The Internet is a black hole. You start by looking at one article, then another, then suddenly it’s 2am and you’re watching YouTube videos of nightclub fires and that time a helicopter decapitated three actors on set of “Twilight Zone: The Movie”. (Oh, is that just me? Maybe that’s just me.)
The Incident Where A Dead Girl Was Exhumed — Because People Thought She Was A Vampire
If you’ll allow me to go all Sophia Petrillo on you… picture it: Rhode Island, 1883. The family of George and Mary Brown begin to suffer from one of the era’s deadliest diseases, tuberculosis. Then called consumption, the sickness spreads from one member of the family to another. First to go is Mary, the mother, then her daughter Mary — just six months later. She was 20.
A few years went by without any issues when 24-year-old Edwin, the Browns’ only son, contracted the illness. His father, George, was mad with grief. He couldn’t bear to lose another member of his family to tuberculosis, let alone the sole carrier of his name. George took his son to the doctor, then traveled west with him to Colorado Springs for further treatment. Edwin seemed to be getting better, when suddenly tragedy struck again.
In their absence, 19-year-old Mercy contracted a “galloping” form of tuberculosis (these people just couldn’t catch a break, could they?) and passed away quickly. It was a terribly cold winter, so rather than being buried in the ground too hard to dig through, she was left in an above-ground crypt to be buried when the spring thaw began.
Turns out dying makes you see crazy shit because he started telling people that one night, he opened his eyes to find his super-dead sister sitting on his chest, attempting to suck what little life remained out of him. You see what he’s saying here? He thought his sister was a freakin’ vampire.
Well, as we all know, New England in the 1800s wasn’t exactly the most level-headed of times. Already a superstitious community, that one night terror was all it took for townspeople to start spreading rumors. Mercy was walking around the graveyard at midnight! Mercy was wandering through the local crops! Mercy can’t eat garlic bread!
Then they made the biggest leap of all: Mercy was indeed a vampire and had caused Edwin’s illness herself. Since no one really understood how tuberculosis worked, folklore at the time suggested it had nothing to do with science and EVERYTHING to do with undead activity. Surely Mercy’s vampiric status was what caused all the bad luck in the Brown family and definitely not the fact that we didn’t have actual medicine yet.
George was either sick of the rumors or persuaded by the townspeople; either way, he ordered the exhumation of all three deceased family members. Both Marys were found in significant states of decomposition — uh, yeah, they’d been dead several years — but Mercy was found hardly decomposed at all. In fact, her skin looked great and her hair and nails had continued to grow. VAMPIRE! FOR REAL NOW!
What the poor silly townspeople didn’t take into account was that because Mercy was basically kept in a freezer since her death, decomposition had been slowed. Like, a lot. But that didn’t deter them from removing her organs — you know, just to be totally sure — and when they dripped what they interpreted as “liquid blood”, that was the final nail in the coffin (AHAHAHAHAHA) for ol’ Mercy.
Acting on what I assume was just pure guesswork by now, the townspeople burnt her heart on a rock and proceeded to mix the ashes in water to produce a miracle cure for Edwin. Who then, you know, died two months later. But at least the vampire was defeated, I guess…?
Locals still claim that the cemetery where Mercy was eventually given a rightful burial is haunted by her spirit. To me, the spookiest thing about this story isn’t the idea of a demonic bloodsucker, but the lengths to which human hysteria will reach for an answer to tragedy.
This Real-Life Hannibal Who Was Looking For A Voluntary Victim And FOUND ONE
Sometimes I can’t believe that what I’m writing about is a real thing that happened and this is one of those things but here we go. Armin Meiwes is a German computer repair technician known as the Rotenburg Cannibal or, alternately, Der Metzgermeister (The Master Butcher.) That set the stage for you? Then don’t blame me for what you read next.
In the early 2000s, Meiwes took to a cannibal fetish website called The Cannibal Cafe in search of a willing participant in their own murder/human flesh feast. His post read that he was “looking for a well-built 18- to 25-year-old to be slaughtered and then consumed.” Who would sign up for something like that, right? It’s crazy. Everything probably turned out fine.
Nope. After several people answered the ad and — like normal sane people who do not wish to be eaten — backed out, Meiwes finally got a bite (I am so great with puns.) Bernd Jürgen Armando Brandes went to Meiwes’ home on March 9, 2001. Together they made a video of Meiwes severing Brandes’ penis and they went about trying to eat it, first raw, then fried in a pan with salt, pepper, wine, and garlic. Too bad, it got burnt and he couldn’t eat it after all, so like the swell guy he is Meiwes chopped it into chunks and fed it to his dog.
While Brandes bled to death in the tub, Meiwes read a Star Trek book for three hours, occasionally giving him large amounts of alcohol, 20 sleeping pills, and a full bottle of schnapps before kissing and killing him in a room Meiwes called “The Slaughter Room”. When Brandes was finally dead, Meiwes repurposed his flesh for 10 months (10 MONTHS!!!!!) worth of meals and ground his bones to flour.
He was arrested in December of 2002 when new advertisements for victims — and gory details about his first successful catch — started popping up online. He is in prison for life, but don’t worry… he’s since become a vegetarian.
The Couple That Was Abandoned At Sea By Their Diving Group And Never Seen Again
So I learned about this sad story when I made the poor choice of watching “Open Water”. See, I have an intense fear of sharks (despite being super landlocked) and deep ocean water but I was like “Hey, I write horror, I need to face my fears sometimes! I need to know what it’s like to be scared!” Yet I forgot that my shark-phobia was induced by childhood nightmares of my friends being eaten by sharks in front of me so watching this movie was a bad bad bad idea but hey, at least I learned something and I’m here to share it with you now.
“Open Water” was inspired by (read: basically the exact same situation of) Tom and Eileen Lonergan, a married couple from Baton Rouge who went scuba diving in the Coral Sea on January 25, 1998. This was an even worse idea than me watching the movie in the first place because GUESS WHAT they were accidentally stranded by the company they paid to take them scuba diving. It wasn’t until almost two days later that anyone even noticed they were gone.
Searchers looked for them for three days with no results. It’s assumed they died at sea — or if you’ve seen “Open Water” SPOILER ALERT eaten by sharks which is literally my nightmare — but afterwards, fisherman found a diver’s slate with this message: “[Mo]nday Jan 26; 1998 08am. To anyone [who] can help us: We have been abandoned on A[gin]court Reef by MV Outer Edge 25 Jan 98 3pm. Please help us [come] to rescue us before we die. Help!!!”
I’m uncomfortable just writing about this. Sharks are the worst. They have dead eyes and sharp teeth and probably ate the Lonergans and thanks to their story I will never go deep-sea scuba diving ever. EVER. YOU HEAR ME?
This Toxic Woman Who Was Straight Out Of An X-Files Episode
February 19, 1994, housewife Gloria Ramirez was taken to the emergency room of Riverside General Hospital. She was in the late stages of cervical cancer and extremely confused.
Doctors immediately began to medicate Ramirez. Nothing seemed to help, however, and her heart failed. Staff tried to restart it via a defibrillation machine; it was then that several of the nurses noticed her body was covered in an oily sheen. Some even said there was a fruity/garlic odor coming form her mouth. When Susan Kane, a registered nurse, tried to draw blood from Ramirez’s arm she noticed an ammonia-like scent coming from the tube the blood was in.
She handed this off to Julie Gorchynski, one of the residents who noticed strange particles floating in the blood. Shortly after that, Kane fainted and was taken out of the room. A few minutes later, Gorchynski felt nauseous and light-headed. She left the room and sat down, but after a coworker asked if she was okay Gorchynski fainted too. Meanwhile, in Ramirez’s room, another staff member passed out — Maureen Welch, a respiratory therapist.
Upon seeing all these people so apparently affected by Ramirez, everyone was told to evacuate the trauma room — and all the ER patients as well — to a parking lot outside the hospital. All that remained was a skeleton crew who worked on Ramirez until 8:50pm; 45 minutes of CPR and defibrillation couldn’t revive her, and she was pronounced dead. Cause of death: kidney failure.
Meanwhile, the staff members who had passed out weren’t doing so hot. Gorchynski was experiencing uncontrollable shaking and apnea. Welch couldn’t control her limbs. Kane complained of a burning face. Sally Balderas, a nurse who went back in the hospital to help isolate Ramirez’s body, began retching and also felt burning on her skin.
Weird, right? What the hell was wrong with the woman? Well, after the strange case of Gloria Ramirez, the health department sent in two scientists to get to the bottom of things. Here’s the bizarre stuff they discovered:
- Of the 37 emergency room staff members, 23 of them experienced at least one symptom.
- High risk victims of the symptoms had worked within two feet of Ramirez and handled her IV lines.
- Women were more likely to experience symptoms than men.
- Their blood tests post-exposure came back normal.
The closest the scientists got to an answer was a theory that Ramirez had been using dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) as a home remedy for pain, mainly based on the garlic-like taste and the fact that it’s greasy (like Ramirez’s skin was.) They suggested the DMSO built up in her system due to urinary blockage from her failing kidneys.
However, many people doubt this theory (and it does seem to be reaching.) But with no other answers, the authors Hock and Seigel say “beyond this theory, no credible explanation has ever been offered for the strange case of Gloria Ramirez.”
The Infamous Bank Robber Whose Dead Body Ended Up As An Amusement Park Prop
I’m starting to have that feeling that I shouldn’t spend so much time on the Internet because I find out stuff like this — things that are so crazy I can’t believe they actually happened. Allow me to introduce you to Elmer McCurdy.
Elmer McCurdy was a bank/train robber who lived a pretty typical life for someone born in the late 1800s. You know, thought his biological mother was actually his aunt, drifted around America boozin’ it up, trained as a machine gun operator in the Army, started robbing trains using nitroglycerin… man, my life suddenly seems super boring now.
In 1911, during a bungled robbery of a Katy Train in Oklahoma, McCurdy was killed while trying to steal $400,000 meant for the Osage Nation. Apparently not that bright, he and his men stopped a passenger train instead (oops.) They made off with a grand total of $46, two bottles of whiskey, a revolver, a coat, and the train conductor’s watch. (Because SCREW YOU CONDUCTOR! Let’s see you get places on time now!)
But that is not the end of “The Bandit Who Wouldn’t Give Up”. His body went unclaimed and a weird undertaker decided to embalm him, shave his face, dress him in a suit, and store it in the back of the funeral home because apparently he wanted ghosts real bad. He refused to release or bury the body and started displaying it (!!!) in the corner of the funeral home. For a nickel, you could see his dead body. The past was strange.
McCurdy became something of a popular attraction and many carnival promoters tried to purchase his body but the undertaker said no. In 1916, two men claiming to be McCurdy’s brothers took custody of the body. They were not, in fact, his brothers, but rather James and Charles Patterson — owner of the Great Patterson Carnival Shows. McCurdy was featured as “The Outlaw Who Would Never Be Captured Alive” until 1922 when the traveling carnival was sold to Louis Sonney. (Why were there so many traveling carnivals back then? Did everyone just work at a traveling carnival? Was it just so the past would be extra creepy when we looked back on it? I NEED MY QUESTIONS ANSWERED!)
Sonney decided to showcase McCurdy’s corpse in his “Museum of Crime”. His body wasn’t doing too well by this point; he had shriveled and shrunk to the size of a child and his skin deteriorated quite a bit. Here’s the kicker: because the Museum of Crime was mostly wax figures, when Sonney died in 1949 McCurdy’s corpse was sent to a Los Angeles warehouse with the rest of the pieces.
From there, he appeared in 1967 film She Freak, a wax museum at Mount Rushmore, and eventually ended up as a prop in the “Laff In The Dark” funhouse at The Pike — an amusement park in Long Beach, California. Think about how many people went through that place with no clue there was a dead bank robber hanging above their heads. Yuck.
In 1976, the crew of popular TV show The Six Million Dollar Man was filming scenes for an episode at The Pike. A prop man moved what he thought was a weird old wax mannequin hanging from a gallows and accidentally broke off an arm. Well, that mannequin was McCurdy, and when his arm broke off, human bone and muscle tissue were visible. I’m assuming that prop man probably shit his pants and never went to funhouses ever again.
In 1977 he was finally buried next to another outlaw, Bill Doolin, in Guthrie, Oklahoma. The traveling bandit was, at last, put to rest.