New Orleans prides herself as being one of the most haunted cities in the United States. The city embraces her paranormal side. I’ve been visiting NOLA since I was a little girl. On every trip, I learned something new. And this year’s trip was no different. There’s so many places and stories. I’ve compiled some of the most interesting and look forward to sharing them with you! In the meantime, I leave you with 3 teasers: trunk, voodoo, and axman. Hint: Some of the storylines in American Horror Stories “Coven” were spot on.
Mothman Turned 50: Let’s Celebrate
Sightings of the red-eyed, 7 foot tall half man/half flying creature turned 50 last November. Although “Mothman,” as he was called, only appeared in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, from November 1966-December 15, 1967, he still captures the imaginations of cryptozoologists, paranormal researchers, and general urban legend fans. He has spawned an entire industry in the small town. There’s a Mothman Museum; TNT Tours to see McClintic Wildlife Management Area, where the first documented sighting occurred; evening U.F.O. sky watches; and the popular Mothman Festival. This year the festival will celebrate the 50th anniversary.
Mothman descended into the quite town of Point Pleasant on November 15, 1966. Two couples were taking a cousin out to the abandoned TNT factory for some night hiking. Upon arrival at the chain-linked fence, the five young adults reported encountering a 7’ feathery creature with large wings (possibly 15 feet wide). They quickly returned to the car and sped off into town. This begins the sightings made more popular by John A. Keel’s The Mothman Prophecies book published in 1975.
The first “Congress,” outdated word for festival, began over Labor Weekend in 1968 when Saucer News editor, Gray Barker, organized a small event. Forty-six people attended and participated in touring the Silver Bridge disaster, learning about Shawnee leader Cornstalk who was murdered in the area in 1777, and a “saucer watch,” whereby people stared up into the clear evening sky searching for U.F.O.s. Apparently, the Congress was a success. Renamed the Mothman Festival, the current event has been running for 16 years.
This year the event returns to downtown Point Pleasant, West Virginia, on September 16-17, 2017. Vendors, live music, food services, and a 5K run are planned. Admission to the Main Street events is free; however, nominal fees will be charged for the TNT tours and other additional events. According to the Official Mothman Festival Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/mothmanfestival/, 1,505 people are interested in attending and nearly 500 confirmed. Quite an uptick from the original 46.
Mothman is truly Americana. Other similar sightings have been reported, but none have the Appalachian appeal that Mothman brings to West Virginia. Definitely worth a visit.
For more information, visit: http://mothmanfestival.com/
The Bye Bye Man: First Horror Film of 2017
Tagline: Don’t think it; don’t say it.
Time to blame the Ouija Board. Again. The Bye Bye Man (2017) debuts on Friday the 13th, January 2017. It is the first horror movie of 2017 (Amityville: The Awakening was moved from January 6 until June). The trailer portrays a menacing creature who is a cross between Candyman and Slender Man, two contrived characters to seem like an urban legend. The Bye Bye Man media package wants viewers to believe this is based on a true story. That would be a stretch.
Robert Damon Schneck published The President’s Vampire: Strange-But-True Tales of the United States of America, a collection of short tales, in 2005. It has been republished as The Bye Bye Man: And Other Strange-But-True Tales coinciding with the movie. The movie builds off of the short story “The Bridge to Body Island,” set in the 1990s when three college students move into a house and discover a cursed Ouija Board. Of course they begin to experiment with the board and eek out the story of an abandoned blind albino boy born in rural Louisiana and left on the stoop of an orphanage. The boy, ultimately known as “The Bye Bye Man,” escapes the orphanage traveling vagabond style leaving corpses in his wake. He pines for a “friend” and begins sewing eyes and a tongue together. The creature sets the “friend” down so it may identify the next victim. The doll whistles when a victim is found. The urban legend stops shortly after this and the movie presumably picks up the tale.
The trailer and brief write-ups describe the plot as a mesh of Ouija Board antics, tied to a creature who comes when his name is called or thought (hence the Candyman reference), photobombing pictures like Slender Man, and then leading to possession. Originally rated R, the movie is PG-13. The production budget is $6 million, making it a low-budget movie, but certainly not fatal for a horror movie. Stay tuned for my review after opening weekend. In the meantime…don’t think his name, nor dare say it.
Hampton Court Palace “Ghost” Is Great Trickery
The Internet was abuzz this week and not just with renegade llamas. Twelve-year-old schoolgirl Holly Hampsheir was touring Hampton Court Palace with her cousin Brook McGee. With her smartphone, Holly snapped a picture of her cousin’s backside and low and behold a ghost appeared. The girls claim that they did not immediately notice the ghost until they reviewed the pictures. News of a possible image of the Dame Sybil Penn, a.k.a. The Grey Lady, quickly spread. Unfortunately, the picture is a fake.
Hampton Court Palace is plagued with sadness. Anne Boleyn resided at the palace before her beheading in 1536. Another wife of King Henry VIII Jane Seymour died weeks after childbirth at the palace in 1537. Another wife Catherine Howard was imprisoned at the palace prior to her beheading in 1542. All three supposedly haunt the palace. Hampton Court has a lot of reasons for activity.
The latest claim involves Dame Sybil Penn. Dame Sybil was a servant to four Tudor monarchs. She lived at Hampton Court. She died in the late 1500s from smallpox. Rumors of her haunting began shortly after her tomb was disturbed around 1829. However, no one has ever taken a picture of Dame Sybil, or any of King Henry VIII’s former wives, until now.
The image is a fake. Although a “photography expert” was consulted and claimed not to find tampering, the image has several tale-tell signs. First, the image is too colorful. The “ghost” appears in the center of the image. Noticeably, the spirit looks elongated. Further, the figure is either hovering or incredibly tall. Finally, there is simply too much hair. Never has a piece of evidence been so clear. Nor has there been any evidence of this type found at Hampton Court. This is just too good to be true.
See for yourself and feel free to comment.
Update: Seems another true expert on photography Mick West debunked this image as a panorama glitch in the iPhone. Please read his incredibly interesting article Debunked: Hampton Court Ghost Photo [iPhone Panorama Glitch]. Huge thanks to Mick for clarifying!
Nova House Mystery
The Internet was abuzz prior to Halloween. Photographer Seph Lawless, a pseudonym, visited several abandoned houses across America and published a coffee table book 13: An American Horror Story. The various websites offered a preview of the houses with brief teasers written by the photographer. One house was especially sinister: The Nova House.
According to Lawless, the Nova House was the site of a horrible accident. In 1958, Benjamin Albright accidently shot and killed his son. Stricken with grief he killed his wife and then turned the gun on himself. Since then the house sits abandoned—shuttered. Moreover, personal items remain inside. What a great story!
The problem is I cannot find any online stories related to this house. Further, I cannot locate any death certificates for a young son dying in Ohio in 1958. No death certificate for “Benjamin Albright” in 1958 either. Nor can I find any articles related to this murder/suicide. This troubles me.
If in fact this house is haunted, there should be at least one story available. At least one paranormal investigation team would have explored this house and posted their evidence. Someone should have written about this tragedy and the fate of this boarded up building. One of the dozens of websites listing haunted houses would have this house on it—with directions.
Urban legends are based on truth. Even a smidgen of truth fuels a tale. However, so many people get caught up in the tale that they don’t question the facts. I would love to read the facts of this story. As it stands now, this is merely a fictitious story about an abandoned and spooky-looking house. Nothing more.
Don’t Blame Slender Man
On May 31, 2014, Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier, both 12-years-old, attempted to kill a classmate. The girls lured the other girl to a slumber party with the pretext of celebrating a birthday. The next day during a game of hide-and-seek, one of the girls held the classmate down while the other stabbed her nineteen (19) times. One reportedly yelling: Go ballistic; go crazy!
Amazingly, and probably by the grace of God, the classmate survived the brutal attack, crawling toward safety and the assistance of a passing bicyclist. The victim identified her assailants. She is expected to recover. Police quickly picked up Geyser and Weier, along with the large knife used in the violent attack. Seems the girls were quite chatty and told officers that they performed this deed to curry favor with “Slender Man.” Once they killed the classmate, they intended to run off into the forest to Slendy’s mansion and live happily ever after.
According to the criminal complaint, the girls started planning the murder last December—over six (6) months ago. On June 2, 2014, both girls were charged as adults with 1st degree attempted homicide. They face 60-65 years in prison. Bond is set at $500,000 each.
Who Is Slender Man?
In 2009, Photoshop hosted a “Create a Paranormal” image contest. Eric Knudsen submitted several photo-enhanced images depicting a tall, slender faceless man dressed in a black suit hovering near children. His arms were long and octopus-like. Knudsen included a brief narrative and the fictional “Slender Man” character was born. In his relatively short, five (5) year life, the nicknamed Slendy has appeared in lots—and I mean lots—of horror stories and YouTube videos. He is the latest urban legend to sweep the Internet. And he is pure fiction. Made up. As in Not.A.Real.Person!
Geyser and Weier
The news story struck a chord with Americans. Amongst the daily headline news gun-related killings sweeping the nation, two tweens committed a violent act with a kitchen knife. Early reports called the victim as their “friend.” I dismiss this classification because she was clearly no friend to them. She was the intended prey. She was the VICTIM. And they are the ACCUSED. The crime they are charged with is serious. If completed, it would have been MURDER.
Some have quickly dismissed the behavior of Geyser and Weier as juvenile antics. A growing number state that these two girls should not be charged as adults. A few have claimed that the girls may suffer from a psychosis whereby they created a parasocial relationship with a fictional character thus believing that the fictional character (Slender Man) is real. One professional likened the relationship to the fictional television character of Doctor Marcus Welby, where people mailed him letters seeking medical advice. These people cannot distinguish fantasy from reality. Therein lies a problem. How does one confuse a fictional paranormal entity as real? Nowhere on the Internet does it state that Slender Man is real. Nowhere on the Internet is he purported to be real. I don’t buy it in this case.
Geyser and Weier’s defense attorneys will run with this theory. Hopefully, they will not run far.
Delinquent versus Guilty
Comments from a Huffington Post article run the gamut of people who are outraged that these girls are being charged as adults to those wondering where their parents were. I, too, wonder where the parental guidance was, but I strongly believe that these girls should be tried as adults. The Juvenile Justice System was created to rehabilitate, to treat, and to protect juvenile delinquents. The system is geared for community protection while the child matures. A child is not afforded the same “rights” as an adult when charged with a crime. The juvenile is remanded to the care of the Juvenile Justice System, and the system takes over the care of the child. For better or for worse, the system “knows” what to do. There have been lots of published reports of the system warehousing the children in institutions and not actually rehabilitating them. A current story claims that a juvenile judge took bribes and remanded juveniles to an institution, which did nothing to care or to rehabilitate the children. A juvenile is not guaranteed due process as most of us know it within the juvenile justice system. A juvenile in this system is found “delinquent.”
In the adult system, the girls have “rights.” They have the right to an attorney if they cannot afford one. They are afforded the opportunity to make bail. They can even have a jury trial. Whereas all juvenile proceedings are closed, criminal proceedings are scrutinized and open. There is more due process. An adult is found guilty or not guilty. Most importantly, the criminal sanctions are proportional to the offense committed. The final outcome of the criminal system is deterrence. To stop these girls from committing this violent act again. Geyser and Weier are not juvenile delinquents. They are criminals. They are guilty of attempting to kill a juvenile. They didn’t merely skip class and go shopping.
Most states allow for juveniles to be tried as adults. In Wisconsin, where this occurred, there is no minimum age requirement. Therefore, these 12-year-olds may be tried as adults. And they should. They willingly knew what they were doing. They plotted. They carried out the violent act. Now they should suffer the consequences.
The Horror Genre
Horror authors and aficionados worry that this story will create a backlash on the genre. And they are correct. The quick American knee-jerk reaction has already started while the defense attorneys maneuver to transfer the case to Juvenile Court. People are calling for copy-and-paste sites such as creepypasta.com to censor content. But remember: Slender Man did not commit this heinous crime. Two intelligent girls did. Don’t blame Slendy. Place the blame where it belongs: on Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier.
Who is “Slenderman?” And why did two 12-year-old girls attempt to kill their “friend” to gain his favor? Incredible–and outlandish–story this week on Archer Paranormal Radio. The API Gals are also discussing Through the Veil; Another Ghost Hunter Departs; and More Evidence from the Historic Windsor Hotel.
Tune in Thursday, June 5th at 7 pm EST on http://www.liveparanormal.com.
Just the Facts! The Historic Windsor Hotel, Americus, Georgia
Last weekend my fellow ghost hunting gals spent the night investigating the Historic Windsor Hotel in Americas, Georgia. I couldn’t attend. Seems I may have missed a great investigation. But I’m the history buff, so I still did my research. Apparently, other groups may not have.
I’m amazed at how quickly groups perpetuate urban legends without doing a little legwork. Just like hearsay is not admissible in court, urban legends shrouded as the “truth” should not make it to print. But let me back up.
Americus, Georgia wanted to build a winter destination for snowbirds. Two architects were in the running to design the massive hotel. Ultimately, G.L. (Gottfried Leonard) Norrman (1848-1909) won out. He envisioned a High Victorian themed hotel. The Historic Windsor Hotel opened on June 16, 1892. It cost $150,000 to build. The 5-story Queen Anne castle-like structure takes up a city block. Originally it had 100 rooms. A 3-story atrium is the focal point upon entry. The hotel was named after local businessman John T. Windsor (1847-1930). [Note: Mr. Wilson died on April 20, 1930. This is creepy since April 20th is my birthdate—just not the same year.] The hotel was a mecca for politicians, athletes, and movie stars. However, the appeal wore off by the early 1970s. The Howard Dayton family was the last private owners. They gave—yes, gave—the hotel to the city in 1978. And the pigeons moved in.
The city asked the community what should be done with the hotel: parking deck or remodeled hotel. Surprisingly, the community favored restoration. Good for them! Restoration costs are reported to be between $5 million and $8 million dollars. The hotel re-opened in September of 1991. The Best Western now operates the scaled down 53-room hotel. The 3-story atrium survived the renovations. The fourth floor was not restored and is used primarily for storage.
Stories of hauntings abound. People claim to hear a washing machine in the 5th floor attic. The 3rd floor rooms are most active. Certain rooms are supposedly more haunted; however, the numbers change depending on who you ask. [Note: I would expect the ghosts to roam from room-to-room anyway. I cannot locate any tragic event occurring in any one room. So this fluctuation does not bother me.]
The dining room and board room are also supposedly haunted. There is a gorgeous mirror inside that is also supposed to do something, too. Not sure the link.
The former bellman Floyd Lowery (finally a name!) worked at the hotel for 40 years. He is the namesake for the bar. His ghost is supposedly haunting the establishment. Further, all indications are that he is friendly and helpful, even in the afterlife.
The story that troubles me is the one about a mother and daughter who were murdered sometime in the 1920s. The story goes: Mother was having a tryst. The man was her husband, lover, or her “john.” Rumors are she was the head housekeeper, domestic help, and or prostitute. For some reason she lived at the hotel. The man became upset, reasons vary, and pushed the mother and daughter down the open elevator shaft, killing them upon contact. An online story identifies them as “Emma” and “Abigail.” Jenn and Lisa were given the names “Emily Mae” and “Emma.” I cannot find any of these names in any newspaper. I searched the Americus Times-Recorder, the county organ. Nothing. I would expect a story like this would have been covered by the Atlanta Constitution or the Atlanta Journal (they were 2 separate and distinct newspapers back then). Nope. I’ve searched death certificates. Online obituary listings for Sumter County. Even Find-a-Grave. Still nothing. Deep sigh.
I did, however, find that John T. Windsor’s wife’s name was Emily Amelia. There’s a link. Maybe the names were confused. Still looking.
I also found that Mr. G.L. Norrman committed suicide in 1909 at the age of 61. He designed some amazing buildings in Atlanta and Savannah and was one of the organizers for the Southern Chapter of the American Institute of Architects the same year the Windsor opened. Those, my friends, are facts. The other stuff? Not so sure. But I would expect someone would dust off some microfilm and find out. If you do, please feel free to contact me with it. I promise to share!
“Kooks” Are Nearing the Majority
Former President Bill Clinton made Internet news when he appeared on Jimmy Kimmel’s TV show and discussed aliens. Specifically Roswell, New Mexico. Although Mr. Clinton discounted claims that aliens were housed at Area 51, he was very receptive to the idea that extraterrestrial life exists. How could it not?
A Selected History
Unidentified Flying Objects, or UFOs, sightings have occurred throughout history. In the Book Ezekiel from the Bible mentions a sighting.
1883: First known photograph taken by Jose Bonilla in Zacatecas, Mexico;
1912: First comment made by a political figure, Winston Churchill;
1947: 1st major sighting where several witnesses describe the crash of an unknown flying craft in Roswell, NM;
1948: Thomas Mantell dies while attempting to intercept UFO;
1952: 2nd major sighting occurs in Washington, D.C.;
1957: 3rd major sighting occurs in Levelland, Texas;
1963: Barney and Betty Hill claim to have been abducted by aliens;
1964: Over 750 cases reported and investigated;
1969: MUFON established;
1973: Abduction of two fishermen from Pascagoula, Mississippi;
1975: Travis Walton abducted by aliens in Arizona and witnessed by his friends.
The common thread is that all of these people claim that little, green men with big eyes abducted them. M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs portrayed them as greenish-grey creatures with large eyes.
What We Know, a.k.a. Facts
The U.S. Air Force coined the term “UFO” in 1952. This term applies to anything in the sky that is unknown—at the time. Admittedly, most people did not have access to information like today. So, most of what was seen back then was unknown. However, there are over 70,000 sightings worldwide each year! Still.
80 million Americans (36%) believe in UFOs;
48% of Americans are receptive to the idea that extraterrestrial life exists;
35% of Americans do not believe at all;
16% of Americans are just not sure;
Democrats believe more than Independents (2nd) and Republicans (3rd). That applies to UFOs and paranormal;
37% of the believers are college graduates;
53% of the believers attended college;
More men (49%) believe than women (48%). Interestingly more women (68%) believe in ghosts than men (52%);
79% of Americans believe the US government is withholding information;
1 in 5 Americans believe in alien abduction;
1 in 7 Americans know someone or personally experienced an encounter of some form;
1 in 10 Americans have personally witnessed a UFO;
3 in 4 Americans believe that aliens have left “signs” of their existence;
1 in 5 Americans believe that Washington, D.C. will be the “landing zone” for an alien encounter. That’s good news for Bill, unless Hilary runs.
Extraterrestrial researchers agree that intelligent life exists in the universe. They’re unsure, however, if it exists in our galaxy. I agree!
The Not-So “Haunted” Pillar of Augusta
Urban legend claims that an unknown preacher was denied the right to sermonize at the location. He demanded that the city pay to build him a church in order for him to speak to the masses. When the city refused to give into his demands, the preacher cursed the location. Some versions claim he cursed the pillar specifically. According to local legend, the preacher vowed that anyone who attempted to move the pillar would be killed (or struck down). This reportedly occurred in 1829.
Built in 1830, the “Haunted” Pillar once stood at the Market House on Broad Street in downtown Augusta, Georgia. The Market House stood strong until February 7, 1878 when a tornado leveled the market leaving only the one pillar. Additional stories claim that the pillar was the sight of multiple lightning strikes and an alarming number of automobile accidents.
The pillar has been moved several times. In addition, it may have undergone significant cosmetic enhancement (i.e., been rebuilt). It begs the question: Is it haunted?
Doubtful. The Internet is ripe with tales of people hearing footsteps around the pillar. People turn to the “curse” and claim the preacher is responsible. However, the story is murky. The supposed “curse” was done one year before the pillar was built. In addition, the lone surviving pillar has been moved a number of times. And it has been rebuilt and restored numerous more times.
Currently, the pillar sits at a precarious intersection, which may be the cause of all of the car wrecks. And, despite the contrary, lightning does strike the same place twice. Don’t fall it. It’s a good story, but not a haunted location.