Posts Tagged ‘USA’

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

 

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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

Building 25 at the complex is the one with the harshest reputation around this centre. It is one of the abandoned units on a site that is till used and doesn’t reflect the history, fortunately. Located at Queens Village, Queens, New York the name most likely comes from the Creed family that originally farmed there. In 1892 after about 20 years of the NRA (National Rifle Association) leasing the area the land went back to the state.

It’s life as a hospital began in 1912 with 32 patients, by the Lunacy Commission of New York State. By 1918 there were 150 housed in the abandoned National Guard barrack. The facility kept expending and by 1959 numbers were at 7,000 patients. It, like many, suffered from overcrowding and under-staffing. In 1970 there was a killer placed there, former NYPD officer Robert Torsney, who was committed there due to insanity, after murdering 15-year-old Randolph Evans in Brooklyn.

It’s decline, similar again to many, began in the 1960’s thanks to advancements in treatment and a desire to keep people from becoming institutionalised. There were reports that in 1974 patient abuse and neglect was out of control. The campus was investigated because within 20 months were had been rape, assault, fires and six suicides plus other crimes reported. 1984 saw the death of a patient who was struck in the throat by a staff member whilst restrained in a straight jacket.

Fortunately some of the area is in use and performs more modern care, though it still has some structures like building 25 which have been left to fester. Pigeon mess, mountains of the stuff have collected, vandals and ‘urban explorers’ with no respect have added to the state of the place. It isn’t somewhere to go if you have a weak stomach thanks to the state of the place and the smell.

abandonednyc-creedmoor-6853

The name sounds like a fantasy town, unfortunately a town that is no longer there it having been in Ohio, USA. It was a mining community and little remains except for a few foundations, cemetery and an old rail-road tunnel that is the subject of numerous ghost stories.

It was never a big town with a peak population of around 100, the area was fairly isolated in the woods and walking the rail-road tracks was dangerous. One trestle was over Raccoon Creek, 50 metres from the tunnel and by 1920 five or six people had lost their lives.

The decline in use meant that the last family left in 1947, the town was then fully abandoned. By the 1960’s the buildings were gone. In 1981 a signal on the Moonville rail-track was erected, in 1985 the last train took that route in August and the tracks were removed. It is still possible to access that area but there only the abandoned area of the lines.

There is a ghost that appears in the tunnel and swings a lantern, attempting to stop trains that are no longer running. The other ghost walks the tracks near Moonville on the other side of the tunnel. 

B+O Engineers on the line would tell the each other about the ghostly lantern. Sometime in the 1920’s a group of men, some miners, were drinking and playing cards in a shack nearby. Full of moonshine and frivolity one inebriated chap wandered off with a lantern I hand off down the tracks. A train came from the other side and too drunk to think about backing up he waved the lantern, hoping to stop the train most likely. He was hit and killed and buried in the local cemetery, since then his aimlessly wandering ghost has been witnessed.

Another story is about a headless conductor but the details given seem less widely known than the lantern carrier. There are several accounts around a decapitated man who walks the tracks, often with a lantern, so I suspect this might just be an elaboration on the original tale.

The tiny village of Nyack in New York State was park of a court case that has become known as the ‘Ghostbuster’ ruling. It means that when selling a property there must be a declaration if it is haunted in the sale information.

The building was constructed around 1900, an imposing Victorian home which was purchased by the Ackley family in the 1960’s. She shared the house with her children and grandchildren and had reported to neighbours that the property was haunted. There were footsteps, doors slamming and beds shaking but she said they lived peacefully with the two spirits. Helen Ackley said they were Sir George and Lady Margaret both of which were a revolutionary war era couple and despite the neighbours scepticism she told the local media about it.

It most likely wasn’t anything too material, but again who knows, and yet the stories took hold either way. They rose in heat when a young and healthy guest at the home came for a dinner party only to collapse and die of a brain aneurysm.

In 1989 she decided to sell the home to Jeffrey Stambovsky, the sale fell through after he made the deposit only to find out that the property was on a local ghost tour. The court case was ruled in his favour as she had not mentioned this in the details. It’s worth noting that subsequent owners have not reported any strange goings on.

After the court case the disgusted Ackley left for Florida, she then declared she was taking the ghosts with her? Whatever the truth this seems like one hell of an odd statement to make…

You can read more about it here

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