Saturday, October 13, 2012

The American Hoaxer

OK's time for a little history lesson. Since the paranormal field is rife with hoaxes and fakes, I thought I'd research and present a bit of fact on one of our most famous hoaxers.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) was born the son of a candle and soap maker, but by his own efforts and remarkable intellect he rose to become arguably the most admired man of the eighteenth century.

Franklin had many ventures throughout his a printer, philosopher, man of science, man of letters, and statesman. He was also a hoaxer. Some may even say that he was a fraud. Some eighteenth-century literary figures such as Jonathan Swift and Daniel Defoe, used hoaxes for sarcastic ends. Franklin was a master satirist...exposing what he perceived as foolishness and vice to the light of public censure. Addressing public opinion through hoaxes reveals the increasing importance placed upon public opinion (and the idea of democracy) throughout this period.

Franklin was skilled in the art of public relations before that concept had even been dreamed up. The image which he presented of himself to the world was that of a simple but wise American rustic dressed in a raccoon-skin hat. It was a carefully crafted public persona which belied reality...that he was one of the most sophisticated, cosmopolitan men of his era.

Franklin's most famous hoaxes are described below:

Silence Dogood (1722)

If you watched the film National Treasure then you are aware of the Silence Dogood letters.

Between April and October 1722 a series of letters appeared in the New England Courant supposedly written by a middle-aged widow who called herself Silence Dogood. In her correspondence she poked fun at various aspects of life in colonial America, such as the drunkenness of locals, religious hypocrisy, the persecution of women, the fashion for hoop petticoats, and particularly the pretensions of Harvard College.

The Silence Dogood letters became quite popular. Some of the male readers of the Courant were so taken with her that they offered to marry her. But unfortunately for these would-be suitors, Silence Dogood did not exist. She was the invention of sixteen year-old Benjamin Franklin, who was working at the time as an apprentice to his older brother, James, a Boston printer.

Franklin initially concealed his authorship of the letters from his brother. When he finally confessed to his brother that he was the author, his brother grew quite displeased, fearing that all the compliments paid to Silence Dogood would make young Benjamin grow vain. Soon after this, Franklin decided to run away and seek his fortune in Philadelphia.

This was the first of many hoaxes Franklin perpetrated throughout his life.

A Witch Trial at Mount Holly (1730)

On October 22, 1730 an article appeared in the Pennsylvania Gazette describing a witch trial that had recently been held in Mount Holly near Burlington, New Jersey.

According to the article, over 300 people had gathered to witness the trial of two people, a man and a woman, who had been accused of witchcraft. The charges included "making their neighbours sheep dance in an uncommon manner, and with causing hogs to speak, and sing Psalms, &c. to the great terror and amazement of the King's good and peaceable subjects in this province." The full text of the article can be found at A Witch Trial at Mount Holly

The story would have been remarkable if it were true, because in 1730 a witch trial had not occurred in America for many decades. The famous Salem Witch Trials had occurred almost forty years earlier, in 1692.

In his book Benjamin Franklin as a Man of Letters John Bach McMaster suggested Franklin's authorship of this hoax. In 1730 Franklin was the owner and publisher of the Pennsylvania Gazette. He commonly published articles and letters written by himself, but attributed to others, in order to make it appear that his paper received more correspondence than it actually did.

Assuming that Franklin did author the Witch Trial, it seems he intended it as a parody of Puritan beliefs. By 1730 it had become acceptable for the educated class in America to ridicule beliefs such as witchcraft, even though the majority of the population still clung to those beliefs.

The Death of Titan Leeds (1732)

Franklin published a highly successful, yearly almanac from 1732 to 1758 titled Poor Richard’s Almanac...assuming the literary persona of "Poor" Richard Saunders, who was supposedly a hen-pecked, poverty-stricken scholar.

In the first year of its publication, Franklin included a prediction stating that rival almanac-writer Titan Leeds would die on "Oct. 17, 1733, 3:29 P.M., at the very instant of the conjunction of the Sun and Mercury." The prediction was intended as a ruse, though Leeds took offense at it and chastised Saunders (Franklin) for it in his own almanac.

Franklin responded by turning the death of Leeds into a running joke. When the date and time of the prediction arrived, and Leeds did not die, Franklin declared that Leeds actually had died, but that someone had usurped his name and was now using it to falsely publish his almanac.

Franklin continued to insist Leeds was dead in the following years until finally, in 1738, Leeds actually did die. This prompted Franklin to congratulate the men who had annexed Leeds’s name for finally deciding to end their pretense.

Franklin adapted the Titan Leeds hoax from Jonathan Swift’s similar Isaac Bickerstaff hoax of 1708.

The Enigmatical Prophecies (1736)

The yearly almanac Poor Richard's Almanac began publishing in 1732. In 1737, five years into the life of the publication, Franklin included three "enigmatical prophecies" in the almanac. He predicted that:

A great storm would cause all the major cities of North America to be under water;

A "great number of vessels fully laden will be taken out of the ports… by a Power with which we are not now at war;"

and that an "army of 30,000 musketeers will land… and sorely annoy the inhabitants."

A year passed and none of the prophecies appeared to come true. But just when Franklin's readers were about to label him an incompetent soothsayer, he triumphantly declared that all three prophecies had actually come true. Rainstorms had placed every city under water, the power of wind ("a Power with which we are not now at war") had taken fully-laden vessels out of ports, and more than 30,000 musketeers (or mosquitoes) had definitely annoyed the inhabitants.

It was a stretch of the predictions' suggested intent but Franklin had a knack for double entendre of phrases.

The Trial of Polly Baker (1747)

In 1747 the London General Advertiser printed the text of a speech said to have been given by a woman, Polly Baker, at her trial. She had just given birth to her fifth child, was unmarried, and had been charged with having sexual intercourse out of wedlock.

Polly Baker readily admitted her guilt but argued that the law itself was unreasonable. Why was she being punished, she asked, while the men who committed the crime with her were let off without penalty? According to the article, Polly's argument so moved the judges that one of them asked for her hand in marriage the next day.

The text of Polly Baker's speech subsequently circulated widely throughout Europe and America, and it was believed to be real. However, thirty years later Franklin admitted he had written it. His intention appears to have been to draw attention to the unfairness of the law which punished mothers, but not fathers, for having children out of wedlock. Franklin himself had fathered a son out of wedlock. The hoax was also Franklin’s first criticism of the penal system, a subject which he devoted much attention to in his later years.

The Electric Kite Hoax (June 1752)

On October 19, 1752, the Pennsylvania Gazette published a brief description of an experiment recently conducted by Benjamin Franklin. The article stated that Franklin had flown a kite in a thunderstorm, causing electricity to be conducted down the line of the kite and electrifying a key tied to it. This demonstrated that lightning, as many had speculated, was a form of electricity.

Franklin's electric kite became the most famous experiment of the eighteenth century, helping to make Franklin famous throughout Europe and America. And yet, some historians argue that it probably never happened.

They point to a curious lack of details about the experiment. It is not known exactly when the experiment occurred. Sometime in June, 1752 was the closest Franklin ever came to an exact date. Nor did Franklin ever write a formal report about it. The only witness to the event was Franklin's son, who never said a word about it. Finally, such an experiment would have been extremely dangerous, possibly fatal, as Franklin knew.

It has been suggested that Franklin originally proposed the idea for the experiment as a joke. Frustrated because the British Royal Society had been ignoring his letters about his earlier electrical research, he might have proposed the deadly experiment as a subtle joke. But when his suggestion reached France, where people took it seriously, Franklin decided to play along and claimed he really had conducted the experiment.

The theory still remains controversial. Some historians argue that Franklin would never have risked being exposed as a liar by the scientific community. Nonetheless, we now know where the phrase 'go fly a kite' was Franklin's way of telling the British Royal Society to 'f**k off!'

Franklin instigated other hoaxes in order to make a point, including the The Supplement to the Boston Independent Chronicle in 1782 alleging that Indian warriors were sending hundreds of American scalps as war trophies to British royalty and Members of Parliament. The scalps included those of women, as well as young girls and boys. This deception was intended to aid the American war effort by turning European opinion against the British.

In Franklin's autobiography he listed his '13 Virtues' in which he sought to cultivate his character and continued to practice in some form for the rest of his life. Though, it seems that the use of a 'little white lie' on occasion couldn't hurt.

Satires And Hoaxes Of Doctor Benjamin Franklin
Bolt Of Fate: Benjamin Franklin And His Electric Kite Hoax

Suggested Reading:

Franklin's Autobiography (Classic Reprint)

Benjamin Franklin: An American Life

The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin: Autobiography, Poor Richard, and Later Writings (Library of America)

Benjamin Franklin: Silence Dogood, The Busy-Body, and EarlyWritings (Library of America)


'Phantoms and Monsters' has provided free email delivery for 6+ years. If this blog / newsletter is useful and enjoyable, please consider donating a few bucks as a 'voluntary subscription' in return for 52 weeks (1000+ yearly posts) of up-to-date paranormal & alternative news...including original articles and exclusive witness reports. Thanks for your support...Lon

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Friday, October 12, 2012

The 'Hook Man'

We've all heard the story...the Hook Man, an urban legend and Halloween classic. But is there any truth behind it? Here's the basic rendition:

On a summer night, a boy and a girl drive out to a spot in the woods. Parked in the darkness, they heard on the radio that a man escaped from the a State Hospital, several miles from the local high school, and was terrorizing and killing innocent people. He was described to have lost his hand and years ago it had been replaced by a large metal hook. He had hacked off his own hand in a fit of madness, attempting to escape a pair of handcuffs years earlier.

The boy thought nothing of it, switched off the radio and turned his attention to his girlfriend.

Suddenly, noises were uttered nearby through the darkness. The girl pulled away, frightened. “I’m scared. You know...about what they said on the radio? Maybe we should go home.”

“What? Do you want your parents to find out we didn’t go to the movies? Calm down.” As they picked up where they left off, they didn’t hear anything for a while until there was a loud screech on the door...coming from the girl’s side of the car.

“That’s it, take me home! It’s not safe out here!”

Her boyfriend, obviously frustrated, reluctantly agreed. He moaned all the way home, teasing her for “being such a baby”. Barely waiting for the car to stop, the girl angrily opened the door and got out of the car as they pulled up to her driveway. Slamming the car door, ready to go inside, she froze, staring at the car. She started to scream.

The alarmed boy got out of the car and walked around to her side, where he too, stopped where he stood and could only stare at the door handle in shocked amazement. Found dangling from the car door, was a bloody hook.

This supposed urban legend began circulating after World War II and more widely during the 1950s. There are many variations, but the basic story is the same. In an alternative version of the story, the couple are driving through an unknown part of the country at night, and decide to stop the car in the middle of the woods, either because the male has to relieve himself, or the car has broken down and the man leaves to go for help. While waiting for him to return, the female turns on the radio and hears about the escaped mental patient. While waiting for the male to return, she is disturbed many times by a loud thumping on the roof of the car. She eventually exits her car and sees the escaped patient on the roof of the car, holding the man's decapitated head in his hand and hitting the roof with it. It's typical horror movie fodder...but is there any fact to the story?

In Seymour, Connecticut there is the Great Hill Cemetery which has been in use since the early 1800′s and as legend would have it is the preferred haunting grounds of the 'Hook Man.' In the 1940s a story began to circulate about a caretaker with a hooked man that once lived on the property. The caretaker murdered a young man who had been snooping around the grounds after dark. After dispatching the intruder the caretaker hung him from one of the trees on the property. Another version of the tale claims that a man by the name of 'Hookman' was wrongfully accused of a murder and since haunts the same cemetery. Old maps of the property do indicate that at one time the grounds housed a caretaker cabin.

An older account of the Hook Man legend goes back to the 1920s in Maine where a sailor returned home after two years at sea to discover that his wife had taken up residence with another man. In a fit of rage, the spurned sailor grabbed a meat hook and butchered both his wife and her suitor. It is said that the sailor hid the bodies and made his way to the Far East...never to be heard from again.

Then there is the more contemporary allegory of Edward Wayne Edwards...who could have easily been the legendary semi-mythical psycho-killer rumored to haunt lover’s lanes across this country. Edward Edwards, who died in April 2011 in an Ohio prison cell at 77 years of age, was very real.

His murders earned him the moniker 'man with the hook' from author Phil Stanford...though he never used a hook as a weapon (as far as we know). Of all known serial killers, Edwards was among the most cunning. Once, while on the run from the law in Minnesota, Edwards posed as a psychiatrist. In Oregon, he managed to convince those around him he was a CIA agent, fighting Communists for the U.S. government.

In the 1970s, after his release from Leavenworth, where he was doing time for bank robbery, Edwards appeared on a network quiz show, What’s My Line? posing as a reformed criminal.

He even wrote and published a book, Metamorphosis of a Criminal touting his supposed conversion from armed robber to family man...all the while, dropping clever hints about his exploits as a serial killer.

Finally arrested in 2009 as the result of a cold case investigation in Wisconsin, Edwards confessed to the murders of young couples in Wisconsin and Ohio.

Those familiar with his history are convinced he also committed his signature double-murders in Oregon, Montana and California. Montana investigator John Cameron, a former police officer currently working as a parole board analyst, has raised questions about Edwards' possible involvement in the deaths of Patricia Kalitzke and Lloyd Duane Bogle in Great Falls in 1957. He also believes Edwards may even be the Zodiac Killer who terrified the San Francisco Bay area in 1968-69 as well as the culprit in the Jon-Benet Ramsey murder.

In The Peyton-Allan Files Stanford ties Edwards directly to the savage murders of two teenagers in Portland, Oregon in November 1960.

Murderpedia - Edward Wayne Edwards

Though Edwards could not have been the basis for the original 'Hook Man', his history does offer some foundation to the theory that the urban legend was the result of a real murderer from the past.

Suggested Reading:

The Serial Killer Letters: A Penetrating Look Inside the Minds of Murderers

Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us

The Serial Killer Files: The Who, What, Where, How, and Why of the World's Most Terrifying Murderers

Solving the Zodiac: The Zodiac Killer Case Files


'Phantoms and Monsters' has provided free email delivery for 6+ years. If this blog / newsletter is useful and enjoyable, please consider donating a few bucks as a 'voluntary subscription' in return for 52 weeks (1000+ yearly posts) of up-to-date paranormal & alternative news...including original articles and exclusive witness reports. Thanks for your support...Lon

Thanks for reading 'Phantoms and Monsters'
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Just the Facts?: Buy Bobby Jones' Ghost -- Many UFO Researchers Die Mysteriously -- Large Eyeball Washes Up In Florida

Buy Bobby Jones' ghost on eBay

This according to an ebay auction that will allow you to buy Bobby Jones' ghost, which is currently housed in this very jar, for only $1000. Here's the harrowing tale of how the current owner came to possess the ghost.

Earlier this year, I began to hear strange voices come from my garage and specifically my golf clubs. The voice would repeat “Syringomyelia, Syringomyelia.” At first I had no idea what the ghost was saying, so I googled the word. Syringomyelia is the disease that paralyzed killed hall of fame golfer Bobby Jones. I asked the apparition are you Bobby Jones? The ghost then became visible dressed in 1950’s golfing gear. The ghost said yes I am Bobby Jones. I didn’t know what to do, so in panic I took the jar next to me and forced the ghost of Bobby Jones into the container. Thankfully this ghostly version of Bobby Jones was the paralyzed version of him and not the pristine athlete from the 1920’s.

As much as I like having Mr.Jones in my house, my wife is petrified of ghosts and is now forcing me to sell him. I have decided to sell Mr. Jones on ebay and donate half of the proceeds to the cure Syringomyelia fund.

Unfortunately Mr. Jones ghost can only be seen by true believers. If you are not a true believer bid with caution, for you may be unable to see him. I will not be giving refunds, so bid with caution as this is something impossible to authenticate and verify.

So if you had visions of hitting the links with Ghost Bobby, think again. Ghost Bobby can't walk. But before you buy him you'll have to look in the mirror and figure out where you stand on the morality of purchasing a person, albehim* dead.

Also though the "Buy Now" price is $1000, I have a feeling if you meet the starting bid of $500, no one's going to outspend you.

*Albeit but for a person, it's going to be a thing. - BuzzFeed

The Grand Slam: Bobby Jones, America, and the Story of Golf

The Immortal Bobby: Bobby Jones and the Golden Age of Golf


'They walked in through my locked door...'

Emerado, North Dakota - 9/16/2012 - unedited: What I saw as I was having a cigarette, by the grand forks air force base, was, well it just blocked the stars out... I could see the edges of the vehicle cuz when saw the edge, the stars shifted and then werent as bright and shifted in the sky. It was bigger then a b-52, I know that as a navy vet, and at the entrance to gf air base is a b-52. I know the size of it. If it was higher then 500 ft, then it was well over 500ft width. Daily kc135 refueling jets fly all the time. This thing dwarfed them! I know what I didnt see, and it was not from the airbase. I watch the military channel, as well as been in the navy, this was not us. I even have a lump in my leg that itches when/after I have a bad night. And I dont get a good nights sleep for some odd reason. I get bad dreams and I have lost time, like over 24hrs. I wanna know why? I have a photographic memory, so I am concerned. The evening of my bday, 16sep12, on the 17th I came to and immediately the first feeling was suicide, tried, 3 times in as many days. I know they were there. They are not 3ft tall. Closer to 5ft, cuz I have a 12yr old son who is 54" tall. I can identify cop headlights from at 1/4 mile, I know I saw and felt something... - MUFON CMS

True UFO Accounts: From the Vaults of FATE Magazine

Strange & Weird Stories: The Unknown: As Close As Beside You


Large eyeball washes up on Florida beach

It's not that body parts never wash ashore on Florida beaches. But usually it's not an eye the size of a softball.

State wildlife officials are trying to determine the species of a blue eyeball found by a man Wednesday at Pompano Beach, north of Fort Lauderdale.

They put the eyeball on ice so it can be analyzed at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg.

Agency spokeswoman Carli Segelson says the eyeball likely came from a marine animal, since it was found on a beach. Possible candidates include a giant squid, a whale or some type of large fish


Many UFO researchers die under mysterious circumstances

Many UFO researchers working on their research in the 1970s and 1980s died under mysterious circumstances, and may have been killed. This is the conclusion reached by an amateur astronomer, a former U.S. government adviser Timothy Hood. He made this statement at an international conference in Amsterdam dedicated to search for extraterrestrial intelligence.

This statement is true not so much for the chasers for unidentified flying objects, but the researchers trying to find extraterrestrial life, including professional astrophysics. Hood's conclusion was prompted by a 30-year study of this topic.

Famous American astronomer Morris K. Jessup, whose books about intelligent life beyond Earth have become bestsellers, committed suicide. He ended his life by opening an exhaust pipe in his car, locking his door and turning on the ignition. Professor James Edward McDonald, who for many years served as head of the Institute of Atmospheric Physics of the Earth and studied unidentified aerospace objects, put a bullet in his head.

Edward Ruppelt, who led a project for the study of unidentified objects in the skies over the United States, died of a cardiovascular crisis at the age of 37. On November 5, 2001, William Milton Cooper, a famous UFO researcher who has repeatedly accused the U.S. government of hiding the truth about UFOs, was killed by police in his home. Cooper, who clearly suffered from delusion, lived in Yeager (Arizona). He bought weapons in bulk to create units to fight a secret government led by aliens.

Before the incident the police was told that Cooper threatened harmless residents, believing, apparently, that they were chasing him on the instructions of the authorities. The police surrounded the ranch where he lived. He said that anyone who would dare to cross the threshold of his private property will be killed, but the police ignored him. As a result, one policeman was seriously wounded, and the other one had to shoot the researcher as self-defense.

There is also the famous "Sheldon list." The famous American writer Sidney Sheldon, working on his novel "The End of the World", drew attention to a series of mysterious deaths among British specialists developing space weapons.

In October of 1986, Professor Arshad Sharif killed himself by tying one end of the rope to a tree, making a loop at the other end, putting his head through it and driving the car away. A few days later another London professor, Vimal Dazibay, jumped head first from the Bristol Bridge. Both of them worked on the development of electronic weapons for the English government program, similar to the American "Star Wars."

In January of 1987, another scientist, Avtar Singh-Guide, went missing. He was later declared dead. In February of 1987, Peter Pippel was run over by his car in his garage. In March of 1987, David Sands committed suicide by crashing his car into a building. In April of 1987, four developers of space programs died. Mark Wiesner hung himself, Stuart Gooding fell victim of murder, David Greenhalgh fell off the bridge, and Shani Warren drowned. In May of that year, Michael Baker was killed in a car accident.

In a relatively short time, 25 people who worked in the space field died for various reasons. Sidney Sheldon, who discovered this tragic phenomenon, seriously believed that it had to do with aliens.

According to Timothy Hood, these deaths were not accidental, but rather, were the work of special services that eliminated the experts because they knew too much.

In the 1970's and 1980's in the United States there were secret UFO research programs such as the "Blue Book", "Aquarius", "Area 51", "Majestic 12", and GEIPAN. While official data show that most of these projects are now inactive, many conspiracy theorists doubt it. Every now and then "sensational" materials emerge in the media whose purpose is to convince the public that the U.S. government is hiding the truth about human contact with aliens.

Perhaps it has to do not with the aliens but military secrets or falsified facts. In any case, the intrigue remains. The topic of contacts with other civilizations continues to thrill, and the perceived danger makes it even more exciting. - Pravda

Conspiracies and Secret Societies: The Complete Dossier

Keep Out!: Top Secret Places Governments Don't Want You to Know About

JFK & UFO: Military-Industrial Conspiracy and Cover-Up from Maury Island to Dallas

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Bizarre Arcadia

By David Hoes - Although most small towns can claim a haunted building or two, Arcadia, Florida is a focal point for the paranormal. This town of 7,100 residents can even challenge Key West and St. Augustine for the title of "Paranormal Capital" of Florida. Among the local "hot-spots" are:

• A haunted opera house
• A haunted hotel
• A haunted "hanging tree"
• A "rock of love" in a local river. (According to the legend, couples who camp near the rock will get married.)
• A phantom hitchhiker
• The ghost of a boy who appears on a local river
• A mysterious black hearse seen traveling local roads
• A nearby ghost town
• Several haunted residences and antique shops.
• A hill where ghost lights have been seen
• A haunted cemetery

Today's article will provide some details on the last two phenomena -- the Oak Ridge Cemetery and Goat Hill Ghost Lights.

Goat Hill

Just north of town is a small rise locals call Goat Hill. Sadly, the area is on private land and is inaccessible to the public. The road going in has been blocked by a gate and signs are posted letting visitors know they are not welcome. However, a few locals have apparently gained access and have seen the mysterious lights.

On the website 'Haunted America Tours', Clifford Murphy describes his encounter with the lights:

"We put on the river at the park and started up the river going slow and quiet. We tried to run off the moonlight and not use the spotlights.

Once we got away from the road, it was pretty eerie on the river. The banks are high and full of oaks and cypress. The shadows are deep and there are lots of logs and stumps to dodge. Once you are north of the railroad bridge, there are no houses for miles.

Finally we got to a big bend in the river with a giant, high beach of white sand. That was the closest landing to the woods with the Goat Hill. We beached the boat and climbed up the beach out into some flat pasture lands with scrubby trees scattered around. The moon was bright, but there was this weird low ground fog that was a couple feet high. Fences, trees and stuff kind of stuck up out of the fog and you had to watch where you were walking.

It’s hard to explain, but the farther we went from the river the weirder things felt. And the screwing around just kind of stopped and everybody got real quiet. We broke out of some trees, and then we could see the hill where the orbs were supposed to be. It was a couple hundred yards out in the middle of a flat pasture. It’s a big round hill covered in oaks. It was black compared to the white fog that hugged the ground. There was a herd of cows, and it was funny because you could see their backs and heads but not their bodies and legs in the fog.

"Then it was like something just ‘happened.’ I felt something cold come over me. The hair on the back of my neck started to prickle and it felt likes something marched up my back. Like my skin crawled. Just then the cows started mooing and then they all took off running through the fog. You could hear the thuds and feel the rumble under foot. Everybody looked at each other and there were a lot of big eyes.

And then we saw the orbs. My jaw just dropped. This faint orange light came up out of the ground in the trees on the hill and slowly went up through the air to the tree tops. It hovered there. Then three or four more came up and started drifting through the trees. They started getting brighter and whiter and bigger.

The next thing, a big wind came out of nowhere and the mist started rolling around and the orbs seemed like they left the hill and started towards us. Somebody said ‘let’s get the hell out of here.’ And the whole bunch of us took off running for the river. It would have been funny to watch but it wasn’t at all funny at the time. I didn’t look back, I was too busy running."

There are two theories concerning the Goat Hill lights. The first relates to the tragic murder of seven children in 1967. All of the children of James and Annie Mae Richardson became violently ill shortly after eating lunch on October 25, 1967. Within twenty-four hours they were dead; their food had been laced with pesticide. Richardson and his wife both worked, and next-door neighbor Bessie Reese babysat the Richardson’s youngest children. She served all seven children lunch when they came home from school at noon -- a meal of rice, beans and hogshead cheese that had been prepared earlier that day by their mother.

James Richardson was arrested and tried for the murders and would be convicted based on flimsy evidence. Decades later he would be freed when Bessie Reese, who was on her death bed in a nursing home, confessed to the murders.

British Cadets Marker and Graves

Cemetery records indicate that Alice, Diane, Dorine, James, and Vanessa Richardson, all of whom died on October 25th and 26th, are buried in the Oak Ridge Cemetery, which is just south of Goat Hill. Are their spirits responsible for the lights? Or are the lights related to the 23 dead RAF pilots who are also buried there?

During World War II, British pilots came to South Florida for training. They were stationed at a base near Lake Okechobee. A few of their barracks are still standing; they were moved to serve as housing at a local fish camp.

Twenty-three of the pilots were killed during training and were buried at Oak Ridge. Some locals believe their spirits are responsible for the Goat Hill Lights.

Old RAF Barracks

In addition, some residents have reported strange occurrences at their gravesite. One posted a story on Facebook that when he visited the graves, he saw a Union Jack hanging from the flagpole. Later, when he viewed the photos he had taken that day, there was no flag on the flagpole. Others told the following tales:

"We used to rent a house across the little gully that runs along the south side of the cemetery, across from the British plot. Sometimes late at night we would hear voices from that direction. We could never exactly hear what was said, but they sounded like it had an accent. Never exactly felt the urge to go check it out."

"One night I parked on the side street that dead ends at the cemetery with some friends. We heard singing - really old stuff. Sounded like a bunch of drunk guys. British accents. I didn't know any of the songs, but there was something about the 'white cliffs' (Dover?) and the 'lights going on'."

"I know for a fact that the Arcadia police went in there one night looking for somebody playing the bagpipes."

So are the Goat Hill Ghost lights the spirits of murder victims, RAF pilots or are they something else? I hope to learn more about this strange little town in the near future.

James Richardson, Jr gravesite / photos

Downtown Arcadia

*Thanks again to David Hoes for another interesting article. David has previously submitted articles and sighting reports to 'Phantoms and Monsters', including Astor, Florida: Ground Zero for the Paranormal? and The Haunted Smallwood Store - Chokoloskee, Florida

Suggested Reading:

Florida's Ghostly Legends And Haunted Folklore: Volume One: South And Central Florida

Haunted Florida: Ghosts and Strange Phenomena of the Sunshine State (Haunted Series)

Haunted Florida: A Guide to the Departed Soul: Volume One

Oddball Florida: A Guide to Some Really Strange Places (Oddball series)

Just the Facts?: FBI Visits Man Over Cloud Photos -- BBC Crew Detained at Area 51 -- The Allure of Nessie

Taking photos of clouds earns Texas man a visit from the FBI

If you’re corresponding with known terrorists and attempting to overthrow the US government, it’s safe to expect a knock on your door from the FBI. But what if you just happen to think that storm clouds look really, really cool?

Michael Galindo, 26, learned the hard way that anything and everything is seemingly fair game for an FBI investigation. He was taking photos of a dark and stormy rain cloud above his native Texas town of Houston last month and had to pay the consequences for it when a federal agent appeared at his front door on Friday.

Galindo answered honestly when FBI Agent David Pileggi showed up at his Houston household last week and asked him about some photos he took on September 13 near the former Lyondell Refinery.

“He said I was spotted near the refinery but I couldn’t even remember doing that. I thought it had to be somebody else,” Galindo tells Photography is Not a Crime. “It wasn’t until he mentioned my camera that I made the connection.”

Galindo says he never once stepped foot on the refinery’s property, but it was enough to raise suspicion nonetheless. Someone at the facility spotted him shooting photos and phoned in the police, who in turn rang up the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force.

According to Galindo, he was just “looking for a clear line of site” so he could snap a photo of storm clouds overheard, something he does regularly as a volunteer member of he National Weather Service’s Skywarn program, a coast-to-coast system that lets civilians submit breaking information about any storms stretching across the sky. The Skywarn website acknowledges that the program is run in conjunction with 122 local Weather Forecast Offices throughout the country, including many that offer free training classes to amateur meteorologists.

Galindo tells Photography is Not a Crime that the entire incident with Agent Pileggi ended peacefully. “He told me, ‘you’re not a threat and you are doing a public service but just be careful next time,’” the man recalls. That isn’t to say, though, that he got off without a hassle: Galindo says the agent asked him questions off a three-page document that involved any history he may have had with the US military or traveling overseas.

Now, Galindo says, he is left wondering if the FBI has since opened up a file on him. - RT

Hunting the American Terrorist: The FBI's War on Homegrown Terror

Special Agent Man: My Life in the FBI as a Terrorist Hunter, Helicopter Pilot, and Certified Sniper

THINKING LIKE A TERRORIST: Insights of a Former FBI Undercover Agent


BBC film crew was held at gunpoint after trying to sneak into Nevada's Area 51 military base

-Agents held the 12-man team at gunpoint for three hours while checking their credentials

-Area 51 rumoured to hold the crashed space-ship as well as the bodies of aliens which were removed - still alive - from the wreckage

-'Apache helicopters were called in and Washington phoned London after trespass'
Team say they were followed in the days following attempt

-Same BBC team caused outrage by suggesting London bombings were a government conspiracy

This is the moment a BBC film crew were held by security teams at the notoriously secretive Area 51 - where conspiracy theorists believe the American government is hiding a flying saucer.

Irish comedian Andrew Maxwell and UFO expert Darren Perks sneaked past the border at the site - and were forced to lie on the ground at gunpoint for three hours while the FBI checked their credentials.

It is the same 'documentary' team that caused outrage in Britain last week when they suggested that the 7/7 London bombings were part of a government conspiracy to boost support for the Iraq war. Continue reading at BBC film crew was held at gunpoint after trying to sneak into Nevada's Area 51 military base

Area 51: An Uncensored History of America's Top Secret Military Base

Dreamland: Travels Inside the Secret World of Roswell and Area 51

Keep Out!: Top Secret Places Governments Don't Want You to Know About


Psychic’s dream helps find dog?

A psychic who had a dream about a black dog near a stream may have helped rescue an AWOL pooch following an intensive two-day search.

Part of the credit for finding Mollee goes to the dogged determination of a group that rescues English Springers from New Jersey and Pennsylvania and south to Virginia, placing hundreds of dogs each year.

But one volunteer gave great weight to the clairvoyant whose visions inspired his actions.

Although the search happened in Maryland, it's the kind of furry tale that can perk up the ears of animal lovers and ESP fans anywhere.

It started Monday when Mollee, a friendly, but nervous English Springer Spaniel, was picked up by her adoptive family in Maryland.

The year-old, black-and-white pooch had been turned into the Mid-Atlantic English Springer Rescue, after a Maryland breeder could not find homes for all his pups.

Dan Keppler, 43, a volunteer for the rescue group, initially fostered Mollee at his home in Virginia.

On Monday, after the new family adopted Mollie, they stopped to visit relatives in Maryland, about an hour from their home. Mollee bolted into traffic on a busy byway and was nearly hit. She dashed into a residential development bordered with woods.

The rescue group immediately launched an emergency search. Volunteers posted fliers. Local authorities were called. Social media was used, including Facebook and Craig's List. An amber alert for pets was issued.

They scoured the area for hours until darkness put the search off until morning. Lengthy e-mail exchanges among rescue members expressed concern and offered prayers.

Keppler's girlfriend spoke to a physic she knew in Arizona, Kimberly Dumaine, 55.

"Oh my God, I had a dream about a black dog last night," Dumaine told her. Mollie was fine, but scared and hungry. She was near a building, possibly looking for food. She was near a stream. Dumaine said Keppler should know the fliers are important and he should follow his instincts.

Mollee was near and they would find her soon, Dumaine predicted.

Tuesday afternoon, a tipster called because she had seen a flier. Her dog was barking at a stray.

The rescue team mobilized.

Near the woman's house, they discovered a stream Tuesday afternoon. Volunteers fanned the area, quietly calling Mollie.

Keppler spotted a shed and tarp near the stream.

He followed his instincts, recalling the stream and building Dumaine saw in her vision.

"It was like this spidey sense went off ... this is where she is going to be," Keppler said.

There was Mollee. Tired, scared and making no sounds.

Had it not been for the clairvoyant, "we would have walked away and not found her," Keppler said.

A skeptic might note that it seems like common sense to imagine an animal might be near water and possible shelter.

But that doesn't explain the dream, claimed to have preceded the request.

Keppler said he decided to keep Mollee. She will join his pack of three other springers and a golden retriever. The adoptive family will be paired with a new dog, perhaps one more comfortable around strangers. -


The murky allure of the Loch Ness monster

Adrian Shine has patrolled lakes by day and night. He's taken countless photos, and he's used all the latest technological advances in sonar to uncover the mystery behind Loch Ness monster.

Twenty-five years ago this week, he led what was at the time considered the most extensive search of Loch Ness - a £1m exploration called Operation Deepscan.

The week-long project consisted of a flotilla of 24 boats, equipped with high-tech sonars, which trawled the 22.5-mile (36km) long, 738ft (227m) deep lake in the Scottish Highlands for two days.

Shine may have gone to unusual lengths in his hunt for the Loch Ness monster, but he is far from alone in falling under its spell.

Willie Cameron, an expert on the Highland tourism market, says about one million people visit Loch Ness and the surrounding area every year, with the value to the economy worth about £25m.

And he says more than 85% of them are attracted by the phenomenon of the Loch Ness monster.

"Loch Ness has become a brand as big as Elvis Presley, Madonna and Coca-Cola - but by default rather than design," he says.

So when did the Loch Ness monster gain such mythical status, and what is the fascination with finding it?

Jonathan Downes, director of the Centre for Fortean Zoology, says the legend of the monster dates back to the 6th Century, but it was not until the 1930s that it really took off.

Since then there have been a flurry of sightings, with more than a thousand people insisting they have seen creatures in Loch Ness.

Most descriptions of encounters lend themselves to either the theory of a multi-humped sea serpent or the plesiosaur, a long necked dinosaur from the early Jurassic period.

"People like to think of it as a giant prehistoric reptile living in a lake, but it can't be, that's nonsense.

"But it's a lovely notion. I think people find the idea of a 21st century monster, a prehistoric survivor, irresistibly romantic," says Downes.

Downes says the odd thing about the Loch Ness monster is that although it is "the most iconic mystery creature", it is actually the one with the least amount of evidence of its existence.

So-called physical evidence has turned out to be hoaxes, he says.

"Footprints turned out to have been made by a stuffed hippo or stuffed elephant, and a 'monster body' that washed up in 1972 turned out to be a dead elephant seal," says Downes.

So most of the legend around what lies in Loch Ness - which holds about 16.5 million gallons of water.

And Shine has first-hand experience of how unreliable they can be.

He says shortly after he arrived in Loch Ness in the 1970s, he rowed out on a nearby lake, Loch Morar, which has its own history of monster sightings, hoping to spot something.

"Suddenly there it was - the classic profile of a large hump and then I saw a half-submerged head which seemed to be moving," he says.

He excitedly began snapping pictures but soon realised that it was nothing more than a strange-shaped rock sticking out of the water.

"That was when I realised that if I couldn't trust my own eyes I shouldn't necessarily trust anybody else's," he says.

Nevertheless, Shine says it is hard to dismiss "the honesty and volume" of eyewitness testimony of the Loch Ness monster.

Lots of locals, too, believe there is something lurking in the loch, according to Cameron.

"I know four people who very genuinely believe they have seen a creature, but they would not speak about it publicly for fear of ridicule.

"My late father saw something unexplainable on 15 June 1965. Nine other people saw it at the same time - and it had a power source because it went against the wind. He said describing it would be like trying to describe a tomato to a blind man."

Operation Deepscan picked up three large unexplained sonar "contacts". They appeared on the scanners as crescent shaped marks - which some people believed were too big and too deep to be any creature known to inhabit the Loch.

However, others say the "contacts" could have been a seal or a group of salmon.

But Shine, who now runs the Loch Ness & Morar Project and is still hoping to find out what is behind the mystery, says the beauty of the monster myth is that no one can disprove it, short of draining the loch.

Although he doesn't believe that Scotland's most famous and reclusive resident is a dinosaur, his own theory is that it is a "Jurassic creature" of sorts.

"I think it could be the occasional navigationally challenged Atlantic Sturgeon," he says, with a mischievous smile.

Known to grow to over 4m long, the fish, which has reptilian scaled plates along its back and a long pointed face with tusk-like barbells hanging from its jaws, is not indigenous to Scotland. It could conceivably make its way up River Ness and into the loch in the search for new breeding grounds.

"It could very easily have swum into the loch, been spotted and left again leaving nothing behind save an enigma," he says.

Of course theories are part of the appeal for many intrigued by tales of the Loss Ness monster.

Downes says the only theory that makes sense to him is that a "gene of gigantism" might have created an eel that was bigger than normal.

Cameron, on the other hand, says the sightings could be a number of things, including a large, nocturnal invertebrate, or a large seal, shark or dolphin that has come in from the sea.

But Shine says even if he does manage to prove his theory about the sturgeon, he is under no illusion that it will bring an end to the mystery of Nessie.

"If Operation Deepscan proved one thing, it is that you can't kill a legend with science," he says.

Cameron concurs: "This fascination with the Loch Ness monster is now part of the public psyche. Everybody loves a mystery." - BBC

The Loch Ness Monster: The Evidence



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