Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Year in Conspiracy: 2012

Besides all the apocalyptic hype over the Mayan doomsday prophecy this past year has seen it's share of additions to paranormal-related history.  The conspiracy world  has had no shortage of fodder to fuel their paranoid fires this year.  Some of their claims have us looking over our shoulders.  Others make us happy knowing that conspiracy for entertainment purposes is continuing to grow and evolve.  Here’s a few of this year’s best conspiracies from a Lost Creek point of view.

Whitney Houston Illuminati Sacrifice for Blue Ivy Carter

The first conspiracy is by far my favorite.  It shows how the pop culture machine, mass media, and paranoids the world over all combine to produce us some quality entertainment.  As I mentioned in the Smurl article, whether ghost stories or conspiracy theories are true or not they reflect the views and concerns of society at large and provide some seriously interesting entertainment.  The perfect storm of conspiracy came when Whitney Houston died, shortly after the birth of Blue Ivy Carter to parents Beyonce and Jay-Z.

On Jan. 7 we welcomed Blue Ivy Carter into the world to parents Beyonce and Jay-Z.  Conspiracy forums and videos abounded with claims of both of Blue Ivy's parents' allegiance to the Illuminati- a secret order that controls the world.  Many of them are reaching way too far, like when Beyonce’s latest video is freeze-framed and dissected to point out possible Illuminati symbolism.  With so many of the devoted working to prove the music duo were part of the secret order it was no wonder that within hours of the baby’s birth the internet was abuzz with theories on Blue Ivy.

Beyonce with Blue Ivy

The theories were popularized on Twitter with users making "Illuminati’s Very Youngest" one of its trending topics.  The leading retweet stated that Blue Ivy was an anagram for Eulb Yvi, the supposed name of one of the daughters of Satan.  The name was also said to be an anagram for “Born Living Under Evil” and “Illuminati’s Very Youngest.”  Conspiracy forums filled with theories using numerology.  4 was said to be a powerful number representing the Illuminati.  Ivy was likened to the Roman numeral IV, or 4.  Pointed out was that 4 seemed to be a very significant number for Blue Ivy’s parents.  Beyonce’s 2011 album was titled “4,” her birthday was on the 4th of the month, Jay-Z’s birthday is the 4th of the month, and their anniversary is on the 4th of the month.

Jay-Z throwing up an Illuminati sign?

Skeptics tried to reason that if they existed the Illuminati were an uber-secretive group whose members were the elitist of the elite.  They wouldn’t think of inducting a newborn into their ranks.  However, if her parents are in fact Illuminatus as has been speculated, couldn’t it be possible that Blue Ivy was planned and her position within the order was secured by birthright?  The conspiracists were quick enough to claim once that Barak Obama had been the result of an Illuminati-planed birth.

Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston died on February 11.  Early rumors spread that she had been killed by drug dealers to whom she owed a large amount of money.  The facts were that she was found in the bathtub of the Beverly Hilton hotel room she was staying.  The cause of death was ruled accidental drowning with heart disease and chronic cocaine abuse as contributing factors. A large amount, even for Whitney, of cocaine was found in her toxicology report, along with marijuana and several prescription drugs.

Conspiracy theories went a step further by including Whitney Houston’s death as a sacrifice in a fertility ritual by the Illuminati so they could bring forth Blue Ivy who would either take over the world or have a notable music career.  "For a queen to grow, another queen has to fall,” touted the headlines of these articles.

In detailed conspiracies it was noted that location is very important to the rituals of secret orders.  Hollywood lies at 35 degrees north.  When such a sacrifice is made, it has to be within 3 degrees north or south of a 33rd degree coordinate, which relates to the 33 degree’s of Freemasonry. Martin Luther King, Michael Jackson and JFK are all said to have been targets who were sacrificed within 3 degrees of a 33rd degree north point.

David Petraeus Planned Affair to Cover Up Benghazi Attacks

The conspiracy theory that uncovering of the head of the CIA’s extramarital affair was of his own orchestration to avoid giving congressional testimony on the attacks at Benghazi made it all the way to the pages of the New Yorker and on respected news channels such as CNN. 

Gen. David Petraeus

Petraeus was said to be a master strategist, several chess moves ahead of events.  On Sept. 11 an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, resulted in the deaths of U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.  The Obama administration was blamed, and in turn said that sloppy work had caused the tragedy.  Days before he was scheduled to give testimony at a congressional hearing on the Benghazi attacks Petraeus went public with an affair he had had with his biographer and the president accepted his resignation.  The affair had been with Paula Broadwell, a West Point graduate who accompanied Petraeus to the Middle East while writing the book.

Petraeus with Broadwell

The affair came to light when the FBI performed an audit searching for a leak in an unrelated matter.  Emails between Petraeus and Broadwell were found.  It was also discovered that Broadwell had access to Petraeus' email account, which undoubtedly contained top secret information.

If going to the media with the affair to get out of testifying was his intention, it worked.  Conspiracy theorists already after the Obama administration over the Benghazi attack claim that Petraeus’ testimony would have answered many questions and he had been a patsy, taking the fall for the cover up.  White House officials have been busy with other conspiracies this year as well, such as fudging employment numbers just before the election to make the economy appear more favorable and secure a reelection.  Wonder if they’ve put on their administrative parachutes to jump off the fiscal cliff yet?

Andrew Breitbart was Murdered by Obama

Andrew Breitbart

Conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart died unexpectedly on March 1 in L.A. He collapsed while walking near his home late that night and was pronounced dead at the hospital.  His lawyer immediately released a statement citing the cause of death as being a cardiac event.  Conspiracists jumped on this, as no autopsy had yet been performed. 

Breitbart was widely read and gained notoriety for his coverage of the Anthony Weiner scandal in 2011.  He had created several websites and had a large conservative following.  Weeks before his death Breitbart appeared at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C. and announced he had damning video evidence of Pres. Barak Obama.  "We are going to vet Obama from his college days to show you why racial division and class warfare are central to what hope and change was sold in 2008." He planned to release the video in early March.

From what was released after his death it seems that the damning evidence Breitbart referred to was from Harvard and showed a young Barry Obama hugging controversial Professor Derrick Bell at a Harvard protest.  Bell was the first tenured African-American Professor of at Harvard Law School and is largely credited as one of the originators of critical race theory.  CRT is a whole other subject, but to see why it’s so controversial, jump here.

Obama hugging Derrick Bell. Was Breitbart killed for having this?

That’s what they tell us he was talking about anyway….
Another twist in this story came when LA County forensic technician Michael Cormier died on April 20.  He had been complaining of stomach pains and throwing up.  He was taken to the hospital and died. It was suspected that Cormier had been poisoned with arsenic.  Officials were quick to say that they weren’t sure if it had been intentional or if he could have accidentally ingested the poison. The same day the coroner’s office released Breitbart’s autopsy findings, ruling heart failure from natural causes as being responsible for his death.  It was later stated that Cormier had never worked on the Breitbart case.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Smurl Case

Sometimes my research projects seek me out.  This is one of those instances.  A trail of butterfly effects led me to the fascinating story of the Smurl Haunting.  I first heard the name when reading a book that was a Christmas gift.  Curiosity led to serendipity, which led to West Pittston, PN during the 1970s and early 80s.  Jack and Janet Smurl were flooded out of their home in Wilkes-Barr after Hurricane Agnes in 1972.  They moved into a duplex owned by Jack’s parents who lived in the other side of the house.  They began experiencing paranormal phenomena and their story became more bizarre than the Amityville Horror which had become popular in the early 70s and involved some of the same players.

When I read about these cases I try to keep a level of skepticism.  Like I said, I wasn’t there and even if I were I can’t be sure that I wouldn’t still be wondering. The country had dug the Amityville Horror.  A few years had passed since then and an opportunity was there for the next big ghost story.  Something with that “based on actual events” tagline would be especially popular.  Enter "The Haunted," a book and subsequent film about the Smurl family’s ordeal following the media coverage of their situation.  Other than a few neighbors claiming two women had lived in the house and had practiced Satanism, the Smurl case lacked the sensational background story, but more than made up for it with it’s more bizarre claims and paranormal activity in higher frequency and intensity. I wasn’t there so I have no idea if their claims are true or not.  For my purpose that is beside the point.  It’s a really good story whether it actually happened or they made it all up.  If they did, they deserve the money they made off books and movies.  We make authors and screenwriters rich don’t we? I’m going to tell their story as if it really happened only because it’s easier and more entertaining to not insert “supposedly” and “alleged” into every sentence.

The Smurl Family

The Smurl’s ordeal began with a stain on their new carpet a year and a half after they moved in.  Despite several attempts, the stain couldn’t be removed.  Following that, an array of paranormal activity began, including but not limited to: toilets flushing on their own, footsteps heard, scratches appearing on a newly installed bathtub, drawers opening and closing on their own, radios that were unplugged suddenly blaring, rocking chairs creaking and rocking as if someone were sitting in them and Jack feeling the caress of an unseen hand.  These occurrences plagued the family for what seemed like an eternity.  One of their daughters told them about waking up and seeing many people floating around her room.  Neighbors even noticed strange things, like hearing screams and scratching noises and later learning no one was home at the time.   

The Smurl house

The activity eventually moved to Jack’s parents’ side of the house too.  They would feel icy cold spots and hear Jack and Janet arguing loudly, to discover they hadn’t been home at the time.  One day in 1985 Janet was doing laundry in the basement and heard her name called.  She went to see who her unexpected caller was, but she was alone in the house.  Two days later in the kitchen she saw a black shadow figure with no facial features appear and go through the wall, appearing to Jack’s mom, Mary, on the other side.  It seemed that after the apparition was seen, activity intensified.

The night of their daughter Heather’s catholic confirmation a heavy chandelier mysteriously fell, just missing their daughter Shannon.  One night while making love the Smurl’s reported Janet being pulled off the bed while clutching onto the sheets, and Jack laying paralyzed and overtaken by a vile odor.  The Smurl’s german shepherd, Simon, wasn’t spared form the oppression, being picked up and thrown several times.

Loraine and Ed Warren

 In 1985 Janet Smurl had heard about Ed and Loraine Warren who had been involved in the Amityville investigation and other high profile paranormal cases.  In desperation she contacted them.  The Warrens came to the Smurl’s home, accompanied by Rosemary Frueh who was a registered nurse and psychic.  After collecting background information the Warrens concluded the culprit for the violent activity was a demon.  They posited that it had lain dormant for years and when the family moved in with two girls hitting puberty, it was fueled back to life.  Rosemary agreed that there were up to four spirits in the house, but one was a major demon.  

The Warrens’ first tactic was to try and provoke the demon.  They played religious music which resulted in a mirror violently shaking and a voice growling.  Ed invoked the name of Jesus Christ and was hit by a noxious smell and fell ill for days.  He saw a black wispy smoke appear and spell out, “You filthy bastard, get out of this house.”  For the time being the Warrens had Rev. Robert McKenna perform two exorcisms and the sprinkling of holy water and prayer seemed to abate the demon.  But it was only to be for a short while.

Loraine Warren working on the Smurl case

The occurrences returned and their intensity was magnified.  In the book The Haunted Jack tells how he was raped by a succubus who appeared as a woman with a young body but the head of an old woman with red eyes and green gums.  Janet was also sexually assaulted by a shadow figure.  Pig noises were heard throughout the house.  Demonologists insist pig noises are often associated with demonic activity, probably relating to the story in the book of Matthew wherein Jesus casts demons into a herd of swine and drown them. 

Medium Mary Alice Rinkman came to the house.  Her reading corroborated that of Frueh, saying she felt there were 4 spirits in the house; a woman named Abigail, a man named Patrick who had killed his wife and her lover and then been hanged by a mob, another earthbound spirit, and a powerful demon. 

The intensity of the activity continued to increase.  The demon followed Jack to work and followed the family on a camping trip.  After being turned down by the Catholic Church for a sanctioned exorcism they sought media attention in hopes of finding help.  They went on a local talk show and told their story, although their faces weren’t shown.  It seemed the demon didn’t like this.  Immediately upon returning home Janet was picked up and thrown into the wall.  Later that night Jack says saw a figure that resembled a pig standing up on two legs and was raped again.  Now I’ve been subjective in telling this story up to this point.  However, I must pause here.  Would the small possibility of making some money off the story entice a man to claim he had been repeatedly raped by a ghost?  Or was the activity in this house THAT severe.  Are these claims so outrageous that one couldn’t make them up?  As I said before, since I wasn’t there I will never know.  Now on with the tale.

The shadow figure appeared to Jack, beckoning him to join it.  Ed Warren feared the family had been in the second stage of possession, oppression, and the figure was trying to lure Jack into the third stage, actual possession.  The final stage is death.

The media attention seemed to help and eventually the Catholic Church sanctioned the participation of clergy.  Father McKenna returned and performed a third exorcism.    The activity would die down then pick back up.  Frustrated, the family moved to another town.  After they left a fourth exorcism was performed and no further activity has been reported by subsequent owners.  A film version of The Haunted was released in 1991.

While the scientific world is hesitant and often scoffs at claims of the paranormal, the entertainment industry loves them.  “The Conjuring,” a film about Ed and Loraine Warren comes out this July.  For any readers who are Walking Dead fans, the film version of the Smurl story stars, Jeffrey DeMunn as Jack Smurl.  DeMunn was also Dale Horvath for two seasons on A&E’s The Walking Dead.  Janet Smurl is played by Sally Kirkland who appeared on television as Dr. House's mom and as Senator Ruth Martin in The Silence of the Lambs.

DeMunn and Kirkland in 1991's "The Haunted"

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Classic Ghost Photos

The best evidence a paranormal investigator can hope for is capturing a full bodied apparition.  This is a rare occurrence during an actual investigation.  Some of the best photos of ghosts ever captured were done by accident.  With the average five year old today being able to photoshop a picture that can fool experts, let’s take a look at some of the best ghost photos history has to offer us.

The Brown Lady

In 1936 Hubert C. Provand was a photographer working for Country Life magazine.  He and his assistant traveled to Norfolk, England to take photos of Raynham Hall for an upcoming issue when he inadvertently captured this shot:

The apparition is believed to be the ghost of Lady Dorothy Walpole, the sister of the first Prime Minister.  She was the second wife of Charles Townshend.  When Charles discovered she had been having an affair he locked her in her room where she remained until she died of smallpox.

Freddy Jackson

This pic shows a squadron of the Royal Air Force. Upon closer examination an extra face was discovered partially hidden behind the fourth man from the left in the top row.  The face bore an uncanny resemblance to Freddy Jackson, a squadron member who had died two days before the photo was taken.  He had been killed in a freak accident by an airplane propeller and his funeral was being held that day.  Perhaps unaware that he was dead, he decided to show up for the scheduled photograph.

Bachelor’s Grove

Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery in Illinois is considered by many to be one of the most haunted sites in the country.  Mari Huff, a member of the Ghost Research Society, snapped this photo in 1991.  According to Mari and others present there was no woman visible at the time the picture was taken.  

The Backseat Ghost

In 1959 Mabel Chinnery spent a day at the cemetery visiting the graves of her relatives.  To finish off a roll of film she snapped a picture of her husband who was waiting in the car.  When she had the film developed it appeared her husband hadn’t been waiting alone.  Mabel said the apparition in the backseat looked just like her deceased mother.

Tulip Staircase Ghost

Retired clergyman Rev. Ralph Hardy visited the National Museum in Greenwich, England in 1966.  In the Queen’s House section of the museum he snapped a shot of the Tulip Staircase.  Prior to the picture being taken footsteps, doors slamming, and disembodied children’s voices chanting could be heard.  Allegedly 300 years ago a maid was thrown from the top of the stairs, falling 50 feet to her death.

Moundsville Shadow Man

On May 7, 2004 Polly Gear was with a group of paranormal investigators at the abandoned West Virginia State Penitentiary
in Moundsville.  While walking down a hallway toward the cafeteria she heard a noise.  She turned on her flashlight and saw the form of a shadow person at the end of the hall.  The beam of the flashlight went through the apparition, which noticed the light and dashed through a nearby door.  Hoping to capture a photo of what she had seen Polly started walking backward and readied her camera.  As soon as the flash was ready she snapped this shot.


Polly goes on to describe being about 10 feet away when she first saw the shadow person.  It was very tall, and the black form appeared to be moving like static on a television, only black.  It seemed to be intelligent, recognizing the light on it and Polly’s presence.  After taking the photo she went to make sure that no one was in the area.  Experts who have analyzed the photo say there is no way it could be Polly’s own shadow casting against the end of the hall. 

Toys ‘R’ Us Ghost

The toy store chain is notorious for its locations being haunted.  Such seems to be the case with the Sunnyvale, CA Toys ‘R’ Us.  This photo was taken during the filming of a television show called “That’s Incredible.” 

No one was standing where the figure is on the left

Several psychics, including Sylvia Brown, have visited the store and ascertained that the spirit's name is John.  The story goes that John was a preacher and ranch hand in the 1880s on the property where the store now sits.  Most believe he bled to death in an accident while chopping wood.  Store employees tell of John following people into the ladies’ room and turning the water faucets on, throwing dolls off the shelf, and whispering worker’s names in their ears. 

Grandpa’s Ghost

Denise Russell took this picture of her grandmother in 1997.  They had just moved her grandmother into an assisted living facility for the elderly.  One weekend the resident’s families were invited for a picnic.  Denise attended and took this picture.  No one noticed anything for three years.  On Christmas Day, 2000 Denise and her sister were looking through family photos at their parents’ home.  Their grandmother had since passed away, and while looking at the picture they noticed the man who appeared to be standing behind her.  They believe the man in the picture is their grandfather, who had passed away in 1984.

Ghost Baby

Mrs. Andrews was visiting the grave of her daughter, who had died at 17, in Queensland, Australia and took this picture.  At the time she didn’t notice anything unusual.  When she developed the film she was shocked to see the infant looking directly into the camera.   

There were no children in the cemetery that day.  Some thought the photo could be the result of a double exposure but Mrs. Andrews stated that she didn’t know anyone with a baby and hadn’t taken any pictures like that. She also said it didn’t look like her daughter had at that age.  When a paranormal researcher later visited the site he found the graves of two infant girls near that of Mrs. Andrews’ daughter’s.

Amityville Boy

As you can read about in the previous blog, the house at 112 Ocean Ave. in Amityville, New York has quite a history.  When Ed and Loraine Warren were investigating the house, photographer Gene Campbell took a series of infrared time-lapse photographs.  The camera was set up on the second floor and took photos at regular intervals throughout the night. 

No children were at the house at the time.  The boy in the picture has been described as demonic, with glowing eyes.  When George Lutz asked his children if they knew who the boy was one of his daughters said it was the little boy she used to play with.

San Antonio Railroad Crossing

Legend has it that this railroad crossing in south San Antonio was the site of an accident that involved a school bus and several children were killed.  Although the road goes uphill, the story goes that if you park on the tracks the ghosts of the children will sometimes push the car uphill, leaving tiny hand prints on the back of it.  This picture was taken by the daughter of Andy and Debi Chesney and shows a mysterious transparent figure.

Yorkshire Moors Apparition

Colin Foster, 34, took a backpacking trip through England and took along his new digital camera.  At the Yorkshire Moors he snapped this photo.  He didn’t notice it until he returned home and reviewed his pictures with his girlfriend.  She saw it and had him zoom in (shown below) on the transparent figure.  Foster recalled having a feeling of being watched when he took the picture, but just chalked it up to the remoteness of the location.

Here’s a few more modern ‘ghost photos’ that are circulating on the internet.  Couldn’t find a background story to them, but they were interesting enough to deserve inclusion here:

Based on a True Story...?

My dad always told me to never let the truth stand in the way of telling a good story.  Apparently Hollywood has the same storytelling philosophy that my dad does.  Every couple years a new horror movie is released with the “based on true events” tagline.  These days few moviegoers actually fall for it, but there’s still some who will swear on their family Bible that the events depicted in the film really happened.  Let’s not forget how many people fell for the Blair Witch Project in 1999. Even though the film's stars accepted an MTV movie award live on stage, many still believed they were missing somewhere in the Maryland.


Every good paranormal enthusiast has seen the 1979 horror flick “The Amityville Horror,” or the uncalled for 2005 Ryan Reynolds remake.  Based on a book by Jay Anson, the films tell the story of the Lutz family who moved into a demonic hell house. 

In reality, there was an actual Amityville Horror, but it had nothing to do with bleeding walls or swarms of flies.  Prior to the Lutz’s, the house was owned by the DeFeo family. Ronald Defeo, Jr., known as “Butch,” was reported to be a heavy drug user who had financial problems as a result.  He had a turbulent relationship with his father, who he often argued with over money.  On Nov. 13, 1974 Butch ran into a local bar yelling that his parents had been shot.  A carload of bar patrons and friends went with him and entering the house they found the bodies of his parents in their bed, as well as the bodies of his two sisters and two brothers.  They called 911.

Butch was taken to the police station for his own protection after suggesting to the cops the crime was the result of a mob hit.  However, inconsistencies soon began appearing in his story, and the following day he confessed to the murders, saying “Once I started, I just couldn’t stop.  It went so fast.”

Butch Defeo

In court Butch testified that he was possessed by Satan.  His lawyer tried for an insanity plea, but the jury didn’t buy it.  He was sentenced to six consecutive 25 year sentences.  DeFeo is serving his sentence at the Green Haven Correctional Facility in Beekman, New York.

The story of Amityville murders is filled with holes and numerous conspiracy theories have been attached to it.  Probably related mostly to Butch’s ever changing story, no one will probably ever know exactly what happened that night.  Butch once said his sister Dawn had come up with the idea of killing their parents, and went on to kill the other children to eliminate witnesses on her own.  Upon discovering what she had done, Butch killed her in a rage.  Others point out that there likely had to be at least one accomplice because there was no silencer used on the gun and the shots would have woken others in the house, but everyone was found in their own bed.

Enter George and Kathy Lutz.  They bought the house the following year, and stayed for only a month, which they referred to as “a 28 days hellish siege.”  Anson’s book details their account of staying in the house which included green slime oozing from the ceiling, insect swarms of biblical proportions, doors ripped from their hinges, cabinets banged open and shut, and a demonic face with red eyes that would peer in at night and left cloven hoof prints in the snow.  A priest called in left with blisters on his hands after a demonic voice told him to “Get Out!”

'Ghost Boy' photo taken while the Warrens were investigating

One day Kathy Lutz decided to move around some shelves in the basement, and claims she found a door that led to a red room that was not part of the house’s blueprints. Several psychics were called in, including groundbreaking ghost/demon hunters Ed and Loraine Warren. Some believed the red room was an actual portal to hell.  All agreed that there was a demonic entity in the house and a proper exorcism was needed. 

A long list of factual errors and inconsistencies rivaling those of Butch DeFeo make the case that Anson and the Lutz’s were just trying (and succeeding) in cashing in on the story of the home’s previous owners.  For example, weather records show no snowfall for the time when hoof prints were supposed to be found outside.  It is possible exact dates and other details could have gotten blurred in the terror, but the principle of Occam’s Razor would have it that they were simply trying to make a buck off the tragedy.   

112 Ocean Avenue, Amityville New York

Butch DeFeo’s lawyer has since stated that the story of possession was created over several bottles of wine in hopes of getting his client a new trial.  George Lutz still claims that all the events actually happened, although there is no evidence to back this up. 

The Amityville house has become a macabre pilgrimage for horror fans and paranormal enthusiasts.  Unfortunate for all owners since the Lutz’s, gawkers continue to show up, snapping photos and hoping to capture something that will make them a part of the story that is an admitted fake.

For crime scene photos of the DeFeo murders and a more detailed analysis, follow this link.  *probably not for the kiddies*

The Real Exorcism of Emily Rose

The Americanized Exorcism of Emily Rose was actually based on the case of a young German woman named Anneliese Michel.  Michel was born Sept. 21, 1952 in Leibfing, Germany to a devout Catholic family.  At age 16 Anneliese had a seizure and was diagnosed with epilepsy.  She began having trouble speaking and walking, having to hold on to nearby object for balance.  Soon after she began hallucinating while she prayed.  Doctors prescribed her anticonvulsants. 

Anneliese Michel

Anneliese went on a trip to Italy with a friend.  While there she refused to drink holy water or walk past religious iconography.  Her family became convinced that her condition was not a medical one, but a spiritual one.  They appealed to the church to perform an exorcism, but were told that permission would have to be granted by a bishop and to continue with medical treatment.

By 1973 Anneliese was suffering from regular auditory hallucinations, hearing voices telling her that she was “damned” and would “rot in hell.” She was sent to a psychiatric hospital and received treatment which she didn’t think was helping her.  She fell into a deep depression.

In September of 1975 the local bishop granted Rev. Arnold Renz permission to begin an exorcism on Anneliese.  Once spiritual treatment began, Anneliese and her family stopped all medical treatment.  She went through 67 sessions with priests over the next two years.  Although her condition only worsened, the family insisted they be continued.  She refused to eat or drink.  She would, however, eat insects and growled at religious symbols.  Once she sat under the dining room table barking for two days.

The following video contains actual audio taken from the exorcism sessions:

Anneliese herself proclaimed that Judas, Nero, Hitler, Cain, Lucifer and others were possessing her body.  Finally on July 1, 1976 Anneliese died.  The autopsy ruled dehydration and malnutrition as the cause of death.  She weighed only 68 pounds.  She was 23 years old. 

Anneliese during her exorcism

But the story was far from over.  The state prosecutor opened an investigation and concluded that her death could have been prevented up to a week before she died if medical treatment had not been withheld.  Her parents were charged with negligent homicide.  The priests who had attended to her were found guilty of manslaughter and received suspended sentences of six months and three years probation.

It has been speculated that the only thing that possessed Anneliese were mental disorders, ranging from depression to dissociative personality disorder and schizophrenia.  These problems, combined with her religious upbringing could account for her problems, but there’s no way of every finding the truth.

The Exorcist

In 1971 William Peter Blatty wrote a book called the Exorcist. In 1973 a movie of the same name was released starring Linda Blair as a child possessed by demons.  Both the book and the film claimed to have been based on a true story.  But it wasn’t a little girl who had become possessed.  The story was taken from the diary of a priest who had performed an exorcism on a 13 year old boy, who was referred to as “Robbie Doe.”

According to the diary in Cottage City, Maryland in 1949 Robbie’s family began to notice strange things happening with their son.  Initially scratching noises were heard that seemed to be coming from inside the walls of the house.  Phantom footsteps were heard in the hallway and objects would move without any explanation.  Later furniture would move across the floor and the boy’s bed would shake violently when he was in it.  Claw-like scratches appeared on his body.

The possessed Regan in "The Exorcist"

Robbie’s Aunt Tillie was an important player in his story.  Although she had passed away by the time the episodes began, the two had played with a Ouija board and Tillie was said to have been well versed in the occult and adhered to the Spiritualism movement.  The family consulted a Catholic priest who suggested sprinkling holy water throughout the house.  The boy’s mother claimed the bottles of holy water would fly off the shelf and candles would extinguish themselves.  Robbie had to be taken out of school because his desk would move around on its own.

The family petitioned the church and the archdiocese granted permission for an exorcism to be performed.  Robbie was taken to Georgetown Hospital where priests witnessed him speaking in dead languages. During one session the boy ripped a bedspring from his mattress and slashed a priest from his shoulder to his wrist. Witnesses claim the priest’s hair turned white over night.

Eventually Robbie was taken to St. Louis to live with his aunt and uncle.  Here Jesuit priests led by Father William Bowdern resumed his exorcism.  During the rite, the boy would violently spit and urinated on the priests.  Once he punched a priest in the groin and growled “That’s a nutcracker for you isn’t it.”

The climax of the possession came when Robbie claimed to have a vision of St. Michael holding a flaming sword and exclaimed, “I am St. Michael! I command you, Satan, and the other evil spirits to leave this body, in the name of Dominus, immediately! Now!”  That seemed to do the trick and the strange occurrences abruptly stopped.  The boy eventually returned to Maryland where he lived in anonymity.  The local fire department burned down the house where the phenomena began as part of a training exercise.

Some believe there was no possession to speak of and that the boy had been the victim of poltergeist activity.  Poltergeists usually attach themselves to teenagers, commonly those who are troubled.  Robbie’s family is said to have been dysfunctional.  Some assert that the occurrences could be explained by psychokinesis, wherein people can unknowingly manifest psychic energy that causes physical objects to move seemingly of their own accord in their presence.

Ed Gein – Inspiration for Horror

Real life killer Ed Gein, the “Butcher of Plainfield” has been the inspiration for at least three classic horror movies.  Norman Bates in the Hitchcock classic “Psycho,” Leatherface in “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” and Buffalo Bill in “The Silence of the Lambs” were all based on Gein.

Ed Gein was born in Wisconsin in 1906.  His father was an alcoholic who worked as a carpenter and his mother, Augusta, was a very religious woman who dominated the family and ran a grocery store in La Crosse.  Augusta instilled in her boys the sinfulness of sex.  

Ed Gein

In 1940 Gein’s father died.  Then in 1944 his brother Henry died suspiciously.  He and Ed had been fighting a brush fire on their property.  Henry was found dead in an unburned area and had bruising on his head.  The official cause of death was ruled as smoke inhalation.  That left Ed alone with his mother.  Just a year after Augusta died of a stroke, following an argument with a neighbor.  Alone on the family farm now, Ed went of the rails. 

He became obsessively fascinated with the human anatomy and took up grave-robbing.  He would search local obituaries for recently buried female corpses, and dig them up, taking body parts as trophies.  Gein started making macabre decorations with his trophies. He soon grew frustrated with the corpses and decided he needed fresher bodies to work with.

In 1954 a 51 year old woman named Mary Hogan, who vaguely resembled Augusta Gein, disappeared from the bar she ran in a neighboring town.  Gein was among the suspects but there wasn’t enough evidence to connect him to the disappearance.  In November of 1957 another woman resembling Ed’s mother, Bernice Worden, went missing from the hardware store she ran in Plainfield.  This time Ed could be connected.  Locals told police Ed had told them he intended on asking Bernice on a date.  On the day she went missing he had told people he needed to go to the hardware store to buy antifreeze.  At the hardware store crime scene police found a receipt for antifreeze. 

When police arrived at the Gein house they were met with a house of horrors.  Deputy Frank Worden, Bernice’s son, found her body hanging from the rafters, her head cut off, her genitalia removed, and her torso slit open and gutted.  Several more bodies were found in this fashion.  Besides the bodies, Gein’s decorations horrified the officers and made him famous.  As they searched the home they found Ed’s handiwork, which included bowls made of human skulls, lampshades, an armchair, and a wastebasket made from human skin, shoeboxes containing female genitalia, a belt made of nipples, a human head, four noses, a heart in a saucepan on the stove, and an entire bodysuit made of human skin.

Mask made by Ed Gein
Gein immediately confessed to the murders of Worden and Hogan as well as his grave-robbing activities.  A judge found him mentally incompetent to stand trial and he was committed to a secure mental hospital.  The house was demolished to keep curiosity seekers from coming to gawk.  Gein died of respiratory failure at Mendota Mental Health Institute on July 26, 1984, at age 77.

Head found in a box

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Haunted Dolls

You gotta admit there’s something creepy about old dolls.  You know, the ones that have been abandoned by their child owners long ago, their porcelain or plastic bodies cracking, eyes missing, hair in disarray.  The movie Child’s Play played on this fear and had the spirit of an executed killer possessing a Good Guy doll. 

Until eBay’s recent policy changes that prohibits the sale of haunted items, haunted dolls were common on the auction website.  The internet is full of stories of dolls sold on the website that were said to wreak havoc on the homes of the buyers who purchased them.  Many of these dolls were resold on the site, some gaining the cult popularity associated with the Dybbuk Box.

Are these dolls haunted?  Are the just being manipulated by regular ghosts?  Is there a spirit created for the dolls, like with the creation of a voodoo doll?  Magic practitioners may be creating golem-like creatures and bringing them to life with the dolls as their homes.  Or maybe actual ghosts decide residing in a doll is as close as they’re gonna get to being back in a body.  There are as many theories about haunted dolls as there are claimed-to-be haunted dolls themselves.

Here's a look at some of the most famous haunted doll stories:

Robert the Doll

Perhaps the most famous "haunted doll" is Robert the doll.  Robert was given to 5 year old Eugene Otto in 1906 by a Bahamian servant employed by his family, who was said to be well versed in voodoo.  The family hired her after moving to Key West, and fired her shortly after she gifted their son with the doll.  Eugene immediately fell in love with the doll and took it with him everywhere he went.  Soon after Eugene's parents grew concerned when they would hear him talking to the doll, and another voice talking back.

Robert the Doll

 Neighbors would claim to see Robert appear in different windows and move from room to room while the family was out.  Eugene's parents would hear screams at night and rush to their son's room to find the furniture tossed about, their son terribly frightened, and Robert sitting at the foot of the bed. Eugene would always claim, "Robert did it."

Eventually Robert was locked away in the attic where he stated for 20 years.  Eugene's parents passed away and he inherited the house.  He and his wife were rummaging through the attic and came across Robert.  He was taken back downstairs and before long the strange occurrences began again.  Following loud noises Robert would often be found sitting in a rocking chair, the chair rocking.

Eugene insisted on keeping the doll until his death in 1974.  It was then left in the attic until the house was sold. The new owners had a ten year old daughter who soon began to scream out in the night and claim the doll not only moved but was trying to kill her.

Robert is now on display at the Fort East Martello Museum According to legend, visitors to the museum wishing to take a picture of Robert must first ask him permission (which he apparently grants by tilting his head).  If they do not receive permission and take the photo anyway, they are cursed.   Staff claims that giggling is often heard and the doll sometimes inexplicably changes positions slightly.

Joilet the Cursed Doll

Joilet the doll has been passed down through four generations in the same family, from mother to daughter.  A curse attached to the doll caused each of the women to have a son who died at 3 days old.  The family believes the spirits of the boys are cursed to live within the doll until Judgement Day.

Joliet the Cursed Doll

The sound of several babies crying at once can be heard coming from the doll at night.  The doll was originally given to the great grandmother of the family by a jealous friend when she was pregnant with her second child, a boy.  One would think that getting rid of the doll couldn't hurt in trying to break the curse, but the women refuse to do so because they feel the souls of their children live within the doll and care for it as if it were a real child. 


Pupa's original owner had the doll from the 1920s until her death in 2005. With her it had survived World War II, and came with her from Italy to the United States.  Over the years it traveled with her back to Italy and across Europe.

The family who now owns Pupa says objects in the display case where she is kept are frequently moved around.  Since the passing of her original owner the doll has became more active, perhaps wanting to be released from her showcase.

Pupa in her original blue felt dress

They often find the doll positioned differently than where they left her.  On several occasions they have heard a tapping on the glass of the case.  Upon hearing the noise, they look to find Pupa's hands pressed against the glass.

Haunted Barbie

I'm not sure if this story quite fits the haunted category, but it definitely deserves a mention.  The town of Pulau Ubin in Singapore is the home to a shrine that holds a Barbie doll where a statue of a deity usually resides. Instead of the usual offerings worshipers leave her creams, makeup, small combs, and mirrors.

A German couple and their daughter moved to Pulau Ubin to start a coffee plantation.  World War I broke out.  Being a British colony, any Germans were thought to be possible spies.  British soldiers came to take the family.  They captured the parents but the daughter managed to flee.  However, her fate was not to be a happy one.  Alone on the property she fell from a cliff and died.

Locals built the temple to pacify the girl's spirit.  According to the temple's keeper, the alter originally held a porcelain idol and a lock of the girl's hair.  Years later an Australian immigrant had a recurring dream in which a little girl would ask him to take her to a toy shop, then ask him to buy a Barbie doll and take it to the Lady Na Tuk Gong Shrine.  In an effort to stop the dreams the man went looking for the shop in his dream, and to his surprise found it along with the doll the girl had described to him.  He bought the doll and took it to the temple.  Today people come from all over to worship and say their prayers for safety and health are answered.

Annabell the Demon Doll

I've saved the best for last.  In 1970 a mother purchased a vintage Raggedy Ann doll for her daughter, Donna.  Donna was a nurse and lived with a roommate who was also a nurse.  She loved the gift and sat the doll on her bed.  The two soon noticed something wasn't quite right with the doll.  At first it would appear to move slightly while they were away, then they would come home to find it in a completely different part of the house.

After about a month they began to find notes in the house written on parchment paper with a pencil that would say "Help Us" and "Help Lou."  Lou was a mutual friend of the roommates.  After coming home to find the doll on her bed covered in a red blood-like substance the friends contacted a medium to hold a séance.  They were told the spirit of a 7 year old girl named Annabell Higgins lived in the doll.  She had once lived there and been found dead on the property.  Feeling sympathetic for the child spirit the roommates allowed her to stay there with them.

Annabell as she currently resides

It soon became apparent that Annabell wasn't what she seemed.  Lou had recurring nightmares about the doll.  He awoke from one of these dreams to see the doll at the foot of his bed.  He couldn't move and watched helplessly as the doll climbed up on his bed and strangled him.  He blacked out, and woke the next morning sure the incident hadn't been a dream.  He urged the roommates to get rid of the doll.

Days later Lou was at Donna's planning a trip.  They heard a loud crash from Donna's room.  Fearful an intruder had broken into the house, Lou went to inspect.  He found Annabell tossed on the floor.  He felt a presence behind him.  When he turned to look, fearing a (human) intruder, he was met with a pain in his chest.  Looking down he saw blood coming from what appeared to be 7 claw marks.

Donna was now convinced Annabell wasn't the spirit of a little girl and consulted a priest who referred her to groundbreaking paranormal investigators Ed and Loraine Warren.  (If you're not familiar with paranormal history you may recognize Loraine from her appearances on A&E's Paranormal State.)  They concluded an evil spirit had attached itself to the doll.  It could not, however, possess an inanimate object and was looking for a human host to possess.  The demonic entity had moved the doll hoping to get a medium in to convince the girls it was the spirit of a little girl so they would sympathize with it, according to the Warrens, which it had accomplished. They concluded that if left to go on another week or two the demonic spirit would have accomplished its goal of possessing a human and possibly even killing everyone in the house.

Loraine Warren leaving with Annabell

The Warrens had an Episcopal priest come and bless the house and took the doll with them when they left.    Ed claimed to have seen the doll levitate from the chair it sat in several times and when they would go out and return home they would often find the doll in a different part of the house than it had been left.  Neither of them were ever physically attacked by the doll.  Annabelle currently resides in Loraine Warren’s Occult Museum in Moodus, Connecticut.     

This short video clip from YouTube shows a girl with a doll she was given as a present.  Real or fake? Definitely creepy:


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Ellen Flannery, Letcher County's Lady in White

The first (legal) hanging here in Letcher County was connected to one of it’s most famous murder cases which also happens to be one of our most famous hauntings.  Floyd Frazier was hanged on the gallows where the old Whitesburg High School now stands on May 19, 1910 for the murder of Ellen Flannery.  For the last century Ellen is said to be spotted occasionally near where she was killed, seeming to try and get back home.

On May 21, 1907 Ellen Flannery, the widowed mother of five children, sent her two eldest children to town on errands and went out to pick greens for supper.  The children returned from town to find that their mother had not returned.  When night fell, they were still alone.  They spent the night by themselves and the next morning neighbors learned of Ellen missing and a search party sat out to look for her. 

Among the search party was 21 year old Floyd Frazier.  Frazier was said to have been mildly mentally handicapped and had been sweet on Ellen.  Taking the lead, he led the party to a creek bank, then announced their was no need to check down in the creek, she wasn’t there.  Other party members insisted on checking, and there they found the body of Ellen Flannery.

Several large stones, some weighing up to 65 pounds, were piled on top of her in an effort to conceal her body.  Her throat had been slashed and their was bruising on her head.  Also her skirt had been torn off and placed beneath her body.

Nearby lay the mess of greens she had collected along with a blood trail leading away from the scene.  A fence close by had bloody handprints on it from someone climbing over it.  Following the trail, large footprints were found in the mud with an unusual number of tacks in the heel. Following the footprints they found a knife, and under another pile of rocks, Ellen’s bonnet.

Suspicious of Frazier who had led them straight to the body, police went to his home where a shirt was found with blood on the sleeve that had been scrubbed.  He had several scratches on him as well. When a pair of shoes belonging to him were found that contained an unusual number of tacks in the heel that matched the footprints, Frazier was arrested for the murder.  

Floyd Frazier

Sentenced to be hanged, his mother and several others testified at the trial that Floyd didn’t have the mind of an average person and was known to fly off in a rage for no apparent reason.  Word spread around town that Frazier’s mother disapproved and was even jealous of his love for Flannery, and some said she even told him to kill her.

Ellen Flannery’s ghost has been seen walking in the head of Pert Creek and along Pine Mountain that joins the hollow.  Witnesses have seen her apparition walking near the spot where she was killed, perhaps trying to get back home to her children.  I’ve visited the site where Ellen was killed, as well as her gravesite on ghost hunting trips.  While we didn’t capture any concrete evidence, we did hear strange sounds like gravel crunching but there were no cars. Was Ellen or Floyd walking down the road by us?  There are many stories of drivers seeing a woman in white while crossing Pine Mountain.  Maybe this is the spirit of Ellen Flannery, eternally searching for her way back home.

To view the lyrics to an old mountain ballad about Floyd and Ellen, hit this jump.

For an old Mountain Eagle article on the hanging, check out this link.

We've Moved

Thanks Google and your quest to take over the world.  As a result of your dastardly actions, we've pulled up stakes and moved.  Check out the new home of the Medicine Show at Weebly.  Same spooky stories, great new place to call home.