Last night, Dave Schrader broke the news that The Holzer Files will not return for a third season. The reality TV paranormal series finishes with 20 episodes (2 seasons) ranging from 2019-2021. The cast of Dave, Cindy Kaza, and Shane Pittman re-evaluated case files from famed parapsychologist Hans Holzer (1920-2009). Even though the series has ended, Dave announced that new projects are underway.
The Weather Channel has entered the realm of the unexplained. Finally! There are a lot of strange weather-related phenomena out there. Further, the planet does some strange things—like a breathing forest. The Weather Channel showcases some of the more recent in their limited-season series, Weird Earth.
Weird Earth highlights two distinct weather anomalies or instances where the planet behaves strangely. Experts in various fields comment and react to the events, attempting to theorize what is happening. Some of the events are explained. Others, however, leave the viewer wondering what is truly occurring.
Watch two short clips here:
Weird Earth airs new episodes each Sunday at 9 PM EST on The Weather Channel. Repeating episodes are shown on Saturdays. Check your local cable listing for more information.
Ghosts of Shepherdstown Brouhaha—It Hasn’t Been Debunked as Fake
This week saw Destination America’s sophomore series Ghosts of Shepherdstown under attack as “faked” in order to “make good television.” While tracking down the story, it was difficult to locate the originating source that actually calls the show out. In fact, the original article does NOT. The subsequent articles misconstrue the intent of the first article to kick up some paranormal dirt.
Destination America’s Ghosts of Shepherdstown debuted last year. It features ghost hunter Nick Groff, formerly of Ghost Adventures, Paranormal Lockdown, and Ghost Stalkers; Elizabeth Saint, an actress and paranormal enthusiast; and Bill Hartley, a Civil War re-enactor and ghost hunter. The first season explored strange phenomena occurring in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.
Billed as “America’s most haunted town,” Shepherdstown is a small college town. Thomas Shepherd received a land grant in 1734 and established the town as an outpost. The town was officially formed in 1762 as Mecklenburg. The name changed to Shepherdstown honoring Shepherd shortly after the Civil War. It sits on the Potomac River and is home to a small college. The town’s population peaked at 2,137 in 2012 and currently sits at 2,095. This is one small town!
Dread Central posted an article on July 3, 2017 penned by Steve Barton. He claims that the show has “recently come under the microscope.” He cites another article in The Inquisitr whereby the director of the local visitor’s center was quoted as saying parts of the show were “staged and faked.” The article contains an Editor’s Note stating Barton used an earlier version of The Inquisitr’s article noting it was misleading. The note describes an error with incorrect quotations and original sourcing.
Julie Johnson wrote the July 3rd article in The Inquisitr. This article quotes “critics” who claim the show is scripted and hires actors as witnesses. Further, the author points to Paranormal U.S. and posts on the online forum LiveSciFi to highlight viewer skepticism. Paranormal U.S. is a website run by Donna, no last name is provided. She writes of a life-long interest in the paranormal and blogs about haunted locations. Ms. Johnson does not refer to Donna by name nor links to any of her blogs in the article; therefore, she may or may not be the person stating Shepherdstown looks staged.
LiveSciFi is a forum where paranormal fans and viewers chat. They have one bulletin board devoted to Shepherdstown. The forum “Is Ghosts of Shepherdstown Fake?” began July 20, 2016. The last entry was posted on March 31, 2017. There are 17 posts from 12 people. The consensus from these para-fans is that the show seemed faked or staged but none proffered much in the way as evidence. One user, Lee Keensnach, proclaimed the show fake because one of the “witnesses” has an IMDb page.
Yes, one of the “witnesses” was played by the actor Bradley Nnadi. He appears in the pilot. Considering the show utilizes re-enactments, it’s reasonable to expect actors to be hired to play other roles. This hardly supports the show being faked. Further, most reality television shows are scripted. It doesn’t mean they are fictitious; it’s an industry standard. Finally, note the last entry date. It is a full 3 months since the Dread Central article was posted. None of the posts refer to the quotation from the visitor center’s director.
But then there’s the quotation from Marianne Davis, the director of the visitor’s center. Specifically, the article states: “parts … are staged (locations were changed) and fake (ghost stories were changed) ‘to make good television.’”
First, there seems to be a misunderstanding of the word usage of “staged.” While the Dread Central article used it to mean “made-up,” here it clearly means “locations were changed.” Pay attention to the direct quote. Producers changed the locations. It doesn’t mean stories were fabricated; it means the producers used different locations. Unfortunately, the author doesn’t explain why this occurred. However, there are numerous reasons why: inability to film, location no longer exists, safety issues, etc.
The second part is more problematic—just slightly, though. Taken at face-value, the quote states that paranormal stories were altered for production reasons. Again, there may be reasons for this. Fear not, though. The author helps with the interpretation. She provides the exact quotation from the original article: “Davis said some of the locations or ghost stories were changed by the show’s producers ‘to make good television.’” Read it again. Ms. Davis does not say the show was faked. She merely states that stories were altered. Again, no reason is provided. Sadly, paranormal trolls latched onto this quote and ran with it proclaiming that the show has been debunked! Well, not exactly.
The original-original now original article is from January 25, 2017. Mary Stortstrom wrote the article “Strange Things: “Ghosts of Shepherdstown” Gears Up for Second Season” in The Journal. Ms. Davis is quoted as stating the above; however, she further states that some of the stories are from long ago. Ms. Davis nor Ms. Stortstrom provided examples of such changes. Ms. Davis’ comments were positive and encouraging. She merely spoke about the impact the series has had on the town and tourism.
Nick Groff jumped out in front of the Dread Central article by posting a response to his Facebook page. In part, he points out that Dread Central did not provide the original content or research for their article—they regurgitated information from another site. Next Mr. Groff states what is addressed above: At no time did Ms. Davis say the show was faked. At no time did she say the stories were made up.
And it’s true. Marianne Davis never said those things. Therefore, to publish articles claiming she did is misleading. To further state the show has been debunked as fake is libelous—not unless the author provides solid evidence and examples (which none have been provided to support these stories). Reality TV has been around for a long time. It’s not a secret that locations and stories are scripted to fit the constraints of the genre. Moreover, the paranormal community should be skeptical, but that skepticism doesn’t mean everything is faked. It means that more research should be conducted. Frankly, it means that more locations should be explored and more stories shared. To be clear: None of these stories support this show as being faked. Neither the Dread Central or The Inquisitr stories interviewed Mr. Groff or his team. Nor did they interview a sufficient pool of people. Sorry one blogger and 12 fans aren’t critics. They’re a blogger and fans.
Note from Lesia: I usually do not provide sources for my articles. However, I have pasted them below. Thank you for reading.
Ghosts, Aliens, and Bigfoot: Rob Lowe Believes
Quintessential 80s heartthrob has a new mission in life: To Believe. The Lowe Files debuts on A&E on August 2nd. The show features Rob Lowe and his two adult sons, Matthew and John Owen, as they search for the unknown. According to the Huffington Post article, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/rob-lowe-bigfoot_us_595333bce4b0da2c731f9140, they may have found something.
Rob Lowe enters the paranormal reality TV market at a good time. Perennial favorites like Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures have run their course. Ghost Hunters ended its run after 11 seasons last year, while Ghost Adventures is still airing new episodes; however, lead investigator Zak Bagans has segued his career into several spin-offs, most recently Ghost Adventures: Aftershocks. Other fan favorites like The Dead Files have shortened seasons to maximize viewership. Ghost Brothers entered its sophomore season investigating the over-exposed locations seen on Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures. It’s time for a new angle.
Enter Rob Lowe.
Lowe erupted onto the cinema screen in 1983 as “Sodapop Curtis” in the S.E. Hinton adaptation The Outsiders. Although he was already working in television, Lowe found success with teen favorites Oxford Blues and St. Elmo’s Fire. His career has come full-circle as he has been steadily employed in the television industry since 1994. Now he is trying his hand at reality TV. He is joined by his sons in the 9 episode season run. Episode one features the trio at the haunted Preston Castle, former reformatory school located in Ione, California. The season finale questions the existence of a North American wood ape, the Ozark equivalent of Bigfoot. Tune into A&E at 10 PM Wednesday, August 2nd. Hopefully, Lowe will find new locations and fresh content. Otherwise, he may not make it to season 2.
View the trailer here: https://youtu.be/eqXZq-rKfew.
Ghost Brothers Back on Destination America
Looking for new episodes from a paranormal series? Tune in to Destination America at 10 PM EST for new episodes of Ghost Brothers. Season 1 premiered on DA in 2016. Ratings were strong; therefore, it relocated to TLC (formerly known as The Learning Channel). However, it quickly returned to DA. The show follows three friends as they explore haunted locations. Season 1 locations were the typical over-exposed ones nearly every show explores. Unfortunately, Season 2 offers the same. Most of the locations are the ones from Ghost Adventurers. This is disappointing.
But it is summertime and the paranormal show offerings are slim. Check your local cable listings for Destination America. It is only available in certain markets. Certain episodes are also available by streaming directly from DA. Destination America has not committed to a third season. If you enjoy the show, start binging.
The Dead Files Confront a Skin-Walker
Spoiler Alert: This article contains elements from the episode.
The season 8, episode 5 of The Dead Files saw Amy Allan confronting a skin-walker. Skin-walkers come from the Navajo Indian culture. They are shapeshifters who disguise themselves as animals. The difference in this episode is that this skin-walker takes on the image of a known person, either dead or alive, so that the person encountering the skin-walker will feel relieved. Boy, were they wrong.
The Navajo Nation is centered on Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico. Their culture is rich with folktales. According to NavajoLegends.org, the skin-walker is a medicine man or witch who has turned evil. These walkers shapeshift into 4-legged animals; “The term yee naaldooshii literally translates to ‘with it, he goes on all fours.’” This was not the paranormal problem at this location, Indiana.
Amy never addresses if this skin-walker is tied with Native American lore. Her description showed a spider-like creature that drained the souls from a person who died on or near the property. Amy spoke of a car accident that occurred between the 2 houses in 1979 where a 16-year-old boy died. Amy claims that the skin-walker stole this boy’s soul. However, it collects souls, many souls. This specific creature is extremely old and has always existed (as opposed to being born human). In addition to stealing souls, this creature borrows images of living people to trick the living. The concern is for the elderly patriarch of the family.
One of the short-term solutions Amy suggests is for the family to contact a shaman. Dictionary.com defines a “shaman” as “a person who acts as an intermediary between the natural and supernatural worlds, using magic to cure illness, foretell the future, control spiritual forces, etc.” As with many other families on The Dead Files, this family was still searching for one when the episode debuted. Maybe the production company should employ a shaman, and I happen to know one who would be fantastic and a huge help. Just a thought!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.