Forgotten Darkness

Strange things are lost and forgotten in obscure corners of the newspaper.

July 3rd, 2020    

74 - Earle Leonard Nelson, Part Two

The police are on the trail of “Adrian Harris,” even as Earle Leonard Nelson leaves the West Coast behind for a cross-country killing spree at a considerably quickened pace. But his spree comes to an end in June, 1927...

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Intro music “Strange Dream” by David Hilowitz.

Opening music from "Dark Child" by Kevin MacLeod ( License: CC BY (

Closing music by Soma.


“Assailant Uses Telephone Cord.” Owensboro (KY) Messenger, June 3, 1927.

“Buffalo Murderer Eludes Detectives in All-day Search.” Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, June 1, 1927.

“Buffalo Police Cannot Find the Murderer.” Dunkirk (NY) Evening Observer, May 31, 1927.

“Butcher’s Helper Quizzed in Slaying.” Washington Evening Star, June 3, 1927.

“Clues Lacking in Dual Killing.” Detroit Free Press, June 7, 1927.

“Crime Puzzles Police.” York (PA) Dispatch, April 28, 1927.

“Detroit Police and a Double Murder.” Greenfield (IN) Daily Reporter, June 7, 1927.

“Dragnet Out For Strangler of Philadelphia Woman.” Scranton Times-Tribune, April 28, 1927.

“Fiend Suspect Tries to Enter W. Phila. Home.” Philadelphia Inquirer, April 29, 1927.

“Find Strangler Placed Another Woman in Terror.” Davenport (IA) Daily Times, December 25, 1926.

“Find Woman Dead Behind Furnace.” Lincoln (NB) Journal Star, December 24, 1926.

“Finds Wife Slain in Home.” Kansas City Times, December 28, 1926.

“Funeral Rites For Mrs. Ida Ann Clements Held Friday Afternoon.” Hennessey (OK) Clipper, July 1, 1948.

“’Gorilla’ Kills Woman.” Arizona Republic, June 3, 1927.

“Housewives Murdered By ‘Phantom Strangler’.” New Castle (PA) News, January 3, 1927.

“Mrs. John Berard, Former Hennessey Woman, Murdered.” Hennessey (OK) Clipper, December 30, 1926.

“Murder in Chicago is Not Solved.” Sioux City Journal, June 5, 1927.

“No Sign of Fight Found By Police.” Lancaster (PA) Intelligencer Journal, April 29, 1927.

“Police on Strangler’s Trail.” Winnipeg Tribune, June 13, 1927.

“Shirt Murder Still Baffles Bluffs Police.” Des Moines Register, December 26, 1926.

“Take Up Murder Theories.” Kansas City Star, December 29, 1926.

“Which Will Be Next City to Harbor Death Fiend Now Crossing Country?” Lancaster (PA) Intelligencer Journal, January 6, 1927.

“Woman Thwarts Attempted Attack.” Philadelphia Inquirer, April 20, 1927.

“Young Girl Seized By Phila. Strangler.” Camden Courier-Post, April 29, 1927.

Atlas of Kansas City, Missouri and Environs. Tuttle-Ayers-Woodward Co., 1925.

Schechter, Harold. Bestial: The Savage Trail of a True American Monster. New York: Pocket Books, 1998.

June 16th, 2020    

73 - Earle Leonard Nelson, Part One

Throughout 1926 and 1927, a so-called "Dark Strangler" roamed up and down the West Coast and eventually across the country.  Earle Leonard Nelson was one of the more prolific American serial killers, but his name isn't as well known as many others.  In the first part, I'll look at his crimes on the West Coast.

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“6th Murder Laid To New Strangler.” Oakland Tribune, August 19, 1926.

“Admits Attack On Many Women.” Muncie (IN) Star-Press, August 13, 1926.

“Aged Victim, Choked, Ribs Crushed, is Found Dead.” San Francisco Examiner, June 11, 1926.

“Alameda Girl Routs Attacker.” Oakland Tribune, June 13, 1926.

“Bay Woman Will Bury Slain Sister.” Oakland Tribune, October 25, 1926.

“Cafe Owner of San Jose is Held As Strangler.” Sacramento Bee, October 20, 1926.

“Dark Killer Strangles S.F. Woman.” Oakland Tribune, November 19, 1926.

“Dark Strangler Suspect Laborer on Merced Ranch.” Modesto News-Herald, August 19, 1926.

“Dark Suspect Identified As Old Offender.” San Francisco Examiner, August 22, 1926.

“Death Witnesseses To Face Suspect.” Oakland Tribune, August 22, 1926.

“Finds Mother Murdered in Attic Trunk.” Salem (OR) Capital Journal, October 20, 1926.

“Fingerprints Only Clues in Strangling.” San Francisco Examiner, February 22, 1926.

“Foster Kin of Mystery Victim Finds Body in Attic.” San Francisco Examiner, February 21, 1926.

“Jewels Held As New Clew to Strangler.” San Bernardino County Sun, December 2, 1926.

“Key, Jewels Give Clue To Strangler.” Oakland Tribune, November 20, 1926.

“Landlady of Yoloan is Victim of Strangler.” Woodland Daily Democrat, March 6, 1926.

“Man Sentenced For Attack.” San Francisco Examiner, December 11, 1926.

“Maniac Held For Slaying; Doubt Sanity.” Albany (OR) Democrat-Herald, August 12, 1926.

“Mysterious Strangler Kills Woman in Portland.” Sacramento Bee, November 30, 1926.

“New Clues Spur Search For Slayer.” Oakland Tribune, August 17, 1926.

“Police Sure ‘Strangler’ Was Fulton St. Slayer,” San Francisco Examiner, November 20, 1926.

“Says Suspect Not Slayer of His Aunt.” Modesto News-Herald, June 16, 1926.

“S.F. Woman Attacked in Bed at Home.” San Francisco Examiner, June 14, 1926.

“S.F. Woman Strangled to Death.” Oakland Tribune, February 21, 1926.

“Spouse Finds Rich Woman Strangled.” San Francisco Examiner, March 3, 1926.

“Strangler Identified.” Pottsville (PA) Republican, August 12, 1926.

“’Strangler’ Kills S.F. Woman, 63.” Oakland Tribune, June 11, 1926.

“Third Woman Found Victim of Strangler.” San Francisco Examiner, March 5, 1926.

“Two Women Beat Off Strangler.” Oakland Tribune, March 6, 1926.

“Wealthy Widow Slain in Home.” Spokane Chronicle, November 25, 1926.

“Withers Case Jury Fails To Reach Verdict.” Roseburg (OR) News-Review, October 28, 1926.

“Woman Foils Strangler in Apartment House Attack.” San Francisco Examiner, March 14, 1926.

“Woman Found Strangled in San Jose Home.” Stockton Independent, March 3, 1926.

Graysmith, Robert. The Laughing Gorilla: The True Story of the Hunt for One of America’s First Serial Killers. New York: Berkley, 2009.

Schechter, Harold. Bestial: The Savage Trail of a True American Monster. New York: Pocket Books, 1998.

May 26th, 2020    

72 - The Dwayyo and the Snallygaster

In the 1930s, a flying creature haunted Maryland, one whose name became almost synonymous with freakish beings. And thirty years later, another animal, one which was connected in some people’s minds to the previous one. These are most of the original accounts of these two creatures as described in the newspapers.

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Closing music by Soma.


“Bovalopus Scares Emmitsburg Folks.” Hagerstown Daily Mail, March 6, 1909.

“Bovalopus Snallygaster Swoops Down on Village.” Baltimore Evening Sun, November 25, 1932.

“Dwayyo Could Be A Modern Snallygaster.” Frederick News, December 3, 1965,

“Dwayyo Hunt Flops.” Frederick News, December 9, 1965.

“Dwayyo Hunt Planned.” Frederick News, December 6, 1965.

“Dwayyo Hunt Tonight.” Frederick News, December 8, 1965.

“Dwayyo Monster is Still Running Loose.” Frederick News, December 1, 1965.

“Elusive Dwayyo Still Uncaptured.” Frederick News, December 2, 1965.

“Hark! Ghastly Bovalopus Terrorizes Mountain Folk.” Camden (NJ) Morning Post, November 26, 1932.

“John Barleycorn Ends Career of Snallygaster.” Baltimore Evening Sun, December 1, 1932.

“Marylanders Oil Their Guns To Hunt That Danged Bovalopus.” Pittsburgh (PA) Press, November 27, 1932.

“Mysterious Dwayyo On Loose in County.” Frederick News, November 29, 1965.

“Saw the Vampire.” Cumberland Evening Times, February 8, 1909.

“Snallygaster Made First Boonsboro Visit Back in 1909.” Baltimore Evening Sun, November 25, 1932.

Opsasnick, Mark. The Maryland Bigfoot Digest: A Survey of Creature Sightings in the Free State. Xlibris, 2004.

May 14th, 2020    

71 - Dr. Francis Tumblety

Called a “notorious quack,” Dr. Francis Tumblety was a peddler of fake medicines, an abortionist, part of the Lincoln assassination plot, or even Jack the Ripper – depending on who you believe. We’ll look at his career and crimes and whether or not he’s even viable as a Ripper suspect.

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Opening music from “Anguish” and "Dark Child" by Kevin MacLeod ( License: CC BY (

Closing music by Soma.


Buffalo (NY) Evening Post, July 25, 1856.

London Times, December 1, 1873.

New York Herald, February 8, 1869.

Rochester Daily Union and Advertiser, April 4, 1881.

Saint John (New Brunswick) Morning Freeman, October 16, 1860.

“Dr. Tumblety.” Buffalo Evening Courier and Republic, March 13, 1862.

“Dr. Tumblety.” San Francisco Chronicle, November 23, 1888.

“Dr. Tumblety’s Case.” Montreal Pilot, September 25, 1857.

“Dr. Tumblety Has Flown.” New York World, December 6, 1888.

“Dr. Tumblety in New York.” St. Thomas (Ontario) Weekly Dispatch, March 28, 1861.

“Dr. Tumblety Kills A Man and Runs Away.” Detroit Free Press, October 7, 1860.

“Dr. Tumblety Talks.” Troy (AL) Messenger, February 7, 1889.

“Eccentricities of Dr. Tumblety.” Pittsburgh Dispatch, June 6, 1889.

“Fortune Won By Herbs Root of Bitter Fight.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 28, 1903.

“Herbs, Salts and Cider.” Brooklyn Eagle, April 27, 1890.

“Inquest.” Saint John (New Brunswick) Morning Freeman, September 29, 1860.

“Jack is Back.” Lansing (MI) State Journal, November 10, 2002.

“Law Intelligence.” Montreal Pilot, September 28, 1857.

“Legal Medicine – Tumblety Affair.” Le Courier du Canada, November 4, 1857.

“Legal Medicine – Continuation of the Report of Mr. LaRue.” Le Courier du Canada, November 6, 1857.

“Mendacity of Quacks.” Boston Medical and Surgical Journal, vol. 91 (1875).

“Police.” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, May 6, 1864.

“Police Court.” Montreal Pilot, September 26, 1857.

“Recollections of a Police Magistrate.” Canadian Magazine, vol. 54 (November 1919 – April 1920).

“The ‘American Doctor’ and His Patients.” Liverpool Mercury, January 19, 1875.

“The Arrest of Dr. Tumblety, the Indian Herb Doctor, on a Charge of Attempting to Procure an Abortion.” Montreal Pilot, September 23, 1857.

“The Assassination.” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, May 4, 1865.

“The Case of Mr. Tumblety.” Montreal Pilot, September 24, 1857.

“The ‘Eccentric’ Dr. Twomblety.” New York World, November 19, 1888.

“The Indian Doctor in Court.” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, May 10, 1864.

“The Missing Tumblety.” Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle, December 3, 1888.

“The Search for the Whitechapel Murderer.” Pall Mall Gazette, December 31, 1888.

“The Tumblety Case.” Montreal Pilot, September 30, 1857.

“The Whitechapel Murders.” Quebec Daily Mercury, November 22, 1888.

“To the Editor of the Pilot.” Montreal Pilot, September 16, 1857.

“Tumblety Arrested.” New York Evening World, June 5, 1889.

“Tumblety is in the City.” New York World, December 3, 1888.

“Tumblety is Missing.” New York World, December 2, 1888.

“Watch Him.” St.Louis Evening Star-Sayings, December 3, 1888.

Riordan, Timothy B. Prince of Quacks: The Notorious Life of Dr. Francis Tumblety, Charlatan and Jack the Ripper Suspect. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 2009.

Shelley, Thomas J. “Twentieth Century American Catholicism and Irish Americans.” In Making the Irish American: History and Heritage of the Irish in the United States (J.J. Lee and Marion R. Casey, eds.).

Tumblety, Francis. A Few Passages in the Life of Dr. Francis Tumblety, the Indian Herb Doctor. Cincinnati: Published by the Author, 1866.

May 1st, 2020    

70 - The Lost Ninth

Sometime around the middle of the First Century AD, the Ninth Legion of the Roman army completely disappears from all records. In the oldest story I've yet covered on the podcast, I'll take a look at the known history of the Ninth Legion, as well as the theories on what happened to it.

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Opening music from "Dark Child" by Kevin MacLeod ( License: CC BY (

Closing music by Soma.


Cassius Dio. Roman History.

Mantel, Hugo. “The Causes of the Bar Kokba Revolt.” The Jewish Quarterly Review 58:3 (January 1968).

Tacitus. Agricola.

̶. Annals.

Thornbury, Walter. Old and New London (vol. 2). London: Cassell, Petter & Galpin, 1878.

April 18th, 2020    

69 - The Brownout Strangler

Cities during wartime often eliminate outdoor lighting, and severely limit indoor lighting, to cut down on the effectiveness of air raids. Most famous of these blackouts are those utilized in Britain during the two World Wars, and particularly in London during the German raids of the Blitz. The Australian government used a similar tactic to combat Japanese air raids, though these restrictions were eased in the middle of 1942. Around that time, a killer prowled the streets, taking advantage of the darkened conditions.

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“Albert Park Mystery.” Melbourne Age, May 8, 1942.

“Another Woman Murdered.” Melbourne Argus, May 11, 1942.

“Charge Against U.S. Soldier.” Melbourne Age, June 8, 1942.

“Hunt for Killer of Woman.” Melbourne Argus, May 13, 1942.

“Inquiries Into Death of Woman.” Melbourne Argus, May 6, 1942.

“Murder Clue Sought.” Melbourne Argus, May 22, 1942.

“Murder Inquiry Continued.” Melbourne Argus, May 19, 1942.

“Murdered Bendigo Woman.” Riverine Herald, May 12, 1942.

“Mystery Death of Woman.” Melbourne Argus, May 5, 1942.

“Sanity Tests of U.S. Soldier Completed.” Melbourne Argus, July 11, 1942.

“Signed Confession By Leonski Alleged.” Melbourne Age, July 14, 1942.

“Spring St. Murder Mystery.” Melbourne Argus, May 14, 1942.

“The Parkville Tragedy.” Melbourne Age, May 21, 1942.

“Woman Murdered in Melb. Suburbs.” Border Morning Mail, May 4, 1942.

“Woman's Body in Doorway.” Melbourne Age, May 11, 1942.

“Woman's Death Puzzling Police.” Brisbane Telegraph, May 4, 1942.

Darian-Smith, Kate. On the Home Front: Melbourne in Wartime, 1939-1945. Carlton, Victoria, Australia: Melbourne University Press, 1990.

Schechter, Harold. Psycho USA: Famous American Killers You Never Heard Of. New York: Ballantine, 2012.

Shaw, Ian W. Murder at Dusk: How US Soldier and Smiling Psychopath Eddie Leonski Terrorised Wartime Melbourne. Sydney: Hachette Australia, 2018.

March 31st, 2020    

68 - The Dagg Poltergeist

In 1889, a lonely farmhouse in southern Quebec was afflicted by a series of ghostly manifestations, which seem to be centered on a Scottish orphan girl living in the home.

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“Dagg's demon.” Ottawa Journal, November 25, 1889.

“Dagg's dupes.” Ottawa Journal, November 29, 1889.

“Dinah a ventriloquist.” Ottawa Journal, November 29, 1889.

“Is it Beelzebub?” Vancouver Daily World, December 5, 1889.

“Mayor Geo. Dagg of Portage passes.” Ottawa Citizen, May 30, 1938.

“Mysterious noises in home had whole country on edge.” Ottawa Citizen, March 18, 1939.

“Outstanding personalities of the Ottawa district.” Ottawa Citizen, June 29, 1935.

“This beats them all.” Philadelphia Inquirer, January 13, 1890.

“Remarkable spontaneous manifestations.” Light: A Journal of Psychical, Occult, and Mystical Research (December 28, 1889).

Lackner, Chris. “The strange ghost that spooked Shawville.” Ottawa Citizen, November 18, 2014.

Playfair, Guy Lyon. This House Is Haunted. Guildford: White Crow Press, 2011.

Thormahlen, Judy. “Revived Shawville ghost mystery divides community into two camps.” Ottawa Citizen, April 9, 1959.

Wilson, Colin. Poltergeist: A Classic Study in Destructive Haunting. Llewellyn, 2009.

March 19th, 2020    

67 - The Murder of Betsy Aardsma

On November 28, 1969, Betsy Aardsma was stabbed and killed among the bookshelves of the Pattee Library at Penn State University. 50 years later, the case remains unsolved, with the main suspect having died in 2002.

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“5 refused help, says girl who found slain coed.” New York Daily News, December 1, 1969.

“Beaten coed said improved slightly.” Port Clinton (OH) News-Herald, December 2, 1969.

“Clarion coed admits wounds self-inflicted.” Franklin News-Herald, December 17, 1969.

“Clarion coed slashed.” New Castle News, December 4, 1969.

“Co-ed knifing baffles police.” Oberlin (OH) Review, December 5, 1969.

“Coed buried while slayer hunt continues.” Port Huron (MI) Times-Herald, December 3, 1969.

“No evidence of an intruder at Clarion.” Kane Republican, December 11, 1969.

“Oberlin coed 'fair' in vicious knife attack.” Dover (OH) Daily Reporter, December 1, 1969.

“Ohio U co-ed found beaten.” Akron (OH) Beacon-Journal, November 25, 1969.

“Out of hospital.” Akron (OH) Beacon-Journal, December 11, 1969.

“Probe of attack being continued.” Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader, December 12, 1969.

“Robert G. Durgy.” Lansing (MI) State Journal, December 22, 1969.

“Six killed on state highways.” Lansing (MI) State Journal, December 21, 1969.

“Stab death hunt tries drawings.” Pittsburgh Press, December 5, 1969.

“Stabbing of college co-ed in Arb labelled as attempted murder.” Oberlin (OH) Review, December 2, 1969.

Glembocki, Vicki. “Who Killed Betsy Aardsma?” The Penn Stater, September/October, 2009.

Hogge, Erin. “Murder in the Stacks: 50 Years Later, Still No Answers.” The Daily Collegian, December 10, 2019.

Sherwood, Derek. Who Killed Betsy? Uncovering Penn State University's Most Notorious Unsolved Crime. Pine Grove Press, 2011.

Williams-Herrman, Elizabeth. “Haunted Libraries of Pennsylvania.” Supernatural Lore of Pennsylvania (Thomas White, ed.). Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2014.

March 3rd, 2020    

66 - The Disappearance of Benjamin Bathurst

Shortly after the signing of the treaty of Schönnbrun in October of 1809, bringing an end to Austrian involvement in the Fifth Napoleonic War, a British official on a mission to the Austrian court vanished without a trace. He was in Germany, on his way back to British territories, and while examining his horses at an inn near Berlin, he walked around to the other side of his horses – and disappeared, never to be seen again. Or that's the way it's usually told.

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“A century old mystery.” London Observer, December 18, 1910.

“A mysterious crime.” Hull Packet and East Riding Times, September 26, 1862.

Baring-Gould, Sabine. Historic Oddities and Strange Events. London: Methuen & Co., 1889.

Dash, Mike. “The Disappearance of Benjamin Bathurst.” Fortean Times 54 (Summer 1990).

Fraser, Mary Crawford. Storied Italy. New York: Dodd, Mead, and Co., 1915.

Lang, Andrew. The All Sorts of Stories Book. London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1911.

Machen, Arthur. Dreads and Drolls. New York: Alfred A, Knopf, 1927.,_comte_d%27Antraigues

February 18th, 2020    

65 - The Ratcliffe Highway Murders

In December 1811, two households in the borough of Wapping, one of the docks districts of east London were annihilated in a pair of brutal and apparently motiveless crimes. After the crimes, the murderer was disposed of in a novel and unusual fashion. Twenty years later, they were described in Thomas De Quincey's satirical essay “On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts” as “the sublimest and most entire in their excellence that ever were committed.”

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Caledonian Mercury, September 21, 1812.

Ipswich Journal, December 28, 1811.

“Another horrid murder!” Bury and Norwich Post, December 25, 1811.

“Another massacre – coroner's inquest on the dead bodies of Mr. Williamson, and family.” Leeds Mercury, December 28, 1811.

“Important examination.” Leeds Mercury, December 28, 1811.

“Murder of Mr. Marr and family.” Caledonian Mercury, December 14, 1811.

“Murder of Mr. Marr and family.” Hull Packet and East Riding Times, December 17, 1811.

“Murder of Mr. Marr's family in Ratcliff Highway.” London Observer, December 15, 1811.

“Murders in New Gravel Lane.” London Morning Chronicle, December 24, 1811.

“Murders in New Gravel Lane, &c.” London Times, December 24, 1811.

“The late murder in Ratcliffe Highway – examination of suspected persons.” Jackson's Oxford Journal, December 21, 1811.

“The late murders.” Jackson's Oxford Journal, January 4, 1812.

“The Marr's murder.” Exeter Flying Post, June 1, 1815.

“Williams, the murderer.” Caledonian Mercury, January 4, 1812.

“Williamson's murder.” Jackson's Oxford Journal, February 1, 1811.

De Quincey, Thomas. “Postcript to 'On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts.'” On Murder. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.

The Literary Panorama, Vol. XI. London: Cox and Baylis, 1812.

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