Archive for August, 2013

Mattituck Trail has a cave formerly inhabited by Leatherman, who may have been Jules Bourglay, he got his name from always being dressed in 60 pounds of leather. The strange vagabond took the 365 mile loop between the Connecticut and Hudson rivers; he would walk the route endlessly. From (approximately) 1858 – 1889 he walked it 360 times using caves along the way as rest stops.  Locals would provide the man with extra food when he came past and he was found in Saw Mill Woods cave in Sing Sing, New York sometime in 1889. He was very precise and would arrive at the same location every 34 days. 

He was known mostly by the fact that he would communicate with grunts or strange gestures, and his clothes were crudely stitched leather from his hat down to his shoes. It was something that could protect him from the harsh New England elements, and he would only sleep outside whatever the time of year.

This strange character was first spotted in Connecticut in 1862, and many who encountered him found they wanted to know more about the stranger.  He was born into the Bourglay family, in Lyons, France and their income was made from the business of woodcutting. They were a family that was lower middle-class in a time when station in life seemed to be an important factor. He fell in love with Miss Margaret Laron, daughter of a wealthy merchant, and asked her father for her hand in marriage. It was met with objection, most likely due to his poor station however after a long time of persuasion he was granted a chance to work in the Laron’s leather business, if he could acquire the trade and become successful then he would be allowed to marry her.

In 1855 he was doing well, he brought leather and dealt with the business successfully but overnight having made a purchase they awoke the following day to find the price had gone down by 40%. A new tanning process had brought the cost down significantly but he had not paid attention to the technology and was then stuck with the large pile of leather that could only be sold at a loss. The business was ruined thanks to his decision and he was too ashamed to return home. He was never seen in Lyon’s again, and in fact never seen in France again. It is thought he wandered the country as a beggar and then got himself in the USA.

The harsh winter of 1888 caught up with the man now in his 60’s, He made it through the winter but eventually he died in the cave at George Dell Farm in Briarcliff Manor, New York.  Today the caves he was in are part of a hiking trail and rangers will provide a map of his travels if requested, or you can probably get one online.

It is said that he haunts the caves he used to visit regularly and that the Mattituck one is one of the most popular. The cave is on the trail around two miles south-east of Black Rock State Park on Rt 6 in Watertown.

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The Ridges is located in Athens, Odio and was also know as the Athens Mental Health Center. It was there for the criminally insane and opened it’s doors 9th January 1874. It was brought by the State and Federal Government from the Coates family; it was over 1000 acres of farmland.

The main structure was built to resemble a home which was unusual when most of the asylums were effectively a house of abuse and torture with their given conditions. It was built on the familiar plans of the Kirkbride design. According to Wikipedia one of the leading causes of male insanity in 1876 was masturbation! Concerned yet? During the first three years of the hospital being open fifty six men and one women were diagnosed with this problem.

The Ridges was one that did not use bleeding, freezing and head kicks to try and shock their illness away, the more violent patients were kept away from others and until the 1900’s did not suffer too much from overcrowding. The decline of treatment however went alongside the overcrowding and without this came the fall back into the old ways.

The Ridges reverted back to a place that used shock therapy, lobotomy and physical abuse to control its patients. By 1993 the Ridges had becoming a place to shut it’s doors for good and all the patients left, well apart from one of them.

Margaret Schilling went missing 1st December 1978 and 12th January 1979 her body was found in the abandoned top floor ward N 20. The ward had been closed down for some time and despite a check of the hospital they had not thought to go into that area.

The official cause of death was heart failure, she was found by a maintenance man who found her cold, lifeless and unclothed several weeks later. Apparently you can still see a stain in the shape of a human figure, on the spot she died. It is also said that she is seen peering from the room and that voices have been heard, lights are seen and shadows, and more eerily the noise of squeaking gurneys.

A note on the body mark, I found some information whilst surfing to say that there was indeed some thought placed into the strange body shaped mark that is most definitely present. So they decided to try and work out what the mark was by determining if there were any traces of old fat deposits, owing to the lack of anything else on the site.

The site is now owned and used for OU, however the portion where the mark is has not been opened for use or to the public. It had not been chemically tested or explained, perhaps better left to myth rather than fact however they decided that this could be of forensic use to try.

The Body Farm in Tennessee has been a useful earmark in the continuous investigations about how the body deteriorates after death and the conditions under which these things change speed. Most bodies are found at the scene and have some evidence about their origin; this was a chance to try another study about remains and their effects.

Samples were collected from the light stain area, the dark area around it and the concrete in the room as a control test. They collected samples from soap, a small piece of skin from a volunteer and a cleaner called Franklin Blu-Lite which had been used on the stain.

So what did the tests show? The samples from the light area showed the human stain was produced by a degradation of a skin or fatty tissue and chemicals from the cleaner. So what they can establish is there was a body on the floor, so most likely Schilling’s retrieved corpse.

What it can’t seem to explain however is the shape it is in, if a mop or scrub has been used to clean up after the body was moved it’s been cleaned in a strange manner of following just the body shape itself, as a more general clean of the area would have left an irregular set of marks. So that’s the mystery I took from this one, less so than the rumoured haunting.

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New Jersey was somewhere I didn’t visit too much, I pretty much saw the airport and a Walmart if I am honest but I wouldn’t be so sure that wasn’t a good thing given the tales of the roads “in them there parts”. Clinton Road is one of those, it is in West Milford, Passaic County and begins near Route 23 towards it’s end at Upper Greenwood Lake. It has many legends attached to it and some are quite easily explained away but that’s not the only reason I picked it of course.

So what do we have to enjoy for a leisurely drive? Well there aren’t a great many houses down it’s 10km stretch and the road itself reportedly receives little maintenance, unless necessary. It’s got a terrible traffic light system, which if you are caught at the wrong time can leave you with up to a five minute wait! I hate being caught 30 seconds let alone that long. It takes its name from a now vanished settlement, Clinton.

The Ghost Boy at the bridge is one of the many legends attached to the stretch of road, one of the bridges saw a young boy drowned and if you put your coin in the middle where the yellow lines are you can have it returned to you by his ghost. In other variations the story has the boy pushing you over the bridge. If you don’t fancy your chances with that you can try discussing the ghostly car that drives that way, if you are talking about a car crash in 1988 where a girl lost her life, you should see a Camaro or perhaps if you are unlucky you might find yourself being driven off the road by a ghost truck.

So I’ve given you some ghosts how about Hellhounds? Well alongside those there have been tales of monkeys being spotted, and hybrid creatures but some of them are also believed to be the survivors of an old attraction called Jungle Habitat, it closed in 1976 but there are rumours some animals escaped and have in turn managed to crossbreed.

Cross Castle no longer stands, but the foundations are still there. Richard Cross built the castle on high land near the Reservoir for his wife and their three children in 1905. Later in the century it fell to ruin after a fire and became a popular local attraction for hikers or teenagers wanting an out of the way place for a party.  It’s been rumoured to be a place of satanic worship and sacrifice, WeirdNJ reported that people had claimed to have suffered seizures whilst there, and other things such as writings on the walls. Either way the Newark water department had the place razed in 1988 and hiking trails to the foundations remain even if the walls do not.

Have I given you curious people enough yet? No? Okay well how about the Iceman?

May 1983 a bicyclist was heading down the road and spotted vultures having a feast in the nearby woods, when he checked it out he found a dead body. An autopsy on the body showed it was foul play but more puzzling they found ice crystals in his blood near his heart, his interior organs showed a slower rate of decay than the outside flesh. It was thought that someone had tried to freeze him after death to try and mislead investigators.

Investigations led the authorities to someone living near Rockland County, New York and ultimately led to the arrest of Richard Kulinski in 1986, he was a contract killer for the mob, he lays claim to over 100 kills in his time and treated their bodies in that manner, it led to him being given the nickname The Iceman. He pled guilty to five murders and died in March 2006.

WeirdNJ Article 

The Shades Of Death road is sometimes referred to locally as ‘Shades’ and is a two-lane rural road, it’s around 7 miles in length and in central Warren County, New Jersey.  The road runs between the Liberty and Independence townships, and the road is subject to various legends and folklore. The local residents have been annoyed enough by street sign theft to grease up the pole, and so should you head that way I’d urge for a little respect about it.

Some say that the focus could be placed on the southern half of the road where the forest gives shade even on the sunniest of days. Due to this it was said bandits would hide and lay in wait for the victims in the shadows, where they could cut their throats. The locals would take revenge on the bandits by lynching them and leaving their bodies hanging to warn off other criminals.

1920-1930’s there were three brutal murders that occurred, one a robbery where a man was hit over the head with a tire jack over gold coins, another where a woman had beheaded her husband and buried the head one side of the street and the body the other. The last one was a local resident, Bill Cummins, who was shot and then buried in a mud-pile but the murder was never solved.

A rumour about how it got its name was ab out the area near Bear Swamp was used for Sod Farming, in 1850 malaria-carrying insects were discovered nearby. They had annual outbreaks of the Bear Swamp and was most likely originally called Shades Road but then a sense of black humour took over and it was named Shades of Death.

On the paranormal level there is Ghost Lake, this is not named on the official maps but was created in the early 20th century, two wealthy local men damned a creek that ran through the narrow valley and the strange vapours given off in the early morning appear to have given it the name. There have been reporting  of ghost sightings and from a deserted old cabin nearby where a victim of the murders were once said to have occurred.

Lenape Lane is a one-lane dead-end street that is unpaved and ends at a farmhouse, half way down there is a wooden structure and Weird New Jersey says that visitors have reported strange local fogs and seeing apparitions when the weather is clear elsewhere. Another legend claims that nocturnal visitors have been followed by a white orb that seems to chase them back out to Shades of Death, anyone that turns around to see it will die.

Another one says that if you go to a bridge there, stop at midnight with high-beams on the car and honk your horn then the ghosts of two children will appear. It seems that his legend may actually be for a bridge nearby on Old Mine Road, and that whilst you cannot get near it by car you can access it by foot.

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July 1947, for alien conspiracy claims this is the cracker!

A rancher found metal debris on the ground outside his place in Roswell, New Mexico. America was gripped in ‘flying saucer fever’, the claims were rapidly dismissed by officials as debris from a weather balloon in an accident.

But the alien craft and bodies had supposedly already been taken away, witnesses spoke of holes in the desert grounds, of covert ops to bring the ship down to ground and then in 1995 the mysterious Roswell autopsy video surfaced. The video shows the supposed ‘grey’ alien being autopsied. There are enough video’s around about the debunk vs authenticity that you can probably google a fair whack in a night.

Despite the US Air Force still stating that it was a weather balloon the rumours carry on to this day.

In 2006 the video was finally proven to be a hoax, the video was made by Ray Sentilli who was a London-based video maker. He admitted that it was a reconstruction of a video that he claimed originally existed however that was lost, he stated that there were a few of the original films in survival however they don’t seem to have been brought forwards for checking.

If you are looking for a comedic look at this with some terribly English humour, then Alien Autopsy is a good light relief film.

A fictionalized version of the creation of the footage and its release was retold in the comedy film Alien Autopsy (2006).