; Phantoms and Monsters: Pulse of the Paranormal

Friday, July 20, 2012

Just the Facts?: Wild Man of the Blue Mountains -- Mona Lisa's Remains Found? -- The Elusive 'Goatman'

The wild hairy man of the Blue Mountains

Encounters with the “hairy man” of the rugged Blue Mountains just west of Australia’s largest metropolis, Sydney, have been recorded from the time colonial settlers first appeared in the area. While long before the settlers’ arrival, the original inhabitants always feared and respected the elusive, hairy hominid, often referred to as the yowie or yahoo.

Here we look at some of those early reported encounters, but first some personal experiences with what might just be the legendary hairy man of the Blue Mountains.

Near my home in the Blue Mountains is a fire trail that winds down towards a creek flowing through a steep gully thick with rainforest-like vegetation. While close to civilisation, it is rugged bushland. I half-jokingly refer to this as the “Yowie track”. Why? Because I’ve had a number of unnerving encounters while walking my dog along that track.

At one point during that first trek along the Yowie track, I suddenly heard a loud snapping sound. I stopped walking. It sounded all too close. Seconds later, I heard three or four heavy (make that very heavy) footsteps in the nearby scrub. I’ve heard many kangaroos and wallabies hop through the bush in my time, but this was different. These sounded distinctly bipedal with a huge gait. Although only a short distance away, the bush was thick and I couldn’t see what had taken those steps. I didn’t want to. But I knew something was there, and that after taking only a few steps it had stopped. I suddenly felt an eerie sensation of being watched. My dog, a young pup at the time, was oblivious. I quietly made an about face and we quickly got out of there. Continue reading at weirdaustralia

The Yowie: In Search of Australia's Bigfoot


Mona Lisa's Remains Found?

Archaeologists say they have found a complete skeleton buried beneath the floor of an abandoned nunnery in Florence, Italy, which might belong to Lisa Gherardini, the woman believed to have inspired Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa.

The bones were found beneath the remains of an altar in the church of the now derelict Convent of St. Orsola.

"That altar was certainly in use at Lisa Gherardini's time," said Valeria D'Aquino, an archaeologist at the Tuscan Superintendency.

D'Aquino and colleagues had to dig through a foot of concrete before they unearthed a brick crypt containing the bones.

The bone hunt, which began last year, aims to possibly reconstruct Lisa's face in order to see if her facial features match that of the iconic painting hanging at the Louvre Museum in Paris.

Indeed, most scholars believe that the Mona Lisa, known as La Gioconda in Italian or La Joconde in French, is the portrait of Lisa Gherardini, a member of a minor noble family of rural origins who married the wealthy merchant Francesco del Giocondo.

The ambitious project is led by Silvano Vinceti, president of a private organization known as the National Committee for the Promotion of Historic and Cultural Heritage.

Known for controversial claims, like that letters and numbers are hidden inside the Mona Lisa painting, Vinceti has based his search in the convent on documents found by historian Giuseppe Pallanti some years ago.

"Lisa Gheradini did exist and lived a rather ordinary life," Pallanti, who is not involved in the project, told Discovery News.

The historian traced back Lisa's life from her birth on June 15, 1479, to her death at the age of 63.

In his research, Pallanti found several important documents, such as Francesco del Giocondo's will. There, the merchant asked his younger daughter, Marietta, to take care of his "beloved wife," Lisa.

At that time, Marietta, one of Lisa and Francesco's five children, had become a nun, thus she brought her mother to the nearby convent of Sant'Orsola.

Lisa remained there until her death, according to a document known as a "Book of the Dead," found by Pallanti in a church archive.

"Lisa di Francesco Del Giocondo died on July 15, 1542 and was buried in Sant'Orsola," the document stated.

The record noted that the whole parish turned out for her funeral, showing that Lisa was rather famous among Florentine society.

Vinceti said that the newly discovered bones will undergo radiocarbon dating, hystological analysis and DNA testing.

"If the bones turn to be those of a female skeleton there will be two possibilities: Either they belong to the noblewoman Maria del Riccio or they belong to Lisa Gherardini. According to historic records, only these two women, who were not nuns, were given special burials in the convent," Vinceti told the local daily La Nazione.

Eventually, comparisons will be made with the DNA of Bartolomeo and Piero, Lisa's children who are buried in the church of Santissima Annunziata in Florence. - discovery

Vanished Smile: The Mysterious Theft of the Mona Lisa

Stealing Mona Lisa: A Mystery


The Elusive 'Goatman'

What's weirder than finding a man dressed as a goat in the middle of nowhere? Absolutely nothing. What started as an innocent hike up Ben Lomond Peak to look for some mountain goats resulted in one Ogden man stumbling across what appeared to be either a hard-working scientist or a guy who lives with goats, as a goat, in a shitty goat costume. The surprised hiker is Ogden resident Coty Creighton, who posted his hilarious tale of "goatman discovery" a couple of days ago on the social-sharing site Reddit. Though humorous, the original story is somewhat skimpy on details, so I messaged Creighton for a full breakdown.

"This happened Sunday morning, July 15, at precisely 10:21a.m.," Creighton said to me via e-mail, "I know this because I was texting a friend from atop the mountain, telling him he was missing out on the find of a lifetime. I was heading to Ben Lomond Peak, but this technically happened on the slopes of Willard Peak, just to the North of Ben Lomond. At first, I was just watching the goats, but there was the one odd shape that just stood out. It was bigger and a brighter white than the other goats. I tried getting a better view with my camera but I didn't have a telephoto lens with me, so I still couldn't quite make it out. I could see it wasn't walking the same, and it seemed clumsy in comparison to the other goats. I was racking my brain trying to figure out what other type of animal it could be. An albino bear? Honky Sasquatch?"

I assumed it had to be some sort of deformed goat. I stopped on the trail, pulled my pack off and rummaged for my binoculars. Once I pulled them out, I could make it out very clearly. It was a dude, hanging on to the side of the mountain, in a homemade goat suit!"

He didn't have binoculars or a camera, so he couldn't have seen me too well, but he just stayed there, propped up on all fours, staring right back at me. After a few minutes I was sufficiently freaked out so I grabbed my pack and hiked off around a bend behind some trees. I then pulled my camera back out to take some more photos of him. I think he knew I was still there so he got off his hands and knees and instead just sat on the hill. To me, it appeared as though he was pouting. I almost felt bad."

After a few more minutes, he went back to work, slowly crawling on hands and knees down the hill. Occasionally, he would stop, pull the mask up to reveal his face and would hold what appeared to be a mobile phone. Maybe he was snapping photos? He definitely didn't have any real photo equipment with him, and there was no pack in sight, either."

There are three ways up that mountain: an eight-mile hike from North Ogden divide, a six-mile hike from Liberty, or a three-mile hike from Inspiration Point if you drive all the way up the canyon. I was coming from Inspiration point myself, and my vehicle was the only one in the lot, so he wasn't coming from there. That means this guy either hiked six to eight miles in a goat suit, had a family member willingly drop him off at the canyon in a goat suit or he lived up there. Any of those situations was pretty disturbing to me. I really wanted to talk to the guy, but I also didn't want to be alone with him, miles from another sane person. I figured my best bet was to stay clear and let him go about his business."

I finished my hike to Ben Lomond Peak and made my way back several hours later. I kept my knife handy as I trekked through the area I first saw him, but he wasn't to be found. I stopped, pulled out the binoculars again and scanned the hillside. The entire herd of goats had vanished. I can only assume the goat man and his surrogate family had headed off back to their cave for an afternoon nap. I've thought about this encounter every day since. At the time, I was kind of freaked out -- it was obvious this wasn't a teenage prank or someone being funny, this was serious and odd; now I wish I would have stayed and watched longer. I need to know more. I need to go back to that peak and find answers."

So far, no one knows who this guy is or what he was doing dressed as a goat in the middle of nowhere, but usually the simplest explanation is often the best explanation. Dedicated naturalist? Goatman? Elaborate hoax? If anyone has any information on this guy, please let us know. - cityweekly


JonBenet Ramsey Case: James Kolar, Former Leading Investigator Rejects Intruder Theory In New Book

A former lead investigator in the still-unsolved JonBenet Ramsey murder case has come out with a book explaining his theory that there never was an intruder.

James Kolar claims in his book, Foreign Faction - Who Really Kidnapped JonBenet?that the evidence raised questions about the intruder theory that eventually led to JonBenet's family being cleared.

"I was kind of discouraged they didn't want to pursue things I thought should be looked at," Kolar said. "I was kind of discouraged the work I had done was not being received well," Kolar told the Daily Camera.

The title of Kolar's book correlates with the ransom note found in the Ramsey's home which claimed to be written by a "small foreign faction."

Kolar says he'd been hoping the case would have been solved by now and that his book could have been written from that vantage point. The former detective had access to 60,000 pages of evidence, including crime-scene video and photos, interviews with individuals related to the case and forensic reports.

Among the contradicting evidence Kolar points out in his book are fully intact cobwebs stretching over the window the intruder allegedly entered, more DNA evidence found at the crime scene including DNA on the garrote cord used to strangle the young girl.

In his book, Kolar also writes about a child's toy that was found that may have been responsible for some of the abrasions on JonBenet's body, rather than a stun gun which had been considered a possible source of the injuries to her back, according to The Daily Beast.

"By the time I parted company with the D.A.'s office, I was convinced that there was no significant possibility that an intruder had been involved in the death of JonBenet," Kolar writes in his book.

On Dec. 26, 1996, 6-year-old JonBenet was found bludgeoned and strangled to death in the basement of her family home. A ransom note from an anonymous group of individuals "that represent a foreign faction" asking for $118,000 in exchange for the safe return of JonBenet was found just hours before, but no call ever came from a kidnapper and it was never linked to a murderer. See the full text of the ransom note originally published by Vanity Fair magazine and republished by The Daily Camera, here.

John and Patsy Ramsey, JonBenet's parents were prime suspects for years and repeatedly appeared on news channels defending their innocence and demanding justice for the murder of their young daughter. The entire Ramsey family was cleared of any involvement in the murder of JonBenet back in 2008, thanks to then newly discovered DNA evidence, according to 9News. Patsy Ramsey, JonBenet's mother, died 2 years earlier in 2006 of ovarian cancer, tragically, she was still considered a possible suspect when she died.

Beginning in 2010, investigators reopened the case and launched a fresh round of interviews with witnesses that could provide more insight into the murder, according to ABC News, but nothing fruitful came of those interviews.

The DNA evidence still points to an "unexplained third party" that serves as a vague lead for authorities still pursuing the case, TIME magazine reported.

According to 7News, Boulder police have tested more than 150 DNA samples and investigated nearly the same amount of potential suspects in their ongoing investigation, but none have ever been linked to the crime.

After all these years, Boulder police have received thousands of tips about her murder and still receive several monthly. Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett said in 2010 that he personally gets five or more tips each month, according to Fox31. The ones that have potential are passed along to Boulder police's Major Case Unit. There have been plenty of false leads as well, including most famously Mark Karr -- who bizarrely admitted to being with JonBenet the night of her death, but DNA evidence later cleared him of any wrongdoing in this case, MSNBC reported. Craig Silverman, talk radio legal analyst on 630 KHOW that has covered the unsolved murder since it first broke, spoke to KDVR about the public's interest in the case back in 2010:

It's an enduring, epic mystery. Everybody would like to know who killed little JonBenet.
Silverman went on to say on his Huffington Post blog, "This JonBenet murder mystery has never been lacking for clues. There are too many clues. It is putting all the puzzle pieces together that matters."

It remains one of the most notorious murders in U.S. history and a decade and a half later there is still no justice for JonBenet who would be nearing her 22nd birthday if she were alive today. - THP

Foreign Faction - Who Really Kidnapped JonBenet?

Perfect Murder, Perfect Town : The Uncensored Story of the JonBenet Murder and the Grand Jury's Search for the Final Truth

In My Opinion: JonBenet Ramsey, the Travesty of Innocence Revisited