Happy New Year! This past year, 2016, proved to be quite and adventurous and eye-opening year, and I’m almost sad to see it gone. However, that just means 2017 is shaping up to be bigger than ever, and we at Haunted Road Media and Society of the Haunted have a lot in store to share! But, first, let’s recap 2016…
It was a dynamic year, both professionally and personally, with a lot of traveling, investigating, and major life changes. I met my soulmate, moved back to the land of my birth, and discovered an even bigger realm of the paranormal and supernatural. Haunted Road Media has grown, especially on the YouTube channel, with the new Friday Night Ghost Frights and all of our investigation videos, Paranormal Roads, et al, featuring the revamped and resurrected Society of the Haunted, originally founded in 2011. For a full recap, watch here:
The biggest spotlight of the whole year has been the Goldenrod Showboat. That fantastically haunted piece of history is what finally brought Shana Wankel and I together, and I’ve never felt more complete in my entire life. She’s my twin flame, my partner in crime, the one true companion of my life, and I can’t wait for the new adventures that await us. The showboat itself has some wonderful haunts and history associated with it, and even some additional supernatural activity that we have yet to detail in full, and we featured this former National Historic Landmark in the latest Encounters With the Paranormal: Volume 2, of which a portion of the proceeds with go toward the restoration and preservation of the Goldenrod.
In other ventures we brought The Edge Of The Rabbit Hole radio show, the paranormal talk show I co-host with Vanessa Hogle, to an actual video Livestream on YouTube, which has received a very positive reaction from fans. Vanessa and I are looking at possibly going to a weekly show in 2017 rather than every other week. We also launched Enigma Underground Radio this past year, which is a streaming hard rock radio station with a paranormal theme that specializes in spotlighting independent bands while also mixing in some mainstream favorites. Shana does a fantastic job as our “Procurer of Music” in reaching out to the bands for our weekly lineup on Thursday, including the fan favorite show Chicks Who Wail, and our media mogul, Paula, keeps up on our Facebook page and creates some great show banners.
I keep saying that the latest “big” Haunted Road Media videos will be the Ferry Plantation, the return to the Goldenrod, and the haunted Guthrie, Oklahoma, tour — so be on the lookout for those in the near future. Of course, we’ll be bringing you more Friday Night Ghost Frights, Paranormal Roads, Ghosts and Legends, Edge of the Rabbit Hole Livestreams, the new Time Channeler Chronicles episodic supernatural adventure with featured illustrator Adam Tillery, and more, so keep check backing on all of our social media outlets for the latest and greatest to come.
Finally, I want to thank everyone that has been tuning in and watching all that we do and also supporting our Haunted Road Media authors. While we would continue to do what we do because it’s our passion, we are so greatly appreciative of all of you for being there throughout our adventures. It’s really humbling that you have taken an interest in us, but we also consider you a part of the team, that extra set of eyes and ears as we investigate. We’re looking forward to you continuing the ride with us in 2017!
Elizabeth Bathory, most noted in history for her brutality toward young women, was a Hungarian noble woman born in Transylvania on August 7, 1560. As had been the case with Vlad The Impaler, her people were in constant war with the Ottoman Turks, a very violent time in history in that part of the world.
She was born into extreme wealth and privilege, her family’s control over the surrounding area complete. In fact, her husband appended her name to his own when they were wed. However, her family was also known for its brutality, a collection of Hungarian and Transylvanian princes that would kill their opponents and peasants who fell out of line in the most brutal manner. The torture of servants was part of everyday life.
Although her marriage had been arranged since she was three years old, she actually got along quite well with her husband, Ferenc Nadasdy, right down to torturing people together. One such recorded account was in covering a naked servant girl in honey and making her stand outside for a full day while she was attacked by bees and ants.
While her husband was away at war, Elizabeth was left to rule the empire on her own, and by all accounts did so quite well. But when Ferenc died in battle when she was aged 44, Elizabeth spiraled out of control. Her obsession became sexuality, youth, and power.
With the help of a few favorite servants, including a deformed male dwarf she called Fizgo, Elizabeth is said to have murdered over 600 people. She took to beating, biting, and burning her victims, but she also had an array of mechanical devices that she would use, including cages that would shoot out spring-loaded blades and cages with spikes that would slowly spear the victim while Fizgo yelled out sexual obscenities at them. There were times Elizabeth would fly into a rage and kill her victim instantaneously, but she also enjoyed killing her victims slowly through an assortment of means, including stripping girls naked in the dead of winter, throwing them outside, and pouring water over them to watch them literally freeze to the ground.
Of course, there are the infamous legends that gave Elizabeth Bathory her moniker – The Blood Countess – stories that she bathed in the blood of virgins, believing this would help her retain a youthful visage. Some of these legends claim that she was a vampire. The story goes that a servant girl who was brushing her hair pulled a little too hard with one particular stroke, and Elizabeth smacked the girl so hard that she bled. Some of this blood dripped onto Elizabeth’s hand and she noticed it had a rejuvenating quality to her skin. Thus, she took to bathing in blood… as the legends goes. But there is little evidence to support that she actually did bathe in blood, even with all the atrocities she committed. However, she did take to biting victims during her torture sessions, even to the point of drawing blood.
Elizabeth’s downfall could either be contributed to carelessness or her own ego after having gotten away with murder for decades. Bodies were carelessly discarded around the land, near rivers, or simply thrown over the castle wall, but she also upped the ante when she started running out of local servant girls to prey upon. She began luring the young daughters of nobility to Cachtice Castle to learn etiquette, and when they started disappearing, the noble families wanted answers.
One of the portraits used as a stand-in for Elizabeth Bathory.
When an investigation was launched by King Matthias of Hungary, the investigation’s lead, George Turzo, wrote that immediately upon entering Cachtice Castle the murdered body of servant girl was discovered. In all, nine girls were discovered in some state of mutilation.
Elizabeth was arrested and testimony was collected against her, but she was never put on trial. Doing so would have put her in line for an execution. Such was not the case for her loyal servants who assisted her, three being executed and the other serving life imprisonment.
Although some called for her torture and execution, Elizabeth Bathory was still a noblewoman, after all, so instead she was locked away in a room in her castle and fed through a slot in the wall. She eventually died there four years later in 1614.
There’s a lot we don’t know about Elizabeth Bathory. Many documents that were compiled at the time were destroyed in an effort to hide the atrocities that happened, to cover up the blemish of this Hungarian society. There is also no known image of Elizabeth, the paintings that are used to depict her are actually of other women who have been said to resemble her appearance. And then there are the legends and stories that have cropped up over the centuries, eventually making it into Hollywood to further murky the facts of her life.
Today, the ruins of Cachtice Castle, abandoned in the 1700s, still exist as a haunting visage and may be visited, and a local winery uses the basement of a Bathory manor house where many of the tortures were committed to store barrels of wine. They do sell an Elizabeth Bathory-themed wine, which is, of course, blood red.
Welcome to autumn, what I like to call the haunting season, although any season, any day can be one for hauntings. Fall, however, offers a mystique that the other seasons do not. Perhaps it’s the briskness in the air, the changing colors of the trees, the aroma of the first fires that are lit, the sweet, delectable taste of pumpkin pie, or the recounting of ghost stories around the campfire as Halloween approaches. Whatever that combination may be, it is truly magical.
With that ahead of us, let’s recap the season that just concluded: summer. It’s been a busy few months for me and for Haunted Road Media, with a plethora of trips, excursions, and paranormal investigations. Shana has been along with me for much of the ride, and I couldn’t have asked for a better partner… and partner in crime.
So let’s recap where the summer has taken us — this is not all-inclusive, just a few highlights — and then take a look at where we’re headed this fall.
Kampsville Grade School Raw Footage #1 (June): This was actually the second time I had investigated this mysterious grade school with Shana, but it’s the first “raw footage” video of the series. Phantom footsteps are heard overhead…
Paranormal Roads: The Exchange Hotel (June): A wonderfully preserved historic location in Virginia that has once been used as a Civil War hospital
Paranormal Point of Interest: The Great Valley House (July): A little known historic location in Pennsylvania that contains the only known type of stone sink of its kind in the United States. Walkthrough plus an EVP session with Shana at a crypt embedded in a stone wall near the house.
Friday Night Ghost Frights 14: The Second Life Of John Wilkes Booth Conspiracy Theory (July): A detailed look at the interesting “conspiracy theory” about the man who assassinated President Abraham Lincoln, read from Ghosts And Legends Of Oklahoma.
Abandoned Kampsville Lock Urban Exploration (July): Exploring the woods near the Illinois River for the historic Kampsville Locks.
Making A Murderer Season 2 Sneak Peek (July): Take a look at what to expect in the second season of Making A Murderer, the docu-series covering the Steven Avery case.
Haunted Kampsville Grade School Raw Footage #2 (August): Shana and I conduct a deeper paranormal investigation of the school that possibly reveals an apparition caught near the basement stairs.
Zombies Teach You Grammar! Grammar Police #1 (August): Hilarious video using zombies to teach the difference between there, their, and they’re, plus more!
Ghost Stories from CIL-CON (August): At the Central Illinois Conference, Shana and I collected ghost stories from those who visited the booth.
Haunted Cemeteries of Ashmore (August): During one of our cemetery excursions in Ashmore, Illinois, Shana and I each experience supernatural activity.
Paranormal Roads: Haunted Farrar Schoolhouse (September): Road trip to investigate a haunted school house in Illinois, meeting up with Haunted Road Media author and illustrator Adam Tillery.
Helltown Preview (Mike’s Morning Mug #66) (September): Grabbing some coffee and heading out to “Helltown”, Ohio, in search of its mysterious legends.
Friday Night Ghost Frights #18: Monster In The Closet (September): A look back at this supernaturally intense episode of The Haunted in which I appeared.
Much more coming the autumn, including an investigation that Shana and I conducted at an undisclosed historic home which saw a great deal of paranormal activity surrounding the family dog, the FULL Helltown exploration video, investigating the Ferry Plantation in Virginia, and an all-new funny Grammar Police video. Plus, all your favorite Morning Mug coffee videos and Friday Night Ghost Frights… and you never know what’s in store for Halloween!
Also… thank you for helping us his 2000 subscribers! Drawing for the giveaway will be held on Enigma Underground Radio on September 29!
The Goldenrod Showboat awaits its imminent demise on April 1, 2016.
It’s so much more than ghosts. To gaze upon a relic is to infuse yourself with everything that relic has come to represent: the people, the era, the ambience. History in today’s society has been relegated to the monotonous memorization of names and dates of people to which we believe we have no connection. We have forgotten the world as it once was, lost in the grind of our breakneck society while traversing what had once been countryside through concrete monstrosities and lifeless asphalt. And so, when one of those relics is greeted with the demise of a scrap pile death, such as the historic Goldenrod Showboat, most don’t even bat a manicured eye at its imminent destruction.
It was a jewel on the Mississippi River, the largest and most luxurious showboat ever constructed. Red Skelton got his start there and other famous talents performed on its stage, such as Bob Hope. Do those names even resonate with people anymore? For nearly 100 years the Goldenrod provided laughter and life for thousands along the old waterway, providing a means of escapism from life along the river, but now it rests on shore, a rusting hulk replete of its previous grandeur. Must we allow ourselves to forget all that has come before us?
Stand still for a moment and listen to the lap of the water against the shore and the breeze gently caress the leaves of nearby trees. Open your eyes and stare not at your cell phone but at the gentle ripple of a wave or the delicate veins of a leaf. For just a moment lead not with your persuasive techniques or heavy hand in the corporate boardroom, but lead with your senses. Where does it take you? Does anyone look at the stars anymore or have they become so blotted out by the false light of our street lamps that no one even bother to look?
From the deck of the Goldenrod I finally understood why the ancients so revered the celestial heavens. That night, the darkest sky I have ever experienced produced the brightest stars in the highest abundance I have ever seen. For the first time I saw the constellation Orion in its full glory flanked by so many other brilliant twinkling skylights that I almost couldn’t discern it. One word describes the moment and even it doesn’t do that moment justice: amazing. The night sky greeted me with a sensuous kiss that I have longed to return.
Make no mistake that I enjoy having my car to travel from place to place and my computer is currently making this article possible, but having modern conveniences doesn’t mean we should forget the past and the world around us. Locations like the Goldenrod Showboat are a time capsule, a vessel to take us to a place we’ve left behind. The encompassing energy when one steps inside its main doors instantly whisks you away to that forgotten era of ragtime and authentic melodrama, making you drunk on escapism within escapism if you allow it. It’s a pure looking glass into that time of American history without the overzealous pandering of modern commercialism.
Soon the Goldenrod will be gone. Whatever doesn’t get salvaged for scrap will be burned, adding further insult to injury as longtime owner, Captain Bill Menke, pieced a significant portion of the boat back together by hand after a fire in 1962 when he was more than 80 years old. To this day his spirit still roams his life’s passion, literally going down with the ship.
In the end the Goldenrod Showboat will be a footnote in history, relegated to a few paragraphs on a dusty webpage with a few museum items kept on-hand by those who truly cared for it. Hopefully, it will be remembered for a bit more than just a few names and dates — for the best history teachers are storytellers. And its ghost stories that they tell.
Society of the Supernatural recently conducted a paranormal investigation tour, hitting four locations in four days in the Midwest, primarily Indiana. The tour began with a kickoff interview on Norene Balovich’s ParanormalZoneTV on Friday, March 11, followed by a public investigation at the Bellaire House in Bellaire, Ohio, the following night. But things really picked up on the 13th when we investigated the Randolph County Infirmary in Winchester, Indiana.
Mike Ricksecker, David Weatherly, and Dave Spinks of Society of the Supernatural at the Randolph County Infirmary, March 2016.
Although the final 50 years of the facility were of a positive nature and known for quality care, it’s origins were dark and ominous. The building is the third on the same location, built in 1899, the first constructed in the early-1800s burned down and its successor torn down due to poor conditions and to make way for the current building. As with many asylums and poorhouses of the time, patients were treated cruelly, over-medicated, and experimented upon. Death was common place, including murder, and numerous bodies were buried in unmarked graves around the property.
Rainy weather bogged down our travels and we arrived after dark, so we unfortunately captured no daytime photography. Such are the perils of a road trip of our nature. However, we arrived at just the right time to start capturing some compelling paranormal activity.
Just as we were setting up to go live near the main stairwell, we all heard a disembodied voice emanate from the second floor. This was accompanied by the sound of something large being moved, perhaps a cart. I took a quick look upstairs and called out to make sure nobody else was with us, but Dave Spinks, David Weatherly, and I were the only three in the building. We had to start the Livestream, so I came back down and we rolled into our intro, addressing what we had just witnessed.
Within minutes we were receiving intelligent responses on the ghostbox. I ended up exploring upstairs because I had seen a light in one of the corridors, but when I got up the stairs shadow movement was picked up on the night vision camera and the Geophone motion sensor on the EDI device sitting on the stairs started flashing.
After my foray upstairs I ventured back down and David start coughing profusely. He ended up having to step out of the building for a moment and when he did Dave and I distinctly heard a growl rise up out of one of the halls. This all made for a pretty hair-raising first 30 minutes of our investigation, just a precursor of things to come.
Black eyed kids — BEKs or black eyed children — what are they? Where do they come from? Why do they strike fear in the hearts of those who encounter them?
David Weatherly presents a complete overview of the BEK phenomenon with his intriguing book Black Eyed Children from Leprechaun Press. Weatherly’s thorough research includes scores of first-hand accounts, linking the similarities and attributes between each sighting, dissecting various theories, and studying the black eyed children’s possible relation to other mysterious encounters, folklore, and legends.
Anything and everything you wanted to know about these strange, monotone children with the completely black eyes that want to invite themselves into your home or car is included in this book. “Don’t invite them in,” everyone says. Find out what happens when you do invite one in.
The book isn’t meant to scare you, it’s supposed to be an informative piece of literature about the phenomenon of black eyed children, but it may just have you jumping out of your seat the next time you hear someone rapping at the door.
Silent Retreat is a fine little horror romp from Starko Entertainment. The company retreat that goes awry at a secluded lodge with a dark history — that’s the premise of Silent Retreat.
This movie is a bit of a slow burn with a lot of character development up front and just a few hints of something more sinister going on before we get to some of the big reveals and the action picks up. This provides us some time, to get to know our characters, with leads played by Donny Boaz as Zach and Rebecca Summers as Meigan, and while the characters here are your general archetypes, there is a lot of great humor included. This development may run a bit long, but once the super-religious girl, Rita, goes missing and everyone splits up to go find her, the pace of the film begins to move.
The first death is rather surprising and caught me off-guard, and it wasn’t a run-of-the-mill jump scare, so I give the film makers props for the unexpected.
I also really liked the creepy ambient music played during the flashback reveals of the lodge’s dark past. It was a good selection that really drew me into the moment. There were other flashback sequences, however, that needed a better transition since it was confusing at first that we had just flashed back.
The acting was adequate — I thought Rebecca Summers was the best of the lot — with humor sequences being the most natural flowing between the characters. Tedi, played by Eli Bildner, was out perpetual comic relief.
The location was fantastic! You can’t beat a beautiful lakeside lodge for the isolated retreat-type horror flick.
Silent Retreat is a fun horror romp with surprising twists that keep you engaged. While it has a few plotholes that will leave you scratching your head, they’re not detrimental to the film and your curiosity of what happens to the characters next will draw you back in. This was enjoyable, and I’m looking forward to the next offering from Ace Jordan and Starko Entertainment.
Available on DVD and Digital from Starko Entertainment and Midnight Releasing. Watch the review below…
David Weatherly’s STRANGE INTRUDERS is both an engaging and informative book that introduces the readers to a wide array of paranormal and supernatural entities. Black eyed children, shadow people, djinn, pukwudgies, and more are examined through detailed descriptions and personal accounts both by the author and witnesses he has interviewed. Weatherly even tackles the Slenderman, its Internet origins, the legends that have sprung forth, and whether or not the collective conscience of many people may have conjured up their own real boogeyman.
David Weatherly’s 40 years of experience in the field shines forth in the depth of information he provides, drawing from experts in their respective fields, and researching historic encounters across the world.
If you’re new to the field of the supernatural wanting to know what may be out there or if you’re a seasoned veteran looking for additional information and personal accounts there is much to discover with STRANGE INTRUDERS, and it should be a book to add to your collection.
My latest Top 11 video covers is a viewer-requested video covering haunted toys, many of which happen to be dolls. Other haunted toy-related and haunted objects relating to children are also included. Again, this isn’t nearly complete since there are so many other reportedly haunted dolls, but this is a good selection of some of the more famed ones. Detailed descriptions follow the video below:
11. The Pulau Ubin Barbie (Singapore)
A shrine in Pulau Ubin, Singapore, is dedicated to a little German girl who fell off a nearby cliff and died when running from the British Army investigating her parents back in 1914. In 2007, a man had the same dream three nights in a row about the little girl leading him to a toy store to buy a Barbie doll. After the third night, he went to the store, bought the Barbie he had seen in his dream and placed it at the shrine.
10. Okiku Doll (Japan)
This mysterious hair-growing doll in Japan is said to be possessed by the spirit of a little girl who used to play with it. Residing in a Mannenji temple in Iwamizawa since 1983, the doll’s most unique quality is that its human hair continues to grow. The sad tale behind it is that the two year old who used to play with it on a daily basis died of an illness and the family placed it in the household altar. Some time later the doll’s short cropped hair began to grow and is now 25 centimeters in length.
9. Little Gracie and Bonaventure Cemetery (Savannah, GA)
In 1889, little Gracie Watson died of pneumonia at the age of six, and to commemorate her, Gracie’s father had a life-size picture-perfect statue of his daughter sculpted and placed at her gravesite. Her spirit has been seen roaming the grounds of Bonaventure as well as the former site of the Pulaski House Hotel where her mother frequently held parties for Savannah’s financially elite. Visitors to the statue often leave toys for Gracie to play with, and it’s said the statue will cry if the toys are removed.
8. Mandy doll at the Quesnel Museum (British Columbia, Canada)
The porcelain doll known as Mandy was made in England or German sometime between 1910 and 1920 and was donated to the Quesnel Museum in British Columbia in 1991. The donor claimed to hear crying in the middle of the night which did not go away until after she gave away Mandy. At the museum, employees say that since the doll has been there odd things like pencils, books, and even lunches go missing or are seemingly misplaced. They also claim that Mandy cannot be encased with other dolls because she will harm them.
7. Haunted Toy R’ Us (Sunnyvale, CA)
How about a haunting of all the toys down aisle 15C? And the women’s restroom? It is said that the Toys R’ Us in Sunnyvale, California, is haunted by Johnny Johnson, a wood chopper at John Murphy’s farm, the land upon which the store now stands. Johnny had fallen in love with Murphy’s daughter, but one day his axe missed the wood, gashed open his leg, and he bled to death. His spirit now roams the store seeking his love, brushing the hair of women, turning the faucets on and off in the women’s restroom, and tossing boxes of toys off of shelves.
6. Letta Doll (Australia)
This doll was discovered by an Australian in 1972 underneath the porch of an abandoned house that had scared him for years. Letta was made with real human hair and is believed to have been created by a Romanian gypsy about 200 years before its discovery. The doll is said to move on its own, occasionally screams, “Letta me out!” (how the doll was named), makes hanging pictures fall from walls sometimes when it enters a room, and dogs bark wildly when near it.
5. Crying Boy Painting
The Curse of the Crying Boy began in 1985 when a fire gutted a home in Rotherham in South Yorkshire, England, but a framed print of the crying boy survived unscathed. What led to the sensationalism was that the homeowner’s brother, a firefighter, claimed that he had also seen many other cases in which a print of the crying boy survived a fire without damage. Scores of subsequent Crying Boy painting fires ensued over the years. Legends of the paintings origins developed, included one that stated that the artist had taken in the child and painted him after the child’s parents died in a fire. One day his studio burned down in a blaze. While many believe many believe much of the tale is an urban legend, the number of fires the painting have been involved with and survived is uncanny, and those that have worked to debunk the tale refuse to accept a copy of the print.
4. Haunted Harold Doll
Harold is considered to be the first haunted doll that was ever sold on eBay and one of its early haunted owners recounts her experiences in the anthology Encounters With The Paranormal. After acquiring the doll her experiences included the sudden strange deaths of two people that had come near the doll and sudden unexplained illnesses. The current owner who has had Harold since 2004 believes there are many entities inside of the doll and has also attributes untimely deaths of ones close to him to Harold, has heard of people becoming very ill after taking photographs of Harold, and has had Zak Bagans of Ghost Adventures carry Harold onto the creepy island of dolls in Mexico during a paranormal investigation on television.
3. Ouija boards
Marketed as a game, Ouija boards first appeared in Pittsburgh toy stores as a “talking board” in 1891. The recognizable board and planchette have been controversial for decades, some believing they are a tool for communication with spirits from beyond while others view the Ouija board as a portal for inviting in evil entities. Many people claim that the haunting within their home began with the use of a Ouija board.
2. Robert The Doll (Florida)
This doll was given to four year old Robert Eugene Otto in 1904 who, upon receiving the doll, stated he would then be called Gene and the doll be called Robert. Gene and Robert became inseparable, and it was said that when they were alone together two voices could be heard talking and giggling. Whenever something turned up missing or broken, Gene would blame Robert. When Gene moved away and got married, neighbors claimed they routinely saw Robert in the window scowling at them. When Gene moved when his mother grew ill, Gene’s wife despised the strange attachment her husband had with the doll. One time, a plumber ran screaming from the house when the doll scowled at him them giggled. Over time after Gene passed away, the doll was donated to the Fort East Martello Museum. It is now said that one must ask permission of Robert to take his picture otherwise the photo will appear blank or distorted.
1. Annabelle (Connecticut)
Annabelle is the #1 most haunted toy, really due to its recent surge in popularity over the past few years, starting with The Conjuring and then being given its own feature film. First of all, the doll is really a large Raggedy Ann doll, quite less intimidating-looking that the creepy porcelain doll that was created for the movies.
The doll was originally purchased in 1970 from a hobby store as a birthday present from a mother to her 28 year old daughter, Donna, a nursing student in college. It wasn’t long before the doll started changing positions, like legs being crossed when they hadn’t been, and messages on parchment such as, “Help me,” started showing up around the house. After ruling out the possibility of an intruder, Donna and her roommate, Angie, contacted a medium and a seance was held in which a spirit came forth claiming to be a seven year old “Annabelle Higgins” who just wanted to stay with them and be loved. Donna felt compassion and gave Annabelle permission to live within the doll and stay with them. One night, a friend named Lou was spending the night and was awoken to Annabelle gliding up his leg, up to his chest, and then began strangling him. Another night he and Angie heard sounds of an intruder in one of the rooms, but discovered only Annabelle mysteriously tossed in a corner. When Lou approached the doll he felt someone behind him then a searing pain on his chest. he was suddenly bleeding, and when he opened his shirt there were claw marks on his chest.
At this, Donna contacted the Episcopal church who contacted Ed and Lorraine Warren. After a paranormal investigation and a blessing of the home, Donna requested the Warrens’ take the doll with them, and it is now on display in their museum.
I just released a new Top 11 video, this time one covering historic paranormal frauds. While I have witnessed some truly remarkable paranormal activity, there have been a number of people throughout the years that have created their own paranormal or supernatural hoax in order to fool the masses. While this list I’ve compiled isn’t nowhere near complete, it is at least a compelling selection spanning hundreds (sometimes thousands) of years to consider worthy of the Top 11 historic paranormal frauds. Below is the video to accompany this blog article:
11. The Cottingly Fairies
The Cottingly Fairies were a series of photographs taken in 1917 and 1920 by cousins Frances Griffith and Elsie Wright depicting them playing with fairies. The 1920 photos were actually commissioned by an unaware Sir Arthur Conan Doyle of Sherlock Holmes fame. While blatantly fraudulent to our modern eye, photographic experts of the day declared the photos genuine and the hoax continued on for decades. It wasn’t until 1981 that Elsie finally admitted that the fairies were paper cutouts of sketches she had drawn inspired by Princess Mary’s Gift Book.
10. Rudolph Fentz
Rudolph Fentz was a time traveler, appearing out of the blue in 1950 dressed in 19th Century garb in New York City’s Time Square, freaked out, and ran into traffic where he was accidentally killed by a car. Money in his pocket was from the 1800s and business cards identifying him were confirmed by the widow of Ralph Fentz Jr. who stated that her father-in-law vanished without a trace in 1876. This tale was popular for decades, especially in Europe’s paranormal circles, but that makes sense considering the truth. This tale was actually a story in a 1951 science fiction anthology, but was reprinted two years later as a “true story” in a booklet describing “proof” of a fourth dimension, which found its way to Europe where it took a strong hold.
9. Peter Popoff
Peter Popoff was a faith healer during the 1980s who had a penchant for announcing the home addresses and specific illnesses of audience members, and was raking in millions while doing it. He was revealed as a fraud when it was discovered he was using a wireless ear receiver to be fed the information.
8. Mumler’s Spirit Photography
During the 1860s, William Mumler rose to fame as a spirit photographer, the first of which was a self portrait which also contained the image of a young girl who looked eerily similar to his cousin who had passed away. As the photo made the rounds his popularity grew, and throughout his career he imaged some 500 spirit photos for clients, including one of Mary Todd Lincoln depicting her husband, President Abraham Lincoln, behind her. Mumler was taken to court for fraud and ruining the reputation of photographers, the prosecution showing that the effect could easily be achieved using double negatives. But he was acquitted based on the defense that his clients truly believed the images in the photos were of their deceased loved ones. Nevertheless, his work to this day is considered fraudulent.
7. Alien Autopsy
Billed by Fox television in 1995 as real autopsy footage shot just after the infamous Roswell UFO crash, Alien Autopsy was aired insinuating that everything that was shown was, in fact, real. And while the look and feel of the footage appeared real, it was far from it. Under the guise of “recreations”, the footage was actually shot in a London flat with two alien dummy bodies containing sheep brains in raspberry jam, chicken entrails, and knuckle joints.
6. The Ghostly Drummer of Tedsworth
The Tedsworth Drummer has made two appearances in history. The first was in 1661 at the home of John Monpesson in Wiltshire, England who claimed an angry drumming spirit had invaded his home after he’d had a drummer’s drum confiscated for collecting money under false pretenses.The case became famous throughout England and the drummer was also charged with the crime of employing an evil spirit, but many have pointed that no one was ever allowed to inspect the cellar of Monpesson’s home, the drumming almost always happened at night, and an investigation sanctioned by the King revealed nothing. The second appearance was in Philadelphia in 1730 through a letter to the Pennsylvania Gazette which claimed two local Reverends had recently encountered an angry, drum-beating ghost being “not a whit less obstreperous than the Tedsworth Tympanist.” Most believe the letter, and a second follow up defending the Reverends, were part of an extended hoax by Benjamin Franklin, who was the publisher.
5. The Amityville Horror
The real horror at Amityville was the murder of six members of the DeFeo family in 1974. A best-selling book and a series of movies sensationalized the paranormal horror story told by the Lutz’s who moved in afterward, which continues to be discounted, but remains popular even after lawyer William Weber admitted to knowing the book was a hoax and he helped create the horror story with the Lutz’s over many bottles of wine.
4. Uri Geller
Uri Geller became famous in the 1970s for his mind-reading tricks and mind-powered spoon bending, swearing that he had true psychic powers to make these things happen and became a huge sensation. He was then outed in front of millions on The Johnny Carson Show when Johnny (who just happened to be a former magician) made sure Geller did not bring his own props and presented him a table full of spoons and other objects for him to manipulate. Geller stalled and went silent, ultimately fleeing the situation by claiming he didn’t feel strong that night.
3. Salem Witches
The Salem Witch trials are the most tragic on this list since it involved the execution of 20 people, mostly women, in and around Salem, Massachusetts in the 1690s. It started when a group of young girls claimed to be possessed by the devil and accused several local women of witchcraft then put on a display of spams, screams, and contortions in court. Mass hysteria spread throughout the area and up to 150 women, men, and children were actually accused over several months. One theory proposes that the delusions, vomiting, and muscle spasms may have been an effect of the fungus ergot.
2. The Fox Sisters
The Fox sisters were sensationalized through newspapers accounts in the mid-1800s and, later, PT Barnum who made them national celebrities as the modern Spiritualism movement when they displayed that they could communicate with spirits through rapping sounds on a table. They cultivated a large following which still exists to this day, while the Society for Psychical Research worked to expose them as frauds. Finally, in 1888, Margaret Fox confessed to the fraud in a signed letter that she and her two sisters sought to terrify their mother when they were children and developed the method for making the noises, which is what they employed during their seances.
1. Simon Magus (Simon the Sorcerer, Simon the Magician)
During the very beginning of Christianity, Simon was traveling the countryside and claiming to be the great power of God through his magic arts. He was baptized into Christianity, but as he continued to witness the miracles performed by the apostles he offered them money and demanded he be shown how to produce their magic so he could enhance his “powers”, his show. He was rebuked by Peter and became a nemesis to the apostles. The apocrypha contains accounts of Simon Magus rising in power and seeking to win the favor of Emperor Nero, which was ultimately thwarted. Writers of the early church universally represent him as the first heretic and the “Father of Heresies.” A fraud.