Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Clown

This tale has scared more than one young teen and it is touted as a story for children—but not for young children. As an adult I find it disturbing.

It is in a subset of scary tales involving babysitters. The backdrop of young teens alone, responsible for younger children tends to provide a rich setting for tales that want to terrorize.

This is why so many teen slasher films use this premise. The following story does not need the overt gimmicks these films use to scare their audience—it has a clown in it—enough said.

The owners of the big house at the end of my block finally asked me to babysit their two boys. Saturday night, at eight I rang their doorbell. Mr. Ewers answered.

He took me on a tour of the home. The Ewers were into art big time. I was surrounded by elaborate pieces, including large grotesque statues that appeared around every corner.

Once back in the front hall, I met the boys. To my relief they appeared nice and not too hyper. Mrs. Ewers handed me a paper with the usual numbers—where to contact them and doctor numbers.

As the couple left Mr. Ewers turned back with a smile. “I hope you don’t get lost.” He then laughed.

The boys and I got along fine and they even went to bed without much of a fuss. I ended up in the basement where the Ewer’s only television was located.

This big space had been converted into a rec room with all the boy’s toys and games. I wondered if this was to keep them away from all the breakable art upstairs.

I dimmed the overhead lights and found a program I liked. Sometime later I heard a knock coming from one corner of the room. I glanced up and spotted a life-size statue of a clown sitting in this corner. I had not noticed it before. Heavens, the boys even had a statue.

I did not like the smirk on this figure’s face so I found a blanket and covered it up. Now I could ignore it. I happily went back to watching the smiling teens dance on my program.

A little while later, I was interrupted by my phone ringing. It was Mr. Ewers, he was checking up on the boys. As I reassured him everything was fine I noticed the clown figure’s big shoes move ever so slightly.

I squealed. Mr. Ewers asked me if everything was okay. I replied yes, but the boy’s clown statue was putting my imagination into overdrive.

There was a pause on the line and then Mr. Evers said, “Listen carefully, the boys have complained about a clown that comes into their room late at night. We thought it was just nightmares.”

“We don’t own a clown statue. You need to get the kids and get out of the house, now! I will call the police.”

I hung up the phone and turned to the corner where the clown statue sat. But now the only thing that remained was the blanket on the chair.

I then heard heavy footsteps going up the basement stairs.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Spirits in Restrooms

In Japan, just in the last 70 years folklore about spirits that lurk in girl’s school restrooms have become popular.

These spirits are said to haunt specific stalls in these school restrooms.

These stories became so widespread across Japan twenty years ago—teachers across the country had little girl’s refusing to use the toilets at school.

This situation was eased when a policy was set forth that all young girls should go to the restrooms with a partner—so they were not alone.

One of the most widespread tales is about a female spirit called Hanako-san. It is said this young spirit haunts 3rd-floor school restrooms. She is seen in the 3rd stall.

Children were told if they don’t see this spirit all they had to do is knock 3 times—many stories state this spirit is a demon—and call her name. Then Hanako-san would appear once they open the stall door.

Some stories state she is a little girl that wears a red skirt. Various regions of Japan describe her differently. One story states she has a bloody hand that she uses to grab her victims with. Another states this spirit is a lizard that devours its victims.

In tamer versions, this spirit just wants a friend—but in most, it is stated Hanako-san drags her victims to hell through the toilet in this stall.

The origin of this tale began during World War ll. It is said Hanako-san was a young schoolgirl who while using the toilet was killed when a bomb was dropped on her school. It is said she has been trapped in schools ever since.

Kashima Reiko
A second spirit, said to haunt girl’s restrooms in schools is called, Kashima Reiko. This spirit was cut in half by a train. Her disfigured spirit has haunted school restrooms since.

It is said as female students enter the stall where she lurks, she asks them where her legs are. If she is not satisfied by their answer—which I imagine is never—she rips their legs off.

Yet a third spirit that is said to haunt school restrooms is a male entity. This spirit is called Aoi Manto or just Manto.

It is said he lurks in the last stall. This spirit also asks his female victims a question. Do you want red or blue paper?

If the young student says “red” he then slashes their neck and back with a blade—killing them. If they respond “blue” he kills them by hanging.

One can understand why young female students in Japan are scared to use their school toilets.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Grand Rapids’ Murder-Suicide

Warren and Virginia Randall moved into the old Judd-White mansion in 1907. This home at one time was a lavish property in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan. But by the turn of the century, it was in a state of disrepair for it had been used as a boarding house for several years.

Downtown Grand Rapids turn of the 20th century.

Warren Randall had a steady job as a brakeman for the G.R. and Indiana Railroad. He and his wife were happy. A bad accident would change this.

Warren was involved in an accident at the rail yard. He tragically lost his leg. He now was home a lot. He could no longer work for he walked with a wooden leg. His self-esteem took a drastic plunge.

He became convinced his wife was seeing other men. He accused Virginia of having affairs. Virginia denied these accusations, which caused arguments. The local police were called out to break up these heated fights on several occasions.

At one point, the cops found Warren chasing Virginia down an alley with a straight razor in his hand. Several months later in the summer of 1910, Virginia left Warren.

Contrite, he tried to coax Virginia back, however, she stayed away. But he did manage to convince her to take a buggy ride with him one late afternoon. The couple ended up back at the Judd-White mansion where they argued once more. This fight escalated out of control.

Warren removed his wooden leg and beat Virginia with it until she lay unconscious in one bedroom. He then stuffed towels into all the cracks in the room and tore a gas light fixture off the wall. Deadly fumes invaded the bedroom.

Not leaving anything to chance, Warren slashed his throat with the same straight razor he had held as he chased Virginia down the alley. Neither Warren nor Virginia were reported as missing.

Two weeks after the Randall’s final fight, workers at a nearby business began to complain to the health department about a foul stench coming from the mansion. Officials from the gas company were sent out to investigate.

They broke into the home and discovered the sealed off bedroom. The Randall corpses were then found. However, they were in such an advanced state of decay they were only identified by Warren’s wooden leg.

The mansion because of the murder-suicide was never occupied again.

For over a decade, neighbors became convinced the house was haunted. Witnesses reported seeing strange lights and hearing loud noises coming from the home.

People stated they heard a woman's voice, presumably Virginia’s, begging for mercy. Others reported hearing the sounds of Warren’s wooden leg thumping through the home.

The children who grew up in the neighborhood remembered they were warned to stay away from the old mansion.

Bell Telephone Company
This house was torn down in the early 1920s. The Bell Telephone Company built offices on the lot in 1924. They have occupied this space since.

Despite the fact, the mansion no longer stands it appears these two ghosts have remained. For decades, this company has claimed their offices are haunted.

One common occurrence has annoyed many of the local residents.

According to an article by Troy Taylor, these local residents are awakened by a phone call in the middle of the night only to hear nothing on the line. All of these calls have been traced back to the offices that reside on the Judd-White lot.

Workers are never in this building this late at night.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Cursed Goddess of Death

This is the classic example of a good story were there is no proof any of it is true.

A phallic symbol.
Goddess of Death
In 1878, an ancient statue was dug up in Lemb, Cyprus. It was made of pure limestone and was created in 3500 BCE.

It is believed it was a fertility figure that was given as an offering to a Goddess.

It was first called Women from Lemb but it was renamed The Goddess of Death when it became clear that anyone who owned it met untimely deaths.

After its discovery the first person to procure it was Lord Elphont during the time Cyprus was under British colonial rule. Within 6 years, he and seven members of his family all died.

The statue was now in Europe. The next owner, Ivor Menucci and his entire family died of unexplained causes within 4 years. Lord Thompson-Noel then acquired it. Again, within 4 years his entire family had perished.

After this, the statue disappeared for a while. It was later mysteriously found in a cellar cabinet.

The last private owner of this statue was Sir Alan Biverbrook. All but two of his sons succumb to this curse. Including his wife and two younger daughters.

It was now apparent that the Lemb statue was haunted but even worse cursed. The Biverbrook sons not wanting to become its next victims donated it to the Royal Scottish Museum in Edinburgh in the early 1900s. This museum since has been renamed the National Museum of Scotland.

National Museum of Scotland

 The first curator to handle the statue—now known as the Goddess of Death—died within the first year.

This odd limestone statue remains in this museum today. No further deaths have occurred. Many believe the reason for this is because the statue is kept locked behind glass.

Very few people are allowed to touch it and those who do are not allowed to handle it with their bare hands.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Edinburgh McKenzie Poltergeist

Sir George McKenzie
This Poltergeist harms the living.

George McKenzie was a lawyer who lived in Edinburgh Scotland in the 1600s.

In 1662, King Charles ll wanted a group of Presbyterian Scots—known as Covernanters—to change their religion. They refused. He had once been their ally seeing them as his best hope to restore his crown but he grew to despise them.

King Charles ll in exile.
George McKenzie was the lawyer who signed the persecution papers for these descenters-- ministers and Christians. They then were either executed—many drawn and quartered-- or imprisoned.

Those who avoided execution experienced a fate worse than death. They were imprisoned in a place known as Covernanters Prison.

This prison used inhumane methods. The prisoners were left with little food, exposed to the cold winters—for there was no heat—and those that survived these conditions were eventually sold into slavery.

Covernanters Prison
Mckenzie was a legal scholar who wrote the first Scottish novel. He appeared by day to be a loving husband and father but he was a vile brute with a sadistic side. He had many of the prisoners at Covernanter’s Prison tortured and beheaded.

When George McKenzie died he was buried in Greyfriar’s Cemetery, which was near Covernanters Prison—many of his victims are buried here as well.

At the time of his death he had signed the deaths of over 18,000 enemies of the former King Charles ll.

His burial site, known as the Black Mausoleum, has Poltergeist activity connected to it.

McKenzie's tomb.

McKenzie's coffin.
People became acutely aware of this activity in 1998. A homeless man desperate for someplace warm vandalized the mausoleum that contains George McKenzie’s coffin. He crawled into a nearby empty coffin. It began to shake. He was then covered in the dust of the deceased.

A guard at the cemetery witnessed this event. Both men ran away, terrified. This was just the beginning.

The next day a female passerby looked in through the gates at McKenzie’s tomb. She stated she was “blasted off the steps by a cold force.”

Soon after, another female was found lying unconscious her neck covered in bruises as if someone had tried to choke her to death.

Did the homeless man awaken this angry spirit?

Even more reports about the ghost at Greyfriar’s Cemetery rolled in. The activity became so bad the city council closed this cemetery to the public.

However, a few years later ghost tours of Greyfriars Cemetery were offered.

What is unique about this case is Poltergeist activity normally only lasts a few weeks but in the Greyfriar case the activity is ongoing. Instead of it targeting one person or a family this activity targets many.

In fact, the McKenzie Poltergeist has targeted hundreds of people—especially those that take the tour. To date over 350 people have claimed they were attacked in this cemetery. One hundred and seventy have passed out. More have been physically injured including broken bones.

Attacks done by McKenzie Poltergeist.
It is believed that several of George McKenzie’s tortured victims also haunt this cemetery located on the southern edge of Old Town in Edinburgh.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Annie Cook’s Poor House

Annie and Frank in 1935.

Greed spawns some horrific stories and this is one of the worst.

Annie Cook was born in 1875 to Russian parents who immigrated to Denver, Colorado. 

The family was poor, and Annie worked alongside the rest of her siblings. She didn’t mind the hard work, but she resented the fact girls didn’t get paid.

In 1893, a young farmer, Frank Cook traveled from his 80-acre farm in Hershey, Nebraska to Denver for supplies. Annie saw this as an opportunity and married Frank and moved to Nebraska.

It wasn’t long before she wanted more out of life. Preferably, money, and status. While visiting a doctor in Omaha, Annie met a Madam that ran a house of ill repute. She discovered this was a fast way to make money.

She began to leave Frank and their young daughter, Clara, who was born in 1896, on the farm in Hershey, and spent long periods in Omaha for various illnesses.

What Annie was doing was running a house of prostitution. After several years she earned enough money to double the size of Frank’s farm in Hershey. But this was not enough for her.

After the turn of the 20th century, North Platte, Nebraska became a center for crime. It was during Prohibition-- and bootlegging, gambling, and prostitution were lucrative professions--especially since the officials in North Platte turned a blind eye if paid hush money.

When Annie’s daughter Clara was 13 years old, she moved her to North Platte under the guise of obtaining a better education for Clara. Annie ran a boarding house for girls. Money was placed in the right palms, so this pretense was effective.

The home was actually used for prostitution. Clara played the piano for the girls and their male paying customers. 

Many local officials frequented the house—this gave Annie the dirt she needed. She used this information as a means of extortion for years to come.

Clara standing and Annie
Clara eventually dropped out of school and became the house’s star attraction—her mother forced her into prostitution when men began to notice Clara. 

Annie used the money she made from this house to buy additional land adjacent to Frank’s farm in Hershey in 1923.

With bribes and threats, she gained the Lincoln County contract for its Poor Farm. 

She took this contract away from a caring widow who had treated the many destitute male workers that came to labor on her farm, in exchange for a roof over their heads, with kindness.

Annie placed her Poor Farm on her newly acquired land adjacent to Frank’s farm—the family moved back to Hershey—but she kept the house of prostitution in North Platte running. 

She unlike the widow treated her male indigent workers with extreme abuse. 

Cook Poor House
She worked many of them to death. Because of this, several men ran off. Others who tried were often found dead floating in irrigation ditches. The local officials, with hush money, deemed these deaths accidental.

Annie carried a buggy whip with her at all times to control the poor souls who remained as slaves to her whims. She also used foul language to intimidate.

Her husband Frank did not like Annie’s treatment of these men. He would entertain them with songs and funny stories, but he was too mild-mannered to confront Annie.

He became fed up when Annie falsely accused him of sexually assaulting Clara. He moved into the Farm’s barn and remained there until his death in 1936.

As the years passed, Annie became more greedy and impatient. She lashed out at anyone who dared to defy her. 

This included her feeble-minded sister and Clara, who lived and worked on the farm. If either woman resisted the work, Annie beat them.

One day Annie returned to find Clara enjoying a moment with a young boy who worked on the farm. Clara had given him a couple of pairs of new overalls. The two were enjoying the gift as Annie arrived. 

Annie became enraged at their happiness. She grabbed the overalls and burned them in the cookstove.

This young boy was one of the few to survive Annie’s abuse. He grew up to fight in the Second World War and then became a train engineer.

In 1934, Clare now 38 years old got in an argument with her mother. 

Annie took a heavy lid lifter from the stove and chased Clara into the apple orchard. She hit her daughter with this lifter on the right side of her head. Clara dropped dead.

Another one of Annie’s bought and paid for public officials-- the Lincoln County Attorney-- declared no official investigation was necessary. 

Clara’s death was deemed an accident. The official report stated she swallowed poison by mistake and choked to death.

Annie Cook age 70,
Annie because of bribes, extortion and undeserved influence never was convicted of any of her crimes, including murder.

Many who passed the house in North Platte would cross the street as they referred to Annie as "that witch." 

At the time of her death in 1952, many North Platte and Hershey residents still feared her.

To this day, the residents of the now modernized farm where the Cook farm and Poor House stood state the place is haunted. Strange noises are heard, items are moved without explanation and apparitions are seen.

These ghosts are believed to be Annie Cook and several of the workers that she abused and murdered.

Nellie Snyder Yost wrote a book about Annie Cook’s life entitled, Evil Obsession.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Castle of Good Hope

The Goede Hoop or Castle of Good Hope is the oldest and largest of South Africa’s colonial buildings. 

The Dutch East India Company built it in the 7th century. It is located in Cape Town and was first occupied in 1674.
Castle of Good Hope

It was initially used as a replenishment station for ships passing through the treacherous waters near the cape. The castle's moat fills with water at high tide.

It contains an infamous dungeon known as the dark hole or Danker Gat. 

This chamber was used to torture prisoners. It was not unusual for these prisoners to drown, especially during winger floods, as they were chained to the dungeon's walls.

The first ghost noted at the castle was seen in 1915. This tall figure—a gentleman-- was seen on the castle’s battlements. The same man was observed for two short weeks again in 1947.

Battlements where the ghost is seen.
This ghost glowed and was seen leaping off one of the castle’s walls. He was then seen walking between the Leerdam and Oranje bastions. One witness reported seeing this figure leaning over a parapet, peering down on Darling Street.

Phantom footsteps have been heard along the battlements over the years.

Bell Tower
The old bell tower that overlooks the castle is also haunted. 

In the 1700s, a soldier was found hanging from a bell rope. After his death, this bell tower was sealed off. But witnesses since state they have heard one of the bells ringing at random times.

Some feel this haunting might be connected to the male ghost seen on the castle’s battlements.

Another famous ghost seen is known as the Lady in Grey. A female skeleton was unearthed at the old sally gates, during an excavation. It is believed these remains are connected to this ghost.

The Lady in Grey is seen holding her hands and crying hysterically as she runs through the castle.

One famous sighting of this ghost occurred in 1947, during a royal family tour. They were in Cape Town, celebrating Princess Elizabeth’s 21st birthday. Several members of this party, including Princess Margaret, saw this ghost.

This ghost is often seen today.

Lady Anne Barnard
Miniature by Cosway
The most romantic ghost at the castle is believed to be Lady Anne Barnard. She was a colorful character in the 18th century, who lived in the castle for five years. She married a man younger than herself—and was the colony’s first lady.

The Dolphin Pool, where she bathed, has been reconstructed from drawings she made of it. She was known to bathe nude. Her ghost has been seen in this area au naturel.

Her curly-headed ghost has been known to appear at parties, given at the castle to honor distinguished guests.

Other activity in the castle includes, lights going on and off in the dungeon area without cause. 

In the old guard room, both male and female voices are heard arguing. One evening, when this activity was investigated, a dark figure was spotted.

A ghostly black hound is seen at the castle as well. This dog has pounced on visitors, and then it vanishes from sight.

A curse connected to the castle, involves one former governor, Pieter Gijsbert van Noodt. In April of 1729, he unjustly sentenced seven soldiers to death for desertion. He overruled a court’s more lenient sentence.

One of these soldiers, a theological candidate—called for justice from the gallows. He demanded Noodt attend the hanging—he didn’t. So this man cursed him.

Later that day, van Noodt was found dead, slouched over his desk. It is said he had a “look of terror” on his face. He was buried in an unmarked grave—for no one wanted to bury him in sacred ground. It is said van Noodt haunts the castle to this day.

Read about Noodt's tyrannical governorship here.

Today the Castle of Good Hope is a museum, which houses the William Fehr collection of Africana.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Compelling EVP Evidence

I have found EVP recordings are often caught when least expected. In early posts on this blog I mentioned the fact that my group often caught ghosts on tape at unlikely times.

Ghosts would join our conversations when we were busy or having light hearted conversations.

This kind of activity appears to attract them as well as the traditional formalized question-answer EVP sessions.

John P. Mimms wrote an article for Huffington Post entitled, The 7 Scariest Ghost Encounters A Paranormal Expert Ever Had.

In this article Mimms recounts similar experiences he and his group have had.

Investigating a large tuberculosis sanatorium his group were packing up their equipment in order to investigate another area when in one hallway they captured an unexpected voice. This area is known to be haunted.

Mimms had inadvertently left one recorder on in this area as they packed up. The next day as he listened to the recordings made at the sanatorium he heard a little girl’s voice amidst his investigator’s quiet voices.

She was singing. Near this hallway it was believed a little girl and her mother died in the 1940s. The volume of her voice changed as she moved closer than further away from Mimm's recorder.

Just before this recorder was turned off, Mimms heard this girl’s voice further on down the hall stating in a singsong voice, “I’m down in this room.”

During another investigation at a home where the owner had died two months before of lung Cancer Mimms’ team picked up another unexpected EVP.

A recorder was on as they were talking to the owner’s daughter who was emotional as she told them about her father. Later when this recorder was reviewed a raspy voice was heard telling them “to get out.”

When they shared this recording with the daughter she identified it as being her father’s voice.

During a third investigation in a 120-year old house museum the team picked up boisterous laughter.

The original owner, in the 1930s, was a jovial man who was well liked by the community. The team yet again during a time they were not trying to make contact—made a connection.

This man’s infectious laugh was captured on one recording.