30 Oct

31 Ghost Stories – Day 30: The Dudleytown Curse

Posted by Tony Nunes | Saturday October 30, 2010 | 31 Ghost Stories

DudleytownIn the realm of fact based stories about ghosts, goblins, and UFO’s, there is usually one element that sets each story apart from the other. Sometimes however, the creepy details which make these stories great, can bleed together into one amazingly dark tale. Here is a story that has everything a good ghost story should, plus some. Rich in history, the story of the rise and fall of Dudleytown Connecticut is loaded with twisted curses, dark wooded passes, disappearing livestock, abusive ghosts, and descents into madness.

Bear with me on the history here, and trust me, this story may have you believing in curses. The story spans an over three century period, and picks up in 1509, in the English House of Commons. As Henry VII lay in his deathbed, dying from TB, his finance minister, Edmund Dudley was allegedly assembling arms in preparation for the King’s death. When the king did die, the newly crowned, always infamous Henry VIII had Dudley arrested and sentenced to death. Edmund Dudley was beheaded on August 17, 1510. At the time of his execution, a curse plaguing his descendants for all of eternity was put on Dudley’s head. It is unclear by who or for what reasons the curse was cast, but it has long been speculated that Devil worshipping members of the Royal Court cast it as punishment for Dudley’s controversial loyalty to the late King. The curse took hold immediately.

Edmund Dudley’s son, John Dudley served under Henry VIII’s teenaged son, King Edward VI. John Dudley himself had five sons, and married his fourth son Guildford to Lady Jane Grey, grand-niece to Henry. This was an attempted coup to establish his bloodline into the Royal bloodline, and position his sons to lead the country when Edward died. This of course did not happen, and Princess Mary took the throne instead, seizing and beheading John Dudley for his religiously divisive role under her father Henry. And so more Dudley’s began to tragically fall. Guildford and new wife Lady Jane were also arrested and beheaded as traitors. John’s eldest son, Henry Dudley died while serving in the Spanish Service during the Battle of St. Quentin. His fifth son Robert was a divisive character in the English Court whose influence led to numerous murders and executions to those he favored. John’s second son, Ambrose, is thought responsible for bringing the plague to London, from the battlefields in France. This led to the deaths of over 21,000 people, and 26 years later, Ambrose himself died from a gangrene infection.

Was it the Dudley curse that led to the plague? Were these non-Dudley family deaths collateral damage of the curse? The Dudley family deaths would continue over and over again, tragically, and somewhat unexpected. When the Dudley’s started moving overseas, the curse followed. In 1608, a Dudley son William Jr., was born on a ship sailing to Saybrook Connecticut. In Saybrook, William Jr. himself fathered twelve children, and three of his sons, Gideon, Abiel and Barzillai went on to establish the small town of Dudleytown Connecticut. In this namesake town, Gideon’s children would become the newest casualties of the curse, all three dying at a very young age. From then on, the town itself began to take on the qualities of the curse that had plagued its namesake family for over two-hundred years.

Set in the owl-infested dark woods on Northwestern CT, Dudleytown stood in the shadow of the Coltsfoot, Bald, and Woodbury Mountains. The town was not incorporated until 1740, and it wasn’t until 1792 that the first non-Dudley death was recorded. Gersham Hollister tragically fell to his death during a barn raising. Nathaniel Carter who took up residency in Abiel Dudley’s old house, moved his family away after having strange feelings about the town. He left one of his sons behind by mistake, but before they could reunite, Nathaniel, his wife, and baby were killed in an Indian attack, his other three children taken captive. His brother and family then died of a Cholera outbreak in Dudleytown. The trend of strange deaths continued for years, with lightening strikes, suicides, disease outbreaks, and even more Indian attacks. During the Civil War, the town began to struggle, and almost all of the trees along the hillsides were cut down and turned to charcoal. Without trees, the area was constantly flooded, ruining the soil, and creating “fairy caves” throughout the town. Fairy Caves are germinated mold spores which cover up large holes with moss, unsuspectingly swallowing up some of the livestock and townspeople in Dudleytown. Soon, crops started failing, animals began disappearing, and everyone started to leave the cursed town.

John Brophy moved into the empty town in 1892. His wife died suddenly, his two children went missing, and his sheep began dying off rapidly. He was reported in a nearby town spouting off sightings of demons, and unseen forces which he claimed ripped his clothing. John Brophy was never seen again, and his death was never reported. At the beginning of the 20th century, Dr. William Clarke moved into the vacant town, in love with the seclusion and nature of the area. While away on business, the doctor returned home to find his wife had gone completely insane, terrorized she claimed, by demons. Like others before her, she took her own life in Dudleytown. Eventually, Dudleytown crumbled away, and nature took the land back, leaving the curse hidden in the dark Connecticut woods.

The stories grew, as they often do, and Dudleytown became an attraction for ghost-hunters, and fanatics. The avenue which led into Dudleytown, Dark Entry Forest Road would become the legendary sight for claims of floating orbs, demonic contact, walled-in silence, strange illness, negative energy vortexes and even UFO sightings. These are the products of ghost hysteria, the concoctions of a desperate crowd, remnants these so called ghost-hunters hold onto as proof that they are not crazy, time-wasting fools. It’s the true tragedy behind the curse, and it’s historic context that really transforms the Dudleytown tale into a great Ghost Story. There’s no need for gimmicks here. The Dudley curse is a lot like the Kennedy curse, but filled with greater tragedy and a longer history. The Dudley family curse has been attributed to the deaths of many, the probable cause of a nation crippling plague, and the creation and downfall of a dark Connecticut town ripe with madness and death.

29 Oct

31 Ghost Stories – Day 29: The creepiest god damn gnome known to mankind

Posted by Bryan White | Friday October 29, 2010 | 31 Ghost Stories

Argentina GnomeI’m keeping this one short because it’s late and the video sort of speaks for itself. A couple of years back, some kids in Argentina were chilling late at night, shooting the shit and waving a camera around when they heard a sound that they identified as “someone throwing stones”. When they turned, they spotted something moving in the shadows that they couldn’t identify. It immediately spread across the internet and became a bit of a sensation. People in the english speaking world called it The Gnome on account of it wearing a pointy hat, or at least appearing to. Since that time, The Gnome has appeared to several other groups of kids and has been caught on cell phone video several times but the resolution is predictably low and no one ever makes out any distinct characteristics. What the hell is that thing? I mean seriously. WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT THING??? It’s not like it’s just some kind of small animal that in the shadows has been mistaken for something else. It stands on two legs and appears to be humanoid with arms in the appropriate spots and that freakin’ pointy hat! Consequently, I do a kick ass version of the gnome walk.

28 Oct

31 Ghost Stories – Day 28: What waits below.

Posted by Bryan White | Thursday October 28, 2010 | 31 Ghost Stories

I may have mentioned this in the past but I fucking hate the ocean. Ironic seeing as how I’ve spent 30 years of my life living within driving distance of it but let me tell you this, O, my brothers (and sisters), I don’t wade out past knee deep water because scary shit lives in the ocean and once you’re in the tide, you’re immediately shunted to the bottom of the food chain. There is shit down there below the surface that is much better suited to moving swiftly and eating the ass out of anything without the streamlined biological design to get the hell out of the way, namely you and me or anything else built for walking around solid ground. The majority of this planet is covered in it and we haven’t explored more than 20% of the god damn thing so it’s completely reasonable to suspect that there are substantial discoveries in the field of marine biology to be made. I’m talking unseen species of fish and mammals that we’ve never seen because they live really deep or there’s plenty of room for them to hide since light doesn’t penetrate the water anymore once you’ve hit the abyssopelagic level of the deep, about 13,000 feet down. Shit gets real spooky down there. What’s more, while tin foil hat types keep their cameras pointed at the sky looking for UFOs, there’s a whole class of unidentified objects that exist down there under the ocean, the so-called USO, the Unidentified Submerged Object and that’s what tonight’s entry into the countdown is about. Crazy shit going on under the ocean that nobody can identify.

BloopIn Lovecraft’s Call of Cthulhu, Cthulhu lies dead but dreaming on the sunken isle of R’Lyeh. In the story, a ship sails to an actually very specific set of coordinates located south west of the southernmost tip of South America where R’Lyeh suddenly rises and Cthulhu pretty much makes everyone his bitch and leaves the lone survivor a raving lunatic. It’s a great story but check this shit out. A mere 950 miles from these actual coordinates, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration detected something on underwater microphones that pretty much freaked everybody out. They call it Bloop and it’s frightening. Bloop is a powerful, massive sound that oceanographers are at a loss to explain. Through deep analysis of Bloop’s audio profile, they’ve ruled out the possibility of the sound being of human origin, like a submarine or a bomb. Nor is it an earthquake or a volcano. As a matter of fact, the audio profile matches that of an animal but it’s several times louder than the largest known animal in the ocean, the blue whale. Since it’s discovery, Bloop has been heard several times and in other parts of the ocean other huge, unexplained sounds have been detected, specifically one they’re calling The Slow Down and another heard in the equatorial Atlantic called Julia. It’s likely we’ll never find out the source of these things. 50% of the Earth’s oceans exist in the abyssal plane, way too fucking deep and vast for most equipment to go before it’s positively fucking crushed by the pressure.

27 Oct

31 Ghost Stories – Day 27: Objects out of place in history

Posted by Bryan White | Wednesday October 27, 2010 | 31 Ghost Stories

I’ve been contemplating this one while I’ve been slacking and letting days slip by but let me tell you people something, October has been fucking busy and not in a good way. This time last year I had news organizations and NPR on my jock for pieces about Halloween, I put together a kick ass costume and had a blast with the Family of Doom but this year has been nothing but work, work, work. It’s a real drag, man. It hasn’t really felt like October at all and I’m a little bummed about that. On top of it, these pieces require a lot more research than I though I’d need. Not that I’m complaining. Between here, Facebook and Twitter, I’m getting some great feedback so I’m glad you guys like it. It’s just that they’re not exactly ghost stories anymore and the whole thing has descended into the realm of flat out strange. So tonight’s is one of those, too. Every now and then, archaeologists turn up an artifact while exploring a certain place and the technology of it seems to exceed the capabilities of the time. Often, there’s an explanation for what it’s doing there but sometimes, science is stumped and the Fortean researchers go apeshit theorizing what it’s presence means in the context. For instance:

Antikythera MechanismIn 1900, divers discovered the wreck of the Antikythera, a ship found to have sailed around 100 BC off the coast of Greece. From the wreck, they managed to recover a number of period artifacts and pieces of something that academics were at a loss to identify. It was a series of interlocking gears, badly corroded from nearly two thousand years of sitting at the bottom of the sea. For decades this thing sat around and every now and then some scientist would put forward a model for what it actually did but the problem was the every one of these models required the device to originate somewhere in the middle of the second millenum CE not a hundred years BCE. Once x-rays were set loose on it, the true complexity of the Antikythera Mechanism came forward and minds in the scientific community were blown. This thing was clearly an analog computer. The complexity of this machine is unheard of, on par with the sort of engineering found in the shops of Swiss Watchmakers of the 17th century. Ultimately, it was used to calculate the positions of stars and planets, it predicted eclipses and phases of the moon and it came with an instruction manual etched into the housing. This thing was way, way ahead of its time and while its construction is consistent with automata that was common in nearby Rhodes, it’s operating on a much higher level than your average gear-driven puppet show. The technology present should not have been known to engineers at the time since it took nearly two thousand years for other cultures to catch up.

Baghdad BatteryAs we speak, American and Coalition Forces as well as Sunni and Shia militias are hard at work bombing the fuck out of the very cradle of civilization. It’s hard to accept that what is not the most unstable location in the entire world, a constant warzone, a crime scene of epic proportions and what looks like the end of the fucking world is where early man finally got its shit together and began the process of agriculture and society so that we didn’t go the way of cromagnon man or any of the other previous iterations of our species. Found near Baghdad in 1936 were a series of terracotta jars containing an iron rod surrounded by a copper cylinder. The presence of an electrochemical couple in the jar suggested that if it were to have been filled with grape juice or vinegar, it would have been able to provide an electrical charge. Replicas have been made using the same technology and design with the acidic substance presence and it has created a small electrical charge, about half a volt. What the hell were Mesopotamians doing back then with batteries? Those of us on the fringe suspect that it might have something to do with the Dendera Light, a stone relief found in Egypt that seems to illustrate ancient people hanging out under arc lights.

In 1963, three prospectors in California cracked open a recovered geode to find what would come to be called the Coso Artifact. The artifact in question, found on the inside of a 500,000 year old geode was a 1920’s Champion Sparkplug. Fortean researchers suggest that this device, actually inspected by analysts and scientists but is now missing, could have been formed in the wake of an ancient advanced civilization like Atlantis or Thule or that it was left by time travellers accidentally.

The Ica Stones were discovered in caves in Peru by local farmers. The stones show etchings, clearly made by intelligent hands that depict long-extinct animals on them. We’re talking dinosaurs and shit! Stones dated prior to the discovery of dinosar bones depicting these beasts.

There are plenty of these out of place artifacts and a lot of them are strange hoaxes and misunderstandings but many of them stump scientists and academics to this day.

25 Oct

31 Ghost Stories – Day 25 – EVP, voices from beyond the grave

Posted by Bryan White | Monday October 25, 2010 | 31 Ghost Stories

I haven’t watched Ghost Hunters in a million years but I assume that in every episode either Grant or Steve has to explain what EVP stands for no less than twice. For your information, it stands for Electronic Voice Phenomenon and among the “evidence” collected and published to the internet by so-called paranormal investigators, this is the stuff that gives me that spookiest sensation. Most of the time, EVP is static buried in the noise floor of any given spectral recording but once in a while you hear something in there silence that is chilling. A distant voice hisses, admonishing you to get out of their house. Maybe they have a message for you, their name, the tragic declaration that they’re not dead, at least they don’t think they are.The guiding principle behind EVP is that spirit energy manifests here in our world as electromagnetic bursts. They exists on this plane but in a sort of vacuum and in order to interact with us, they have to gather ambient electromagnetic energy and then use it to move something, speak, appear, touch someone, etc. Paranormal investigators believe that analog tape, itself a magnet that captures electromagnetic pulses that reproduce sound, is the best way to capture EVP, though most of them use digital recorders these days since analog tape is becoming a scarce commodity. Do digital recorders work, too? I don’t fucking know. Do analog recorders actually capture the disembodied voices of the dead in the first place? Through it all I’m still extremely skeptical because of all the ghostly evidence out there, this is the most easily faked or misunderstood. Sometimes, though, it’s pretty fucking eerie. Here are some samples of ghostly voices caught on tape.

EVP recorded at Fort Mifflin in Philadelphia, PA
Fort Mifflin was a Colonial bunker during The Revolutionary War and a POW camp during The Civil War and because of its tragic history, it has gained a pretty sick reputation for being a spooky place. Most EVP is shit and the people processing it as evidence have to do all kinds of crazy audio tricks to bring it out of the noise. It’s the audio equivalent of orb photos. There’s probably nothing there but they mess with it until the noise pattern sounds like someone talking. Not the case with this one. The investigator, from South Jersey Ghost Research asks “who are you?” and a voice replies fairly clearly.

EVP recorded at Fort Mifflin in Philadelphia, PA
The ones I find creepiest are often these ones. They’re soft and whispy, like someone whispering into the microphone. This is another one from the South Jersey investigation of Fort Mifflin and once again, it took no ridiculous enhancements to bring it out. Apparently, it required no prompting, somebody just got too close to the spirit.

“Please, you don’t have to worry about me”
If there’s one thing that drives me nuts, it’s this idea that investigators hang around cemeteries at night snapping photos and recording the silence looking for evidence of something. It just doesn’t strike me as likely that spirits are bound to the place where their bodies are  buried. Typical cases suggest that they’re locked down to locations like homes and to a lesser extent, important items. Some are attracted to certain people whose energy sustains them, but if this EVP is authentic it’s a spooky yet reassuring message from a spirit that just hangs out in a cemetery.

“You’re a slut”
Aggressive EVPs often have a nasty, distorted quality to them. Everybody has one that says “get out!” because it happens in Amityville. So much, in fact, that it seems like a novelty now. This one, however, was recorded by Ghost Hunters Ohio Search Team (GHOST, get it?) at the Mansfield Reformatory, the location that stood in for the prison in The Shawshank Redemption.

The Villisca Axe Murder house is supposed to be haunted but nothing ever really comes from investigations done there. Apart from the above video, that is. These could easily be forgeries but in the paranormal world, these are called Class A EVPs, they require no filtering or enhancement to be heard. The video slows the audio track after the initial play to make them easier to hear, but they really stand out during the first play through. The Villisca home is an extraordinarily sad story where in theories abound that a drifter descended on the two adults and six children living there and then savagely smashed them to pieces while they lay in bed. This happened in 1912 and no one has ever been arrested for the crime.

24 Oct

31 Ghost Stories – Day 24: The Haunting of Paramount Studios

Posted by Tony Nunes | Sunday October 24, 2010 | 31 Ghost Stories

The Paramount Studios gateHollywood sure has changed a great deal over the past 100 years.  Back in that Golden Age of Cinema, from the 30’s to the 50’s, nowhere was more glamorous than Hollywood.  Stars were like Gods, and movie studios were flourishing centers of creativity and dream making.  Then came the 60’s and 70’s, a time when American Cinema began to mature, and studios delivered new edginess to the screens.  Some of the best films of all time came out of the 70’s, and with them came a new identity for Hollywood, and those who live and work in LA LA Land.  Actors weren’t as glamorous as they once were, but rather, more focused and artistic.  Directors began breaking the boundaries of studio shoots, and productions were spread across the globe as location shooting became the precedent.  With the slow decline of the studio’s came an identity crisis for a town once idealized in lights and glamour.  Compared to the booming Golden Age, the Hollywood studio system was becoming, in a sense, a ghost town.

Well, apparently, those long passed stars, producers, directors, and writers that once lifted Hollywood to its greatness, are a bit upset of what has become of their beloved tinsel town.  Paramount Studios is thought to be the most haunted of the spectrally spooked studios of Hollywood.  It’s not so much the nature of the haunting that is the most interesting part of this story, but rather the rich film history behind the haunting.

The memorial of Johnny RamoneLocated next to the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, formerly known as Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery, it is without question that there would be some spooky stories coming out of the studio over the years.  Hollywood Forever Cemetery is a famous tourist spot, a stop on the Haunted Hollywood tour, as well as countless other tours catering to the Movie Town tourists.  Buried in the cemetery are numerous celebrities, directors, producers, writers, and studio execs, as well as some oddball burials that seem a little out of place in what is basically the Hollywood equivalent to the Arlington Cemetery in Washington D.C.  There are no national heroes buried here, but there are plenty of people considered national treasures for their works in Film and Television.  From the “Man of a Thousand Voices,” Mel Blanc, to Dee Dee and Johnny Ramone, Douglas Fairbanks, Victor Fleming, and even the gangster Bugsy Siegel, Hollywood Forever has its share of Golden Age Hollywood bricklayers.

Haunting’s on the Paramount Lot have long been attributed to stars buried in the cemetery that can’t rest, and prefer spending their time walking the soundstages and scaring the hell out of security guards.  Stage 31 and 32 are the most common locations for ghost sightings, and creepy unexplained occurrences.  It is in and around these lots that security guards and film and TV crews have witnessed apparent apparitions of people dressed in clothing from the 30’s and 40’s.  Large Stages on the lot are kept secure and locked down after hours, but numerous official security records report sightings of people who seem to disappear into thin air, as well as doors opening from the inside with nobody behind them.  Reports of door openings may seem like no biggie, but were talking the large steel and aluminum doors that tower over the stage, doors that are unmovable and very loud.  Some guards have even reported sound and film equipment lighting up and turning itself on in stages that were locked securely from the outside.

The Lemon Grove gate separating the studio from the cemetery is the second most common sight of strange occurrences.  People have reported seeing heads peer through the large cement wall.  Some guards have even reported on the record that they have chased intruder’s right into the wall only to have them disappear into the wall itself.  The most commonly sighted spook around this part is a man in an all white costume, many believe to be Valentino in The Sheik costume he was buried in.

Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, DesiluThe Hart Building, a part of the DesiLu Studios formerly owned by Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball is another spot famous for weird phenomenon.  Here, a strong odor of woman’s perfume has been smelled in the upper offices, mostly by men.  This seemingly flirtatious spirit is known for tossing things off of office desks and knocking furniture onto the floor.  One famous encounter tells the tale of a studio executive who was using a bathroom in one of the Hart Buildings upper offices.  Looking into the mirror in the room, his eyes appeared to glow red, as if Zuul himself had taken over his body.  Running downstairs, the executive asked a young secretary to see if his eyes were red, and sure enough, they were.  As she ran screaming out of the office, the man claims that his arms were pinned into the chair by some unseen force, and he had to struggle to get up.

The best stories come from Stage 19, where Happy Days once shot.  In the early 90’s, during the filming of the show Wings on this same stage, frequent reports of strange laughter and lights turning on and off were widely shared across the studio.  One of the crew members for Wings reported entering the Stage late one night with a friend, only to have the lights turn off unexpectedly around them.  On the catwalks above them, they heard running and childlike laughter.  It is thought that one of the most prominent ghosts haunting Paramount is that of Heather O’Rourke, the young girl who starred in Poltergeist as the girl in the TV.  Heather died tragically and unexpectedly, the victim of a medical malpractice accident at the age of 12.  O’Rourke starred in Happy Days, which was shot on Stage 19, and her cast mates have expressed that while filming she used to love playing on the catwalks above the Stage.

So is the ghost of the little girl from the Poltergeist trapped in the TV…studio?  Makes for a great story, but who knows.  There is a Sioux Indian Chief buried in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery next door to the studio, so it could be.  Or it could be Maila Nurmi who played Vampira (TV’s first Horror Host) that’s haunting the studio; she is buried nearby after all.  If it were screams instead of laughter people were hearing, Fay Wray who is also buried next door would have made for a great headline; First Scream Queen Haunts Paramount.  Most of these stories and claims are your generic run of the mill ghost stories, with no great backing outside of personal accounts.  I’m a great skeptic, and who knows if any of this is true or not?  One thing is absolutely certain, as a film fanatic, it’s some really fun ghost lore to entertain.

23 Oct

31 Ghost Stories – Day 23: Angry spirits in the Chase Vault

Posted by Bryan White | Saturday October 23, 2010 | 31 Ghost Stories

The Chase Vault of BarbadosI remember hearing this one when I was little but the distorting quality of time left me confusing it with a story from the super-traumatic Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark that horrified an entire generation with its terrifying illustrations and often actually chilling stories. This was the kind of story that really spooked me when I was little. I’d heard a lot of ghost stories up to this point but I hadn’t really considered this possibility that spirits stuck around because they were pissed off so the notion that something was locked into its place of burial, trashing the crypt out of anguish spooked the fuck out of me.

The Chase family, a wealthy family quartered in Barbados, bought the crypt, originally built but never used by another family. In 1807 before any of the Chase family occupied it, the body of Thomasina Goddard was interred there and then followed in 1808 by the infant Mary Ann Maria Chase. The vault remained this way until 1812 when Thomas Chase’s daughter, Dorcas was then buried. Both Dorcas and the infant were buried in lead coffins while Thomasina was buried in a wooden coffin, details that are actually important to the story. Each time a new body was introduced to the vault, it would be sealed with a heavy marble slab. This would be the last time that the contents of the vault would remain undisturbed. Again, in 1812, the body of Thomas Chase was placed in the vault. It seems that just about everyone in the family was dropping like flies but this time when they opened the vault, the contents therein, the three bodies, that is, had been tossed violently around the crypt. Everyone assumed that vandals or thieves had broken in and the caskets were rearranged in orderly fashion. Four years later, the crypt was opened again for another Chase child’s body and again, the caskets, with the exception of Thomasina Goddard’s, were found thrown all over the place. These were three lead coffins, Thomas Chase’s coffin said to have required eight guys to move. Again, a few years later, the vault was opened to bury the body of Thomasina Clark and the coffins, with the exception of Thomasina Goddard, were flung all over the place, this time some of the bodies having fallen out. Attention from the local officials who attended this funeral finally warranted an investigation. What was most curious to onlookers was the lack of any evidence to support that anything had been stolen and that other vaults with easier access had gone undisturbed. The slab used to seal this vault was massive and was said to require the effort of many people to shut it. It would have taken many vandals to open and then trash this place yet this seemed to be the only one targeted. Such a pain in the ass for such little payoff. Officials suspected something sinister at play and the floor of the vault was scattered with sand before being sealed up.

Illustration of the Chase Vault beforeEight months after this last closing, the vault was again opened to check on its condition. The seal to the vault had not been disturbed but the coffins, again, were found all over the place, violently thrown over. There was no sign of anyone having been in there, though. The sand scattered around was as it seemed to be when they last opened the vault. Tired of the drama, the surviving members of the Chase family had the bodies moved elsewhere and the vault remains empty to this day.

I think you see where I’m going with this. Vandals would have had to go to great lengths to trash the place and the vault was thoroughly inspected for tampering but no sign could be found. Grave robbers were ruled out because nothing ever seemed to be missing. Earthquakes and flooding were thought to be the culprit but the fact that Thomasina Goddard’s wooden coffin was never disturbed was often used as evidence against these theories. So, what do you think happened in the vault? Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, famed author of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries, actually took an interest in this case. The man had a reputation for his belief in the paranormal and he, like, many others on Barbados who knew the Chase family suspected that angry, restless spirits had done the trashing. Thomas Chase had a reputation on Barbados for being a real hardass. He was generally hated by the population and his slaves had actually risen up on one occasion when they’d had enough starvation and whipping. What’s more, you know how word gets around and it was said that his abuse wasn’t exclusive to the slaves. His family felt the wrath, too, and that Dorcas’ death was probably the result of this abuse. She didn’t just die of disease or something. She died of suicidal starvation. Thomas’ death came hot on her heels, also a suicide and it wasn’t until Dorcas’ body was in the tomb that the crazy shit started to  hit the proverbial fan.

Illustration of the Chase Vault afterPersonally, it doesn’t make sense to me that the spirits of the dead would haunt the place of their burial since your average ghost story tends to lock spirits down to places of importance to them – usually their homes – but the Chase Vault isn’t the only recorded instance of spectral grave thrashing. This actually happened in another vault on Barbados, one in Estonia and one in England.

Shit happens when you’re dead, I guess.

22 Oct

31 Ghost Stories – Day 22: The Winchester Mystery House

Posted by Bryan White | Friday October 22, 2010 | 31 Ghost Stories

Winchester Mystery HouseIt’s amazing what loneliness will do to a person. Right now, Russians are doing these insane tests on people to gauge a person’s reaction to extensive periods of isolation. They’re doing this because everyone is on the long road to see who gets to land a manned spacecraft on Mars but getting there will take months with current propulsion technology. So basically three or four astronauts will be packed into a tiny craft and flown out further than any person has ever gone, totally cut off from help. Fucks with your mind, doesn’t it? Beyond help, stuck way the hell out in space and your only companions are a couple of people who are as terrified and isolated as you. Anything can happen out there. Tonight’s story is about what happens when a woman is left alone after the death of her husband and the crazy shit she did to honor his memory.

Winchester rifles are frequently known to enthusiasts as “the gun that won the west”. The 1873 model of the rifle was a pretty important gun in that they were extremely dependable and fired straight as an arrow. The introduction of the Winchester Repeating Rifle to the market in 1866 introduced an entirely new concept in firearms. Winchesters are famous for introducing the idea of a lever-action repeating rifle. No more cap and ball shenanigans. This was the real deal.  A series of bullets could be loaded into the magazine and fired off rapidly meaning you could kill a whole hell of a lot more injuns out on the plains when you waged a campaign of aggressive insistence that you take their land. When the company treasurer, William Winchester died in 1881, it’s said that his grieving wife took advantage of the burgeoning industry of hucksterism that deceived a million people under the guise of spiritual mediumship. During one session with a medium, the medium reported back to Sarah Winchester, wife of the late William Winchester, that the spirits of victims that had fallen from bullets projected from his families’ guns, were pretty pissed off about the whole concept of Winchester Repeating Rifles and that her family had a curse on it. The only way to satisfy the spirits and the curse was if she was to leave her home in Newhaven, Connecticut, and move west. There was another caveat, though. She couldn’t just buy a house, she had to build one and build one and build one. She was told to build a home for herself and the spirits and if she stopped construction, the spirits would get her. If she did not stop, then she would live forever. Naturally, Sarah got to work.

Sarah WinchesterBeginning in 1884, the Winchester Mystery House construction began and didn’t stop until Sarah’s death in 1922 when the workers finally called it quits. Are you counting? That’s 38 years of continuous construction. This house still exists in San Jose, California to this day where it’s reported to be haunted but the paltry ghost stories of the house are nothing in comparison to the tremendously spooky qualities of the house, itself.

The Winchester house contains 160 rooms. Stairs ascend into the ceiling. Doors open to reveal a wall behind them. Hallways zig-zag wildly. Connecting some of the rooms are secret passage ways. A set of stairs descends seven steps before ascending eleven. There was no plan. Ever. Sarah never had a chance to explain herself, either. After her death and the interior of the house became a matter of public record, theories abound about what she was actually doing in there. Coupled to the story about angry ghosts chasing her, many believe that the house was deliberately built to confuse anyone who entered, including the ghosts, so that they could never keep up with her. To know what to build, Mrs. Winchester held nightly seances wherein spirits guided her hand in drawing new sketches for building ideas and the next day, her foreman would carry out the task. Because of the Winchester fortune, the money never ran out and in the end, adjusted for inflation, the total cost of the home was somewhere in the neighborhood of $70m. Mad loot spent on crazy-ass ideas. Sarah was said to have been guided by good spirits whose ideas were to deliberately design the house to be nuts so that evil spirits would become confused and wind up lost in the halls forever.

It looks like it worked, too. Sarah Winchester died in 1922 at the age of 83. The ghosts never managed to catch up with her and according to the staff of the house/museum today, they’re all still hanging out, trying to find their way out of the maze she set up for them.

21 Oct

31 Ghost Stories – Day 21: The Bunny Man hacketh

Posted by Bryan White | Thursday October 21, 2010 | 31 Ghost Stories

Donnie DarkoSeemed like before the internet came along and demystified everything, every community had a story like this: Crazy guy with a knife/axe/gun terrorizes kids in town. There are a million varieties told around camp fires every year. Ever hear the one about the couple in the car who keep hearing the scratching while making out amidst reports of a killer on the loose only to find a hook dangling from the door handle after they finally beat it? What about the one where the male half of the horny duo gets out to check on the sound and the female half later finds that the scratching sound was the guy’s ring scraping the top of the car because he’d been killed and hung upside down from a tree above the car and the wind caused him to sway? Tonight’s may be the genesis of this local legend and it comes recommended from Cinema Suicide reader, Suzie Pillipot.

Fairfax County, Virginia has a nasty secret. Since 1904, reports have gone around that a man wearing a white bunny suit, wielding an axe has been spotted in the woods surrounding the area. Reports have circulated that people wandering in these areas often encounter the man, shouting gibberish and chasing people, threatening them and in a couple of instances, actually running them down, bashing their heads in and then hanging their skinned corpses from a railroad overpass that has come to be named Bunny Man Bridge. Neatly skinned animals in this part of the forest are often found as well, sometimes hanging in the same fashion in the same location. Local legends state that in 1904, while being transferred from a state mental institution to Lorton Prison, several patients managed to escape. Of these fugitives, Douglas J. Grifon murdered fellow inmate Marcus Wallster and then disappeared into the woods, reappearing occasionally to terrorize the locals, only his legacy has outlived actual human lifespan and Grifon, in bunny suit, continues to be spotted to this day, screaming unintelligibly, waving that god damn axe around.

Unfortunately there are a shitload of holes in this story and the casual observer would never know. The devil is in the details, you see. It’s easy to accept a story when it’s loaded with names, dates and locations but this one, full of factual sounding data, is actually full of shit. Lorton Prison wasn’t built until 191o, there has never been a mental institution in this particular area and there are no criminal records at all linked to the people named in this article. The story I have just told is a work of pure fiction.

However.

This site, an exhaustive collection of data and research about this legend offers a couple of extremely interesting entries into the public record related to the Bunny Man legend.

From the Washington Post, October 22, 1970:

Man in Bunny Suit Sought in Fairfax
Fairfax County police said yesterday they are looking for a man who likes to wear “white bunny rabbit costume” and throw hatchets through car windows. Honest.

Air Force Academy Cadet Robert Bennett told police that shortly after midnight last Sunday he and his fiancee were sitting in a car in the 5400 block of Guinea Road when a man “dressed in a white suit with long bunny ears” ran from the nearby bushes and shouted: “You’re on private property and I have your tag number.”

The “Rabbit” threw a wooden-handled hatchet through the right front car window, the first-year cadet told police. As soon as he threw the hatchet, the “rabbit” skipped off into the night, police said. Bennett and his fiancee were not injured.

Police say they have the hatchet, but no other clues in the case. They say Bennett was visiting an uncle, who lives across the street from the spot where the car was parked. The cadet was in the area to attend last weekend’s Air Force-Navy football game.

Here’s another one.

From The Washington Post, October 31, 1970

The “Rabbit” Reappears

A man wearing a furry rabbit suit with two long ears appeared — again — on Guinea Road in Fairfax County Thursday night, police reported, this time wielding an ax and chopping away at a roof support on a new house.

Less than two weeks ago a man wearing what was described as a rabbit suit accused two persons in a parked car of trespassing and heaved a hatchet through a closed window of the car at 5400 Guinea Rd. They were not hurt.

Thursday night’s rabbit, wearing a suit described as gray, black and white, was spotted a block away at 5307 Guinea Rd.

Paul Phillips, a private security guard for a construction company, said he saw the “rabbit” standing on the front porch of a new, but unoccupied house.

“I started talking to him,” Phillips said, “and that’s when he started chopping.”

“All you people trespass around here,” Phillips said the “Rabbit” told him as he whacked eight gashes in the pole. “If you don’t get out of here, I’m going to bust you on the head.”

Phillips said he walked back to his car to get to get his handgun, but the “Rabbit”, carrying the long-handled ax, ran off into the woods.

The security guard said the man was about 5-feet-8, 160 pounds and appeared to be in his early 20s.

The actual Bunny Man bridgeThe Bunny Man legend begins to take on qualities of a diagram of an urban legend. These documented run-ins with The Bunny Man tie in to a litany of word of mouth stories from locals which almost always involved a hatchet being thrown, young people in cars and even a few of them involve encounters with a man in a bunny suit hacking at a column of some kind.

Tremendous amounts of research have been done on the topic of the Bunny Man of Fairfax County and so many of the stories since 1970 carry details consistent with documented encounters from the time. Eventually, encounters with The Bunny Man, stop being so consistent and go back to tall tale status but a period in the history of this legend, 1970, gets really specific in the details. Who the hell was this guy and why the bunny suit? More importantly, where did he go? Further reports in Fairfax Country talk of an ‘axe man’ with details that are consistent with the Bunny Man sightings but none involve a bunny suit.

20 Oct

31 Ghost Stories – Day 20: The British Columbia Severed Feet Mystery

Posted by Tony Nunes | Wednesday October 20, 2010 | 31 Ghost Stories

Editor’s note: Thank god for Tony. I’ve been slacking thanks to a combination of being extremely fucking busy, a little sick and struggling for new material in the 31 Ghost Stories blogathon. I’ve pretty much failed since the idea was to blog something every day on a theme and I’ve skipped two days but I’m not giving up if you aren’t. So here’s Tony with a recent one.

Severed foot, British ColumbiaI love a good ghost story.  A good UFO story excites me even more.  However, as imaginative as I may perceive myself to be, I am an unfortunate skeptic who is always looking for the rational explanation.  It’s because of my analytical imagination that I am most attracted to the particular brand of chilling stories that are rooted in some sort of evidential fact.  I particularly love the unexplained versions of these twisted tales, because with a good mystery, come some really creative theories.  Our Canadian brothers up North have a morbidly absurd example of one of these stories; one that brings new meaning to the phrase six feet under.  It’s not a scary tale per se, but a really creepy one that baffles at every point.

Comedian Mitch Hedberg once wisely exclaimed that “a severed foot is the ultimate stocking stuffer.”  If that’s true, then the people who live along the Pacific Northwest must really be on Santa’s nice list.  It all started on August 20, 2007, while a family from upstate Washington was visiting the Jedediah Island Marine Provincial Park in British Columbia.  Spending a leisurely day on the beach, the young girl in the family stumbled across a black and white Adidas running sneaker lying in the sand.  Curious, the young girl picked the shoe up, discovering to her horror, a severed foot, sock and all still resting in the tied sneaker.  It was a size twelve, man’s right foot.  These things happen, body parts of lost fishermen, and sailors, remnants of plane crash victims, and other various missing parts of missing persons tend to wash up along shores once in awhile.  Investigators could not identify the foot, and determined that there were no signs that the foot had been cut off or violently torn.  They concluded that the foot must have removed itself from the body by means of submerged decay.

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