“Satan Sleuths : Once Scoffed at by Peers, Police Experts in Occult Crime Now Are Frighteningly in Demand”

by  DIANNE KLEIN in the  May 25, 1989 edition of the Los Angeles Times.

We are so fortunate that the LA Times has such a good archive system. Otherwise, we probably wouldn’t be able to read about this case. There’s not even a Wikipedia page of it.

The gist of the case is: in 1981, a decapitated man was found in the Golden Gate Park with a headless chicken near him (and apparently partially stuffed inside him). It was quite gruesome and detective, Sandi Gallant, immediately pointed to some sort of ritual sacrifice.

“In 42 days, Gallant told homicide, the dead man’s head would be returned near the spot where his body was found.”

The SFPD was pretty skeptical of this. However:

“The head was returned on the 42nd day not far from where the body was found. But no one from the San Francisco Police Department was there to see, let alone arrest, whoever returned it.”

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Bridgewater Triangle, Massachusetts

This area in southern Massachusetts is about 200 square miles and super creepy. It seems to be a hotspot of paranormal activity and unexplained events. The name was originally attributed to the area by the paranormal researcher, Loren Coleman, in his book Mysterious America.

The area has a few landmarks of note. Obviously, the rock on the top left here is pretty interesting. It’s called (appropriately) Profile Rock, located in The Freetown-Fall River State Forest, where a good portion of the activity is reported. This activity includes a string of murders, hazardous waste dumping, and aggressive and abandoned dogs. Not to mention reported animal mutilations and (possibly related) Satanic rituals.

The stone on the bottom is known as the Dighton Rock, a 40-ton boulder (if you want an idea of how large it really is, check out this daguerreotype photo of it!)  that was actually removed from its original site in order to preserve it and install it in the Dighton Rock State Park. While we don’t really know what these petroglyphs are, there have risen a number of…interesting theories about their origins. These theories range from the most likely (First Nations people) to the far-fetched and debunked (Norse people), and a few in between including a theory that the Chinese arrived in America before Columbus did.

Hockomock Swamp is the other main area for strange occurrences. This swamp had been integral to the lives of the Wampanoag living in the area. Reportedly, the name Hockomock means “the place where spirits dwell,” though not in a creepy ghost-y way, just a very alive and active area, as a local conservation journalist, Ted Williams, wrote that it referred to “good spirits that led Indian to moose and deer.” If the sightings of Bigfoot and Thunderbird are to be believed, then that is probably a pretty accurate description! Though, it could also be in the creepy ghost-y way as poltergeists and orbs, balls of fire have all been reported. And! Let us not forget, there have also been UFO sightings.

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Ricky McCormick’s encrypted notes

Not only is Ricky McCormick’s death unsolved, there is the mystery of these bizarre notes found on his body. Codes are always interesting but it is made more noteworthy when you consider that his family went on record claiming that Ricky was only able to write his name, much less legible code. So, who created this code? It appeared that no one had any reason to murder him and the authorities were not able to determine a cause of death. Was his killer the author of the notes?

His body was found fifteen miles from his home, in a cornfield near West Alton, Missouri on June 30, 1999. This case would appear to be the sort that was open and shut, despite a cause of death or a perpetrator, considering McCormick had the kind of profile that would lead people to dismiss him, if it weren’t for these notes. Why was his body found so far from home? Why did he have the notes in his pocket? Who could have written them if not McCormick? The questions about this case are numerous and, as of 2011 when the FBI issued a request for help ciphering the notes, it remains unsolved. The page is still up, if you have any ideas on the code.

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Cryptozoology and Ivan T. Sanderson

Ivan T. Sanderson is credited with coining the term “cryptozoology,” the study of unknown creatures, as we all know very well. Sanderson was born in Scotland but immigrated to the United States and became a US citizen after WWII. He did a lot of traveling in his life, including with his family, and, sadly, his father was killed in Kenya by a rhinoceros in 1925.

Sanderson himself got his bachelor’s degree in zoology and two master’s degrees in botany and ethnology. So, he wasn’t some crackpot pseudo-scientist. He was the real deal. It is worth noting that he was interested in Charles Fort (this guy is super interesting and I would highly recommend looking into him! He wrote four books in his lifetime and all of them are considered nonfiction, though they dealt with topics ranging from teleportation to poltergeists and out-of-place artifacts. Interestingly enough, the collective of these various phenomena is called “Fortean phenomena” or “Forteana.”).

During his lifetime, he was known as a scientist to bring in for weird and unexplained animal cases (particularly the giant penguin incident that occurred in the St. Petersburg area of Florida in the late 1940s). On top of that, Sanderson had a healthy interest in lake monsters, sea serpents, Mokèlé-mbèmbéYeti, and Sasquatch.

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“Picture of Unexplained Creature posted in the Berea, KY gallery”

Unfortunately, this picture is hard to pin down. It doesn’t seem to have a clear origin. The best we could find was a website called “topix,” which didn’t seem to be the most reliable website. The caption on the photo there said:

“This picture I took while hiking down from the west pinnacle one evening around 8 o’clock last September. Can anyone help tell me what this is?Picture posted by Tall Ape-Like Creature on Apr 16 ‘09″

It is unclear who posted it but it does seem to originate in Kentucky. One way or another, the picture is pretty spooky. It seems to be peering into my soul. Gives me the heebie geebies!

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Michigan Dogman

This cryptid was supposedly first reported in 1887, though there are some accounts of a similar creature by Odawa First Nations (according to local folklore, anyway). The above image was supposedly captured in 1961, the first physical evidence. There is also a narrative that accompanies the photo but it is difficult to find a source for it.

In 1987, a local disc jockey in Traverse City, Michigan by the name of Jack O’Malley and his producer Steve Cook created a song called “The Legend.” He played it on April 1 of that year, a tribute to the 100th anniversary of the first sighting of the beast as well as a fun little April Fool’s joke (ala The War of the Worlds in 1938). Since that initial release of the song, it has been recorded two more times (in 1997 and 2007). It may have been a joke to those who created it but listeners took it quite seriously and contacted the station with reports similar to what was described in the song. It’s a bit eerie and quite interesting if you’d like to listen to it, just for fun.

Additionally, at some point, a video called “The Gable Film” surfaced and had a pretty creepy tale attached to it, saying it was discovered during an estate sale in the 1960s. While it was filmed with 8mm film, it was simply made to look old and was in fact not authentic footage of the Dogman. On an episode (the series finale) of the show  MonsterQuest entitled “America’s Wolfman”, it was finally revealed that the film had been made by a fan of the song! Full circle, eh? Despite being fake, it is still pretty high quality and a little spooky.

So, the film wasn’t real and we have no real idea about the 1961 photo, that doesn’t dismiss all of the eyewitness accounts that came out after the release of “The Legend.” People certainly are seeing something. The question is what?

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Mad Gasser of Mattoon

It is unclear if the gasser in Botetourt County, Virginia in the 1930s and the one in  Mattoon, Illinois in the 1940s were the same but they share a Wikipedia article and was/were referred to as “the ‘Anesthetic Prowler’, Friz, the ‘Phantom Anesthetist’, the ‘Mad Gasser of Roanoke’, or simply the ‘Mad Gasser.’” This person or these people reportedly sprayed gas into the homes of unsuspecting victims that caused them to pass out.

It is unclear if it was an actual person perpetrating this gas attacks or if they were just the result of industrial pollution that was knocking people out and the spread of a possible assailant caused the town to panic. To this day, the events are unexplained.

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The Ourang Medan Ghost Ship

If you’re familiar with the paranormal, you’re probably familiar with this ghost ship (as well as the Mary Celeste). It isn’t exactly Americana, but it did have an almost global impact, including finding its way into American publications.

So, the interesting thing about this story is that it was initially reported by the Associated Press (AP), a pretty reputable source, when it apparently first happened in 1940. However, after that, it was reported in several different publications and the story was warped and became more and more macabre as most urban legends do. The tale basically says that this Dutch-Indonesian ship was heading to Indonesia when an American ship, the Silver Star, was contacted with a rather distressing message. The message was as follows:

“S.O.S. from Ourang Medan * * * we float. All officers including the Captain, dead in chartroom and on the bridge. Probably whole of crew dead * * *.”

and then, simply:

“I die.”

That’s pretty spooky in and of itself. But apparently, when the crew of the Silver Star located the Ourang Medan, they found all the crew dead in a quite gruesome state: eyes and mouths open in terror. So, you know, the crew of the Silver Star were pretty wigged out when they couldn’t find any explanation for the state of the crew and resolved to tow the ship to the nearest port. But, apparently, before they could even get that far, the Ourang burst into flames.

Sounds pretty spooky, right? It makes for a good story. But it might not have happened. The Ourang Medan may not have even existed. Due to the multiple reports, including Dutch articles published 8 years after the supposed incident and American Coast Guard publications 12 years after the supposed incident, research has been conducted as to the veracity of this tale. No one has been able to find any documents proving the existence of the Ourang, though they have been able to confirm that the Silver Star did exist.

So, if the ship didn’t exist where did this tale come from? How did it come to be so widely publicized and found plastered all over the internet? We have no photographic evidence of the ship yet there’s that one black and white photo of what looks to be a steamer. We don’t even really know what sort of ship it was supposed to have been. What is up with this ship?

(The above newspaper article is supposedly from the November 21, 1940 edition of the Yorkshire Evening Post found on theBritish Newspaper Archive, though it requires a subscription so this blog could not verify this source. If anyone wants to buy a subscription and check it out or just do your own digging, let us know!)

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The Cecil Hotel

If you watched the most recent season of American Horror Story, American Horror Story: Hotel, this place probably seems familiar. It’s hard to believe that that hotel was inspired by a real hotel, right in downtown Los Angeles. It was built in 1924 as a low-budget hotel that was meant for business travelers but low rates and lots of rooms (700) became very appealing for those on low, low budgets and transient people. This also allowed for the notorious residents  Richard Ramirez (the “Night Stalker”) and Jack Unterweger (called Jack due to mainly murdering prostitutes) in 1985 and 1991, respectively. Ramirez was actually a character in the 4th episode of the season, “Devil’s Night,” and the final episode, “Be Our Guest.”

A Canadian tourist, Elisa Lam, was found dead in the hotel’s water tank in February of 2013. Her death was a tragedy and ruled accidental. Though some speculate there could have been supernatural forces as the cause, her death and state of mind are sad and best left to the grieving family.

That said, why was this one particular building such a hotspot for tragedy and death and murders? Paranormal activity has been frequently reported there and it’s possible victims of murder and suicide still roam the grounds. So, maybe if you’re looking for a scare, check it out. After Elisa Lam, the hotel attempted to re-brand, calling themselves “Stay on Main” (as the location is on Main Street). What could go wrong? They have free wifi and iMacs.

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