Urban Legend – How the Jack-O-Lantern became a Halloween Icon

This legend is rooted in Irish folklore, it stemmed off of the reputation of a man called Stingy Jack.

Stingy Jack was a nasty deviant, he was foul tempered and mean and was a known alcoholic that frequently beat his wife and children before setting off into the streets to create mischief with whoever was unfortunate enough to encounter him.

Well, One Halloween night Jack comes staggering in to the local pub. He bellies up to the bar and orders a drink, but the Bar Keep is no fool. Jack had a habit of coming in to the bar and ordering drinks knowing good and damned well that he didn’t have any money to pay for them. Tonight, the Barkeeper wasn’t biting, no free drinks for Jack.

So now, he’s pissed, He looks around the pub and sees that every man in the room has turned their backs to him, he’d already screwed them all over in one way or another, none of them there on that night were game to hook Jack up tonight.

So, Jack was about to hang it up, when all of the sudden, the door to the pub flies open, Satan himself was standing there in the threshold. The Devil had come to claim Jack’s soul and he was eager to add another wicked man to his minions.

Jack looks over at the towering beast, deep within him he knew that he was the reason for Satan’s visit. Jack, thinking quickly, invites Satan to have a drink with him. Satan, seeing no reason to refuse his offer, approaches the bar. Jack orders two pints of ale for them, then proceeds to gulp his down in one swig. Now Jack, of course has no money, so he’s laughing at the Bar Keep when he demands to be paid. Jack then turns to Satan and convinces him to turn himself into a sixpence so that he could pay for their drinks.

Satan, seeing no harm in a further delay, turns himself into a sixpence. Jack, true to his own evil nature, picks the sixpence up from the bar and puts it into his pocket next to a silver cross which would keep Satan from returning to his true form. Jack then hauls ass, lit from free drinks and richer than he was when he first arrived.

At some point Jack decides to set Satan free and releases him to return to his true form with one condition; that Satan would not return for his soul for 10 years.

Ten years later Jack is stumbling down a dark country road and who should he encounter other than Satan himself! Satan, was pissed that he’d been outsmarted and imprisoned by the town drunk, and he’s eager to claim what is rightfully his, Jack’s soul.

“I’ll go with you” Jack said. “But before I go, will you pick that apple from the tree for me” he said motioning to the top of a nearby apple tree.

Satan, gain, feeling he had nothing to lose, climbed the tree but, Jack pissed him off further by demanding to have the highest apple in the tree. Satan starts grumbling but he continued climbing up into the tree.

When Jack saw that he was on the highest branch, he ran to the tree and carved a cross into the trunk so Satan couldn’t come down. Jack, was so pleased with himself, he’d outsmarted the Devil himself twice now! At that point, he made Satan promise that he’d never again come seeking his soul. Satan, seeing no other option, begrudgingly agreed.

Well, not long after this, Jack died, but the story doesn’t end here. Seeing as that this dude was such an asshole and had knowingly made deals with the devil, God refused him entry to Heaven. Jack soon after finds himself at the gates of Hell, but he would find no solace there either. Satan had had more than enough of his bullshit, there wasn’t any way he was going to let Jack in to Hell to spend eternity with him.

Jack, standing alone in the dark cries out to Satan. “God won’t let me into heaven and you refuse to claim my soul, where am I supposed to go?” Yeah, well Satan didn’t give a rat’s ass! He hollers out, “Go back where you came from!”

Well, way back was dark and treacherous and Jack was scared. He begged Satan for a lamp so that he could find his way back. Satan, was becoming more that a little irritated, so he tossed some coals from the lake of fire at Jack’s feet. Jack carved out a turnip and placed the coals inside to light his way. From that day forward Jack has roamed the earth in the form of a shadowy man, carrying what we know today as a Jack-o-Lantern.

So if Jack carved a turnip why the hell do we use pumpkins? The carved turnips were common place because of the great potato famine. When Irish immigrants started migrating to the United States, they discovered pumpkins or other gourds that were way bigger and much easier to carve.

Homes all across the United States and other countries place Jack-o-Lanterns in the windows or on their front porches for dual purposes, whether we knew it or not. The Jack-o-Lantern is said to frighten old Stingy Jack away but on the flip side, a tasty gourd is seen as a food offering to other ill willed spirits that are free to haunt the living on All Hallows Eve. Got your pumpkin ready?

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Urban Legend – Friday the 13th

Millions of folks woke up this morning in search of their lucky trinkets as an attempt to ward off the evil and bad luck said to be associated with Friday the 13th. But how did this day become tagged as one of the most ill fated dates in history? The answer may lie within the following historical events:

Friday has been an inauspicious day for centuries in many cultures. Being held to be unlucky as evil powers were said to be at their peak on this day, Friday the 13th is definitely a day to be aware of your surroundings!

In ancient Rome Friday was execution day

From the Christian Bible:

Friday is the day that Eve reputedly gave the forbidden fruit to Adam

The great flood is thought to have started on Friday

God struck down the builders of the Tower of Babel on a Friday

The temple of Solomon was destroyed on a Friday

and as we all know, Christ was crucified on a Friday.

In Britain Friday was the customary hanging day

The word Friday was derived from the Norse Goddess Frigg, wife of Odin. Frigg was known as the Goddess of marriage & fertility, the moon and witches. The Christian church had cast her into folklore as a witch and her day, Friday, soon became associated with witchcraft and evil doings. Her legend goes something like this:

The witches of the north were said to observe their sabbath on Fridays gathering in a cemetery under the light of the moon. On one sabbath the Goddess herself appeared before a group of 12 witches and gifted them with a cat, therefore completing the coven with the 13th member. From this day forward, cats are the most common familiars of witches, and all covens are comprised of 13 members.

The number 13 in itself has been unlucky throughout history, a few examples of such are as follows:

There are 13 steps that lead to the gallows

The hangman’s noose contains 13 knots

The blade of the guillotine falls 13 feet

There were 13 people at the last supper

The 13th card in a tarot deck is the “death” card

Princess Diana’s driver hit the 13th pillar at Palace de l’Alma when she was killed in Paris

Apollo 13 in 1970 on the 13th mission was to be launched from pad #39 which measured 13 x 3, the mission was aborted after an explosion in the fuel cell of the service module. The rocked was shuttled away from the launch pad at 13:13 on Friday the 13th.

It is reported that in an attempt to debunk the legend of Friday the 13th as ill-fated, the British government commissioned a special ship. It’s name, the H.M.S. Friday. The crew was selected on a Friday, the keel was set on a Friday, the Captain’s name was Friday and it was on Friday the 13th that she set sail on her maiden voyage, never to be heard from again.

There are many other references to both the ill-fated Friday and the unlucky number 13 that have been intertwined together beginning back as far as Ancient Egypt. Friday the 13th is the most feared day in modern history, and with so many different references from numerous eras and cultures, it is certain to remain so.

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Urban Legend – Famous Witch Graves

As we all know, Witches have been around for a very very long time.  Many women were doomed by being both rightfully, and unjustly accused of witchcraft and pacts made with the devil.  During the witch hunt craze that started back in the 15th century, and lasted through the 17th century, an estimated 40,000 people were executed for witchcraft in Western Europe.  In America, the hunts spread through colonial colonies in New England, Connecticut, New Haven and of course there were the notorious Salem witch trials in Massachusetts.  The most common method of execution for convicted witches, as we already know, were hanging, drowning or by being burned at the stake.

Most of the final resting places of witch hunt victims have been lost to history, but there’s a few exceptions, here’s five graves and burial sites that make a sobering reminder of some of some of the darkest eras in history.

First off is the Witch of Yazoo.  She actually shares a few of the same characteristics as the sirens from Greek mythology.  According to the legend, in the late 1800s, a witch who lived near the Yazoo River was caught torturing fishermen she’d lured in from the river.  Two butchered bodies were found hanging from the rafters in her home.  The witch hauled ass into the swamp.  While she’s running from the authorities, she fell into quicksand.

As she’s sinking to her death, she swore a curse that she would return in 20 years to see the city burn.  Terrified by the threat of her curse, her body was buried on hallowed ground and heavy chains were installed over her grave to keep her from rising. But in 1904, her prophecy came true.  The city of Yazoo burned to the ground; The day after the flames died out, several townsfolk went to her grave to find that the chains had been broken in two.  So the townfolk replaced and reinforced those chains, and ever since, the witch’s grave has remained peaceful.  Legend has it that if the chains are broken, the city will burn again.

Next is the Grave of Meg Shelton.  In the late seventeenth century the people of Woodplumpton, a small village in England, suspected that Meg Shelton was a witch.  They accused her of stealing milk from the local farmer’s cattle, They swore she was transforming herself into animal at night so she’d remain undetected.  According to legend, Meg was crushed to death by a barrel that pinned her to a wall, when she was buried, the town took extra precautions to prevent her, and her powers from ever rising again.  They buried her vertically, head first in the ground in a small, tight shaft so that if she tried to dig her way out she’d be going the wrong way.  Then, they then covered the hole with a massive stone so that she’d never escape.  The stone remains to this day in the boneyard at St Anne’s Church, next to it is a plaque warning visitors that the Witch of Woodplumpton lies buried beneath.

 

Then there’s the Chesterville Witch, In a small graveyard in the heart of Illinois Amish country, you’ll find her grave.  The story goes, that in the early 1900s, this local chick was accused of witchcraft after she challenged the Amish faith. The town elders banished her, calling her the devil’s servant.  But a few days later, her dead body mysteriously shows up in a nearby field. Terrified she’d come back to life and seek her revenge, the townsfolk buried her, and an oak tree was planted to mark her location.  The legend also goes on to say that the tree contains her soul, and if it’s ever cut down or destroyed, the ghost of the witch will leave her grave to seek her revenge on those who caused her death.

Now, Lilias Adie was accused of being a witch by her fellow townspeople in Scotland in 1704.  The church coerced her into confessing that she was the devil’s wife.  She died in prison before she could be tried, sentenced and burned for witchcraft.  Her body was taken to the beach off West Fife coast and was buried deep in the mud just between the high tide and low tide.  They used a massive tombstone to cover her grave, sealing her into her muddy tomb to prevent her from tormenting the living.  But, legend says that her body vanished when high tide came, all that remained was the massive stone that they used to mark her grave.

In St. Charles Missouri, you’ll find the grave of Molly Crenshaw.  Molly was said to have been a freed Jamaican or Haitian that was a known practitioner of Voodoo.  Her charms were in high demand, folks would come from miles around in search of cures or hexes.  But one year, after a particularly nasty drought, the locals turned against her and executed her.

In order to prevent her from rising from the grave, they chopped her body into pieces and buried the pieces in the woods around a remote cemetery.  It wasn’t enough.  Year after year, the pieces crawled closer together until her body was made whole.  Now nobody knows exactly where the spot she came to rest is, but it’s said that anyone who successfully finds her grave will meet a gruesome end.

According to a local English teacher at Francis Howell High School, “There was a story about two football players who went looking for the grave in the 1950s.  Well, apparently they found it and they met with that gruesome fate.  The sheriff’s deputies found their bodies impaled on the graveyard fence.”

 

Then check out this little tale, There’s a ghost town, that used to be the village of Pere Cheney, and beneath its ruins is one hell of a tragic history.  The remaining cemetery, which houses the graves of around 90 people, is rumored to be home to a witch’s grave, as well as shit ton of supernatural occurrences.  Pere Cheney was originally settled in 1874 by lumberjacks, who thought the site of the local sawmill was an great spot to set down roots.  In 1881, its population had grown to 922.

But a few years later, diphtheria swept through the area and most of the children died.  As the community struggled to recover, a fire broke out, and in 1893 there was an outbreak of smallpox, scarlet fever, and another bout of diphtheria.  By 1818, only 18 residents remained, the village was completely abandoned. According to legend, people from surrounding communities deliberately set fire to Pere Cheney to prevent the spread of disease.  So what could have brought on such tragedy?  Well, Folks say that the epidemics and fires were caused by a witch who cursed the land after having been banished to the surrounding wilderness.  She was later hanged from a tree in the cemetery and her body was burned.  To this day, some visitors claim to see her ghost in Cheney Cemetery.  I’d say she got her revenge.

 

So, Throughout history, there have been tons superstitious, preventative means in which people have tried to prevent witches from rising from the grave, just like vampires.  It seemed that death was never punishment enough, no matter the amount or torment and torture endured in the process.  During a recent archaeological dig of a ‘witches graveyard’ in Tuscany, archaeologists discovered the remains of an 800-year-old woman who they believe died in the middle ages.  It seems the people in the area were so worried that she’d use her powers to bring herself back from the dead, they drove seven nails through her jawbone and more had been hammered into her clothes to pin her down in her shallow grave.  The practice of nailing the mouth shut was an old custom believed to keep the dead firmly in their graves.

 

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The Top 10 most famous ghost photos of all time

 

I love talking about the history behind old haunted houses; it’s cool to know who was there and what all went down that spurred the hauntings to begin with.  But, even more than checking out the history, I LOVE looking at the ghost pictures that have been taken at these haunted locations. I’m going to give you the run down of the 10 most famous ghost photos ever taken.

So, let the countdown begin! Picture #10 is of the ghost known as the Brown Lady, it was taken in 1936, yeah, they had cameras back then! Now this photo wasn’t the result of some prehistoric paranormal investigation, the image was caught completely by accident during a photo shoot performed by Country Life Magazine, yes, they had magazines back in the day too! The Raynam Hall estate in Norfolk England was one of the most posh mansions in the area, the owners were ecstatic when they were notified that the magazine wanted to feature their home in an upcoming issue. This photograph in particular was being taken to show off the majestic main staircase but when the film was developed, the apparition of a woman wearing a brown brocade dress could be seen as she descended the stairs.

So, who was the Brown Lady? Well, according to legend, the “Brown Lady of Raynham Hall” is the ghost of Lady Dorothy Walpole, the sister of Robert Walpole, who was the first Prime Minister of Great Britain. She was the second wife of Charles Townshend, who was notorious for his violent temper. The story says that when Townshend discovered his wife had screwed around on him with Lord Wharton, he punished her by having her locked in her room in there at Raynham Hall. According to Mary Wortley Montagu, Dorothy was in fact held prisoner there by the Countess of Wharton and her husband never allowed her out, not even to see her children. Dorothy remained at Raynham Hall until dying from smallpox in 1726. Reports of folks having encountered the Brown Lady date back as far as 1835.

Picture #9 Is of the Tulip Staircase Ghost and is another example of a specter being caught on film by complete happenstance. The photo was shot in 1966 by Rev. Ralph Hardy in the Queen’s House section of the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, England. Hardy was a retired clergyman that had only intended to take a picture of the impressive Tulip Staircase but again, when the film was developed he discovered that he had also captured the apparition of a robed figure ascending the stairs.

The original negative was examined by experts, including folks from Kodak, all of them concluded that the photo had not been tampered with. People have reported seeing unexplained figures and the sound of footsteps in the same vicinity for years prior to, and after this picture was taken.

I’ve done some digging but it seems that no one knows for sure who the spirit on the staircase belongs to but, I did run across a other documented entities in the Queens House. Many have claimed to hear inexplicable footsteps on the staircase, as well as the sound of chanting children. And one of the most unsettling sightings is that of a pale woman, dressed in old fashioned clothing, who’s mopping up blood at the bottom step. Rumor has it that a maid was thrown from the top of the staircase, a drop of over fifty feet from above, sent her crashing to her death on the bottom landing.

Now that my blog is out, I’m betting that you remember having seen the Tulip staircase somewhere.  Looks familiar right?!  Ever see the movie “Now you see Me” about the magicians called the 4 horsemen. Well if you’ve seen the sequel, there at the very end, the camera is panning a magnificent stair case, yeah, that’s the tulip staircase.

Photo #8 is a little more recent, The Phantom on a farm picture was taken in 2008 during a photo-shoot at a rural farm in Hertfordshire, England. The farm would be the location of a happy occasion in upcoming months, there was going to be a wedding. The couple “to be” wanted a few shots of the farm to use along with the invitations, so they sent their friend, Neil Sanbach, out for a photo-shoot. Again, we have another shocked photographer; Neil couldn’t believe his eyes! There staring back at him, was the figure of a boy dressed in white nightclothes, he was peeking at Neil from behind the corner of a barn. As with most of these pictures, I can’t find a lot on who the boy could have possibly been but, I can add that both the owners and staff here at the Hertfordshire Farm, have had frequent encounters with this spirit usually in the vicinity of the same barn he was captured peeking from behind in this photo!

Pic #7 we have definitely discussed here on the show, I remember telling you guys that this single photo, out of the tens of thousands that I have looked at, sends some serious arctic chills down my spine. This photo was snapped during an investigation performed by Ed & Lorraine Warren in 1976, yeah, I’m talking about the Defeo boy with glowing eyes that was photographed on the stair case. What the hell is it with ghosts and staircases right! Anyway, tons of rolls of film were shot in the house during the investigation, photographer Gene Campbell was frustrated as he examined frame after frame of negatives, but then he found something, out of all of those shots there had been only 1 photo that had captured “something” and man, was it the mother load!

Now with this pic, we know who the spirit belongs to. Just about everyone who’s seen it, along with myself, believe this to be the ghost of John Mathew DeFeo who was only nine years old when he was murdered by his older brother, only one of the brutal deaths that spurred the Lutz family nightmare, which we have all come to know more commonly as the Amityville horror.

 

Photo #6 is titled The Backseat Driver. It was taken by Mable Chinnery in 1959. She and her husband had just driven out to visit her mother’s grave, her husband had remained in the car during the visit. Well when Mable wrapped up her conversation with her mother’s headstone, she starts walking back toward the car. In a burst of spontaneity, she takes a quick snapshot of her husband sitting in the car staring back at her as she neared. Well, when Mable gets the film developed, she comes unglued! There in the backseat of the car sat her mother!

Considering that film quality wasn’t really “all that” back in the 50’s this is one amazing shot. You can plainly see a woman sitting directly behind Mr. Chinnery. Her facial features are vivid all the way down to the white collar and dark jacket that she was wearing when she was buried. Mable stated that her mother, Mrs. Hammell, loved riding in the car and the day she snapped that picture, her mom was sitting in the exact same spot where she sat every time they took her for a ride.

Photo #5 was shot in 1946, and it’s really kind of chilling to me, not the same as the Defeo boy chilling, this is something different. A woman named Mrs. Andrews was visiting the grave of her daughter in a cemetery in Queensland, Australia in 1946. Her daughter Joyce had died about a year earlier, in 1945, at the age of 17. Mrs. Andrews saw nothing unusual when she took this photo of Joyce’s grave marker but when the film was developed, Mrs. Andrews was astonished to see the image of a small child sitting happily at her daughter’s grave.

The ghost child seemed completely aware of Mrs. Andrews and is looking directly into the camera.

Some doubters claimed that it could have possibly been a double exposure, but Mrs. Andrews said there were no children nearby when she took the photograph and, moreover, she did not recognize the child at all – it was no one she would have taken a picture of. She added that it was not the ghost of her daughter as a child.

Investigating this case, Australian paranormal researcher Tony Healy visited the cemetery in the late 1990s. Near Joyce’s grave he found the graves of two infant girls. Could it be that one or both of them venture over to Joyce’s grave in hopes that she will arise to play with them?

 

Photo #4 was taken in 1919, and this picture has always made me smile. The photo wasn’t made public until some time in 1975 by Sir Victor Goddard, a retired R.A.F. officer. The photo is a group portrait of Goddard’s squadron, which had served in World War I at the HMS Daedalus training facility.

An extra ghostly face appears in the photo. In back of the airman positioned on the top row, fourth from the left, can clearly be seen the face of another man. It is said to be the face of Freddy Jackson, an air mechanic who had been accidentally killed by an airplane propeller two days earlier. His funeral had taken place on the day this photograph was snapped.

Members of the squadron easily recognized the face as Jackson’s. It has been suggested that Jackson, unaware of his death, decided to show up for the group photo.

Pic #3 is the Corroboree Rock Spirit photo taken in 1959 by another holy man, Reverend R.S. Blance at Corroboree Rock, at Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia. This famous photograph appears to show a woman holding her hands toward her face, peering out into the distance. To me it looks like she’s sipping on a cup of coffee and maybe enjoying a morning walk in the front yard of what may have been her last mortal home. And again, with this photo, we have no idea who the woman could possibly be.

 

 

 

Photo #2 is the Lord Combermere Ghost photo from 1891. Taken by Sybell Corbet, the stillframe shows the figure of Lord Combermere seen sitting in a chair in the library in Combermere Abbey, England. His head, collar and right arm on the armrest can be clearly made out.

The second Viscount Lord Combermere died after being struck by one of London’s first electrically powered motor cabs. It said that while Sybell Corbet was taking the famous photograph, Lord Combermere’s funeral was taking place four miles away.

An interesting foot note here: The first Lord Combermere was a British cavalry commander in the early 1800’s, who distinguished himself in several military campaigns. In 1817 he became the Governor of Barbados. While serving as Governor, he is mentioned in unverified stories of the Chase Vault as being a witness to its allegedly “moving coffins”. We talked about this case a while back remember that! That was some crazy shit right there!

And then last but not least, photo #1 is the The Spectre of Newby Church. This photograph was taken in the Church of Christ the Consoler, on the grounds of Newby Hall in North Yorkshire, U K. The picture was taken in 1963 by the Reverend K. F. Lord. The image appears to resemble a human, that many believe to be the spirit of a 16th-century monk, wearing a white shroud over his face, a common remedy for masking leprosy or other disfigurement back in the day.

Initial claims suggested that the figure would have to be somewhere around 9 feet tall, but its feet are not visible and it could easily be standing on a box or something, giving the impression of an impressive height. In looking into the image, photographic experts have concluded that the image is not the result of double exposure, nor has the film been tampered with.

 

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Haunted New Orleans – The Rampart Street Murder House

Known by locals as the “Rampart Street Murder House,” 826 N. Rampart will forever go down in history as being the location of one of the city’s saddest, and most recent gruesome murders. Nick and Katrina are the first team to ever conduct an investigation on the property. After reading the details we’re about to lay out for you here, you’ll know that their investigation was a particularly troubling one.

 

Addie Hall and Zack Brown fell in love during the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. To locals, they were known as heroes because the had refused to evacuate during the storm. They felt it was their duty to the community to stay behind and help in any way possible, even if it was only serving high balls to other die hard locals and first responders that stuck around with them.

In October 2006, they moved into an apartment above the city’s well respected Voodoo Spiritual Temple—a mere coincidence at the time. Addie and Zack, both transplants to New Orleans, had lived there long enough to make friends and establish roots by working as bartenders in the bustling French Quarter. To the passing eye, their new relationship was off to a great start. But that was all about to come to a terrible end.

 

Shortly after moving in to 826 N. Rampart, the couple began to have terrible, drunken fights that inched toward violence. Addie stopped showing up at her job at the popular bar The Spotted Cat, and Zack fell into destructive patterns of drugs, heavy drinking, and infidelity. Only weeks after moving in to their new home, Zack committed suicide by jumping from the Omni Royal Orleans Hotel. A note and key were found in his pocket which led police back to his apartment, where they found additional death.

 

“This is not accidental,” Zack’s note began. “I had to take my own life to pay for the one I took. If you send a patrol car to 826 N. Rampart, you will find the dismembered corpse of my girlfriend Addie in the oven, on the stove, and in the fridge and a full signed confession from myself … Zack Bowen.”

The apartment was a blood-soaked crime scene. When they arrived, Investigators found 2 pots on the stove. One contained Addie’s decapitated head, the other held her hands and feet. Inside the oven, detectives reportedly found trays containing cooked legs and arms and in the refrigerator, they found a Addie’s torso. Also found in the tiny 1 bedroom apartment was a letter he had written on eight small pages from his girlfriend’s journal.

The entire 8 pages was an extremely graphic description of his last days, the murder and desecration of Adriane’s body. And, spray painted on the walls was a message from Zack that said: “Please call my wife. I love her. I’m a total failure. Look in the oven. Please help me stop the pain.”

Investigatrs finally concluded that Zack had become enraged after Addie signed their lease without including his name. She knew that Zack was cheating and didn’t want to continue to live with him. Zack, in a drug and alcohol fueled rage, then strangled Addie and spent the next few days cutting up her body with the apparent intent to cook and eat the remains, although autopsy reports show he didn’t follow through, with the eating part, that is..

 

A 2014 documentary, Zack and Addie, Doc explores the details before and after the horrendous event. He attempts to understand how this could have happened. One theory is that dark forces surrounding the Voodoo Spiritual Temple took hold on the couple, especially Zack, and drove them to madness. I think there may be something to that, but in taking a closer look at Zack, the pieces of the puzzle start falling into place. Zack was a war vet, in fact he was a decorated Sergeant in the U S Army that had served in Iraq. There were things in that suicide note found on his corpse that were not immediately released to the public. Here is what we didn’t know at the time:

According to his suicide note, after murdering Addie, he left to work where he had been delivering groceries, and spent $1,500 on food, drugs, and strippers. Further investigation and notes left by Zack, suggested he suffered from Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), accelerated by alcohol, drugs, and depression.

On his body was found 28 cigarette burns marks “one for each year of my existence.” he left in his note. “Failures — school, jobs, military, marriage, parenthood, morals, love. (…) Every last one of these I failed at (…)” Zack was married before Addie and had two children, a girl, and a boy.

In the wake of these events, those who have lived at 826 N. Rampart since this grisly murder, have experienced severe paranormal activity. Reports include residents hearing disembodied voices, feeling as though they’re constantly being watched, or like the apartment itself is pressing in on them. There is a force so ominous attached to this property that it can be felt by those that walk down the street in front of it.

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New York Serial Killer – Kendall Francois

 

Kendall Francois was from Poekeepsie New York, a small city about an hour north of Manhattan. No one had a clue that among them lurked a macabre and brutal serial killer. From 1996 to 1998, residents and police investigators were both baffled and terrified by the disappearances of eight women in their community. Though suspicions of a serial killer on the loose were looming, no one would have ever suspected that there would be victims to fall a violent demise by the hands of Kendall Francois in his house of horrors.

Now, as we already know here, there’s several common traits of most serial killers. A lot of them have a seriously high I.Q’s and a burning drive for domination, usually sexual. Francois was no different.

On a cold, dark December night in 1996, Gina Barone was out working the drug infested streets downtown. Enter, Francois. Gina, who was a known addict would regularly disappear for a day or two while she was out on a binge, but when a day or two turned to closer to a week, her mother reported her missing. Well, come to find out, two months earlier another girl named Wendy Meyers was reported missing. When January rolls around and there’s another report of a missing woman, Kathleen Hurley, folks knew that something sinister was at hand. All 3 of these women were known druggies and prostitutes and they were all last seen out working the downtown streets. It was time to call in the big dogs.

FBI investigators started looking into leads and it didn’t take long for them to realize there was indeed a serial killer on the loose. After a while of digging, their focus turned to 99 Fulton Avenue. The home of the Francois family, which was only a few blocks away from Vassar College. Even though they had their suspicions they were ramming their head against a brick wall, there was no apparent crime scene and due to lack of tangible physical evidence, no way they’d get their hands on a search warrant. Meanwhile, more crack ho’s are coming up missing.

In September of 1998 one of the working girls got lucky. She somehow had managed to escape this madman while he was strangling her. She ran off and reported what had happened to her and gave the address of the attack to the police, 99 Fulton Avenue, the Francois home. This finally gave investigators a viable reason to apprehend and question Kendall Francois about that report, and after a few hours of questioning, he confessed to the abductions and eventual murders of all eight victims. What he told investigators was truly disturbing and most shocking. A warrant was then easily obtained to search the residence, where the mystery of the missing women came clear and the revelation of the macabre and insane acts of a serial killer, Kendall Francois had come to light.

When investigators enter the home, they were greeted by Francois’ confused mother. When she opened the door, police were just about knocked over by the stench of death emanating from the home. As they entered, it was immediately apparent that these women were most definitely somewhere in the home and after a brief search, the house was taped off and deemed a crime scene. Most of the women found there were in the attic covered with blankets and also showed evidence of the killer moving them around, to make room for his next victims. There was also evidence of necrophilia after forensic testing was completed. Yeah, a lot of these sick bastards just love a dead lay, oh that was bad, Anyway, the cause of death determined by forensic evidence, and the coroner’s report was strangulation and blunt force trauma.

The most puzzling aspect to investigators was the obvious stench in this house, so obviously they wanted to know why the hell the rest of family that lived there couldn’t know something was going on. Reports did show that the investigators said the house was a pig sty inside, their words “very unkempt and quite filthy with garbage, household items strewn about and very unsanitary.” Maybe their preference for wallowing in their own filth kept them from realizing what was really happening. But it stills seems kind of disturbing to me, maybe because I’m a neat freak and a tad bit on the OCD side, ok a lot on the OCD side, I’m just saying what the hell kind of stench do you have to be accustomed to to NOT smell 8 rotting corpses in your own home.

Anyway, during the course of their investigation, it was also revealed that Francois had contracted HIV. Ah, now a means to his madness emerges. It’s quite possible that these abductions and murders were an act of vengeance toward the prostitutes that he had encounters with. He saw to it that each one was tortured and raped before he orchestrated their horrific deaths, the way these girls died was despicable and their family members were devastated beyond what any parent should have to face.

On October 24th 1996 prostitute Wendy Meyers gets into Francois’ car, she was be driven to his house, and taken up to his second floor bedroom where she insisted on being paid first. Francois then strangled her to death. After he calmed down, he carried her limp body into the bathroom and washed it, before cramming her into a black plastic bag. He then carried it up to the attic.

On November 11th 1996, Gina Barone was working the streets because of a heated argument with her boyfriend, she gets picked up by Francois. After sex, he gets pissed off and claimed he was ripped off, he then strangles Gina right there in his car. After forcing her body down under the seats of his car, he drove home and parked the car in garage, where he would leave her body until the next morning, when it would be placed in a black bag and thrown in the attic.

Two days later he kills 31 year old prostitute Cathy Marsh. Again Francois suddenly became angry and squeezed Cathy’s throat until her hyoid bone snapped and she went limp. After carrying the body from his bedroom, he washes the corpse in the bathroom before moving it into the attic with the previous 2 victims.

Then there was this incident where he was arrested for assaulting a hooker, but she refuses to sign the complaint, he serves 7 days of a 15 day sentence and was back out on the streets again.

Less than 4 weeks later, just before 51 year old, Sandra French would become Francois’ next victim. Sandra was manually strangled during sex. Again, Francois took the body to the bathroom where it was bathed, dried, bagged and carried up to the attic.

By now the attic was getting crowded, so the next day, Francois carried Sandra’s body down into the basement, where he dug a shallow grave into the crawlspace, threw her in and covered with loose dirt.

Audrey Pugliese was working Noxon Street when Francois pulled up. She recognized him as one of her regulars so she gets into the car. he drives her to the house and heads down to the basement where Francois once again ‘flipped out’ during sex and starts punching her in the face, she managed to struggle free from under her his massive weight and ran for the basement door, she never made it. He pulled her back and continued beating her. Audrey fell to the floor but the attack did not stop, he slammed his foot into her face, ribs and stomach while strangling her. A little while later, her body was dumped on top of Sandra French’s in the crawl space.

Thirteen days later, Francois would commit his final murder. Twenty five year old Catina Newmaster was another regular of Francois red light district visits and once the price was negotiated she got into his car. She would soon be lying on the floor of the garage, dead. The next day she would be buried in the crawl space.

This monster preyed upon addicted and impoverished hookers but another disturbing fact emerged as well. Francois had been employed at the Arlington High School, just a few miles from the city. He was a hall monitor that was well known for inappropriate conduct among students and eventually was let go from employment at the school. One can only imagine what really did there or what could have happened to those kids. Kendall Francois was convicted of his heinous crimes and In August of 2000, Kendall Francois was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole at Attica correctional facility, he died due to complications of HIV in September of 2014.

 

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Urban Legend – The Richmond Vampire

So, if you’re looking for ghosts, the best place to find one is usually in a cemetery, right?!  Well, if you’re in Virginia, I’d recommend checking out the Hollywood Cemetery.  There are quite a few ghosts hanging out there but the most awesome feature of all there is that this cemetery comes with its own vampire.

The Richmond Vampire is one of the most notorious entities there. The legend has been traced to the Church Hill Tunnel collapse on October 2, 1925. Check this out!

The tunnel opened in 1875 and was part of the old Chesapeake and Ohio Railway. From the very beginning the construction was a nightmare, mostly because of Virginia’s clay soil, which when mixed with rain, caused frequent cave-ins. Years of persistent collapsing and a mounting death toll of their workers, forced C&O Railway to seek out a safer alternative. The company completed a riverfront viaduct in 1901, after which the Church Hill Tunnel fell was abandoned.

But later on, the tunnel was re-opened in an attempt to widen it. The economy was booming and there was more and more demanded for venues of moving freight. But on October 2, 1925 there was a massive disaster. Over 200 men died when the tunnel collapsed, the train is still entombed within the rubble, it is said that the conductor and only a handful of others, were exhumed, most of the remaining bodies were never found or recovered by rescue teams.  Today, the remains of the missing lie within the tunnel which has since been closed off, but that doesn’t stop the workmen’s spirits from wandering from the site of the disaster.

The details of what happened after the collapse are a bit chaotic, I’m sure. At this time Richmond was a small town, the loss of 200 men was devastating. But beyond the shock of death came something even more horrifying. Witnesses from the ghastly scene reported that a creature emerged from the remains. The “creature” was in the form of a man; his face was badly disfigured, he had jagged teeth and his flesh hung freely from his body. It fled the scene and was said to have entered a tomb in the nearby Hollywood Cemetery that bore the name of William Waltham Pool who died in 1922. Some reports state that the creature had been known as Benjamin F. Mosby who was reportedly taken to Grace hospital where he would later succumb to his injuries. Rescue workers that were on scene tell a different version of the story.

Having no equipment at their disposal, the rescuers dug into the tunnel with their bare hands. One group of workers dug into the western-most mouth of the tunnel. They stumbled through the darkness to discover the form of a man crouched over one of the few recovered victims. Obviously not one of the railway workers as his face and clothing were clean and he appeared unscathed with the exception of the blood that ran from his mouth.

  The man stood and looked toward the rescue team as he wiped the blood from his face; the workers were terrified as they saw his fangs protruding from his mouth. In a panic the creature sped past the rescue workers who then turned to chase it. It is said that this is the creature that fled into the tomb of William Pool. The team, reaching the entrance to the tomb directly behind the creature, found that the door that the vampire had disappeared through had long since been locked. The men made several attempts to break through the door but to no avail. A plea to the cemetery management to open the tomb was denied on the spot. They’d lost all hope of capturing the so titled “Richmond Vampire”.

The tomb had become quite the attraction, so many attempts had been made to break in that additional locks and security measures were called for. In 2005 an interesting story was published in an online interview with Mr. Donald Toney, longtime grounds foreman of the Hollywood Cemetery. Toney reported that the tomb is still frequented by vampire enthusiasts from abroad but that it has never been breached. Toney went further to say that upon occasion he had discovered broken wine glasses inside the tomb, but the locks were still intact. To this day, seekers of the undead come to visit and take photos of Pool’s mausoleum, hoping to catch a glimpse of something unexpected as it emerges from the door.

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