Posts Tagged ‘paranormal’

The Black Forest Haunting

Smack dab in the middle of Colorado lies the small mountain town of Black Forest. Named for it’s dense covering of pine trees, the area surrounding Black Forest is known to the Hopi Indians and other spiritually minded individuals as a “Rainbow Vortex.” A vortex can only be explained as a specific location containing multi-dimentional energy flow. These spaces may be used by visitors as a spiritual destination, to pray or meditate, and can also be described as a gateway to other realms, the spiritual world, varying planes of existance and other dimensions. It is believed that Asheville, North Carolina; Sedona, Arizona; Boulder, Colorado; and Burlington, Vermont hold a few of the country’s biggest vortexes. The Rainbow Vortex surrounding Black Forest is known as a powerful portal to the other side.

Steven Lee was an over-the-road truck driver from Louisianna who had driven through the Black Forest area several times on his cross-country hauls. He fell in love with the serene and natural beauty of the Colorado landscape, and often visited with his wife, Beth, and their two young sons. After a while the family decided to relocate there and over four years leased a couple different homes. In 1991 the Lee’s rented the beautiful log cabin at 8325 Swan Road, and one year later purchased the property. Although they had’nt nticed any previous activity, within weeks of owning they began being tormented-daily and nightly- by a medley of constantly flashing lights, stomping on the roof and pounding walls, shadows and electrical interference, an even the sound of an orchestra playing all around them. Beth described one incident as “the Fourth of July” going off in her living room. Their sons woke during the night and cried in fear of shadow people in their rooms. Bright lights and faces in the mirrors were the most common claims, as well as phantom animals and poltergeist activity. The Lee’s were also subjected to a strong chemical odor causing them extreme skin and eye irritation from the smell. Over the course of time the couple reported over 60 break ins but no traceable evidence to who or what it could have been was ever found. The El Paso Police Department began an investigation in 1993 but were at a complete loss as to what was causing the peculiar events. Steve Lee has purchased over $70,000 worth of security devices, cameras and video recording equipment; each one capturing white trails of lights , glowing orbs, translucent outlines of people and animals, and other anomalies, but no physical intruders. The collection of evidence found in the Lee home is the largest and by far the most stunning array found in any reportedly paranormal location. Angry faces fill the mirrors and windows of the home, psychics and mediums claim multitudes of long lost spirit bodies dwell here, visitors are routinely physically attacked.

In 1995 the couple contacted the paranormal television program “Sightings,” where producers confirmed the evidence Mr. Lee presented could not easily have been hoaxed or reproduced in any way whatsoever. “Sightings” decided to immediately investigate the home further with the help of Psychic Peter James, who attested to the presence of “powerful forces” inside the home. Mr. James was also able to channel the son of a family friend who had reportedly died of an overdose, only to confirm that he had been murdered, something James could never have known. “Sightings” producers also brought in Echo Bodine, a paranormal expert who immediately felt the presence of a dominating male spirit in the living room, along with over 20 more active spirits throughout the house. She deemed the paranormal activity inside the house “monumental” and told the Lee’s the closet in an upstairs bedroom contained a portal to the other side. During Mrs. Bodine’s visit, cameras and other equipment repeatedly flew off of tripods and malfunctioned, as well as an electronic pulse that began emanating from Mr. Lee’s police scanner on his bedside table. At the same time Mrs. Lee became overwhelmed with anxiety and exclaimed that she was being ‘held down’ as she sat at her kitchen table. A female crew member felt she was being violently physically attacked and only calmed down after being completely removed from the property. Several more strange and unexplained phenomena occurred while “Sightings” remained in the home, including a photograph taken of Mr.Lee which showed a white bolt of light shooting out from his forehead. The next morning he was awaken by a splitting headache and large welt on his head, and was rushed to the ER where a CAT scan could prove no cause for the injury.

Many different apparitions have been reported here including men and women in 19th century clothing, ghostly soldiers, and a flying dog. Steve Lee believes the dog is actually a beloved pet of his who passed several years earlier. Hundreds of weary faces captured in the mirrors of the home were documented with infrared camera and published in the March 1998 issue of FATE Magazine. Even the state Senator confirmed the presence of active spirits within the home, after witnessing and photographing orbs, spectres of light and human shapes on film. The activity has been so overwhelming for Steve Lee that he has now begun to believe that there is nothing paranormal behind it, that no matter how outlandish it may all seem he is convinced there is some sort of government conspiricy involved. He believes undercover agents are ‘messing with his family’ and has become all out paranoid. He has been tortured to the point where it seems he has completely lost his mind, surrendering to delusions of granduer and full bodied panic attacks. Despite everything they’ve been through, the Lee’s have stayed put. For a while they renovated the property, adding magnificent tree houses, guest houses and other such structures. As of last year the property had been put up for private sale, but only to those interested in and highly respectful of it’s extreme paranormal activity. It is being advertised as a “paranormal retreat” or “great place for a paranormal training camp” WOW :)

On historic High Street in Mt. Holly, New Jersey rests the Burlington County Prison & Museum. Constructed in 1811 and until it’s closing day in November 1965, the prison remained the oldest continually run institution in the United States. This historic landmark has seen over 150 years of tortured souls, some guilty, some insane, and some just without hope. Hundreds of hangings have taken place in the prison yard over the years, several murders and ultimately DEATH all around. Today the prison is overrun with spiritual activity including disembodied voices, howling screams, spine tingling moans, electrical interference such as flickering lights and drained batteries, slamming doors, orbs, full bodied apparitions and other such spectres, just to name a few. Some chalk this paranormal phenomena up to the fact that the prison has remained completely intact, from the inmate’s writing on the walls, the recorded sound of everyday prison life which plays on constant rotation over the loudspeakers, and the mannequins of men precariously placed about the cells.

The Burlington County Prison’s young architect Robert Mills later went on the design the Washington Monument, US Treasury Building, Patent Office and first US Post Office. The prison is a 2 story, stone, brick and mortar building with basement. Originally meant to hold only 40 prisoners, the jail eventually came to house over 100. The “Death Cell” is located on the third floor and served as a means of solitary confinement. It is here where prisoners were deterred from digging or escape and were held naked and chained to an iron ring upon the floor. Unlike other cells, it was without a fireplace and therefore held no warmth come winter. Both male and female prisoners were jailed alike, for crimes ranging from homicide and prostitution to failure to pay debts. At one time the Warden’s quarters were located on the second floor, with a small home later constructed outside the prison with access via an underground tunnel.

During the early days of the 19th century, laws were in place which required that all criminals guilty of capital crimes were to be executed in their convicting counties. In the prison yard here in Mt. Holly, gallows once stood where public hangings often took place and drew tremendous crowds. The two earliest convictions of murderess Eliza Freeman and murderer Joel Clough were held nearby on public land. Eliza Freeman was a poor drunken woman and former slave who cut her sleeping husband’s throat one night in 1832 with a razor blade. History claims she was somewhat mentally unsound and when asked if she had any regrets she exclaimed “I’m sorry that I spoiled my uncle’s floor.” It is estimated some 5,000 people were in attendance for her hanging, which was held nearby on the Mt. Holly road as the Sheriff was unable to find any land owner willing to let the execution take place on their property for fear of superstition. It was also exceedingly difficult for him to find any workers to erect the gallows nor was he able to arrange a burial plot for the same reason. Eliza Freeman’s body was buried in the prison yard late one evening in secret after protests from the inmates stemmed from the same superstitious beliefs. Was Eliza a witch woman? A conjurer of sorts? Perhaps she has something to do with the prison’s vibrant spiritual activity.

Joel Clough, Burlington County’s most infamous inmate, was a jilted lover and at the age of 27 was convicted of stabbing Mary Hamilton to death in nearby Bordentown. Joel rented a room in a boarding house from Mary’s father and quickly fell madly in love with the woman. He showered Mary with gifts, wrote elaborate love letters and tried in every way to please her, but to no avail. Although Mary was always polite to Joel, she did not return his feelings of romance and twice denied his proposal of marriage. After refusing to accompany him to a local ball, Joel went away to New York on business. He spent his time there drinking and galavanting around the brothels, and ended up being arrested  for stealing jewelry from a prostitute. He returned home to New Jersey broke and in a state of depression, only to learn that Mary had become engaged to another man in his absence. After hearing this he confronted her, stabbing her to death and claiming all the while “If I can’t have you no man will.”  Joel Clough was sentenced to execution and although he managed to escape the prison, he was caught within a matter of days and spent the last day of his life on the upper floor in the “Death Cell.” He was hung on July 26th of 1833 and was buried on the prison grounds alongside Mrs. Freeman, the only woman ever executed at the prison. Shortly after his execution, prisoners and guards alike reported hearing disembodied moaning sounds, sobbing and screaming as well as the rattle and clanking of chains. It is for these reasons Clough is considered to be the primary haunt of this location. Other incarcerated alumni include Albert DeSalvo, a visitor to the Garden State arrested on lewd charges of indecent exposure. Mr. DeSalvo would later come to be known as “The Boston Strangler.”

Many violent murders and other deaths took place at the Burlington County Prison. More than one guard was strangled and stabbed or beaten to death by raucous inmates in their attempts at escape. Upon extensive research of this location, I have found literally HUNDREDS of cold hard EVP’s (digitally recorded Electric Voice Phenomena.) They are widely available for your listening pleasure on several websites across the net. Many photographs of orbs, anomalies and other light spectres as well as pages and pages of documented first hand accounts are also easily found. Burlington County Prison & Museum welcomes paranormal groups, and is no stranger to the goings-on behind the walls. The Prison is located at 128 High Street, Mount Holly, NewJersey and is open Thursday through Sundays for tours, $4 for adults and $2 for students, children and seniors. During the month of October the Burlington County Prison extends an extra-special treat of a haunted house and is widely accepted as the best around. Happy Haunting!

Hellhounds Guardians of the Underworld
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Often employed by witches and dark magicians are the entities most often called, in this context, black dogs. They are often associated with practitioners of magic as familiars. Whether the Black Shuk of Norfolk, the Pooka of Ireland or the Booger Dogs here in the Ozarks, they are a mainstay, a staple of occult literature.

One such tale comes from Somerset where they have the Curt Dog. This account comes from “The Rough Guide to Unexplained Phenomena” by Bob Rickard and John Michell: “Twas awful. It has four legs, and it was black, and had great fiery eyes as big as saucers. It ran on until it came to where the water crosses under the road, and they things, of course, can never abide running water. So it just couldn’t get across, and it went up in the air like a flash of fire.” Those things which cannot abide crossing running water include some werewolves and vampires, which was always peculiar to me. I mean, how did they cross the oceans to arrive in the New World, or for that matter, beyond any water-locked region?

But I digress. In Patricia-Dale Green’s book titled simply “Dog,” published in 1966, comes this account. A farmer from Dartmoor heard footsteps approach him. He turned and saw a black dog. He went to pet it, but his hand passed through it. A “stream of vapor issued from his throat” and the creature departed. The farmer chased it to a crossroad, where it exploded in a blinding flash.

Black dogs have a habit of frequenting certain old roads or old tracks. Bob Trubshaw’s “Phantom Black Dogs” of 2005 has folkloric scholar Jeremy Harte listing no less than 24 such routes.

Black dogs are also attached to sacred places and said to be guardians of the dead or escorts to and from the underworld. In this capacity, they are most often referred to as Hellhounds. Sightings of these dogs often have left scorched ground and the lingering scent of sulphur or brimstone in their wake. At Hatfield Peverel, a waggoner nearly hit a black dog obstructing his path in a country lane. According to witnesses, he caught fire and was burnt to ashes along with his horse and wagon.

A sighting of this creature in many cultures is interpreted as a death omen. A black dog was haunting a road from St. Audries to Perry Farm in England in 1960. Two of the witnesses to the Beast’s appearance died shortly after their sightings. In “The Rough Guide to Unexplained Phenomena” a relevant entry is explored: In “the Suffolk volume of the Folklore Society’s county series, the local black dog is described in the words of an old writer and historian, ‘old Shock is a mischievous goblin in the shape of a great dog, or of a calf, haunting highways and footpaths in the dark. Those who are so foolhardy as to encounter him are sure to be at least thrown down and severely bruised, and it’s well if they do not get up.’ ” So, of course, I feel the foolish compulsion to seek out such encounters.

The most prolific outbreak probably was the dual event occurring on a Sunday in 1577. Reverend Abraham Fleming supplies us with an account. Between 9 and 10 a.m., while attending church, an extremely violent thunderstorm beset the people of Bungay, Suffolk. The sky became dark and the church shook. A parishioner cleaning the gutters was struck by lightning and fell to the ground.

By the flashes of lightning, the whole congregation saw a gigantic black dog running down the church aisles. It passed between two people praying on their knees and both were “instantly struck dead.” Another victim survived but was injured as his body seemed to fold in on itself. The machinery of the church clock was examined after the event and was found to be “torn up – severely twisted and broken”.

Many others were “blasted” by the creature as it made its way through the church. They are more rarely reported today. “A survey of all our black dog material suggests that these apparitions belong to a side of nature which was better recognized in the past than it is today. There is a pattern in the peculiar association of black dogs with water, bridges, underground streams, buried treasures, old churchyards and certain lengths of road.” This could be the most compelling example of environmental archetypes manifesting, the sightings of Hellhounds are tied to locations, not individuals

While researching this subject for the book I recently re-read John Keel’s “The Complete Guide to Mysterious Beings” and was rewarded with this gem: In the 8th century, a “great black beast” was prowling the dark and mystical forests of Germany. It was particularly active near the region of Darmstadt, it “outsmarted” and killed “many men” as well as the prime target of women and children. A brave local Baron battled the beast successfully and vanquished it. However, he was mortally wounded and died a short time later. We’ll let Keel spill the beans: “A statue was erected to him in the tomb of this castle, both of which are still standing. He was the Baron of FRANKENSTEIN” (my emphasis –B-). In a possible connection, we know that the literary and movie versions of Frankenstein charge Dr. Frankenstein with being a body snatcher, which would again fall under the jurisdiction of our canine guardian/escort. ‘Round in circles, in a nod to the mover of that befuddling synchronicity, three days after completing this chapter, my wife told me about “Paul the Hellhound” sightings reported on a local radio station, Power 96.5 FM

Paul the Nixa Hellhound
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Paul the Nixa Hellhound is labeled as such mostly by association; in my mind Paul entered the classification of “flap activity” around April Fool’s Day. There were sightings before this, but none in which I could contact a witness and follow up.

The date shouldn’t automatically scare off investigators, but obviously we should be extra vigilant in examining these reports. We would do well to remember why April Fool’s Day is a “holiday” to begin with. In the Old World, especially in Earth religions, it was observed that this period of time brought a disproportionate amount of anomalous activity, or simply strange happenings. Fortean falls (frogs, worms, fish, etc) occur more frequently, the spring months have the most “ghost/apparition” activity, and are typically among the top three periods for UFO reports and monster/cryptid sightings.

That said, around this time, the Fotsch & McClain morning show on Power 96.5 FM were discussing sightings of a “strange” canine creature. My lovely wifey was listening to their program (I’m strictly a talk/news AM type and rather boring as my wife points out) and they received enough calls to fuel days of speculation. When Chini brought it to my attention, I dropped them a line and they graciously invited me into their studio to discuss the creature.

Since then we have had a consistent flow of reports. Over a three-month period we collected 12 reports (this is an ongoing investigation) that we deemed very credible. These 12 reports came from Nixa (2), Republic, Ozark, Bois D’Arc, Marshfield, Camdenton, Rogersville (3), Branson (2) and Mincy. This covers an area of approximately 125 miles in a straight-line. It follows US-65 nearly the whole way (which is consistent with the literature on the “beast” this is historically, as well as currently been the case in these sightings. However the sightings DO NOT follow a migratory pattern. The animal will be sighted at one locale along this stretch then seemingly double back to be sighted in the opposite direction, where it appeared to have come from. We will further examine this zigzagging pattern later.

Of the 12 reports, we have eight that would be considered descriptions of what is likely a “flesh and blood” creature. The composite of these eight sightings would be a dog a little shorter than a Great Dane, with a slim body but large shoulders, and short to medium hair that is tan/brown/black color. It is very skittish, taking off when approached by people.

Now the other four cases really seem to represent something entirely different; something more exotic but something that has an established presence in local folklore. Starting from its physical description, it is said to have the “face of a fox, the ears of a bat (proportionate to its body) and the tail of a monkey.” This was the initial description put out. The composite of this creature is a very large dog with short black hair (thought this was never reported as tangled or mangy as you would expect with a wild or feral dog), extremely stocky with larger than normal eyes. The most cited descriptions claim the creature is the “size of a deer.” I heard this on separate occasions, and I also heard it described as “big as a buck.” These statements were made by witnesses that experienced daytime sightings and were within 15 to 50 feet of the animal. It is hard to misjudge the size of an animal at this distance in good light. The behavior of the animal was also marked: It is confrontational almost to the point of aggression.

Now let’s take a moment and address some of the arguments posed by the skeptics. The area the sightings cover and the sporadic locales of sightings would be problematic in blaming a single flesh-and-blood animal; it would require the creature to double back and cover long distances (along a major highway no less) in a short time without producing any sightings on its journey. We fielded one call from a person who believed they had solved at least the flesh-and-blood version of our canine cryptid, labeling it as either a “Scottish Deerhound” or an “Irish Wolfhound,” and those breeds do share some features with the reports of the flesh-and-blood animal. But there were no reports in the area’s largest newspaper that any dogs of these breeds were missing at the time. Because they are most often bred as show dogs, I also checked AKC registration and found only one of the 12 sighting locales had a registered member of that breed within a 25-mile radius.

Finally, if this was a flesh-and-blood animal sighted over and over, then one of two options seems logical: Either the dog is a lost pet and/or feral, or it is a naturally wild animal. If the first is true, a lost pet let’s say, how does it get sighted regularly along a state highway and never get picked up or even approached by agents of animal control? Why would it keep popping up in the same places, not only recently, but in folklore accounts overlapping successive generations? In other words why do these creatures get sighted in the same places sometimes decades apart?

The generic answer is that Hellhounds aka Devil Dogs, Black Dogs, Old Shuck, Demon Dogs or Booger Dogs (our charming regional title) have been said to be the guardians of highways, roads, portals to the spirit world, ley lines, and buried treasure from antiquity on. Sometimes seen as harbingers of disaster, they are also very often associated with the underworld as guardians (such as Cerberus) or as psychopomps (guides for souls) to the “other side.” This is true in MANY cultures, and the stories are very consistent. In many cultures a dog is buried near the entrance of cemeteries to guard the graveyard, otherwise the most recently deceased (newest resident) has to stand guard until the next resident moves in.

Now we move onto the origin story attached to our not-so-friendly neighborhood Hellhound, the Booger Dog. As the story goes – and we received the same basic story from three different sources of local folklore in Stone, Taney and Greene counties – back when the area was first settled, there was an old man who was something of a hermit (in two accounts the man’s name was Wolf/Wolfe). The community was, by necessity, much closer to one another and fairly religious (we are home to the Holy-Rollers). If one family was having a bad year with their crops, their neighbors made sure the family didn’t starve. If a family needed to raise a barn, the community would come together, usually as a church function, and have a barn raisin’ party. There was one man whom did not follow this “Good Samaritan” code. The man did not attend Sunday services and never helped his neighbors, he was something of a hermit and regarded as a blasphemer. He had the suspiciously apt last name of Wolf(e).

As the story goes Wolf, grew old and sick, as all MEN do and finally was on his deathbed. His kindly neighbors surrounded him trying to give the dying man comfort one brave soul even attempted a deathbed conversion. Just as the man attempted to save Wolf’s soul a great fire broke out. This is the one point of contention in the 3 stories, 2 claimed it started when lightning struck the roof, the dissenting opinion cited an errant spark from the fireplace. Whatever the cause, the end result was the same. The house was burning down around the neighbors ears.

While most of the crowd ran outside to safety 4 men remained to try and save Wolf. We are talking about big strong hay-chucking farm boys. First they tried to raise old-man Wolf from his bed and couldn’t, then tried to push his bed outside and couldn’t budge it. Finally they had to retreat outside to safety. Just as they cleared the threshold, an extremely large dog pushed past them and ran off into the woods. The fire burned out and the neighbors searched the ashes to give Wolf a decent, if not a Christian, burial, but there were no bones or remains to be found, the implication being that he had transformed himself into the great beast.

Ozarks historian/folklorist extraordinaire Vance Randolph has documented a number of eye-witness encounters. In “Ozark Magic and Folklore” he wrote, “One of my best friends told me seriously that as a little boy in McDonald County, Missouri, he once met a spotted hound that was bigger than a cow, and made tracks in the snow nearly two feet across.…. When I first heard this tale, I suspected the man had invented it for my especial benefit, but on checking with his relatives I learned that he had told the same story more than 20 years previously, and that it was known to everybody in the neighborhood.”

Another tale from the small town of Bunker, MO, evokes another Hellhound, this one with a water connection. A “Dr. J. Gordon….Crossing a little stream on horseback, near the Bay Cemetery … saw a figure like a dog, but very much larger. This thing apparently walked on the water without a sound or a ripple. Dr. Gordon saw it many times, once in bright moonlight.”

One last Randolph story, related by Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Mahnkey, details how “a fiddler named Jake Lakey was killed at a dance in Taney County, Missouri, about 1900. (Mahnkey’s) neighbor young Lewis Blair and another boy were sent on horseback to break the news to Jake’s wife, who lived several miles away. Blair told Mrs. Mahnkey that a great black dog ran beside their horses all the way, and when one of the riders struck at the creature with a quirt, the quirt slashed right through it. And when they got to their destination, Mrs. Lakey said calmly; ‘You’ens have come to tell me that Jake is dead.’ In this case, the dog is clearly not a flesh-and-blood creature, but a psychopomp, escorting the boys to tell the widow of her husband’s death.

Now these stories, new and old, were all very similar in events, but the tales themselves are distinct. These events were either perceived as a real by the people relating them, or had a common source, with the language of the story adapted by each story-teller. Either way it represents a rationalization, a story that, if devised, was told to explain a creature that was indeed encountered and blamed for horses being “spooked” and running off and for causing several wagons to catch fire (once even supposedly killing the driver although I’ve yet to verify this in any way). And there are strong elements of fire and electricity we must keep that in mind. One last digression, 3 of the 4 times I was contacted by these witnesses were not familiar with the stories. When I was on the radio it was at a time when they were at work or school.

Finally onto our case, the first report I classified as a “case of interest” was reported to us four days after our sit-down with Fotsch and McClain, this would be around April 11, 2009. Two boys were walking to be picked up by the school bus in Rogersville, MO as they did everyday. This required them to walk a relatively short (though I doubt the boys would agree with this assessment) distance to get to the bus stop.

As they walked past their neighbor’s yard, they observed that there was a new dog in the neighborhood. They walked over, stopping about 5 feet from the chain-link fence surrounding the yard. The dog was around 10 feet away. The boys described it as having short black hair and being the “size of a deer, and not any yearling.” After two or three minutes, one of the boys decided to walk up to the fence to get a better look.

Something in the dog’s demeanor must have changed, because as quickly as the boy announced his plans to put a scare into it, he felt intimidated and stopped. About a half minute later, the dog turned nonchalantly and walked THROUGH the fence. Understandably this upset the boys, and they ran and told the owner of the house what they had witnessed.

At first the woman thought they were “funnin’ her” but she quickly changed her mind as they seemed genuinely “shook up.” She later told me she had known one of the boys (the one who hadn’t approached the fence) all his life and that he “couldn’t lie to save his life.” Upon examination of her backyard she found nothing. The area inside the fence was grass-covered so no prints were visible. However, just outside the fence was a patch of dirt/mud. In this patch was a single, very big paw print. It was the size of a hand curled up into a loose fist, which is slightly suspicious to me, but it would be hard to place by leaning over the fence and there were no footprints in the area.

Our second sighting occurred about a week and a half later. The first occurred in Bois ‘D’ Arc a small community just outside Springfield, MO, which is our base of operations. A local farmer was repairing a piece of his cattle fence that was damaged by the wind in a storm the night before.

The man was going about his repairs when about 15 minutes into his project he felt the sensation of being watched. The man looked up and saw a black dog that was stocky and “big as a buck” staring him down. The witness estimated he was 15 feet away from the animal. It was then he experienced a tingling sensation “like when you get shocked with static electricity. ” This lasted maybe five seconds, and when he pulled his hands off the fence he smelled something burning, but his hands had no visible marks. He looked up again and the dog was entering a patch of woods nearby.

Upon interviewing the man, we discovered that his digital wristwatch stopped working; the thing was as dead as a doornail. This happened right after his encounter, as he discovered when he checked his watch to note the time. Could the mild shock he received have been responsible for shorting out his watch?

The third event we relate here is not directly connected, but if you’re around this field long enough, you look for other anomalies that are not always visibly linked to the central phenomenon. Also because the proximity of this encounter with water.

It occurred on the same day as our previous story at a local Ozark, MO, teen hotspot, although we didn’t receive the report until a week later. At a certain reputedly haunted bridge, three teens were drinking beer and carousing. (Right here I must say I do not condone this activity; underage drinking is horribly dangerous.) This group consisted of two girls and one boy, one of the girls was the sober designated driver. As they lounged around the base of the bridge they kept seeking some “very dark form” moving, they couldn’t make out the shape or size but they all saw it, the sober girl first, and when they saw a pair of “red eyes” floating in the dark they wisely decided it was time to beat feet.

Over the next week, two of those in attendance, as well as other family members, experienced paranormal activity. The sober girl had an outbreak of Poltergeist activity. The family heard numerous loud “poundings” that awoke them in the middle of the night, salt and pepper were spilled when everyone was in bed (the family has no household pets or children under the age of 17) and a toaster caught fire twice.
The boy of the group also seemed to have brought something home with him that night.

The night after they visited the bridge, the boy woke up and went to the bathroom around 3 a.m. After he finished, as he was washing his hands, in the bathroom mirror he observed a black form hovering behind him. The boy turned and it was gone. The next night around 8 p.m. the boy’s 9-year-old sister was about to climb the stairs to her bedroom when, on the landing at the top of the stairs, she saw a “blob-looking thingy” that “hung” there for around a minute and then “walked through the wall.”

The last sighting was witnessed by both the 9-year-old and her older brother. The two were in the dining room clearing the table when they saw the black mass standing at the sliding glass door, either just inside or just outside. It was there for around 15 seconds, and then it seemed to “melt into the darkness.” That was the last encounter we documented related to the bridge incident.

Our last documented encounter of this creature was about three weeks after these events; right back where it began near Logan/Rogersville (the name Logan has an association with hidden and lost structures). An older couple – the woman in her 50s and the man in his early 60s – contacted me with this amazing tale.

The couple was out gardening when their dogs, which were kept in a dog run, went wild. The couple looked up and saw a “black dog, much bigger than a St. Bernard,” pacing along the fence of their dog-run, obviously distressing the dogs. The black dog was around 50 feet from where the couple was gardening. The two approached the dog, the woman brandishing her rake and the man his walking-stick. There was a well established path to the run, and the dog was visible to them at all times … until it vanished. The man put it this way: “It just kind of blinked out, you know. There one minute, then just gone.” After a couple of perplexing seconds, they relocated the animal next to a tree near the edge of their property. Their curiosity piqued, the couple approached the dog cautiously. The animal seemed unconcerned, and the couple walked to within 10 feet of the dog before it let out a “loud and low growl, almost like thunder rumbling,” then it slowly walked around the tree out of sight.

This tree stands in the middle of a field with no cover of any kind for 100 feet – nowhere to run to baby, no where to hide. But it would seem that the creature had neither of these options on its mind. After waiting almost 15 minutes, curiosity again got the better of the couple. Slowly, weapons raised, they each circled the tree, meeting up on the opposite side. The dog was gone. It had left behind a sizable area that looked similar to a large, quadruped (four legged) creature’s bed down area. Near this we found a piece of wood that was slightly burnt and an oval-shaped patch of scorched earth about 18 inches by 12 inches.

Further investigation on the couple’s property revealed a burnt picture and a dead bird next to one another in a nearby wooded area. This suggests an attempt at some kind of a dark magic ritual. Could this be connected to this encounter? Perhaps, since summoning the beast is a fairly common occurrence in the folklore.

Finally, we have one last common denominator in these cases, one that has ties to the history: all four of the more bizarre sightings occurred within 24 hours of a thunderstorm. We had a particularly ripe storm season; could that have been behind the sightings flap?

Elements of fire and electricity play a role in the stories of the past and the sightings of today, which recur along the same routes over extended periods of time. The sightings follow a major highway system as well, which tends to be the case in most cultures.

There are some schools of thought (in paranormal studies) that say that between 36 degrees and 38 degrees longitude, high strangeness and monster-sightings are much more frequent. Missouri in general, and specifically the areas of these sightings, are located in this sector. There is also a strong oral tradition that holds that the area of the Ozarks holds many “doorways and entrances” to other dimensions. Just the sort of thing a Hellhound would guard. We will keep you informed.

BLACK-EYED-KIDS

Since releasing the Cookbook the most asked about entity is invariably the “Phantom Clowns” and the  ”Black-Eyed-Kids”. This Internet phenomenon rivals chupacabra in recent interest without the coverage of conventional media.

The original story was told by Brian Bethel, a freelance writer who has had numerous pieces published in Texas papers. He really laid the groundwork, so we want to credit him appropriately. He relates an experience he had in Abilene, TX and one of a colleague in Seattle, WA. The tales are fairly typical in nature to most follow-up stories I’ve read and had submitted to me. They almost always pop up at night and most frequently near dusk and dawn. Generally one night you are alone in your home or car when a group (usually two or three, occasionally an individual) will attract your attention by knocking on your door or car window.

You are inevitably startled, and at first you feel silly for being spooked by a couple of kids, usually teenagers and often of a Lenny and George “Of Mice and Men” dynamic. The bigger one seems slower and quiet, while the smaller one is more vocal, obviously in charge, and seems somewhat manipulative in his behavior. Invariably, they will ask you to let them in; this is one of the only constants in the reports I have come across. Sometimes this request is communicated telepathically, but more often asked aloud. At this point your average person is feeling increasingly anxious. You offer to call their ride or direct them to a nearby pay-phone, but they are PERSISTENT. “Just for a moment” is what they tell you. Sometimes they claim to have had an accident and those they “just need to inform the authorities.” As the story goes, if you allow them entry … THEY GET YA! This smacks of Urban Legend with a rehash of qualities found in demon and vampire lore.

Their most striking feature is their totally black eyes – iris, pupil, the “white” of the eye, the whole shebang-a-bang. This is reminiscent of “The Children of the Corn,” or the eyes of the aliens in “The X-Files.” Of course the seeking permission for entry is a very common theme in vampire lore. They have a tendency to disappear when pursued, even when there is no place they could have gone or hidden. This same behavior is reported in Men in Black/Vampire/Ghost Hitchhiker encounters. This seems to just be a composite of elements ascribed to other demonic type entities in supernatural literature. This has to be fake, right?

Not so fast there, Quick-Draw McGraw. There are other features that are either VERY obscure or that have not been raised in association with any phenomena I am familiar with. For one thing, they dress as you would expect a normal teenager to dress (contemporary) with one exception; they seem to have a definite fashion statement in the wearing of checkered shirts or pants. We see this to be  recurring theme with the ”Grinning Man” and bridge walkers in the ”The Mothman Prophecies.” We will also point out the checkered shirts worn by Bigfoot in the ‘70s, the checkered robes in some higher Masonic and magical rituals and the Phantom Clowns (which we will discuss in a future article). This indicator is a piece of information rarely known to the general public. It is a little more familiar in the circles I travel in, but not much. So this is a consistency that your average hoaxer would have very little awareness of, at best.

The images that most of us would associate with vampires, as well as “The Children of the Corn” motif, are of people with pale, pasty complexions. This is an understandable preconceived notion, but incorrect. In 60 percent of the cases I’ve received, these young-uns were described as “dark” in skin-tone. I have heard Brazilian, Samoan, Indian (Hindu) and Dominican from witnesses attempting ethnic categorization. In 30 percent of the cases, the witnesses described the eyes as having a subtle but defined slant. They are often described as having foreign or exotic facial features. When we look back to Keel, this description seems to be close to descriptions of MIB types who look like “Gypsies, Oriental and Persian” in appearance. So, again if these are hoaxers, they’ve done their homework.

They have been reported in 23 states to date throughout the country but the most reports come from the cities. They seem to be a metropolitan/cotemporary manifestation versus the MiB of Rural WV; hot spots at Boston, NY and Philadelphia in the East and Portland and Seattle in the West.

They sometimes wear dark colored long sleeved shirts with the hoods up or stocking caps. The hood is evocative of the Grim Reaper. I had a case where a thin, almost “sickly” looking 14-year-old was dressed all in black. His face was very gaunt and his eyes seemed almost sunken into his head. He asked permission for entry while learning on a large “walking stick.” So, those of you who have a functioning imagination can visualize this and see the obvious connection. The next observation is a subjective one, but very common. There is a feeling that these children are “predatory,” as I am often informed. The majority of the witnesses felt compelled to “stand their ground” or to “not show fear” because this would result in their “being marked.” I know it’s hard to hang your fact-checking hat on a “feeling,” but I also know that in investigating these matters it is important to note any and all patterns, be they statistical corroborations or intuitive assessments. Another one of these is that when they are observed in a public place, no matter how crowded, they have no one seated at the tables next to them. I have also been informed that when they walk about, people seem to make a clear path for the, even in a crowd; again subjective but interesting.

The last aspect we will touch on is that, for some reason, Black-Eyed Kids seem to have an affinity for coffee houses. I have three cases in my files of encounters at Starbucks (which seems appropriate considering one of the first reported sightings occurred where this company originated in Seattle, WA). Two were outside a Dunkin’ Doughnuts and another two were at an unnamed coffee establishments. Maybe it’s an exhausting, late night gig being a damned soul and they need their caffeine fix. They also show up outside convenience stores with some frequency.

Just so the reader can have a feeling of the texture of these experiences, we are going to relate a couple of cases from the SPOOKS archive.

This BEK tale comes from Ken who is the head of security (loss prevention) at a large retail store in Michigan, this was at the end of October in 2007. Ken was walking around his store and kept noticing a couple of young men around the age of 15 one large one short. He did not recognize the pair noting “they looked like some of those Goth kids” dressed in dark clothes (he couldn’t recall the specifics).

The big one seemed nervous glancing over his shoulder every time Ken passed them. To Ken this was a sign of a guilty conscious, a few minutes later he approached the pair. The bigger boy seemed nervous but not “oh shoot i’ve been caught” scared. Ken had the pair empty their pockets and the boys obliged. They indeed had several items from the store with the pricetags still affixed. Ken then took them back to his office to call the police, he began by questioning them the smaller of the two done all the talking and seemed “amused” by the situation. Ken thought they were on drugs because their pupils seemed fully dilated.

While waiting for the police to show up, the head of security began to review the tapes of the boys. And upon viewing the tapes, he got his  first real indication that something out of the ordinary was going on here. While the boys were on tape almost every second in the store, they were never “caught in the act”. So Ken was faced with a peculiar situation, with cops on the way, he had these kids on possession of stolen property but no other evidence.

The Head of Security then locked them in his personal office, other than a steel door the only other exit was a window with wire embedded in the glass. He went to talk to the night manager about the situation (as he didn’t want to talk over his radio) and when the two of them returned to his office the two boys were gone and the window had been shattered (inward) but the WIRE WAS STILL IN PLACE. And while the video was still in the main office the whole system was ruined in a way that would be consistent with a “magnetic rinse” (where you take a magnet and run it over computer, tv etc) leaving Ken with only this fantastical story and circumstantial evidence at the scene.

Our next BEK account comes to us from Gerald in Ohio. Gerald is a trucker doing long hauls. After making a delivery around midnight, he decided to drive back home to see his daughter. He did this about half the time, especially when he was within 200 miles of home. Otherwise he would bed down at a weigh station or occasionally a cheap motel. He had been on the road for a little over two hours and decided to stop and get an early breakfast. He pulled into a truck stop diner that was still open, with that charming promise of “Eat Here, Get Gas”, always worth a chuckle. Gerald entered the restaurant and noticed the lights seemed to be especially dim. The sign said “Open” but he saw no-one. Finally a waitress came from the back. She greeted him and the two spent a couple of minutes in “light conversation.” She seemed “very bright” and knowledgeable, so much so that Gerald inquired if she was from a trucker family, since she had an “extremely good understanding of routes”, but she told him no, that she was an Army brat and had done a bit of traveling “in her day.” This from a girl who “looked 17 in a bad light.”

She took his order and went back to the kitchen. At this point, the driver realized that the situation was a little peculiar; a teenage waitress being the only person in the restaurant? He said he waited around 20 minutes, trying to think of a slick way to ask her for her number. She was unlike anyone he had ever met. Not only was she just smart in general, but he felt that they “connected, that she knew me.” She guessed his birth day and year, and she seemed very intuitive. This wasn’t what bothered him; what kept nagging him was how, when he ordered a chicken fried steak, she informed him “you can’t have that it’s fried in peanut oil.” Gerald was deathly allergic to peanuts but he never told her that. The more he thought about it, the more perplexed he became.

Finally he decided to go back and ask the young lady how she could possibly know about his allergy. And here I will let him tell the story in his own words.

“So I got up, went to the back where there was a little office for the manager, ya know? I knocked on the door, kind of soft at first, then harder. I knocked three different times, but I got no answer. I kind of nudged the door open just a bit – I didn’t want to catch her changing clothes or nothing – and she was standing with her back towards me. ’Missus.’ I say, and then she turned around. I freaked. Her eyes were totally black; I mean no white at all. Her skin was so dry, her OLIVE (my emphasis –B-) complexion was full of cracks, not wrinkles, mind you but cracked skin like you see on chapped lips, ya know? She was all dried out like a mummy, and her mouth was stretched. I mean more than anyone I’ve ever  seen. It was way too wide to be normal, seemed like she was grinning ear to ear, literally. Then she left out this, like, inhuman sound. Kinda like a coyote’s yip, but deeper sounding, ya know? I took off so fast that I forgot to pick up my keys. They were sitting on top of my logbook. But when I got to my rig, they were sitting right there on the front seat. I know for damn sure I never leave my logbook in the cab. I looked up at the diner, and I could see her moving from one spot to the next. It was so fast that she seemed almost blurry, like when a hummingbird flaps its wings, ya know? I think she had that same look on her face, like it was frozen. I decided to get the hell outta there. I started my rig and rolled to the exit. I looked into the sleeping area, and there she was, that smiling devil girl. I tried to take off, but I forgot to look. Nearly hit a state trooper, and then she was gone.

The trooper seemed, uh, doubtful about my story, and it didn’t help that there was no one in the diner. It had been closed since midnight. I know what I saw; can’t no-one tell me different. The things she knew, the way she moved: It wasn’t human. But the worst of it is, when I close my eyes at night I see her grinning that really evil grin. I ain’t been able to sleep right since.” Understandably so.

So what are these BEK’s? The growing number of encounters suggests they are either a new phenomena or, as i suspect, new stage dressing behind a phenomena that has been experienced since the beginning of recorded history. Whether it’s Green Children, Men-in-Black or the Black Eyed Kids there is a history of mysterious folk who pop up from time to time, place to place and maybe the next time might be in your neck of the woods. Trick or Treat.