The Travel Channel has sunk to a new low. Attempting to cash in on the “documentary” market, the network developed a preposterous show where America’s only self-professed vampire hunters Eric Streit and Marcel Von Tingen seek out these blood thirsty creatures. Two. In the entire nation.
Honestly, it is difficult to know where to begin. First, don’t waste time or money on this show. Here’s why.
The National Missing and Unidentified Persons (NamUS) database estimates that 600,000 people go missing in the United States every year. Most cases are resolved within a year. There are roughly 17,000 unresolved missing person cases open in 2022. However, what is important to note it that the agency states that missing person cases have declined in the last decade due to enhanced communication and ability to locate these people. Of the open cases, only 2 of the 4 Southwest states are listed in the top 10: # 3 Texas and #4 Arizona. Combined, they total 2,161 cases. California, the top state, has 2,133—less than 30 case difference. The Southwest is not a hot bed for missing persons. (https://worldpopulationreview.com/state-rankings/missing-persons-by-state)
Further, none of the four Southwest states are listed in the top ten for murder rates. None. In fact, Louisiana holds the top spot, which any serious vampire hunter would know. These two “vampire hunters” don’t even know the statistics. Neither does Travel Channel.
According to Eric and Marcel, who claim that there are over 20,000 vampires in America, vampires are pre-historic and formed in Romania. (Obviously.) Vampires came to the US during the “chaos” of the Civil War. Not sure why vampires didn’t come over during the “chaos” of the Revolutionary War. This is comical. However, there are people who watch this and believe it to be true. Think mermaid “documentary.”
Marcel Von Tingen claims to be the 25th generational vampire hunter in his family. That would take his family tree back to the 1500s. Lucky him! I can only take my family back to the 1600s (20 generations).
Most of the claims they make in the 4-minute trailer are lifted from popular culture. In fact, some even reminded me of poorly written science fiction/horror books I’ve read. Or maybe it was a B-movie. No matter. It’s conjecture and unsupported.
As consumers of paranormal content, we need to demand more from Travel Channel. There are so many more qualified people within our wide and varied field. It’s time for the network to pony up some money and hire them.
I love the Internet! If I’m watching a TV show and see something that I want to learn more about, I jot down some of the details. Then I get down to it. Season 13 Episode 5 “Shop of Horrors” on The Dead Files provided that spark.
The episode had Amy Allan investigating Daydreams & Nightmares, a large costume shop in Modesto, California. The shop’s owner, Dana, called in Amy because she and her employees were experiencing disturbing phenomena. Steve DiSchiavi interviewed employees and locals to get a sense of the location’s history. Boy, it is a tad dark!
According to the show, the business located at 1219 7th Street, served as the Evans Funeral Home that included a crematorium. One photograph showed charred remains from the cremation process stuck to the ceiling. Per the show, the business was active from 1995-2015.
Now, I don’t believe that all funeral homes are haunted or negative places. Just like I don’t believe that cemeteries are inherently haunted. Steve retold the tragic 2011 murder-suicide of a father and his juvenile son. That hit hard; however, I was fascinated by the 1910 story of Andrew Sorensen, a 30-year-old prominent businessman who went temporarily insane and attempted to kill his wife. Now that had my attention.
Andrew came from a prominent and well-respected family. His father served two terms as the County Recorder of Stanislaus County. He was born on December 8, 1880, and co-owned the Maze Hotel with his wife, Marie E. Stone Sorensen, whom he married 4 years prior (November 22, 1906). On December 30, 1910, Andrew returned from the post office and met his wife and 17-year-old cousin Edith “Eda” Simon on the landing at the stairs. For some unknown reason, Andrew lunged at Marie’s throat and finding he was unable to strangle her, he took out a 12-inch butcher knife and began to attack Marie. Marie fell to the floor; Edith began to scream. A couple of carpenters, Dawes and Tucker, who were on the property came running and chased Andrew to his bedroom. Shortly thereafter, Deputies Dallas and Swatzel arrived and broke through the locked door. They found Andrew had thrice attempted to slash his neck. The final, and fatal, wound was when Andrew took the knife and sliced from ear to ear. Newspaper articles reported that he severed his windpipe. Dr. F.R. DeLappe arrived as Andrew slumped to death. His motive taken to the grave.
Marie, miraculously, faired much better. Her wounds were severe but not critical. She was transported to the Evans Hospital. She sustained deep cuts to her head, throat, and hands. Her left hand was cut to the bone. The third finger on her right hand was cut off. She was recuperating in the hospital and did not know her husband’s fate until the next day when the coroner completed his inquest.
The local paper reported the attempted murder and suicide in the evening paper on the 30th. It was quickly picked up and disseminated across the wire service. The inquest was the following day, the 31st. Here, we learn a bit more.
Supposedly Andrew was beset by mental demons off-and-on for years. Many stated that he suffered frequent, though brief, mental incapacity. The coroner verdict was death caused by knife while in fit of insanity. Basically, he died by suicide. Found in his bedroom was a partial suicide note, where Andrew scribbled 2 lines of illegible text addressed to his mother, Anna Simon Sorensen. No one was able to discern any of the writing.
The red flag that went up for me was why. Why did he return home to brutally attack his wife in front of his cousin and with workers and patrons nearby? One article referenced a jealous streak in his personality. That may be. There are plenty of criminal cases where jealousy ignited the attack. Others claimed to have seen his mental capacities decline over time. Why was that? Today, the investigation would last more than 24 hours, and all possible avenues would be explored. This is especially true when three separate newspaper articles had varying degrees of facts.
Miss Eda Simon returned to Stockton, California the following day (the day of the inquest). She, in fact, did not appear in person but was interviewed by telephone. That also seemed strange.
Andrew was prepped and buried shortly after the inquest. He now rests in the Modesto Pioneer Cemetery, then known as the Odd Fellows Cemetery, in Block 29, Lot 2, Grave 3. It is a family plot purchased by his father, Martin Iverson Sorensen (1853-1902). This is a family plot that contains the remains of Martin, Anna, and other relatives. However, one person is missing: Marie E. Stone Sorensen is not buried in the plot.
As for the Maze Hotel: Nothing is mentioned in the local newspapers after 1932.
The show did end on a more positive note. Amy told Dana and her employees Michelle and Eva that the low-level child demon could be taken care of. In the 2-month follow-up reveal, Dana said they followed Amy’s directions and the building doesn’t feel as oppressive. If you happen to visit, let me know. I’m always trying to find a great costume for Halloween.
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.
Season 3, episode 5 of Paranormal Caught on Camera airs Sunday, August 16th at 9 pm and features Dave, Shealy, co-founder of the Skunk Ape Research Headquarters. Dave was the debut guest on The Haunted Librarian Show with Lesia Schnur last week. Dave is a life-long Skunk Ape enthusiast and has new audio evidence and tracks. It is unclear if that evidence appears in the episode.
Narrated by Dan Aykroyd, Hotel Paranormal debuted on The Travel Channel, officially known as TRVL, last Saturday, July 11th. Mr. Aykroyd, a serious believer in the paranormal, delivers a tempered dialog drawing viewers into the reenactments of various paranormal phenomena occurring in hotels, motels, and bed and breakfasts. The official show website finally loaded just in time for the US debut, https://www.travelchannel.com/shows/hotel-paranormal. The show debuted internationally in Canada and then transitioned to the US market. It’s refreshing to see the cable channel branch out locating fresh faces—and very experienced experts in the field—and trying out new shows.
The first season consists of 5 episodes, at least. The first one, “Paranormal Predator,” profiled 3 separate events. The first segment was the longest and retold Frank Ramirez’s chilling stay in a motel in Texas, 2017. This segment was also the most compelling. Actual video and photographs supplemented the story. All three segments featured realistic reenactments with minimal gimmicks.
Three paranormal experts reacted and responded to the segments. Michael J. Worden, author; Tim Weisberg, paranormal expert and radio host; and Linda Zimmerman, paranormal expert, calmly discuss different aspects of the hauntings. They do not overplay the event and speculate dramatically. They appear professional and rationale—something missing in US paranormal TV shows.
Tomorrow I head up to Pittsburgh, PA for the annual MAPACA (Mid-Atlantic Popular and American Culture Association) Conference. This year I am presenting my paper titled: “Travel Channel: Singlehandedly Delegitimizing the Paranormal Field.” My show is an early Thursday event scheduled at 1:45 PM. Upon my return, I will post excerpts of it. I’m looking forward to returning to Pitt–it has been many decades since I visited.
There should be more truth in advertising new TV shows. According to the Discovery Channel, owner of Travel Channel, the new TV series The Holzer Files, is based on newly discovered tapes from Hans Holzer’s most famous cases. Really? They just now found these tapes? I don’t think so. In fact, their press release had several errors or misleading information. However, misleading audiences was nothing new to Holzer, who knew how to entertain.
Holzer died in New York City at the age of 89 in 2009. He was an established author, writing somewhere between 120-140 books on the occult and paranormal. Most of his books focused on the paranormal; however, he wrote several books on witchcraft. His interests were eccentric and varied.
Fleeing with his family from Vienna, Austria in 1938, Holzer was born in 1920. According to Holzer, he held a Master’s degree in Comparative Religion (names vary depending on publications) and a PhD in Parapsychology from the London College of Applied Science. Unfortunately, this school does not exist. In fact, it is doubtful he completed any advanced degrees.
Holzer entered the entertainment business early in his career. His interest in the paranormal shifted his focus to paranormal research-esque. Although Holzer employed several mediums, he merely recorded his investigations and did not conduct much research beyond the visits. Armed with a Polaroid, Holzer shunned all gadgetry. He preferred to take the word of the mediums and never fully validated their observations.
Some say he coined the term “other side,” but this term was already in use. Instead, Holzer popularized the term. He did not like the words “supernatural” or “belief.” One of his famous quotes is: “A ghost is only a fellow human being in trouble.” This may be the case.
He did not create the “Holzer Method,” the process of determining natural vibrations. Further, it is debatable if he actually applied scientific fact to observations/investigations. He is most known for investigating the Amityville house, claiming (erroneously) that Rolling Thunder, a Shinnecock Indian Chief, possessed Ronald DeFeo. It’s a shame. He may have been a qualified paranormal investigator, but his credibility was undermined by his fabrications.
It’s disappointing that Travel Channel is sensationalizing Holzer. Press releases and advertising should not claim that his tapes were recently uncovered. It should have stuck with the truth: A paranormal team is reinvestigating former cases investigated by Holzer.
Tune into the Travel Channel on September 15th for the 2-hour documentary profiling the latest scientific research conducted in search of Nessie. Professor Neil Gemmel, University of Otago (New Zealand), collected 250 samples of DNA from Loch Ness. His team captured, extracted, and sequenced the samples, and the results were announced this week. Gemmel proclaimed, “We’ve used science to add another chapter to Loch Ness’ mystique.”
Turns out the samples support a very large eel swimming in Britain’s largest body of fresh water. Researchers created a comprehensible spectrum of life from the samples. None support a Jurassic-age reptile or unknown sea monster. Instead, the DNA showed that eels were quite plentiful in the loch.
Gemmell concluded that more research is needed. Catch the documentary on your local Travel Channel.
Andry Plantation: 10 Facts Before You View Haunted Towns
Season 2 of Haunted Towns, titled “Voodoo on the Bayou” sends the Tennessee Wraith Chasers to the largest slave revolt in American history. (Note: It’s not the largest on North American soil. That distinction goes to the 1739 Stono Rebellion commencing on September 9, 1739—when America was comprised of 13 colonies). The team heads to the Andry Plantation where the “German Coast Uprising of 1811” began.
10 Facts to Know Before You View:
Louisiana was not part of the Union at the time of the revolt. It was known as Territory of Orleans. It was admitted to the Union on April 30, 1812.
The revolt was coordinated by Charles Deslondes (1780-January 15, 1811). He worked at the Andry Plantation.
Manual Andry built the Andry Plantation in 1793. The main crop was sugar cane. The main house is 3,982 square feet with a separate guest house in back. The plantation is also known as “Woodland.” It makes researching confusing as there is another more well-known and well maintained plantation with the same name.
The main house was built in the French Creole style. The plantation was abandoned in 2004 and is a fixer upper. It was listed for sale in 2016 for $550,000. The owners at that time had the plantation in their family since the 1920s.
The revolt lasted 3 days. It commenced on January 8, 1811 and ended on the 10th.
The path led to New Orleans and included 10 plantations.
Reports vary as to the number of slaves involved. The number sits between 200-500 joining over the 3-day revolt.
Again, numbers vary, but records show that between 20-100 slaves were killed. The heads were placed on poles and displayed. Fifty slaves were captured.
Early Jazz pioneer Edouard (Edward) “Kid” Ory was born in the guest house on Christmas Day 1886.