Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Top 10 Shocking Cases Of Delusional Behavior

10. Craig D. Button

Something strange happened to Craig D. Button on April 2, 1997. On the day in question, Captain Button was participating in a training mission. He was operating a fully loaded single-seat A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft. His jet was armed with four Mk-82 bombs, 60 magnesium flares, 120 metal chaff canisters and 575 rounds of 30-millimeter ammunition. Craig D. Button unexpectedly broke formation near Gila Bend, Arizona. He flew in a northeasterly direction towards the Four Corners area of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah. During the flight, Button’s jet was spotted numerous times by observers on the ground.
Delusional Behavior
Captain Button turned off his transponder, which made the aircraft difficult to track. His jet was last spotted in the air about 100 miles (160 km) west of Denver. It zig-zagged in the air before impacting the mountainous terrain about 15 miles (24 km) SW of Vail, Colorado, on Gold Dust Peak in a remote part of Eagle County. The crash occurred at 13,200 feet (4,000 m) of elevation. It took months for a search party to recover the aircraft and Craig D. Button’s remains. The four 500-pound Mk-82 bombs that were on the aircraft were never found despite an exhaustive search involving metal detectors and ground-penetrating radar.
Adding fuel to the fire, hundreds of people reported hearing loud explosions in Northern Arizona, Telluride and Aspen. No evidence was found to support the idea that Craig D. Button released the weapons before crashing the jet. It is a mysterious situation that will never be explained. As you would expect, conspiracy theorists have latched on to the bizarre events. One theory claims that Captain Button was attempting to bomb a major U.S. city and was stopped. The second conspiracy involves a large collection of alien species in the Four Corners area of the United States. The theory claims Button was attacking a secret U.S. underground base.

9. The Murder of Tim McLean

Vince Weiguang Li is a man that was born in Dandong, China on April 30, 1968. On June 11, 2001, Li immigrated to Canada, becoming a citizen on November 7, 2006. Tim McLean was a 22-year-old Canadian man from Winnipeg, Manitoba. On July 30, 2008, Tim departed Edmonton, Alberta on-board a Greyhound bus to Winnipeg. Vince Weiguang Li was on the same bus. Li was described as a tall man with a shaved head and sunglasses. He originally sat near the front of the bus, but moved next to Tim McLean following a scheduled rest stop.
Delusional Behavior
At some point during the journey, Vince Weiguang Li pulled out a large knife and began to brutally stab Tim McLean. A passenger named Garnet Caton described the situation. “I heard a blood-curdling scream. I turned around and the guy sitting right (behind) me was standing up and stabbing another guy with a big Rambo knife, right in the throat, repeatedly.”  Li eventually decapitated Tim McLean and displayed his severed head to the passengers. The people fled the bus. Li then began to remove Tim McLean’s body parts and eat his flesh. After arriving at the scene, the local Canadian police summoned a tactical unit.
The suspect taunted the officers and carried around Tim McLean’s head. Five hours after the police were called, the suspect attempted to escape from the bus. At that time, the RCMP arrested him. Inside of Li’s pockets the police found McLean’s ears, nose and tongue. The victim’s eyes and part of his heart were never recovered and are presumed to have been eaten by the accused. Vince Weiguang Li’s trial started on March 3, 2009.
Despite Li having no documented history of mental illness, a psychiatrist diagnosed him with schizophrenia. The psychiatrist said that Li performed the attack because God’s voice told him that Tim McLean was evil. The presiding judge accepted the diagnosis, and ruled that Li was not criminally responsible for the murder. Vince Weiguang Li was sent to the Selkirk Mental Health Centre, where he remains today. Had the murder occurred on a public transport vehicle in a different part of the world, like China, the circumstances and punishment for Vince Weiguang Li would be different.

8. Collyer Brothers

Homer and Langley Collyer were two American brothers that became famous for their eccentric behavior. During the early 1900s, the Collyer brothers settled in their family home located at 2078 Fifth Avenue (at the corner of 128th Street), which is in the middle of Harlem, New York. During World War I, Harlem saw a major rise of black residents from the Southern United States, leading to the Harlem Renaissance. During this time, the two white brothers remained in the neighborhood, becoming a local curiosity. The situation was escalated by the fact that the Collyer brothers lived as hermits.
Delusional Behavior
The brothers became famous for their snobbish behavior, dirty property, and compulsive hoarding. They obsessively collected newspapers, books, furniture, musical instruments and many other items. During the 1920s, Harlem teenagers developed the habit of breaking into the Collyer residence. In response, they boarded up their property and Langley used his engineering skills to create booby traps. In 1928, the Collyer brother’s lost all electricity, water and gas. The men took to warming their large house using only a small kerosene heater. They had money to pay the bills, but chose not to. In the 1920s, Homer became handicapped with rheumatism.
On March 21, 1947, an anonymous caller phoned the 122nd Police Precinct and insisted there was a dead body in the house. Upon arrival, the police found 130 tons of waste. They had to throw garbage into the street to enter the premises. An officer squeezed into a second story window and crawled on the floor for two hours to locate Homer Collyer’s body. On April 8, 1947, Langley’s corpse was found. It took 18 days to discover Langley’s body, which was only 10 feet away from Homer. Langley was killed by one of his own booby traps. The cumulative estate of the Collyer brothers was valued at $91,000 (about $1.2M in 2011 dollars). Items removed from the house include a collection of guns, glass chandeliers, camera equipment, painted portraits, eight live cats, and 34 bank account passbooks.

7. Carl Tanzler

In 1926, a German man named Carl Tanzler immigrated to the United States. Tanzler was a talented radiologist and in 1927 he took a job at the U.S. Marine Hospital in Key West, Florida. On April 22, 1930, Carl Tanzler met Elena de Hoyos. Upon meeting Elena, Carl became infatuated with her. He attempted to cure her tuberculosis with a variety of medicines. Tanzler showered Elena de Hoyos with gifts and professed his relentless love. Elena de Hoyos died of terminal tuberculosis in Key West on October 25, 1931. Carl Tanzler was heartbroken by the event. With the permission of her family, he paid for Elena’s funeral and had an above ground mausoleum constructed. Tanzler visited the cemetery almost every night.
Delusional Behavior
In April of 1933, Carl Tanzler removed Elena’s body from the Key West Cemetery. He used a toy wagon to transport the corpse back to his house. Upon arrival, Tanzler attached Elena’s bones together with a collection of wires and coat hangers. He fitted her face with glass eyes and replaced her decomposed skin with silk cloth soaked in wax and plaster. Tanzler fashioned a wig from Hoyos’s hair. He dressed her remains in stockings, jewelry and gloves. Carl kept the body in his bed. He used a large amount of perfume, disinfectants, and preserving agents to mask the odor. Elena’s sister heard rumors of Tanzler sleeping with the disinterred body of her sister and had her body exhumed seven years later in October 1940.
Carl Tanzler was charged with “maliciously destroying a grave and removing a body without authorization.” The case was later dismissed. In the 1940s, the public mood surrounding the incident was generally sympathetic towards Carl Tanzler. In the media he was portrayed as an eccentric romantic. In 1972, two physicians who attended the 1940 autopsy recalled that a paper tube had been inserted into Elena’s vaginal area that allowed for intercourse. The claim has been called unsubstantiated by some. After the incident, Carl Tanzler used a death mask to create a life-sized effigy of Elena de Hoyos. He lived with the effigy until his death on July 23, 1952.

6. Death of Philip Gale

The smartest people in the world can be susceptible to mental illness and delusions. Humans can form incorrect inferences about external reality, which causes suicidal tendencies. At the age of 8, Philip Gale began his education at The Delphian School in Sheridan, Oregon. The Delphian School is a private boarding school based on the ideas of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. By the age of 15, Gale was accepted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which is a private research university. He worked at EarthLink Network Inc as the director of research and development. At the age of 16, Philip Gale developed a software program called Total Access.
Delusional Behavior
The software allowed EarthLink’s Internet servers to reach more customers on the Internet. Total Access gave the firm a competitive advantage and enabled EarthLink to ascend to the top ranks among ISPs. Before his 17th birthday, Philip Gale earned stock options worth a million dollars. At this time in his life, Gale abandoned the principles of Scientology and became interested in the Church of the SubGenius, which specializes in debunking cults. In 1998, Philip Gale began to display erratic behavior. On March 13, he committed suicide by jumping from a classroom window on the fifteenth floor of a building on the MIT campus. Philip Gale was only 19-years-old.
In the weeks before his death, Philip had been inquiring about how to gain access to the roof of MIT’s tallest structure, the Green Building. In the classroom he jumped from, Gale wrote out Isaac Newton’s equation for how an object accelerates as it falls. He also sketched a stick figure of someone tossing a chair. He signed the message, “Phil was here.” Gale then picked up a chair, hurled it through a window and jumped out. In part, Philip Gale’s suicide note read “Presumably I have jumped from a tall building. I am not crazy, albeit driven to suicide. It is not about any single event, or person. It is about stubborn sadness, and a detached view of the world.” Gale’s death has led to the speculation that his upbringing as a Scientologist contributed to his delusions.

5. Martin Bryant

Psychopathy is a disorder that is largely connected with delusions. The word psychopath brings images of danger, insanity and murder. Martin Bryant was born in Tasmania, Australia. He was a disruptive and sometimes violent child. After Bryant was suspended from New Town Primary School in 1977, psychological assessments noted that he had tortured animals. It was discovered that Bryant had an I.Q. of 66, equivalent to an 11-year-old and in the bottom 1% of the Australian population. On April 28, 1996, Martin Bryant carried out the Port Arthur massacre. He traveled to the Port Arthur prison colony in south-eastern Tasmania and brought an arsenal of weapons, including an AR-15 rifle.
Delusional Behavior
The shooting started in the Broad Arrow Cafe of the Port Arthur prison colony, where Martin Bryant killed 12 people and injured 10 in a span of 15 seconds. He then moved into the gift shop. In the two minutes that Martin Bryant was shooting in the cafe and gift shop, 29 rounds were fired and 20 people were killed, 19 by head shot. Most people did not see Martin Bryant during the attack. It wasn’t clear what direction he was shooting from. The 28-year-old continued to fire on people as he fled the scene. By the end of the massacre, Martin Bryant killed 35 people and seriously wounded 21 others.
Martin Bryant escaped and was later located at a house with hostages. A standoff ensued, which ended with Bryant setting the house ablaze. He was captured alive, charged, and convicted of all 35 murders. Martin Bryant initially plead innocent and famously laughed when he was charged with the crimes. He later changed his plea to guilty, but never gave a detailed confession. Bryant’s AR-15 was found at the scene with an exploded cartridge in the chamber. Within a matter of weeks, Australia passed a major gun control law. Legislation was passed to remove semi-automatic weapons, including the use of self-loading rifles and pump-action shotguns.

4. Seattle Windshield Pitting Epidemic

Mass hysteria is a phenomenon in which bizarre symptoms are recorded by a large collection of people. It typically begins when an individual becomes ill or delusional during a period of stress. In April of 1954, mass hysteria hit the area surrounding Bellingham and Seattle, Washington. The event is characterized by the widespread observation of previously unnoticed windshield holes, pits and dings. The pitting was so great that residents began to attribute it to everything from sand flea eggs to nuclear bomb testing. In March of 1954, the news of the “pitting epidemic” reached metropolitan Seattle. Local newspapers began to feature the story. Car lots and parking garages were susceptible to attacks.
Delusional Behavior
By April 15, 1954, approximately 3,000 windshields had been damaged. Some people reporting seeing the glass bubbling right before their eyes, believing it was sand fleas. Other news articles stated the pitting was caused by a Navy radio transmitter, cosmic rays, or a shift in the Earth’s magnetic field. Several supernatural causes were suggested, including gremlins. By April 17, 1954, the pitting suddenly stopped. The Seattle Windshield Pitting Epidemic has become a textbook case of collective delusion. Looking back on the hysteria, it is not hard to find a nuclear link.
In March of 1954, the United States began Operation Castle, which was a series of high-energy (high-yield) nuclear tests at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands. The operation involved Castle Bravo, which was the first U.S. test of a dry fuel thermonuclear hydrogen bomb device. It occurred on March 1, 1954. The detonation of Castle Bravo caused the most significant accidental radiological contamination ever released by the United States. Operation Castle lasted from March, 1954 to the middle of April. This is the exact same time that the windshield pitting epidemic was hitting Washington State. Washington is located along the Pacific Ocean and in a position that could receive nuclear fallout from the Marshall Islands.

3. Woo Bum-kon

Woo Bum-kon was a South Korean police officer who is responsible for the second most deadly shooting spree in modern history. On April 27, 1982, Woo Bum-kon had an argument with his girlfriend and became enraged. He was a mentally unstable individual with homicidal impulses. After the argument, Woo traveled to the police armory and gathered an arsenal of weapons, including two M2 carbines, 180 rounds of ammunition, and seven hand grenades. He got drunk in the police armory and then attacked the citizens of South Korea. Woo began by shooting at people who were walking in the village of Torongni.
Delusional Behavior
He then traveled to the nearby village of Kungryu. At the Kungryu Post Office, Woo killed three telephone operators. This prevented people from contacting the authorities. He then walked from village to village, killing people. Woo Bum-kon used his public status as a police officer to gain entry into homes. He shot most of his victims, but in one case killed an entire family with a grenade. Woo Bum-kon continued his killing spree for a grueling eight hours. He traveled through five different villages in Uiryeong County and murdered a total of 57 people, injuring 35. Woo eventually committed suicide by exploding two grenades. The Interior Minister of South Korea, a man named Suh Chung-hwa, resigned following the event.

2. Boyd Massacre

The Boyd Massacre documents one of the bloodiest cases of cannibalism on record. In October of 1809, a 395 ton brigantine convict ship named The Boyd sailed from Sydney Cove to Whangaroa, New Zealand. The vessel was under the command of Captain John Thompson and carried about 70 people. A man named Te Ara, who was the son of a Maori chief from Whangaroa, asked to work his passage on the ship. The Maori are the indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand. During the voyage, Te Ara was flogged (beaten with a whip) for disciplinary action. Upon returning to Whangaroa, he reported the events to his tribe. In accordance with their customs, the Maori formed a plan for utu (revenge).
Delusional Behavior
Three days after The Boyd’s arrival, the Maori invited Captain Thompson to follow their canoes to find suitable kauri trees. After Thompson was lured away from the vessel, the Maori people attacked the European foreigners on land. They killed everyone with clubs and axes. They stripped the victims of clothing and took their bodies to be eaten. Using items taken from the deceased, the Maori organized an attack against The Boyd. They deceived the crew and massacred everyone. Only five people were left alive.
When news of the massacre reached European settlements, Captain Alexander Berry undertook a rescue mission and recovered four survivors. In a terrifying scene, Berry’s crew reported large piles of human bones on the shoreline. In March of 1810, a revenge attack was organized by sailors from five whaling vessels. The target was a village belonging to Chief Te Pahi, who was not involved with the original crimes. In the revenge attack, 60 Maori and one sailor died. From 1810 to 1814, shipping to New Zealand fell to practically nothing. A notice was printed and circulated in Europe advising against visiting “the cursed shore” at the risk of being eaten by cannibals.

1. Anders Behring Breivik

Anders Behring Breivik is a Norwegian right-wing extremist who has claimed responsibility for the two terrorist attacks that occurred in Norway on July 22, 2011. Breivik was born in London, on February 13, 1979. Before the attack, Breivik compiled a 1,516-page manifesto entitled 2083: A European Declaration of Independence, which he e-mailed to 1,003 addresses. He claims to belong to an international anti-Islam network. On July 22, Anders Behring Breivik conducted the most deadly shooting spree in world history. He performed two sequential attacks against the civilian population, the government, and a political summer camp in Norway.
Delusional Behavior
The first attack was a car bomb explosion in Regjeringskvartalet, the executive government quarter of Oslo. The explosion killed eight people and wounded several others, with more than 10 people critically injured. After detonating the bomb, the attacker moved to a youth camp organized by the organization (AUF) of the Norwegian Labour Party (AP) on the island of Utøya in Tyrifjorden, Buskerud. The camp is put together every summer and is attended by approximately 600 teenagers. When Breivik arrived on the island, he presented himself as a police officer who had come over for a routine check following the bombing in Oslo.
He first shot people on the island of Utøya and then started to fire on individuals who were trying to escape by swimming across the lake. A spokesman for the National Police Directorate under the Ministry of Justice and the Police reported that most of the 68 casualties were youths about 15 or 16 years old. The mass shooting reportedly lasted for around an hour and a half, ending when a police special task force arrived and the gunman surrendered. Initially, as the besieged people from Utøya tried to call the emergency services, they were told to keep off the line because of the Oslo bombing. When the police finally arrived at the scene, they were met by survivors begging the officers to throw away their weapons. They were afraid that the men in uniforms would again open fire on them.
In all, 76 people were killed in the terrorist activity. Many people survived by playing dead. After the attacks, Anders Behring Breivik confessed to the crimes and stated that the purpose of the murder was to save Norway and Western Europe from a Muslim takeover. Ian Stephen, a retired forensic clinical psychologist, said Breivik understood exactly what he was doing, but is clearly a psychopath. Everything he says should be taken as nonsense. On July 25, 2011, Breivik was charged with destroying basic functions of society, creating serious fear in the population, and acts of terrorism. Prosecutors are considering charging him with crimes against humanity.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Horrifying Premature Burials

Virginia Macdonald
Virginia Macdonald lived with her father in New York City and became ill, died, and was buried in Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn. After the burial, her mother declared her belief that the daughter was not dead when buried and persistently asserted her belief. The family tried in vain to assure the mother of the death of her daughter. Finally the mother insisted so strenuously that her daughter was buried alive the family consented to have the body taken up. To their horror, they discovered the body lying on the side, the hands badly bitten, and every indication of a premature burial.
Interesting Fact: When the Les Innocents cemetery in Paris, France was moved from the center of the city to the suburbs the number of skeletons found face down convinced many people and several doctors that premature burial was very common.

Madam Blunden
Premature Burial 08
When Madam Blunden was thought to be dead, she was buried in the Blunden family vault at Holy Ghost Chapel in Basingstoke, England. The vault was situated beneath a boys’ school. The day after the funeral when the boys were playing they heard a noise from the vault below. After one of the boys ran and told his teacher about the noises the sexton was summoned. The vault and the coffin were opened just in time to witness her final breath. All possible means were used to resuscitate her but it was unsuccessful. In her agony she had torn frantically at her face and had bitten the nails off her fingers.
Interesting Fact: A large number of designs for safety coffins were patented during the 18th and 19th centuries. Safety coffin were fitted with a mechanism to allow the occupant to signal that he or she has been buried alive. You can see one of the variations here.

New York Times article
“WOODSTOCK, Ontario, Jan. 18- Recently a girl named Collins died here, as it was supposed, very suddenly. A day or two ago the body was exhumed, prior to its removal to another burial place, when the discovery was made that the girl had been buried alive. Her shroud was torn into shreds, her knees were drawn up to her chin, one of her arms was twisted under her head, and her features bore evidence of dreadful torture.”
Interesting Fact: In the 19th century, Dr. Timothy Clark Smith of Vermont was so concerned about the possibility of being buried alive that he arranged to be buried in a special crypt that included a breathing tube and a glass window in his grave marker that would permit him to peer out to the living world six feet above. You can see his grave here.

Daily Telegraph article
“GRENOBLE, Jan. 18- A gendarme was buried alive the other day in a village near Grenoble. The man had become intoxicated on potato brandy, and fell into a profound sleep. After twenty hours passed in slumber, his friends considered him to be dead, particularly as his body assumed the usual rigidity of a corpse. When the sexton, however, was lowering the remains of the ill-fated gendarme into the grave, he heard moans and knocks proceeding from the interior of the ‘four-boards.’ He immediately bored holes in the sides of the coffin, to let in air, and then knocked off the lid. The gendarme had, however, ceased to live, having horribly mutilated his head in his frantic but futile efforts to burst his coffin open.
Interesting Fact: The Fear of being buried alive is called taphephobia. The word “taphephobia” comes from the Greek “taphos” meaning “grave” + “phobia” from the Greek “phobos” meaning “fear” = literally, fear of the grave, or fear of being put in the grave while still alive.

The Sunday Times article
“TONNEINS, Dec. 30- A frightful case of premature interment occurred not long since, at Tonneins, in the Lower Garonne. The victim, a man in the prime of life, had only a few shovelfuls of earth thrown into his grave when an indistinct noise was heard to proceed from his coffin. The grave-digger, terrified beyond description, instantly fled to seek assistance, and some time elapsed before his return, when the crowd, which had by this time collected in considerable numbers round the grave, insisted on the coffin being opened. As soon as the first boards had been removed, it was ascertained beyond a doubt, that the occupant had been interred alive. His countenance was frightfully contracted with the agony he had undergone, and, in his struggles, the unhappy man had forced his arms completely out of the winding sheet, in which they had been securely enveloped. A physician, who was on the spot, opened a vein, but no blood flowed. The sufferer was beyond the reach of art.”
Interesting Fact: In The Complete Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook, one of the worst case scenarios listed in the book is how to survive if you are buried alive in a coffin. If anyone finds themselves in the same predicament as the people on this list you can read some life saving information here.

British Medical Journal
Catriona From Within The Coffin
“December 8- It appeared from the evidence that some time ago a woman was interred with all the usual formalities, it being believed that she was dead, while she was only in a trance. Some days afterwards, the grave in which she had been placed being opened for the reception of another body, it was found that the clothes which covered the unfortunate woman were torn to pieces, and that she had even broken her limbs in attempting to extricate herself from the living tomb. The Court, after hearing the case, sentenced the doctor who had signed the certificate of
decease, and the mayor who had authorized the interment, each to three months’ imprisonment for involuntary manslaughter.”
Interesting Fact: Today, when a definition of death is required, doctors usually turn to “brain death” to define a person as being clinically dead. People are considered dead when the electrical activity in their brain ceases.

New York Times article
“DAYTON, Feb. 8.-A sensation has been created here by the discovery of the fact that Miss Hockwalt, a young lady of high social connections, who was supposed to have died suddenly on Jan. 10, was buried alive. The terrible truth was discovered a few days ago, and since then it has been the talk of the city. The circumstance of Miss Hockwail’s death was peculiar. It occurred on the morning of the marriage of her brother to Miss Emma Schwind at Emannel’s Church. Shortly before 6 o’clock the young lady was dressing for the nuptials and had gone into the kitchen. A few moments afterward she was found sitting on a chair with her head leaning against a wall and apparently lifeless. Medical aid was summoned in, Dr. Jewett who, after examination, pronounced her dead. Mass was being read at the time in Emannel’s Church and it was thought best to continue, and the marriage was performed in gloom. The examination showed that Anna was of excitable temperament, nervous, and affected with sympathetic palpitation of the heart. Dr. Jewett thought this was the cause of her supposed death. On the following day, the lady was interred in the Woodland. The friends of Miss Hockwalt were unable to forget the terrible impression and several ladies observe that her eyes bore a remarkably natural color and could not dispel an idea that she was not dead. They conveyed their opinion to Annie’s parents and the thought preyed upon them so that the body was taken from the grave. It was stated that when the coffin was opened it was discovered that the supposed inanimate body had turned upon its right side. The hair had been torn out in handfuls and the flesh had been bitten from the fingers. The body was reinterred and efforts made to suppress the facts, but there are those who state they saw the body and know the facts to be as narrated.”
Interesting Fact: In 1822 Dr Adolf Gutsmuth was buried alive several times to demonstrate a safety coffin he had designed. Once he stayed underground for several hours and ate a meal of soup, sausages and beer delivered to him through the coffin’s feeding tube.

Mary Norah Best
Buried Alive-1
Seventeen year old Mary Norah Best was the adopted daughter of Mrs. Moore Chew. Mary was pronounced dead from cholera and entombed in the Chew’s vault in an old French cemetery in Calcutta. The surgeon that pronounced her dead was a man who would have benefited by her death and had tried to kill her adopted mother. Before Mary “died” her adoptive mother fled to England after the second attempt on her life and left Mary behind. Mary was put into a pine coffin and it was nailed shut. Ten years later, in 1881 the vault was unsealed to admit the body of Mrs. Moore’s brother. On entering the vault, the undertaker’s assistant found the lid off of Mary’s coffin on the floor. The position of her skeleton was half in and half out of the coffin. Apparently after being entombed Mary awoke from the trance and struggled violently till she was able to force the lid off of her coffin. It is surmised that after bursting open her casket she fainted from the strain and while falling forward over the edge of her coffin she struck her head against the masonry shelf killing her. It is believed the surgeon poisoned the girl and then certified her death.
Interesting Fact: Some believe Thomas A Kempis, a German Augustinian monk who wrote The Imitation of Christ in the 1400’s was denied canonization because splinters were found embedded under his nails. Canonization authorities determined that anyone aspiring to be a saint would not fight death if he found himself buried alive.

New York Times Article
Buried Alivecrop
“ASHEVILLE, N.C., Feb. 20.–A gentleman from Flat Creek Township in this (Buncombe) County, furnishes the information that about the 20th of last month a young man by the name of Jenkins, who had been sick with fever for several weeks, was thought to have died. He became speechless, his flesh was cold and clammy, and he could not be aroused, and there appeared to be no action of the pulse and heart. He was thought to be dead and was prepared for burial, and was noticed at the time that there was no stiffness in any of the limbs. He was buried after his supposed death, and when put in the coffin it was remarked that he was as limber as a live man. There was much talk in the neighborhood about the case and the opinion was frequently expressed that Jenkins had been buried alive. Nothing was done about the matter until the 10th inst., when the coffin was taken up for the purpose of removal and internment in the family burying ground in Henderson County. The coffin being wood, it was suggested that it be opened in order to see if the body was in such condition that it could be hauled 20 miles without being put in a metallic casket. The coffin was opened, and to the great astonishment and horror of his relatives the body was lying face downward, and the hair had been pulled from the head in great quantities, and there was scratches of the finger nails on the inside of the lid and sides of the coffin. These facts caused great excitement and all acquainted personally with the facts believe Jenkins was in a trance, or that animation was apparently suspended, and that he was not really dead when buried and that he returned to consciousness only to find himself buried and beyond help. The body was then taken to Henderson County and reinterred. The relatives are distressed beyond measure at what they term criminal carelessness in not being absolutely sure Jenkins was dead before he was buried.”
Interesting Fact: Because of the concern of premature burials a Society was formed called Society for the Prevention of People Being Buried Alive. They encouraged the slow process of burials.

Madame Bobin
In 1901 a pregnant Madame Bobin arrived on board a steamer from Western Africa and appeared to be suffering from yellow fever. She was then transferred to a hospital for those affected with contagious diseases. There she became worse and apparently died and was buried. A nurse later said she noticed that the body was not cold and that there was tremulousness of the muscles of the abdomen and expressed the opinion that she could have been prematurely buried. After this was reported to Madame Bobin’s father, he had the body exhumed. They were horrified to find that a baby had been born and died with Madame Bobin in the coffin. An autopsy showed that Madame Bobin had not contracted yellow fever and had died from asphyxiation in the coffin. A suit against the health officials resulted in £8,000 ($13,000) damages against them.
Interesting Fact: Historical records indicate that during the 17th century when plague victims often collapsed seemingly dead, there were 149 actual cases of people being buried alive.

Margorie McCall
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This is a bonus because this event might be more folklore than fact. In researching premature burials this story came up many times with different names and locations as this Wikipedia article explains. However does give a story similar to this a “True” rating. My guess is that something like this probably did occur somewhere at sometime but the story has been embellished over the years. Margorie McCall’s story seems to be the most popular and goes something like this: Margorie McCall from Northern Ireland fell ill and was pronounced dead. After her wake which lasted for a few days she was interred in Shankill Graveyard. That night her body was exhumed by grave robbers. The robbers tried in vain to remove a ring from her finger and then attempted to cut her finger off to remove the ring. When they were cutting into her finger Margorie suddenly came to and the robbers fled the cemetery never looking back. Margorie then climbed out of her coffin and walked home. Meanwhile her family was gathered at home when they heard a knock at the door. Margorie’s husband still in grief said “if your mother were still alive, I’d swear that was her knock.” and sure enough when he opened the door there she was dressed in her burial clothes, very much alive. Her husband fainted immediately.
Interesting Fact: Many believe the terms “Saved by the bell” and “Dead ringer” has to do with safety coffins with the notion that a recently buried person could pull a rope attached to a bell outside the coffin to alert people that he or she is not deceased. Both of these have been proven false. Saved by the bell is a boxing term dating from the 1930s. Ringer is from horse racing and is a horse substituted for another of similar appearance in order to defraud the bookies. Dead was then added to the term later like ‘dead on’, ‘dead center’ etc.

Top 10 Museums that will Scare You Silly

House on the Rock
P153993-Wisconsin Dells-House On The Rock
Originally designed to house a collection of basically anything, the House on the Rock in Deer Shelter Rock, Wisconsin first opened in 1959. The house contains fascinating exhibits such as a re-creation of an early twentieth century American Town and a 200 foot model of a sea monster. Now this doesn’t sound too scary but only because I forgot to mention that the entire collection is basically left to rot in dark, dusty rooms. Now imagine such a room room filled with the stench of rot in which you can just make out a scattering of decayed mannequins sawing at old broken musical instruments – playing what sounds like a symphony written in hell! Having seen it, I can assure you that the real thing is far worse than the description!
Glore Psychiatric Museum
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Who wouldn’t want to check out a museum dedicated to the history of such wonderful things as electroshock treatment and lobotomies? Well – most people probably. But for those who have a taste for the downright shocking, the Glore Psychiatric museum is for you. And if you find the horrifying parts of the museum too much to cope with, you can relax in the “awful things people have swallowed” exhibition. Don’t forget to check out the ancient treatments area where you can see instruments for bleeding patients and the fascinating dioramas taking you step by step through a psychosurgical operation.
New Haven Ventriloquist Museum
In New Haven connecticut there is a museum that contains nothing but row upon row of old ventriloquist’s dummies. Every seat in the theatre has a dummy in it – in fact, when you visit you have to stand on the stage because there is no room anywhere else. Now most people don’t suffer from Autonomatonophobia (the fear of artificial humanoid figures – yes it’s real) but even the staunchest of the staunch will be horrified by this awful display. Just think “Chuckie” times one thousand.
Catacombs of Palermo
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Not intending to be a museum, that is exactly what the Catacombs of Palermo have become – a museum of death. Deep in the bowels of the Capuchin monastery you can view hundreds of corpses – both monks and local members of the community. The bodies are lined up along the walls in the clothes in which they were buried. Bodies were put in the catacombs from the end of the 16th century to the last interment – little Rosalia Lombardo in the 1920s. The cool air and dry environment mean that the bodies are extremely well preserved – so well preserved in fact that some look like they are just sleeping. But most look like hideous corpses ready to wake up at any moment to attack the visitors. A must see holiday spot.
London Dungeon
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The London dungeon is really famous. So you may wonder why it isn’t in the top five of this list. Mainly because it is scary in a different way from the rest of the items here. It is scary in the sense that no one wants a random stranger dressed as the grim reaper to jump at them while screaming. That aside, the dungeon does present a great selection of macabre torture devices from the middle ages. Mind you, your local army base probably has an equally terrifying array of torture devices from the last decade! If you go to the Dungeon take your heart medication with you – those actors can certain put the frights up you. Oh – and be prepared to queue for a long time – it is a popular attraction. The only place you will have seen queues longer is at a bakery in Soviet Russia.
Lombrosp’s Museum of Criminal Anthropology
Cesare Lombroso founded the Italian school of criminology. It is no wonder then that this museum – filled with objects from his work is a terrifying place indeed. Combined with the macabre collectibles are images of crimes, weapons used to slaughter humans, and even Lombroso’s own head perfectly preserved in a bottle of formaldehyde. If you are interested in crime – or just want to spend a day gazing at skulls, human remains, and other horrifying objects, this is the place to go.
Madame Tussauds
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This is probably the most famous entry on the list. Madame Tussauds in London is best known for its enormous collection of wax figures – mostly of famous people. But the museum had a more grisly start. Madame Tussaud herself started the collection during the French revolution. She would run up to the guillotine after people had been executed and make wax imprints of their severed heads. The most famous is probably that of the last King of France. These heads are all on display at the museum along with a horrifying collection of monstrous historical displays in the chamber of horrors. When you see the life-sized reproduction of one of Jack the Ripper’s victims, you will never be quite the same again. Oh – and to make matters worse, the chamber of horrors now employs actors to jump out and terrify visitors. Take along a change of underwear.
Museum of Anatomy
Honoré Fragonard was a professor of anatomy – at least he was until he got canned for showing the symptoms of insanity! Twenty years later he began the work that would be his life’s crowning achievement. In 1794 he began gathering dead bodies for what would become his museum of anatomy. His museum was designed to house a gigantic collection of corpses that he personally stripped of their skin and embalmed with a secret recipe – a recipe that remains a mystery to this day. The collection contains the preserved flayed bodies of animals, children, and executed criminals as well as a collection of skulls from asylums for the mentally disturbed. This museum in Paris is so horrifying that entry is available by appointment only.
Mutter Museum
The Mutter Museum is best known for its large collection of skulls and anatomical specimens including a wax model of a woman with a human horn growing out of her forehead, the tallest skeleton on display in North America, a 5 foot-long human colon (pictured above) that contained over 40 pounds of poop, and the petrified body of the mysterious Soap Lady whose entire corpse was turned into soap after she died. The museum also houses a malignant tumor removed from President Grover Cleveland’s hard palate, the conjoined liver from the famous Siamese twins Chang and Eng Bunker, and a growth removed from President Abraham Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth. It may not terrify you – but I guarantee that it will end up haunting your dreams.
The Purgatory Museum
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According to Catholic doctrine, a person who dies with only slight sins on their soul goes to purgatory to be cleansed by fire before floating off to heaven. At the Church of the Sacred Heart in the Prati district of Rome, there is a small museum tucked away behind a side altar. It is the Purgatory museum. This truly scary place has exhibits which document cases of souls in purgatory coming back to earth to haunt the living. Some of the items on display are a table with scorch marks and lines carved out of it by an otherworldly hand, as well as burnt fingerprints on clothing and bedlinen. But perhaps the scariest item of all is a book with an entire human hand print scorched deeply into the pages – the hand print of a long dead monk suffering in the fires for some unknown sin.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Top 10 Ghost Ships

Carrol A. Deering
The Carrol A Deering was a 5 mast Schooner, built in 1911. Named for the owner’s son, she was a cargo vessel and her final voyage found her sailing from Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, on December 2nd, 1920. The Master, William Merrit, and his first mate, Sewall Merrit (his son), had a crew of 10 Scandinavians. Both fell ill and Captain W. B. Wormell was recruited as a replacement.
After leaving Rio, the Deering stopped in Barbados for supplies. Here, the First Mate, McLennan, got drunk and complained to a fellow Mariner about Captain Wormell, his incompetence at disciplining the crew and his inability to Navigate the ship without the aid of McLennan. McLennan was arrested after he was overheard boasting “I’ll get the Captain before we get to Norfolk, I will”. Wormell forgave him, bailed him out and the Deering set sail for Hampton Roads.
The Vessel was not sighted until January 28th, 1921, when a Lightship keeper was hailed by a red haired man milling around on the foredeck. The man told the Lightship keeper, in a foreign accent, that the Deering had lost her anchors, but the Keeper was unable to relay the message due to a malfunctioning radio.
3 days later, on January 31st, the Deering was found aground on Diamond Shoals, off Cape Hatteras. Boarding of the ship was delayed due to bad weather and eventually rescue personal made it on to the vessel on February 4th. What they found made the Deering one of the most written about maritime mysteries in history. The Deering was completely abandoned. The logs and Navigation equipment were missing, as were 2 of the ships lifeboats. The Galley was midway into preparation for the following days meal. Unfortunately, the vessel was scuttled with Dynamite before a full investigation into the mystery could take place.
The crews disappearance occurred in the Bermuda Triangle, and several other vessels had disappeared in the same period and region as the Deering, including the sulfur freighter Hewitt. Many theories became popular during the investigation including Paranormal explanations, mutiny, piracy and Rum-runners stealing the vessel to sail to the Bahamas. The formal investigation ended in 1922, without any official ruling on the mysteries surrounding the apparent abandonment of the Carrol A. Deering.
Ghost Ships Baychimo-
Built in Sweden in 1911, the Baychimo was a Pelt trader along the routes of North West Canada. She was given to Great Britain by Germany as part of War reparations.
The 20 year old Cargo Steamers final (crewed) voyage occurred in October 1931, carrying a cargo of fur. The vessel became ice packed off the coast of the town of Barrow. The crew temporarily abandoned the vessel and headed 1/2 a mile inland in search of shelter from the freezing conditions. The ship eventually broke free of the ice a week later, on the 8th October, and the crew returned, only to become trapped in ice, again, on the 15th October. 15 crew members built a makeshift shelter some distance away, intent on waiting out the winter and eventually sailing the ship free.
On the 24th November, a blizzard struck. When it calmed, the crew found that the Baychimo had vanished, presumed sunk in the storm. Several days later a seal hunter informed the crew that he had sighted the vessel about 45 miles from their camp. The crew tracked the vessel to retrieve their precious cargo and left the Baychimo to its fate.
Over the next 4 decades there were numerous sightings of the Baychemo along the coast of Canada. Several boardings were attempted, few were successful, the ones that were often resulting in the salvagers becoming trapped inside due to adverse weather conditions. The last confirmed sighting occurred in 1969, 38 years after she was abandoned, she was found frozen in an ice pack. In 2006, the Alaskan Government began an operation to locate the ‘The Ghost ship of the Arctic’ but, to date, they have been unsuccessful.
Trapped in Ice, floating or at the bottom of the ocean, the fate of the Baychimo remains a mystery.
Eliza Battle
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Launched in Indiana in 1852, the Eliza Battle was a luxury wooden hulled paddle steamer regularly entertaining Presidents and VIPs. Disaster struck on a cold night in February 1858, when the steamer navigated the Tombigbee. A fire started on cotton bales on the main deck and soon spread out of control. The strong winds helped the fire spread quickly over the upper deck. Out of control, the Eliza Battle drifted downstream, coming to rest at Kemp’s Landing. Men died in efforts to save their loved ones and women died in their efforts to save their children, though, fortunately, there were few aboard the ill fated final trip of the Eliza Battle. Of the estimated 100 people on board, 26 souls were lost, mainly attributed to death by exposure. The ship sank in 28ft of water, and its wreck remains to this day.
During the spring floods, late at night during the full moon, it is said the riverboat can be seen rising out of the water and floating up the river with music playing and fires burning on the deck, sometimes only the outline of the steamer is sighted. The fire is so bright a name plate bearing the name Eliza Battle can be seen on the side of the vessel. Local fisherman believe that sighting the Eliza Battle is a sign of an impending disaster and ill omens to ships still plying the Tombigbee River.
MV Joyita
The MV Joyita was a luxury yacht, built in 1931, in Los Angeles for Movie Director Roland West. During the Second World War she was outfitted as a Patrol Boat and worked around the coast of Hawaii until the end of the War.
On October the 3rd, 1955, the Joyita set sail from Samoa bound for the Tokelau Islands 270 nautical miles away. Her departure had been delayed due to a clutch malfunction on the port main engine, the clutch was not repaired and the Yacht sailed on one engine. There were 25 souls on board, including a Government Official, 2 children and a surgeon on his way to perform an amputation. Though the journey should have taken no more than 2 days, by the 3rd day Joyita had not arrived in port. No distress call had been received even though the vessels course would have kept her well within radio range of coast guard and relay stations. A 100,000 sq mi search was conducted by aircraft of the Royal New Zealand Air Force but there was no sign of the Yacht, her crew or passengers.
It was not until November 10th, 5 weeks later, that the vessel was found. The Tuvalu sighted the Joyita 600mi from her planned route. The vessel was listing heavily to port with her deck edge partially submerged. 4 tonnes of cargo were missing and none of the crew members were onboard. The ships VHF radio was tuned to the International Distress Frequency. The vessel was found to still be running on one Engine, with an auxiliary pump rigged but not running. All the clocks on board had stopped at 10:25 and switches for cabin and navigation lights were on. A doctor’s bag was found on the floor with 4 blood stained bandages. The logbook, sextant and chronometer were missing, along with 3 life rafts.
A subsequent enquiry found that the vessels hull was sound and that the fate of the crew was ‘inexplicable on the evidence submitted at the inquiry’. The missing life rafts were especially intriguing as the vessel was cork lined, making her unsinkable, a fact the Master and the crew would have been fully aware of. No mention of the use of the medical equipment was in the investigation. The missing cargo also remained a mystery.
Theories ranged from the outright bizarre: Remaining Japanese forces from World War II were to blame for the disappearances, operating from an isolated island base to the more believable: insurance fraud, piracy, mutiny.
The Joyita was repaired, but ran aground on several more occasions, being dubbed a cursed ship she was eventually sold for scrap in the 1960s.
Flying Dutchman
Probably the most famous Ghost Ship, The Flying Dutchman has been popularized by ‘The Pirates of the Caribbean’ and for the big kids amongst you ‘Spongebob Squarepants’ (The Frying Dutchman). But what many people will not know is that ‘The Flying Dutchman’ refers to the Captain of the vessel, and not the vessel itself.
Several Spectral ships around the World are known as ‘The Flying Dutchman’ but I am going to refer to the original, located off the Cape of Good Hope. Here is the embellished tale:
“The Captain of the vessel, Hendrick Van Der Decken, was voyaging around the Cape of Good Hope with a final destination of Amsterdam. He swore to Round the Cape if it took him ’til Doomsday’. With a terrible storm abound, Van Der Decken refused to turn the ship around despite the pleas of the crew. Monstrous waves pummeled the vessel while the captain sang obscene songs, drank beer and smoked his pipe. Finally, with no options remaining, several of the crew mutinied. The Captain, aroused from his drunken stupor shot dead the lead mutineer and threw his body overboard, above him the clouds parted and a voice billowed from the Heavens.
‘You’re a very Stubborn Man’, to which the Captain replied ‘ I never asked for a peaceful voyage, I never asked for anything, so clear off before I shoot you too’ Van Der Decken made aim to fire into the sky but the pistol exploded in his hand.
‘you are condemned to sail the oceans for eternity, with a ghostly crew of dead men. Bringing death to all who sight your spectral ship, and to never make port or know a moments peace. Furthermore, gall shall be your drink, and red hot iron your meat’”
There have been many sightings of The Flying Dutchman, often by reputable and experienced seamen, including Prince George of Wales and his brother, Prince Albert Victor of Wales,
According to Admiral Karl Doenitz, U Boat crews logged sightings of The Flying Dutchman off the Cape Peninsula. For most or all of these crews, it proved to be a terrible omen. The ghostly East Indiaman was also seen at Muizenberg, in 1939. On a calm day in 1941, a crowd at Glencairn beach saw a ship with wind-filled sails, but it vanished just as it was about to crash onto the rocks.
Young Teazer
Built in 1813, the Young Teazer was an American Privateer Schooner preying on sea trade of the British Empire off the coast of Halifax. She was a remarkably fast vessel taking many prizes from Nova Scotia, several right at the mouth of Halifax Harbour. In June, 1813, the Teazer was chased by the Nova Scotian Privateer Brig Sir John Sherbrooke, but Teazer was able to escape into the Fog. Shortly after, HMS La Hogue, a 74-gunned third rate ship of the line, pursued the Schooner as she was reportedly cornered in Mahone Bay. With nightfall pending, La Hogue was joined by HMS Orpheus and the vessels prepared to board Young Teazer, which had no where left to run.
The La Hogue sent a five boat boarding party towards the Schooner. As the boats approached, the Young Teazer exploded. 7 of the crew survived and claimed they last saw the Teazers First Lieutenant, Frederick Johnson, running to the main magazine with flaming embers, considered mad Johnson threw the embers into the ammunition killing himself and 30 other crew members, many of whom lie in unmarked graves in an Anglican Cemetery in Mahone Bay.
Soon after the tragic event, eye witness reports began to surface that the Young Teazer had reemerged from the depths as a fiery spectral ship. The Following year, on June 27th, people of Mahone Bay were startled to see an apparition sailing into the same water where the Young Teazer had been destroyed. As it came nearer they recognized it as the privateer, and then it vanished in a huge puff of flame and smoke. The story spread through the country, and on the next anniversary many more were on hand, watching for “the fire ship.” Sure enough, it appeared again, and it is legend to this day that many persons have witnessed the appearance of the ghost ship, and have seen it disappear in flame. If you are standing on the deck of a ship at sea, the apparition appears to threaten to ram your vessel. Many report an overwhelming sense of fear when they see the phantom pirate ship. The Ghost Ship, known locally as ‘The Teazer Light’ can be seen on foggy nights, most notably those that fall within 3 days of a full moon.
Ghost Ships 6A
The Octavius was allegedly discovered West of Greenland by a whaler on October 11th, 1775. Crewmembers of the Whaler Herald boarded the assumed derelict Vessel, discovering the entire crew dead, frozen, apparently at the moment of their death. The Captain was found in his cabin, also frozen at his desk with his pen in hand, still writing in his log. He was accompanied by a dead woman, a child covered in a blanket and a sailor holding a tinderbox. The petrified boarding party left in a hurry, taking only the log back to the Herald. Unfortunately, its frozen state meant that it slipped from its binding and they only recovered the first and last pages. The partly complete entry in the log was dated 1762, meaning the vessel had been in the state they discovered it for 13 years.
The Octavius had left England for the Orient in 1761. The Captain opted to take the treacherous, but much shorter route of the unconquered North West Passage. It is believed the ship became trapped in ice whilst traveling past Northern Alaska. The discovery of the ship meant that the Octavius was the first ship to Navigate the North West Passage, albeit the crew never lived to witness it. The ship was presumed to have broken free of the ice in the winter months and the crew, dead from exposure, drifted with the winds for 13 years. The Octavius was never seen again after this strange encounter.
Lady Lovibond
13th February, 1748 – Celebrating his marriage, Simon Reed took his new bride, Annette, aboard his ship, the Lady Lovibond, for a cruise to Portugal. At the time it was considered bad luck to bring a woman onboard. Unbeknownst to Reed, his First Mate, John Rivers, was in love with the Captains wife and paced the deck in an uncontrollable rage. Overcome with jealousy, he attacked the helmsman with a belaying pin, killing him instantly. Rivers took the wheel and steered the Lovibond towards the notorious Goodwin Sands. All souls were lost and the subsequent inquiry ruled a verdict of Misadventure.
50 years later to the day, 2 separate ships witnessed a phantom ship sailing the Goodwin Sands. On the 13th February, 1848, local fishermen saw a vessel wreck on the area and lifeboats were sent out to investigate, with no sign of ship on the sands being found. In 1948, the ghost of Lovibond was seen again by Captain Bull Prestwick and was described as looking real but having an eerie green glow.
Unfortunately, you will have to wait until the 13th February, 2048, for the next sighting, as she is said to appear only once every 50 years: don’t forget to mark your calendar. The Goodwin Sands are England’s most fertile grounds for ghost ships, and are also the location of the legendary island of Lomea. The Lady Lovibond shares the area with two other phantom vessels: a liner called the SS Montrose and the Shrewsbury, a man-of-war.
Mary Celeste
The Mary Celeste can rightly claim the title of the greatest maritime mystery of all time, and is definitely the most documented case of a missing crew. To this day the events that lead to the 8 crew and 2 passengers apparently vanishing from the face of the Earth are a topic of great controversy and debate.
On December 13th, 1872, onlookers witnessed a small 2 masted sailing vessel entering the Bay of Gibraltar. The Mary Celeste had sailed from New York on November 7th, and was bound for Genoa; she had a cargo of 1701 barrels of Alcohol. On the Afternoon of December 5th, Captain Morehouse of the Dei Gratia came upon a Brigantine following a parallel course that he recognized as the Mary Celeste. He and the Master, Captain Briggs, were close friends and had dined together before setting sail. Morehouse was alarmed to see the Celeste Yawing irrationally, surprising as he knew Briggs to be a talented seaman. After 2 hours of attempted hails with no reply, Morehouse proceeded to board the out of control vessel.
The Celeste appeared sea worthy and seemed to have been abandoned with haste. All of the ship’s papers were missing with the exception of the Captain’s Log, with the last entry stating the ship had passed the Azores on November 25th. Stories arose of warm cups of tea, half eaten breakfast and still smoking pipes, these stories are most likely untrue but it was clear the vessel had been abandoned in a hurry, but there were no signs of violence or a struggle. A six-month supply of uncontaminated food and fresh water was still aboard, and the crew’s personal possessions and artifacts were left untouched, all the cargo was accounted for with the exception of 9 barrels being empty. There was water damage to the vessel which lead some to believe the Celeste was abandoned due to inclement weather, but this contradicts Briggs personality: he was described as a brave and courageous man who would only abandon ship if there was an imminent risk of loss of life. Morehouse sailed the Celeste into Gibraltar, arriving on December 13th.
A marine surveyor who was charged with investigating the mystery discovered what he believed to be a few spots of blood in the captain’s cabin, an “unclean” ornamental cutlass in Briggs’ cabin, a knife and a deep gash on a railing that he equated with a blunt object or an axe, but while he did not find such a weapon on board, he believed the damage was recent. He found no trace of any damage to the vessel and she was found seaworthy.
Many explanations were put forward for the events: Piracy, Insurance Fraud (Briggs and Morehouse colluded), murder by the crew of Dei Gratia, Sea quake or other phenomena, an explosion caused by the fumes from the cargo, Ergotism from contaminated flour causing the crew to become mad, mutiny and several paranormal explanations.
Over the next 13 years the Mary Celeste changed hands 17 times, with several tragic deaths. Her final Captain deliberately grounded her to make a false insurance claim. In 2001, the National Underwater and Maritime Agency claim to have found the wreck of the Mary Celeste, although skeptics claim that there are hundreds of similar wrecks in the area and cannot determine with any certainty the identity of the vessel.
Ourang Medan
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In June, 1947, frantic Morse Code messages were received from the Dutch freighter Ourang Medan. The message was received by many ships and several responded. The message reported ‘All officers including captain are dead lying in chartroom and bridge. Possibly whole crew dead.’ A second message was received shortly after, this time a voice over the radio simply stating ‘I die’. Dutch and British listening posts were able to triangulate the position and vector a rescue attempt to the Ourang Medan. After several hours the Silver Star the arrived on scene. After failed attempts to hail the vessel using whistle signals and flashing lights. they assembled a small team and boarded the apparently undamaged Ourang Medan. They first ventured to the bridge where a radio was playing, several members of the Ships’ Company, including the Captain, were found dead, more corpses were discovered on the Cargo Deck including a dog standing on all four legs, frozen and snarling into thin air.
No survivors were found on board, but what was most disturbing was the nature of the bodies, all frozen in place looking up towards the sun, their arms outstretched, mouths gaping, and a look of immense horror on all their faces. A trip to the communications room revealed the author of the SOS messages, also dead, his hand still on the Morse sending key, eyes wide open and teeth bared. Strangely, there was no sign of wounds or injuries on any of the bodies. The crew of the Silver Star attempted to enter the Cargo Bay but a small explosion from an unknown source soon resulted in an uncontrollable inferno. Beaten back, they were forced to abandon the vessel and return to the safety of the Silver Star. Within minutes the vessel sank to the depths of the ocean floor.
Although there are no clear records of a ship by the name Ourang Medan existing, many conspiracy theorists believe the vessel was acting under a false name and was transporting something that ‘officially’ did not exist.
The fate of the Ourang Medan and her crew remain a mystery. Speculation has been made that pirates killed the crew and sabotaged the ship, although this doesn’t explain the peculiar grimaces and lack of injuries on the corpses. Others have claimed that clouds of methane or other noxious natural gases could have bubbled up from fissures on the sea bed and engulfed the ship. Even more fantastical theories involving aliens and ghosts abound.