Friday, December 31, 2010

Thomas Jefferson's UFO

From the Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, Vol. VI Part I. First published by Jane Aitken in 1804 in Pennsylvania.

Description of a singular Phenomenon seen at Baton Rouge, by William Dunbar, Esq. communicated by Thomas Jefferson, President A. P. S.

Natchez, June 30th, 1800.
Read 16th January 1801.

A PHENOMENON was seen to pass Baton Rouge on the night of the 5th April 1800, of which the following is the best description I have been able to obtain. It was first seen in the South West, and moved so rapidly, passing over the heads of the spectators, as to disappear in the North East in about a quarter of a minute. It appeared to be of the size of a large house, 70 or 80 feet long and of a form nearly resembling Fig. 5. in Plate, iv. It appeared to be about 200 yards above the surface of the earth, wholly luminous, but not emitting sparks ; of a colour resembling the sun near the horizon in a cold frosty evening, which may be called a crimson red . When passing right over the heads of the spectators, the light on the surface of the earth, was little short of the effect of sun-beams, though at the same time, looking another way, the stars were visible, which appears to be a confirmation of the opinion formed of its moderate elevation. In passing, a considerable degree of heat was felt but no electric sensation. Immediately after it disappeared in the North East, a violent rushing noise was heard, as if the phenomenon was bearing down the forest before it, and in a few seconds a tremendous crash was heard similar to that of the largest piece of ordnance, causing a very sensible earthquake. I have been informed, that search has been made in the place where the burning body fell, and that a considerable portion of the surface of the earth was found broken up, and every vegetable body burned or gready scorched. I have not yet received answers to a number of queries I have sent on, which may perhaps bring to light more particulars.

Note. The above communication was acconipaniedby an account of the first invention of the Telegraphe extracted from the works of Dr Hook. Mr. Dunbar was induced to forward this extract to the Society, as he supposed it had been less noticed than it deserved to be. But it was deemed unnecessiry to print the Paper, as it may be seen in the works above mentioned, and is referred to by Dr. Birch in hit history oi' ths Royal Society. Vol. 4th, page 299.

Kansas' OTHER Notorious Killing Clan

Dallas Morning News September 16, 1897

First Reward in Search for Staffleback Victims | Galena All Wrought Up Over the Probable Find of the Bodies--Columbus Jail Very Insecure

Galena, Kan., Sept. 16---The hoist is still at work in the shaft in which victims of the Staffleback family are supposed to be. A large crowd surrounds the mouth of the pit at all times and great interest is shown in each bucketful of dirt which comes to the surface. This interest was rewarded about 9 o'clock this morning by the appearance of a wooden club on which was a bunch of hair. This was carefully examined by barbers and others, and pronounced human. The workers had begun to despair of results, but this find increased new energy in the search.

It is said on the streets that a company of vigilantes has been organized to go to Columbus in case bodies are found and lynch the entire Staffleback family. It is said that the man who will lead the crowd is the one who commanded at the lynching of Joe Thornton in Joplin ten years or more ago. This committee of forty-five is said to be mostly workingmen, but a number of merchants have signified their approval of the scheme and their willingness to join in the work.

The people of Galena are thoroughly aroused. A number of murders have been committed here lately and many disreputable characters have come here from other places. There is likely to be a determined effort to clear the moral atmosphere by making the town too hot to hold those not wanted.

If the crowd should go to Columbus and be successful in gaining access to the jail, the Stafflebacks will not be the only ones hanged as there are nine men in that structure who have been recently convicted of murder in the first degree.

The general opinion in Cherokee county is that Kansas needs a Governor who will sign a batch of death warrants. Opinion is somewhat divided as to the probability of a lynching bee. Public sentiment is undoubtedly in favor of it, but concentrating and leadership are necessary to bring about results.

It is expected that the bottom of the shaft now being dug out will be reached soon. This is the one in which the bodies of the two girls are supposed to be. If nothing is found in this shaft, another one nearly 100 feet deep will be searched for the body of the peddler alleged to have been thrown in there before the murder of the two girls. This is the shaft out of which some bloody clothing was taken Tuesday. The only explanation of finding these things other than the supposition that bodies are there is that these shafts have been used as receptacles for the articles used in connection with the Galbraith murder and as a general dumping ground for as tough a residence district as there is in any part of the state.

The (Kansas) Sun
September 18, 1897

Nine Persons Charged with Murder Are in Hourly Expectation of Mob Violence

COLUMBUS, KAN., Sept. 17---The Cherokee jail, which is at present the home of the Staffleback band, has an uneasy lot of inhabitants tonight. They have been for the last three days in hourly expectation of a visit from the miners of Galena, who have sworn to lynch "Mother Nance" and her brood.

In the stone jail are crowded forty-eight prisoners. Of these, nine are charged with murder in the first degree and seven have already been convicted at this term of the Circuit Court.

If a mob comes to Columbus, its work may not end when the Stafflebacks have expiated their crime. Murderers now in the jail may be left tenantless by such a visit.

Kansas Semi-Weekly Capital
September 17, 1897

Startling Developments in the Gailbraith Murder Trial
The Stiffleback Family Alleged to Be Professional Murderers, Numbering Victims by the Score

Columbus, Kan., Sept. 14---The trials of George and Edward Stiffleback and Charles and Nancy Wilson for the murder of Frank Galbraith at Galena, Kansas, on the 19th day of last June, has developed a carnival of crime only surpassed in the state by the famous Bender family.

Nancy Wilson, one of the defendants, is the mother of the two Stifflebacks and the wife of Charles Wilson, by her second marriage.

For several years, occasionally dead bodies would be found at the bottom of abandoned shafts which are to be found near at hand in any part of Galena or its suburbs, but the coroner's jury would usually have no suspicion of foul play, thinking perhaps that on some dark night the deceased person had carelessly mistaken the road and walked into them, and the fall on the rocks at the bottom of the shaft accounted for not only the death of the person but also for whatever wounds were found on the body.

The defendants were all mutually interested in maintaining a house of ill fame and until this trial it was supposed this was their only means of gaining a livelihood, and when it became necessary to replenish their harem if they could not entice some young victim into their clutches in any other manner, they would marry them.

George had lately married a new wife, but as soon as she discovered what was expected of her she skipped out to her old home. When George found she would not return under such circumstances he wrote pledging that if she would return to him that they would live separate and apart from the other Stifflebacks. This induced her to return. George at once began his efforts to persuade her to embark in a career of infamy. She refused, but did not dare to leave for she had seen enough of the gang to be afraid to directly oppose them, but she was only awaiting her time. After she had been at the Stifflebacks about ten or twelve days, a murder occurred.

On the 19th of June one Frank Galbraith, a miner, came to the house at about 11 p.m. and enquired for Em Chapman, an inmate, but a daughter of Mrs. Wilson. This Mrs. Wilson went to the door and told Galbraith Em did not want to see him, that she was engaged. Frank said "Em had sent him a note to call and see her and he was going to do so," at the same time going to her room to which Mrs. Wilson followed. The old woman again ordered him to leave the house and seeing Ed and George Stiffleback and Charles Wilson entering the room and perhaps anticipating trouble he immediately proceeded to go. As he left the room Mrs. Wilson followed and seized a huge corn knife which she always kept handy, she cut at Galbraith but whether she hit him or not is not known. Galbraith then broke and ran for the nearest street but as he ran the gang followed and Ed Stiffleback drawing his revolver, fire one shot, which Mrs. McCoombs, an eye witness, says must have hit him above the hip for it brought him to the earth. The Stifflebacks still pursued their victim and he struggled and rose and started on the run again with Ed within a few feet of him. When near an abandoned shaft he caught up with Galbraith and placing the pistol against his head, fired, killing him.

After he had fallen the three men and old woman gathered around the body and rifled the pockets and then seizing the corpse plunged it into the deep shaft by the road side.

All these transactions were seen by Mrs. McCombs, a widow, who by mistake came to the house. The wife of George Stiffleback, who was awaiting an opportunity to escape from her husband and his kindred, was also a witness.

Ed Stiffleback told the women if they ever dared whisper to anyone anything in connection with that night's work that they would kill them. The women promised not to tell, but it is a wonder considering after developments that they were not murdered then and there.

The body of Galbraith remained in the shaft several days until at last a man in passing discovered it and it was drawn to the surface.

This, in connection with other murders in the community, aroused the people of Galena until they resolved to find the criminals. Of course suspicion must rest on people with such a record as borne by the Stifflebacks and finally the proper clue was found.

After the trial began the two women finding their lives would be more secure by telling all they knew concerning the Stifflebacks than in a partial clearing up of the Galbraith mystery, informed the prosecuting attorney of other murders that could be laid at the door of the Stifflebacks. Among others of two women who mysteriously disappeared last summer.

Last summer there was first seen at the Stiffelbacks two very handsome and attractive young girls supposed to be about 15 and 17 years of age. Those visiting the house could never learn any particulars about them, either how they came there, where they came from or what were their names. It was supposed they had been enticed away from home by Stiffleback. After being there three or four months they suddenly disappeared.

Cora Stiffleback, the wife of George, now states on oath as a witness in the Galbraith case that both girls were cruelly murdered. She says that Ed Stiffleback killed one of them by crushing her skull with the butt end of a revolver and that his brother George then seized the other victim and beat her brains out by pounding her head on the floor. Both bodies, Mrs. Stiffleback declares, were rolled under a bed until night when they were carried out and thrown into an abandoned shaft.

After hearing the woman's story, the county attorney telegraphed the sheriff at Galena to have the shaft pumped dry and see if the bones are there as represented. News from Galena today said the shaft would be pumped out by tonight.

Last summer a man by the name of Frank Smith of Galena mysteriously disappeared and Cora says he is another victim of the Stifflebacks.

Three years ago a citizen of Joplin, Mo., by the name of Moorehead, was found in a shaft--another alleged Stiffleback victim.

There are yet other parties unaccounted for which Mrs. Stevens, the prosecutor, says will be enrolled among the Stiffleback dead. In fact there is no telling where the list will end. They have escaped so long that they became careless. In listening to the evidence, the entire family seem the most unconcerned persons in the court room, frequently laughing at blunders of the witnesses.

The man Charles Wilson fled as soon as he heard the officers were on their track and no trace of him has yet been found. Not even during the famous Blalock trial was there the excitement that now agitates the people. In case the bones of the girls are brought to this city it has been suggested that the jail had best be well guarded.

Morning Herald 
October 3, 1897

The Notorious Family Convicted of Murder at Columbus, Kansas

Columbus, Kan., Oct. 2---The notorious Staffelback family, whose crimes are commonly supposed to have rivaled those of the Benders, have been sentenced here for the killing of Frank Galbraith, the peddler, who was murdered in their den at Galena.

Ed and George Staffelback, convicted of murder in the first degree, were given life sentences; Mrs. Wilson, their mother, as an accomplice, was sentenced to twenty-one years. Mike Staffelback is serving a five-year term for burglary. Ed Staffelback has been declared insane, his mind having given way through fear of lynching.

An Awful Story of a Series of Crimes Comes to Light in the Trial of a Woman and Two Sons

Columbus, Kan., Sept. 15---A story of crimes rivaling the deeds of the notorious Bidder family comes to light in a murder trial now in progress here in the district court. Ed and George Staffleback, brothers, and their mother, Mrs. George Wilson, are accused of the murder of Frank Galbraith, in June last at Galena, Kan. The evidence is so direct that George Staffleback and his mother were speedily found guilty of murder in the first and second degree respectively, and the trial of Ed Staffleback is still in progress. The family were keepers of a dive in Galena. Galbraith was shot to death and robbed in the place, following a quarrel, with the mother and sons over the woman's daughter. His body was thrown into an abandoned mine shaft. Mrs. Cora Staffleback, wife of George, and two other inmates of the house, gave testimony as to the facts of the murder, and from the witnesses' evidence another triple murder at Galena has become public. Their story is that two girls from western Kansas were visited at the Wilson dive by an acquaintance. Mike Staffleback, another son of the Wilson woman, who is now in jail, charged with burglary, became engaged with jealousy and killed the man and the two girls with a hatchet. The bodies were thrown into an abandoned shaft. At Galena, a force of men are pumping out the shaft in an endeavor to find the bodies of the other murdered persons.

The Oklahoman 
March 10, 1909

Mrs. Staffleback Dies At Age Of 79 In Kansas Prison | Most Nortorious Woman Prisoner was Accused of Many Atrocious Crime[s].

Leavenworth, Kan.  March 9--Mrs. Nancy Wilson, knownas Mrs. Staffleback, one of the most notorious women prisoners on the Kansas penitentiary, died of pneumonia in her cell this afternoon. She was 79 years old and had been in feeble health for some time.

Mrs. Staffleback begged to be permitted to die outside the prison. The prison officials told her they could do nothing and the physician said that it would not be safe to mover her.

Chaplain McBain, the prison minister, spent part of the day with her. She told him she was innocent of the crimes she was convicted of.

She was brought her in 1887 to serve a sentence of 21 years.  Two of her sons were brought in under life sentences at the same time, and a third son to serve seven years, and Charles Wilson, to serve 25 years.

The stafflebacks lived near Galena, Kans., and were accused of numerous and atrocious murders.  They ran a hotel and it was alleged that they murdered guests who had money and threw their bodies into a deserted mine.  A number of skeletons were found on the premises by searching parties.

The Stafflebacks are generally ranked next to the Benders in Kansas murders.

Those of you read my account of Brown Springs in Strange State: Mysteries and Legends of Oklahoma will recall the nefarious deeds of the Bender clan. That another family did something similar in the same state is fascinating.

I wonder: where is the "mine" and does the hotel still exist?

Thursday, December 30, 2010


Looking forward to the new year? Well, UFO enthusiasts might have even more reason to ring in 2011. It seems a number of sightings have taken place on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day all around the world. Take caution, however! There are plenty of things flying about the skies to confuse you. Probably the most likely culprit is the growing trend of sending up Chinese lanterns. If you are not familiar with these flying fire hazards, check out this video.

Last New Year's Eve was a busy one as the following reports attest.

A witness recorded a "UFO" from his porch in Santa Cruz, CA. Some believe the glowing orange object was merely a Chinese lantern. Santa Cruz Video

The same evening, a couple spotted a similar round, orange glowing object over Cardiff, South Wales in the UK at 10 past midnight. Another Chinese lantern? Cardiff Sighting

A Florida couple spots a UFO for the second year in a row on New Year's Eve. This time, they caught it on video. You guessed it! More reddish-orange lights floating in the sky. Florida Video

That night as well, in Norway, this video was shot. The first few seconds CLEARLY show a Chinese lantern. Norway Footage

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

What Does It Take To Get A Ghost Around Here??

What does it take to be haunted, I wonder? A tragic accident? If so, I've never heard of the haunted Renaissance Hotel and Convention center. This Marriott structure stands at 10 North Broadway in the heart of downtown Oklahoma City, just south of the more famously haunted Skirvin Hotel. A century ago--before "Urban Renewal" eviscerated the City--this site was occupied by a slender office tower known as the Campbell building. In early July, 1909, a 32 year old African-American window washer by the name of Charles Ford was decapitated by a descending elevator as he leaned in to clean windows that overlooked the shaft on the third floor. I wonder, if I poked my nose into it, would I find out some strange stories. Probably. Everybody seems to have them. I wonder then, would I find some that match eerily the description of Charles Ford?

Ignorance, Racism, and Voodoo: 1912 Article Thrills Readers

Click image to view larger. Some parts are missing or
unreadable, but you should get a general sense of the
factual inaccuracies and pervasive bigotry running
through this piece obviously meant to excite or frighten.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Dino Discoveries Shock, Stir Controversy

Saw the most fascinating 60 Minutes last night. If it's online, check it out. A protégé of the eminent (and often unorthodox) paleontologist Jack Horner has discovered what appear to be vascular and cellular tissues in bone 65 to 80 million years old.  Most surprisingly, they do not appear to be fossilized; rather, under the microscope, they behave in the decidedly flexible manner of organic tissue.  I think there is a new definition of mind-blowing.  The findings are preliminary and highly controversial, but Horner and his ilk have a long history of doing what no one else dares: actually break into fossils and examine them. Through this technique, they have discovered the first dino embryos and learned that many dinosaurs didn't die out, per se, but rather evolved into modern birds. These discoveries would not have been possible if it were not for the seemingly capricious manner in which Horner and others treat these specimens—a manner that horrifies some.  To many, these precious specimens cannot be harmed.  However, as Horner said, "glue is cheap.”

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Frankly, I'd Rather It Be A Ghost.

The blog Ghost Hunting Theories examines those instances when troubles at home manifest themselves as "ghosts" in order to avoid the problem. Its an all-too-common theme to those who study the paranormal seriously but seemingly fewer and fewer modern groups address these concerns.

Of Abductions and Adjectives

"You are one of many that we are contacting in this way, so as to let our presence be known upon your Earth - to prepare the people for the future plan that is beginning to unfold. I can see that your mind is bursting forth with questions, but please relax and I will attempt to answer your queries." "Your people of planet Earth have yet to realize that intelligent life is teeming, virtually throughout the universe, in advanced civilizations and levels of development that would completely defy description. The countless billions of stars that appear in your astronomers' telescopes are only a fraction of the overall magnitude of Infinite Creation - a Creation that had no beginning nor will there ever be an ending, as all worlds, stars, and even galaxies function in the orderly pattern of cyclic regeneration."

For a good laugh, read more about this "abduction" account here. My biggest problem is that there is no differentiation between the narrator and those beings he quotes. They're of the same mind and speak in the same over-the-top, trying-too-hard-too-sound-lofty-and-celestial voices. The overuse of the passive voice is a great example. It's something English speakers abuse hard when they want something to sound formal or venerated in some fashion. Enjoy.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

OK Paracon Back On!

Retooled and retitled, the Oklahoma paranormal conference returns after a short absence as Ghostlahoma, evoking the title of the conference leaders' book. The even is slated for April in historic El Reno, OK. Learn more here.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


The main temple at Xunatunich (Shoo-nahn-too-neech) in Belize on the Guatemalan border.

The main temple "El Castillo" at Tulum, which overlooks the Caribbean waters near Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

Yours truly at the ruined city of Tulum near Mexico's Playa Del Carmen


Loren Coleman counts down the year's top ten cryptozoological stories over at

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Revisiting 2012 With Apocalypse Island

Once more skipping further down the list, we arrive at a piece that will be of relevance and interest to me as I explore several southern Mexican and Central American Mayan ruins. Someone (I think the very man at the center of this post) wasn't entirely amused by my somewhat scathing analysis of Apocalypse Island.

The History Channel recently reaired a documentary(?) entitled Apocalypse Island, which follows two "explorers" as they bumble toward a mysterious island in the Pacific believed to hold the key to unlocking the Mayan mystery and its revelations for 2012. I should have known from the way in which the film was edited to delay, delay, delay that a needless sense of suspense was being built. To me, this meant the climax would be as disappointing as a night with.... I'll let you fill in the blank. When one resorts to sideshow tactics, invariably the truth inside the tent will be a rip off. And so it was.

Our principle protagonist is James Turner, a self-proclaimed "explorer" with a passion for 2012 doomsday predictions. He believes weathered rock formations on Robinson Crusoe Island, one of the remote Juan Fernandez islands off the west coast of South America, which sits roughly along the 2012 solar eclipse route, are actually monuments fashioned by a famous and powerful Mayan ruler, Chan Balum. Along for the ride is Jeff Salz, a cultural anthropoligist with a penchant for self promotion. He plays the part of the skeptic--to an extent.

Shot more like a reality show, the documentary obviously recreates key scenes to make them look more dramatic. Case in point: the climactic moment wherein our intrepid explorers risk life and limb to make it to the top of island is shot by a camera man who already managed that feat. But our explorer slips on rocks and makes a dramatic display of how dangerous it can be to uncover the truth.

Facts aren't relevant in the History Channel's new-found quest for this sort of sensational programming. Mayan scholars refute facts concerning Mayan abandonment, etc. put forth unquestioningly by Turner. Jim Aimers, a poster on the History Channel's thread for this story, states "Real Maya archaeology is exciting and interesting without bogus end-of -the world fantasies (2012 is merely the end of a big cycle, and the fact that the Maya believed that the world would continue is evident even at Chan Balum's Palenque--so important to Turner's "hypothesis"--, where inscriptions predict celebrations hundreds of years after 2012)."

Yet, throughout the film, we hear precious little counterpoint to Turners ideas. No learned scholars come forth to debunk the dated or wholly inaccurate information concerning the Maya. Furthermore, this purportedly remote and uninhabited island has a thriving tourist trade on its northern flank. If that's not a sitcom staple, I don't know what is.

However, Turner defends himself by saying that what aired was not the documentary he had in mind. He feels he was duped by the History Channel as they attempted to make the show somehow more sexy. Yet, he links to it on his website, so he must not be too put out by it all.

Still, his critics are relentless, as one poster on the History Channel board writes: "Many people commenting on the program have called it a hoax or a scam which wasted two whole hours. Since Turner is appealing for people to donate money (up to $500) to continue his 'research' on these 'monuments,' he is committing fraud. I sincerely hope no one falls for his hype." Another poster marvels at what he views as Turner's extraordinary ability to dupe the History Channel into not only footing the bill for his Pacific holiday, but to air it on TV.

Much like the heated 2010 elections, 2012 hysteria will soon reach a fevered pitch as the clock winds down to zero hour. The History Channel preys upon its viewership with such offerings. All I can offer is this caveat: don't be a victim. Question everything and research for yourself the facts presented in these programs. Don't limit yourself to spurious Internet searches either. Utilize our nations libraries while you still can and refrain from being a mindless TV zombie.

The original post can be found here:

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Another Look At Jackie's Tale

Third place would be awarded to a innocuous post on the capture of a world record fish. While interesting certainly (apparently!), I didn't think it would have you spitting out your morning joe in shock, so I'll skip down to number four for today's reposting. The Haunting of Jackie Hernandez. With more bad drama and fiction than a soap opera, this piece delves deep into the murky abyss surrounding one woman's claims of a phantom tormentor....

This is a story that I have wanted to write on this blog for quite some time, but as you can see it is a lengthy narrative with many convoluted twists and turns. So, it has taken me a while to get around to it. Hope it is interesting enough to be worth the wait.

In 1989, videographer Barry Conrad was asked to assist in the investigation of an alleged haunted house in San Pedro, CA. The project was spear-headed by Dr. Barry Taff, best known for his involvement in the famous "Entity" case of the late 1970's. This was an investigation that examined claims of violent poltergeist activity in Culver City, CA.

Conrad, who had worked for television before, was excited to dip his toes into some strange waters and work with someone of Taff's profile. He hoped he would be able to capture something really paranormal on camera. So, along with friend and photographer Jeff Wheatcraft, Conrad accepted the invitation and ventured to the San Pedro home of one Jackie Hernandez.

Once there, the assembled team heard impossible-to-believe stories about objects being tossed about by unseen forces, strange substances emanating and oozing from the walls (later said to be blood plasma), and the apparition of a ghastly and decrepit old man. In all, a classic Hollywood description of a terrifying haunting.

Before leaving that first day, Wheatcraft entered the attic--one of the home's many hotspots--through a panel in the ceiling to snap a few pictures. Suddenly, Wheatcraft cried out and leaped down from the attic. Once he was able to compose himself, he declared in terror that something had snatched the camera from his hands.

Still shaken, Wheatcraft accompanied Conrad back into the attic: the former to retrieve his camera, and the latter to find proof. Once inside, the two quickly saw that no one was hidden within its dark, dusty recesses, nor was there a way for someone to have slipped in or out unnoticed.

Strangely, the camera wasn't in sight. If there was the possibility that Wheatcraft's nerves conjured the fantasty that something had snatched his camera, it seemed to be fading fast. Only after several moments of looking was the camera spotted inside and old produce box. The lens had been detached and was found several moments later behind the door to the attic.

As the men prepared to leave, a malodorous scent filled the small attic. A sudden shout from Wheatcraft drew Conrad's eyes in time to see the photographer flee the attic promptly. Conrad quickly follow suit. Below, Wheatcraft recounted having felt a "bony" hand running along his lower back. Later, Wheatcraft would claim, visits to a chiropractor produced "evidence" of internal bruising of his back.

Conrad, who had until this point been unable to get his malfunctioning video camera to work, suddenly found himself able to shoot again as loud footsteps boomed through the attic above. When the sound stopped, Wheatcraft peered once more into the maw that so terrified him to confirm that nothing was up there.

He was about to close the attic back up when suddenly he shouted to the others that he could see three lights. Within moments, a large black mass manifested itself briefly before vanishing suddenly once more. Neither was anything caught on film nor video during the entire event.

Weeks later, Conrad received a call from a frightened Jackie Hernandez. As it happened, Conrad was in the company of Wheatcraft and another man, Gary Boehm, as the call came in. The men decided to record the conversation. Desperately, Hernandez pleaded for help. She and her family were in the midst of an exceptionally nasty bout of poltergeist activity: doors slamming, a soda can was flung at her, and an unseen force held her down as it tried to smother her.

It was around one in the morning when the men arrived at the seemingly calm little house. They were greeted by Hernandez from where she sat on the front porch with her two sleeping children, visibly shaken.

As the two other men checked out the house, Conrad stayed behind with Jackie and her neighbor, Susan Castaneda, who had joined them by that point. As the chatted, Conrad noticed an orange "comet of light" that suddenly luminesced before them. The strange phenomenon flew through a nearby door and disappeared outside. It happened so suddenly, Conrad didn't have time to capture it on video. However, he turned on the camera in hopes of its return.

As they waited, a series of sudden snaps were heard. Later these were described as the sound of a man snapping his fingers.

Barry began to roll the video just as a loud keening was heard from somewhere above. But it was not the mournful wailing of the disincarnate; it was the agonized voice of Jeff Wheatcraft emanating from the attic above.

Jackie screamed for him to come down.

As Conrad shot his video, trained on the attic opening, he could see several bursts from Wheatcraft's camera flash. Then darkness and silence for several long moments. Suddenly, Wheatcraft's baleful voice is heard calling out in confusion. "What's happened to me?"

Seconds later, Wheatcraft is crawling on the floor toward the attic opening. "I've got to get out of here," he says. "It's definitely raising hell... It put something around my neck".

Conrad and the women were shocked as Wheatcraft emerged from the hole. Around his bruised, red neck was a wire clothesline. Something had, he claimed, looped it around his neck and tried to hang him from one of the rafters. Conrad believed these events transpired too rapidly for his friend to have done this to himself in any attempt to hoax those below.

When Conrad examined the video at home, he noted that the same bright "comet of light" was seen in the video footage shortly after the hanging incident. Thinking these strange lights might be insects, Conrad had Dr. Keith Dobrey, an entomologist working in L.A., examine the tape. He determined that whatever these were, they were not insects.

Subsequent investigations at the home revealed more of these strange lights, which Conrad claims had been clocked at speeds over 200 mph. Conrad further states that Dr. Barry Taff's film team recorded similar phenomena during their "Entity" investigation.

By November that year, Jackie Hernandez had moved to a trailer home in Weldon, California. At first it seemed the nightmare of her poltergeist had been left behind in that dismal San Pedro home. However, by spring, strange things began once more.

Mysterious scratching noises, as if from some wild best, emanated from the walls of the shed behind the home. On April 2nd, while helping Jackie move a TV into the shed, Janice and Jim Silcott, Jackie's neighbors, saw the visage of an old man appear on the TV screen. Upon hearing their description, Hernandez was suddenly reminded of the ugly, angry looking spirit that haunted her in San Pedro. The Silcott's claimed he had "evil eyes".

Once again, Jackie Hernandez frantically phoned Barry Conrad and Jeff Wheatcraft who arrive at her home on April 13th, 1990. Conrad stated later that Wheatcraft reluctantly accompanied him, given his prior experiences in San Pedro, to Jackie's new home.

Arriving at night, beneath a full moon, the pair began their investigation, first spotting - amazingly - mysterious shadows inside her shed. Unfortunately, Conrad's oft-malfunctioning video camera was once more on the fritz and unable to record anything.

At the prompting of Hernandez, the trio was joined by a neighbor in an ouija board session. Conrad professed skepticism but went along with the experiment nonetheless. Jackie lit some candles (as surely one must) and the group began to ask their questions:

"Are you really a ghost?"


The table, according to Conrad, suddenly began to vibrate wildly. A shock passed through the group. Still, they pressed on.

"How many ghosts reside among the living?"

Phantoms fill the skies around you

Once more the table shook, joined shortly by their chairs as well.

Throughout the session, conducted in a room with all windows closed, the nearby candles slowly, inexplicably blew themselves out one-by-one.

Further revelations from the planchette: their tormentor had been murdered in San Pedro bay in 1930 when someone held him under the water. Conrad wanted to know why the anger toward them. Why, for instance, he asked, did the spirit attack Wheatcraft in the attic?

Because he has the likeness of my killer

The table shook once more. Conrad asked the spirit whom precisely in the room he hated. The planchette quickly spelled out the answer.


Suddenly, Jeff was tossed bodily through the air, smacking the wall of the trailer and slumping downward into unconsciousness. Conrad must have been cursing himself that none of this was caught on video. Oh, the irony! He raced to the floor where Jeff Wheatcraft lay. The man seemed to be coming around and Conrad helped him shakily to his feet.

Several days later, Conrad investigated what the spirit had said during the ouija board session, hoping to confirm the story. In reviewing the archives of San Pedro's paper at the time, Conrad discovered that a seaman named Heman Hendrickson had been murdered in 1930, drowned in the bay. This seemed important when, months later, they re-examined the cord that had snagged Wheatcraft that first visit. It seemed the knot was a type known almost exclusively to seafarers. Further still, Conrad says he learned that Hendrickson had lived in Jackie's San Pedro house.

But why leave the home he had haunted for so long to follow Jackie Hernandez? And why begin to follow Conrad and Wheatcraft suddenly? In July, the pair returned home to find things in disarray - subtle, but nonetheless noticed. A loud thump was heard, a coffee can overturned, two pairs of scissors placed under each pillow on the bed. It would seem the entity know Conrad wouldn't be alone that evening. Similar events when on for the next few months: footsteps were heard, mysterious apports with sinister overtones, a luminous apparition... Almost without exception, compelling evidence was never gathered nor was anything caught on film due to the inexplicable camera problems that plagued the men since day one.

In time, Hernandez moved back to San Pedro to live in a small apartment. But within days the entity had returned. Objects once more moved of their own accord, strange sounds were heard, and mysterious lights appeared.

In August, Hernandez had the opportunity to photograph one of these mysterious lights, which seemed impressive enough to confound the learned minds at the Eureka Photo Lab & Gifts in Studio City, a one-hour photo processing center. Another photo enterprise in Hollywood commented that "no spillage of light" fell "onto the background wall whatsoever".

Later, Dr. Barry Taff (a person seemingly absent from all but the initial Hernandez investigation) would comment that "in all my years of psychic research, never have I heard of a poltergeist invading the domain of those who came to investigate it." Why did Taff drop out of the investigation so early on? Did he suspect something? "Only a handful of cases have ever been reported in which ghosts have physically attacked human beings." Then it would seem like a great opportunity to examine such a rare instance, and yet he does not. He must have had good reason.

In time, Jackie Hernandez reported fewer and fewer incidents. She still lives in San Pedro.

My thoughts (for the most part) have been restrained in the preceding paragraphs. Here, I will pose questions and point out certain curiosities.

In regards to the oozing substance found in the San Pedro home that was determined to be a blood product of some type. I wonder who did the testing of this. Conrad in his account doesn't say. How do they know it was "blood"? It should be noted that substances oozing from walls has a lengthy history of appearing pop culture via films and novels, but not a great deal of real-life examples exist.

Conrad would have us believe there wasn't sufficient time for Jeff Wheatcraft to have inflicted the "strangulation" upon himself. But he had been outside the attic with Hernandez, unable to see what was happening above. I would say he had plenty of time.

Why did this entity follow these people outside the home?

What we never learn is more about Jackie Hernandez as a person. Who is she? What does she do? What is her home life like? What was going on in her world prior to these events? Does she have a history of mental illness? Is she a fantasy-prone personality? Does she struggle with drugs or alcohol? Is she religious? Has she had brushes with the law? Is the literate in the paranormal? The list goes on. Things that should have been asked and yet weren't, it seems.

It could be that the home was indeed haunted. Some prior and later tenants claimed such - even before the story broke. I may have been, too, if such phenomena are to be believed, that Jackie Hernandez was possessed of those subconscious psychokinetic abilities that seem to plague poltergeist conduits. This may have been what initially attracted Dr. Taff to the case, but once the three-ring circus of confabulation with aims to sell a story arose, he bowed out.

It would seem, if you have seen any of the footage of this case, that a great deal of manipulation and misidentification has taken place. The strange lights buzzing about Hernandez' head, for example, are clearly an artifact of video speed as it affects how insects are seen. There have been many documented experiments proving these so-called "rods" are merely insects that, because of their rapidity of movement, can appear in multiple places across a single frame of video. Conrad has the necessary skills to determine this, as he also possesses the ability to manipulate the footage to suit his needs. Conrad never reveals what frame rate his cameras were operating at.

I have qualms with the ouija board session, beyond my qualms for ouija board sessions. Simply because Wheatcraft resembled the man who murdered the spirit doesn't seem sufficient reason, when even the spirit says he only LOOKS like him, to torment him so. I'm not about to psychoanalyze the dead, but it lacks a certain logic. If I were to venture a guess, I would say that slowly (perhaps guided by Conrad), these men began to shift focus from Jackie Hernandez to place themselves in the "starring roles" of this melodrama. Also, I find what the ghost purportedly says to be belabored speech. It's as if someone in the 1990's was trying to affect a "voice from the past" by using the passive voice, thinking it would sound more formal and therefore "antiquated". "You have the likeness of my killer" and not "you look like the man that killed me." It smacks of someone trying too hard to convince us that this is a voice beyond the grave. Also, I'm not certain that the facts (if true) concerning the murdered seaman weren't known before hand.

I've looked around and can find no documentation to bolster such claims as the "massive internal bruising" Wheatcraft (who seems to take all the punches) received from his initial encounter.

I also wonder why Hernandez kept calling Conrad and Wheatcraft back. They aren't paranormal investigators. They were cameramen. Was it because they seemed eager marks and Taff was unimpressed? Or is it, as some have suggested, related to a romantic interest Hernandez showed in Conrad? In an early to mid-1990s interview, Hernandez exhibited thinly-veiled resentment and even outright hostility toward Conrad and his work in those years. The scorn of a would-be lover who had been rebuffed?

Take what you will from this tale. I, for one, see an emotionally liable woman with a fantasy-prone personality and a need for attention (who might genuinely have been encountering a haunting or self-manifested poltergeist phenomenon) that draws in the attention of a somewhat famous man and one or more less-than-scrupulous opportunists. A tacit - if even unspoken - agreement arises that, if played right, this can bring a lucrative degree of attention. Books can be written, interviews given, and videos sold (as they have been). As things fell apart between Jackie Hernandez and the other men (for what reasons we can only speculate), Conrad shifts the focus of the haunting from her to himself. After all, it doesn't matter who the leading lady is; the ghost is the star.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Our second place winner for the most viewed posts of all time on Strange State goes to a little piece about Black Eyed Kids. With over 700 visits, it lags far behind the winner, but it actually has a commentor posting his thoughts on the subject! Yay! Thanks to the estimable RRRGroup (from UFOiconoclast(s) for his insights into this strange, quixotic tale....

As predicted, Black Eyed Kids show signs of heating up as the new paranormal meme. And, of course, Oklahoma wants to get in on the mix. Jason Offutt of the blog "From the Shadows" speculates whether there is any truth to the tales or if the whole thing is an Internet Legend.

According to Offutt, the phenomenon (involving spooky Children-of-the-Cornesque kids with solid black eyes) arose in 1998 when journalist Brian Bethel first wrote about an encounter. Recently, Offutt received an e-mail from a reader (henceforth referred to as "Bill") who recounted his own encounter with these creepy kids while driving through Afton, OK.

Afton is a negligible settlement on the Will Rogers turnpike some miles northeast of Tulsa. It lies within the Spooksville Triangle, an area of paranormal activity most often connected to the mysterious noctilucent phenomenon known as Spook Lights. Bill had stopped through to catch up with old friends. While there, he noticed the family's new dog and inquired about its origins. Bill's friends responded with a queer and cryptic "the weird kids left her when they left town."

The couple proceeded to tell Bill about their strange encounter with a group of kids who drove an old but noiseless van and had knocked on their door one day. The group asked if they could come in, but the couple didn't feel right. Something was off. They later described the youths as "junkies" because, they said, "their pupils were huge". In fact, according to the Bill's friend, they were solid black voids.

After turning the kids away, they left in their van and a short time later, the dog was seen wandering about. The family saw no more of the mysterious kids with their pleas of entry and their strange black eyes.

The unsual thing about these stories - aside from the eyes, of course - is the fact that nothing sinister or untoward happens. People just state that something didn't feel "right". If, as many suspect, this is simply another paranormal zeitgeist, born from that altogether paranoid collective consciousness, then why has it now settled into the guise of children, forever the bastions of innocence and faith? Have we as a society become so distrustful and paranoid that we can't even look toward the young without suspicion and fear? What does this say about the world we now live in, and what does it bode for our future?

Original link:

Saturday, December 11, 2010

NBA Star Spots UFO?

San Antonio Spurs star Manu Ginobili  claims he spotted a UFO in L.A. on December 1, 2010. Puzzled, Ginobili looked into the mystery. While he is still uncertain about what it was he saw, he posted on his Facebook page that he thought it might have been the X-37B, the Air Force's sub-orbital craft, which landed in Southern California on December 3rd. More Here.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Louisiana 'Monster' Causes Internet Stir

Read all about it over at Cryptomundo

VACATION!! and Kecksburg / Die Glocke Revisited

This coming week, I will be away from the blog as I explore the ancient mysteries of the Maya in Central America. I thought this would be a good time to utilize Blogger's new "Stats" application to revisit the most popular blog posts over the life of Strange State. This will give new visitors a chance to peek into the archives, as it were, and discover what has interested other readers so greatly.

To begin, we will take another look at Die Glocke/Kecksburg Connection. First penned June 5, 2009, this post has by far the most pageviews of any on Strange State: 3,299. For my little oft-neglected corner of the Internet, this is pretty impressive.

Without further ado, take a look into what makes this story so interesting....

UFOlogists often go on and on about incidents such as Roswell because they seem to support theories of extraterrestrial life. However, it is likely that most UFO cases are not, in fact, of extraterrestrial origin. They are simply unknown aerial craft. To wit, cases like Kecksburg - with its ties to Nazi Germany's "Die Glocke" and the United States' "Operation Paperclip" - are far more compelling mysteries. Just how many UFO's were actually German, Japanese, and even Russian spy craft? And did they, as some claim, gain their inspirations from otherworldly vessels?

"Die Glocke" or "The Bell" was reportedly born from the minds of Nazi scientists during World War II when the tide was turning against the once-almighty German forces who became desperate for a final solution. Much energy and money was expended on more and more outlandish (some would say crazy) research and expeditions, often involving the Third Reich's strange obsession with occultism and paranormal phenomena.

Deep within an underground compound in Poland known as "Der Riese" (The Giant), the Nazis reportedly crafted a metallic, bell-shaped instrument that stood nearly 15 feet tall and 10 feet wide with odd markings along the lower rim. Within was a strange substance known as "Xerum 525" that glowed strangely violet when excited and gave off strong levels of radiation. Many of the scientists working on the project died either from radiation sickness or at the hands of SS officers bent of maintaining the projects secrecy.

The Bell's purpose remains unclear. Some believe, the intense radiation was capable of manipulating time-space for the purposes of time/space travel or to produce anti-gravitational fields.

Sadly the reason so much speculation surrounds the device - if authentic - is because its story is only known because of one man: Polish writer Igor Witkowski wrote about the device in Prawda O Wunderwaffe, his little-known book published in 2000. He claimed to have seen secret documents compiled from the interrogation of SS General Jakob Sporrenberg. The story was picked up in the English-speaking realm by British author and journalist Nick Cook who wrote about it in his 2003 book The Hunt for Zero Point. But, sadly, much of the facts are uncorroborated and outlandish claims of a design process using clairvoyants makes it hard to swallow - even factoring in Nazi eccentricities.

Other factors, such as the purported test facility known as "The Henge" (proved to be the foundation of a cooling tower), were debunked in short order.

However, that's not to say there are not still some strange facets to the tale. While the veracity of The Bell's existence may not be anything to bet one's life on, it is well-known that in the aftermath of World War II that German scientists were recruited by both the US and Soviet Union. One of these individuals, the Nazi scientist responsible for Germany's ground-breaking early rocket efforts (such as the V2), later worked his way high into the ranks of the US space program in the 1960's.

Then on December 9, 1965 a fiery object was reported to have crashed to earth in the woods near Kecksburgh, PA. When local authorities arrived on scene, they were struck to find an acorn (or bell) shaped object about the size of a small car, circumscribed with strange markings at its base.

Witnesses later testified that the army arrived, loaded the object onto a truck, ordered the civilians to clear the area, and then later disavowed any knowledge of the incident. Speculation abounded: UFO, Soviet satellite, meteor...

While it is hard to say what actually happened (some astronomers dispute that the object seen over several states could have crashed in Pennsylvania), it is curious to note two things. First, the strong resemblance to The Bell (albeit such knowledge only arose in the year 2000, prior to Kecksburg). Secondly, the fact that a former Nazi scientist with ties to the Die Glocke era was heading up components of the US space program at the time. It might be possible that these early Nazi experiments had continued on into the space age as the US continued to seek the edge throughout the cold war.

While in my gut I think "The Bell" is a total ex post facto construct, conveniently using the Kecksburg template to work backward to a secret Nazi invention, it could still be that this mystery has a better chance at resolution than Roswell ever will. If fabricated, it would only take the destruction of Witkowski's claims. After all, if he saw these transcripts then they must exist and could be tracked down. For him to claim only he saw them and they will never be seen again, is a sure sign that another work of UFO fiction has been penned for the eager to lap up thirstily.

However, there remains the outside chance that, while still mired in more crap than a pig farmer, there exists some truth to this Nazi super weapon. Even if it turned out to be nothing more than a failed attempt at a satellite weapon, rocket, or flying bomb, it would have further proven that UFO's can often be explained by far more terrestrial means.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Another Must See Alien Film In 2011

Unlike Cowboys and Aliens, the action comedy Paul will doubtlessly leave us in stitches. From the mastermind and star of Sean of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, Simon Pegg, comes this tale of a two chums who roadtrip their way through America's UFO meccas only to encounter a real alien named Paul (Seth Rogan). Soon government agents are in hot pursuit as the trio flees in an RV.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

"Vintage" Travel Posters of SUPER Cities

Check out Metropolis, New York and others by Justin Van Genderen at  Prints begin for as little as 20 bucks but you can quickly move up to pricer (and doubtlessly nicer) framed versions.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


A rose by any other may smell as sweet, but we cannot discount the importance of what we call things. Names can influence, malign, mislead, and exaggerate. When dealing with controversial topics, such as UFOs, we cannot deny that this term has become synonymous with "flying saucers" and "space aliens". While inarguably there is anecdotal evidence attesting to the veracity and accuracy of such labels, we do the field a disservice by allowing such a shorthand to continue.

In fact, many who research and study UFOs have come to the conclusion that we are dealing with disparate phenomena. It is only through the human propensity to find patterns, similarities, and to "chunk" information together that we have this need to pigeonhole and stereotype. At one time, it doubtlessly served a survival need. When one doesn't have time to quibble over the difference between a sabertooth cat and a sausage cart, this probably served a useful function. However, in modern times, it tends to get in our way. Now all that cannot be explained in the sky is a "UFO", and to most that means a flying saucer full of little green men.

I have on multiple occasions proposed a name change, if for no other reason than to shake things up and get people thinking once more. We have, by no means, solved these enigmas and yet many behave as if the answers are clearly written somewhere. They have become inextribably mired in a UFO culture that spends much of its time reinforcing its own beliefs until they become more than truth: they become Truth. You know, as in an almost divine wisdom. This fast instills an unshakeable faith and UFO zealots are born.

"What has been seen over these years ... is some sort of super flying-machine (the old fashioned name is used because some of the craft are clearly not 'planes'...."  Even in 1950, what we termed these phenomena seemed important to the likes of Gerald Heard, who wrote The Riddle of the Flying Saucers. And he penned these words less than three years after Arnold and Roswell. In the intervening years, we have come to establish a firm belief in UFOs as alien space craft without thinking much about other possibilities. Sure there are variations on a theme: craft from a hollow moon, craft from a hollow earth, trans-dimensional ships.... Yet, in essence, these are all the same thing. Others have postulated creatures that live in the atmosphere, collective psychic projections (the psi equivalent to mass hysteria), top-secret military craft.

But we do not have a shred of evidence for any of this. Not really. Much of these are not good working hypotheses. We need to strip away the patinas of assumption, wishful thinking, and bias to expose the observational truth at the heart of these sightings and begin anew. I suggest this first step down a new path begin with jettisoning the term UFO - at least among serious researchers. I realize it holds a place in popular culture and that is important, but researchers need to get back to the basics of observing these anomalous aerial phenomena without presumption of their composition.

It is a tough road to follow, I know. For more than sixty years nan has puzzled over the enigma without answer. In time, we find the answers, as if the human mind cannot abide uncertainty. After a while, it does not matter what answers we conjur from the ether, as long as it seems to ourselves we are finding them. If we can shake this need to find the answers instantly, we might embrace the patience required to find the truth. The 20th Century with its rocket-fueled pace of discovery may have led us all into a false sense of security when it comes to finding the answers to questions that plague science. Some things just take time and sometimes you have to begin again.

Friday, December 3, 2010

OK Blogger Looks Into Loch Ness

Andrew W. Griffin, of Oklahoma's popular Red Dirt Report blog, braves the legendary waters of Loch Ness in search of its famed monster (or, rather, just a fun time). Griffin, however, doesn't come up empty-handed after meeting with one Scotland's famed Nessie-hunters, Richard MacDonald, who shows him some intriguing evidence.

Read more at Red Dirt Report

Central American Wonders

In one week, I will be off to visit the mysteries of such Mayan sites as Xunantunich in Belize and Tulum in Mexico's Yucatan. Will there be sun and fun? Of course! But I am also extremely interested in visiting these ancient cities built by a people that seems to be on many a mind these days as 2012 approaches.

I will, of course, post images from my trip. However, until then, you can take a look at what others have snapped over at flickr.

IoB-Scenes from Xunantunich

Mayan ruins at Tulum

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

"Strip" Search In OKC Airport

In bra, panties and wheelchair, woman goes through Oklahoma City airport screening this morning.

A woman who missed her flight at Will Rogers World Airport Tuesday when she showed up in a wheelchair, bra and panties, passed through the airport screening process this morning and has left the city.

And in homage to her....

What's Wrong With Ghost Hunting?

In a blog post from the Tucson Citizen, paranormalist Cherlyn Gardner-Strong addresses concerns espoused in a recent Skeptical Inquirer article about what is wrong with modern ghost hunting methodologies.

As you can read in various posts on this site, I have much to say on the matter. Read Gardner-Strong's post and tell me what you think. I agree with her in some places, and in others, I think she may be equally guilty of buying into some of the ghost hunting hype.

Let me know your thoughts.