10 Crazy Facts From Bedlam, History’s Most Notorious Asylum

If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, that path may well cut through the fetid halls of Bethlem Hospital. The institution began as a priory for the New Order of St. Mary of Bethlehem in 1247. As religious folks are wont to do, the monks there began to look after the indigent and mentally ill. The monks believed that harsh treatment, a basic diet, and isolation from society starved the disturbed portion of the psyche.

While their aim was pure, those who would succeed the monks were not so wholesome of purpose. What would follow was more than 500 years of madness and squalor. So awful was Bethlem, that its bastardized nickname “Bedlam” would come to be a universal synonym for lunacy.

10Origins

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Bethlem began as a small institution, catering to only a handful of inmates at once. The original structure was built atop a sewer, which frequently overflowed, leaving patients to trudge through the foul muck. It accommodated approximately a dozen patients at any given time, and it featured a kitchen and an exercise yard.

Little is known of Bedlam during the intervening medieval period, but during this time, control of the facility transferred from the church to the crown of England, probably because the government foresaw a potential profit. By the 1600s, the original facility was a crumbling mess. A new building was commissioned in the late 17th century, an imposing structure whose entrance was flanked by two human sculptures wracked with suffering named “Melancholy” and “Raving Madness.” Melancholy appears blank and vacant, where Raving Madness is charged with fury and bound in chains.

Many of the patients locked therein weren’t what we today would consider mentally ill. Along with the raving schizophrenics and psychopaths were epileptics and those with learning disabilities. These souls were often forsaken by their loved ones, allowing for a wild medley of abuse.

9Rotational Therapy

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One of Bedlam’s many controversial treatments, rotational therapy, does not seem particularly awful at first glance. Invented by Erasmus Darwin (grandfather to Charles), this therapy involves sitting a patient in a chair or swing suspended from the ceiling. The chair is then spun by an orderly, the speed and duration dictated by a doctor.

This low-rent carnival ride could rotate a dizzying 100 times a minute. Of course, carnival rides can be great fun, but it is their brevity which makes them manageable. Two minutes in defiance of gravity is a thrill—but can you imagine being stuck on the Zipper or the Scrambler for a few hours?

Countless patients were subjected to this treatment at Bedlam. Inducing vertigo did nothing to curtail the severity of mental illness. The results of rotational therapy included vomiting, pallor, and incontinence. At the time, these were seen as beneficial, especially vomiting, which was considered therapeutic. Oddly enough, rotational therapy would later provide valuable insight to scientists studying the effects of vertigo on balance.

8Famous Patients

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While the majority of Bedlam’s patients were sadly anonymous and lost to history, the facility housed a handful of famous inmates. These included architect Augustus Pugin, who designed the interior of the Palace of Westminster (where the parliament meets), a motley crew of would-be royal assassins, and legendary pickpocket Mary Frith (aka Moll Cutpurse).

Perhaps the most larger-than-life patient that ever roamed Bedlam was Daniel, who’d served as a porter for Oliver Cromwell. Daniel was reportedly 229 centimeters (7’6 “) tall, which would have been a shocking sight in the 17th century, when few men topped 6 feet in height. Per Cromwell’s instructions, Daniel was outfitted with his own library.

A religious fanatic and alleged clairvoyant, Daniel had his own “congregation” inside Bedlam, which would gather to hear him preach. Daniel’s ability to see the future supposedly enabled him to predict several terrible events, including a plague and the Great Fire of London in 1666, which destroyed much of the city.

7Art

There’s little doubt that art often walks hand in hand with mental illness; painters like Edvard Munch, Vincent van Gogh, and Michelangelo all seem to have had demons that sparked their work. So too has Bedlam Hospital done its part to inspire.

Bedlam is depicted as the ultimate ruin of a man named Tom Rakewell in a series of paintings by artist William Hogarth created in the 1730s. The series, titled “Rake’s Progress,” sees Tom inheriting a fortune, which he blows on gambling and prostitutes. In the last of eight paintings, Tom lies prostrate on the floor of Bedlam while society ladies look on and fellow patients suffer through their delusions.

English artist Richard Dadd spent two decades as a patient in Bedlam. Likely a paranoid schizophrenic, Dadd became convinced that his father was the devil, and he stabbed him to death in August 1843. He fled to France to fulfill a lunatic plan to kill the Austrian emperor and the Pope (under the instruction of the Egyptian god Osiris, who he believed communicated with him). He was later captured when he attempted to attack another man with a razor on a train.

Dadd’s masterwork, “The Fairy Feller’s Master-Stroke,” was commissioned by Bedlam head steward George Henry Haydon. The painting, which Dadd spent nine years on before giving it away unfinished, is a window into Dadd’s disturbed mind. It is fantastical, yet filled with baroque details, Shakespearean context, and ties to folklore. It has inspired many over the years, including Freddie Mercury of Queen, who penned a song in honor of the painting.

6Brutal Treatments

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Psychiatric treatments have come a long way since Bedlam first opened its doors to the mentally ill. Today, we have reliable pharmaceuticals and established paths of psychotherapy. But in the past, treatments could be decidedly more traumatic.

Bedlam was run by physicians in the Monro family for over 100 years, during the 18th and 19th centuries. During this time, patients were dunked in cold baths, starved, and beaten. William Black’s 1811 “Dissertation on Insanity” described the asylum thusly: “In Bedlam the strait waistcoat when necessary, and occasional purgatives are the principal remdies. Nature, time, regimen, confinement, and seclusion from relations are the principal auxiliaries.” He went on to describe the use of venesection (an archaic term for bloodletting), leeches, cupping glasses, and the administration of blisters.

Bedlam was so horrific that it would routinely refuse admission to patients deemed too frail to handle the course of their therapies. As early as 1758, the conditions and treatments in Bedlam were described as archaic by people like William Battie, M.D., who managed his own asylums.

5Mass Graves

Many patients did not survive their stay in Bedlam. In recent years, excavations for England’s new Crossrail system have uncovered mass graves in London, including those of asylum residents and plague victims. After patients died, their families often abandoned them, and the bodies were hastily disposed of without benefit of a Christian burial. Hundreds of skeletons from Bedlam were discovered on Liverpool Street, at a site which is slated to become a modern ticket hall. Before construction can begin, 20 archaeology digs must be completed to comply with planning regulations.

Many of the remains date back to the 16th century and are being studied at the Museum of London before being reinterred. History describes a burial ground next to the hospital whose keeper was charged to “smother and repress the stenches” from the corpses within. Among the bones, even more ancient finds have been made, including a golden coin nearly 2,000 years old, depicting the Roman Emperor Hadrian.

4Dissections

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In the 18th and 19th centuries, anatomical studies were in vogue in Europe. Unfortunately, there was a vanishingly small supply of corpses to dissect; only those of indigents and executed criminals could be used for scientific purposes. This led to the grisly cottage industry of “body snatching”—raiding recently filled graves to sell the bodies to medical schools.

In the late 1790s, a man named Bryan Crowther was brought onto the staff of Bedlam as the chief surgeon. Crowther was tasked with attending to sick patients, but he was much more interested in them after they died. As mentioned, families were often uninterested in claiming their deceased relatives, allowing Crowther freedom to carve them up. He was particularly interested in dissecting their brains, searching for some physiological mechanism responsible for mental illness. Although his activities were highly illegal, even blasphemous, he was able to carry on with these experiments for some 20 years.

3Corruption

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When control of Bedlam transferred from the church to the crown, a certain amount of corruption was inevitable. The majority of this vice was rooted in embezzlement. Donations of food and other provisions would be taken or otherwise sold by management, leaving patients on starvation rations.

Perhaps the most sinister reign was that of John Haslam, who was appointed to head Bedlam in 1795. Haslam believed that mental illness could be cured but only after breaking the will of the patient. This was accomplished through any number of the aforementioned tortures. Haslam’s ugly tenure came to an end after a visit to the hospital by Quaker philanthropist Edward Wakefield in 1814. Knowing full well what a horror show they had on their hands and fearing bad publicity, Bedlam personnel tried to keep him out, but he eventually gained entry in the company of a hospital governor and a member of the British Parliament.

Wakefield witnessed horrifying conditions. He saw naked, starved men chained to the walls. The worst case was one James Norris, who was clad in a harness with chains running into the wall and into an adjoining room. When the staff saw fit, they would yank on the chains, slamming the unfortunate Norris into the wall. Wakefield inquired how long this had been going on, and Haslam told him between 9 and 12 years. This led to a long public inquiry of the goings-on within Bedlam. Haslam blamed the conditions on his chief surgeon, the butcher Bryan Crowther. Eventually, both men were let go, and Bedlam began taking steps toward more humane treatment of patients.

In 1863, Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum was opened, and it accepted Bedlam’s most infamous and criminal patients, including Richard Dadd. With that, Bedlam’s notoriety dipped considerably, and today, it operates as Bethlem Royal Hospital.

2Political Prisoners

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Reasons existed to lock people away at Bedlam besides the treatment of psychiatric issues. Certainly, there were few better ways of silencing an opponent than trapping him in a mental institution. Not only would the person be out of your hair, but the stigma of being a patient at an asylum would undoubtedly damage said enemy’s credibility if he were ever released.

One of the strangest figures in the hospital’s history was a man named James Tilly Matthews. In the wake of the French Revolution, tensions between England and France were mounting, and the possibility of war seemed imminent. Matthews traveled to France, seemingly of his own accord, in an effort to defuse the situation. He was soon locked up by the French on suspicion of being a spy, but after a few years, his claims convinced them that he was merely insane, and he was returned to England. He immediately accused Lord Liverpool, the British Home Secretary, of treason.

Matthews was locked away in Bedlam, where he unspooled a bizarre tale, claiming that he was a secret agent and that his mind was being controlled by the mysterious “Air Loom Gang.” This group used a machine to control his mind by way of a magnet implanted in his brain. Matthews claimed the gang was intent on forcing a war with France. His family believed the dark forces in play were all within Matthews himself, and they had two different doctors go to the hospital to examine him. Both claimed he was quite sane.

None other than the aforementioned John Haslam took a shine to Tilly, using him as the subject for his seminal work Illustrations of Madness. The treatise seemed definitive proof that the man was, in fact, insane and not the unfortunate victim of political scheming. By most accounts, this served as the first fully documented case of paranoid schizophrenia. However, with the exception of his claims about the Air Loom device, Matthews was extremely intelligent and well spoken. Some believe that he merely cracked under the pressure of being used as a pawn in the machinations of two governments.

1Human Zoo

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The most notorious aspect of Bedlam was its availability to the public. It was expected that friends and family would drop in on patients, but for many years, Bedlam was run like a zoo, where wealthy patrons could drop a shilling or two to roam the fetid hallways. These visits were so frequent that they made up a significant portion of the hospital’s operating budget.

Wandering through a facility for the mentally ill was not without its attendant risks. While most patients were probably more of a danger to themselves than anyone else, there was also no shortage of psychopaths manacled to the walls. There was also always the chance that some poor, tormented soul might empty his chamber pot over your head.

Henry Mackenzie’s 1771 work The Man of Feeling described a visit to the hospital as follows: “Their conductor led them first to the dismal mansions of those who are in the most horrid state of incurable madness. The clanking of chains, the wildness of their cries, and the imprecations which some of them uttered, formed a scene inexpressibly shocking.”

Read more: http://listverse.com/2014/04/02/10-crazy-facts-from-bedlam-historys-most-notorious-asylum/

Top 10 Macabre Collectibles

Some people collect stamps, others collect newspaper clippings (perhaps even toenail clippings), and some even collect humans skulls and skins and penis castings. All collections must have a beginning. Perhaps they are sparked from an indescribable fascination, or a love for something unique or odd. Is it a peculiar form of classification, or even a means to siphon off from celebrity / idol hype and contemporary trends? There just may not be a way to fully comprehend the complexities of human wonder. Some examples below have become businesses or resources to like minded individuals with special interests. I allow the reader to question what is macabre. With some collections listed, controversy and lawsuits (in regards to proper ownership and various ethical dilemmas) abound to this day. In no particular order.

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With over 100 skinned masterpieces of the tattooed deceased variety, you won’t see any new age “Celtic/tribal” bands or Warner Bros. cartoons here. Dr Katsunari Fukushi’s full body inked skins are traditional Japanese “tebori” (hand-applied). With a goal to preserve and study, Fukushi’s collection includes one of a kind Yakuza skins dating as far back as the 1920’s. They can be viewed, on request, at the University of Tokyo.

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The “Bone Palace” of Ray Bandar is home to 7000 skulls. The only place free of this biologist’s collection is in the bedroom (at his wife’s demand). 79 year old Bender has been skull and bone collecting for more than 50 years! That’s dedication! With official permits in hand, he has been able to get his skulls from virtually anywhere around the globe. His specimens come from zoos, beaches, and even off the road.

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Dr. Stanley B. Burns Collection has a most revered historical photographic collection, with operating room images, depictions of diseases and the effects of war on the body, post mortem photos and malformations or anomalies, along with criminality behaviors depicted in public lynching and executions. It is the largest of it’s kind in the US, with more than 60,000 images.

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Peter the Great’s “Kunstkammer” is the result of 15 years of collecting the oddities and the rarities of Russia and the world, before making it available to the public in 1719. Animals with two heads or multiple legs or pickled punks are among Frederik Ruysch’s amazing anatomical dioramas (which included fetal skeletons surrounded by “trees” of their own preserved circulatory systems) and in the early days of the museum; live “freaks” were on display.

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Interested in obtaining a true likeness of great men, Laurence Hutton (1843-1904) set out to acquire death masks of historical or well-known figures. Some in the collection include Napoleon, Beethoven, Shakespeare, Goethe, Newton and Charles XII who was killed in battle (the bullet’s entry is visible above his right brow). Today the Hutton collection is housed at Princeton University and is available for viewing online.

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What began in 1968, as a way to “meet awesome men” and to fulfill a college assignment, led to Cynthia Plaster Caster casting famous (and not so famous) penises. Rock stars and road manager’s make up most of her subjects. In the early days, Cynthia’s casting partner would permit the appropriate oral contact – in order to make a good impression. More recently she has included women in her collection. Jimmy Hendrix, Jello Biafra, and Karen O are among her better known donors.

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While the “killer clown”, John Wayne Gacy, was spending the rest of his life in jail, Rick Staton became his exclusive art dealer, becoming one of the first of America’s top collectors of murderabillia. Some well known “murderabillia” buyers include painter, Joe Coleman, Lux Interior and Poison Ivy from The Cramps and shock rock performer Marilyn Manson. The Son Of Sam Law does not allow a killer to profit from his crimes (i.e.: movies or books), but murderabillia has become an internet phenomenon and new laws have been difficult to pass, as first amendment rights are contested, so buying and selling is likely to continue. One proposal is the “Stop The Sale Of Murderabillia To Protect The Dignity Of Crime Victims Act”.

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They can be sold down to the follicle and by the inch! Lincoln, Kennedy, Monroe, Einstein, Lennon and Presley are among John Reznikoff’s hair reps. When Britney shaved her head, guess who was super eager to get her locks? Reznikoff became more widely known for his small donation of Beethoven’s hair to LifeGem, a memorial service company that made three synthetic diamonds from the resulting carbon.

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For more than a year, General Horatio Gordon Robley (1840–1930) made detailed drawings, from life, of the early Maori (New Zealand’s earliest settlers) and their face and body tattoos. He also collected as many of their heads that he could, seeing them as works of art. When later searching for a buyer, the New Zealand government turned him down and all but the best five ended up in New York’s American Museum of Natural History. Over more recent years, New Zealand has been trying to get Robeley’s collection back, (along with other moko heads in different institutions), with varying success.

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Walter Potter (1835-1918), a self taught taxidermist, created strange tableaux of small dead animals, that he arranged in unnatural or humanlike situations. These include gambling rats being caught off guard in a raid, a couple of robins surrounding a tiny coffin in a funeral procession, and a yard filled with exercising toads. The collection was unfortunately broken up and sold at auction to different buyers in 2003.

Contributor: Diogenes

Read more: http://listverse.com/2008/05/30/top-10-macabre-collectibles/

10 Of The Weirdest Alien Encounters People Really Claim To Have

There’s a certain template people have for how they envision aliens. The hypothetical beings will be featureless, grey, small and slender-bodied. Additionally there is a perceived formula for how the alien encounter/abduction goes. Someone in an isolated environment sees a glowing ship and is taken on board for medical experiments, then returned with their memories partially suppressed or erased.

But many close encounters of the third and fourth kind are hugely different from that. Some are much more bizarre and elaborate, others are counterintuitively uneventful (down to earth, as it were). These stories are sometimes so bizarre that you at least wonder how someone could have come up with them.

Are we saying that any of these encounters with non-Earthlings are real? Let’s just remember Carl Sagan’s comment that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Almost every instance here features rather ordinary evidence. Nevertheless, the stories are are not to be missed.

10Malaysia’s Tiny Aliens

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In Douglas Adams’s book The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, there is a passage where two powerful alien races send huge fleets to Earth. They cross galaxies and in their quest and fly for thousands of years on the way to their target . . . but don’t realize how small they are compared to Earthlings and all get swallowed by a small dog. A similar sort of alien encounter has been reported many times in Malaysia.

Probably the most notable story of this type occurred on August 19, 1970 to six kids playing in a heavily forested area. They later claimed they saw a UFO less than a meter across, from which five very humanoid aliens filed out. The main visible difference between them and a human being was that they were about eight centimeters (three inches) tall. Four wore blue outfits while one was in yellow with a spiked helmet, who the children interpreted as being the leader. They went to a tree and were attempting to install some sort of “aerial device” in it when one of the kids, identified only as K. Wignerswaran, attempted one of the few alleged civilian abductions of aliens. Unfortunately for him, it turned out that the aliens all possessed ray guns and began shooting at him and his schoolmates, driving them away and inflicting an insignificant wound to Wignerswaran’s thigh.

9Cardiff’s Fleet Of Space Thieves

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Earlier this year, the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense released a case file of hundreds of report they’ve received of UFOs and alleged extraterrestrial activity. By far the most high-profile story released was found on page 167 of the document. In 1992, a man in Cardiff, Wales reported that he and friends were out camping when they saw a group of 12-15 UFOs over their campsite. The fleet then “abducted” their car, a dog that was at the site, and their tent (you wouldn’t assume that would require 12 ships). The man was quoted as saying that the theft left him “gobsmacked.” How exactly a tent and car can be abducted as opposed to stolen was not explained. Unfortunately, it seems unlikely an investigation will ever uncover the desired answers—the reason these stories were released to the public was because the department for UFO analysis was being shut down.

8Voronezh’s Trigger-Happy Invader

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The Western Hemisphere naturally has no monopoly on stories of alien encounters. In fact, probably the most frightening one comes from Russia right around the time the Berlin Wall fell. In the Voronezh City Park on September 27, 1989, some kids were playing soccer when a red disc landed. Out came a three-eyed creature, standing 2.7 meters (nine feet) tall and holding a ray gun-like device, which it used disintegrate a boy identified by at least one source as Dmitri. After the alien took off again, the boy reappeared. While all the witnesses of the event were children, there were adults that saw the UFO itself, including police officers, as reported by the New York Times. It is also worth noting that that Voronezh was going through a period of UFO hysteria at the time.

7Brawl With An Alien

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In 1954, Gustavo Gonzalez and Jose Ponce were driving their truck along a lonely road outside Caracas, Venezuela when they rounded a corner and found a large luminescent sphere blocking their way. More annoyed that someone was disrupting traffic than the fact there was a sphere hovering over the road in front of them, Gonzalez got out to investigate.

At that point, a hatch opened on the ship, and out came three short, hairy humanoids. One of them jumped on Gonzalez, who was barely able to shake him off at first because the alien was both light and extremely strong. In the scuffle, the alien threw him 4.5 meters (15 ft) through the air. Gonzalez then drew his knife and tried to stab the alien with it, but found it’s body was like steel, and his blade glanced off. Still, the aliens were intimidated enough to get back in the ship and fly away, leaving the pair to report their odd encounter to the police. They got a surprise corroboration from a police officer who claimed he had seen the whole thing.

6An Alien Cookout

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Some people seemingly don’t get too worked up about encountering aliens. Among them is Joe Simonton. On April 18, 1961, in Eagle River, WI, a spaceship landed near his home and “Italian-looking” aliens disembarked. Of all things, the aliens evidentally set up a grill and started making pancake-like foodstuffs. Rather than abducting or threatening Simonton in any other way, they asked him through mime to fill a jug with water, which he did. When he came back, he saw the aliens had finished making some food and asked for some. He got four cakes, one of which he ate. Later he sent a few to local universities, which reported that the ingredient were all of earthly origin. If Simonton could encounter beings from beyond our world or understanding and mostly think to just fill their jug with water, it must be said that perhaps he was even stranger than the creatures he claimed to have seen. Reportedly much more bothersome to him were all the journalists that kept coming to the farm and interfering with his work.

5Aliens Out For Fertilizer

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Similar to Joe Simonton’s story in terms of amazingly casual encounters of the third kind was Newark farmer Gary Wilcox’s meeting with aliens on April 24, 1964. Seeing a cigar-shaped object he mistook for a crashed plane, he rode up to it on a tractor. It turned out to contain two beings in clothing that hid their faces. They told Wilcox that they were Martians and then began asking him questions. This lasted for over two hours until they eventually got down to business and explained that they were attempting to terraform Mars by way of studying samples of Earth soil. To that end they asked for a bag of fertilizer, as they had no cows on Mars. Wilcox obligingly went to retrieve a 75-pound bag only to find the Martians had left before he got back. So he left the bag. When he checked on the spot the next day, it was gone.

4Pier Zanfretta And The Lizard People

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We now head over to Italy, where a private security guard was driven to unusually dangerous extremes by an alleged encounter which left behind atypically strong (though still hardly conclusive) evidence. On December 6, 1978, he was out doing his rounds when he saw four lights coming toward the house he was guarding. Approaching the lights with pistol drawn, he saw that they were three meters (10 ft) tall, green-skinned, mouthpiece-wearing reptilian things with spikes extending from their heads. He claimed the aliens then seemed to hit him with some sort of heat beam. He sprinted away, radioed in, and then broke off contact, having to be found by a later security patrol. When he saw the other guards, he aimed his gun at them, but fortunately didn’t fire. When the scene was later investigated, very large unusual footprints (about 50 cm or 20 inches long) were found along with evidence of scorching among the trees, which indicated at least something out of the ordinary had happened.

But that wasn’t the end of it for Zanfretta. On December 26, the aliens returned, and this time they got him. As he later recalled under hypnotic suggestion, the aliens took him inside their craft and attached a sort of communication helmet to him. One of the aliens shot Zanfretta’s gun into a piece of metal, apparently to see what would happen. Zanfretta told the lizard men that he was afraid and wanted to be released. They obliged.

That was until they abducted him again on July 29, 1979, yet again on December 2, 1979, and a fifth time in 1980. On the fifth occasion, the aliens took him to a crystal mothership and showed him a frog-like being suspended in a tube that they claimed was an enemy of their species. Through it all, they provided very little actual motive for why they repeatedly abducted a security guard for short periods. As with others we’ve described, Zanfretta seemed to benefit very little from his claims, and in fact spent decades languishing in obscurity after an initial media flurry over his claims.

3Lee Parish Is Abducted By . . . Structures?

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On January 27, 1977, 19-year-old Lee Parish was driving home when he claimed his car was lifted into the air by a beam of light. Under hypnosis, Parish later described being taken before three strange objects that looked so unlike any known life that he could only guess that they were sentient. One was a large, black, 20-foot-tall rectangle, with a jointless robotic arm extending from it. There was also a red rectangular prism with a similar arm, and a motionless white prism about two meters (six feet) in height. Somehow, the white one gave the impression that it was the leader. The red prism approached him and extended the robot arm, with Parish getting the sense that it was afraid of him. Nevertheless, when it touched him, it gave him a sensation of coldness and pain. Parish thought that was done to run a scan on him. After that, the three objects merged together, dispelling a later impression among some UFO enthusiasts that the things were robots. The next thing Parish was aware of, he was back in his car. Analysis of his missing time indicated the reported experience lasted 38 minutes.

2Brains On The Road

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On August 17, 1971, John Hudges and Paul Rodriguez were driving home in Palos Verdes, California when they saw aliens on the road. They looked like cerebrums, with the smaller of the two slightly bigger than a softball. The larger of them had a large red eye, and began to float toward them. The pair immediately hightailed it away, and Hodges dropped Rodriguez off at his home.

But when Hodges got home, the aliens returned, and this time he was taken to their leaders. According to Hodges, these were aliens of a type more commonly described, with the brains essentially pets that they used for telepathic communication. Why they would let the brains wander free or reveal their existence to their first human contact was not explained.

1Aliens Elaborately Stalk Ed Walters

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In 1988, Gulf Breeze, Florida became the epicenter of a string of UFO sightings and photographs mostly centering around one Ed Walters. With their unusually non-aerodynamic structure, color scheme, and general shape, the UFOs Walters (and allegedly other people) photographed looked less like interstellar craft of galactic villains and more like they should be on tilt-a-whirls—which is very fitting for the odd experience he described.

Starting on November 11, 1987 and ending May 1, 1988, the Walters family claimed to have 20 encounters with aliens that were flying around in an estimated 20 ships, with him seeing at most six crew members to a ship. This was exhaustively described in his book The Gulf Breeze Sightings. Walters’s book also has the odd photo of himself and his family members. One photo has him standing in a towel on the deck allegedly yelling, “Land, or get the hell away!” at a UFO. Another has a blue beam that the aliens purportedly used as a tractor beam of sorts being dodged by his terrified wife. From first photographing a UFO to the end, he experienced such weird telepathic signals as a woman speaking Spanish to a baby, a series of images of dogs, and (some days later) a bunch of images of naked women (“if this was to try to persuade me to board the ship, it wasn’t working”). At one point, they dumped liquid onto his home, some of which landed in a pool. It turned out to be salt water.

Additionally, aliens showed themselves to him repeatedly, both while he was driving at night and outside the sliding glass back door. The road encounter was where he came up with the assumption there were six to a ship: Five disembarked the ship, and he assumed one stayed aboard while it hovered. They were 1.2 meters (four feet) tall and though their faces looked like those of stereotypical aliens with black eyes and almost no features, they were only visible through slits in helmets because the aliens were supposedly dressed in blocky, bulky armor, of a type almost never reported since.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2013/09/07/10-of-the-weirdest-alien-encounters-people-really-claim-to-have/

10 Horrifying Hospitals You Never Want To Stay In

Hospitals are, by and large, pretty creepy. After all, you’re talking about big, sterile, labyrinthine structures where people often go to die. And that’s just actual medical hospitals. We haven’t even touched the insane creepiness of mental hospitals, which kick things up two or three notches based on their purpose and history alone.

Either way, there’s a reason that a lot of scary movies are based on old, run down and abandoned hospitals. These buildings are all over the world, and many of them are creepy for reasons beyond just looking the part. Here are 10 of the most horrifying hospitals to avoid at all costs.

10Royal Hope Hospital
Florida, USA

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Located in St. Augustine, Florida, Royal Hope Hospital was a Spanish military hospital from 1784 to 1821, before eventually being demolished. A replica of the original hospital was later built to house the wounded during the Seminole War. Eventually, St. Augustine city workers were attempting to repair some water lines and dug in the area of the old hospital, only to discover that it had been built on what appeared to be an old Native American burial ground.

Yes, we are talking about a real-life example of the infamous horror movie trope (Poltergeist was scary, okay?). As you might expect, due to its rather gruesome history, and the fact that it was constructed on those sacred grounds, many reports have suggested it is, in fact, one of the most haunted places in all of Florida.

In the surgeon’s office, there have been reports of the equipment shaking on its own; while in the ward, visitors have said that the beds have actually jumped and knocked at their legs as they passed by. All of this despite the fact that it is not the original building. However, those who believe say the spirits of those who died at the hospital have remained on the grounds through all of these years.

9Tranquille Sanatorium
Canada

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Located on Kamloops Lake in British Columbia, Canada, Tranquille Sanatorium began its life as a ranch before the owners began caring for tuberculosis patients. It was converted to a full hospital in 1907, specifically meant to treat victims of TB. After treating more than 4,000 patients over the years, it closed in the 1950’s and wild rumors began to surface that, at the time of its closing, there was no sign of patients or staff, though that has been more or less proven to be false.

It would eventually reopen, primarily serving as a hospital and training facility, but then shut its doors for good in 1985. You may actually recognize it from several movies, including the recent version of The A-Team, as well as several television shows. Over the years, there have been reports of mysterious floating orbs throughout the facility, inexplicable feelings of sadness, unease and sudden drops in temperature. There have also been reports of mysterious voices and spectral figures, including that of a nurse who was allegedly murdered by a patient.

8Sai Ying Pun Psychiatry Hospital
Hong Kong

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Located in Hong Kong, Sai Ying Pun was a mental hospital built in 1892. It has come to be known as the High Street Ghost House due to the many tales of the supernatural that have emerged. It was initially used as living quarters for the nursing staff until World War II. At that time, it was rumored to have been seized by Japanese soldiers and used as an execution hall. Serving as a mental hospital from 1947 to 1961 (then the lone mental hospital in all of Hong Kong), it became a psychiatric out-patient facility until 1971.

Nowadays, you would never know of its ghostly rumors by looking at it, as it is a community center housing several charity organizations. When it was abandoned in the 1970’s, rumors started to circulate of the sounds of a woman crying, or a loud, thunderous sound emanating from the building. Mysterious footsteps, visions of a devilish man appearing on the second floor before bursting into flames and decapitated spirits wandering the halls at night have all been reported.

7Nocton Hall Hospital
England

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Unlike most other hospitals, Nocton Hall began life as a stately manor home until World War I, when it was taken over and used by American forces as a place for injured soldiers to rest and recuperate. It was used again during World War II as a military hospital and has been used in a similar manner ever since, including as an American military hospital during the Gulf War. The intimidating building was abandoned in 1995, and multiple cases of arson rendered it unusable again.

Stories abound of one ghost in particular haunting the grounds–a sobbing spirit of a young girl whose presence has been reported by various people who have stayed at the building. She is said to haunt one specific bedroom more than others, with numerous people claiming to have been awoken at exactly 4:30 in the morning to see the spectral girl standing at the foot of the bed, crying. The story continues that she is apparently the ghost of a servant girl who was raped and murdered by the son of the man who owned Nocton Hall before it became a military hospital.

6Old Changi Hospital
Singapore

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Built in 1935, Old Changi Hospital has become known as one of the most haunted sites in all of Singapore through the years. At the time it was built, it served as the Royal Air Force Hospital and was later used by the Japanese as a prison camp. It was right around this time that Old Changi Hospital became a torture chamber.

It should not come as a surprise then that there are regularly reported sightings of ghosts believed to be the victims of the Japanese. These days the now-abandoned building, which ceased operation in 1997, has been the site of many supernaturally themed shows, as camera crews attempt to catch evidence of an otherworldly presence in the decrepit, spooky rooms and corridors. Visitors to Old Changi also often come away with frightening stories of strange noises and encounters and, occasionally, feelings of nausea or tales of sensing a spirit following them even after they’ve left.

5Ararat Lunatic Asylum
Australia

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Today it is known as Aradale, but when it opened in 1867 it was called Ararat Lunatic Asylum, and it was the largest in all of Australia, featuring some bizarre and horrifying methods of treatment. Throughout its time as a functioning mental health “care” facility, Ararat housed tens of thousands of patients. It was also reportedly home to some of the most dangerous and violent psychotics in the world.

It remained open for 130 years, during which time a staggering 13,000 patients died there–probably why it is known as one of the most haunted places in all of Australia. The facility closed in 1998, but it was shockingly reopened three years later by the Northern Melbourne Institute of Technical and Further Education as a campus for the Australian College of Wine. Ghost sightings are still frequent, and haunted tours are given through various parts of the facility including the morgue. We’re sure that probably isn’t the slightest bit terrifying.

4Severalls Hospital
England

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There’s something especially terrifying about psychiatric hospitals, which is probably why so many are rolling in rumors and speculation about hauntings. Severalls Hospital in Colchester, England is no different, and it probably doesn’t hurt its haunted reputation that it was once known for conducting psychiatric experiments like full frontal lobotomies and substantial electroshock therapy.

In a rather terrifying twist, it has been suggested that these treatments, which were deemed cures, were used on people who exhibited moodiness or teenage defiance. Also as frightening is the fact that several of the female patients were committed by their families after birthing bastard children, often the result of being raped.

The hospital opened in 1913, with actual psychiatric treatments shutting down in the early 1990’s. It closed altogether in 1997, and it has since been subject to rampant vandalism but has remained otherwise largely untouched. Of course, it likely will not remain untouched for long, as current development plans could result in the hospital being torn down in order to repurpose the land. Still, ghost hunters frequent the facility and are particularly drawn to the mortuary (because why wouldn’t they be drawn to the mortuary?).

3Athens Mental Hospital
Ohio, USA

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The Athens Mental Hospital, located in Athens, Ohio, opened its doors in 1874 and over the years adopted a few different monikers, including the Athens Hospital for the Insane, and it stayed in operation until 1993. By the 1950’s, the hospital was treating more than 1,800 patients at once, and became famed for the infamous lobotomy procedure and housing violent criminals. Over time, the hospital became known as The Ridges, though its history has been somewhat shrouded in mystery.

The mystery is largely due to the fact that any information about patients is kept under tight wraps, with special permission needed from the state of Ohio to gain access. There are also more than 1,900 people buried on the grounds, with their headstones marked by number only, no names attached. Eventually, a large portion of the grounds was given to Ohio University.

One thing that gives this hospital an extra creep factor is the 1978 disappearance of a female patient. Her body was found a year later in an abandoned ward, and you can still see a stain on the floor where her corpse was found, more than three decades later.

2Taunton State Hospital
Massachusetts, USA

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Located in Taunton, Massachusetts, Taunton State Hospital was built in 1854 as a psychiatric hospital, and it boasts a rather horrifying history. One of the hospital’s most famous patients was Jane Toppan, a serial killer who confessed to having murdered at least 31 people while working as a nurse. And yet, according to some of the stories, the people who ran Taunton State Hospital may have actually been even more terrifying than many of the criminally insane patients it housed.

Rumors persist that some of the doctors and nurses would take the (obviously unwilling) patients into the basement and use them to conduct satanic rituals, and in its later years both patients and doctors reported feeling a tremendous sense of unease when even approaching the door to the basement. Reports abound of a “shadow man” who would crawl on the walls and watch the patients. At least you wouldn’t feel lonely, right?

1Beechworth Lunatic Asylum
Australia

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Originally known as Mayday Hills Lunatic Asylum, Beechworth was a sister hospital to Ararat in Victoria, Australia, and was open for 128 years before shutting its doors for good in 1995. Both Beechworth and Ararat were opened in the same year after Victoria’s lone mental institution suffered became overcrowded. At its height, Beechworth housed roughly 1,200 patients, and it was remarkably easy to have someone committed, requiring only two signatures to do so.

There were reports of mysterious deaths and disappearances at Beechworth, and in the facility’s first laboratory for experimentation, operations and autopsies, jars filled with body parts adorned the shelves throughout the room. These jars have since vanished, as a fire took part of Beechworth in the 1950’s and the jars disappeared sometime around the restoration of the facility. Of course, when you consider that Beechworth’s first superintendent believed the moon caused insanity and therefore would never go out at night without an umbrella, some of these practices begin to make a big more sense. Overall, nearly 9,000 patients died at Beechworth, including a young girl who was mysteriously thrown from a window, her death going unsolved. Don’t worry–ghost and murder tours are still offered at the facility.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2013/06/21/10-horrifying-hospitals-you-havent-heard-of/

10 Roads That Will Scare You Stupid

All Hallow’s Eve. Samhain. Halloween. Call it what you want, but it is fast approaching!

We have all heard our fair share of urban legends, visited some “haunted” houses, been to these locations willingly. But what if we were simply trying to get from point A to point B? We had no intention of exposing ourselves to the paranormal, the supernatural. A lonely night time drive down the wrong (or right?) road is sometimes all it takes to end up with an encounter you were truly not expecting. The houses and castles seem to have been hogging all the ghosts lately, why not give the back roads and byways a chance to scare the pants off of us? Here are 10 roads that, according to legend, will more than deliver the goods.

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For over fifty years this road has been the scene of numerous hauntings. Reports of paranormal activity have been frequent enough that the road has been nicknamed ‘the Ghost Road’ It is thought to be Scotland’s most haunted road and has received hundreds of reports of unexplained sightings. In 1957 a truck driver saw a couple walk in front of his truck and he thought he hit them. When the driver stopped to investigate the couple were nowhere to be seen. This is something of a typical “ghost story” scenario, but that is what Halloween is all about after all!

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A one-mile section of Kelly Road, Ohioville, Pennsylvania is an area that has had numerous reports of paranormal activity and bizarre happenings. Reports say that when animals have entered this haunted stretch of road they suddenly turn from peaceful and quiet to violent (think Cujo), chasing after other animals and even people. The road is surrounded by dark, thick and creepy forest where white apparitions and noises that can’t be explained have been seen and heard. No one is quite sure why this short section of road is haunted but theories suggest that is could be somehow connected to cult activity that was once taking place in the area and curses that have been put on the land for some reason.

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Dead man’s curve is a dangerous turning intersection in Clermont County–according to the most common reports, at the place where 222 meets State Route 125. The road was part of the Ohio Turnpike built in 1831, and it has a long list of victims. On October 19, 1969, five teenagers died there when their 1968 Impala was hit at more than a hundred miles an hour by a 1969 Roadrunner. There was only one survivor: a guy named Rick. Ever since that day, the intersection has been haunted by “the faceless hitchhiker,” whom Rick has seen five times. It is described as the pitch-black silhouette of a man, a “three-dimensional silhouette.”

According to Haunted Ohio III, Rick’s friend Todd said “Rick and I were heading home from Bethel to Amelia. I noticed a man’s shape on the side of the road. It turned like it was hitchhiking, with an arm sticking up. The thing wore light-colored pants, a blue shirt, long hair and a blank, flat surface where the face should have been. We looked back. There was nobody there. I’ve also seen the black shadow figure, walking its slow, labored, dragging walk by the side of the road.”

Due to rerouting, the actual location of Dead Man’s Curve is somewhat in doubt. They say it is at 222 and SR 125, near Bantam Road. As you head east on 125, 222 turns right towards Felicity and Bantam Road turns left toward East Fork Lake State Park. The spot is just below a carryout.

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In the city of Belvidere in Boone Country, Illinois there is an intersection that has been the site of many hauntings, particularly the Bloodspoint Road. Other roads included in this local haunting are Wheeler, Flora Church, Pearl, Poole, Sweeney, Cherry Valley, Stone Quarry, Fairdale, and Irene. It is believed that the hauntings on these roads are a result of a number of tragic and spooky events that happened there in the past. These events include hangings, suicide, various train accidents and the purported inhabitation of a witch.

Scary Stocksbridge Bypass Bridge

Stocksbridge By-pass is formerly part of the M67 motorway in England, it was then downgraded to a dual carriage way and today it is just a single carriage way. The road, which was finished being built in 1989, runs around north side of the Stocksbridge and its valley. It has been the location of many hauntings. Over time there have been sightings of children playing late at night under the bridge and a monk who just stands and looks out. One sighting of the monk prompted a police investigation which ultimately provided no explanation. Other people have heard the sounds of children singing in the vicinity when there are none to be seen. Perhaps most frighteningly are the reports of people driving who have suddenly noticed an apparition of the monk sitting beside them in the car!

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To answer you question, yes, size does matter. Because in England, many people agree that the longest road is also its most haunted! Motorists making their way down this road have experienced unusual phenomena: Roman soldiers marching, an upset woman trying to hitch a ride, and lorry going the wrong way down the road! Apparently with 230 miles and 6 lanes, there is more than enough room for this parade of freaks. Next time you are utilizing the thoroughfare for travel, beware of a phantom pickup truck.

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Even if you don’t buy into the whole haunted roads business, you would be wise to exercise caution on this road. The road is very heavily used, yet it hasn’t been redesigned to take all of the modern traffic. It is notorious for it’s frequent traffic jams wrecks. And apparently, the ghosts are out to get you on top of this! Many claim that ghosts will suddenly appear in the middle of the road, causing the driver to swerve to avoid hitting the “person”. And to make matters worse, supposedly the ghosts of the crash victims are being added to the already high spirit count. Travel this road with caution, and keep an eye out for much less cautious “pedestrians”.

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Now known as Highway 191, the route (the sixth branch of the famous Route 66) is notorious for accidents, apparitions, and just plain bad luck. Linda Dunning writes on prairieghosts.com about an incident with her husband:

“He [author’s husband] was alone and hadn’t seen a car for miles and miles. Suddenly, he saw a truck that looked like it was on fire heading straight for him, right down the middle of the highway. The truck was going so fast that sparks were flying up off the wheels and flames were coming from the smokestack. It scared him so bad that he pulled way off the road and walked 20 feet or so out into the desert away from his car and waited for the truck to pass him, going what he estimated was 130 miles an hour. He then got back into his car and continued on.”

If you aren’t careful, hell hounds will shred your tires. A young girl walking down the road will vanish if you try to help her. If you are alone, a ghost may just take up residence in your back seat. Dunning has this to say for you advice:

“Take a lot of people with you and don’t leave any space for unwanted passengers who just might decide to appear in your backseat. Pull off the road if a huge diesel truck comes barring down on you from either direction. Don’t be curious to see if there is a driver in that single car passing you in the night. Don’t look for lights floating in the sky. Hope you don’t see any young girls in white dresses. Never stop if you spot something peculiar and don’t pick up hitchhikers. Lastly, if demon dogs approach you in the night, just keep driving.”

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“In November 1992 Ian Sharpe was heading up the A229 from Sussex into Kent. A girl in white with “beautiful eyes” stepped in front of his car and she disappeared under the front Wheels. In total despair Sharpe stopped the car believing he had killed her and was powerless to help.
On leaving the car he found nothing there. No girl, no body no white dress – or even any wildlife; a fox a badger or a rabbit. Not a sausage… I think you get the point.”

If you are faint of heart, this road is not recommended. Another contender for England’s most haunted road is A229. The local constabulary are not strangers to calls of people plowing into pedestrians, more specifically, a woman in white, only to lose track of the body. If you are passing Lower Bell pub towards Maidstone, don’t be too surprised if that hitchhiker vanishes before you reach your destination. The ghost lady is generally regarded as that of Judith Langham, who was tragically killed in a collision of her wedding day, still in her dress.

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“What is it about this road?” inquires the article on weirdnj.com. A question that has been on the minds of many. What causes all the weird happenings? While nobody can seem to answer the “why,” most can attest to the “what”.

If you are visiting the road at midnight, stop by the bridge at Dead Man’s Curve for a game of catch. Toss pennies into the water, and the ghost of a young boy will toss them back.
A gray wolf with red eyes will stalk you from the bushes.
Satan worshippers will hang hang up their bloody clothes to dry, right next to the mutilated animals.
The ruins of a castle reside in the woods.
If you find yourself in the wrong section of woods, expect to be chased out by Satanists or the Ku Klux Klan.
Weird animals, speculated to be survivors and interbred specimens from the abandoned nearby zoo, Jungle Habitat, from which most of the animals escaped.
A dangerous curve that has been the demise of many an unwary driver is rumored to be heavily haunted.
Phantom pickup trucks will gladly escort you from the road. Well, chase you.
Weird lights flying in the sky will draw you attention upward, away from the blood stains on the pavement.

This road is not a joke. Regardless of your stance on the paranormal, it is confirmed fact that many dangerous groups gather here for less-than-savory activities. And they do not like to be disturbed.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2009/10/29/10-roads-that-will-scare-you-stupid/

10 Freaky Dolls You Don’t Want To Play With

For many little boys and girls, a doll is more than a toy. It can be a friend, a sibling, a confidant. But tales also tell of dolls that take on a life of their own. Literally—they become possessed with departed souls (former owners?) or demonic spirits. Other dolls are just plain weird, with harrowing histories not meant for nurseries and playrooms.

10Patty Reed’s Doll

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A doll doesn’t need to be cursed or possessed to give someone the creeps. It might just have a strange facial expression or be missing body parts from years of moving around. Or it may have witnessed repeated acts of cannibalism.

Such is the case with Patty Reed’s doll. Patty, eight years old, was traveling to California in 1846 with her family and other pioneers, a group known to history as the Donner Party. As you may well already know, this group of travelers became snowbound and turned to eating bits of leather, mice, old bones—and, finally, each other.

Halfway through their journey, the Reeds asked Patty to get rid of all her toys and other unnecessary items to lighten the wagon’s load. Though she complied, Patty managed to smuggle her beloved doll beneath her voluminous dress. The doll, along with the entire Reed family, miraculously survived their hellacious journey west and was able to enjoy a comfortable life in San Jose. Patty’s doll is now on display at Sutter’s Fort State Historical Park Museum in Sacramento, California.

While this doll isn’t known to be haunted, it has a rather macabre place in history. It’s difficult to look at it and not immediately think of little Patty Reed chewing on human flesh. Patty and her doll’s experience is so compelling that a children’s historical fiction book was written about it in 1956 and has been educating kids ever since.

9Voodoo Zombie Doll

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Resembling something you’d pull out of your shower drain, this voodoo zombie doll originated in New Orleans and was sold through eBay to a woman in Galveston, Texas. The eBay listing gave rules to abide by while owning this doll. These included not removing it from its silver casing, a rule the woman broke as soon as the doll arrived. She would come to regret that decision.

The woman claims the doll haunted her dreams and would attack her repeatedly. She relisted it on eBay several times and succeeded in selling it, only to have the new buyer receive an empty box while the doll kept reappearing at her doorstep.

Haunted or not, the doll is made of string and cloth and overall looks like something you’d use to clean your oven, not play with. Most recently, the doll entered the possession of a self-proclaimed ghost hunter who hopes to figure out its mystery.

8Joliet

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What would you do if part of your family’s legacy was a haunted baby doll? That’s how life is for a woman named Anna, the current “mother” to a little baby doll named Joliet. For four generations, the women in Anna’s family have been cursed to keep up a cruel tradition. Each daughter gives birth to two children, a boy and a girl. In each case, the son mysteriously dies on its third day of life.

Anna’s been told Joliet was given to her then-pregnant great-grandmother by a vengeful friend. Soon after, her great-grandmother gave birth to a boy, only to have it die on day three.

Giggles and inhuman screams are heard in the night, coming from the doll. The family claims the cries of different infants can be heard, making the doll appear to be the vessel for all the baby boys lost over the years.

7The Devil Baby Doll

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New Orleans has a history rich with folklore and voodoo. Legend has it that during the 1800s, a daughter from an affluent family married a wealthy Scotsman. An angry, jealous ex-lover of hers sought revenge and asked the Queen of Voodoo, Marie Laveau, for help.

Laveau cursed the bride, a curse which came to fruition when the bride went into labor with her first child. The young mother died, but not before bringing a grotesque creature into this world. It is said this baby was the progeny of Satan himself. Laveau brought the baby home and cared for it up until her death. It’s rumored that once the baby died, it was buried alongside her in the Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1.

The citizens of New Orleans feared the Devil Baby. People say it would hide in the shadows and alleys, wrecking havoc wherever it went. To protect themselves, townsfolk would carve fake devil babies out of gourds and hang the dolls outside their homes to frighten off the real one. Some of these dolls are said to still exist today but are rare and highly coveted.

In the early 20th century, new versions of the Devil Baby dolls began appearing around New Orleans. These were said to look exactly like the real Devil Baby, and because of this, these dolls were said to be possessed.

Artist Ricardo Pustiano claims to have been able to buy remnants of the last remaining doll from that era and currently recreates them for purchase. Many customers have claimed these dolls are evil, following you with their glass eyes and moving on their own. They come with “buyer beware” warnings, because it appears the spirit of the Devil Baby is alive and well.

6The Pulau Ubin Barbie

Barbie is arguably the most popular doll in the world. So popular, in fact, that a dead girl requested it purchased for her from beyond the grave.

At the beginning of World War I, the British mistrusted many foreigners in their colonies, and the British army investigated one German couple in Singapore in 1914 as possible spies. The couple was caught, but their young daughter escaped, only to fall off a cliff and die. A shrine was erected in her memory by the locals in Pulau Ubin, with a porcelain altar that supposedly contains a lock of the girl’s hair and her crucifix.

The Barbie doll has only been there since around 2007. A man from Pulau Ubin had the same dream three nights in a row involving a white girl leading him to a toy store and to a Barbie doll within it. After the third night, the man went to that store during the day and found the doll he had seen in his dream. He bought it and placed it at the shrine, replacing an urn that had stood there. Townspeople and tourists now visit the doll, bringing offerings of items like lipstick and perfume, hoping the spirit of the girl will bring them good luck or heal them.

If you can’t make it to Singapore, you can at least buy Mattel’s “Haunted Beauty” doll for collectors. Sadly, the doll is only dressed in a ghostly manner, and it shows few or no supernatural tendencies.

5Elmo

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Since 1996, Elmo dolls have topped the holiday toy lists of children worldwide. There’s nothing to be remotely afraid of when it comes to this childlike monster . . . until he threatens to murder you.

Such was the case for the Bowman family. Back in 2008, two-year-old James Bowman had an Elmo Knows Your Name doll. The doll was programed to recite its owner’s name, along with various other personalized phrases. This particular doll not only knew James’s name but liked to include the word “kill” before it. Elmo would sing “Kill James!” repeatedly, until James’s distraught mother Melissa decided to put it out of the toddler’s sight.

The doll only began spewing death threats after its batteries had been changed. Fisher-Price, the manufacturer, offered the Bowmans a voucher for a replacement. It is unknown whether or not the family took the company up on their offer.

4Mandy

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Mandy is a porcelain baby doll made in England or Germany between 1910 and 1920 and donated to the Quesnel Museum in British Columbia in 1991. Mandy’s donor had said she would hear crying in the middle of the night coming from the basement, and it wasn’t until after she gave Mandy away that the crying ceased.

Though the crying stopped for the donor, strange occurrences continued as Mandy took up her new residency at the museum. Employees say lunches go missing, only to turn up elsewhere in the building. Footsteps are heard when no one is around, and office supplies like pencils and books always appear to be in a different spot from where they were last placed.

It took the museum some time to decide where to place Mandy. They say she couldn’t be encased with other dolls because she had a tendency to harm them. Visitors to the museum say her eyes will blink or follow you wherever you walk. She also likes to mess with camera equipment whenever anyone tries to photograph or film her.

3Pupa

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Pupa (Latin for “doll”) was made in the 1920s to resemble its Italian owner. That trend continues to this day with dolls such as the American Girl “Just Like You” line, but in those days, such dolls generally used their owners’ own hair.

Pupa’s owner claimed the doll spoke to her. After the owner died in 2005, the family put Pupa in a glass case, and reports say the doll now periodically changes position. Her facial expression changes as well, and she’ll tap on the glass as though she wants to get out. She’s also said to move items around in her display case.

2Letta The Gypsy Doll

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In 1972, Kerry Walton returned to his Australian hometown for his grandmother’s funeral. During this time, he decided to face a childhood fear by visiting an abandoned building that had scared him for years. When he went to this house, he discovered an old marionette underneath its porch. Kerry felt compelled to take it home with him, and they’ve been together ever since.

According to psychics, the doll was made 200 years ago by a Romanian gypsy for his son who had drowned. The gypsies believed in spirit transference, and dolls would act as a new home for the dead. The doll has real human hair, and underneath the scalp is a likeness of a human brain. He was given the name Letta, or Ledda, due to his European gypsy heritage, or because the doll occasionally screams, “Letta me out!”

Nothing evil has been reported surrounding this doll in recent years. In fact, after finding the doll, Walton’s luck changed for the better, and his collectibles business began to boom. Still, some quirks allegedly surround Letta. It will rain whenever he’s taken outside, and hanging pictures may fall off the wall when he enters a room. Dogs bark and attempt to attack whenever they’re near Letta, and people have said they feel inexplicably afraid and sad when they see him. Letta is also supposedly capable of moving on his own, changing positions while seated, and emitting a pulse while held.

1Chrystal, True, Monika, Sharla, Isaac, Lilly, Ashley, and Cameron

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No, these aren’t the names of multiple spirits inhabiting one doll. Instead, these are the names of the different possessed dolls that live with a family of five in rural Pennsylvania. The owners of these dolls purchased each one knowing that they were haunted. As investigators of the paranormal, the owners wanted to examine the dolls while also giving them a loving home. And for our viewing pleasure, a camera has been set up to record the dolls all day and night long. Some people enjoy watching puppies and kittens, others like watching a live feed of porcelain dolls. To each their own.

Occasionally, the camera does pick up some strange happenings around the dolls. In 2009, the camera caught an apparition of what is presumed to be a little boy appearing at the bottom of the steps.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2014/04/04/10-freaky-dolls-you-dont-want-to-play-with/

10 Reasons New Orleans Is Master of the Macabre

The roots of New Orleans run deep into the banks of Lake Pontchartrain—and for nearly three hundred years, their soil has been fertilized by blood.  Initially a French penal colony, it seems that the city has never really strayed too far from its nefarious roots.  Settlers gave it Christianity, slaves gave it voodoo, and the turbulence of the two religions gave New Orleans much of its rich culture.  

Ravaged by time and weather, today’s New Orleans is a mere shadow of its former self—and of course, everything is at its most sinister in the shadows. Here are ten of its most macabre aspects:

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In a city built on conflict and sustained by violence, it’s no surprise that the cemeteries of New Orleans are one of its most popular tourist attractions.  Still, the salient question remains: Why on earth don’t they bury their dead beneath the earth?

With parts of New Orleans located at seven feet below sea level, it is believed that the high water table would cause the bodies to float up out of the soil. Since the idea of what-used-to-be-Grandpa peeping up through the dirt seems to unnerve most people, above-ground sarcophaguses are used to house the dead.  These elaborate crypts can cost thousands, so they’re used over and over again; the decomposed remains of the previous tenant are simply pushed into a pit at the far end.

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From the eighteenth century until 1905, New Orleans was plagued by Yellow Fever.  Early superstitions alleged that spirits rising from the grave in search of home were the primary transmitters of the disease.  To prevent the spirits from finding their way home, people used a process called “Confusing the Spirits”.  

The coffin of the deceased would be placed on a carriage, and carried on a random path towards a cemetery on the outskirts of town.  A funeral procession would follow behind, banging pots and other noisemakers to confuse the spirits.  In a bizarre twist, this superstitious practice eventually evolved into today’s “Jazz Funeral”.  Only New Orleans could turn a plague into a party and thereby put the “fun” in funeral.

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Famed as “The Most Haunted Place In The French Quarters”, the LaLaurie Mansion has passed from one owner to another for nearly two hundred years.  Some of the more famous owners have included Anne Rice and Nicholas Cage—but the most infamous of the home’s titleholders was Delphine LaLaurie herself.

Delphine was a prominent socialite in New Orleans during the early 1800s.  Being of such elevated status, it was common for Delphine to throw extravagant parties.  Delphine had a unique compulsion, however; during these events, she would disappear for an hour or so, only to return in a different dress.  Given the cost of clothing back then, this was seen as an ostentatious display of her wealth.  Little did her guests realize that the true cause of her change in costume was far more horrifying than that.

On April 10, 1834, during one of Delphine’s famous parties, a fire broke out in the kitchen of her Royal Street residence. When the fire marshals got there, they found a slave chained to the stove by her ankle. The slave later confessed that she had started the fire in an attempt to commit suicide, for fear of being taken to the room above the kitchen. In her own words, “Anyone who had been taken there, never came back.” 

When rescuers investigated the room, they discovered Delphine LaLaurie’s chamber of horrors.  Inside, they found the mangled bodies of slaves—both living and dead. The room featured botched sex change operations, bizarre amputations, and other horrific medical experiments.

Word quickly spread about the atrocities and soon a lynch mob formed outside the LaLaurie Mansion.  But before the mob could inflict its justice, a stagecoach swept in and carried Delphine away.  New Orleans’ most notorious serial killer disappeared into the night, never to be seen again.

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Originally named the “Place Publique”, the local park served as a popular meeting place for people of color during the French and Spanish colonial periods.  After the American Revolution, the park was occasionally leased to the Congo Circus and was for that reason renamed “Congo Square”.  

During the frequent gatherings of slaves in Congo Square, voodoo ceremonies were often held to ensure love, fertility—and sometimes even death.  During its heyday, the great priestess Marie Laveau often came to Congo Square, where lucky onlookers could witness the great queen dancing with her snake.  Congo Square still exists today; it’s located in Louis Armstrong Park, where the annual Jazz Fest is held.  Voodoo practitioners still deem the park to be sacred, and consider Congo Square to be rich in spiritual energy.

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For those who are not afraid to commune with the departed, an offering to a dead voodoo priestess can make all their dreams come true.  Located in the most haunted cemetery in the United States, Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1, you will find the burial place of Marie Laveau.  At this sacred spot, believers can leave offerings and then draw three X’s on the side of the tomb, in hope that their wish will be granted by the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans.

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Spookily, if you visit Saint Louis Cemetary No. 1 you’ll notice that many of the tombs have been opened. Grave robbery is not unheard of in New Orleans—and with voodoo being a long-practiced dark art, we can only hope that the violators merely came for grandma’s pearls.

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As if the cemeteries of New Orleans weren’t filled with enough local victims, it seems that the city isn’t opposed to the idea of importing non-locals.  The Gardette-Laprete House at 716 Dauphine Street was built in 1836, and in 1937, it was rented out to a young Turkish man who went by the title of Sultan.  The “Sultan” kept a large harem in the house, along with his family and a group of eunuch servants.  

The Sultan was a very private man, who never drew much attention to himself from the other residents of Dauphine Street.  At least, not until the day a pool of blood was noticed trickling out from beneath the front door of his home.

When police investigated, they found that the entire family and entourage had been butchered.  The carnage was so horrific that human heads had to be counted in order to determine the exact number of victims.  The Sultan himself was found to have been buried alive in the backyard.  To this day, the murders have never been solved—but some locals say that ghosts still walk the premises, and that the screams of the victims can still be heard.

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On January 26, 2013, a Secret Service dog fell to its death from the roof of a six-story parking garage. It thus died in the line of duty, while working to protect Vice President Joe Biden in New Orleans. The K9 agent appeared to simply jump from the parking lot roof near the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, where Biden was speaking at a fundraiser. Who can tell what evil forces were at play—and what Biden did to offend them?

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The levees of New Orleans were designed to withstand Category 3 hurricanes—but Katrina peaked at a Category 5, with winds reaching up to 175 miles (280km) per hour.  Unprepared for the onslaught, the levees were breached in fifty-three different places.  An estimated eighty percent of New Orleans was soon under water, which was nearly twenty feet (6m) deep in some places.  The final death toll from the hurricane was 1,836, with 1,577 of those deaths occurring in Louisiana.  More than seven hundred people are still reported missing today as a result of the storm.

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In 1994, 421 people were murdered in New Orleans, which translates into 85.8 per 100,000 people. This set a record for homicides that no other major American city has been able to touch.  In fact, New Orleans has averaged fifty-six murders per 100,000 people for the past decade—nearly ten times the national average. In 2012, New Orleans slipped to third on the list of America’s Deadliest Cities; but considering that it has held the number one slot for eleven out of the past twelve years, there’s no doubt that it will soon regain its title as the Murder Capital of America.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2013/06/09/10-reasons-new-orleans-is-master-of-the-macabre/

10 Creepy Mysteries Shown Through Images

One of the best things about image lists is that it enables us to bring together some of the most fascinating items from an array of topics. Mysteries fascinate us all and this image list exposes not just ten, but thirty incredibly interesting enigmas categorised by mystery type. Add your own favorite mysteries to the comments. Each image has a small blurb explaining what it is.

From the Bermuda triangle to stonehenge, our planet is filled with mysterious places that fill our minds with wonder and thrills. Stonehenge is a place filled with mystery – was it used by Druids for sacrifices or was it an ancient calendar? And what about Atlantis – the famed ancient city; where is it or did it even exist?

Untold numbers of people have tried to decipher the mysterious Voynich manuscript. As yet none have succeeded in translating a single word. Filled with crazy but beautiful images this is truly a strange document. Even computers have failed to unlock the secrets buried inside.

Who were the mysterious green children that suddenly appeared out of nowhere in England in the 12th century. They so fascinated the people who came into contact with them that they have remained in our history books ever since. And then there is Gil Perez – the soldier who appeared in a strange land only to find out two months later that he vanished from his homeland on the very same day he appeared. How could he travel from one country to another within minutes?

The most famous – and perhaps fascinating – entry on this list is Big Foot. Ever since the fake film made the rounds we all passionately fell in love with the idea that some pre-modern human creature exists and is wandering alone in the forests or mountains. While the most famous pictures are fake – not all can be proven so yet.

For me these are the most fascinating mysteries of all – objects appearing in archeological digs which appear to be from the far future. Some of these artifacts are batteries from ancient times, electric lights in Egyptian times, and a spark plug that is between 100 and 500 thousand years old. You can’t help but wonder whether this could be evidence of time travel.

The Loch Ness Monster. Everyone knows him but there are many other mysterious creatures from the deep that have charmed (mermaids) or horrified (the kraken) us for centuries. It seems that almost every huge body of water – be it an ocean, sea or lake, has one or more of these monsters in them.

These may be mysteries from folklore but in every case there are some examples of potential real-life versions. I am talking about werewolves, vampires, and zombies. The zombie apocalypse is not far away so this is definitely a deserved entry on the list.

Humans, animals and inanimate objects: they have all been attributed as the vessel of God in working miracles. The most fascinating to me are stigmata (a human who spontaneously bears the wounds of Christ), incorrupt corpses (saint’s bodies that defy nature and do not rot like St Bernadette above), and statues that weep blood or tears with no known explanation.

We all love UFOs and aliens. For what other reason would there be so many movies being made about the subject and the huge number of hoaxes being uncovered all the time. Here we see three very famous examples of these mysterious other-worldly creatures and their preferred methods of transportation.

Ghosts have been with us since the time that man first thought. Virtually every human culture has a description of the spirits of the dead returning to us after life. I have chosen three of the most famous images for this item as they are the ones that have withstood time and seem to defy debunking.

Read more: http://listverse.com/2012/11/21/10-creepy-mysteries-shown-through-images/