Archive for the ‘Urban Legend’ Category

New York Times – August 10, 1973 Friday. (rough record that I could get not the exact copy).

Voice of a very scared boy on August the 9th resumed broadcasting on the citizen’s band radio frequency in foothills of Central NM: searches say they they are closing in on area where 7-year-old is believed to be lost in fathers pick up truck; boy, who says his first name is Larry, told rescuers on August 8th that he and his father were in an accident and that his father is dead. 3 pilots reported sighting truck in Red Rock Canyon area on east side of Manzano Mountains, south-east of Albuquerque. Helicopter is dispatched to area; Army search plan had monitored transmission from the body during the night that left searchers to the hills. Sgt W A Schmidt says searchers lost contact with boy for several hours and presume that he had either gone to sleep, or the battery had gone dead. They have not discounted it as a hoax. Over 150 people were out with radio’s and directional finders on the foothills.

My notes collected from around and musings on this matter? It seems quite a few felt it was a hoax at the end as nothing ever came of it, but some were quite concerned that if it was not they had, in effect, stopped looking for a dying and trapped boy.

The search went on from the 8th-10th and then on the 11th it seems one rescuer pilot found a boy in distress on the radio called David. The searchers started to worry that it was a hoax and queried that the battery was somehow going. That same day a Missouri family out on the west is reported missing and they also have a son named Larry.

August 12th an army sergeant claimed he had spoken to the boy for three hours, but he state police were unable to very the claim. The missing family were located on this day. The CB Larry gave very little details about who he was but if he was a panicked child it might well be harder for him to articulate.

On the 13th the search was called off, the last transmission was traced to a boy with a walkie-talkie in Phoenix and it’s thought he was a copycat that had heard the story and finally by the 24th the police felt there was nothing more to do and they had no evidence the situation was even real at all.

Then on 25th August a family from Toledo, Ohio were reported as having been missing for several weeks. Their son, Larry, was said to be familiar with walkie-talkies. At that point the police chief said there was not enough to go by to restart searches and four days later the Ohio family were also found.

If the hoax train of thought is still in play then maybe a report from NBC Evening News from that time would go into support of this. On August 27th 1973 it was said the rescue teams were on a wild goose chase as a man from Denver claimed to have been reponsible.

The 9th August, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner gave more details to Larry’s supposed plight, a California radio operator received the transmission saying he was in a red and white pick up, it had overturned and both doors were jammed. The boy claimed his father collapsed at the wheel whilst taking him on a rabbit hunting trip. The search narrowed to the Manzano as an Albuquerque radio operator suggested that it was in that area of New Mexico.

So California to New Mexico is around 770ish miles, Ohio family from New Mexico is 1320ish miles and the variation from New Mexico is 810ish miles. On the usual radio channels without ‘skipping’ the transmissions are local to 1-18 miles and base stations from 5-10 to mobile, with 10-30 miles for base to base.

Skipping, firstly it’s illegal to practise the art of skipping. A normal CB uses short range, there are times when the earth’s atmosphere acts as a mirror and bounces the signal. This may happen by accident and can work for thousands of miles but trying to force the bounce/skip is an offence. However, if the story is true then Californian reception by accident may have occurred.

So what can I conclude? Having spoken to some friends on the CB front (or HAM Radio) it seems that what may have started out as a prank became so much more. I pray my conclusion of hoax is correct as I’d rather that than the idea of a child trapped in a lorry, lost and left because of a power failure/battery drain.

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If, like me, you are a fan of the Dan Bell hotel reviews for bad hotels/motels do you also wonder what review you could leave for discovering a dead body? 1 out of 5 stars, or is that bad taste? Well it all started with a small campfire style story…

 A couple book a night away and find the smell in their room to be over-powering and foul. Human beings tend to be quite inquisitive and a search shows up something truly awful… a dead body! Is there any truth to the claims? Well yes, I started with a Snopes article on his and went on to read up from there. So here goes:

 13th July, 2003 a news article for WDAF Kansas City TV News (now expired link) says that a man complained about a bad smell and checked out early, after three days. The Capri Motel on Independence Avenue was the location, the cleaning crew then then found a body of an unknown male under the bed. It is thought the wood paneling masked the odour for a period. Police knew his identity but had to notify his next of kin.

 In 1999 Saul Hernandez of Queens, New York City was discovered dead, his body had been stuffed under the bed of room 112 of the Burgundy Motor Inn. A German couple managed to sleep there for one night, despite the smell, and it led to the discovery of the dead man when they complained the next day. The County’s Medical Examiner, Dr Hydow Park, concluded that death was due to exsanguination from chest and abdomen stab wounds. A follow-up article in the New York Times states a 17-year-old girl was charged on suspicion of murder.

 A slightly different way to report this one, in 1961 Jerry Lee Dunbar was born and sometime around May/June 1989 in Virginia he strangled two women and hid their bodies. Deidre Smith (27) and Marilyn Graham (29) were found murdered and left for guests to discover. Smith was found under the floor of a motel room on Route 1 and Graham under the bed in the Alexandria Econo Lodge (Murderpedia source). Dunbarr waived the rights to a jury trial, he was sentenced having been found guilty of both murders and sent to prison in 1990.

 CBS News reported a missing person found dead in a motel room, with a few frightening thoughts about the circumstances. Sony Millbrook reported missing on 27th January 2010, after she failed to pick her children up from school. On 15th March, 2010 homicide police were called to the room of a Budget Motel, Memphis, Tennessee when her body was found in the motel bed frame, she had been living there prior to her disappearance and after her room had been cleaned and rented several times. It had taken 47 days for her to be found and there are suggestions online that reports were made about a bad smell in between.

 Lakeith Moody was found guilty of strangling her to death and sentenced to life in prison. Moody was the father of four of Millbrook’s Children and was arrested several weeks later driving her car.

 Now don’t go thinking this is all exclusive to the USA either, poor Amphon Kongsong’s body was discovered in a hotel in Pattaya, Thailand. Two teenage boys of 14 years old and 17 years old were arrested for the murder of the transgender woman, the boys from Nakhon Ratchasima were tracked down by CCTV. The two boys had made friends with Amphon but she was apparently aggressive about the 17-year-old vying for sex, the fight turned lethal as he strangled her and the 14-year-old held her legs down.

 Having killed her they then stuffed her body under the mattress and a couple of tourists who used the room complaint about the odour, where upon her body was found.

 So, if you do get a funky smell in a room have I made you sufficiently paranoid?

 Sources: www.snopes.com/horrors/gruesome/bodybed.asp

www.bangkokpost.com

www.wreg.com

www.murderpedia.org

www.cbsnews.com

www.nytimes.com

www.thesun.co.uk

www.freerepublic.com

www.blumhouse.com

 

The earliest guess for the beginnings of the catacombs in the Ukraine is about the 1600’s. It could be earlier than that but it’s hard to date back as they were also widened later on. They became the giant labyrinth of today when in the early 1800’s the limestone was used from them to build much of the city.

The myriad of tunnels led to it being popular for hideouts, rebels and criminals could use them and during WWII they Soviets were forced out, but were able to leave Soviet-organised Ukranian’s hidden down there. They were able to listen in to the Nazi forces above and set up a situation where they managed to blow up German facilities. It wasn’t all good news as malaria and malnutrition affected those men and women.

The Facist German and Romanians chose random exits, sealing them off and and dropping poisonous gasses down them. When the war was over the criminals claimed the tunnels and created new ones of their own. In 1961 a group was formed, they wanted to map and document the geography and history of the place.

It is common for groups of explorers to go into the area, occasionally people do go missing and if they are in the area the explorers will rally to help. A number of children have been rescued this way but sadly it hasn’t always turned out positive. Old weapon caches and grenades are sometimes found, every five years or so a body is found and on rare occasions they have been naturally mummified there too. Many are old bodies but sometimes more recent accidents have turned up a corpse as well.

A sad example of this occurred 15th January 2005, the local teens were partying in the tunnels. A girl called Masha was separated and lost during the drunken celebrations. For 3 days she walked around in the pitch black and freezing conditions, where she then expired due to dehydration. It was two years later the police located her body and could retrieve it.

There is an official area that can be visited and perhaps given the warnings of lost people and random body finds, I’d recommend going there before being too bold.

Odessa kat 01.jpg
By Полищук Денис Анатольевич – Own work, CC BY 2.5, Link

 

It’s a famous media broadcast now, it’s also a very gripping thing to listen to as well. The original book is a work by H G Wells that started life as a serialisation by the English author.

The Martians have been plotting an invasion to Earth that’s to their own diminishing resources. In the book the events of the invasion are set in motion in Woking, Surrey but Orson Welles transfers them to America. Wells no doubt picked his location as it was local and he knew how to describe things with familiarity and if you pop over to Woking at any point you can locate a 23 feet high sculpture of a tripod fighting machine, ‘The Martian’ near the local railway station.

I’m not going into the plot, the reviews or such like but it is worthy of note because of films and of course the above-mentioned broadcast. That’s the bit I am going to look at it here for now.

George Orson Welles, 6th May 1915 to 10th October 1985 was involved in the business of entertainment and is famous for the film Citizen Kane, 1941 amongst other things but this is a blog for weird and interesting things, and I’ve picked out the 1938 broadcast of the War of the Worlds which, supposedly, sent thousands of American people into a mass panic about the alien invasions in their home states…

CBS radio invited Orson Welles to create a summer show that would last 13 weeks, the series began 11th July 1938 and the adaptation for H G Wells book aired 30th October 1938. It brought Orson Welles instant fame, the broadcast itself really is worth a listen to and you can sit back and appreciate it yourself if you wish.

There was supposedly a mass panic from people convinced of its validity, that aliens truly landed and it’s this bit I am looking at, were people really panicking so much that they would run from their homes in masses?

1.7 million listened to the broadcast and polls calculated that 1.2 million ‘were excited’ and mostly the reports seem to have been anecdotal. Cantril interviewed 135 people who cited some colourful claims about grabbing guns or packing up in a panic. It would hardly have been unusual for a busy area to have fast moving traffic and other rambunctious behaviours at the time so this was not entirely unexpected. Grovers Mill, New Jersey was not blasted by alien lasers or any such thing but the media took the story of the panic and without looking at data it might even be assumed claims of heart attacks and suicides were another effect but again, there was not noticeable shows in the data to support this. Miller countered Cantril’s claims and just did not seem to match up to the 1 million plus listeners.

American Telephone Company figures suggested a 40% rise in calls, again however, they did not lead to anything specific and it was just a higher record in some parts of New Jersey.

He also mentions that there is a notable other broadcast with the results of frightening some listeners, 31st October 1974 at Rhode Island, and one in Northern Portugal 1988 but they were not reported to on the same level. The same sort of thing appears in a 2010 publication by W Joseph Campbell and Slate.com, they in turn also look at media myths or fake news and include the press reports of the panic-stricken US citizens.

31st October, 1938 Daily News of New York’s front page encapsulates the news with the title “FAKE RADIO ‘WAR’ STIRS TERROR THROUGH U.S’. The New York Times gave us ‘Radio Listeners in Panic, Taking War Drama as Fact.’  The Detroit News went with ‘War Skit on Radio Terrifies Nation’ and The Boston Daily Globes ran with ‘RADIO PLAY TERRIFIES NATION’.

But was all of this remotely correct or fake news? Well in short, no, CE Hopper Company did the 2% response to people listening to it because most people were listening to NBC. The poll was conducted for 5000 people, so 100 people of 5000 were listening? Frank Stanton of CBS also said they were never censored for it because most people hadn’t even heard the show.

6 weeks after the broadcast it was admitted to, the figures were largely skewed and descriptions like disturbed or excited were inflated to ‘panic’. It did get enough hype that Adolf Hitler cited the panic as ‘evidence of the decadence and corrupt condition of democracy’.

So why?

Well in short radio was being seen as a threat to newspapers, they could use a few isolated cases as a way to make it sounds like these types of shows were an example of this terrible new media being irresponsible and untrustworthy. The Telegraph (UK paper) says that a woman tried to sue CBS for $50,000 thank to nervous shock but it was dismissed and a man tried to claim for shows as he’d spent that money on a train ticket, Welles was said to have paid for those.

There was indeed action taken that night, the police came to the station and one minute from the end of the show they were trying to shut it down. It played out and as a result Paul White, the head of CBS News, was summoned over. Welles found out later and was convinced it would end his career, but it didn’t.

Some listeners had turned in part way through and this seems to be where the reports started. Again, though it was very much a case of over-exaggeration and it does also seem that the repeated broadcasts about it being fictional could have fallen to few ears, a case of a small audience from the previous show affecting it too.

Let’s also put this into context, at the time a German Invasion was a possibility, rumblings of the inevitable war were a reality and was it so hard to imagine those who were affected and lured in part way through might have thought it was something to do with that?

Hadley Cantril calculated a 6 million strong audience, but it was then 1.7 million later on and yet this calculation seems flawed. He had doubled the usual audience and had tried to work on the idea not ever listener had a phone too. He summarised many reactions into panicked and yet quite a number had thought it was more of a prank than a reality.

No admissions for shock were made at Newark Hospital at that time, and there were no spikes in admission at New York either. Washington Post claimed a man died from a heart attack but the claim was not verified and Snopes also places this as mostly false.

So here is my summary – firstly its put Grovers Mill on the map for tourists like me who enjoy a bit of quirky history, radio hasn’t been stopped by the papers and vice-versa. I am quite sure we can safely say the average U.S citizen would have noticed laser space blasting Martians at the time and I, for one, love the broadcast. Thank you, H G Wells and Orson Welles, you gave me a great piece of history to look back on (and no I don’t rate the latest War of the Worlds film if you were wondering.)

Refs:

Robert E Bartholomew, Little Green Men, Meowing Nuns and Head-Hunting Panics

Snopes

Wikipedia

Telegraph.co.uk

Google Books

Project Gutenburg

Slate.com

A minor island of Naples, Italy, that sits in a protected region of the Gaiola Underwater Park, the island consists of two islets with one that has a solitary villa and the other is uninhabited. There is a small narrow bridge connecting the two.

It was originally known as Euplea and had a small temple to Venus on it. There do seem to be other ruins and under the water beneath there are more that are now the homes for various marine creatures. Some people believe that the poet Virgil taught at the ruins too. In the 19th Century a hermit, known as the Wizard, resided there and soon after there came the construction of the villa. It was at one point owned by an author, Norman Douglas. It is a serene place and a getaway island for someone but is currently abandoned and here are some tales about it.

In the 1920’s a Swiss named Hans Braun owned the island, he was found murdered and wrapped up in a rug. Not long after his wife drowned in the sea. The next owner was German Otto Grunback, he died of a heart attack on the island, (really not unusual for someone to go that way). Another owner, German, Baron Karl Paul Langheim then dragged himself into economic ruin by his ‘wild living’ and another owner was the head of Fiat, Gianni Agnelli. His only son committed suicide.

The last in a series of owners who had tragedy in their midst was Gianpasquale Grappore, he was placed in jail when his insurance company failed. The rumours are that the island is cursed. It could just be that it is a series of high profile people who’s lives have had a lot of media attention bringing fuel to the tales. What do you think?

Isoletta della Gaiola (Napoli) 02.jpg
By Gianfranco Vitolo – https://www.flickr.com/photos/gianfrancovitolo/38093974021/, CC BY 2.0, Link