The Lost Franklin Expedition

On the 19th of May, 1845, two ships with the ominous names Erebus and Terror left England in search of the mythical Northwest Passage. Lead by Captain Sir John Franklin, the Franklin Expedition was bound for a doomed voyage. The crew consisted of 24 officers and 110 sailors, including Franklin himself. They were never to be heard from again.

They set out from Greenithe on the 19th of May. They stopped over in Stromness, located on the Orkney Islands in northern scotland. From there, they were attended by the also ominously named HMS Rattler as well as a civilian transport called the Barretto Junior over to Greenland. This branch of the trip took 30 days.

At Whalefish Islands located in the Disko Bay on Greenland’s west coast, the Barretto Junior slaughtered ten oxen for fresh meat, transferring supplies to the Erebus and the Terror, because slaughtering 10 cows on the eve of a perilous journey is always a good idea of only to appease the slumbering sea demons.

Five men transferred from the Rattler and the Barretto Junior, joining the Erebus and the Terror, bringing Franklin’s crew total to 129. The men wrote letters home, complaining that Franklin was a jerk of a boss and didn’t let them get drunk and swear, literally the only two things sailors at the time were good at aside from sailing and playing hurdy gurdys.

The last time Europeans saw the ships was in July of 1845, when a civilian whaling vessel called, ironically, the “Prince of Wales,” and another called The Enterprise, spotted them heading into what would become modern day Nunavut, specifically in Baffin Bay.

The ships would never be seen by white people for over 150 years.

So, following Franklin’s doomed expedition, numerous expeditions were launched to try and find them over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries. Most of them failed, either blocked by bad weather, dangerous conditions, or simply not finding anything worthwhile. Of these early expeditions, it’s worthwhile to note the 1850 expeditions which discovered the hastily made graves of 3 of the crewmen on Beechey Island, and the 1854 Richard Collinson expedition, if because they became the first Europeans to successfully navigate the Northwest Passage.

In 1981, Owen Beattie, a professor at the University of Alberta, traveled from Edmonton, all the way to King William Island, which at the time was located in the Northwest Territories but now lies in Nunavut. They found some human remains with pitting and marks indicating scurvy and cannibalism, and further bone tests also contained abnormally high levels of lead.

Beattie returned in 1984 to exhume the bodies of buried crewmen on Beechey Island in order to perform forensic examination on soft tissue to see if lead poisoning could have been the reason for the loss of the Franklin crew. Some of the hair and tissue was tested and was found to also contain high levels of lead. While the crewman’s cause of death was ultimately believed to be pneumonia, lead poisoning was believed to be a contributing factor.

Sources of lead on the ship could have been munitions, the lead solder used to preserve food, or even the ship’s water distiller. The ships for this expedition had been outfitted with converted railway engines for additional propulsion, a kind of primitive steamboat engine, and as such the ships were equipped with large desalination tubs as the engines could only be fed freshwater, not salt water, and would have produced huge amounts of lead-laced water.

More recent research on samples and studies done in 2016 however cast some doubt that lead poisoning was a contributing factor, as it seems that their levels of lead had not spiked. They were definitely higher than those of the local inuit buried in the region, most likely because the inuit both in the 20th and 19th centuries who lived in what is now Nunavut were not nearly as acutely exposed to lead over the course of their lives as Europeans and white Canadians would be.

Leading up to the first real break in the case in 2014, more bones and graves were discovered over time, solidifying the theory that the crew succumbed to cannibalism in their last days. Bones that were found showed signs of ‘pot polishing,’ which happens when bones are boiled to extract nutrient from the marrow and the bump against the bottom of the pot.

The mystery was ultimately solved with the discovery of the boats, starting in 2014.

In 2014, on September 7th, the Victoria Strait expedition set out and found the wreck of the Erebus. Two years later, in 2016 The Terror was also found. The ships are both in surprisingly good condition, and are still being explored and excavated. Exploration of the ships is proving difficult due to the bad weather and extreme conditions of the Canadian north.

When the Terror was found, it seemed that the ship had been battened down for the winter before it sank. Based on the wreck, it seems that the crew likely abandoned the Terror and boarded the Erebus, sailing south before meeting their ultimate grisly fate.

We ultimately owe the discovery of the wrecks to an inuit man named Louie Kamookak. Kamookak had remembered stories told to him by a woman named Humahuk, who remembered being a little girl and finding artifacts including shot and a butterknife, that Kamookak realized were likely related to the Franklin expedition.

He began doing his own research, looking into the Inuit oral histories to try and find out more information about the Franklin expedition.

In 2014, his research coincided with those of European-style archaeologist and historians, and with their information combined they were able to find the Erebus.

This discovery was important. In 2008, arctic sovereignty had become a hot issue in Canada. The Russians had recently planted a titanium flag on the North Pole using a submersible–yes, underwater–and Canada was trying to find a way to “one up” them and to maintain northern sovereignty. Finding the Franklin Expedition would help to do this, likely as it would prove that English funded explorers were the first Europeans to visit the north, because who gives a crap what the Inuit think I guess.

Finding the Erebus was a turning point in the investigation. The ship was very well preserved. Inuit oral history suggests that a group of inuit boarded the vessel at some point, and found a human body in Franklin’s cabin, his face peeled back in a rictus grin. While the Erebus hasn’t been fully explored yet, we have yet to prove this particular part of the oral history, but so far a lot else regarding the location and the artifacts found on board have proven true.

Despite the finding of the two vessels, one part of the mystery remains: where was Franklin buried? We know that Franklin died before the boats were abandoned, as there has been a letter uncovered that has suggested this. But Louie Kamookak believes that Franklin’s body is still out there.

Inuit oral history has suggested that Franklin was buried with a cairn and a type of “liquid rock,” which suggests the Europeans sailors may have made a mortar or concrete that they used to build a tomb for Franklin. The location has yet to be discovered, and the Canadian arctic is a vast and difficult to explore expanse. Shifting ice, receding ice caps, and the simple passage of time may mean that Franklin’s location is forever lost to us.

You can listen to this episode on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, Stitcher, Buzzsprout, and all other podcatchers.

King Ludwig II of Bavaria (The Swan King)

I want to remain an eternal mystery to myself and others

Ludwig to his governess

King Ludwig II was a fanciful man who reigned Bavaria in the 19th century. He came to power at the age of 18 ½ years old, yet ruling the country was not something that he desired.

Ludwig had always been a peculiar man. He would flee under the pressure of crises and would avoid decisions at all costs, hoping they would solve themselves. Ludwig despised people who were ugly by his standards. If he did have to meet with someone he deemed ugly, he would make them stand behind a curtain or hide behind a plant in order to converse with them.

Ludwig’s sexuality had been questioned for a long time, yet he was engaged to his cousin Sophie. He would only kiss her on the forehead, and the one time she dared kiss him properly, he nearly ended the relationship. Upon postponing the wedding for a second time, he felt pressured by the family to either “set a date or back off,” which he took as his way out of the relationship.

Ludwig, who had always been an attractive man, rapidly deteriorated. By the age of 31, he was overweight, his teeth were falling out, and he was constantly getting headaches. Because of this and the stress that his brother Otto was causing him, Ludwig retreated to his “fantasy world.” He spent outrageous amounts of money on beautiful, breathtaking castles and spent most of his time at the opera. At this point in his life, he was only spending 3 months of the year on his throne in the capital. One of his castles was the inspiration for Sleeping Beauty’s castle.

It was not long before Ludwig appeared to go crazy. He delved deep into controlling the private operas that he had ordered for himself. He would send his head of the state archives, Franz von Loher, to foreign territory to find a place where he could build a new kingdom. He sent Loher all over the world looking for places that he could acquire. His behavior became erratic. He could be kind or thoughtless. He began demanding severe, death penalty level punishments to those who offended him. He ordered that his servants were not allowed to speak in the Bavarian accent. There were stories that Ludwig would invite his favorite horse to dinner. He would also host imaginary dinner parties.

It is reported that Ludwig had hallucinations as a child, and it appears that the hallucinations worsened with age. It is said that his servants would pretend that the sounds and sights he saw were real.

Kind Ludwig’s self-isolation and mental health would lead to his downfall. Plans were made to force Ludwig to be declared insane and due to his brother Otto already having been placed in an asylum, their uncle Prince Luitpold would take the throne.

Just as Ludwig was a mysterious man, his death is also a mystery. There are several theories, but it is not clear how he died, or why.  

In this episode, Skye and Jacob (Podcast on Germany) talk about King Ludwig II’s elegant lifestyle and the strange details surrounding his death.

Listen to this episode on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, Stitcher, Buzzsprout, and all other podcatchers!

Cleopatra & Mark Antony’s Tomb

Her beauty, as we are told, was in itself not altogether incomparable, nor such as to strike those who saw her; but converse with her had an irresistible charm, and her presence, combined with the persuasiveness of her discourse and the character which was somehow diffused about her behaviour towards others, had something stimulating about it. There was sweetness also in the tones of her voice; and her tongue, like an instrument of many strings, she could readily turn to whatever language she pleased…

Plutarch, Life of Antony

Cleopatra VII Philopator (‘father-loving’) was born in January 69 BCE in the city of Alexandria, Egypt, the daughter of Ptolemy XII Auletes and possibly Cleopatra V Tryphaena. Cleopatra was to become the last monarch of the Ptolemaic Empire, ruling Egypt from 51 BCE to 30 BCE. In 48 BCE Cleopatra had become an ally and lover of Julius Caesar and remained so until his assassination in Rome in March of 44 BCE. While she was with Caesar, she bore him a son and he had a statue built of her and had it placed in a temple in the Roman Forum. The Senate was upset by their relationship, but Cleopatra gave them scientific knowledge – time. Taught them to use a solar cycle system (modern), rather than a lunar system.

The death of Caesar threw Rome into turmoil, with various factions competing for control, the most important of these being the armies of Mark Antony and Octavian, the former a supporter and loyal friend Caesar, the latter his adopted son.

Cleopatra was clever and talented – formed strong alliances. In 41 BC Cleopatra was summoned to Tarsus by Mark Antony. She is said to have entered the city by sailing up the Cydnus River in a decorated barge with purple sails, while dressed in the robes of the Greek goddess Aphrodite. Antony, who equated himself with the god Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, was instantly won over. Much like the meeting between Cleopatra and Caesar, both sides saw something in the other which they needed. For Cleopatra it was another opportunity to achieve power both in Egypt and in Rome, for Anthony the support of Rome’s largest and wealthiest client states in his campaign against the might of the Parthians was highly desirable. At the meeting Cleopatra allegedly requested that her half-sister Arsinoë, living in protection at the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, be executed to prevent any future attempts on her throne. Anthony and Cleopatra soon became allies and lovers and he returned with her to Alexandria in 40 BCE.

In Alexandria, Cleopatra and Antony formed a society of “inimitable livers”, which some historians have interpreted as an excuse to lead a life of debauchery, though it was more likely to have been a group dedicated to the cult of the mystical god Dionysus. Cleopatra bore Antony the twins Alexander Helios (the Sun) and Cleopatra Selene (the Moon).

The political situation in Rome compelled Antony to return to Italy where he was forced to conclude a temporary settlement with Octavian, part of which was that he married Octavian’s sister, Octavia. It was to be three years before he and Cleopatra were to meet again. One result of this meeting was that Cleopatra became pregnant with her third child by Antony (the future Ptolemy Philadelphus); another was that parts of Rome’s eastern possessions came under Cleopatra’s control.

In 34 BCE, despite the fact that Antony’s Parthian campaign had been an extravagant failure, Antony and Cleopatra celebrated a mock Roman Triumph in the streets of Alexandria. Crowds flocked to the Gymnasium to see the couple seated on golden thrones surrounded by their children, and Antony made a proclamation known today as the ‘Donations of Alexandria’. In this declaration Antony distributed lands held by Rome and Parthia amongst Cleopatra and their children, and proclaimed Caesarion as Caesar’s legitimate son.

Not surprisingly, the ‘Donations of Alexandria’ caused outrage in Rome, where the rumor began to spread that Antony intended to transfer the empire’s capital from Rome to Alexandria. In 32 BCE, Octavian had the Senate deprive Antony of his powers and declare war against Cleopatra, calling her a whore and a drunken Oriental. To avoid another civil war, Antony was not mentioned in the declaration, but this was to no avail and Antony decided to join the war on Cleopatra’s side.

The culmination of the war came at the naval Battle of Actium, which took place near the town of Preveza in northwestern Greece, on September 2, 31 BCE. Here Mark Antony and Cleopatra’s combined force of 230 vessels and 50,000 sailors were defeated by Octavian’s navy commanded by Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, effectively handing control of the Roman world over to Octavian. In 30 BCE Octavian invaded Egypt and laid siege to Alexandria. Hopelessly outnumbered, Antony’s forces surrendered and, in the honorable Roman tradition, Antony committed suicide by falling on his sword.

After Antony’s death Cleopatra’s was taken to Octavian who informed her that she would be brought to Rome and paraded in the streets as part of his Triumph. Perhaps unable to bear the thought of this humiliation, on August 12, 30 BCE Cleopatra dressed in her royal robes and lay upon a golden couch with a diadem on her brow. According to tradition she had an asp (an Egyptian cobra), brought to her concealed in a basket of figs, and died from the bite. Two of her female servants also died with her. The asp was a symbol of divine royalty to the Egyptians, so by allowing the asp to bite her, Cleopatra became immortal. Other historians believe that Cleopatra used either a poisonous ointment or a vial of poison to commit suicide.
Mark Antony died by stabbing himself with a sword after wrongly believing Cleopatra was dead.

Cleopatra had lived thirty nine years, for twenty-two of which she had reigned as queen, and for fourteen she had been Antony’s partner in his empire. After her death her son Caesarion was declared pharaoh, but he was soon executed on Octavian’s orders. Her other children were sent to Rome to be raised by Antony’s wife, Octavia. Cleopatra represented the last significant threat to Roman authority and her death also marks the end of the Ptolemaic Kingdom. The vast treasures of Egypt were plundered by Octavian, and Egypt itself became a new Roman province. Within a few years the Senate named Octavian Augustus and he became the first Roman Emperor, consolidating the western and eastern halves of the Republic into a Roman Empire.

Octavian later published his biography in which he stripped Cleopatra of her political ability and portrayed her as an immoral foreigner, a temptress of upright Roman men. A number of Roman historians and writers reinforced the image of Cleopatra Empire an incestuous, adulterous whore who used sex to try and emasculate the Roman Empire. Unfortunately, such Roman propaganda has had a profound influence on the image of Cleopatra that has been passed down into Western culture. The real Cleopatra was highly skilled politically (though ruthless with her enemies), popular with her subjects, spoke seven languages, and was said to be the only Ptolemy to read and speak Egyptian. Barely any traces of Cleopatra or her reign exist today. Cleopatra often portrayed herself as a living Isis (a goddess) (As mourner, she was a principal deity in rites connected with the dead; as magical healer, she cured the sick and brought the deceased to life; and as mother, she was a role model for all women.)

It is also a sobering thought to remember how different the history of western civilization might have been if Cleopatra had managed to create an eastern empire to rival the increasing might of Rome, which she very nearly succeeded in doing.

Recent archaeological work has cast some interesting but controversial light on the possible location of Cleopatra’s tomb. Greco-Roman historian Plutarch wrote that that Antony and Cleopatra were buried together, and, in 2008 CE archaeologists from the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities and from the Dominican Republic, working at the Temple of Taposiris Magna, 28 miles west of Alexandria, reported that one of the chambers in the building probably contained the bodies of Cleopatra and Mark Antony. The team have so far discovered 22 bronze coins inscribed with Cleopatra’s name and bearing her image, a bust of Cleopatra, and an alabaster mask believed to represent Mark Antony. Work at the site is ongoing, and only time will tell if the archaeologist are correct in their theory that the great couple were interred at such a distance from Alexandria.

The ancient historians Suetonius (lived A.D. 69 to 122) and Plutarch (lived A.D. 46 to 120) both claimed that Antony and Cleopatra were buried together inside a tomb. Plutarch wrote that Octavian gave orders that Cleopatra’s “body should be buried with that of Antony in splendid and regal fashion.”

While Suetonius wrote that Octavian “allowed them both the honor of burial, and in the same tomb, giving orders that the mausoleum which they had begun should be finished.” This tomb has never been found.

Reports in 2008 and 2009 focused on an announcement by the noted Egyptologist Zahi Hawass that he might find the tomb in Taposiris Magna, a temple to Osiris, located west of Alexandria, Egypt, in excavations with Kathleen Martinez that have yielded ten mummies in 27 tombs of Egyptian nobles, as well as coins bearing images of Cleopatra and carvings showing the two in an embrace. So far, the tomb remains elusive, but the temple excavations continue, with additional sites below the surface identified using ground-penetrating radar in 2011.

The search seeks to find Antony’s mummy as well, despite Plutarch’s statement that Antony was cremated: “After Cleopatra had heard this, in the first place, she begged Caesar that she might be permitted to pour libations for Antony; and when the request was granted, she had herself carried to the tomb, and embracing the urn which held his ashes.”

“The long-lost tomb of Antony and Cleopatra will be eventually uncovered. The burial site has been finally estimated to be in the region of Taposiris Magna, 30 kilometersaway from Alexandria,” Egyptian archaeologist ZahiHawass said in a statement during Palermo Conference.
“I hope to find the tomb of Antony and Cleopatra soon. I do believe that they are buried in the same tomb,” Hawass stated. “We are so close to discover the accurate location of the tomb; we are on the right way. We know where exactly we have to dig,” Hawass stated to the Italian News Agency.

The sources for this episode include Live Science, Royal Central, Egypt Today, Ancient Encyclopedia, Britannica Encyclopedia, and Secrets of the Dead: Cleopatra’s Lost Tomb.

You can listen to this episode on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, Stitcher, and all other pod catchers.

Sam Sheppard

Skye is joined by Courtney from The Cult of Domesticity to discuss the case of Sam Sheppard: a man wrongfully convicted for the murder of his wife.

From the very beginning of this case– from the first hour that the murder became known to the authorities by a telephone call from the husband to the town mayor– from that moment on and including this, the case has been one of the worst in local crime history.

Cleveland Press, July 20, 1954, p. 1.

In the early morning of July 4, 1954, Sam Sheppard (30), woke up to his wife Marilyn screaming his name. He had fallen asleep in the living room after a night of entertaining guests at his home on Lake Erie. His wife must have left him there to sleep in their bedroom. Sam hurried to the room expecting to find that his wife was experiencing troubles with her pregnancy like she had before. Instead, he found that she was being attacked by a “bushy-haired intruder.” Sam scuffled some with the intruder before he was hit over the head and knocked unconscious. When he came-to, Sam checked his wife’s pulse and upon determining that she had passed, ran to his son’s room to find that his son was peacefully asleep. A noise downstairs led Sam chasing the intruder outside into another scuffle before he was hit over the head again and knocked unconscious a second time.

Unfortunately, Sam Sheppard was tried and convicted for the murder of his wife Marilyn. It is said that the extensive, biased media coverage had a major influence on Sam’s conviction, most notably the Cleveland Press. Headlines reading, “Do it Now, Dr. Gerber” and “Quit Stalling and Bring Him In!” lead to both the inquest and the arrest of Sheppard. Jurors were not sequestered, allowing for the influence of broadcasts and newspaper stories.

(21:39) “This is like the messiest, most biased thing I’ve ever heard.”

Many appeals and 10 years of jail time later, Sheppard was released on bond and a retrial was ordered. On November 16, 1966 after a 12-hour deliberation of the (now-sequestered) jury, Sheppard was found not guilty in the murder of Marilyn Sheppard.

Sheppard, a former doctor, returned to surgical practice, yet resigned after wrongful death suits were filed against him. It is reported that Sheppard had become an alcoholic and was drinking as much as two fifths of liquor a day. Sheppard also tried his hand in professional wrestling, adopting the name “Killer” and creating the hold, “the mandible claw.” Sam Sheppard died on April 6, 1970. Official cause of death was Wernicke’s encephalopathy.

Despite being found not guilty in his retrial, Sam Sheppard’s reputation was ruined. Sam and Marilyn’s son, Chip, spent his life working to clear his dad’s name. Chip, along with the help of DNA testing, was able to prove once and for all that his father was not guilty.

So, who killed Marilyn Sheppard? Listen as Skye and Courtney from The Cult of Domesticity Podcast discuss possible suspects, the crime scene, and other juicy details (did someone say affair?) about the life of Sam Sheppard.

You can listen to this episode on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, Stitcher, PodCoin, and Buzzsprout.

Sources for this episode include Wikipedia and others to be updated at a later time.

Amityville Horror Pt. 2: The Haunting

The Lutz family claims that their lives were forever changed by what they experienced in their Amityville home.

“Because of the uncertainties connected with the paranormal, I, as a believer in science and in religion, would be remiss not to warn readers against the dangers both of an arrogance that professes a grasp of the unknown and of a bravado that boasts of a control of the transcendent. The wise man knows that he does not know—and the prudent man respects what he does not control.”

From Preface of The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson

In December 1975, George and Kathleen Lutz bought the Amityville house for $80,000. During the inspection, the couple was told about the murders but said it wasn’t a problem. The couple kept the DeFeo family’s furniture for a price of $400.

A friend of George Lutz learned about the history of the house and insisted on having it blessed. George knew a Catholic priest named Father Ray Mancuso (pseudonym name for Father Ralph J Pecoraro) who agreed to carry out the house blessing.

He arrived to perform the blessing on December 18, 1975 and when he flicked the first holy water and began to pray, he heard a masculine voice demand that he “get out.” When leaving the house, Father Mancuso did not mention this incident to either George or Kathy. On December 24, 1975, Father Mancuso called George Lutz and advised him to stay out of the second floor room where he had heard the mysterious voice, the former bedroom of Marc and John Matthew DeFeo, but the call was cut short by static. Following his visit to the house, Father Mancuso allegedly developed a high fever and blisters on his hands similar to stigmata.

  • George would wake up around 3:15 (the time of the killings) every morning and would go out to check the boathouse.
  • The house was plagued by swarms of flies despite the winter weather.
  • Kathy had vivid nightmares about the murders and discovered the order in which they occurred and the rooms where they took place.
  • The Lutz children began sleeping on their stomachs, in the same way that the dead bodies in the DeFeo murders had been found.
  • The Lutzes’ 5-year-old daughter, Missy, developed an imaginary friend named “Jodie,” a demonic pig-like creature with glowing red eyes.
  • In the early morning hours of Christmas Day 1975, George looked up at the house after checking on the boathouse and saw Jodie standing behind Missy at her bedroom window. When he ran up to her room he found her fast asleep with her small rocking chair slowly rocking back and forth.
  • George would wake up to the sound of the front door slamming. He would race downstairs to find the dog sleeping soundly at the front door. Nobody else heard the sound although it was loud enough to wake the house.
  • George would hear what was described as a “marching band tuning up” or what sounded like a clock radio playing not quite on frequency. When he went downstairs the noise would cease.
  • When closing Missy’s window, which Missy said Jodie climbed out of, Kathy saw red eyes glowing at her.
  • While in bed, Kathy received red welts on her chest caused by an unseen force and was levitated two feet in the air along with George.
  • Locks, doors and windows in the house were damaged by an unseen force.
  • Cloven hoof prints attributed to an enormous pig appeared in the snow outside the house January 1, 1976.
  • Green gelatin-like slime oozed from walls in the hall and also from the keyhole of the playroom door in the attic.
  • A crucifix, hung in the living room by Kathy, revolved until it was upside down and gave off a sour smell.
  • George tripped over a 4-foot-high China lion ornament in the living room and found bite marks on one of his ankles.
  • On one occasion Kathy heard what sounded like a window being opened and closed through the sewing room door even though she was sure no one was in there.

After deciding that something was wrong with their house they could not explain rationally, George and Kathy Lutz carried out a blessing of their own on January 8, 1976. George held a silver crucifix while they both recited the Lord’s Prayer. While in the living room, George allegedly heard a chorus of voices asking them “Will you stop?!”

By mid-January 1976, after another attempt at a house blessing by George and Kathy, they experienced what would turn out to be their final night in the house. The Lutzes declined to give a full account of the events that took place on this occasion, describing them as “too frightening.”

The couple left the house and went to Kathy’s mother’s house. They claimed that the phenomena followed them there, with the final scene of Anson’s book describing “greenish-black slime” coming up the staircase towards them. On January 14, 1976, the Lutz family left the house, leaving all of their possessions behind.

The Lutz’ recorded 45 hours of recollections which were used as the foundation of the book.


This was the decade of the Exorcist, demons and ghosts were popular and a hot topic.

Father Pecoraro’s role is extremely unclear. He stated in an affidavit that his only contact with the Lutzes concerning the matter had been by telephone. Other accounts say he did visit the house, but experienced nothing. On a 1980 episode of In Search of…. he stated that he heard a voice saying “Get out,” but he didn’t give it a paranormal origin. He also stated that he felt a slap on his face during the visit and that he did subsequently experience blistering on his hands.

The claims of physcical damage to the house was denied by the next owners.

The claim of cloven hoof prints in the snow on January 1, 1976 was rejected by other researchers because weather records showed that there had been no snow in Amityville on that date. Neighbors reported nothing unusual during the time that the Lutzes were living there.

Police officers are depicted visiting the house in the book and 1979 film, but records showed that the Lutzes did not call the police during the period that they were living on Ocean Avenue

George and Kathy Lutz maintained that they experienced something in the house. They did say that there were some false claims in the books. In October 2000, The History Channel broadcast Amityville: The Haunting and Amityville: Horror or Hoax?, a two-part documentary made by horror screenwriter/producer Daniel Farrands to mark the 25th anniversary of the case. George Lutz commented in an interview for the program: “I believe this has stayed alive for 25 years because it’s a true story. It doesn’t mean that everything that has ever been said about it is true. It’s certainly not a hoax. It’s real easy to call something a hoax. I wish it was. It’s not.”

Sources for this episode include The Last Podcast on the Left , The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson, and Wikipedia

You can listen to this episode on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, Stitcher, PodCoin, and Buzzsprout.

Amityville Horror Pt. 1: The DeFeo Family Murders

In 1974, Butch Defeo murdered his parents and four siblings all while they were sleeping. What caused Butch to do it? How was he able to commit the murder by himself?

“I happened to check into the murders. And I checked into the twenty year old boy who killed his parents, and his four brothers and sisters. And when he was at trial, he testified that he heard voices in the house. He heard voices in the house and the voices told him to DO it! Now, I was in the house and I heard the voices, too! And I also felt their presence in the house! I’m telling you, there was a presence in that house!”

Father Delaney, The Amityville Horror

The DeFeo family home stood like any other, unrecognizable from the other homes in Long Island at the time in an affluent suburban neighborhood in the 1970s. It wasn’t until the gruesome murder of the DeFeos that the home was put on the map as the infamous Amityville Horror House.

The DeFeo family consisted of parents Ronald DeFeo, Sr (44) and Louise DeFeo (42) and children Ronald Jr. aka Butch (23), Dawn (18), Allison (13), Marc (12), and John Matthew (9). On the night of November 13, 1974, all but Butch were found face-down in their beds having been murdered.

According to testimonies, at 6pm on November 13, Butch DeFeo ran into Henry’s Bar down the street from the home exclaiming that his mother and father had been shot. When he and a group of friends made it to the house, it was confirmed that the entire family had been killed in their beds.

Each family member was found lying face down in their beds. The weapon of choice was a .35 Marlin rifle–a gun that could be heard for miles. It is said that all but two, Louise and Allison, were asleep upon being shot. Upon examination of the bodies, it appeared that all had been killed around 3am the morning of November 13th, not having been found until 6pm the same night.

(7:43) “Now, in this town, he wasn’t known as a great guy. Like everybody basically knew he was a sociopath. And when they first heard about the murders, they immediately blamed him. They were like, ‘Oh, it was obviously Butch.'”

There are many theories and controversies as to how the murder took place. Was it Butch who claims to have found the bodies? Was it the mob as Butch had suggested? Why didn’t anyone hear the gun shots? Was sister Dawn also involved? Was Butch really hearing voices like he told the court?

Ultimately, despite an insanity plea, Butch was found guilty on six accounts of second-degree murder on November 21, 1975, a year after the murders took place. He was sentenced with 25 to life for the crime.

Butch DeFeo is currently held at the Sullivan Correctional Facility in the town of Fallsburg, New York. All appeals to the parole board have been denied.

Be sure to listen to Skye and Carrie go into more depth about the DeFeo family murder and the controversies surrounding the crime.

Listen to this episode on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, Stitcher, and Buzzsprout.

Sources for this episode include Wikipedia, The Last Podcast on the Left, Stuff You Should Know

Frank Hamer: Bonnie and Clyde Revisited


Frank Hamer to a large group of men blocking a bank entrance

For this episode, Skye digs back into the Bonnie and Clyde case, this time from the perspective of the man who took them down: Frank Hamer.

Frank Hamer got involved after Bonnie and Clyde completed the Eastham Prison Farm escape in 1934. The law enforcement were becoming desperate as they had continuously let Bonnie and Clyde slip through their fingers, resulting in embarrassment for all forms of law enforcement.

Frank Hamer, previous Texas Ranger, was recruited as a Highway Patrol Man to track down Bonnie and Clyde and take them down by any means necessary. In his youth, Hamer was an excellent hunter and tracker. He utilized these skills in the hunting of Clyde Barrow’s gang. He mapped their crimes, noting the patterns and “home bases” that the gang seemed to continuously return to.

At the time, when Bonnie and Clyde crossed state boundaries, they could no longer be arrested. Hamer recruited the help of other law enforcement officials from other jurisdictions in order to overcome this hiccup.

Hamer and his posse set up a trap, along with the help of Henry Melville’s parents, to get Bonnie and Clyde to stop their vehicle. Hamer and his posse died hundreds of rounds into Bonnie and Clyde, neither of them had a chance.

Hamer would spend the rest of his days as a mediator for strikes. He also assisted in taking down the corruption that occurred in the election of Lyndon Johnson in Texas.

Sources for this episode include Wikipedia

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Charles Manson and the Manson Family

Charles Manson is notorious for his cult, The Manson Family, and the murders they committed.

“I don’t wanna take my time going to work, I got a motorcycle and a sleeping bag and ten or fifteen girls. What the hell I wanna go off and go to work for? Work for what? Money? I got all the money in the world. I’m the king, man. I run the underworld, guy. I decide who does what and where they do it at. What am I gonna run around like some teeny bopper somewhere for someone elses money? I make the money man, I roll the nickels. The game is mine. I deal the cards” 

Charles Manson

Once Manson was released from prison, he went to Berkeley, California where he met Mary Brunner, who would become the first member of the Manson Family. Mary was working as a library assistant at University of California, Berkeley. Manson moved in with her and convinced her to allow 18 other women to live with them.

During this time, Manson established himself as a guru. It appears that his philosophy was borrowed from Process Church of the Final Judgement. He taught his followers that they were the reincarnation of the original Christians and that the Romans were establishment. Around 1967, he started using the alias Charles Willis Manson (Charles’ Will is Man’s Son).

Soon after, the family stole a bus and painted it black. They then took the bus up and down the Pacific coast. In 1968, Mary Brunner gave birth to Valentine Michael, who was another child of Manson’s.

In 1968, Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys picked up two hitchhiking women who were a part of the Manson family. He brought them to his house where they had sex. The next day he returned home to be greeted by Manson in his own driveway. When he entered his house, there were twelve people, mostly women, who were all topless.

Wilson became a member of the Manson family and hosted the family in his house. During his involvement with Wilson, Manson recorded several songs. The family accumulated damages close to $100,000 before Wilson’s manager discouraged Wilson’s involvement.

The family then established a base at Spahn Ranch. They also occupied other little ranches during this time.

In 1968, the group became obsessed with The Beatles “White Album” and would begin to read into the lyrics. The group interpreted the lyrics to “Helter Skelter” to be about a rebellion and uprising caused by the blacks in America. Manson suggested that black people would take over, but they would not be accepted as leaders, so the Manson family would have to lead the country. Many suspect these beliefs as the reasoning for the murders.

A member of the Manson family, Bobby Beausoleil, along with others of the Manson family tortured and killed Beausoleil’s music teacher, Gary Hinman. This was the start of the murders committed by the Manson family.

(13:46) “I dunno, that seems like an odd person to kill to try to start a race war.” “They just wanted money.”

On August 8th, 1969, Manson directed Susan Atkins, Linda Kasabian, Patricia Krenwinkle, and Charles Watson to commit a murder. Whether he wanted the group to attack the Tate household specifically is unclear. The group murdered a very pregnant Sharon Tate (actress), Jay Sebring (hair stylist), Abigail Folger (Folger Coffee heiress), Wojciech Frykowski, and Steven Parent. As they were leaving, Atkins wrote “pig” in Tate’s blood on the front door.

Manson was disappointed in the group and called their work “sloppy.” The next day, Manson led Charles Watson, Leslie Van Houten, Steve “Clem” Grogan, and Patricia Krenwinkle to the house of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. Manson tied up the LaBiancas using cords and covered their heads with pillowcases. Manson left but gave instructions to kill the couple. Leno LaBianca was stabbed a total of 12 times and the word “WAR” was carved into his abdomen. Rosemary was stabbed 41 times. The group wrote “Rise,” “Death to pigs,” and “Healter [sic] skelter” on the walls and fridge.

Linda Kasabian became the star witness during the case and was granted immunity. The members involved in the killings all received death sentences, however, the next year the death sentence was abolished so they were granted life sentences instead.

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The sources for this episode include Wikipedia (Charles Manson & Manson Family), CNN, and

Charles Manson: Early Life

Charles Manson is notorious for his cult known as the Manson Family, but what events in Charles’ life led him to becoming a nefarious cult leader?

These children that come at you with knives, they are your children. You taught them. I didn’t teach them. I just tried to help them stand up.

Charles Manson

Charles Manson was born November 12th, 1934 to sixteen year old Kathleen Maddox. His biological father is most likely Colonel Walker Henderson Scott Sr. When Kathleen informed Colonel she was pregnant with his child, he claimed he had to return to the Army, even though he had never been a member.

When Charles was five years old, his mother and his uncle attempted to rob someone which resulted in the two of them being sent to jail. During this time, Charles lived with his aunt and uncle.

Once Kathleen was released, they went to West Virginia and then Indianapolis shortly after. While in Indianapolis, Charles played truant and stole. This resulted in his mother sending him to Gibault School for Boys.

He ran away from Gibault months later to return to Indianapolis where he got his own apartment and supported himself by burgling at night. When he was caught, he was sent to a juvenile facility called Boys Town in Nebraska.

He ran away a few days later with a fellow student. The two went to Illinois where they became apprentices to a professional thief. Manson was caught a few weeks later and sent to Indiana Boys School. Manson claims that he was raped by students who were encouraged by the staff. He invented the “insane game” as a self-defense technique.

(07:48) “They used tobacco spit to lubricate…”

He escaped a few months later and was caught taking stolen cars across state boundaries. As a result, he was sent to Washington D.C.’s National Training School for Boys where he was then sent to Natural Bridge Honor Camp after being evaluated by a psychiatrist. His aunt petitioned for him to get parole, but he was caught raping a boy at knife-point.

Manson was then transferred to Federal Reformatory in Virginia. After committing eight serious disciplinary offenses there, he was sent to a maximum security reformatory in Ohio. He was released in May of 1954.

In January of 1955, Manson married Rosalie Jean Willis who would give birth to Charles’ first child, Charles Manson Jr. During the birth of his son, Charles was in prison for failing to appear after taking a stolen car across state lines. During this time, Rosalie left him for another man.

Once Charles was out of prison, he began pimping a sixteen year old girl. Shortly after, he attempted to cash a forged U.S. Treasury check. Charles received a ten-year suspended sentence and probation after Leona made a plea to the court and said that she would marry Charles if he was free. The did marry within the year.

Charles took Leona and another woman to New Mexico for prostitution. He was questioned and shortly after he was indicted for violation of the Mann act. He was violating his probation for the check-cashing charge, so he was ordered to serve ten years.

He was transferred to the United States Penitentiary at McNeil Island in Washington. While there, he took guitar lessons from Alvin “Creepy” Karpis. He spent most of his time writing and performing songs. When it came time to leave prison, he asked to stay.

Listen to this episode on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, Stitcher, and Buzzsprout.

The sources for this episode include Wikipedia (Charles Manson & Manson Family), CNN, and

The Death of Elisa Lam

In 2013, Elisa Lam went missing while on vacation in California. Two weeks after her disappearance a video surfaced of her acting strangely in a hotel elevator. A few days later, she was found dead in a hotel water tank.

“I noticed the hatch to the main water tank was open and looked inside and saw an Asian woman lying face-up in the water approximately twelve inches from the top of the tank.” -Santiago Lopez, employee of the Cecil Hotel

The death of Elisa Lam is one mystery that has yet to be solved. Many believe that her death is a suicide as a result of a mental health disorder. Others believe that evidence points toward murder.

Elisa disappeared on a vacation in January 2013 from the Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles, California. Four days before her body was found, the police released eery security camera footage from the inside of the hotel elevator where Elisa can be seen acting scared and even paranoid. Some say that Elisa was participating in the Elevator Game, a game originating in Korea and gaining popularity in Japan. Rules to playing the elevator game can be found here.

(31:21) “That was frantic and panicking…and then her talking and yelling she’s like…it looks like she talking to the elevator.”

In this episode HMCT team member Caity and host Skye discuss what they think happened to Elisa and the unsettling evidence released (and not released!) in the investigation of the death of Elisa Lam.

Information for this episode is from Wikipedia,, and

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