Mothman: Debunking the Debunking

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Mothman: Debunking the Debunking

This summer I’m busy finishing my manuscript: Mothman: Debunking the Debunking. The book takes a look at Mothman, the sightings in 1966, the explanations that were proffered, and finally, how these explanations don’t pan out. Here’s a teaser:

Mothman: Debunking the Debunking

Fifty years ago, Mothman flew into the imaginations of the residents of Point Pleasant, West Virginia, a small town in the western part of the state. For 13 months, eyewitnesses recall seeing a 7’ tall, red-eyed winged creature. Though it never threatened anyone, its size was menacing. Mothman may have snatched a German Shepard. Other than that, it did not kill or maim. It merely fascinated.

An Urban Legend Is Born

Couples Steve and Mary Mallette and Roger and Linda Scarberry were looking for a good time. The abandoned ammunitions factory was perfect for night exploration. On the evening of November 15, 1966, they drove out on West Virginia Route 62 with Lonnie Button. Their destination was the McClintic Wildlife Management Area, a vast wildlife preserve in Mason County, 5 miles outside Point Pleasant. The area included an ordinance works housing a TNT factory from World War II.

The party of five reached the shackled chain-linked fencing. As the car’s engine ran, the young adults spotted something: a 7’ tall, red-eyed winged creature.

Quickly, they turned the car around and sped off reaching speeds upwards of 100 mph. The creature pursued, flying alongside. The car screeched to a halt at the Point Pleasant Courthouse, located in downtown. The courthouse housed the local police department. The five adults ran inside to alert Deputy Millard Halstead of the frightening flying creature that followed them into town. The deputy went outside; however, the creature was gone.

Roger Scarberry attempted to capture the image of the creature onto paper. He drew an overly simplistic blob-like shape with glowing eyes. He shared it with Deputy Halstead, who filed a police report. Mothman was born.

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Don’t Feed the Buell

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Don’t Feed the Buell

According to the Urban Dictionary, the saying “Don’t feed the bears” is a cautionary statement made to E.R. doctors who may over-prescribe narcotics. “Hey, doc, don’t feed the bears” means don’t prescribe the meds or even handout the meds because the bears get hungry and will return for more.

An earlier metaphor using the same words directed people to not feed the bears (in this case people without money to pay for food) because they will remain lazy and not seek employment.

Although the meanings have evolved, the message is clear: Do Not Feed. Alternately, feed at own risk. Over the past week, my social media feed has quite a few references to Ryan Buell. After reading the posts, all I could think was: Please people. If you’re really a fan, stop feeding him. Do. Not. Feed. The. Buell.

Ryan D. Buell erupted on the paranormal scene while a college student. He founded the Paranormal Research Society (PRS) at Pennsylvania State University, a.k.a. PennState). The group garnered media attention and his popular paranormal TV show Paranormal State debuted in 2007. The show lasted 6 seasons, ending in 2011. Ryan enjoyed great status as a young Catholic man seeking answers from the paranormal world. He made connections with psychic Chip Coffey and paranormal investigator and demonologist Lorraine Warren. By all appearances he was setting up himself for a lucrative career in the paranormal field post graduation. However, his life took a turn. He didn’t graduate. Instead, he lost sight of himself and the road he was to follow.

The popular show ended in 2011. He quickly began to profit by selling DVDs of the show, books, and the like. Sadly, a lot of the items were paid for but not being shipped. This began to concern his fans. Shortly after, Buell announced he was battling pancreatic cancer.

In an effort to jumpstart his career, he announced a paranormal roadshow titled “Conversations with the Dead” in 2014. He booked other paranormal celebrities to join, he created a schedule with venue locations, he sold tickets, and then he cancelled. Unfortunately, he failed to reimburse most of his fans who had already pre-purchased tickets and paraphernalia. It ultimately cost him his friendship with Chip Coffey.

Last September 18, Buell was arrested and extradited back to Pennsylvania. He was facing 2 felony charges related to his refusal or inability to return a rental car. Eventually, bail was lowered and he bonded out. His hearing was last November. Today, Buell is out of jail.

There’s a great deal of speculation about Ryan’s erratic behavior. His own mother publicly implored his fans to stop enabling him. She drew attention by stating he wasn’t battling cancer but something else. Fans quickly surmised it was alcohol or drug abuse. Ryan seemed to lay low and remained silent…until this week.

Q&A

Ryan is back on Facebook. He is hocking signed copies of his book. For $45, he will send you a signed book. He’s even posted a video showing him mailing a package out. Undoubtedly to restore faith to all those people whom he stiffed in 2014. Although troubling, this isn’t the most serious issue. He is now live streaming Q&A (Question and Answer) sessions via Facebook. I watched a few.

He needs to stop. Merely looking at him, one can surmise there is something wrong. The 34-year-old 6’2” man has lost a lot of weight. A lot. He appears drowsy. I’m not a drug counselor; however, he was slurring his words. He looked out of it. Actually, he lacked focus. And it’s sad.

I wish that he would take time off, repair his personal life, fix his mental health, heal his body, and get it together. His fans are rooting for him to pull through this. But his fans are concerned. Very concerned. One can scroll through the comments which overwhelmingly beg and urge him to seek professional help. He won’t get the help until he is forced to. He must forage for food on his own. Don’t feed the Buell. If he is to recover, he must do it himself.

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Haunted Plank from the Amityville House Makes Travel Channel Debut

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Haunted Plank from the Amityville House Makes Travel Channel Debut

Travel Channel’s Mysteries at the Museum returned last month with new episodes. The February 9th episode titled “Amityville Haunting, Ghost Army, and Fugitive Golfer” highlighted a piece of wood from the infamous Amityville Horror house. The demonic possession story was a hoax (see previous 2014 article at https://thehauntedlibrarian.com/2014/03/19/amityville-horror-hoax/); however, it doesn’t mean that this piece of wood doesn’t give off bad vibes. It means there may be another story, based on facts, that should be considered.

Interest in Amityville has not ebbed since the 1977 publication of the book, The Amityville Horror. The movie franchise alone has grossed over $170 million dollars. Add TV adaptations and books, and that’s one healthy moneymaker. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the book’s publication. Expect more media coverage.

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Given the interest in Amityville, the house makes the requisite rounds on paranormal shows. This is not the first, probably not the last either, time that Travel Channel has showcased the Amityville house. Paranormal Paparazzi (2012) incorporated the house in 3 segments in 2 episodes. One was particularly insightful. Kathy Lutz’s son and George’s step-son Christopher Quaratino claimed that George practiced black witchcraft in the home, causing the paranormal activity to spike. Needless to say, expect more books and versions to emerge.

Greg Newkirk, director of the Traveling Museum of the Paranormal and Occult, appeared on the Mysteries at the Museum episode discussing the plank. Greg and Dana Matthews co-founded the website Week in Weird, www.weekinweird.com, in 2007. Both Greg and Dana contribute articles, and postings are weekly. The articles are thought-provoking and quirky, while remaining true to the blog format: concise. The site has advertisements, a source of revenue; however, they don’t disrupt the reading of the articles. They’ve segued their site into 3 entities: Week in Weird (@WeekinWeird), Planet Weird (@WeirdHQ), and The Traveling Museum of the Paranormal & Occult (@theparamuseum). In 2013, they created the traveling museum to take their stories and artifacts on the road. They’ve collected artifacts from past paranormal investigations and allow the public to handle them. The museum is the modern-day version of curiosity cabinets which featured oddities and bizarre items and peaked in interest during the Victorian era. Visit http://paramuseum.com/ for 2017 dates and more information.

While it is easy to fall back on popular tales, the paranormal world has so much more to be explored. The Amityville plank is a reminder that the original story was made-up and exaggerated for profit. Instead of focusing on the heinous murders and concocting reasons for a demonic possession, readers should question whether George exploited the murders while practicing black magic. He didn’t move into a haunted house; however, he may have created the negative energy by dabbling in something beyond his comprehension.

Dry Spell in Horror Movies

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Dry Spell in Horror Movies

Seems we’ve hit the doldrums for horror movies. A dry spell has taken over. The much anticipated, and over-hyped, 13th installment of Friday the 13th has been shelved—indefinitely. That’s never a good sign. The spell will lift by late April; however, there are 5 movies to plan for.

This summer brings 5 large budget horror movies to the big screen.

  1. The first is the highly anticipated franchise horror film Alien: Covenant, debuting on May 19. Fassbender
  2. The Mummy, reboot of the 1932 Boris Karloff movie of the same name opens June 9th and stars Tom Cruise. Casting is skeptical, which may tank the film before it even opens. BorisKarloff
  3. Stephen King’s book adaptation The Dark Tower arrives July 28, 2017. Idris Elba stars as “The Gunslinger.” He is the actor to watch break out in this genre.  IdrisElba
  4. In the sequel category is Annabelle 2, opening August 11, 2017. This date is tentative as the movie has already been pushed back once. Watch to see if “The Nun” in this movie tied into “The Nun” painting from The Conjuring 2 (2016) and will be a separate storyline in next year’s The Nun. James Wan may have created his own universe where his movies are interwoven more than Patrick Wilson cross-over roles. Annabelle2
  5. Finally, It has a release date of September 8th. This marks Stephen King’s 2nd summer movie and probably most anticipated from his legion of fans. “Pennywise” terrified viewers in the 1990 mini-series. Now he gets the large screen effects to scare a new generation into therapy for coulrophobia. Pennywise

There are other movies to hold us over until summer—just barely. They’re low-budget films that don’t have much star power. However, if the reviews are solid, then check them out.

RH Negative Blood ≠ Alien Life

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Evelyn De Morgan / Public Domain

RH Negative Blood ≠ Alien Life

The RH negative blood supports alien pro-creation articles are making the Internet rounds. Again. The articles profess that people with RH negative blood are aliens. The theory is that people who lack the Rhesus factor and are RH negative are not of this world. Translation: They must be extraterrestrials. Unfortunately, the nonexistence of a substance does not support the existence of another. That’s a logical fallacy. So, sorry, folks. If you’re RH negative, you’re still just merely a human.

People try to prove that extraterrestrials exist all the time. They look toward the skies searching for unidentified flying objects (U.F.O.s). They lift up the narratives from Roswell, New Mexico. They document stories and process evidence. And that’s good. However, they should not use RH negative blood theories as the basis for their claims.

Ten to 15% of the population are RH negative. The largest percentage, 40-45%, are Europeans, with Spaniards and French people of Basque origins being the bulk of these people. Rhesus negative blood types lack Rhesus factors, protein substances in red blood cells. RH negative blood is the result of a natural mutation of the genes. However, the alien life claims aren’t new. A Google search finds online articles dated from 2010.

Articles claim that RH negative people share similar characteristics including higher intelligence, lower body temperatures, empathetic, sensitivity to heat, and highly tuned senses. Physical characteristics are red hair and blue/green/hazel eye color. Finally, they cannot be cloned—who has even tried? Notwithstanding the last item, this is an exhaustive list of highly desirable traits. Coupled with these characteristics, people turn to several ancient texts: the Bible, various pre-Christian writings, and the Book of Enoch. From these writings, various theories emerged.

Theory 1 states that RH negative people are direct descendants of Jesus Christ. This theory claims that “pure” RH negative people are of Scandinavian origins. Sadly, there isn’t a “pure” RH negative designation. You’re either RH negative or you’re not.

Theory 2 uses the Bible, specifically Genesis 6, as evidence that fallen angels (human-like creatures) impregnated women creating hybrid creatures. The theory claims that these “angels” were a parallel race who came down from the skies to procreate. Unfortunately, this misinterprets the Bible. It’s also an over-simplification of the creation stories.

The “Truth Theory” claims that this blood type is linked to specific ancient tribes. Well, yeah, duh, that’s genealogy. When your DNA is processed, you find out where you’re from. Therefore, it makes sense that people with RH negative blood would be related and that relationship would go back for centuries to the beginning of mankind. A stronger study would track RH negative people and whether the mutation can be passed to children.

The final piece of evidence is that the largest number of people claiming to have been abducted by extraterrestrials are RH negative. Again, this is a logical fallacy. I would love to see the survey that produced this “conclusion.”

Not having the antigen doesn’t prove the existence of alien DNA. It supports a mutation. However, as an antidote I proffer that I am RH negative. I would like to think I have a high IQ, but I’m not in the genius range. My body temperature does run lower than normal; however, I started tracking this after undergoing chemotherapy and treatment for breast cancer. I’m neither a red head nor have blue/green/hazel eyes. I have yet to be cloned, but that’s because it’s illegal. On the other hand, I submitted my DNA to Ancestry.com over 9 weeks ago and have not received the results. Maybe I’m now on an RH negative watch list for possible cloning. Hmm.

Evidence Inadmissible in a Court of Law

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Evidence Inadmissible in a Court of Law

Some of The Dead Files episodes carry a disclosure stating that the evidence discovered and discussed are inadmissible in a court of law. Essentially, the disclosure means there may not be proof of a crime or proof to obtain an arrest and conviction. It’s an important disclosure. It also prevents Amy Allen from claiming a specific person committed a crime on TV. She may theorize; however, she shouldn’t conclusively make these assertions. In most of their cases, stories are collected and presented to Amy for possible confirmation that a crime may have been committed. In “Feeding the Fire,” the stories lead the viewers to believe that the man who confessed to the crime really didn’t commit the crime. This is a serious non-paranormal problem. Too many murders remain unresolved by people making false confessions.

This episode attempts to link the murder of Linda Jane Phillips to Henry Lee Lucas, a one-eyed drifter who claimed to killing hundreds, if not thousands, of women. Instead of setting the matter to rest, it creates many more unanswered questions.

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Linda Jane Phillips was born on October 27, 1943. The 26-year-old school teacher disappeared on August 8, 1970. Her mutilated body was found on August 10. She sustained 26 stab wounds. Further, she was sexually abused. Her death was established as August 9th. The case sat cold for 14 years.

Enter Henry Lee Lucas. Lucas had already killed his mother. He served time and was released in 1970. By 1975, he was back in jail. In 1984, he confessed to a slew of murders. Linda’s was one he listed.

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Lucas’ confession may have been false. The historian interviewed on the episode stated that police were unsure Lucas actually committed the murder. This was not always the case. Police in 1984 were all but certain. As proof, Lucas was able to discuss elements of the case; however, none of it was withheld from the media or it was things killers may know. Further, Lucas self-confessed to these crimes. Back in 1984, Kaufman County D.A. William Conradt seemed overly confident they caught their man. Conradt went on the record professing his firm belief Lucas did in fact murder Linda. He based his opinion on Lucas’ now famous quote: “There are just some things so terrible that you can’t forget them.”

Conradt was overzealous to close this case. He should have been more skeptical of the unsolicited confession. It is clear that Lucas sought “serial killer” status. Lucas’ number of victims shifted from 360 to 600 to 3,000. He recanted many of his “confessions.” In Texas, he was convicted of killing 11 people and received the death sentence for one. Then Governor George W. Bush commuted the sentence to serve 6 life sentences plus 210 years. Lucas died in jail of a heart attack in 2001 at the age of 64.

This episode highlights the ultimate tragedy in murder cases. Many self-professed killers didn’t commit the crimes. They were seeking fame, glory, audience appeal. Too many police departments are satisfied with confessions and refuse to re-open cases. The tragedy becomes two-fold. 1) Police departments lack interest in solving cases where the confessed killer turns out not to be the actual killer. And 2) Momentary closure pales in comparison when the victims’ families realize the killer is still at large. That just may be the case for Linda Jane Phillips.

Phillips

 

“Feeding the Fire”

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“Feeding the Fire”

The Dead Files proffers interesting cases with unique perspectives on possible paranormal events. Nearly every episode adds to the paranormal discussion by highlighting a different possible reason for the encounters. Season 9, episode 11 “Feeding the Fire” was filmed in Kaufman, Texas. A 60-year-old man was convinced the paranormal activity ended his marriage. He lives on a large lot in one mobile home, while his ex-wife and three daughters line in another. Some of the pieces of “evidence” supporting the activity were images from phantom bruising. Phantom bruising crops up in several other TV series and movies. They are not immediate links to hauntings.

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Phantom bruising are bruises that appear for no particular reason. Rather the reason is unknown to the “victim.” Rarely discussed on ghost hunting shows is that phantom bruising is explainable in most circumstances. Legitimate reasons include vitamin deficiency, exercising, affects from medication, signs from aging, and diabetes. To be clear: Most phantom bruising is caused by real world reasons. That’s not saying that all phantom bruising can be explained away.

Vietnamese people call unexplained bruising “ghost bites.” These bruises show up in various locations—on the thigh, under the arm, etc. Noting locations helps debunk these events. It is helpful to take pictures to build a case for paranormal bruising of unknown origins. As always, document everything. As with a crime scene, each piece taken together creates the larger story. See the next blog on what I mean.

 

Salvation for Fairyland

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Salvation for Fairyland

“You can’t put a price on history.”

Richard Gonzmart

Seemingly simplistic storybook-themed amusement parks popped up in the mid to late 50s. They were travel destinations for families with children. Over the years, decreased attendance and changing interests drove parks to update exhibits. Modernization was costly; therefore, many parks closed facilities and removed the exhibits. Few remain today. Some of these historically significant relics have been destroyed, thrown out, or lost. Fairyland, located in Tampa, Florida, seemed destined to the same fate; however, an auction saved the exhibits for future preservation. Preservation of these old amusement parks is vital to our American history.

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Built in 1957 with private funds, Tampa’s Fairyland Park and Zoo was situated on 15 acres and free. Advertising referred to the attraction as a “storybook park for children”; however, people of all ages enjoyed the various fable-themed life-size figures and props. The City of Tampa shuttered Fairyland in 1996. All of the items were placed in an outdoor storage lot and ultimately forgotten. Twenty years later, the deteriorated figures were discovered and scheduled to thrown out. Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn referred to them a “junk pile,” yet refused to donate them to a preservation group. After public outcry, the city decided to auction them off. The heated auction grossed the city $28,300.

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Save Fairyland! was created to solicit donations to purchase the lots and to raise awareness. They kept Facebook group members abreast of the auction. Although two mystery bidders attempted to thwart the bids and pushed winning bids to higher than expected prices, local businessman Gonzmart won 11 out of the 12 lots. The final price shocked members who were thrilled with a figurative Knight in Shining Armor defeating the outside bidders. The group continues to post restoration pictures along with Fairyland-related endeavors. To follow the restoration process, join the Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/savefairyland/.

The auction serves as an important lesson and strategy for other groups hoping to preserve the past. Perseverance pays off.

 

For more information view https://www.tampapix.com/zoo_old.htm. It is an excellent resource providing historical information, as well as loads of pictures.

 

Ghost Brothers Returning on March 10, 2017

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Ghost Brothers Returning on March 10, 2017

Destination America’s sweetheart paranormal show featuring three friends jumps channels to TLC, premiering on “Friday Night Supernatural Strand” on March 10, 2017.

Headquartered in Atlanta, Ghost Brothers consists of Dalen Spratt, Juwan Mass, and Marcus Harvey. They’re bringing a unique sense of humor to “hit the most haunted places in America.” Ghost Brothers adds diversity to the paranormal lineup. What makes them unique is that they are African-American males hunting ghosts. This is a needed departure from the predominantly white male casts dominating the television genre. Paranormal investigators are a growing demographic that is becoming more diverse. This is welcomed news since the paranormal activity in the United States may include Native Americans, European explorers, Spanish Conquistadors, Civil War indentured slaves, and those of us with immigrant backgrounds.

While the inclusion of new team is exciting news, their locations are lackluster. There are so many supposedly haunted locations across the country, audiences are left wondering why they are investigating over-publicized spots. It’s a shame. In order for this show to break new ground, it must go to new places.

Frida Kahlo’s The Deceased Dimas Rosas at 3 Years Old

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Frida Kahlo’s The Deceased Dimas Rosas at 3 Years Old

Death bed portraitures were a Mexican tradition. These works of art predisposed postmortem photography. The “Angelitos” were dead children who were free of sin. Paintings of these deceased children, usually between the ages of 1-5, were posed to appear alive. The memorial portrait survived the child; it was the only visual memory remaining. Celebrated Mexican artist Frida Kahlo also painted “Angelitos,” death portraits of children.

Painting death portraits seems fitting for Frida, as she suffered physically and mentally throughout her life. At the age of 6, Frida contracted polio, a horrible disease causing her to walk with a limb. Further, at the age of 19, Frida suffered permanent damage to her torso from a bus collision. This accident precluded her from having children. In addition to these physical maladies, Frida endured an open marriage to famed artist, Diego Rivera; political upheaval; and periodic confinement in her home “Casa Azul.” Frida was well aware of death—possibly her own impending death at the age of 47.

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Memento mori were paintings or photographs depicting dead people as if they were alive. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “memento mori” as literally meaning “remember you must die.” Although these “Angelitos,” or Little Angels, paintings celebrated the life of a child by capturing his or her death, the tradition is not related “Day of the Dead.” It is merely another reminder of how life and death are celebrated in Mexico.

The Mexican tradition goes back to the 16th century. It blends the Mexican tradition with Catholicism. Wealthy families would hire an artist to paint the dead children sleeping. It was popular; however, it was costly. Once photography became more widespread and cheaper, it replaced portraiture paintings.

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In 1937, 3 year old child Dimas Rosas became ill. His mother, Delfina, was the housekeeper for Diego and occasionally modeled for him. Diego was the child’s godfather. When Dimas’ condition worsened, Diego tried to persuade the mother and father to take him to a doctor. Instead, they took him to a village witch doctor. Unfortunately, he died. Frida posed the boy in clothing to honor St. Joseph. He is surrounded by flowers, especially marigolds which are a popular “Day of the Dead” bloom. A picture of Jesus Christ as “Lord of the Column” lays on the lace white pillow. He holds a gladiola while resting on a palm leaf mat. All of the things mean something—they represent religious and cultural iconography. A lot of thought went into this painting.

Frida completed the 18 ¾ x 12” oil painting on Masonite, a favorite medium of hers. For some unknown reason, the painting was not given to the family. Instead, it was named “Dressed Up for Paradise” and exhibited in the Julien Levy Gallery in 1938. Next it went to the Art Museum of Philadelphia as “Boy King.” Then owner Somerset Maugham found out about the subject matter and gave it back to Frida. The painting was then given to Frida’s main benefactor, Eduardo Morillo Safa. He, in turn, gave it to Dolores Olmedo where it sits in the Dolores Olmedo Museum in Mexico City. Currently, it is on loan to the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida. It is unknown when the name changed; however, it is based on the inscription Frida left on the painting. While Victorian mourning photography is plentiful online and in private collections, these postmortem paintings are difficult to locate. If given the chance, head to The Dali. It is worth visiting and seeing this incredible piece of art.