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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

MH17 Cover-Up: The MH370 Connection Revealed!

Shortly after the mysterious disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, WABC Radio host Aaron Klein stated: “Investigators would be wise to thoroughly examine the possibility of a missile attack in light of recent information about the global proliferation of such projectiles capable of downing civilian airliners.”

On his website, Klein Online, he cited “unverified claims” that a cache of surface-to-air missile launchers went missing in Ukraine. He made these statements in March-- long before many of the unfortunate passengers of MH17 even bought the tickets that would lead to their tragic demise.

Eerily, a little more than four months after Klein made this statement, MH17 was destroyed over the Ukraine, allegedly by pro-Russian separatists armed with surface-to-air missiles.

Even more astonishing than Klein's connection of the MH370 disappearance to the crisis in the Ukraine is the fact that, back in March, Malaysia's Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein revealed that Malaysian authorities received background checks from every nation which had passengers aboard MH370, except for two: Russia and the Ukraine.

"We have received passengers background checks on individuals from all countries except the Ukraine and Russia, which had nationals on board. So far no information of significance on any passenger has been found," stated Malaysia's Transport Minister at a press conference on the missing aircraft on Wednesday, March 19, 2014.

Russian and Ukrainian nationals on the same flight should raise eyebrows, along with the failure to disclose any background information on these mysterious passengers by Ukrainian and Russian authorities. But who exactly were these mysterious individuals? Victims? Conspirators? Or Both?

According to the Rakyat Post:

Only two countries have yet to provide any details regarding their nationals on board Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight MH370, which went missing on the morning of March 8.

“As of today, no,” replied Malaysia’s Acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein when asked if Russia and Ukraine had provided any information on their nationals.

When asked if he was pursuing the matter, Hishammuddin simply answered “of course” and did not elaborate further.

Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman, who was standing next to Hishammuddin at the press conference, was silent on the issue.

Here's what we do know about these three mysterious passengers:

Nikolai Brodskii- 43, Russia.

Brodskii, an elite scuba diving instructor, was a Jewish Russian national from Irkutsk who was returning from a vacation in Bali. According to Rabbi Aharon Wagner, head of Irkutsk's Jewish community, Brodskii "was close to Judaism". He was also a Russian diplomat attached to the Malaysian embassy.

Sergii Deineka- 45, Ukraine

According to his obituary, Deineka was a Ukrainian executive marketing administrator at the petroleum products industry LADA Ltd. in Odessa, Ukraine. Several sources identify Deineka as a pro-Russian sympathizer.

Oleg Chustrak- 45, Ukraine

It has been reported by several sources that Chustrak was not only a pro-Russian Ukrainian, but a former member of the Russian Secret Service, OGPU.

So there you have it, MH370 disappeared under mysterious circumstances while carrying an elite scuba diving Russian diplomat and two pro-Russian Ukrainians. And just a few months later, another Malaysian jetliner is said to have been blown up by a surface-to-air missile fired by pro-Russia separatists over the Ukraine. Nothing strange about that!

While many in the media are quick to roll their eyes at a possible connection between the two ill-fated Malaysian Airlines flights and those kooky conspiracy theorists who attempt to connect the dots, the mounting evidence seems to suggest that, in the very end, it just may be the conspiracy kooks who have the last laugh.

MH17 Cover-Up: Bodies missing from "death train"?

The "death train" arrives in Kharkiv

Late Tuesday, ABC Australia reported that the train which was supposedly carrying the remains of 282 bodies from the MH17 disaster arrived in the city of Kharkiv- but the train arrived with only 200 bodies on board.

"We are sure of having 200 bodies and body parts, that is all that I know," said Jan Tuinder, head of the Dutch delegation, on Tuesday. It is believed pro-Russian separatists fired the SA-11 surface-to-air missile which blew up the Malaysian jet liner.

It is perhaps strange that the alleged perpetrators of this disaster, the Russian-backed separatists, are not only the same people who loaded the bodies onto the train, but are also the same people who said there were 282 bodies on the train. How could 82 bodies possibly disappear on a train?

This is just one of the countless lingering questions in the wake of the crash of Malaysian Flight MH17.

International monitors report that the crash site is still being "compromised" by separatists near Donetsk, a pro-Russian rebel stronghold.

According to ABC Australia:

"There were human remains that had not been picked up," said Michael Bociurkiw, a spokesman for the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) observer mission after visiting the scene, amid reports of the wreckage being rearranged.

"What struck us is that we did not monitor any recovery activity in place," he said, pointing out that OSCE observers saw human remains in at least two areas at the sprawling crash site in rebel-held territory.

On Monday, separatists released the bodies of 282 MH17 victims, sending the corpses by refrigerated train to the government-controlled city of Kharkiv. The train, consisting of five refrigerated cars, arrived Tuesday and an Interpol forensics team has begun identifying victims.

Whether the discrepancy is the result of botched arithmetic or media confusion, it will nonetheless fuel conspiracy fires for weeks to come, as conspiracy theories centered around both Malaysian Flight MH17 and MH370 continue to spread around the Internet.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Fire-Breathing Humans

Can Human Breath Catch Fire?

Most of us are familiar with those colorful circus performers who spit fire as part of an act, but not many people are aware that human breath can ignite under the right circumstances. One such event took place in 1886 and was described by Dr. George Beatson and was published in the esteemed British Medical Journal.

Beatson, a pioneer in the field of oncology, described one patient with an extremely bad case of halitosis, whose breath was so foul that it was flammable:

I can not do better than give the facts in the words of the patient himself, who communicated them to me by letter. He writes as follows: "A rather strange thing happened to myself about a week ago. For a month or so I was troubled very much with foul eructations. I had no pain, but the smell of the gas which came from my stomach was disagreeable to myself and to all who happened to be in the room. About a week ago, as I said, I got up in the morning and lighted a match to see the time, and when I put the match near my mouth to blow it out my breath caught fire and gave a loud crack like the report of a pistol. (1)

Beatson reasoned that the gas buildup was the result of imperfectly digested food. During the process of digestion, he wrote, the atoms of carbon and hydrogen in the food became arranged in such a way as to produce carbureted hydrogen- an explosive gas.

Dr. George Beatson

Around the same time, a German gastroenterologist named Carl Anton Ewald wrote a book on indigestion and explored various cases of explosive breath, and was able to analyze the flammable gases produced by the human digestive system. In Ewald's book, the analysis of gas in one such case was 20.75% carbonic acid, 20.75% hydrogen, 10.75% carburetted hydrogen, 6.72% oxygen, 41.38% nitrogen, and trace amounts of sulphureted hydrogen.

In 1878, an interesting case of explosive breath was documented in Kentucky. According to the Louisville Courier-Journal:

A Kentucky audience was dreadfully shocked last Saturday night. Just as a local temperance leader was about to begin his address, he leaned too closely over the candle and his breath caught fire. He afterward explained, however, that he had been using camphor for the toothache. The amendment was accepted and the talk went on.

Reports of breath catching fire appeared on a regular basis in newspapers throughout the mid to late 19th century, with many papers blaming the combustible breath on alcohol consumption. As this was the golden age of the temperance movement in America and many newspaper editors fancied themselves purveyors of common decency and pillars of the community, it was not uncommon for papers to sensationalize these stories. Take the following, for example, which appeared in the January 22, 1891 edition of the Washington, DC Critic:

Medical literature of this country, as well as that of England, France and Germany, related many instances of the spontaneous combustion of the human body, the victim always being a person addicted to the use of spirituous liquors either as a beverage or in the form of a bath. About a year ago we gave an account of a drunkard on the Pacific coast whose breath caught fire while he was attempting to light a cigar at the gas jet, the flames utterly burning the interior of the chest to a crisp, of course resulting in the death of the unlucky individual.

The best case for drinking ever?

The problem with this type of yellow journalism, however, was that it was grossly inaccurate; medical journals of the era did examine numerous cases of spontaneous combustion, but nearly all concluded that it was nearly impossible for a body to spontaneously combust because of alcohol consumption. Undoubtedly, this type of sensationalistic journalism inspired by our national anti-liquor fervor led to the research of physicians like Carl Anton Ewald and George Beatson, who concluded that explosive breath was not a matter of drinking, but of eating.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Looking to the past for visions of the future

Of the many things I've inherited from my father, a fanatical love for The Twilight Zone has influenced me the most. As a kid, I reveled in each deliciously ironic episode, but my favorite episodes were the ones dealing with space travel, because they presented a picture of how the world would look in some distant far-off year... like 1987! Being a kid in the 1990s, of course, these episodes made me double over with laughter. I was equally amused by my grandfather's collection of vintage science magazines, with colorful covers which captured everything from flying cars to artistic renderings of the "world of tomorrow".

I have no idea how many other people share my fondness for vintage pictures of the future, but hopefully some of you will enjoy this post, perhaps those of you who are nostalgic for a tomorrow that never happened years ago, or for those of us who are still waiting for flying cars, bubble-shaped houses beneath the sea, and robot maids to cater to our every want and need.

Here was have a cover of Popular Science from 1933, which features a drawing of how movies will be made in a volcano. Why would anyone want to film the inside of a volcano in the first place, you ask? Well, I don't really have an answer for that.

Next, we have the "air bed", which does seem like a pretty darn cool invention, until you ask yourself, "What happens if the power goes out?" Talk about a rude awakening...

Even in the 21st century, this ball-wheel train still looks pretty badass.

The GE Kitchen of the Future. Now this is what technology is all about! Hey Google, stop wasting time with computer eyeglasses and get cracking on a conveyor belt that delivers me food.

The Germans apparently thought that by the year 2000, ships would also have the ability to function as trains. Oddly, they never stopped to think about just how exactly the driver would manage to get a 50,000-ton ship's wheels to line up with the tracks. Hell, I can't even back my car out of a garage without knocking off one of the side mirrors.

You can't have retro futurism without flying cars, of course.

Librarian of the future!

The Classroom of Tomorrow, where your child will be beaten senseless by robots.

In 2061, wearing tutus will be the cool thing to do

I bet this thing is a bitch to parallel park.

Next, we have some futuristic inventions that were actually produced but, for one reason or another, never caught on.

Maybe better-looking models would've helped.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Paranormal Pioneers: Dr. Carl A. Wickland

Dr. Wickland with his wife, Anna

With so many paranormal researchers labeled as pseudoscientists and quacks, it's important to remember the pioneers  who have made invaluable contributions to the world of science and medicine. One such pioneer was Dr. Carl Wickland, the Swedish-born physician who, in 1908, was appointed chief psychiatrist at the National Psychopathic Institute of Chicago. Wickland also authored the groundbreaking book Thirty Years Among the Dead, which chronicles his long career working with sanitarium patients and exploring the realms of reincarnation and demonic possession.

A wonderfully written article on Dr. Wickland appeared in the October 26, 1913 edition of the New York Sun, in which he details his methods and discusses some of his most incredible cases. Although Dr. Wickland remained active in the paranormal community up until his death in 1945, the New York Sun article is perhaps the most intriguing article written about this brilliant pioneer of paranormal research:

Obsession by evil spirits is the cause of insanity and exorcism is its cure, according to Dr. Carl A. Wickland, a physician and psychist of Chicago. By obsession by spirits also Dr. Wickland accounts for many mental disturbances which other alienists rate as phenomena of insanity's borderland. Dipsomania, he says, is often but another name for spirit obsession. Evil spirits taking possession of living beings often cause murders, suicides, sudden aberrations into crime by seemingly honest and normal persons, and changes in husbands and wives toward each other which lead to the divorce court.

Dr. Wickland uses no magic spells or incantations in his treatment of insanity by exorcism. He goes upon the hypothesis that spirits of the dead are reasonable intelligences. When an insane person is taken to him for treatment he first establishes communication through his wife, who is a psychic sensitive, with the spirit supposed to have taken up its abode in the patient's body. Then he reasons with the spirit. While he holds the patient's hands and gazes into his eyes Dr. Wickland addresses to the obsessing spirit some such argument as this:

"You have no right to take possession of this person's body. You are committing a crime by abiding in it. Perhaps you do not realize you are dead. But you are. The time has come for you to enter the higher planes of spirit existence. Prepare yourself for nobler levels by developing your better self. Abandon your earthly passions and appetites and depart from this person's body and join the discarnated intelligences that will welcome you to their company and help you attain the higher spirit life. Leave this living soul in peace and go your way."

Sometimes the obsessing spirit proves recalcitrant. Sometimes it meets argument with argument, expressing itself through the mediumship of Dr. Wickland's wife. Sometimes it fights to retain its fleshy habitation. Sometimes it yields to persuasion and departs. Then the insane person is restored to sane intelligence.
To understand Dr. Wickland's views upon insanity it is necessary to understand his views upon spirits. He believes that the spirits of those who die unprepared for higher spirit spheres remain upon earth and frequent the old haunts with which they were familiar in life. An earth spirit may sit invisible across hearth or table from its former living friends in the home, in the cafe, or at the club. It may rub elbows with the living on the streets.

Nine out of ten of these earth spirits, Dr. Wickland says, do not know they are dead. Unless it is prepared to wing its way at once to higher realms of spirit existence, the spirit liberated at death is generally unconscious that it has passed from among the living. Dr. Wickland often finds it difficult to convince spirits that they are not still alive and that the body of which they have taken temporary possession is not the physical body they once inhabited.

Dr. Wickland believes earth spirits are capable of education and development. He believes he is able through the psychic powers of his wife to send earth bound spirits a message of uplift. He calls himself a missionary to earth spirits and in this capacity he preaches to them. Through his ministrations as a preacher to ghosts he believes that many earth spirits have been enabled to realize their true condition and to go forward to higher and better planes.

"One of my insane patients," said Dr. Wickland, "was a young woman engaged to be married to a widower. Before his wife's death this man had lived in an apartment adjoining that of my patient. The two women had been intimate friends. The wife died suddenly and a short time afterward the man proposed marriage to the young woman. Soon after she had accepted him she began to show mental abnormalities.

"In her normal state she esteemed the man highly. When she was brought to me she expressed a violent dislike for him. She declared she would rather die or go to an asylum for the insane than marry him. She had made several attempts to end her life. Screaming spells alternated with obstinate and ugly moods.

"Through her psychic sense Mrs. Wickland saw that the spirit of a woman possessed the patient. Upon Mrs. Wickland's description the patient's mother and her fiance recognized it as that of the man's former wife. I got into communication with the spirit. 'He shall never marry her," it declared. 'He shall never have her! I will drive her to an insane asylum for life or I will kill her'. I urged the spirit to leave the patient. It was with difficulty that I convinced it of its true condition- that is was no longer alive, but was the spirit of a dead woman and was controlling a living body that was not its own. Finally I brought it to repentance and it agreed to leave.

"Then the spirit became distressed and said it was dying. After a death struggle it departed from the patient, who then recovered rapidly and is now perfectly well and happily married to her admirer.

"Another interesting case was that of a woman 48 years old, who had been in several sanitariums and had been declared incurably insane. She talked incessantly. She had been a woman of education and refinement, but I never heard worse language than she used. Her manner was roughly masculine.

"I found that the spirit of a man was possessing her. The spirit told me its name in life and the street number at which it had lived. I persuaded it to leave the woman's body. Then the patient became unconscious and acted as if she were dying. Artificial respiration was resorted to. This process was kept up for several hours until the patient fell asleep. For a week she lay in an exhausted condition and then her recovery was rapid. She is well and perfectly sane today.

"A year ago a man was brought to me from Minnesota. His was a case of obsession by four spirits, all of which I succeeded in exorcising. Three he recognized himself after he regained his senses as the spirits of men he formerly had known. One of the spirits was that of a man who had died in delirium tremens. The patient had been a teetotaller all his life, but under the influence of this spirit he would shriek for whiskey. He is now completely cured.

"A negro control held one of my patients under its influence. This spirit had lived before the Civil War and still thought it was living on the old plantation. The crooning of old darky songs was interspersed with screams of terror as if from the scourge of the overseer's lash.

Dr. Wickland also devoted much time to the study of reincarnation, and he believed that the traditional theories of reincarnation were incorrect. Wickland theorized that the memories and impressions one has of a former life do not actually belong to the living person, but are the memories of a life once lived by a spirit inhabiting the living person's body. Wickland wrote:

The theory of reincarnation can undoubtedly be traced to early stages of mankind when departed spirits took possession of the bodies of sensitive individuals and lived and acted through them, thus seemingly indicating reincarnation. But in reality this was only spirit obsession or possession.

Dr. Carl August Wickland died on November 13, 1945, leaving the world with many interesting and thought-provoking writings on the occult and the paranormal. In addition to his 1924 classic Thirty Years Among the Dead, he also authored The Gateway of Understanding. Both books continue to inspire countless spiritualists and paranormal researchers to this day.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Ufologist Death Conspiracy Debunked!

UFO hoaxer Gray Barker

Many articles have been written about the seemingly mysterious deaths of ufologists and a possible conspiracy link, but precious little has been written offering a logical explanation for the multitude of deaths suffered by those in the UFO community.

The topic of ufologist deaths was first brought to light by comic book writer Otto Binder who, in 1971, published an article entitled "Liquidation of the UFO Investigators," which begins:

Over the past 10 years, no less than 137 flying saucer researchers, writers, scientists, and witnesses, have died -many under the most mysterious circumstances. Were they silenced, permanently, because they got too close to the truth?

Definitely an interesting and provocative article, but do Binder's claims have any basis in fact?

Binder begins by mentioning the case of Frank Edwards, a radio newscaster and UFO aficionado who, according to Binder, was murdered during the 1967 Congress of Scientific Ufologists. Binder alleges that the chairman of the convention, Gray Barker, received letters and a phone call before the convention warning him that Edwards would die, while attempting to make a case that most mysterious ufologist deaths take place on June 24, coinciding with the date Kenneth Arnold made his now-famous sighting of nine flying saucers. Binder writes:

One day after the meeting was convened there was an announcement that Frank Edwards had succumbed to an "apparent" heart attack. How could anybody know that Edwards was going to die, unless it was planned? AND THAT'S CALLED MURDER!

You can forgive Otto Binder's excessive use of capital letters and exclamation points; after all, Binder spent most of his career penning Superman, Captain America, and Mystery in Space comic books. Talented though Binder was, he was a sci-fi writer at heart, not a journalist. He was no Bob Woodward. He wasn't even a Carl Bernstein. This much is evident a few paragraphs later, when Binder writes:

Actually, Frank Edwards died on June 23rd, a few hours before midnight. But the coincidence is still there - as if his death had been timed for that significant date.

Okay, so Frank Edwards didn't die on the 24th? Binder refutes his own conspiracy theory... in his own article making the case for a conspiracy!

Otto Binder

And what of Gray Barker, the sci-fi writer who claims to have obtained forewarnings of Edwards' death? UFO researchers conveniently gloss over the fact that Barker, like Rick Dyer of Bigfoot infamy, was a serial hoaxer. West Virginia's Clarksburg-Harrison Public Library maintains a collection of Barker's personal letters, and the library describes two of Barker's hoaxes on its Gray Barker UFO Collection website:

The Straith Letter was Barker's most notorious hoax. It was carried out by Barker and good friend, James Moseley, in 1957. Using State Department letterhead, they wrote to George Adamski as R. E. Straith claiming that he and other department members had evidence supporting Adamski's experiences. While, it is believed that Adamski knew the letter was fake; he quickly publicized it as evidence supporting his claims. The letter sparked debate over Straith's existence, and spurred a federal investigation in which Barker and Moseley were both heavily questioned. The letter's origins remained a mystery until after Barker's death in 1984.

The Lost Creek Saucer sighting was brainstormed by Barker and James Moseley in early 1966. The idea was to produce footage of a flying saucer. On July 26, 1966, they had John Sheets—one of Barker's researchers—hold a ceramic "boogie" saucer on a fishing pole in front of a car; while Moseley drove, and Barker filmed. Afterward, Moseley played the film during his UFO lectures, and Barker sold copies of the footage via his mail-order film business. Both men continued to claim that Sheets had innocently recorded the saucer landing. In "Whispers from Space," the footage is shown while Moseley discusses its origins.

So, let's look at the evidence so far. You've got a ufologist death conspiracy theory started by a serial hoaxer and publicized by a comic book writer. If that's not credibility, what is? But wait, there's more!

Like any decent writer trying to make a point, Otto Binder begins his article with the most credible example first (Frank Edwards). Binder then mentions the June 24 deaths of other ufologists, such as:

Frank Scully: Binder claims that this author, who once wrote a story in Variety claiming that dead extraterrestrial beings were recovered from a flying saucer crash, died on June 24, 1964. Unfortunately for Binder, this is incorrect. Scully died on June 23, at the age of 74, from totally non-mysterious causes. As for the dead ETs, a decade before Scully's death, San Francisco Chronicle reporter John Philip Cahn reported that Scully had been the victim of a con man named Leo A. GeBauer posing as a scientist.

Willy Ley: This former NASA advisor and rocket scientist did actually die on June 24, of a heart attack at his home in Jackson Heights, New York. The only problem with Binder's claim is that Ley wasn't involved in ufology to any great degree, other than being an avid fan of science fiction novels.

Richard Church: Binder claims that this man, a UFO expert and chairman-elect of the UFOlogy group CIGIUFO, died on June 24, 1967. The problem with this statement? In all likelihood, there never was a Richard Church or a ufology group named CIGIUFO. In fact, the only Google, Bing, or Yahoo search results you'll find for "Richard Church" or for "CIGIUFO" point to articles written by other conspiracy theorists claiming that somebody is killing off the world's ufologists on June 24. We have yet to find any concrete evidence supporting the existence of the Richard Church mentioned in Binder's article- no photographs, no obituaries, no historical newspaper articles, no death records... nada. Mr. Church appears to be just one more character of Otto Binder's imagination.

In all likelihood, Binder had based this UFO "expert" on Richard Church, the famed early 20th century poet and novelist who often wrote about the occult and the supernatural. In fact, Richard Church believed that possessed the ability to levitate and fly through the air. Such a fellow would surely be an inspiration to a man like Otto Binder, who earned his fame by writing Superman comics.

Binder goes on:

Whatever, the fact remains that over the past 10 years, no less than 137 UFO researchers and contactees have died. Many of the deaths were surrounded by peculiar circumstances.

And how did Binder obtain this information? Was somebody keeping a record of dead ufologists all the way back in 1971 when the Binder piece was published? He could've said 284 UFO researchers or 392 or 184. Who was keeping track? Binder fails to disclose the methodology used to reach this number. If there were only 200 UFO abductees and researchers in America at the time to begin with, then Binder's claim would be startling because it would point to an inordinately large percentage of overall researchers and abductees. How many UFO abductees or researchers die in any given 10 year period? Since we have no other figures to compare this to, it's impossible to say whether or not 137 dead ufologists in the course of a decade is cause for alarm.

Binder fails to prove his case by pointing out several other deaths of prominent figures in the UFO community (none of which occurred on June 24). He lists a bunch of scientists who dabbled in aeronautics and astrophysics, even though the majority of these scientists were pretty darn old when they died (on dates other than June 24). Old people dying? Who ever heard of such a thing!

Willy Ley

Another reason why so many deaths in the UFO community seem shrouded in mystery is because, let's face it, the UFO community is comprised of a much larger than normal percentage of whackjobs and folks who live unconventional lifestyles. For instance, Binder mentions the "mysterious" death of Gloria Lee Byrd, the woman who died after going on a fast at the instruction of space men. Many deaths, it seems, also appear to be suicides. This indicates mental imbalance, not conspiracy.

The bottom line is that the June 24 conspiracy is nothing but malarkey. You have a 1/365 chance of dying on June 24, which, mathematically, doesn't seem all that astronomical. Even Binder himself could only list a handful of examples and, of these, some of them didn't actually die on that date and others who did manage to die on that date weren't important figures in ufology.

By the logic employed by those who believe June 24 is doomsday for UFO researchers and abductees, it can also be argued that:

Somebody is killing off politicians on May 16, since that's the dying day of Alabama governor Reuben Chapman (1882), Swiss statesman Louis Perrier (1913), Ottoman ruler Mehmed VI (1926), Vice President Levi Morton (1920), Mali president Mobido Keita (1977), and South Dakota Lieutenant Governor James Abdnor (2012).

Somebody is killing off race car drivers on July 7, since that's the dying day of Kenny Irwin, Jr (2000), Jo Schlesser (1968), and race car engine designer Carlo Chiti (1994).

Somebody is putting the kibosh on soccer players on August 24, since that date marks the deaths of Bulgarian forward Krum Yanev (2012), Brazilian goalkeeper Félix Miélli Venerando (2012), American forward Gerry Baker (2013) and Brazilian defender Nílton de Sordi (2013). And holy crap, they all died in a span of two years! Must be a conspiracy!

Somebody is out to get poets on October 28, since the following poets all died on that day: Jean Desmarets (1676), Friedrich von Hagedorn (1740), Charlotte Turner Smith (1806), Ted Hughes (1998).
Our research also shows that 657 licensed gynecologists have died since 2004. The past ten years have also resulted in the deaths of 282 stand-up comedians, 388 high school gym teachers, 412 spelunkers, and 2,240 amateur folk singers.

It's gotta be the work of those men in black!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Allison Hill's House of Mystery

133 South 14th St., as it appeared in 1915

Today, the Allison Hill neighborhood of Harrisburg is regarded as a dangerous place, where gunshots ring out during all hours of the night and drug deals take place in the darkened alleyways behind rows of low-income housing. Local historians are quick to point out that Allison Hill- one of the city's oldest neighborhoods- was once the site of charming Victorian homes, magnificent gardens, and stately churches. Many of these historians, however, are not aware that Allison Hill's sinister reputation isn't a modern creation; In the early 1900s, Allison Hill was the site of one of the most intriguing unsolved murders in Pennsylvania history.

A young girl's skeleton, a rusty razor, and chicken feathers.

These were the items found in the cellar of home at 133 South Fourteenth Street, by plumbers who were digging in the basement of the building in February of 1915. The coroner, Jacob Eckinger, was summoned and immediately concluded that the girl had been murdered. Unfortunately, nobody in the neighborhood recalled a young girl ever having lived at 133 South Fourteenth Street since the home was built twenty-three years earlier. Even more strange was the fact that no girls had been reported missing.

So who was this unfortunate girl and how did she end up in a cellar grave in Allison Hill? These were the questions which tormented Coroner Eckinger, as well as county detective James E. Walters and District Attorney Michael E. Stroup, who left no stone unturned in their investigation. Dozens of anonymous letters poured in, but these letters provided few leads. One of the more promising leads suggested that the body belonged to Bessie Guyer, a girl from nearby Mechanicsburg who had run away. This theory was later disregarded when Bessie was located safe and sound.

The murder house as it appears today

The history of Allison Hill's "House of Mystery"

The house at 133 South Fourteenth Street, which still stands today, was built in 1892 by a man named Engle, who sold it soon after to a contractor named Morris Strohm. The following year Strohm sold the building to Milton Wagner, who owed the house until the early 1900s, when it was sold to Miss Minnie Burtner, who was the owner at the time of the chilling discovery. Like Wagner, Miss Burtner purchased the home as a rental property, leaving it in the hands of a landlord named B.F. Eby.

According to city records, the home's first occupant was Dixon Kitzmiller, a railroad worker who lived there between 1893 and 1894. From 1894 to 1900 the home was occupied by another railroad worker, Charles Eberly. From 1901 to 1902, a dentist named Charles Ayres lived in the building. All of these men were questioned and then exonerated, but the authorities were suspicious of the family who rented the home after Dr. Ayers- a German family said to have strange habits, which included the keeping of chickens and geese in the cellar.

R.C. Cashman and his workmen had taken four loads of mud from under the cellar steps in a wheelbarrow when they unearthed the bones. They found four or five vertebrae, several bones of the hands and feet, and fragments of skull. Next to a small clump of hair one of the men found a rusted razor blade and eight chicken feathers. The authorities believed that the feathers were an important clue and honed in on the German family who had rented the home in 1902. Unfortunately, all traces of the German family had been lost. It was said that the man of the house had worked as a laborer at the Boll Mattress Factory, but the Boll officials had no recollection of a German in their employ and, to complicate matters, the Boll company didn't keep records of its employees.

Samuel Hillman (L) and RC Cashman (R), the plumbers who found the skeleton

"A thousand to one shot that the mystery will never be solved," stated District Attorney Stroup to the Harrisburg Telegraph on February 19th. "When you consider that the body appears to have been buried at least ten years and that half a dozen families lived at the house during the time the body may have been buried, and that no marks of identification have been found, you can see how indefinite the clues are that we must work on."

On April 21, the Harrisburg Telegraph reported that authorities from Dauphin County paid $10 to Dr. E.L. Perkins to examine the bones, in the hopes that the physician would be able to uncover some bit of information that would help solve the case. But the bones told no tales and the investigation was put on the shelf. On May 24, 1915, the bones were buried and the unsolved murder faded from memory like the German family who once kept chickens in the cellar of 133 South Fourteenth Street in Allison Hill.

With the burial of the bones yesterday which figured in the skeleton mystery of Allison Hill, the last act in the drama of the skeleton of the young girl unearthed in a cellar was closed.Harrisburg Telegraph, May 25, 1915

(Reprinted with permission from Pennsylvania Oddities. Written by Marlin Bressi)
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