruit largely avoided all this.


The company also gained a reputation as being ruthless when crossed, and acted to remove governments that did not comply with its wishes. United Fruit had first shown its tough nature in the invasion of Honduras in 1911, which was planned by Sam ”The Banana Man” Zemurray, a business partner of United Fruit who later headed the company. Efforts by Zemurray and United Fruit to set up production in Honduras had been blocked by the Honduran government, which was fearful of the power it might wield. United Fruit was not so easily deterred. Zemurray financed an invasion, led by such enterprising types as ”General” (self-appointed) Lee Christmas and freelance trouble-shooter Guy ”Machine Gun” Molony. Thanks to United Fruit, many more exercises in ”regime change” were carried out in the name of the banana.


In 1941, the company hired a new consultant, Sigmund Freud’s nephew, Edward Bernays, who had adapted the early disciplines of psychoanalysis to the marketplace. Bernays is known as the ”father of public relations” following his seminal 1928 book, Propaganda, in which he argued that it was the duty of the ”intelligent minority” of society to manipulate the unthinking ”group mind”. This, Bernays asserted, was for the sake of freedom and democracy.


United Fruit had become concerned about its image. In Central America, it was commonly known as el pulpo (the octopus) - its tentacles everywhere. In the US, United Fruit’s territories were seen as troubled and forbidding. Under Bernays’ guidance, the company began issuing a steady flow of information to the media about its work, rebranding the region as ”Middle America”.




In 1954, Bernays exercised his manipulative powers to get rid of the Guatemalan government. Democratically elected, it had taken some of United Fruit’s large areas of unused land to give to peasant farmers. Bernays’ response was to call newspaper contacts who might be amenable to the company view. Journalists were sent on ”fact finding” missions to Central America and, in particular, Guatemala, where they chased false stories of gunfire and bombs. In dispatches home, Guatemala became a place gripped by ”communist terror”.


The company looked, too, to friends in high places, both in the corridors of power and in the offices where the big decisions were made. During the Guatemalan crisis, John Foster Dulles, one of the world’s most esteemed statesmen, was secretary of state. His brother, Allen Dulles, was head of the CIA. Both were former legal advisers to United Fruit. Together, the Dulles brothers orchestrated the coup that overthrew Guatemala’s government in 1954.


Despite its ugly reputation, United Fruit often made philanthropic gestures.  Eli Black, chief executive of the United Fruit Company, played a part in coining the term ”corporate social responsibility” when, in reference to earthquake relief sent to Nicaragua in 1972, he extolled the company’s deeds as ”our social responsibility”.  And in the 1930s, Sam Zemurray donated part of his fortune to a children’s clinic in New Orleans. He later gave $1m to the city’s Tulane University to finance ”Middle American'' research; he also funded a Harvard professorship for women. Philanthropy, however, did not prevent United Fruit’s abuses, and, in the 1950s, the US government decided it had to act. The company’s activities had caused such anti-US feeling in Latin America that leftwing revolutionaries such as Fidel Castro and Che Guevara had prospered. And so Washington began to take away some of United Fruit’s land.


Ironically, Castro had benefited from the presence of United Fruit in Cuba. His father, a sugar planter, leased land from the company, and had made enough money to afford a good upbringing for his children. Guevara had fought both United Fruit and the CIA during the Guatemalan coup; he maintained thereafter that Latin America had no choice but ”armed struggle”. At New Year 1959, Castro and Guevara seized power in Cuba and kicked out the US-supported regime of Fulgencio Batista.


Like an ailing dictator, United Fruit lashed out - and nearly took the world with it. In 1961, it lent part of its Great White Fleet to the CIA and Cuban exiles in the US who were plotting to overthrow Castro. When the Bay of Pigs invasion failed, Castro, fearing another attack, ushered in armaments from the Soviet Union, prompting the missile crisis of 1962.


United Fruit battled on through the 1960s, its product ever more the victim of disease. Big Mike flagged, died and gave way to the dessert banana most of the developed world eats today, the Cavendish. It was said to be ”disease resistant”. Now that’s dying, too.


Eli Black took over the company in 1970, imagining he could turn it back into the colossus it once was. The early 1970s, however, were a terrible period for the image of multinational corporations. Chief among them, oil companies made huge profits from the crisis after the 1973 Middle East war, to the inflationary ruin of rich and poor countries alike. United Fruit became an embarrassment. It was weak where others, such as the oil moguls, remained strong. When its stock market value crashed and regulators moved in, it looked like natural selection.


Early on Monday February 3 1975, a man threw himself out of his office window, 44 floors above Park Avenue, New York. He had used his briefcase to smash the window, and then thrown it out before he leapt, scattering papers for blocks around. Glass fell on to the rush-hour traffic, but amazingly no one else was hurt. The body landed away from the road, near a postal service office. Postmen helped emergency workers clear up the mess so the day’s business could carry on. 


This jumper was quickly identified as Eli Black, chief executive of the United Fruit Company.


It emerged that Black, a devout family man, had bribed the Honduran president, Oswaldo Lopez Arellano, with $1.25m to encourage him to pull out of a banana cartel which opposed United Fruit. The story was about to come out in the US press. United Fruit’s Central American plantations were also struggling with hurricane damage and a new banana disease. Facing disgrace and failure, Black took his own life. His death was shocking, not least because he had the reputation of a highly moral man. Wall Street was outraged, the company’s shares crashed and regulators seized its books to prevent ”its further violation of the law”. The company subsequently disappeared from public view and was seemingly erased from the collective mind.


After the fall of the Berlin Wall, in 1989, in a born-again spirit of globalisation, the world’s main banana companies picked up the free-market banner once carried by United Fruit. The companies - Chiquita, Del Monte and Dole from the US, and Noboa from Ecuador - did not have anything like the force of United Fruit individually, but they were still a formidable presence. Together they were known to their critics, if not to themselves, as the ”Wild Bunch”.


In the 1990s, the US took its case to the World Trade Organisation, the new high court of globalisation. The companies protested that west European countries unfairly protected the producers of so-called ”Fairtrade” bananas in former European colonies through a complex system of quotas and licences. The Wild Bunch characterised this as revamped colonialism and outmoded welfare state-ism and, instead, promoted their own ”Free Trade” bananas.


In the new millennium, after what had become a general trade war, the Europeans backed down and agreed to concessions. They did so with some rancour, protesting that Washington had again allowed itself to be manipulated by narrow interests. Some spoke of a return of the ”old and dark forces”. They were thinking of United Fruit.


Ok so that's kind of a basic history of United Fruit company to get us going in the right direction to talk about one of the most brutal things they carried out on their workers. You've seen the connection they had and the power they had.. Pretty nuts for a fucking banana company. 


On the evening of October 5, 1928, the delegates for Colombia’s banana workers in Magdalena gathered to discuss their grievances. Among their concerns were their long hours and low pay; one worker, Aristides López Rojano, remembered: “We worked from six in the morning until eleven and then from one in the afternoon until six.... The contractor paid the salary and reserved up to thirty percent for himself.” Erasmo Coronel (the one wearing the bowtie in the group portrait) spoke in favor of a strike, and the others agreed. At around five in the morning on October 6, 1928, the workers issued the United Fruit Company a list of nine demands.


Stop their practice of hiring through sub-contractors


Mandatory collective insurance


Compensation for work accidents


Hygienic dormitories and 6 day work weeks


Increase in daily pay for workers who earned less than 100 pesos per month


Weekly wage


Abolition of office stores


Abolition of payment through coupons rather than money


Improvement of hospital services


The strike turned into the largest labor movement ever witnessed in the country until then. Radical members of the Liberal Party, as well as members of the Socialist and Communist Parties, participated.


The workers wanted to be recognized as employees, and demanded the implementation of the Colombian legal framework of the 1920s.


After U.S. officials in Colombia and United Fruit representatives portrayed the workers' strike as "communist" with a "subversive tendency" in telegrams to Frank B. Kellogg, the United States Secretary of State, the United States government threatened to invade with the U.S. Marine Corps if the Colombian government did not act to protect United Fruit’s interests. The Colombian government was also compelled to work for the interests of the company, considering they could cut off trade of Colombian bananas with significant markets such as the United States and Europe.


As there was no agreement the Government militarized the zone. The newspaper "La Prensa" published the following:


"MORE TROOPS FOR THE BANANERA REGION. We have been informed that the leaving of the Commissioner sent by the Industry Ministry due to the existing conflict between the workers and the company has turned the situation critical. For this reason, the War Ministry ordered the concentration of more troops in Ciénaga. Therefore, yesterday night, a numerous contingent was dispatched from here on a special ship"


By the end of November the Magdalena Agriculture Society tried to find a solution to the situation. They named a Commission and along with the Chief of the Work Office and the workers' delegates would have a meeting with the UFC since the conflict was affecting everyone's interests. The multinational rejected meeting the Commission stating that the workers were out of the law. The representatives of the workers left for Ciénaga with the aim of convincing their fellow workers to abandon the region. They also demanded the arbitration as a last legal resort.


Social Party (PSR) founded in 1927 in Bogotá. The strike was also supported by the national and departmental union leaders ascribed to the Magdalena Workers Federation, the Magdalena Worker Union and the General Union of Workers of the Union Society (popularly known as the Yellow Union which integrated railway, port and construction workers of Santa Marta).


The first week of December everything was at a standstill, without a solution. The company hired a steamboat and brought 200 military men and took over the town hall without the mayor's authorization. To this respect the Ciénaga newspaper "Diario del Córdoba" noted:


"We do not know who ordered changing the town house into a campsite of troops, but we are certain that the municipality spokesman was not consulted for this illegal occupation. He would have certainly opposed it since there was no alteration of public order according to the norms in force. We see that the procedures here are "manu militari", without any consideration under the obvious alarm of these peoples, panic in society and business."


Military roadblocks were displayed. Trains were searched and the army prevented strikers from using them33. Tension increased and temporary workers started to return to their hometowns. Military pressure blocked the communication systems and the mail, telephones, telegraph and even the press stopped working. The strikers seized the train from Ciénaga to the plantations and they prevented its exit during the day.


On December 3rd, the press was conscious of the extreme situation: The situation of the Banana Strike is worse than ever. Especially because of the uneasiness caused by the Governor's Office for having called the Army. Any kind of meeting was banned, as it was assumed that they questioned the state legitimacy and stability and the government decisions. This measure outraged workers, because some detentions took place in Ciénaga and they were justified by the police since some documents of an apparently communist campaign were confiscated.


From this moment on, American Diplomats started to worry for the security of the American employees up to the point that the Government of the United States sent a ship to Santa Marta for the protection of their citizens as was stated by the US ambassador in Bogotá. He made clear that it was not a war cruise. Anyhow, it was possible to confirm that in the ports of Ciénaga and Santa Marta war ships docked with the aim of reinforcing troops. 


To break the strike, on December 2nd, a military contingent of 300 men arrived in Ciénaga from the interior of the country. The major of the zone considered that these soldiers would be better at facing the situation than those native of the region. At the same time that same day some municipalities protested against the disposition of the governor's office. The workers exodus continued, the general situation of commerce aggravated, many commercial houses closed and some of them stopped paying their debts alleging the scarce security conditions and low sales. Similarly occurred with the stores of the UFC which closed due to lack of business activity. There was a total lack of supplies of basic products in the banana zone.


With the excuse that in Ciénaga the strikers were committing all kinds of outrages, the army seized the train to mobilize troops to the different towns, preventing normal circulation; this information proved false and the train returned to Cienaga during the first hours of the next day. The community remained isolated and without the possibility to use the train as a transportation means. The train was used by the militaries for the surveillance of plantations.


A State of Siege declaration was expected and this increased tension among strikers who organized collective bodies in different locations to prevent the work of producers. Detentions continued. The train detention by the military and the impossibility to take bananas out due to the positions of the strikers and small landowners, the harvested fruit began to rot.


The Workers Union used the newspaper Vanguardia Obrera and other pasquinades to inform about their position and to keep public opinion updated. On December 5th, alleging that the strikers had managed to get weapons, the government decreed the State of Siege. This was not made public to the workers and for this reason they became more exacerbated.


A pressure mechanism used to obtain the support of merchants was the fact of creating solidarity to boycott the public market stores and other commercial firms if the transaction was not authorized by the Workers Union. This way, merchants could not sell if they did not have the "permission". To accomplish this policy the union had 5.000 workers acting as vigilantes. This situation led the UFC to ask the government if the State was in condition to protect its interests. The State response was dubious. In its effort to reach an equilibrium between the pressure of the company and that of the workers, it submitted a communication where it stated that it would analyse the situation and would take the corresponding steps.


The workers' unrest for not feeling the State support led them to radicalization of their protest and since that moment, seizures of banana farms took place in different municipalities. There were confrontations between land owners, the military and the workers. It is worth mentioning the events in Sevilla, where workers detained a group of soldiers.


As the tension increased with this last event the Ministry Council declared general alteration of public order on December 5th, and gave special faculties to Minister Arrazola to act as a mediator between the parties and positioned General Cortés Vargas as Civil and Military Chief. This intervention was justified by the economic losses of the socio-economic and political system of the nation because it had been estimated that up to that moment the losses exceeded one million dollars and given the fact that the fierce position of the workers had stopped communications and transportations and even there had been seizures in several localities and there was fear concerning the situation of Santa Marta.


The government sent information to the United Press as follows: "The government has decreed the State of Siege in the Province of Santa Marta where the workers of the United Fruit Company maintain a strike lasting several days. General Carlos Cortés Vargas has been appointed Civil and Military Chief". On the other hand, the national press and especially that of the capital announced: " there has never been a longer and more numerous strike in the country than this of the workers of Magdalena. Thirty-two thousand workers have been in total inactivity for more than thirty days in the banana region, there are no signs that this situation will have a favourable solution"


Events reached their peak in Ciénaga. The workers had concentrated for a pacific demonstration in the evening of the 5th of December. The Governor Nuñez Roca decreed the dispersion of the demonstration. The workers did not receive this well; they declared that authorities had taken this decision with the support of the UFC and the militaries without the presence of workers' representatives. This made clear to them that authorities were defending the interests of the Company and the local "bananacracy"and not theirs as Colombian workers. The concentration ended in a protest.


The militaries obeyed the orders of the Governor and it was authorized to follow orders and demand the workers to dissolve the demonstration as it was not authorized.


The text was read in the square and at the same time the troop took positions. There were approximately 1.500 strikers in the square.


The army gave the strikers 15 minutes to disperse and the workers' answer was a the massive agitation of the Colombian flags and shouts related to the workers movement. The army responded with drumbeats and the menace to repel the strikers. Three bugle warnings were given, but nevertheless the strikers remained in their positions. A deep silence reigned in the square and the menace of the army became an unfortunate reality when the shout "Shoot" was uttered. Rifles and machine guns were discharged against the defenceless and unarmed demonstrators. In minutes the ground of the square was tinted with blood.


Once the attack of the army against their own fellow citizens ended, the sight was dantesque. The cadavers, the wounded and their relatives were troubling scenes. These events took place at the dawn of December 6th: a brutal aggression against a workers' demonstration.


The news invaded the media and the first chronicles appeared with living information about the tragic balance of the events. The first report on the newspaper "La Prensa" from Barranquilla informed of 8 people killed and 20 wounded. After a week, the same newspaper mentioned 100 dead and 238 wounded. Meanwhile official sources and diplomatic communications signalled the number of people killed as being 1.000. This number, and along with other kind of testimonies collected, agree that the number of killings was over a thousand and that the militaries loaded the trains with the corpses and buried them in mass graves in inaccessible areas and up to the present times they have not been localized.


This repression caused a massive exodus of the terrified population. They abandoned the zone and migrated to different parts of the country for fear of military persecution and arrestment. Many of them left their scarce possessions behind.


National and international media widely covered this event. Both the UFC and the government tried to manipulate the information to protect their image. The press echoed and broadcasted the sometimes biased news, informing about "combats" between the army troops and the "revolutionaries" and that as a result of these combats, 8 "bandits" were killed and 20 were wounded. The War Ministry insisted that "in Magdalena there was no strike, but a revolution".


Other newspapers such as "La Prensa" from Barranquilla, issued their edition of December 8th in red characters as a reference to this event that brought mourning to the entire country and as a symbolic commemorative act.


Referring to a communication sent to the United Press, the War Ministry informed officially that in the attack of the strikers against the troops there had been 8 dead and 20 wounded and that in order to control the revolutionary outbreaks against state order, the immediate mobilization of more troops had been ordered. They would arrive from cities of the interior of the country. It also emphasised the position of the government that the workers' situation in Magdalena was delicate and that vigorous decisions had to be taken in order to solve this issue. It also informed that beside Ciénaga, other localities had to be intervened.


The Times from New York informed in a biased and extended way that the turmoil in the Colombian Banana Region was provoked by Mexican incendiaries, who had led the process of the Mexican Revolution, two decades earlier. It also gave details about the aspects of the banana strike that were consequences of the expiration of the Barco Concession .


At the same time the UFC issued a press communication to the New York agencies and the worldwide correspondents declaring: "the difficult situation experienced during the past days in the Colombian banana region, where the company has valuable interests, has quite improved in the last 24 hours and the dispatches sent from the scene, give rise to expectations for a prompt solution of the conflict surged between the workers and the company which ended in an extended strike of revolutionary nature".


While the American press provided biased information, trying to defend the multinational interests and that of their government, the national press analysed the situation with greater objectivity. The daily newspaper "El Tiempo" from Bogotá commented in an extended note that most of the claims of the strikers were righteous improvement of working conditions. Nevertheless, due to its conservative position, the editorial stated that they did not agree with the strike since they considered that the workers had a bad leadership and they made the leaders responsible for what had happened. They reminded the authorities that force is not the supreme reason as the only system to solve a conflict since violence is not a valid option to impose certain vindications.


In response to these events and as a protest for the massacre, several offices of the United Fruit and the railway were set on fire and destroyed. The hard situation caused by the army repression and the lack of jobs led to the assault of the company's stores where people seized food. 


"It is not about fixing anyhow a difficult situation, it is about avoiding more critical events in the immediate future. Therefore we need a wise, prudent, political Colombian, who does not forget the circumstances regarding the conflict. Someone who does not forget how the United Fruit Company manipulates the political and civil life of Magdalena and who does not think it indispensable to send troops for hunting workers as animals. Someone who will not be hard and inflexible with them and subordinated and honey mouthed with the company agents"


After the massacre, the workers who managed to escape emigrated to other areas of the region and new versions of the events started to become public. It was the version of the defeated. This version informed the public opinion about the concentration in the Ciénaga square and not in farms as had been informed by authorities to justify the fact of not being able to notify the exact number of deaths.


On December 10th after a convulsed weekend, the headings announced "the revolutionaries' flee in stampede to the Sierra Nevada," "government troops completely defeated the strikers "; the War Minister informs that there were more deaths during the last combats". In general, the press informed about a revolutionary movement which confronted the military forces and that the army was responding with rigor, but that there had not been any excess on their part. The banana zone was returning to normal, as well as the train service between Ciénaga and Santa Marta and the steam boat service between Ciénaga and Barranquilla. They also informed that since public order had been reestablished, businesses had already opened and that the exodus of the population had ended.


General Cortés Vargas issued a decree through which the revolutionaries of Magdalena were declared a gang of outlaws. The decree consisted of three articles and in one section, as a justification, it was stated that the rebel strikers committed all kinds of outrages: arson in public and private property, pillage, interruption of telegraphic and telephonic communications, destruction of railways, assault of citizens who did not agree with their communist and anarchist doctrine. This was the justification for decreeing martial law to give security to citizens and to re-establish public order. On the other hand the workers' leaders and accessories should be prosecuted to face their responsibilities. And to finish, the public force was authorized to use their guns.


At the same time troops were sent to avoid the surviving strikers' flee to the Sierra Nevada and the Departament of Atlántico. To accomplish this all the towns neighbouring the banana zone were alerted. Numerous detentions occurred and the prisoners were sent to Ciénaga to be judged by a Martial Court.


Wow…. Fucking bananas caused all this shit… Well obviously not than JUST bananas but holy shit man. 


So the crazy thing is United Fruit company continued to operate did so long after this incident until eventually after the the suicide of Eli Black things unraveled and the company went away. Or did it? Well it did not. In fact the company is now still a huge banana company called… Chiquita! But at least all that bullshit is on the past… Oh wait wait… No it's not! 


While Chiquita is not actively massacring people, in 2007, it admitted to paying $1.7 million to the United Self-Defense Forces of Columbia (A.U.C.), a far-right paramilitary group responsible for thousands of killings and some of the worst massacres in Colombia. The A.U.C. was designated by the United States as a terrorist group at the time and Chiquita was forced to pay $25 million for violating counterterrorism laws. In particular, the A.U.C. targeted labor leaders, liquidated problem employees, and removed people from lands needed for cultivation.


“They are so bad that in 2001, even the Bush administration was forced to designate them as a terrorist organization,” said Terry Collingsworth, a Labor and Human Rights Attorney. He proceeds to say that multinational corporations had automatically aligned with the A.U.C. “They’ve made it safe for business here. That’s what they do.” Collingsworth states, from his and his associates’ reporting, that Chiquita likely paid much more than $1.7 million to the A.U.C.


Over much of the 20th century, banana companies like United Fruit effectively took over governments in countries like Guatemala and Honduras, leading to the countries’ model being known as “banana republics”. A banana republic would describe politically unstable countries economically dependent on bananas as a sole export and product, and it has been diversified to include other limited-resource products. The CIA would strong-arm these governments to protect the business interests of banana companies at the expense of workers and people who lived in those countries, often propping up repressive regimes.

With a historic priority of keeping the costs of bananas low, banana companies were willing to do whatever it took to keep prices low, from stifling labor movements, keeping wages low, and strong-arming governments. The United Fruit Company did it then, and Chiquita Brands does it now.


In 1999, President Clinton apologized to Guatemala, saying that “support for military forces and intelligence units which engaged in violence and widespread repression was wrong, and the United States must not repeat that mistake.”



Horror movies about killer food

Unsolved: The Springfield Three

Tonight we are taking the train back to true-crimeville. Unsolved as per the usual, the case, or cases if you will, also has a crazy connection to one of our own here in the midnight train family. First we are going to talk about the Springfield 3. The Springfield 3 is an unsolved missing persons case that began on June 7, 1992, when friends Suzanne "Suzie" Streeter and Stacy McCall, and Streeter's mother, Sherrill Levitt, went missing from Levitt's home in Springfield, Missouri. Then we are going to roll into a talk about a giant hunk of shit named Larry Dewayne Hall. And in our discussion of Mr. Hall we shall get to the personal connection to us at the train! So without further ado… Let’s get into today's episode!


29 years ago Suzie Streeter, 19, her mother Sherill Levitt, 47, and her friend Stacy McCall, 18 disappeared without a trace from their central Springfield home. Authorities have gathered many theories to explain what could have happened. Some people have even gone as far as blaming alien abduction and the rapture. Can't we go a single unsolved true crime episode without an alien abduction theory? 


Anyways, the day before the three went missing, the two girls were celebrating. They had graduated from highschool that day and were planning on going to a friend's house for a party later that day. The two initially intended to head to their friend Janelle Kirby's house, but it was too crowded, and instead, they went back to the home Streeter shared with her mother, Sherrill Levitt. The next day the girls were supposed to meet up with Kirby and her boyfriend to go to a water park. They did not show up at Kirby's house so Kirby and her boyfriend went to the girl's house to see what was going on. They assumed the girls had just overslept.  When they got to the house the girls were not there and there was no sign of the mother either. When they arrived at the home, Kirby found the front door unlocked and entered the house to find it empty despite the women's cars still being outside. The family dog, however, was present and was described as agitated. Kirby also noticed that the porch light was smashed and there was glass everywhere. She decided to go ahead and clean up and unfortunately, not realizing it, may have destroyed some evidence while cleaning the mess. Kirby and her boyfriend started to look around the house and the phone rang. Kirby answered the phone call and said that the call was full of "sexual innuendo". She hung up and then another call came through and it was basically the same as the first. A few hours later, McCall's mother arrived at the property after she failed to reach her daughter on the phone. She noted Suzie's clothes, purse and cigarettes were still in the house and decided to call the police. While doing so, she noticed there was a message on the answering machine. Listening to it, she later described it as "strange" but inadvertently deleted it. Police believe the message may have contained evidence and it was unconnected to the sexual calls made when Kirby was present, which are largely dismissed as a prank. 


It was now 16 hours since the two girls had been confirmed to have been seen. The mother had been last heard from at 11:15 the night before when she had called a friend of hers. When Kirby first accessed the property at 9 a.m., more and more friends and relatives came looking for their loved ones, with up to 20 people walking through the house. The crime scene became utterly compromised, and, needing a warrant, police were unable to enter until June 8. By June 9, they had called the FBI. 


"The only thing unusual about this house was that three women were missing from it," retired Springfield Police Capt. Tony Glenn told News-Leader in 2006. "You had this feeling as you looked around that something was missing, that something had to be missing. But there wasn't. Just them."


Regardless, there was very little evidence at the property, with no signs of a struggle or blood present. All three women owned a car, and all three vehicles were still present; Levitt's blue Corsica was in the carport, Streeter's red Ford Escort and McCall's Toyota Corolla were in the circle drive. The keys were all in the house. Their purses were at the bottom of the stairs, and an inviting graduation cake was waiting in the fridge.


Meanwhile, Levitt's bed had been slept in, and her book was even turned over on the nightstand, ready to be resumed. The two young women had also certainly gotten prepared for bed, washing their make-up off and leaving their jewelry by the basin. McCall left her shorts and placed them by Streeter's waterbed, and given that no other clothing appeared to be missing, she is likely to have vanished in just a t-shirt and underpants. The only sign of any disturbance at all was the shattered porch light. The possibility exists that the light was deliberately broken to draw Levitt, Streeter and McCall out of the house just after the two young women arrived home, or another deception was used to the same effect, yet that can only be speculation.


Thousands of posters went up throughout Springfield. Police logged 5,200 tips in the case and gave polygraphs to numerous people. They searched woods and fields throughout the Ozark area and made inquiries in 21 states. All to little avail.


One potential piece of evidence was a letter left at a News-Leader rack at Smitty's. The letter had a drawing of the Bolivar Road Apartments with the phrase "use Ruse of Gas Man checking for Leak" written on. What it may have meant is unknown.


An image of a transient man in the area was distributed, as was a photo of a retouched dodge van seen by the home on June 7. The van is seemingly crucial to the case as an eyewitness claims to have seen Streeter driving a green Dodge later in the day on June 7 and, apparently under duress, a male voice telling her not to do anything stupid. Another witness reported seeing the van with a blonde female driver at a local grocery store and was suspicious enough to write down the license plate on a newspaper. Unfortunately, he threw the newspaper away before contacting authorities.


The hunt for the three women was relentless, with police logging 1,632 hours of overtime on the case over ten days, theorizing the transient might have been involved or the answer lay in the background of Sherrill Levitt.


A new lead appeared on June 24 when a waitress came forward to say the three missing women had been at George's Steakhouse between 1 a.m., and 3 a.m., with earlier evidence on the timing of the younger women's movements suggesting this is likely to have been near the end of that window. The witness said Streeter appeared to be drunk, and her mother tried to calm her. The sighting has never been confirmed.


Going nowhere, the investigation was featured on the Dec. 31 edition of "America's Most Wanted" and produced 29 calls. One stood out above the others when a caller claimed he had information about the three disappearances. However, attempts to link the caller with investigators failed, as he became spooked and hung up. Police appealed for him to get in touch again, but he never did, and his identity remains a mystery.


Another program, "48 Hours," shadowed police for weeks as they investigated the case, showing pictures from the search and officers sifting through the many leads. Nothing led to a workable angle, and the case went cold. Five years later, Springfield police announced it could no longer justify the money spent on the matter, officially shutting the case down.


Ok so that's fucking odd… Three women just disappeared. No signs of a struggle… No robbery… No blood.. everything left in place. Maybe it was aliens!


No you may be asking yourself...but guys… There's gotta be a suspect or something, well we found a couple.


Here's what we found:


Gerald Carnahan: A businessman, he was convicted in the 1985 killing of Jackie Johns 25 years after it happened. He has ties to Springfield and a long history of legal troubles including:

Jan. 13, 1994, second-degree burglary of a business, two-year prison sentence;


-- Jan. 13, 1994, stealing from that business, four-year prison sentence;


-- Jan. 13, 1994, arson at that business, three-year prison sentence;


-- Jan. 10, 1994, attempted kidnapping of a girl in Springfield in 1993;


-- June 1, 1994, assault of a law enforcement officer, 11 months in county jail;


-- June 1, 1994, unlawful use of a weapon, one-year prison sentence; and


-- other prison sentences for attempted kidnapping and tampering with evidence.

So, he’s an all around, grade A butthole


Then there’s Dustin Recla, Michael Clay and Joseph Riedel: Recla is the ex-boyfriend of Streeter who told police he wanted her dead because she gave officers a statement about the men, who were charged with the felony institutional vandalism of a cemetery in February 1992. Which seems a bit excessive to want to kill someone over.

Riedel is accused of breaking into a mausoleum at Springfield’s Maple Park Cemetery on Feb. 21 1992 and stealing a skull and some bones. Police have said Dustin Recla sold 26 grams of gold teeth fillings from the skull at a Springfield pawn shop for $30. So, these jerks were working together, breaking into graves and stealing their gold fillings. In the early 90s. 


Steven Garrison:


Garrison told police a friend had confessed to killing the three women during a drunken party. He told police information unknown to the public that led investigators to serve three search warrants at two sites in western Webster County; that info was that they would find the women’s bodies and clues about their abduction and deaths. He also said a moss green van believed used to take the women would be found about 12 miles away, south of Fordland.


The property searched was the same site where in 1990 LE searched for two of three missing Springfieldians. Property owner Francis Lee Robb Sr. pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder in a case authorities said at the time they believed involve a drug deal gone awry.


Garrison was believed enough that a gag order concerning the three search warrants was issued by a judge.“…certain aspects of the information we received fit with other (private) aspects of the case,” Springfield Police Capt. Todd Whitson said. Whitson said the gag order was rare, but he could not say why it was issued,“other than to say there is such an order, and it governs the operation and everything related to the operation out here.” Added Webster County Sheriff C.E. Wells:“We can’t tell you anything about it until the order’s lifted.”


Garrison is serving 40 years in prison for raping, sodomizing and terrorizing a female Springfield college student in the summer of 1993.


After tracking him and several associates almost exclusively for more than a year, police have since backed off Garrison. But not all the way off. They last approached him last summer. Six months ago, investigators looked to Colorado for information on Garrison, who is in a Missouri prison.


"They've never let up on me," Garrison says.


But even with all these buttholes on the list, there is one main suspect that the police and many others like in this case, Robert Craig Cox. It's always about Cox on this fucking show…


In 1995, Cox was arrested for holding a gun on a 12-year-old girl in Decatur, Texas. He is presently serving a life sentence for that robbery and a consecutive 15-year federal sentence.


 Robert Craig Cox was convicted of killing a 19-year-old Florida woman who was somehow intercepted while driving home from work at Disney World one night in 1978. Cox - who lived in Springfield the summer of 1992 - walked away from death row in 1989 after the Florida Supreme Court said the jury didn't have enough evidence to convict him.


Through the years, Cox has toyed with Springfield police - saying he knows the women are dead and that they're buried near the city. Having discovered that Cox lied about his alibi on the morning of June 7, 1992, officials are skeptical about his claims.

Cox declined to be interviewed by the News-Leader, but in recent letters to the newspaper, he acknowledges police consider him a suspect and that years ago he worked as a utility locator in south-central Springfield. Get that? Remember the “gas ruse” note??


Robert Craig Cox was convicted in 1988, of first degree murder, in the 1978 beating death of Sharon Zellers, 19, an employee of Walt Disney World.  The case was weak, and Cox was not charged until eight years after the murder. Cox and his family were staying at a motel in Orlando where the victim’s body was found. He had a cut on his tongue, and hair and blood samples found near the victim were compatible with his. Cox testified he bit through his tongue during a fight.


The Florida Supreme Court reversed Cox’s conviction, ruling that, at best, the evidence created “only a suspicion” of guilt. The court ordered his acquittal and release from death row in1990


 He was immediately taken into custody to complete a prison sentence in California for an unrelated 1985 kidnapping. Then he returned to his boyhood home of Springfield, Mo., where he came under suspicion — but was never charged — in the 1992 disappearance of the three females. Texas police also questioned him about an abduction in Plano. In 1995, Cox was arrested for holding a gun on a 12-year-old girl during a robbery in Decatur, Texas. He is serving a life sentence for that robbery and is not eligible for parole until 2025.

 A couple years After being sent to prison in 1995, Cox claimed he knew what happened to the three women. Cox claimed all three had been murdered and buried, taunting that their bodies would never be found. Cox was living in Springfield at the time of the murders and didn't claim to be the killer, saying he was in church that morning as corroborated by his girlfriend.


However, that would not discount his involvement earlier in the morning, and in any case, the girlfriend later recanted her statement and said Cox asked her to lie for him. Cox said he was at his parents' home when asked where he was earlier, which was again corroborated.


Police remain uncertain as to Cox's involvement with the crimes, observing that he only ever tells them enough for them to believe he knows something but never enough to incriminate himself. Some believe Cox is merely seeking infamy through a false confession. For his part, Cox said he will reveal the truth once his mother dies, but the bodies are buried somewhere around Springfield. wow what a stand up fella. Someone kill that old lady! I’m kidding… Can we at least fake her death??


Also one more interesting tidbit. In 2007, investigators revealed they'd received a tip that the bodies were buried in the foundations of the Cox Hospital parking lot. (yay more Cox) That same year, crime reporter Kathee Baird had a corner of the parking lot scanned with ground-penetrating radar and found three anomalies. However, it remains doubtful that the site is the burial location as construction didn't begin there until September 1993, over a year after the disappearances. Equally, the tip came not from anyone connected with a burial but somebody professing psychic abilities. So there's that…


While the claims of Cox possibly have merit, there is no evidence to say for sure. Despite 50,000 tips from the public, the case remains unsolved, and with nearly 30 years having now passed, the case of the Springfield Three may never actually be resolved.


Ok so by now you may have forgotten that there is a personal connection to this case. You're kind of getting a twofer today. 


Let's talk about another fine upstanding citizen, scratch that, a huge giant hunk of shit, Larry DeWayne Hall. Larry DeWayne Hall was born on December 11th 1962 in Wabash, Indiana, US. He was born 2nd of 2 children and raised by both parents. He was raised as a youngest child and had one older (by a few seconds) twin brother, Gary Hall. His father, Robert Hall, was an abusive alcoholic. His mother, a homemaker. His father abused alcohol and/or drugs. He had a speech defect. During his education he had academic, social or discipline problems, including being teased or picked on. Larry DeWayne Hall was physically and psychologically abused at some point of his life. Sound like the makings of a serial killer, what say ye passengers!


Police believe that Hall, 54, may have killed 30 to 40 women. He’s confessed to rapes, murders and abductions of women all over the Midwest to reporters, book authors and police investigators. He was convicted in federal court of abducting and raping a 15-year-old Illinois girl.


But he’s never been convicted of murder.


Hall is serving a life sentence in federal prison in North Carolina for the 1993 kidnapping of school girl Jessica Roach, whose ravaged body was found in a cornfield. She had been out riding her bicycle. In Hall’s confession, which was read to the jury, he admitted that he raped Jessica and strangled her with a belt, the ends of which he held from behind a tree where the child was forced to sit so he wouldn’t have to see her face. He was not tried for murder because the teenager’s remains were mangled by a farmer’s combine to the extent that a cause of death could not be determined. HOLY HELL!! That's a new and extremely disturbing one on this show, folks. 

Without a cause of death, the case was transferred to federal court and Hall was charged with bringing a minor across state lines for purposes of sex.


However, in 1996, the federal Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago ruled that Hall should be given a new trial because the trial judge erred by not allowing the testimony of a psychologist that Hall’s mental condition led him to falsely confess, to please police. He was convicted again at a second trial and sentenced to life without parole.


Hall also confessed to police to killing 20-year-old Laurie Depies after abducting her in Menasha in northern Wisconsin. But he was never charged in connection with her 1992 disappearance, even though he said he killed her and scraps of paper were found in his van on which he had written “Lori” and “Fox River Mall,” where Depies worked. Authorities said they could not corroborate his confession, a legal requirement to bring murder charges.


The strange, 30-year odyssey of Larry Hall, a twin who once lived in an Indiana cemetery and wandered the Midwest in a van, involved occasionally attending Civil War re-enactments dressed as a Union soldier, and toying with police despite a low IQ of 85, according to a police report. Hall sent a letter to author Christopher H. Martin, who is from Hall’s hometown of Wabash, Indiana. Martin wrote a book about Hall’s alleged murderous sprees titled, “Urges: A Chronicle of Serial Killer Larry Hall.”


On page 39 of the book, Paulette Webster, 19, is listed as a victim. She was walking to a local bowling alley to meet a friend when she disappeared. Hall’s letter to Martin was taunting, noting that, “If I did it, I would have put her in a river or in a field.”


Eulalia “Lolly” Chavez was found in a field near Summerfield.


Paulette’s mother, Mary Webster, 68, said she and her husband William first learned about Hall when Martin visited them, around 2010. Martin had the letter from Hall, but Mary Webster declined to look at it.


Hall also confessed to a television reporter that he killed and sexually mutilated Chavez, who was known for years as the Summerfield Jane Doe until her exhumation in 2008 led to her identification. He later recanted.


St. Clair County Sheriff Rick Watson recently revived an investigation involving Hall and the murder of Chavez, which happened 31 years ago.


So where are we going with this? Well well tell you. 


Larry was also a suspect in the Springfield 3 disappearances after his twin brother, who people claim looked exactly like Larry, said his brother claimed to have murdered the three women. They were in the area for a civil war reenactment at the time of the disappearances. Twin brothers that traveled around the country doing Civil War Reenactments, known serial killers. Larry claims his brother Gary was stalking one of the teens that night. There are many that believe both men were involved as it would have been hard for one man to subdue and kidnap and murder three women at once. The disappearances fit Larry's mo. And he's a giant piece of shit that's definitely capable. So that brings us full circle to the disappearance of Tricia Reitler. The following details of her disappearance we're taken from the Charley project. Org website:


 Reitler was a freshman psychology major at Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, Indiana in 1993. She was a good student with a high grade point average. She was last seen at approximately 8:00 p.m. on March 29, 1993.


Reitler was writing a term paper that evening, and decided to take a break. She walked to Marsh Supermarket, which was approximately half a mile from the university's campus. She purchased a soda and a magazine and left the store, intent on returning to her dormitory in Bowman Hall.


She never made it there and has never been seen or heard from again. Reitler's bloodstained jeans, shirt and shoes were discovered in a field near Seybold Pool and Center Elementary School, which is located between Marsh's Supermarket and the campus.


Investigators said six or seven unidentified people were playing basketball in the Center School playground adjacent to the pool at the time Reitler disappeared, but none of the possible witnesses have come forward with information regarding her case. Authorities believe that Reitler was taken against her will while walking back to campus. Foul play is suspected in her disappearance.


Donald W. Grenier was considered a possible suspect in Reitler's case at one time. Grenier was arrested in 1999 and charged with the abduction and molestation of a young girl from the Marion area. His home was searched for evidence connecting him to Reitler's case and the 1987 Indiana disappearance of Wendy Felton, which seemed to share common traits.


Nothing was discovered in the search and Grenier has since been cleared of involvement in both Reitler and Felton's cases. Grenier has always maintained his innocence in both cases.


Tony R. Searcy, a habitual criminal offender, has also long been considered a possible suspect in Reitler's case. He has denied all involvement and authorities have never arrested Searcy in connection with Reitler's disappearance.


Another possible suspect emerged when authorities discovered materials related to Reitler's case in a van owned by Larry DeWayne Hall several months after her 1993 disappearance. Hall resided with his parents in the 300 block of Grant Street in Wabash, Indiana at the time.


Investigators found maps, ether, photos and newspaper articles concerning Reitler inside Hall's vehicle. A photograph of him is posted with this case summary. He was arrested in December 1994 and charged with abducting Jessica Roach, a teenager whose remains were discovered in an Indiana cornfield in 1993.


Hall signed a statement confessing to Reitler's kidnapping and murder, but he later recanted and was never charged in connection with her disappearance due to a lack of evidence. Investigators searched an area of Grant County, Indiana near the Mississinewa Reservoir for Reitler's body. Hall led them to the scene, saying he'd buried her body there, but no evidence was located.


Hall is presently incarcerated in a psychiatric prison in North Carolina, serving a life sentence for Roach's kidnapping. He is still considered a suspect in Reitler's presumed abduction. He confessed to the murder of Laurie Depies, who disappeared from Wisconsin in 1988, and implied he was involved in the 1988 disappearance of Paulette Webster from Illinois. Police believe he may have killed thirty to forty women, but he hasn't been charged in any cases besides Roach's.


Reitler's case remains open and unsolved. She has never been located. Her family lived in Olmsted Township, Ohio, southwest of Cleveland, at the time she disappeared. She is the oldest of four children in a conservative Christian family. Her parents believe she is deceased. 


Now you may say to yourself… Olmsted falls? That sounds awfully familiar.. Well friends that's because that's where the train station is located and where both I and Logan live. And now the crazy connection to the case and today's episode? Tricia was Grace, my wife’s, babysitter! (Jon take over and give more back story)



Horror movies involving planes… Cus why not

Cursed Movies

 In a world, where the midnight train podcast is at the top of the podcast game, one thing has the power to destroy everything they have worked for. This week their world will come crumbling down as everything they've achieved will be tested and possibly destroyed due to the madness that is (dun dun duuuuuuuunnnnn) cursed Movies!!!

Tonight on the midnight train we are combining two of our favorite things…. This podcast and lots and lots of beer…YEAH! Oh wait, we do that every week… Oh, that's right, it’s this podcast and….moooovies!! But… In true midnight train fashion, we can't just talk about movies…. We're gonna talk about cursed movies!!! That's right we are going to look at movies that for one reason or another have led to tragedy during and after the movies were made! Everything is on the table from health issues like cancer, accidental deaths while filming, people going crazy after filming, and just about everything else you can think of. Should be a fun and creepy ride discussing all these movies with you passengers and, in case you're wondering, yes we're still going to have a movies list at the end. 


Ok so let's get into this and see what we have as far as cursed movies!


We're gonna start it with a big one since we just covered the subject matter of the film! The first cursed movie on our list is the exorcist. The filming of THE EXORCIST was done over nine months. The main set, a reproduction of the Georgetown home, was built in a warehouse in New York. During the filming, several curious incidents and accidents took place on the set and plagued those involved with the production. In addition, the budget of the film rose from $5 million to more than twice that amount. Obviously, any film production that lasts for more than a month or so will see its share of accidents and mishaps, but THE EXORCIST seems to have been particularly affected by unforeseeable calamities. Coincidence? Perhaps, but it left the cast and crew rightfully shaken. 


The first incident occurred around 2:30 a.m. one Sunday morning when a fire broke out on the set. There was only one security guard at the Ceco 54th Street Studios when the McNeil house set caught fire and burned. The fire was the result of a bad electrical circuit, but it shut down filming for six weeks while the set was reconstructed from scratch. Ironically, as soon as the new set was ready, the sprinkler system broke down, causing an additional two-week delay. 


Few of the actors in the film escaped personal troubles during the shoot. Just as Max Von Sydow (who played Father Merrin) touched down in New York to film his first scenes, he received a phone call saying that his brother died unexpectedly in Sweden. Von Sydow himself later became very ill during the filming. Irish actor Jack MacGowran (who played Burke Dennings) died only one week after his character was killed by the demon in the movie. Jason Miller (who played Father Karras) was stunned when his young son, Jordan, was struck down on an empty beach by a motorcyclist who appeared out of nowhere. The boy ALMOST died. THAT'S GOOD NEWS! Ellen Burstyn (who played Chris McNeill) wrenched her back badly during one scene when she was slapped by the possessed girl. The stunt went badly awry and she was laid up in bed for several weeks afterward, causing more delays in the filming. They had a rig attached to her where a guy offscreen would pull a rope that was tied to her to get that “smacked hard as shit and launched across the room” look the director wanted. Apparently, the director didn’t like the first take or two and told the guy with the rope to yoke the living piss out of her. He got his shot. She screwed up her back. 


In New York, one of the carpenters accidentally cut off his thumb on the set and one of the lighting technicians lost a toe. This was all over the news at the time due to the mixup at the hospital where they put the wrong appendages on the wrong patients. Yep, they switched the toe for the thumb. And if you believed that, well… I’m not sorry even a little bit. Anyway, The exorcist's location trip to Iraq was delayed from the spring, which is relatively cool, to July, the hottest part of the summer, when the temperature rose to 130 degrees and higher. Out of the eighteen-man crew that was sent there, Friedkin lost the services of nine of them, at one time or another, due to dysentery (which is super shitty) or sunstroke. To make matters worse, the bronze statue of the neo-Assyrian winged demon Pazazu, which was packed in a ten-foot crate, got lost in an air shipment from Los Angeles and ended up in Hong Kong, which caused another two-week delay. 


"I don't know if it was a jinx, really," actress Ellen Burstyn later said. "But there were some really strange goings-on during the making of the film. We were dealing with some really heavy material and you don't fool around with that kind of material without it manifesting in some way. There were many deaths in the film. Linda's grandfather died, the assistant cameraman's wife had a baby that died, the man who refrigerated the set died, the janitor who took care of the building was shot and killed … I think overall there were nine deaths during the course of the film, which is an incredible amount… it was scary." Unholy shit, batman!


Things got so bad that William Friedkin took some drastic measures. Father Thomas Bermingham, S.J., from the Jesuit community at Fordham University, had been hired as a technical advisor for the film, along with Father John Nicola, who, while not a Jesuit, had been taught by Jesuit theologians at St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein, Illinois. Friedkin came to Bermingham and asked him to exorcise the set. The priest was unable to perform an actual exorcism, but he did give a solemn blessing in a ceremony that was attended by everyone then on the set, from Max Von Sydow to the technicians and grips. "Nothing else happened on the set after the blessing,” Bermingham stated, "but around that time, there was a fire in the Jesuit residence set in Georgetown."

And while nothing else tragic occurred on the set, strange events and odd coincidences were reported during the post-production work on the film. "There were strange images and visions that showed up on film that were never planned," Friedkin later claimed. "There are double exposures in the little girl's face at the end of one reel that are unbelievable."


As we talked about in previous episodes, The film opened on December 26, 1973, to massive crowds. Within weeks of the first public screenings of the film, stories started to make the rounds that audience members were fainting and vomiting in the theaters. There were also reports of disturbing nightmares and reportedly, several theater ushers had to be placed under a doctor’s care, or quit their jobs, after experiencing successive showings of the movie. In numerous cities that were checked after THE EXORCIST had run for several weeks, reporters found that every major hospital had been forced to deal with patients who reported, after seeing the film, severe cases of vomiting and hallucinations. There were also reports of people being carried out of theaters in stretchers. What do you think, passengers? Mere publicity stunts, or was this the real thing? 


The info for this cursed movie came from a great article on check them out!


Next up we're gonna dive into a sweet little movie about a tree, a child’s toy, and REAL SKELETONS IN THE SWIMMING POOL! Yep, you guessed it, poltergeist! The curse of Poltergeist spawned many theories about why the movie and its sequels were cursed with so much tragedy, with one suggesting the use of real-life human bones in the original film caused the hauntings.


Actress JoBeth Williams - who played the mother, Diane Freeling - is seen dropping into a pool of skeletons in one spooky scene and she later reveals the bones were real. She told TVLand: "In my innocence and naiveté, I assumed that these were not real skeletons.


"I assumed that they were prop skeletons made out of plastic or rubber . . . I found out, as did the crew, that they were using real skeletons, because it’s far too expensive to make fake skeletons out of rubber."


Just four months after the film's release, tragedy struck with actress Dominique Dunne, who played the family's eldest daughter Dana, who became the victim of a grisly murder. On the day before Halloween in 1982, the actress, 22, was strangled by her ex-boyfriend John Thomas Sweeney outside their home in West Hollywood.

She survived the attack but was left in a coma. She never regained consciousness and died five days later. Sweeney was later convicted of voluntary manslaughter and spent three and half years of a six-year sentence behind bars for the killing. He changed his name to John Maura so if you want to let him know what a twat he is, I mean… we can’t stop you.


In the years after the film's release movie bosses plowed ahead with plans for a sequel and Poltergeist II: The Other Side hit cinemas in 1986. Among the cast was Will Sampson, best known for playing Chief Bromden in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest opposite Jack Nicholson. The actor - cast as shaman Taylor in the movie - was concerned about the use of real skeletons in the first film and offered to perform a real-life exorcism. He's believed to have conducted the ceremony alone and in the middle of the night, but the cast reportedly felt relieved afterward. However, less than a year after the film's release - the curse had claimed another victim.

Sampson had long-term health problems as he suffered from a degenerative condition called scleroderma, which affected his heart and lungs. He underwent a heart and lung transplant in the summer of 1987 but died of post-operative kidney failure on June 3. 


Ok, this one is sad and you’ve probably heard of it. The most famous victim of the Poltergeist curse was Heather O'Rourke. She appeared as Carol Anne in the first two films as well as the third installment, Poltergeist III, which hit cinemas in 1988. She died just four months before the movie's release at only 12 years of age. In January 1988, Heather fell ill with what appeared to be flu-like symptoms. She collapsed at home the following day and was rushed to the hospital. She suffered a cardiac arrest but doctors were able to revive her and they diagnosed her with intestinal stenosis - a partial obstruction of the intestine. She underwent surgery, but went into cardiac arrest again in recovery and doctors were unable to save her. She passed away in February 1988, just weeks after her 12th birthday, and it was later reported she died from congenital stenosis and septic shock. Absolutely heartbreaking.


Character actor Lou Perryman became the second cast member to fall victim to murder. He played Pugsley in the original movie and suffered a brutal end in 1992 when he was hacked to death with an ax aged 67. A convict recently released from prison, Seth Christopher Tatum, confessed he had killed Perryman at his home after coming off his medication and going on a drinking binge. Tatum pleaded guilty to his murder in 2011 and was sentenced to life in prison.


Actor Richard Lawson played one of the parapsychologists, Ryan, in the original film (not the guy who ate the chicken with the maggots… you’re welcome) and he came close to becoming another victim of the curse in 1992. He was involved in a terrifying plane crash in 1992 when the USAir Flight 405 crashed into New York City's Flushing Bay on route to guess where? Cleveland friggin Ohio. The crash claimed the lives of 27 of the 51 passengers, but Lawson was among the survivors.

He put his lucky escape down to a last-minute seat change that saved his life. Lawson went on to be part of showbiz royalty when he married Beyonce's mother, Tina Knowles in 2015.


Info for this movie was taken from 


Next up how about… Hmm…. Oh, I know… The omen! The 2976 version of course. Obviously, Moody is a time traveler and saw the upcoming remake, 955 friggin years in the future! No! It was 1976! Of all the world's cursed film productions, The Omen is considered to have one of the worst movie curses of all time. The 1976 film tells the story of a man who accidentally adopts Damien the Antichrist as his son and the movie remains one of horror's most successful franchises. But what was so odious about the set that led producers to believe the devil was punishing them for making the movie? Is The Omen really cursed? The Omen film set haunting includes death, injury, and lots of lightning bolts: after all, the creator himself warned the cast and crew that Satan wasn't going to like what they were doing. Here's what happened behind the scenes of The Omen movie and why, despite its several sequels and a 2006 remake, it remains one of history's movies that indeed may have angered Satan himself!


In June 1975, Gregory Peck's son, Jonathan Peck, killed himself with a bullet to the head, two months before filming was to start. Several strange events then surrounded the production.


For protection on the set of "The Omen," Bernhard wore a Coptic cross. In an interview, Bernhard spoke about the production's eerie events, which included the death of an animal trainer.


Precisely one day after they shot the sequence involving the baboons at the animal center, Bernhard said that a tiger seized the animal trainer by the head, causing his death immediately. Whhhaat the fuuuuuck?


One of the most haunting stories surrounding The Omen didn't happen during the shoot, but during the production of the World War II epic A Bridge Too Far. John Richardson, who did special effects on The Omen, was involved in a head-on collision that beheaded his girlfriend, eerily mirroring the decapitation scene with David Warner. Supposedly, after the crash, Richardson saw a street sign that said, "Ommen, 66.6 km." This accident occurred after The Omen had wrapped production, but many of course linked it to the evil aura of the film.


Several planes were also set ablaze, including the plane carrying Peck and screenwriter David Seltzer. Meanwhile, Bernhard said they had to land in Nova Scotia after flying back from England. He added:


"We had the film on board... Dick [Donner] and I were very, very nervous."

IRA bombs ripped through a hotel, in which executive producer Mace Neufeld and his wife stayed, and another in which prominent executives and stars, including Peck, were to have dinner.


Once word got back to Fox about all the terrible incidents that plagued production, the studio saw it as a great way to drum up a ton of publicity and add to the film's ominous aura. They also put a great tagline into the film's ad campaign:


                     You have been warned. If something frightening happens to you today, think about it. It may be The Omen.


As Donner recalled in The Omen: Curse or Coincidence, "If we had been making a comedy, you would have recalled all the funny, great, ridiculous, silly moments that happened in that film. if you were doing a love story, you'd remember all the times somebody left their wife, fell in love... You're doing The Omen, anything that happens on that film, you don't tell about the jokes, you don't talk about the love stories, you don't even think about them. You think about things that coincidentally could have been something to do with The Omen. We had lots of them."


Creepy stuff right there my friends.


Next up we have one of my personal all-time favorites, the crow! The Crow began filming in Wilmington, North Carolina, in 1993. Cursed Films revealed that before production got underway, a mysterious caller left a voicemail message warning the crew not to shoot the movie because bad things would happen. Eerily, two on-set electricians were involved in an accident in which their truck hit a live wire. One of the men experienced second and third-degree burns and lost both ears.


Disaster also struck the entire production when a hurricane destroyed the movie set. That is when the “curse of The Crow” rumors began circulating in Hollywood. The star of The Crow, Brandon Lee, was the son of martial arts legend, Bruce Lee. The elder Lee died during the production of his final film. Some fans speculated that the Chinese mafia had placed a hit on the actor for betraying martial arts secrets. Others suspected that he had been struck by an insidious death blow at an earlier time.


The most popular theory about The Dragon’s death is that he was a victim of the Lee Family Curse. His older brother had died, and Lee’s parents believed there was a demon targeting the males in the Lee family.


Like his father, Brandon Lee died before he finished filming The Crow. In a fluke accident, the performer was shot while completing an action sequence, as described in Cursed Films. The crew used what are called ‘dummy rounds,’ for the scene, but there was something in the barrel of the gun that acted as a lethal projectile, killing Lee. 


To complete the final photography for The Crow, the man who had been working as Lee’s stunt double wore a mask in his image.


Crazy stuff!


How about some of our patented quick hitters! 


The Conqueror" is a whitewashed 1956 film with John Wayne as Genghis Khan. The film was shot at a location downwind from a nuclear testing site, causing dozens of crew members to eventually die of cancer. so maybe not so much a curse as a poor choice of locations.


Apocalypse Now"


The horror! Francis Ford Coppola was tempting fate when he decided to film "Apocalypse Now" during monsoon season. Big mistake. The monsoon destroyed multiple sets, Martin Sheen suffered a heart attack during filming, and Coppola was so stressed that he suffered a seizure, according to The Independent. "Apocalypse Now" (1979) turned out to be a masterpiece anyway, but the documentary "Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse" about its making is just as engrossing. 




Dysentery. Injuries. Fights among the crew. Nothing seemed to go right during the filming of 1982's "Fitzcarraldo." The story concerns hauling a boat over a hill, which the crew literally accomplished, but not without the same nightmarish difficulty as is depicted in the film. And in the end, director Werner Herzog looked as mad and overly driven as its hero. Check out the documentary "Burden of Dreams" for more.


The Superman Curse 


Comic book movie fans may know about the "Superman Curse," which is said to afflict multiple actors involved in Superman films. Christopher Reeve was paralyzed following a horse accident. And Margot Kidder, who played Lois opposite Reeve, suffered from bipolar disorder, according to TCM. Also, the original Superman, George Reeves, supposedly committed suicide. His death at age 45 from a gunshot remains a controversial subject; the official finding was suicide, but some believe that he was murdered or the victim of an accidental shooting.


"The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" 


Bad luck ran amok in Middle Earth during the filming of 2002's "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers." DVD interviews revealed that multiple actors and stuntmen suffered injuries while shooting the film's elaborate fight sequences. The worst was Viggo Mortensen, who broke his toe and chipped his tooth while filming.


The Exorcism of Emily rose


Dexter star Jennifer Carpenter reported that during the making of The Exorcism of Emily Rose — in which she played a big-screen version of German woman Anneliese Michel, whose poor health and subsequent death was blamed on a failed exorcism — her radio would mysteriously turn on and off. From an interview with Dread Central:


Q: A common question when making a film like this; did anything weird happen during filming?


JC: I thought about that when it happened, and two or three times when I was going to sleep my radio came on by itself. The only time it scared me was once because it was really loud and it was Pearl Jam’s “Alive” (laughs). Laura’s TV came on a couple of times.


Q: At 3:00 a.m.?


JC: Mine wasn’t 3:00 a.m. I was born at 3:00 a.m. but it hasn’t happened to me. I did check.


We’ll totally do an episode on Analiese one of these days



Myra Jones (aka Myra Davis) was the uncredited body double/stand-in for Psycho star Janet Leigh during the making of Hitchcock’s 1960 film. A handyman named Kenneth Dean Hunt, who was supposedly a Hitchcock “obsessive,” murdered her.


The Conjuring


Real-life ghost hunters Ed and Lorraine Warren, who aided the real-life Amityville Horror case, investigated the haunting of the Perron family home — a farmhouse plagued by generations of death, disaster, and a possessed doll. The case inspired James Wan’s supernatural film, which left some audiences in the Philippines with such a fright there were priests available at screenings to bless viewers and provide counseling. On and off-set paranormal incidents — including strange claw marks on star Vera Farmiga’s computer, Wan’s tormented dog growling at invisible intruders, a strange wind (that apparently put Carolyn Perron in the hospital), and fire — were reported.


The Innkeepers


Filmed at the reportedly haunted hotel the Yankee Pedlar Inn in Torrington, Connecticut, The Innkeepers director Ti West was skeptical about the strange occurrences during the making of his movie. Still, creepy stories from the set became the focus in the press. From an interview with West:


I’m a skeptic so I don’t really buy it. But I’ve definitely seen doors close by themselves; I’ve seen a TV turn off and on by itself; lights would always burn out in my room. Everyone on the crew has very vivid dreams every night, which is really strange.


The one story that is the most intriguing to me — In the film, the most haunted room is the Honeymoon Suite. That’s where the ghost stuff started in the hotel. The only reason I picked the room that I picked to shoot in, was because it was big enough to do a dolly shot. No more thought went into it other than pure technical reasons. So when we’re finishing the movie, I find out that the most haunted room in real life is the room I picked to be the haunted room in the movie. It could be a coincidence. It’s weird that it happened that way. . . . [Star] Sara Paxton would wake up in the middle of the night thinking someone was in the room with her. Everyone has stories, but I was too busy saying, “Let’s shoot this! We have 17 days!




"Atuk" is a movie so cursed that it never got made. The project, based on a 1963 Mordecai Richler novel about an Eskimo in New York, had four different men attached to play the lead while in development hell through the 1970s and '80s: John Belushi, Sam Kinison, John Candy, and Chris Farley. All four died shortly after entering negotiations to be in the film. Holy shit! 


Ok how about twilight zone the movie. The 1983 film 'Twilight Zone: The Movie' directed by John Landis and Steven Spielberg gained publicity pre-release because of the deaths of lead actor Vic Morrow and two child extras during the filming of the helicopter crash scene. The children were illegally hired to play the role in this scene, as Landis would go on to reveal in the subsequent trial. It was also prohibited to make children work after a certain hour in the evening. However, Landis insisted that the scene would have to entail a late-night setting to seem more authentic. This was the last scene in the film. It also included explosions as a helicopter flew over the village while Morrow would run across the street to save the Vietnamese children from the explosion. Testing for the scene sparked concerns when the helicopter seemed to vigorously rock at the explosion but despite this, Landis' need to capture the explosion took priority. He reportedly said, "You think that was big? You ain't seen nothing yet." At the controls of this helicopter was a Vietnam War veteran named Dorcey Wingo, who had just joined the movie business. When the cameras began filming, the pyrotechnic fireball that had been fired as part of the explosion hit the helicopter, engulfing it in flames. The helicopter then crashed into the river where the actors were standing — Morrow, 6-year-old Renee Chen, and 7-year-old Myca Dinh Le. Almost a hundred people were present when the tragedy occurred. The helicopter skidded right onto Renee, crushing her to death and when it toppled over, the main blade sliced through Morrow and Myca.


Rosemary's baby is next up on the list. Over the years, the myth surrounding Roman Polanski’s 1968 film Rosemary’s Baby has only grown in stature. The film is based on the 1967 novel of the same name by American novelist Ira Levin. He came up with the idea for the book in 1965, drawing inspiration from his wife who was pregnant at the time, his New York apartment, and the anxiety of being a parent.


The struggling writer imagined a world where there was no God and the devil was allowed to reign freely. This is evident in the iconic ending where Rosemary finds out that her husband sold her womb to Satan and that her child is the Antichrist. Levin was catapulted into the highest echelons of the literary world due to the success of his novel and a year later, a European auteur who was looking for his own Hollywood break decided to direct the film adaptation of his novel.


However, not everyone was pleased with Levin’s attacks on religion. He faced severe backlash from the Catholic Church for his “blasphemy” and his wife left him the year the film was released. He was never the same man again, growing increasingly paranoid over the years. Levin repeatedly had to make public statements denouncing Satanism and told Dick Cavett that he had become “terrified” as he grew older. 30 years after the release of the film, Levin came up with a sequel titled Son of Rosemary but it tanked.


William Castle was the man who first recognized the potential of Levin’s work and secured the rights to make a film adaptation. Best known for his work on B-grade horror films, Castle wanted to direct it initially but Paramount Pictures executive Robert Evans agreed to go ahead with the project only if Castle worked as a producer. In April of 1969, Castle was hospitalized because of severe kidney stones. He was already under a lot of stress due to the sheer volume of hate mail he received, a terrible consequence of being attached to Rosemary’s Baby. In his autobiography, he claimed that he began to hallucinate scenes from the film during his surgery and even shouted, “Rosemary, for God’s sake drop that knife!” Although Castle recovered, he never reached that level of success again.


Producer Robert Evans was not exempt from this alleged curse either. He had risen to the top with major hits like Rosemary’s Baby and The Godfather. However, he was convicted of cocaine trafficking in 1980 and got a suspended prison sentence. As a part of his plea bargain, Evans had to make an anti-drug commercial. Three years later, the producer would get caught up in the high-profile murder of Roy Radin which has come to be known as the “Cotton Club murder”. Despite two witnesses testifying that Evans was involved in the case, he was later cleared of the charges. In 1993, he told The New York Times, “I had 10 years of a horrific life, Kafkaesque. There were nights I cried myself to sleep.”


This is arguably the most renowned story that is related to Rosemary’s Baby. In autumn of 1968, composer Krzysztof Komeda, who worked on the film, fell off a rocky escarpment while partying and went into a four-month coma. Coincidentally, this affliction is exactly what the witches in Levin’s book subject Rosemary’s suspicious friend to. Komeda never came out of the coma and died in Poland the following year.


John Lennon was assassinated outside The Dakota in 1980, the famous building where they filmed Rosemary’s Baby. Producer Robert Evans claimed that the whole time he was on set at the apartment building he felt a “distinctly eerie feeling”. Lennon was gunned down by alleged “fan” Mark David Chapman who was influenced by Salinger’s novel The Catcher in the Rye and the loneliness of protagonist Holden Caulfield. However, the fleeting association with the film has led fans of the film to link Lennon’s assassination with the “curse” of the film. It can be said that the primary reason why the myth of the curse came about was the brutal murder of Polanski’s wife, actress Sharon Tate. Polanski even wanted to cast Tate as Rosemary but Evans was adamant about Mia Farrow’s involvement. A year after the film’s release, Tate and her friends were stabbed to death by followers of cult leader Charles Manson. Tate was eight-and-a-half months pregnant at the time of her demise. The members of the Manson Family delivered around 100 stab wounds to the four victims and wrote “Helter Skelter” on the wall in blood.


After his wife and unborn son were killed, Polanski indulged in substance abuse to cope with things but he ended up exemplifying human depravity. While guest editing the French edition of Vogue in 1977, the director preyed upon a 13-year old girl and persuaded her to participate in multiple photoshoots. During the second shoot at Jack Nicholson’s house, he incapacitated the minor with champagne and half a Quaalude before sexually violating her multiple times.


Although he was arrested for the felony and spent 42 days in jail, Polanski became a fugitive and fled to France to avoid facing charges. Since then, he has lived the life of a criminal and has avoided traveling to countries where he can be extradited back to the US.


Ok, let's round things out with the wizard of oz. Despite its commercial success, The Wizard of Oz is seen by some as cursed. There were so many serious accidents onset that those Oscar-nominated special effects almost cost cast members their lives, from the two actors playing winged monkeys crashing to the ground when the wires that hoisted them up in the air broke, to the Wicked Witch of the West’s stunt double Betty Danko injuring her left leg when the broomstick exploded.


Buddy Ebsen was originally cast in the role of the Tin Woodman, a.k.a. the Tin Man, but he was essentially poisoned by the makeup, which was made of pure aluminum dust. Nine days after filming started he was hospitalized, sitting under an oxygen tent. When he was not getting better fast enough, the filmmakers hired Jack Haley to be the Tin Man instead. This time, instead of applying the aluminum powder, the makeup artists mixed it into a paste and painted it on him. He did develop an infection in his right eye that needed medical attention, but it ended up being treatable.


Margaret Hamilton — who played the Wicked Witch of the West and was the one tipped who Harmetz off to the turmoil on set more than three decades later for her 1977 book — got burns, and the makeup artists had to rush to remove her copper makeup so that it wouldn’t seep through her wounds and become toxic. Unlike Ebsen, she didn’t get fired because they could live without her on the set for several more weeks.


An actor playing one of the Wicked Witch of the West’s soldiers accidentally jumped on top of Dorothy’s Toto, Carl Spitz, the dog trainer on set, told Harmetz. The dog (a female Cairn terrier named Terry) sprained its foot, and Spitz had to get a canine double. Terry did recover and returned to the set a few weeks later.


In a memoir by Judy Garland’s third husband, Sid Luft, published posthumously in 2017, he writes that, after bar-hopping in Culver City, the actors who played the munchkins “would make Judy’s life miserable by putting their hands under her dress.” Harmetz says it’s true that the actors would go drinking near the Culver City hotel where they stayed, but she says their interactions with Garland did not rise to the level of what Luft described. “Nobody on the movie ever saw her or heard of a munchkin assaulting her,” said one worker on the film. Garland did say the drinking was annoying in an interview with talk-show host Jack Paar, but experts on Garland’s life say that her rant about being scarred by the rowdy behavior on set may have been a deflection from the real damage she suffered during that time, at the hands of the studio. Garland was only 16 when she made The Wizard of Oz, and her struggles with depression and disordered eating started at an early age and continued for the rest of her life. She claimed that the studio executives gave her uppers and sleeping pills so she could keep up with the demanding pace of show business. She struggled with drug addiction and attempted suicide several times before she died of an accidental overdose on June 22, 1969, at just 47 years old.


The film went through four different producers by the time it was through.


Richard Thorpe, the first director, insisted that Judy Garland wear a blonde wig and thick makeup to depict Dorothy. When Buddy Epsen got sick from his Tin Man makeup and filming shut down for two weeks, the studio fired Thorpe and replaced him with George Cukor of My Fair Lady fame. Cukor encouraged Garland to wear natural makeup and play Dorothy less cartoonish and more natural. Cukor later left the film to work on Gone with the Wind instead and Viktor Fleming took his place. However, Cukor came back a few weeks later after getting fired from Gone With the Wind by Clark Gable (supposedly he was fired when Gable found out he was homosexual).


Director King Vidor was responsible for most of the sepia sequences and also helped Mervyn LeRoy with editing in post-production.


Not only did the public think former kindergarten teacher Margaret Hamilton was really evil following the first airing of The Wizard of Oz — she also suffered physically for the role. Hamilton received second and third-degree burns all over her body when the green copper makeup she was wearing got too hot during the fire scene. Her stunt double spent months in the hospital after a prop broom exploded — they were using a double because Hamilton got injured on an earlier take.


Stage makeup and prosthetics in 1939 were nowhere near what they are today. Ray Bolger’s Scarecrow makeup left deeply embedded marks in his skin that didn’t disappear for more than a year after the movie wrapped up filming. Luckily, this would never happen today.


How bout that hanging munchkin… Well, sorry folks. That seems to be fake. In a scene where Dorothy, the Scarecrow (Ray Bolger), and the Tin Man (Jack Haley) are skipping down the Yellow Brick Road, singing “we’re off to see the wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz,” some think the dark, moving figure hanging from a tree in the background is an actor who hanged himself on set. More likely, it’s one of the exotic birds that the filmmakers borrowed from the Los Angeles Zoo to create a wilderness setting. The rumor has been circulating since around 1989, the time of the 50th anniversary of the film’s release.

Alright, there you have it… Cursed movies!!! 

Obscure 90s horror movies you need to see

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