; Phantoms and Monsters: Pulse of the Paranormal

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Just the Facts?: Pregnant Wife Possessed, Murdered -- Bigfoot Hair Sells at Auction -- Debunking Skeptic Faces Charges

Four family members smothered pregnant wife to death because they thought she was 'possessed by an evil spirit'

Four members of a family have been found guilty of murdering a 21-year-old pregnant woman they thought was possessed by evil spirits.

Following a 12-week trial at Birmingham Crown Court, Naila Mumtaz’s husband, Mohammed Tauseef Mumtaz, 25, his parents, Zia Ul-Haq and Salma Aslam, both aged 51, and his brother-in-law, Hammad Hussan, 24, were all found guilty of killing her.

Jurors heard that Mumtaz, who was accused of smothering his six-months pregnant wife, told police she tried to strangle herself and may have been 'possessed' by an evil spirit.

The court was told that he claimed his wife’s death was 'like a suicide' and that he had been 'similarly possessed' at the city’s coroner’s court after her death.

All four defendants denied murdering Ms Mumtaz at her home in Craythorne Avenue, Handsworth Wood, Birmingham, in the early hours of July 8, 2009.

Wendy Bounds, a lawyer from the West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service complex casework unit, said: 'Naila Mumtaz, a kind-hearted and beautiful young woman living in Pakistan with her parents, agreed to enter into an arranged marriage with the defendant, Mohammed Tauseef Mumtaz.

'She was aware that he suffered from a physical disability, but she was not put off by his appearance, taking the kind-hearted view that all living things had the same value.

'However, the jury today found that her husband and his family did not share her values.

'Naila was six months pregnant and living with the defendants in Birmingham when on 8 July 2009 the family made a 999 call for an ambulance to attend.

'All efforts to revive her by the paramedics and at the hospital failed, and she and her unborn baby died.

'She was subsequently found to have suffered injuries and the jury had to decide whether she had been assaulted, smothered and suffocated by her husband, his parents and her brother-in-law or whether, as they maintained, she was possessed by an evil spirit which took her life.'

During his opening speech to the jury, prosecutor Christopher Hotten QC quoted details of Mumtaz’s account to police after Ms Mumtaz’s death, saying: 'He said she started to grab her own face and was screaming in anger.

'She tried to bite her mother’s hand. The whole family were trying to hold her down.
'It was like she couldn’t remember who we were. She suffocated herself by putting her hand in her mouth and she tried to strangle herself.

'It was, he said, more like a suicide. He said it was possible that Naila had been possessed by a djinn spirit and said he himself about a month before Naila died had been similarly possessed, and again possessed at the coroner’s court after her death.'

In his account to police, Mumtaz maintained that injuries to his wife’s body were self-inflicted and claimed that a person was present at the house praying “to get the spirit out of her”.

Ms Bounds added: 'This was not an easy case to bring before the court as it involved evidence from both the UK and Pakistan, and ensuring that the jury understood that although there were complex cultural beliefs which underpinned the defence case, there was evidence that the defendants had all given untruthful accounts as to what had taken place and their roles in the death of Naila.

'Sadly, Naila died before the help that is available from the police and the prosecution team was accessed.

'This case demonstrates that it is possible to achieve justice for girls in Naila’s situation who are far away from their family, unable to speak English and with no one to turn to for help.

'Our thoughts are with Naila’s family at this time and we hope that today’s conviction brings some comfort to them.' - dailymail

The Vengeful Djinn: Unveiling the Hidden Agenda of Genies

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Five-month-old baby spotted in baggage scanner after parents tried to smuggle him in their hand luggage

A couple were caught trying to smuggle their baby into the United Arab Emirates - when airport security staff spotted the five-month-old hidden in their luggage on a bag scanner. The Egyptian husband and wife arrived at Sharjah International Airport on Friday night but were held at immigration as they did not have a visa for the newborn. Officials allowed them to stay until the relevant office re-opened on the Sunday.

But in their desperation, the couple decided to make a run for it when the staff changed at the end of their shift. However, they still needed to get through Customs screening, so they put the baby into a bag and bundled him through the X-ray machine. But their plan became unstuck when security staff noticed the outline of the body on the monitor.

A Sharjah Police spokesman said: 'They were risking the life of the baby. They said in an interrogation they'd resorted to sneaking him through inside a bag because he did not have a passport or visa and they wanted to have him with them in the UAE.' And another police official said: 'When customs officials saw the baby inside the bag at the X-ray scanner, they were stunned. This machine is very dangerous for anyone, let alone a baby in a bag to pass through.

'A case will now be raised against the mother and father, they both have visas to come to the UAE, but they have put the life of their child at risk.' The couple were arrested and charged with endangering the baby's life, who could have been exposed to the dangers of radiation. The pair, who had previously been staying in the UAE illegally, left because the mother was pregnant and wanted to give birth at home in Egypt. It is unclear how the child was initially placed onto the aircraft without a passport - dailymail


Bigfoot hair sells for $225 at a Texas auction; is it real?

By David Strege - The Nacogdoches Auction in Nacogdoches, Texas, sold a vintage bedroom set, antique dolls, a 1950s Schwinn bicycle, antique furniture and a lock of hair from ... Bigfoot.

Wait, what?! Hair from Bigfoot?

Uh, yes, hair from Bigfoot, aka Sasquatch.

With a bid of $225, Steve Busti was the lucky winner for what actually appears to be hair from -- something.

"I'm excited," Busti said by phone soon after Saturday night's auction. "I'm really looking forward to having the hair tested. If they come back with some unusual result, it could really change things. This could really be like the smoking gun, if you will, that will prove the existence of this animal."

Busti owns the Museum of the Weird in Austin, Texas, and plans to add the hair to an existing Bigfoot exhibit that includes alleged Bigfoot tracks in plaster casts. Obviously, he is hoping the Bigfoot hair turns out to be authentic.

The lock of hair came in a plastic holder attached to a placard (shown above) that said it was "Certified Genuine BIGFOOT Hair."

To further confirm it was from Bigfoot, the sign also said, "This specimen was collected from a trap near Skookumchuck Lake, in Washington state as verified by witnesses. This specimen is certified as Lot #015 of 100."

Lucky for you, there are probably 85 more lots of Bigfoot hair somewhere out there for you to buy on the Internet.

That's where Ty Shafer of Lufkin, Texas, originally found the item and bought it for $15 before putting it up for auction. After hearing the story of how the Bigfoot hair was obtained, Shafer was a believer.

Apparently, the person who divvied up the hair into 100 lots was visiting a friend near Skookumchuck Lake in Washington state. The friend was checking some animal traps -- not Bigfoot traps -- and pointed out Bigfoot tracks and hair (now in 100 lots) near the traps.

"Actually, I have seen Bigfoot before," the friend told the hair collector. Is it possible he's telling the truth?

According to The Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization website, there have been 16 Bigfoot encounters in Thurston County where Skookumchuck Lake is located. The most recent report was in March.

Nevertheless, Henner Fahrenbach of The Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization is not convinced that the Bigfoot hair sold at the auction is authentic. In fact, he's fairly certain it isn't.

"A sure-fire ripoff, since [there] are so few people around to prove it to be bear or whatever!" he said via email.

"In 20 years I have gotten barely 20 BF samples that I consider authentic and they were all basically single strands, never 'locks.' All I would need is one hair to rule out a lot of animals."

One of those 20 single-strand "Bigfoot hair samples" is shown in the microscopic photo below.

So, did Busti actually purchase Bigfoot hair?

"Well, I keep an open mind about it," Busti said. "The likelihood of it being an authentic hair from an unknown upright-walking primate is probably a very, very low probability. But at the same time, it's those chances we've got to take to try to find out if these creatures exist or not."

Busti is planning to have DNA testing completed on the hair. If it proves to be hair from Bigfoot, the Museum of the Weird will get a lot more popular. If it proves to be bear hair, well, Busti may end up kicking himself for not bidding on the 1950s Schwinn bicycle, instead.

In related news, The Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization is looking for hair experts. If you happen to be one, please contact the organization immediately. Thank you. - grindtv

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Jesus Wept - A skeptic faces possible charges for debunking Mumbai’s miracle statue

Sanal Edamaruku faces a Catholic backlash after insisting that the "holy" water dripping from a statue of Christ in Mumbai, India, came from a leaky drain. Edamaruku is the founder and president of Rationalist International, president of the Indian Rationalist Association, and honorary associate of the U.K. Rationalist Association.

What was the so-called miracle you recently investigated in Mumbai?
The priest and the very active Catholic laity organizations associated with the Our Lady of Velankanni Church in Mumbai were promoting the idea that water dripping from the feet of a statue of Jesus was a sign from God. Hundreds of believers flocked to the dripping cross, collecting and consuming "holy" drainage water that they believed would cure all ailments.

What prompted you to intervene?
I was invited to the Delhi studio of TV9, a Mumbai-based national channel, to comment. During the program, I rejected the possibility of a miracle but of course could not give scientific explanations without an investigation. The channel then invited me to come to Mumbai. The church authorities agreed.

What did you find?
I had a close look at a nearby washroom and the connected drainage system that passed underneath the concrete base of the cross. I removed some stones from the drain and found it was blocked. I touched the walls, the base, and the cross and took some photographs for documentation. It was very simple: Water from the washroom, which had been blocked in the clogged drainage system, had been transmitted via capillary action into the adjacent walls and the base of the cross as well as into the wooden cross itself. The water came out through a nail hole and ran down over the statue's feet.

You now face possible arrest. Why?
Leaders of two Catholic laity organizations have launched charges against me under Section 295A of the Indian penal code. This charges a person with "deliberately hurting religious feelings and attempting malicious acts intended to outrage the religious sentiments of any class or community.” It is absurd to claim that I did anything of the sort.

What do you fear might happen to you?
If it comes to a trial, I have nothing to fear. I would welcome the opportunity to throw some light on the role that the Catholic Church played and is still playing today here in India. The possibility of arrest is threatening, however.

Do you have any regrets about intervening?
Why would one not intervene when somebody gives gullible people sewage to drink? But my reason is broader. The promotion of superstition and belief in paranormal phenomena dulls people's minds and establishes dangerous misconceptions about reality in our society. Such efforts have to be countered.

Why do people so readily believe in miracles?
For many, the regressive belief in superstitions and miracles is an escape from the hardships of life. Once trapped into irrationalism, they become more incapable of mastering reality. It is a vicious circle, like an addiction. They become vulnerable to exploitation by astrologers, godmen, dubious pseudo-psychologists, corrupt politicians, and the whole mega-industry of irrationalism. - slate

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Apparitions, Healings, and Weeping Madonnas: Christianity and the Paranormal