The Occult Museum http://www.theoccultmuseum.com Fri, 23 Jun 2017 07:28:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.5 https://i2.wp.com/cdn.theoccultmuseum.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/cropped-favicon-occult.jpg?fit=32%2C32 The Occult Museum http://www.theoccultmuseum.com 32 32 98120767 The 10 Most Bizarre Cults in Modern History http://www.theoccultmuseum.com/10-most-bizarre-religious-cults-in-the-world/ http://www.theoccultmuseum.com/10-most-bizarre-religious-cults-in-the-world/#respond Fri, 23 Jun 2017 07:00:27 +0000 http://www.theoccultmuseum.com/?p=4366 Welcome to the bizarre and often dangerous world of cults. We all know the saying, “too much of a good thing can be bad” and cults single-handedly prove this is true. Often based upon religious beliefs or philosophy (generally concerning aliens, as you’ll come to see), cults unsurprisingly find themselves excluded from society. This isolation […]

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Welcome to the bizarre and often dangerous world of cults. We all know the saying, “too much of a good thing can be bad” and cults single-handedly prove this is true. Often based upon religious beliefs or philosophy (generally concerning aliens, as you’ll come to see), cults unsurprisingly find themselves excluded from society. This isolation tends to lead to obsession, and while some cults are pretty harmless albeit extremely wacky, others have kidnapped, tortured and murdered in the name of their beliefs or for their charismatic leaders.

You should never mix politics, religion, and sex but here are ten bizarre religious cults that have mixed all three and then some.

1. Heaven’s Gate

10 Most Bizarre Religious Cults in the World
[Image via Wikipedia] The leader of the Heaven’s Gate cult Marshall Applewhite, who led 39 people in a mass suicide in 1997.

Founded in the 1970s by charismatic Marshall “Bo” Applewhite and Bonnie Nettles, members of Heaven’s Gate believed that their leaders came to earth on a UFO to spread the message that our planet was being recycled, or wiped clean, and the only way to escape this cleansing was via a UFO.

In 1997 the police discovered the bodies of 39 members in the compound they had lived in; they had committed mass suicide in the hope of reaching an alien spacecraft they believed was trailing the Comet Hale–Bopp by taking phenobarbital mixed with apple sauce, washed down with vodka. They had also secured plastic bags around their heads after ingesting the mix, to induce asphyxiation. Beside each body, the police found a form of identification and a few dollars which they believed would cover their intergalactic travel fare. Applewhite was one of the last four cult members to die.

Related: The End of Days: 7 Most Deadliest Cults That Ended in Tradegy

2. Raëlism

10 Most Bizarre Religious Cults in the World
[Image via Wikipedia] Cult leader Claude Elohim, now known as Raël.

With more than 90,000 members worldwide, Raëlism is one of the biggest cults out there and has a belief system based on, you guessed it, aliens. Founder Claude Elohim, now known as Raël, claims he came into contact with a green-skinned alien named Yaweh who told him that life on Earth was scientifically created by a species of extraterrestrials called the Elohim. Appearing human in form, followers are told that these aliens were angels or gods. The cult also believes that messengers and prophets of the Elohim include Buddha, Moses, and Jesus.

If these far-out views weren’t enough, Raëlians also like to hit the headlines by creating a logo that blends the Star of David with a Swastika, and by claiming to have successfully cloned a human-being. So what if it isn’t the only alien worshipping cult out there? It stands out by being the most imaginative of the bunch.

3. Scientology

10 Most Bizarre Religious Cults in the World
[Image via Notey]

It’s aliens again. Scientology may not be the biggest organization around that believes in extraterrestrial existence, but it sure is one of the most powerful and influential. It boasts an impressive amount of Hollywood A-list members (Tom Cruise for one) in its fold. Founded by L Ron Hubbard in 1952, Scientology is famous for its secretiveness and often bizarre practices. To study Scientology, members have to learn level by level; it’s often claimed that a typical Scientologist must spend several years and about $100,000 in auditing fees before reaching OT III: The Wall of Fire. This, by the way, is the story of galactic dictator Xenu, which we would attempt to explain the story of but honestly, it just messed with our minds too much – you can read about it here if you want.

If your pockets are empty, and your spare time is at a minimum then this probably isn’t the organization for you. And people often wonder why the Church of Scientology is often referred to as a business, or if they’re really feeling mean, a criminal enterprise.

4. Creativity Movement

10 Most Bizarre Religious Cults in the World
[Image via Wikipedia]

No aliens this time, instead this cult is all about racism. This white-supremacist organization called Creativity Movement or “White Religion” is committed to the “survival and advancement of the white race.” In its spare time, it also likes to deny the Holocaust.

Essentially an atheist movement, the Creativity Movement doesn’t actually worship a creator or believe in anything supernatural. However, the group is well known for using violence and threats, most notably plotting to kill a federal judge. In 2002, two members of the movement were also found guilty of plotting to blow up Jewish and Black landmarks around Boston, in what prosecutors said was a scheme to spark a “racial holy war”.

5. Nation of Yahweh

10 Most Bizarre Religious Cults in the World
Yahweh ben Yahweh – Leader of Nation of Yahweh.

On the flip side to Creativity Movement, the Nation of Yahweh is considered by many to be a black supremacist cult. Founded in Miami in the 1970s by Yahweh ben Yahweh, who incidentally is believed by members to be the son of God, the Nation of Yahweh’s ultimate goal is to return African Americans, who they see as the original Israelites, to Israel. Practicing neither Christianity nor Judaism, the cult has been accused of preaching about “white devils” and their need to be removed by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Related: 5 Disturbing Cults You Can Still Join Today

6. Nuwaubianism

10 Most Bizarre Religious Cults in the World
[Image via Southern Poverty Law Center]

If you’re on the lookout for a cult that has a more, let’s say, “unique” belief system then Nuwaubianism might be for you. Upon joining you can soon expect to learn that Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis apparently gave birth to Satan’s child in the Dakota House on 72nd Street in New York City. The birth was witnessed by the Pope (but of course) and the child was then handed over Richard Nixon to raise. If that sounds plausible, how about the Nuwaubian belief that aborted fetuses can somehow end up in the sewer where they grow up plotting to take over the world. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

The cult was formed in the 1970s by Dwight York. He turned away from his Muslim background and created a loose Afro-centric / ancient Egypt theme, backed up by an eclectic mix of ideas that draw from Black Nationalism, cryptozoology, UFOs and popular conspiracy theories. In 1993 York left Brooklyn for Georgia, to build an ancient Egypt-themed compound called Tama-Re. By 2000, the cult drew as many as 5,000 visitors to the compound to attend “Savior’s Day”, which was coincidentally also York’s birthday. However, membership severely declined after York was sentenced to 135 years in prison for child molestation. Tama-Re was sold under government forfeiture and demolished in 2005.

7. Eastern Lightning

10 Most Bizarre Religious Cults in the World
[Image via Vice] Eastern Lightning adherents protest against the Communist Party of China.

According to Eastern Lightning – or the “Church of Almighty God” as it’s also known – Jesus is back on Earth. This time, however, he has reincarnated in the form of a woman named Yang Xiangbin and she’s here to guide mankind for the third and final time. Big believers in doomsday, this cult boasts a large membership of over a million in China.

Branded by the Chinese government as terrorists, Eastern Lightning has been linked to crimes against other Christian groups which include kidnapping, torture, and murder. It’s claimed the group is responsible for the riots in Henan where members reportedly broke the arms and legs of victims, then cut their ears off for good measure.

8. Order of the Solar Temple

10 Most Bizarre Religious Cults in the World
[Image via Bizarrepedia]

This highly secretive cult, based upon the Knights Templar order, was founded in Geneva by Joseph Di Mambro and Luc Jouret in 1984. The order’s belief system and practices combine a mixture of Christianity, UFO religion and New Age philosophy using adapted Freemason rituals. The cult was rumored to include several affluent and powerful Europeans in its membership. The Order of the Solar Temple came to global attention in 1994 after member Tony Dutoit murdered his infant son by repeatedly stabbing him with a wooden stake. It is claimed the murder was ordered by the cult’s founder, Di Mambro, who believed the infant to be the Antichrist.

Days after the murder, Di Mambro and other high-ranking members of the cult’s inner circle took part in a mass suicide. The bodies were discovered in two villages in Western Switzerland – 15 members had committed suicide with poison, 30 had been killed by bullets or smothering, and eight were killed by various other methods. Many of the victims were found in secret underground chapels, which were lined with mirrors and other items of Templar symbolism. The bodies were dressed in ceremonial robes and laid in a circle, feet together, heads facing outward.

9. The People’s Temple

10 Most Bizarre Religious Cults in the World
Jim Jones with some of the children of Jonestown, in Ghana.

he People’s Temple was founded in the 1950s by Jim Jones. It was founded on Christian and economic principals at the start. After facing accusations of abuse, Jones moved his church to Guyana, where his community became known as Jonestown. Leo Ryan, a US congressman became curious of the cult’s behavior, and went to Jonestown to try to find some answers. He was met with hostility and was eventually shot and killed before he could depart.

In 1978, Jones asked his followers to make the ultimate sacrifice. He asked them to drink his homemade brew, consisting of cyanide, sedatives, and juice. They accepted, and over 900 bodies were eventually found, almost a third of which were children. Jones himself was found with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

10. Church of Euthanasia

10 Most Bizarre Religious Cults in the World
[Image via Vice]

The Church of Euthanasia’s happy-go-lucky slogans include “Save the planet, kill yourself” and “Eat a Queer Fetus for Jesus”. Political rather than being based on religion, the organization’s core philosophy is that the planet is overpopulated. The number one golden rule of the Church of Euthanasia is “Thou Shalt Not Procreate”. The church openly encourages suicide, abortion, sodomy and even cannibalism – but you can only practice that if you don’t actually kill the person you’re about to eat. If someone’s already dead, munch away!

The Church of Euthanasia uses sermons, music, dark humor and publicity stunts to draw attention to Earth’s unsustainable population. One such stunt occurred on the church’s website which listed instructions on “how to kill yourself” by asphyxiation using helium. These instructions were removed when legal action was threatened after a 52-year-old woman used them to commit suicide. The website is also well known for hosting a music video containing footage of the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers with hardcore pornography mixed in. The video was titled “I Like to Watch”.

Read more on Religion & Belief

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From the Beyond: 13 People Share their True Ghost Stories and Otherworldly Tales http://www.theoccultmuseum.com/beyond-13-people-share-true-ghost-stories-otherworldly-tales/ Thu, 22 Jun 2017 07:00:47 +0000 http://www.theoccultmuseum.com/?p=11738 We all enjoy hearing a good ghost story or two, but there are those who enjoy sharing their creepy experiences even more. Thanks to Reddit there is an abundance of true ghost stories, and we’ve unearthed the scariest of those tales. From unexplainable footsteps that roam around in the darkness to a strange child who plays […]

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We all enjoy hearing a good ghost story or two, but there are those who enjoy sharing their creepy experiences even more. Thanks to Reddit there is an abundance of true ghost stories, and we’ve unearthed the scariest of those tales. From unexplainable footsteps that roam around in the darkness to a strange child who plays in the attic at night and nightmarish dreams that hint of unseen dangers. Get yourself settled in for thirteen of the creepiest and most unexplainable true ghost stories ever shared.

Be warned, after reading these chilling encounters you might find yourself sleeping with the lights on tonight.

1. The Girl in the White Sheet

“So this was several years ago, when I was a total deadbeat and lived with my then-girlfriend’s parents. They had a tri-level house, with the basement that contained our living space and my girlfriend and I’s bedroom. Upstairs, was the living space for everyone else, the dining room, and kitchen. The third level had the master bedroom, and two additional bedroom’s for my girlfriend’s sisters.

I was home alone one night, with her parents off with friends, my girlfriend at a friend’s, and her sisters were at an all night church thing. I elected to stay home and play WoW all night. Where my computer and desk sat, right above my head, was an AC vent. Often, I could hear her sister playing in her room from that vent. I was leveling my Paladin or something when I heard laughing and giggling coming from the vent. Nobody was supposed to be home, so my heart picked up. I glanced at the clock on my computer, and it read 1:36 AM. I remember this all very distinctly.

I went to go investigate and headed upstairs. The way the landings sits is at the top of those stairs, you can turn left and either go upstairs or go into the kitchen. I climbed the second set of stairs and opened the first door on the left which was her young sister’s room, which is directly above the basement.

Inside, I used the light of my phone to illuminate as best I could. I saw a small figure, what I assumed was a small girl wrapped in a white sheet in the center of the room. Cue pants shitting. This figure, this young girl, stops playing with the dolls and slowly looks at me.
It let out the most ear shattering scream you can imagine. My skin crawls just thinking about it and my chest tightens just remembering it.

I wish I could tell you what transpired, but I remember waking up at the bottom of the landing, right next to the door of the kitchen. I stumbled into the kitchen to get a drink of water and contemplate what just happened. I glanced at the clock on the microwave.

The clock read 4:46 AM.

We never found the sheet the next day, but the dolls the figure was playing with were sitting in the middle of the room, away from the toy chest which they were inside of that afternoon when she cleaned her room which is across the room.” – Omnus89

Related: 21 People Share Their Scariest Encounters with the Supernatural

2. The Dream

“I woke up to get a glass of water at night, passed my dad on the way to the kitchen. I asked him something about where was he going. He walked right past me like he didn’t see or even hear me, just was in a type of trance, and he walked out the front door. I looked out the front window, and he was sitting on our sidewalk under a tree, hands on his knees staring into the dark. I went to my mom’s room to ask her what dad was doing, she said, ‘What do you mean? He’s right here?’ she scooted over, as there was my dad, laying in bed asleep.” – frankenboo

3. The Voices

“A long time ago, back when I was in high school (freshman or sophomore), my mom was out of town for some reason. My younger brother and two sisters were staying with my grandparents. I was home alone.

Monday morning, I’m up waiting for my grandpa to pick me up and give me a ride to school.

We lived in an old, historic two-story house. I’m sitting downstairs in the living room watching tv. All of a sudden I hear a man and a woman talking upstairs. Sounds like they are in my mom’s room.

I turned off the TV to hear better. I could distinctly hear a man and woman talking to each other. I could not hear individual words, just mumbling.

I got up off the couch and started walking toward the stairs, as I am walking across the room, I hear a small child speak. Again, no individual words, but the sound of muffled voices talking.

Pretty freaked out, the voices are definitely happening. As I approach the bottom stair, something upstairs in my mom’s room hits the floor. Like a semi loud THUD. To me it seemed like someone pulled a dresser drawer too far out and it came out and hit the floor.

The voices stopped immediately and I ran the fuck outside and waited for my grandpa. Middle of winter, no coat… did not care.” — Chknbone

Related: 15 People Share their True Haunted House Ghost Stories

4. Footsteps

“The only one I have is when I was in 4th grade. When I was little, I would always sleep with my door open. I went through a phase where I would wake up between 3:00 /4:00 AM every night, and every single night I would hear footsteps walking up my stairs, around my living room, through my dining room, across my kitchen, and down my hallway. They would always stop right before my doorway, then turn around and go back into the basement. But one night they didn’t stop, what I saw was a shadow of a little girl/boy (couldn’t tell) walk right in front of my doorway, look at me for a few seconds, then it walked away, back down the stairs.

I slept with the door closed the next night.” – asds10

5. Dead Batteries

“I was home alone one time and one of my little brother’s walkie talkies makes a beep sound. It wasn’t turned on so it couldn’t have been a low battery warning or something like that.

I look over at it cause it startled me and then, with it still being turned off, it says, ‘Hello?’

I walked over to it, turned it on and said, ‘Hi.’

It responded by saying, ‘I’m inside.’

I left the house and didn’t go back till later that day.” — Fluffy_Daedra

6. The Waving Hand

“When I was a kid, I once woke up in the middle of the night. Complete silence. I looked around the room and behind a wardrobe, I saw a small hand waving at me.

It was like a kids hand, it was dark but I remember seeing it so clearly, I could see each finger. I started crying and screaming and my parents had to check my room few times before I would fall asleep.” — Andysaurus_Rexx

7. The Painting

“My grandparents used to have a really beautiful painting of my aunt hanging in their living room. And yes, she is still alive. Anyways, when I was about 5 or 6 I was sleeping in their living room one night when I heard it talking to me. It was her voice and it talked to me just like she would’ve. It was weird because I was really calm and not scared, even talking back, but I knew that paintings don’t talk. Eventually, she told me to go wake up my Grandpa and tell him she wants to talk to him.

I went and woke him up and when he realized I was talking about the painting he got really pissed. He was yelling at me when he suddenly stopped and stared out the window. Then his eyes got wide and he told me to hide in his bedroom and tell my Grandma to call the police.

He then grabbed a pistol he had hidden in his cabinet and ran outside. While she was on the phone we heard two shots. He came back in after a few minutes and told us he shot one of the guys trying to break into his house in the arm but they all got away. It turns out that a prison for minors about 20 miles away had 3 escapees. They ran through the woods until they came to my Grandpa’s property and planned on looting what they could and use us as hostages if necessary. That is until my aunt’s painting woke me up and told me to wake him up.” – Tucker33

Related: 13 Scary True Ghost Stories You Shouldn’t Read Alone

8. The Backyard

“When I was around 12, me, my cousin and my brother were building a snow igloo in my grandma’s backyard. We had the whole dome complete, and were working on the inside making the walls smooth, when I accidentally smoothed it a little too much and a little hole to the outside formed.

Instantly, a little hand shot through that hole and started reaching around, trying to grab something. At first, none of us in the igloo really freaked out, since we though it was my little sister trying to break our fort. After grasping around for about 10 seconds, the hand pulled itself back out of the hole. However, when went out to scold my sister, there was no one there, and there were no footsteps out there apart from out own.

Lots of scary shit has happened in that backyard, but this one definitely takes the cake.” — Sneakos1

Related: 13 People Describe Their Eeriest Experiences with Shadow People

9. Breakfast

“As a teenager my parents moved into another house because our previous one caught fire. One morning I woke up smelling breakfast, I’m like hell yea mom’s cooking pancakes, bacon and eggs. I mean the smell was right on the money. My brother and I get up to see no one cooking and my mom asleep. Ok, whatever. Tell my mom about it later and she looks crazy shocked. Said the landlord told her jokingly about it being haunted by an old lady that cooks breakfast sometimes. She never told us until then. Only time it ever happened.”  – harry_manback91

10. The Possession

“About 10 years ago, I had just started dating this girl I’d had a massive crush on. We were fresh out of high school, and her parents went out of town for a weekend. I was going to finally sleep in her bed with her, and I was amped.

I have a bit of trouble sleeping in a new place, so I was awake after she’d already knocked out. I tried to keep my eyes closed and let sleep come. Just I started to drift off, I heard a sound like scratching on wood, quick and getting faster. I opened my eyes and oriented myself again. It wasn’t scratching. It was whispering. And it was getting louder.

My girlfriend was rapidly whispering, ‘She is the devil in disguise she is the devil in disguise…’ I turned my head to look at her, and her eyes were wide open, looking directly at me, but glossed over, like she was looking through me. The whispering continued until she stopped mid-sentence, ‘She is the devil in disguise she is the dev— He can’t help you.’

She closed her eyes and went rolled over, leaving me with a very ‘What the fu*k…?’ feeling. I asked her about it in the morning, and she said she used to talk in her sleep a lot as a kid.

I still have no idea if she was messing with me or if she just had odd sleep habits.” — drewxdeficit

11. The Whistling

I was home alone in my room with nothing on and not listening to anything when I suddenly hear a whistle inside my room (which I was in) that sounded like ring-a-round the rosy. It didn’t sound breathy or anything; looked everywhere, but found nothing that would have made that sound. I was scared all day until my family got home around 4pm (it happened in the morning).” — redmoon

12. The Prankster

“I lived in this house with a basement, and every time I walked up the stairs I would get this weird creepy goosebumps feeling on the back of my neck. It didn’t make me uneasy to go down the stairs or to be in the basement. My craft room was down there I and I spent a lot of time there. After a while, I would have items I was using disappear when I would look away from them. I would search and search and one day I got frustrated and to no one in particular, I said, “Can I please have my scissors back?” I had just looked under the pile new mail and when I turned my head, there were my scissors on top of the pile of mail.

I talked to my neighbor and she told me that the original owner of the house was a jolly old man who loved to prank people… and that he had fallen coming up the stairs one day and died. I think the goosebumps were him trying to tell me to be careful! And every time after that, when something would disappear, I would politely ask for it back and it would appear in a place that I could not have missed it before.” – ScarletBeezwax

13. The Sleepwalker

“I don’t believe in ghosts, but there was SOMETHING that awoke me in the middle of the night when my family and I were in our cabin in the mountains, far, far from civilization.

I didn’t see anything, but I woke up with a start, couldn’t move, held my breath out of fear. Sleep paralysis, right?

Suddenly I heard my mother (from the adjacent room) whisper my name, as if trying to get my attention. I’m too paralyzed to reply. I eventually fall asleep.

The following morning my mother said she saw me sleep walking. My sister said she, too, awoke with a start, and she’d also seen someone in our bedroom. I don’t sleep walk. I’d been in my bed the entire time.” — Mwuuh

Read more from Strange Tales

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Murder Most Foul: 7 Little-Known Killers of the 19th Century http://www.theoccultmuseum.com/murder-most-foul-7-little-known-killers-of-the-19th-century/ Wed, 21 Jun 2017 07:00:12 +0000 http://www.theoccultmuseum.com/?p=11714 By Maria Pinheiro. From Snapped, to Deadly Women and The First 48, it’s no secret that the modern world is intrigued by murder and mayhem. In addition to TV shows, various books and documentaries seek to spill the secrets of notorious serial killers like the Boston Strangler and the Zodiac Killer. This obsession is nothing […]

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By Maria Pinheiro.

From Snapped, to Deadly Women and The First 48, it’s no secret that the modern world is intrigued by murder and mayhem. In addition to TV shows, various books and documentaries seek to spill the secrets of notorious serial killers like the Boston Strangler and the Zodiac Killer. This obsession is nothing new, of course. Perhaps the most heavily covered serial killer was the 19th century’s Jack the Ripper, whose victims were discussed, at the time, in full-page spreads in newspapers around the globe.

While Jack the Ripper is one of the more well known serial killers of that era, there are myriad other killers nearly forgotten by time, but whose crimes are just as ghastly. Here are seven little-known killers of the 19th century.

Murder Most Foul: 7 Little-Known Killers of the 19th Century
[Image via Unknown Misandry]

1. Sarah Freeman

When Sarah Freeman’s illegitimate son, James, died after experiencing extreme stomach pains, it was thought that cholera had killed him. When Freeman’s husband died in 1843 after experiencing the same complications, suspicions arose. Freeman collected money from a type of life insurance policy her husband had taken out, then fled to London.

She resurfaced a year later at the home of her mother and brother. Her brother Charles let her know she was not welcome, but was nonetheless allowed into the home. Freeman purchased arsenic from the town chemist, which she quickly put to use: her mother died on December 14, 1844, having suffered the same stomach pains as Freeman’s son and husband. The same fate befell Charles on December 31.

This time, Freeman wasn’t able to flee. Doctors found arsenic in the bodies of Freeman’s mother and brother during a postmortem examination; the bodies of Freeman’s son and husband were exhumed and also found to contain arsenic.

Sarah Freeman was charged with murder, and hanged publicly on April 23, 1845.

Related: Death by Numbers: 10 Most Murderous Serial Killers by Victim Count

2. The Midnight Assassin of Austin

Austin, Texas, in 1884, was a glittering city, equipped with elegant opera houses and ranch aristocrats. But in 1884, Austin became famous for something else: one of America’s first real serial killers.

At least seven women met their deaths in brutal crime scenes involving knives, iron rods, axes, and even bricks. According to historian Skip Hollandsworth, the victims—mostly black female servants of wealthy Austin families—had no time to scream before being slaughtered. Due to the similar backgrounds shared by many of his victims, the killer earned a frightening nickname: The Servant Girl Annihilator.

The citizens of Austin cowered in terror. No one was safe, not even the young. Eleven-year-old Mary Ramey was dragged from her bed in the middle of the night, where she was then “stabbed through the ear with an iron rod, and raped.”

On Christmas Eve, 1855, the murders picked up speed. Sue Hancock was discovered with her head split open by an axe. An hour later, Eula Phillips was found in an eerily similar position. Austin police searched desperately for the killer to no avail. Despite a few good leads, the serial killing spree was never solved—and it remains unsolved to this day.

Murder Most Foul: 7 Little-Known Killers of the 19th Century
[Image via Murderpedia]

3. Catherine Wilson

She was deemed the “greatest criminal that ever lived.”

Between the years 1854 and 1862, Nurse Catherine Wilson developed a habit of poisoning her patients.

Her husband is believed to be the first person Wilson killed. After a bottle of cholchicum was discovered on his nightstand when he died, a doctor insisted on a post mortem examination of the body. Wilson resisted, and the doctor backed down.

In 1862, Wilson began working for Mrs. Sarah Carnell. Wilson sweet-talked her employer into writing her into the will. Carnell was found dead days later.

Within days Wilson was arrested for murdering not only her husband, but seven of her patients. Wilson chose her victims specifically, not poisoning them until she’d persuaded them to bequeath her money.

Catherine Wilson was charged with the murder of one of her patients, Mrs. Soames, and executed on October 20, 1862. She remains the last woman to be publicly hanged in London.

4. Bob Turner

Bob Turner’s bloodthirsty murders stained the pages of The Wilmington Morning Star in January 1874.

Bob had axed his brother to death. Seeking to minimize the damage, Bob called his other brother, Newton, to help. When Newton arrived at the scene, he reeled in horror at the sight of his mutilated sibling.

Bob demanded that Newton help conceal the body. Fearing for his life, Newton agreed, though he told the police about his murderous brother as soon as he could. When Bob Turner was finally apprehended and imprisoned, he attempted to kill his jailor.

Thankfully the jailor lived, though the same could not be said for Bob’s other victims. Bob Turner later admitted to “remembering” that he had killed other people.

The Wilmington Morning Star wrote, “Now that [Turner] has confessed, he delights to talk of many persons he has killed. He gloats over the skill with which he has concealed their [dead] bodies, and declares that if they were got together there would be nearly forty of them.

Murder Most Foul: 7 Little-Known Killers of the 19th Century
[Image via Wikipedia]

5. Mary Ann Cotton

On March 24, 1873, Mary Ann Cotton was hanged for the murder of her fourth husband’s son, Charles Edward Cotton. At 40 years old, she was known as Britain’s first female serial killer: In her wake she left up to 21 dead, including 11 of her 13 children, three of her four husbands, one lover, and her mother. Arsenic poisoning was her method of choice.

For 20 years, mysterious deaths surrounded Cotton. A majority of her children died of intestinal problems. Her husbands, from whom she was set to receive life insurance payments after their deaths, died after suffering similar symptoms.

Cotton was sent to hang at the gallows on her execution day, but the drop through the trapdoor was much too short. In the end, she choked to death, the rope a tangled noose around her neck.

Related: 13 of the Most Disturbing Last Words from Death Row Prisoners

6. Walter Millar

In May 1870, a man named Walter Millar entered the London home of a clergyman named Huelin to do some repairs. The clergyman had been planning to leave town, so when he vanished without a trace shortly after Millar began working in his home, the authorities were not too suspicious. In fact, Millar might have gotten away with it had he not called upon another man to help him dispose of his dirty work.

Henry Piper entered the Huelin home on Millar’s behest, to help him remove a large box from the property. Unfortunately for Millar, the box was leaking blood. Piper immediately jumped into action, preventing Millar from escaping and calling the police. The box was found to contain the corpse of Huelin’s housekeeper: Huelin’s corpse was found buried in a newly-dug trench next to the home. Millar was charged with the murders, and hanged on August 1, 1870

Murder Most Foul: 7 Little-Known Killers of the 19th Century
[Image via Alchetron]

7. Joseph Vacher

France had its own Jack the Ripper, and his name was Joseph Vacher. After a brief stint in the French army, he was dismissed for attempting suicide.

He was sent home, where he then attempted a courtship. When the woman refused, Vacher not only shot her multiple times but also lodged two bullets in his own skull. Amazingly, he survived.

Between 1894 and 1897, Vacher’s killing spree crisscrossed the French countryside. His preferred method of murder was to stab his victims, then, if they were female, sexually assault them.

In August 1897, Vacher was finally caught mid-attack. He was promptly placed in prison, where he admitted to murdering 11 people. Some suggest that the number might be as high as 27. That he preyed largely upon farmhands earned him his gruesome nickname: The Killer of Little Shepherds.

In the early morning hours of December 31, 1898, Joseph Vacher was dragged to the guillotine and executed for his crimes.

This article was first published on The Line Up.

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The Grave Tale of Mercy Brown and the New England Vampire Panic http://www.theoccultmuseum.com/grave-tale-mercy-brown-new-england-vampire-panic/ Tue, 20 Jun 2017 07:00:05 +0000 http://www.theoccultmuseum.com/?p=11702 By Chelsey Baggot. The idea of vampirism is often romanticized in today’s age. Shining, beautiful creatures grace the pages of our books and movies, promising us an elegant, immortal life. But such a view of vampires wasn’t always the case. During the late 18th Century, the idea of sucking the life force out of others […]

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By Chelsey Baggot.

The idea of vampirism is often romanticized in today’s age. Shining, beautiful creatures grace the pages of our books and movies, promising us an elegant, immortal life. But such a view of vampires wasn’t always the case. During the late 18th Century, the idea of sucking the life force out of others was associated with terminal illness and death and gave root to a wave of vampire panic that spread throughout Europe and America.

With time and new advances in medicine, connections between illness and the mythical creatures often found in folklore ceased. But many strange superstitions and macabre rituals were all too common before then.

Related: 5 Legendary Witches Graves and the Sinister Stories Behind them
Age of the Vampire

While Tuberculosis is no longer considered a common disease in the developed world, it was extremely prevalent during the late 1700s. Caused by bacteria, Tuberculosis affects the lungs, and is lethal if not treated. The disease is spread through the air when an infected person coughs, allowing the bacteria to travel to other people. Those who contract the disease experience chronic coughing, fever, blood in their mucus and weight loss.

The Sorrowful Tale of Mercy Brown and the New England Vampire Panic
[Image via Ephemera Phile] Metropolitan Magazine, April 1909 issue (“Consumption” and “White Plague” refer to tuberculosis).

This infectious disease has affected humans since ancient times, but really took its toll during the 1780s throughout New England. Then known as consumption, because of the way its victims wasted away, the disease began to spread and infect entire towns. By the year 1800, two percent of New England’s population had perished from the disease. Nobody yet knew that consumption was spread through the air, so when one person in a family contracted it, it didn’t take long for their other family members to follow. Bacteria was a new, and largely debated concept at this time. Those who began showing symptoms of consumption were often sent out of cities to milder climates. While this sometimes helped alleviate symptoms in the infected, it also helped to further spread the disease across the country.

Related: 5 Ghoulish Cases of Body-Snatching from the Victorian Era

Fear ran rampant during this time. It was estimated that between seventy and ninety percent of the United States population carried traces of consumption in their bodies. Scared and helpless, people began taking drastic measures in order to help rid their loved ones of the disease.

And so began the vampire panic.

The Sorrowful Tale of Mercy Brown and the New England Vampire Panic
[Image via The Sorensens] View of Chestnut Hill Cemetery, Exeter, Rhode Island.

In 1784, a New England newspaper published a story about a strange doctor who had discovered a most unusual cure for consumption. The Johnson family, out of Willington, Connecticut, had begun to suffer from the disease. After two family members died, the doctor instructed Isaac Johnson to dig up their bodies and search for signs of plant growth. When one of the bodies did, indeed, have a common herb growing out of it, the doctor told Isaac that he should burn the herb, as well as his family member’s remaining organs, in order to rid his family of the disease once and for all. While Isaac found this suggestion to be utterly deplorable, those who read the newspaper article viewed it with more open minds.

Nobody quite wanted to believe that the souls of their loved ones were draining those of the living, but that is precisely what the article was suggesting. Those who had died from tuberculosis were desperate to live again, thus they drained the strength out of their loved ones. The doctor suggested that burning the organs of the dead would help keep consumption from spreading. The dead were described as vampires, sucking away at the living until there was nothing left. It’s important to note that most people didn’t take this belief as an exact truth. Rather, it was a superstitious act—a last resort as others fell ill.

According to these new superstitions, there were usually tell-tale signs when a spirit of the dead was praying upon the living. If a loved one had recently passed, it was vital to exhume the body and inspect it. If liquid blood could be found, or the body looked to be in better preservation than seemed possible, then a number of rituals had to be performed.

Some were relatively simple to perform, such as turning the corpse so it lay on its stomach. People believed this deterred the spirit of the dead from escaping from the grave. Others thought that the dead would still be able to come after the living unless their vital organs, such as their heart and liver, were burned. Some burned the entire corpse for good measure. It is believed that some even ate the ashes as a means of reclaiming the strength they had lost.

Related: The Pendle Witches: England’s Deadly Witch Hunt Hysteria
The Death of Mercy Brown

Born and raised in the small town of Exeter, Rhode Island, Mercy Lena Brown was just 19 years of age when she succumbed to consumption in the cold winter month of January 1892. Her mother and sister had died years before of the same illness, and all that now remained of the Brown family was George, the father and Edwin, Mercy’s older brother. Edwin, who had already shown symptoms of consumption, had left New England years before for Colorado Springs in hope that the climate would improve his health. Upon hearing of his sister’s ill health he traveled home, with newspapers at the time reporting that Edwin was “in a dying condition”.  With his youngest daughter dead and his only surviving child dangerously ill, George, urged on by friends and neighbors, took desperate action against the diabolical forces preying upon his family.

According to newspaper reports, George and a party of men first exhumed the bodies his wife and eldest daughter. After finding nothing but bones they then turned to Mercy’s body which had been kept in a nearby crypt until the winter thaw and a suitable grave could be dug.  Upon her exhumation, they discovered her body was in a fairly well-preserved state with almost no decomposition. Removing her liver and heart they burned the organs and then fed the ashes to Edwin in hopes it would restore his stolen health. He died less than two months later.

The Sorrowful Tale of Mercy Brown and the New England Vampire Panic
[Image via Destination xl] The crypt where the body of Mercy Brown may have rested in Chestnut Hill Cemetery.

As vampire lore continued to spread during the early 19th Century, rumors and stories hailed from Russia and Eastern Europe. Accounts of these unseen forces and the various methods to combat them were often printed in publications and made widely available. They spoke of rituals that were taking place overseas, just as in the America, Europeans were also facing an onslaught of consumption. Bodies began to be dug back up and burned. Some were even stabbed with stakes if the bodies were deemed to be in too good of a condition.

George Stetson, an anthropologist, studied these rituals and found connections ranging from Russia all the way to the Caribbean. He published an article on his findings in 1896, stating that these ritualistic practices began to spread after a few individuals connected their recovery with the cremation of their loved ones. This, accompanied by numerous other folkloric stories about werewolves, and witchcraft, were a popular topic of conversation and newspaper articles during this time in American and European history. People were obsessed not only with death but also the supernatural. One such man who shared this obsession was Bram Stoker. In 1896, while working as a stage manager for a theater company touring the United States, he came to read Stetson’s report. One year later he published Dracula.

Related: 10 Most Shocking Paranormal Hoaxes in History

Over time, scientists and doctors began to better understand bacteria, and how germs are spread. With this updated knowledge, people began to realize that tuberculosis was spread through the air and that whole families could be prone to falling ill due to their close proximity to each other. Once this was understood, treatment centers were created for the sick, and less people became infected. By 1906, the first immunization against tuberculosis had been developed and the practice of exhuming bodies died out, leaving those who perished to be left to lie peacefully in their graves once more.

And of Mercy Brown, her grave resides to this day in Chestnut Hill Cemetery, shaded from the sun beneath an evergreen tree. Visitors from around the world come to visit and leave small trinkets such a plastic vampire teeth on her grave, a mark of remembrance for the New England vampire.

[Sources: Smithsonian, Mental Floss, Altas Obscura and Wikipeadia]

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10 American Murder Houses and the Spirits that Reside Within them http://www.theoccultmuseum.com/10-american-murder-houses-and-the-spirits-that-reside-within-them/ Mon, 19 Jun 2017 07:00:28 +0000 http://www.theoccultmuseum.com/?p=11622 Haunted houses have a long history, with stories as old as Pliny the Younger’s tale, an ancient Roman story of an Athens villa haunted by a chained man, to the ghost stories found in Arabian Nights. They remain an ever-present part of human society, one that parapsychologists attribute to violent events taking place in the related buildings. […]

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Haunted houses have a long history, with stories as old as Pliny the Younger’s tale, an ancient Roman story of an Athens villa haunted by a chained man, to the ghost stories found in Arabian Nights. They remain an ever-present part of human society, one that parapsychologists attribute to violent events taking place in the related buildings. So, it is no surprise that the sites of some of humanity’s most gruesome acts bear the echoes of those murders.

Here are ten of the most infamous American murder houses and vacant lots to be found in the United States and the spirits that haunt them.

1. The Hex Murder House

Rehmeyer’s Hollow Road, Shrewsbury, PA.

10 American Murder Houses and the Spirits that Reside Within them
[Image via Randy Roberts / Flickr]

In 1928, local witch Nellie Noll told John Blymire that recluse Nelson Rehmeyer was the source of his bad luck. Although both were avowed pow-wow men – or practitioners of hex magic, Blymire set out to break his “bad luck spirit” by burning 60-year-old Rehmeyer’s copy of the Pow-Wows spell book and burying a lock of his hair.

With the help of 14-year-old John Curry and 18-year-old Wilbert Hess, he tied up and beat Rehmeyer to death in his home when he refused to give up his book. They then set his body aflame to break the hex. Though his wife and daughter escaped harm because they lived on an adjoining farm, the elder pow-wow man reportedly haunts the Hex House to this day. You can visit historical exhibits there, including burn marks on the floorboards from Rehmeyer’s murder.

Related: 10 Most Murderous Serial Killers by Victim Count

2. Kreischer Mansion

4500 Arthur Kill Road, Staten Island, NY.

10 American Murder Houses and the Spirits that Reside Within them
[Image via Thomas Good / Flickr]

In 1885, German businessman Balthasar Kreischer had a pair of Queen Anne mansions built for his sons. Within a decade, the senior Kreischer died, his brickworks closed, and both sons perished, Edward by suicide and Charles in a fire that destroyed his mansion. The remaining house was left empty until new owners turned it into a restaurant, and a mafia front before once more being left vacant, employing formerMarinee Joseph Young as its caretaker.

In 2006, Young was hired by the Bonanno crime family to kill Robert McKelvey, and he did so by strangling, stabbing, and drowning the man on the Kreischer Mansion grounds – before dismembering and burning the body in the furnace in the cellar. Rumor has it that the Kreischers haunt the residence, including a spectral woman who peers from the windows.

3. Amityville House

112 Ocean Avenue, Amityville, NY.

10 American Murder Houses and the Spirits that Reside Within them
[Image via Pix II]

John Moynahan had this Dutch Colonial built on Long Island’s south shore in the 1920s, but the DeFeo family brought it to infamy. In 1974, Ronald “Butch” DeFeo Jr. killed his parents and four siblings there at the behest of a dark presence. A year later, the Lutz family moved in, only to discover that his demons lingered.

First, local priest Father Mancuso was threatened by a monstrous voice during a blessing; then, the parents began having vivid nightmares, with wife Kathy feeling embraced by an unseen force. Meanwhile, father George discovered a hidden room in the basement, and daughter Jodie befriended an invisible, demonic pig. Cold spots, strange odors, spectral slime, and cloven footprints followed, until the family fled the house just 28 days after arriving. At one point, demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren visited and photographed a demonic boy, though no hauntings have been reported since.

4. Cleveland Strangler Murder House

12205 Imperial Avenue, Cleveland, OH.

10 American Murder Houses and the Spirits that Reside Within them
[Image via Getty Images]

In 2005, Anthony Sowell was released from prison after serving 15 years for attempted rape. Despite a decorated career in the US Marine Corps, he had a history of assaulting women and girls, including his 11-year-old niece. Still, no one suspected his murderous tendencies.

Although his friends and neighbors complained of his home’s horrid smell, Sowell blamed it on his stepmother, who lived with him, or the nearby sausage factory. Then, in 2009, after sexually assaulting another woman, police searched his Mount Pleasant home and found the bodies of almost a dozen local black women, including two in his living room. The relatively inconspicuous home was later demolished out of respect to the victims, whose spirits have since seemingly rested in peace.

5. Gardette-LaPrete House

1240 Burgundy Street, New Orleans, LA.

10 American Murder Houses and the Spirits that Reside Within them
[Image via Curbed]

This Greek Revival house in New Orleans’ French Quarter started as a vacation home for plantation owner Jean LaPrete in the 1830s. After adding its wrought-iron lace rails, LaPrete rented the house to a wealthy young Turk known as “The Sultan.” The handsome stranger brought a vibrant entourage of concubines, eunuchs, and compatriots, all of whom participated in lavish, late-night parties with incense and wild music.

Then, one morning, a passer-by noticed blood seeping from the door, and police entered to discover the entire group dead and dismembered, with “The Sultan” buried alive in the courtyard. Although the case remains unsolved, authorities suspect the stranger may have been an actual Sultan killed by competitive relatives. To this day, visitors regularly hear shouting and weeping from within, while ghostly faces peer from the upstairs windows.

Related: 5 Haunted Horror Hotels with Grisly and Mysterious Pasts

6. Villisca Ax Murder House

508 E. 2nd Street, Villisca, IA.

10 American Murder Houses and the Spirits that Reside Within them
[Image via Wikipedia]

In 1912, this rural house was the home of Josiah B. Moore, his wife, and four children. However, one cool summer evening, someone entered the Moore homestead and used an ax to slaughter everyone inside, including two visiting children. The ghastly crime was discovered by a concerned neighbor, and an intense investigation followed.

Word fast spread, and suspects included a nameless highwayman, a well-known traveling minister, and even then-Senator Frank F. Jones. The crime remains unsolved to this day, and the spirits of those who lost their life in the home are still restless. Although they commonly move objects and cause furniture to fall over, one paranormal investigator almost lost his life when staying the night, as he wound up stabbing himself by morning.

7. Lizzie Borden House

230 2nd Street, Fall River, MA.

10 American Murder Houses and the Spirits that Reside Within them
[Image via Wikipedia]

In August of 1892, this Greek Revival was the site of the crime that inspired the infamous rhyme. Affluent banker Andrew Borden was discussing finances with his late wife’s brother after months of interfamilial tension when he decided to go for a walk. In the intervening hour, someone entered the house and hit his new wife Abby 18 or 19 times with a hatchet, with daughter Lizzie and maid Bridget supposedly none the wiser. Upon his return, Andrew laid upon a couch in his parlor to nap but was practically beheaded by the same killer smashing his face 11 times.

Although popular opinion turned on Lizzie, a local judge acquitted her due to circumstantial evidence. The building has since been restored as a museum and bed and breakfast, where many visitors report hearing Lizzie cackling on the stairs and seeing her parents wandering the grounds.

8. Manson Family Murder House

10050 Cielo Drive, Los Angeles, CA.

10 American Murder Houses and the Spirits that Reside Within them
[Image via Wikipedia]

This Los Angeles estate rose to fame in 1969, when the Mansion Family broke in and killed actress Sharon Tate, hair stylist Jay Sebring, and three others. On Manson’s order to make the murders “as gruesome as you can”, the five were horrifically mutilated. Near the end, Tate begged for the life of her unborn child, but her attackers stabbed her 16 times before leaving the word “pig” in blood on the front door.

The property was later owned by Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor, who took the door when he left, but it was knocked down in 1994 and replaced. Although no ghosts linger on-site, voices and footsteps were heard during the construction of a nearby house, whose residents report cold winds and apparitions.

9. John Wayne Gacy’s House

8213 Summerdale Avenue, Chicago, IL.

10 American Murder Houses and the Spirits that Reside Within them
[Image via NY Daily]

The crimes of this killer clown are etched into Americans’ minds, but it is perhaps most disturbing because he buried victims’ bodies beneath his otherwise banal suburban home. Only his wife noticed a certain smell, but Gacy blamed dead mice in the crawl space. Upon his arrest in 1978, though, police excavated the property and unearthed the remains of 29 individuals under the house and in the backyard and garage.

The work took three months due to an especially brutal winter, and the house was mostly destroyed in the process, resulting in its razing in 1979. Afterwards, rumors spread of his victims’ ghosts haunting the property, especially as the soil remained barren in the intervening years. A new home was built on the property in 1988, though the address was changed by the new owner.

Related: 13 Disturbing Last Words from Death Row Prisoners

10. Jeffrey Dahmer’s Apartment

924 North 25th Street, Apartment #213, Milwaukee, WI.

10 American Murder Houses and the Spirits that Reside Within them
[Image via Murderpedia]

The majority of this infamous cannibal’s crimes were committed at this modern Oxford apartment complex. Dahmer lured unsuspecting victims to his one-bedroom flat with the promise of cash in exchange for sexual favors and then drugged them with sleeping pills. Afterwards, he dismembered their bodies, disposed their torsos in a 57-gallon vat of acid, and refrigerated their limbs to eat later.

Eventually, in 1991, after two separate instances of victims escaping, police arrested Dahmer and discovered the human abattoir in his flat. The building was purchased by Marquette University and torn down in 1992 out of respect for the victims – and because no one wanted to live there. It remains a vacant lot to this day, with no word on the souls of the young men who perished there.

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Do You Believe in Ghosts? 10 More of the Most Convincing Paranormal Photos Ever Taken http://www.theoccultmuseum.com/believe-ghosts-13-amazing-ghost-pictures-need-see/ http://www.theoccultmuseum.com/believe-ghosts-13-amazing-ghost-pictures-need-see/#respond Fri, 16 Jun 2017 07:00:27 +0000 http://www.theoccultmuseum.com/?p=5237 They say seeing is believing. And ghost photography provides the most convincing evidence for the existence of the spirit world. In today’s modern world filled with the latest technology, it might be easy to write of many so-called ‘ghost pictures’ as nothing more than fakes and hoaxes, there are some photographs that remain simply unexplainable. […]

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They say seeing is believing. And ghost photography provides the most convincing evidence for the existence of the spirit world. In today’s modern world filled with the latest technology, it might be easy to write of many so-called ‘ghost pictures’ as nothing more than fakes and hoaxes, there are some photographs that remain simply unexplainable. If you’re looking for proof of an afterlife, these photographic mysteries may hint at an answer for what awaits us all when we pass from this life and into the next.

Here’s our second installment of the most convincing paranormal encounters ever captured on camera, along with the chilling stories behind them.

1. The Woman in Black

Do You Believe in Ghosts? 13 More of the Most Convincing Paranormal Photos Ever Taken
[Image via The Sun]
The 14th century Bolling Hall in Bradford, England, is widely regarded as one of the most haunted buildings in the country. During a recent investigation by Equinox Paranormal Research team, a member of the group saw an ‘old maid in an apron’ on the staircase. Grabbing her camera she began taking pictures of the empty stairwell. In the first picture taken she captured a woman dressed in black making her way down the stairs. The apparition did not appear in any of the following pictures taken.

Related: 10 Famous Ghost Pictures and the Stories Behind them

2. Stirling Castle Spirit

Do You Believe in Ghosts? 13 More of the Most Convincing Paranormal Photos Ever Taken
[Image via Ghosts n Ghouls]
Considered by many to be one of Scotland’s greatest historical sites, Stirling castle is also said to be the most haunted. In 1956, an architectural photographer visiting the castle early in one morning began to snap a few shots of the empty castle. The photographer saw no one inside, but when he developed the photos he was shocked to see this shadowy figure captured in one of the photographs.

3. The Praying Apparition

Do You Believe in Ghosts? 13 More of the Most Convincing Paranormal Photos Ever Taken
[Image via Paranormal About]
This famous photograph was taken in the late 1950s by a photographer John Cromby. During a trip to a church in Berlin, Cromby wasn’t aware of the ghostly presence until the film was developed.

4. The Dying Man

Do You Believe in Ghosts? 13 More of the Most Convincing Paranormal Photos Ever Taken
[Image via ]
While the origin of this photograph remains largely unknown, it’s said that it was taken hours before the terminally ill man took his last breath. Some believe the strange clouds and orbs to merely be fingerprint smudges, others believe that they are in fact are souls waiting for him.

5. Kneeling Woman in the Cemetery

Do You Believe in Ghosts? 13 More of the Most Convincing Paranormal Photos Ever Taken
[Image via Paranormal Association]
An amateur photographer took this haunting photograph in 1987 at St. Philip’s Cemetery in Charleston, South Carolina. Legend has it that the picture was taken exactly 99 years to the day after the apparition in the picture, believed to be Sue Howard Hardy, gave birth to a stillborn baby.

Related: 10 Pictures of Shadow People That Will Make Your Skin Crawl

6. Phantom Passenger

Do You Believe in Ghosts? 13 More of the Most Convincing Paranormal Photos Ever Taken
[Image via Paranormal About]
Showing off their new car for the camera, this ghostly image appears to have captured an unexplainable face of a man in the back window of the other car parked in the driveway. The family claim there was nobody in either car at the time and were shocked to find they had taken a picture of a phantom passenger. Stranger still, they also said that the face looked very much like the dead father of the man posing in the picture, the same man that had taught him how to drive years before.

7. Ghost of St Botolph

Do You Believe in Ghosts? 13 More of the Most Convincing Paranormal Photos Ever Taken
[Image via Ghost Story]
In 1982, photographer Chris Brackley took a picture inside the historic St Botolph church, London, the only people present at the time were himself and his wife. When the photograph was developed, he was astonished to note that a woman in old-fashioned garb was standing on the balcony to the right of the altar. A few years later Chris was contacted by a builder who had been employed on restoration work in St Botolph’s crypt. He explained that, in knocking down a wall he had inadvertently disturbed a pile of old coffins and one had come open to reveal a reasonably well-preserved body the face of which bore an uncanny resemblance to the figure that had made an uninvited appearance in Chris’s photograph.

8.  Gettysberg school trip

Do You Believe in Ghosts? 13 More of the Most Convincing Paranormal Photos Ever Taken
[Image via Imgur]
During a school trip to the civil war battlefields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, this photographer managed to capture much more than his pupils. Appearing to march out from behind a boulder is a faint figure which many believe to be a ghost of a former officer.

9. The Shadow Waits

Do You Believe in Ghosts? 13 More of the Most Convincing Paranormal Photos Ever Taken
[Image via Imgur]
Submitted to a forum in 2013 by a man who claimed his fiancé had the supernatural gift of being able to see into the spirit world. To prove her abilities she took this photograph on her iPhone. The spooky picture shows a dark shape waiting outside the window, patiently watching the occupants inside. If that’s not creepy enough, the guy also said that the picture was taken three years to the day after her father died. Is this a touching family reunion or something far more sinister?

Related: 15 People Share their True Haunted House Ghost Stories

10. Ghost Caught on Google Maps

Do You Believe in Ghosts? 13 More of the Most Convincing Paranormal Photos Ever Taken
[Image via Imgur]
Looking for a haunted hotel? Then you’ll love the Hotel Stuart in Liverpool, England which is well known in the local area for its extreme paranormal activity. In fact, it’s so haunted that one of its resident ghosts have even been captured on Google. Let’s take a closer look.

Do You Believe in Ghosts? 13 More of the Most Convincing Paranormal Photos Ever Taken
[Image via Imgur]
The mysterious creature was spotted by a man who was considering staying at the hotel, he decided to do some extra research on the area by looking the hotel up on Google Maps which is when he spotted a strange creepy looking figure staring out of one of the upstairs window.

Read more on Ghosts & Hauntings

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Graveyard Shift Workers Share Their Eeriest Encounters with the Supernatural http://www.theoccultmuseum.com/graveyard-shift-workers-share-their-eeriest-encounters-with-the-supernatural/ Thu, 15 Jun 2017 07:00:45 +0000 http://www.theoccultmuseum.com/?p=11601 When the sun goes down, things can get a little creepy. Graveyard shift workers from around the globe have been sharing their spookiest supernatural encounters whilst on the job. From hospitals where death and the recently departed stalk the corridors to security guards who soon discover they are not alone in the empty buildings they […]

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When the sun goes down, things can get a little creepy. Graveyard shift workers from around the globe have been sharing their spookiest supernatural encounters whilst on the job. From hospitals where death and the recently departed stalk the corridors to security guards who soon discover they are not alone in the empty buildings they guard. After reading these true-life ghost stories you’re about to gain a whole new appreciation for all the brave men and women who work the night shift.

During the long midnight hours, the things that go bump in the night are not always just figments of an overactive imagination, as the following people learned the hard way.

1. They Play at Night

“My mother used to work at a subacute center as a night shift nurse. She said one of the ladies kept calling her and told her to shut the kids up because they’re running around and being loud preventing her from falling asleep. Of course, there were no kids.

My mom just went along with it a few times and after working there for 10+ years, she says there’s one wing in the building where the patients all see children running around and making noise keeping them up in the middle of the night every once in a while.” —notyouravgjane

Related: 15 People Share their True Haunted House Ghost Stories

2. Midnight Calls

“I’m a nurse that worked at a psychiatric hospital for five years. That place was haunted as shit. Police would call us in the middle of the night saying some little girl who identified herself as Satana was calling 911 from a certain extension in the hospital.

That extension? The arts and crafts room. Nobody goes there at night. Nobody. I assure you. Yet there’s obviously something there. And it calls 911 a lot.

Lots of other stories from that place but that’s the craziest, creepiest one.” – sensicle

3. The Elevator

“A woman I work with tells this story of how she showed up to work early for her shift, around 4:30 a.m., things are pretty much dead quiet (no pun intended) She gets on the empty elevator, hits the button for the 9th floor, elevator goes up to the 11th floor, doors open, no one there, doors close, back down to the 9th floor, as she gets off sees an old woman standing behind her in the elevator.” – Tjah

Related: 31 Real-Life Horror Stories That Will Chill You to the Bone

4. The Sleep Experiment

“Like most very old hospitals, at one time our hospital was run by nuns. One particular unit had been converted into a sleep study lab area for outpatients tests. One shift in the middle of the night I was watching the video monitor and five patients simultaneously began removing their monitoring equipment. I went into the first room to ask what was going on and the patient said that old nurse with the cap on told her the study was over and that she could leave.

All the patients reported the same story.” – Dhubler91

5. Blue Mist

“Worked nightshift at a treatment center.

We had cameras around every corner, nothing was out of our vision.

Blue misty figure would walk the grounds every once in a while at night. I would go out there and there’d be nothing. But on camera, this motherfucker would just walk around all night. Nothing evil, bad, or anything, but this mother fucker would just walk around like he owned the god damn place.” – rastapasta9

6. The Little Girl in the Nightgown

“I used to work nights in a domestic violence shelter. The shelter was originally a school. One night I heard a little girl laughing outside of the office. I got up and the girl turned around and ran down the hall. I really thought that she was one of the resident’s; from the back she looked just like her. Except she was wearing a strange layered nightgown. She ran past the room I assumed she was going to, into a living room space. I went in right behind and there was nobody in there.” — chicknlil

Related: 15 People Share their Scariest Ouija Board Stories

7. The Praying Nun

“My dad worked at a mental hospital that used to be connected to an abandoned nun’s home by underground passage. He says that one night he was walking down there when he saw a praying nun. He walked by her and said hello. She did not acknowledge him.

My dad does not believe in ghosts, but he says there was a nun down there that night.” – gmen1080

8. A Friendly Voice

“I work in a restaurant and all the bakery people who stay late talk about the ghost of a little girl but I didn’t know this when I started. It was the middle of the day but we were slow so I was doing prep work by myself in the kitchen. I was at the prep table, kinda zoning out, listening to the distant music when I feel someone right next to me. Like a sudden presence. Then I swear to god I heard, in a little girl’s voice, the most innocent ‘Hi Josh! (My name) How are you?’ I even felt her breath. It was so so real and vivid but when I turned around there was no one there.

I started telling people about it and found out lots of coworkers heard the same voice. From everyone’s stories she (the ghost girl) seems really nice but it still sent chills down my spine.” — bnksy420

Related: 21 People Share their Creepiest Experiences of Paranormal Activity

9. Nights on the Psych Ward

“I work night shift in psych. I have heard talking when everyone is asleep, footsteps, knocks on doors where nobody should even be, bathroom lights going off as I walk by (both patients were asleep), as well as seeing shadows every now and again. We had a nurse who was doing checks and felt something tug on her shirt.” — Umbra12

10. The Elevator Doors

“I did night security in a very old grain exchange building that had been converted to mainly lawyers offices. A lot of the building was remodeled but the grain exchange floor and vaults had been preserved and at the end of one hallway behind the main lobby I was stationed in there was an elevator that was original to the building that nobody ever used.

I was sitting at the desk one night around 3am when I heard the ding from down the hall that meant someone had called the elevator. There wasn’t suppose to be anyone in the building except me so I switched to that camera feed and the elevator doors were wide open which is only suppose to happen if the call button has been pushed. I wait a few minutes being pretty freaked out but the doors stay open and I never see anybody. The doors are suppose to close on their own shortly and these ones are stuck open. I start to think that someone is in the building and holding the door open button from within where I can’t see on the feed so I have to walk down there to check it out.

As soon as I get near the end of the hallway where I have a clear view of the elevator the doors close. I just kind of stand there feeling really uneasy and decide to head back to the desk and leave a note for the maintenance crew. About 10 minutes after I get back to the desk it happens again. Ding and then the doors roll open. Except I had the feed up so I know that nobody was there to press the call button. I wait and again the doors stay open. So I walk back down there and as soon as I walk into view they close.

There’s still a chance someone is hiding inside pressing the buttons so I go and press the call button myself. And nothing happens. The elevator doesn’t move and the doors don’t open. I press it again and still nothing so not really wanting to deal with that I start walking back to the desk. Get to the end of the hallway and Ding the doors open. I just stood there not really knowing what to do but then I figure since I’m closer maybe I will make it this time so I take off running for the doors before they close and as soon as I get close they close. I don’t think it would be in anyway possible for someone pressing a button inside to be able to time that without me seeing them peeking out so I decide I am done and go back to the desk. Again the ding and the doors open and stay that way but I just ignore it and switch to a different feed.

All is well for about an hour when suddenly there is a loud crash and a rattle and another crash and a rattle again and again. I am absolutely terrified and have no idea what is happening. I start flipping through feeds and get to the one outside the elevator, the doors are slamming shut and opening and slamming shut again and again. It’s like it knows it has my attention again and then the doors slowly reopen and stay there again like it’s tempting me to try and get there before they close again. I do not do that and instead call our patrol officer who is out driving between locations so I have proof of this with someone else. He gets there within 5 min and the doors are still open so once I fill him in we head down together and sure enough as soon as we get close the doors close. He goes and presses the call button and nothing. He’s pretty freaked out too now but we decide to just stay there outside the doors because if it’s just a perfectly timed malfunction it will open again. We stand there for almost a half hour and they never open but he gets a call come in so has to take off. We get halfway back to the desk and hear the doors open behind us. He tells me to go to the desk and watch the feed while he walks down there. Once I’m in place I tell him to go and same thing as soon as he enters the frame the doors close. He starts kicking the doors and pressing the buttons but it doesn’t do any good. He has to leave so he wishes me luck and tells me to just stay away from it. I have about an hour left in my shift when the doors start doing the slamming and opening again. I just stood at the far end of the hallway listening but it didn’t stop.

Took off as soon as the shift ended and left a report for maintenance about the issue. Next shift I worked I showed up early before they had taken off but they said when they got there it was working fine and they didn’t notice anything wrong. That night was quiet and in the rest of the time I worked there only 1 more night did those doors open but I just ignored it and after awhile they closed again and that was that.” – GrowTallInTheTrees

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10 Little-Known Facts About Edgar Allan Poe http://www.theoccultmuseum.com/10-facts-edgar-allan-poe/ Wed, 14 Jun 2017 07:00:50 +0000 http://www.theoccultmuseum.com/?p=11581 By Aliza Polkes. The name Edgar Allan Poe conjures all things creepy and macabre. His poems and short stories have long instilled terror into the hearts of readers, and he is considered one of the most important American writers in history. But what do we really know about Poe, other than his dark literary gifts? […]

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By Aliza Polkes.

The name Edgar Allan Poe conjures all things creepy and macabre. His poems and short stories have long instilled terror into the hearts of readers, and he is considered one of the most important American writers in history. But what do we really know about Poe, other than his dark literary gifts?

Here are 10 little-known facts about one of the earliest masters of American horror, Edgar Allan Poe.

10 Little-Known Facts About Edgar Allan
Edgar Allan Poe: Complete Tales and Poems.
 1.

Poe’s parents were actors. It’s likely he was given the name “Edgar” after the character in Shakespeare’s King Lear, in which his parents were appearing during the time of his birth.

Related: 10 Haunting Ghost Stories That Every Book Lover Needs to Read
2.

The name “Allan” came from his foster family. After his father left the family and his mother died, Poe was taken in by the family of John Allan, a wealthy Scottish merchant living in Virginia. Poe was never formally adopted by the Allans, but they gave him their name, which he went on to use in his professional career.

3.

He published his first book at only 18 years old. In 1827, Tamerlane and Other Poems was released; the byline read “By a Bostonian”—a reference to Poe’s place of birth.

10 Little-Known Facts About Edgar Allan
The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe.
4.

Poe attended the University of Virginia for only one year. He incurred massive gambling debts, which left him unable to afford to remain at school, despite the money John Allan claimed he was sending to his foster son.

Related: 10 Haunted House Novels Guaranteed to Give You the Shivers
5.

He married his cousin in 1835. Poe was 26, and his cousin, Virginia Clemm, was only 13. They were married for 11 years, until Clemm’s death from tuberculosis. Poe’s experience of watching his wife struggle with illness would come to inspire many of his most famous works, such as Annabel Lee and The Raven.

6.

He was pen pals with Charles Dickens. They even met in person once, in Philadelphia.

10 Little-Known Facts About Edgar Allan
The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe.
7.

Poe sold The Raven to literary journal, The American Review, for $9. It was an instant hit.

Related: 10 Non-Fiction Books Based on True-Life Hauntings
8.

Poe originally was going to use a parrot instead of a raven… but decided a parrot did not evoke the mood he was trying to achieve.

9.

The reasons for Poe’s sudden and bizarre death remain a mystery. There have been speculations of suicide, illness, or even murder.

10 Little-Known Facts About Edgar Allan
The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe.
10.

The football team the Baltimore Ravens was named for Poe’s famous poem. Though he lived in many different cities in his life—including Boston, Massachusetts, Richmond Virginia, and Fordham, New York—Poe died in Baltimore, Maryland.

[Via: WikipediaKill/Adjectives; List25Mother Nature Network]

This article was first published on The Line Up.

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10 Most Haunted Museums in the World http://www.theoccultmuseum.com/10-most-haunted-museums-in-the-world/ Tue, 13 Jun 2017 07:00:28 +0000 http://www.theoccultmuseum.com/?p=11555 One expects the sites of horrific events to be haunted by restless spirits, but a museum seems more likely to host curious children and adults instead. However, many museums around the world were installed in buildings that had a long and even gruesome history before them. From former prisons to homes whose residents seemingly never […]

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One expects the sites of horrific events to be haunted by restless spirits, but a museum seems more likely to host curious children and adults instead. However, many museums around the world were installed in buildings that had a long and even gruesome history before them. From former prisons to homes whose residents seemingly never left, there are many such institutions that are haunted by the past.

The following list includes ten of the most popular and prominent examples where art, history, and the supernatural stand side-by-side.

1. The Cleveland Museum of Art

Location: Cleveland, Ohio, USA

10 Most Haunted Museums in the World
[Image via Cleveland Museum of Art] Is Claude Monet’s ghost haunting the Cleveland Museum of Art?

From the opening of the original museum in 1916, the Cleveland Museum of Art has had its fair share of ghosts. Director William Mathewson Milliken, who served from 1930 to 1958, seemingly chose to stay on after his death in 1978. He is regularly spotted wandering the original halls – sporting a tweed jacket and folder under his arm.

Within the museum’s collections, the Portrait of Jean-Gabriel du Theil at the Signing of the Treaty of Vienna is remarkable because its painter, Jacques Andre Joseph Aved, is regularly seen observing it. The oil painting in question is also known to cause mechanical and electrical issues when on display. Forefather of French Impressionism Claude Monet was also captured in a photograph of the recent exhibit, “Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse.” It remains to be seen whether his appearance, with distinctive beard and hat, was a true specter or a mere publicity stunt.

Related: Capital Punishment: 9 Haunting Ghost Stories from Death Row

2. Merchant’s House Museum

Location: Manhattan, New York, USA

10 Most Haunted Museums in the World
[Image via Big Maven]

As another house-turned-museum, the Merchant’s House Museum was home to the Tredwell family of Seabury, Eliza, and their 8 children between 1835 and 1933. The museum seems unassuming, wedged between two residences in Manhattan, but it is the only family home in New York City to survive intact from the 19th century. As such, you can peruse the Tredwells’ furniture, decorations, and other belongings.

Volunteers, visitors, and staff alike have reported slamming doors, creaking floors, and otherworldly voices. Seabury and his daughters are the most common visitors, with the youngest, Gertrude, having lived her entire life here – from birth in 1840 to death at age 93. The house is so active that paranormal investigator Dan Sturges makes a point of documenting activity here once a year.

3. Frederic Remington Museum

Location: Ogdensburg, New York, USA

10 Most Haunted Museums in the World
[Image via Frederic Remington Museum]

This museum was the home of Marie Helene America Vespucci, who dubbed herself “Contessa Helene America”. The daughter of Italian aristocrats, she sought haven in America after having fought foreign rule disguised as a man. The adventurous beauty was a mistress to many, though she found love after being won in a card game by George Parish. After living here for decades, she died of a broken heart in France when her beloved left her.

The first reported hauntings took place in the 1940s, long after Vespucci’s death. Although newspapers embellished the reports to catalyze interest in Ogdensburg, the stories have continued over the years. In 2015, local medium Freda Gladle reported residual energy and even a conversation with Vespucci, who claimed to never have been won in a card game.

4. Thackray Medical Museum

Location: Leeds, West Yorkshire, England

10 Most Haunted Museums in the World
[Image via Yorkshire]

This impressive Victorian building started as the Union Workhouse in 1861. Despite its grand entrance hall, the workhouse was a harsh place where the homeless and destitute went when they had no place else to go. Buildings were added to improve the facility, including an infirmary that would eventually become St. James’s Hospital in 1925. In the 1990s, the hospital closed and re-opened as the Medical Museum.

The main collection consists of supplies, instruments, and equipment from the Thackray company’s back supplies. Thanks to the building’s long life, though, its former inhabitants also linger, with reports of poltergeists, ghostly figures, darting shadows, unseen hands, and whispering voices. You can spend the night on an overnight ghost hunt, though it’s best not to wander too far into this vast complex.

5. Museum of Science and History

Location: Forth Wort, Texas, USA

10 Most Haunted Museums in the World
[Image via Julie Delio / Flickr]

This museum started as two rooms in De Zavala Elementary School before officially opening in 1945 as the Fort Worth Children’s Museum. Soon enough, its growing exhibits and popularity outpaced the space provided by the R.E. Harding House. So, in 1954, the museum broke ground on a new building, to which a planetarium was added shortly thereafter.

The structure has since been renovated, with several parts rebuilt in 2009. Recently, though, the spirits seem to have become uneasy, with former staff member Jim Miller telling the Dallas Observer of eerie shadows and odd events surrounding the museum’s Titanic exhibit. Most prominently, a Reddit user posted a photo from the museum’s mock grocery store where a hag-like Specter seems to be stalking young children.

Related: 10 Locations with Violent Pasts that are Terrorized by Spirits

6. Penang War Museum

Location: Pulau Pinang, Malaysia

10 Most Haunted Museums in the World
[Image via Imgur]

In the 1930s, the British built a fort atop Bukit Batu Maung with the bunkers, enforcements, and cannons facing the sea. However, when the Japanese offensive came down the peninsula instead of from the sea, the fort fell quickly. In the years that followed, Japanese troops maintained an occupation at this garrison, though it gained a grim reputation.

In particular, a large number of prisoners were taken there over the years, most being tortured or even beheaded at the fort. Locals thus dubbed it the Bukit Hantu or “Ghost Hill.” The garrison was restored in 2002 and re-opened as the Penang War Museum, though it remains a gloomy place where ghosts are often spotted. The National Geographic Channel series I Wouldn’t Go There even highlighted the museum’s specters in 2013.

7. National Maritime Museum

Location: Greenwich, London, England

10 Most Haunted Museums in the World
[Image via Royal Museums Greenwich]

This red-brick, Tudor building was planned as an apology from King James I to his wife in 1616. After architect Inigo Jones’ death, it was completed as a gift from Charles I to his wife, Henrietta Maria, in 1636. The Queen’s House then served the royal family until 1805, when it became the Royal Navy Asylum through 1933 and later reopened as a museum in 1974.

Within the central Great Hall, the Tulip Stairs was the country’s first self-supporting spiral stair – and the scene for the building’s main haunting. In 1966, the Reverend and Mrs. R.W. Hardy of British Columbia photographed the stairs and captured several spectral figures, with the central one dragging itself up the railing. Ever since, visitors report hearing mysterious footsteps on the stairs. In 2002, a gallery assistant even spotted a figure in an old-fashioned gray dress on the balcony – just before it passed through a wall.

8. National Justice Museum

Location: Nottingham, England

10 Most Haunted Museums in the World
[Image via West Bridgford Wire]

This building stands on an area that served as a court of justice from 1375 to 1986 and as a gaol from 1449. Once known as Shire Hall, people came here in Victorian times to be arrested, sentenced, and executed at its police station, court, and jail. All three closed between 1985 and 86, and, to avoid demolition, the hall became the Museum of Law Trust in 1993.

Despite re-opening as the National Justice Museum in 1995, a sense of dread still permeates the grounds. As thousands of people came to the court and prison to face their fates, the presence of ghosts is hardly surprising. In 2014, paranormal enthusiast James Pykett even managed to capture a specter in a hangman’s hood while photographing the former jail cells. There are other reports, as well, but needless to say that the spirits here remain restless.

9. Smithsonian Institution Building

Location: Washington, D.C., USA

10 Most Haunted Museums in the World
[Image via Natural History]

The Smithsonian’s flagship building is the red sandstone, Norman-style “Castle” that was completed in 1855 and today anchors the entire National Mall. Over the institution’s 150-year history, the castle has housed Washington’s first children’s museum, an international center for scholars, and, most recently, its Information Center and administrative headquarters. Yet, many of the Smithsonian’s brightest minds seem hesitant to leave, even in death.

The Smithsonian’s flagship building is the red sandstone, Norman-style “Castle” that was completed in 1855 and today anchors the entire National Mall. Over the institution’s 150-year history, the castle has housed Washington’s first children’s museum, an international center for scholars, and, most recently, its Information Center and administrative headquarters. Yet, many of the Smithsonian’s brightest minds seem hesitant to leave, even in death.

Founding benefactor James Smithson reportedly stalks the museum by night, and his crypt at the castle was even inspected in 1973 to ensure that he rested in peace. The Smithsonian’s first secretary, Joseph Henry, lived in the castle and is also sometimes seen, along with paleontologist Fielding B. Meek and explorer Emil Bessels. Sightings go back to 1900, when its first curator, Spencer F. Baird, was spotted walking the halls – despite dying in 1887.

Related: 10 Locations with Violent Pasts that are Terrorized by Spirits

10. The British Museum

Location: London, England

10 Most Haunted Museums in the World
[Image via Wikipedia]

One of the most infamous museum hauntings surrounded the inner coffin lid of a high priestess of the Temple of Amun-Ra. This artifact dates to the 21st or early 22nd Dynasty, or around 3,500 years ago. Although its exact history is unclear, the supposedly cursed object was discovered in Thebes before being donated to the British Museum in 1890.

According to one account, amateur archaeologist Thomas D. Murray purchased the lid in 1866 and experienced a series of disasters that cost him his hand and several servants. When he loaned out the lid, it caused similar bad luck, including strange omens, illness, and death. Even at the museum, the lid supposedly killed an Egyptologist, a carrier, and others. However, the truth was that Murray was a spiritualist who wanted to use the lid in a séance. To drum up public interest, he and journalist W.T. Stead crafted this legend, one that only grew stronger when Stead died aboard the Titanic in 1912. Although Murray’s efforts were unsuccessful, his legend took on a life of its own that continues even today.

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American Horror Story: The Dark History of the Cecil Hotel http://www.theoccultmuseum.com/american-horror-story-dark-history-cecil-hotel/ Mon, 12 Jun 2017 07:00:55 +0000 http://www.theoccultmuseum.com/?p=11534 The Cecil Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles has long served as the inspiration for any number of spooky stories, including the recent American Horror Story: Hotel. With recent recognition by the Cultural Heritage Commission in 2016 and historic status from the LA City Council in 2017, the building itself is clearly deserving of attention. However, […]

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The Cecil Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles has long served as the inspiration for any number of spooky stories, including the recent American Horror Story: Hotel. With recent recognition by the Cultural Heritage Commission in 2016 and historic status from the LA City Council in 2017, the building itself is clearly deserving of attention. However, its reputation mainly results from a prolific history of mystery and murder.

As James T. Bartlett demonstrated in his 2016 book, Gourmet Ghosts, hotels are more likely to be the scene of accidents, suicides, and murders because of their transient populations. Still, the Cecil has seen more than its fair share of death, from an early association with suicide to more recent phenomena. Like other haunted places, this hotel fascinates us because it defies explanation – and reflects our own anxieties back at to us.

Related: 5 Haunted Horror Hotels with Grisly and Mysterious Pasts

In the 1920s, downtown Los Angeles was on the rise, and the Cecil Hotel, which began construction in 1924, was part of a wave of similar high-end hotels in this central area. Hotelier William Banks Hanner designed its opulent Art Deco architecture, marble lobby, stained-glass windows, and alabaster statues to appeal to businessmen and tourists alike. In 1927, the Cecil thus opened and fast became a travel destination.

However, after the 1930s and 40s, the Great Depression turned LA’s downtown neighborhood into one of the city’s most impoverished, with high homelessness and crime rates. Main Street was renamed Skid Row in the 1950s, and the Cecil Hotel became a place for low-budget living that soon appealed to transients. The Cecil’s fate changed once more in the last decade, when it was transformed as part of the gentrification of downtown, and was rebranded as Stay on Main in 2011.

The hotel’s 600 rooms were split into 299 low-budget hotel rooms and 301 small residences. However, with only 30 of the latter occupied in 2014, new owner and hotelier Richard Born announced plans to collaborate with Simon Baron Development in crafting the Cecil into a boutique hotel with micro rental units. In the process, amenities like a rooftop pool will be added in 2017, while preserving historic features like the Grand Lobby.

American Horror Story: The Dark History of the Cecil Hotel
[Image via Oviatt Library] Brochure from the Hotel Cecil in Los Angeles

A Series of Suicides

Despite these grand designs, the Cecil has long been known as a suicide hotspot. In 1931, the first recorded case involved 46-year-old W.K. Norton of Manhattan Beach, who had checked in as James Willys of Chicago before taking poison pills. Eight years later, a 39-year-old sailor named Erwin C. Neblett who had worked aboard the USS Wright used the same method. Months later, 45-year-old Dorothy Sceiger followed their example.

The most common approach to suicide at the Hotel Cecil, though, is jumping. The earliest include a woman named Grace E. Magro, who got tangled in telephone wire on the way down from the 9th floor in 1937, and marine fireman Roy Thompson, who jumped a year later. Some, like 50-year-old Julia Moore of St. Louis, who jumped in 1962 and had a bank balance of $1800, left little reason for their choice – much less for choosing the Cecil as their final destination.

In 1944, Dorothy Purcell, aged 19, awoke to stomach pains, went to the bathroom and delivered a baby she hadn’t realized she had. Believing the baby dead, Purcell tossed the child out the window; at trial, she was found not guilty of homicide by reason of insanity. More disturbingly, 27-year-old Pauline Otton jumped from a 9th floor window after an argument with her estranged husband in 1962. However, she didn’t look before she leapt to her death, landing on George Gianinni, aged 65, who was instantly killed during his evening walk.

Other suicides have involved more violent methods. In fact, the second ever recorded at the Cecil Hotel involved 25-year-old Benjamin Dodich, who shot himself in the head in 1931. Three years later, 53-year-old Louis D. Borden, who had served in the Army Medical Corps, cut his own throat but left a note explaining his poor health. No matter the method or the reason, each death helped solidify the Cecil Hotel’s deadly reputation.

A History of Violence

On top of a being a suicide hotspot, the Cecil Hotel also has a long history of murder – and of housing serial killers in particular. It has long been associated with one of Los Angeles’ most infamous murders, namely the Black Dahlia case of 1947. Rumor has it that Elizabeth Short had her final drink in the hotel bar mere hours before being found dead just miles away.

In 1964, retired phone operator Goldie “Pigeon Woman” Osgood was sexually assaulted, stabbed, and strangled in her room at the Cecil. A hotel employee discovered the long-time resident dead amidst her ransacked belongings. In life, she’d enjoyed feeding and befriending birds in Pershing Square, the same place where Jacques Ehlinger was spotted wearing bloodstained clothes on the night of her murder. Although he was questioned, Ehlinger was released, and the crime remains unsolved.

Related: 10 Most Murderous Serial Killers by Victim Count

Richard Ramirez even called the Cecil Hotel home for a year in 1984. As the Night Stalker, Ramirez broke into homes and attacked their residents, eventually targeting straight couples in order to kill men and bind, rape, and demand valuables from women. While staying at the Cecil, this self-avowed Satanist would regularly toss his bloody clothes in the hotel dumpster and return to his room through the back entrance.

In 1991, Johann Unterweger was assigned an article on prostitution in LA and chose to stay at the Cecil Hotel, as well. Although he’d been sentenced to life in prison in 1974, Unterweger was released in 1990 as a model for rehabilitation in Austria. He soon began killing again, and during his 5-week stay, Unterweger beat and sexually assaulted three women before strangling them to death with their own bras. After his arrest in Miami in 1994, he killed himself when convicted to another life sentence.

American Horror Story: The Dark History of the Cecil Hotel
[Image via Wikipedia] Elisa Lam body discovered in water tank.

A Modern Mystery

Perhaps the most compelling story of the Cecil Hotel is also one of the most recent. In January of 2013, 21-year-old Canadian college student Elisa Lam traveled to the Los Angeles area and checked into the hotel on January 26th. By the beginning of February, she had disappeared.

Two weeks after her disappearance, several Cecil guests began complaining of low water pressure and an odd taste to the building’s drinking water. Upon inspection, Lam’s bloated body was discovered floating in a water tank on the roof – contaminating the water supply for weeks.

Authorities examined the hotel’s CCTV video and discovered Elisa displaying some very strange behavior in the elevator in the middle of the night. After entering alone, the young woman presses several buttons and seemingly hides in the small space. Lam then exits and begins gesturing wildly to someone or something outside of the doors that is not captured on camera. Shortly after its public release, the footage went viral due to her strange actions.

As more and more people analyzed the footage, some pointed to missing minutes, while others noted that Lam likely had a bipolar disorder. In either case, friends and family were mystified, as she had been in good spirits for her trip. In addition, accessing the water tank would have been difficult, especially with no roof key and no ladder to reach the door. Although the coroner concluded that her death had been accidental, many continue to question what happened– and whether it might be connected to the Cecil’s deadly history.

American Horror Story: The Dark History of the Cecil Hotel
[Image via ABC7] ‘Ghost’ captured on camera outside the Cecil Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.

A Haunting History

In its almost one hundred years in operation, the Cecil Hotel has witnessed many of humanity’s worst moments – from suicide to murder and downright insanity. Some of those traumas seem to linger, as visitors and residents alike occasionally report odd phenomenon. Hotel guests regularly report sightings of dark figures in their rooms, often waking to the tugging of their bed sheets. Perhaps the most famous paranormal phenomenon to occur at the Cecil is the photograph taken by a local resident Koston Alderete, which went viral due to the spectral figure seen hanging outside a fourth-floor window therein.

From apparitions to other strange sights and sounds, specters like that captured by Alderete are a reminder of the past – in this case of the hotel’s long association with suicide. At the same time, they may also be a warning for the future – reminding us to cherish life so that we can avoid others’ mistakes.

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