Forgotten Darkness

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

November 23rd, 2021    

94 -The Meeks Family Murders

In 1894, an injured young girl arrives on the doorstep of a Missouri farmhouse. She was Nellie Meeks, and she was the sole survivor of the murder of her entire family.



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

Closing music by Soma.


Burnt Clothing of Gus Meeks.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 27, 1895.

Crime of Fiends.” St. Joseph Herald, May 12, 1894.

Final Pleas Being Made.” Kansas City Star, August 1, 1895.

Jerry South Gets His Reward.” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 1, 1896.

Jury Receives Instructions.” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, August 2, 1895.

Looks Black for the Taylors.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 26, 1895.

Story of the Taylors.” Larned (KS) Eagle-Optic, September 13, 1895.

Taylor Is Hanged.” St. Joseph Herald, May 1, 1896.

Taylor Makes a Statement.” Mexico Weekly Intelligencer, April 30, 1896.

Taylor Taken to Carrollton.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 28, 1896.

The End of the Famous Meeks-Taylor Case.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 8, 1926.

The Taylors' Defense.” St. Joseph Weekly Gazette, April 2, 1895.

William Taylor Executed.” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 1, 1896.

William Taylor in Kansas City.” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, April 11, 1896.

Nellie L. Meeks - Facts (

John Blackwell Hale - Wikipedia

Thomas Miles Bresnehen (1860-1926) - Find A Grave Memorial

History in Hannibal: Folktale relates town's horror over Meeks' family murders | Article |

October 30th, 2021    

93 -Death Most Mysterious, Part Two

Several mysterious deaths are described here – two with hints of conspiracy and cover-up, those of Allyn King Foster and Rudolph Bogovich, and another case of apparently not-so-spontaneous combustion.



Part of the Straight Up Strange Network:

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Closing music by Soma.



Allyn King Foster – January 17, 1942

Authorities Probe Doctor's Death at Bellevue Hospital.” Hartford Courant, January 20, 1942.

Autopsy Clears Bellevue in Death.” New York Daily News, May 12, 1938.

Doctor's Death Being Probed.” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, January 19, 1942.

Experiments With Death Ray Seen Clue to Doctor's Insanity and Death.” Camden Morning Post, February 3, 1942.

Fears Death Ray Work Drove Surgeon Insane.” Brooklyn Eagle, February 2, 1942.

Probe Demanded in Bellevue Death.” New York Daily News, May 5, 1938.

Mystery Veils Violent End of Death Ray Inventor.” Philadelphia Inquirer, March 8, 1942

Refugee Inventor of 'Death Ray' Dies.” St. Louis Star and Times, September 1, 1942.


Rudolph Bogovich – January 6, 1945

Eerie Red Death Plot Here Alleged.” Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph, March 4, 1954.

F.B.I. Probes War Worker's Bomb Death.” Louisville (KY) Courier-Journal, January 7, 1945.

Human Bomb Death Unsolved.” Pittsburgh Press, January 14, 1945.

Probe Human Bomb Death of Westinghouse Worker.” Sunbury Daily Item, January 9, 1945.

Queer War Plant Death Stumps FBI.” Unionville (MI) Crescent, January 13, 1945.

Westinghouse Fires Five Accused Reds.” Pittsburgh Press, January 4, 1955. World War II the Westinghouse Electric and,in plastics%2C radar%2C x-rays%2C bombsights%2C and atomic energy.


Harold Hall – April 28, 1956

Benicia Death Laid to Cleaning Fluid.” Contra Costa Gazette, May 2, 1956.

Harold Hall of Benicia Fire Victim.” Contra Costa Gazette, April 30, 1956.

Mystery Burns Fatal to Benicia Man in Apartment.” Oakland Tribune, April 30, 1956.

1956, April 28: Harold Hall’s Fiery Death | Anomalies: the Strange & Unexplained (

October 4th, 2021    

92 - Death Most Mysterious, Part One

Several mysterious deaths are described here – a quartet of cases described by Charles Fort, those of Captain George M. Colvocoresses, the English case of Lavinia Farrar, Lillian Green and her death at the Lake Denmark Hotel in New Jersey, and the “locked door” death of New York launderer Isidore Fink.



Part of the Straight Up Strange Network:

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

Closing music by Soma.



Captain George M. Colvocoresses

A Tragical Enigma.” New York Times, July 1, 1872.

Colvocoresses – Murder or Suicide?” Hartford Courant, August 5, 1872.

Lavinia Farrar

Inquest.” The Times, March 16, 1901.

Lillian Green

Erskine Hotel Burned.” Passaic Daily News, December 26, 1916.

Miss Green Died Accidental Death.” Paterson Morning Call, December 28, 1916.

Mystery in the Death of Dover Woman.” Paterson News, December 27, 1916.

Mystery Shrouds Burned Woman.” Paterson Morning Call, December 27, 1916.

Isidore Fink

Laundryman Killer Flees Locked Room.” Brooklyn Times-Union, March 11, 1929.

Man Killed; All Openings Locked; Police Baffled.” Arizona Republic, March 12, 1929.

September 16th, 2021    

91 - The Kelayres Massacre

The election of 1934 saw Democrats gain headway nationally in the wake of the election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  But Republicans in Kelayres, Pennsylvania, dominated by the Bruno family, weren't going to go down without a fight.



Part of the Straight Up Strange Network:

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Closing music by Soma.


2 Commissioners Arrested for Plot in Bruno's Escape.” Reading Times, December 24, 1936.

14 Year Old Girl of Kelayres Has Flag Recognized.” Hazelton Standard-Speaker, January 15, 1935.

50 Republican Votes Gained in Kline Twp.” Pottsville Republican-Herald, November 13, 1933.

A Proclamation.” Hazleton Standard-Speaker, November 8, 1934.

Bruno Trial to Reach Jury By Next Friday.” Pottsville Republican and Herald, September 17, 1935.

Contest Kline Twp. Election.” Pottsville Republican, December 6, 1933.

Dramatic Scene as Woman Shouts Answer to Bruno.” Hazelton Standard-Speaker, January 29, 1935.

Eye-Witnesses in Kelayres Case Ready to Testify.” Hazelton Standard-Speaker, January 14, 1935.

Four Bruno Men Hear Murder Writ in County Prison.” Hazleton Standard-Speaker, November 8, 1934.

Joseph Bruno Found Guilty of Voluntary Manslaughter; Carries Six to Twelve Years.” Shenandoah Evening Herald, February 7, 1935.

Kline Township Recount Stands.” Hazleton Plain Speaker, November 14, 1933.

News of the South Side.” Hazleton Plain Speaker, December 30, 1933.

Mandamus Action in Kline Township.” Hazleton Plain Speaker, August 31, 1933.

Three Are Dead in Voting Feud.” New Castle News, November 6, 1934.

Unspeakable Outrage, Declares Gov. Pinchot of Hazleton Slayings.” New Castle News, November 6, 1934.

Voice in Broken English Vividly Outlined Rat-Tat-Tat of Gunfire.” Hazelton Standard-Speaker, January 18, 1935.

Witnesses Back in Kelayres Homes.” Hazleton Standard-Speaker, November 8, 1934.

Cerullo, John and Gennaro Delena. “The Kelayres Massacre.” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 107:3 (July 1983).

Hoover, Stephanie. The Kelayres Massacre: Politics & Murder in Pennsylvania's Anthracite Coal Country. Xxx

Newsreel Report about the Massacre - (1) 1934 Kelayres Massacre - YouTube The woman interviewed towards the end is, I think, either Irene Condor or Sarah Fiorilla. The scruffy man shown lying in a hospital bed is most likely Edward Vespucci.

August 19th, 2021    

90 - The Red Man of the Tuileries

The Tuileries Palace in Paris was supposedly haunted by a red, dwarfish figure that warned inhabitants of imminent catastrophy.




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Red Man: The Tuileries Palace Ghost - Geri Walton

The Little Red Man | dix-neuviémiste (

Cosimo Ruggeri - Wikipedia

The Palais des Tuileries, in search of a missing Palace - French Moments

Assassin's Creed Unity Murder Mystery Guide: Page 15 | GamesRadar+

The crimson fairy and the red | British Fairies (

August 4th, 2021    

89 - William Etlinger

In 1909, in the book Pennsylvania Mountain Stories, Henry W. Shoemaker recounted the tale of “The Black Wolf of Oak Valley.” The names in this story were changed, and after digging around, I found the original tale that this story was based on: the 1896 saga of outlaw William Etlinger.



Part of the Straight Up Strange Network:

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

Closing music by Soma.


Altoona Tribune, May 2, 1896.

Lewisburg Journal, July 8, 1885.

Perry County Democrat, May 27, 1885.

A Desperate Outlaw.” Murfreesboro (NC) Index, March 13, 1896.

A Dramatic Tragedy.” Lancaster Intelligencer, March 11, 1896.

A Monument to Barner.” Lewisburg Journal, March 20, 1896.

As A Museum Curio.” Indiana Progress, March 11, 1896.

Death Rather Than Capture.” Perry County Democrat, March 11, 1896.

Defiant to the Last.” Lock Haven Evening Express, March 7, 1896.

. Philadelphia Inquirer, March 7, 1896.

Defies Half a Hundred.” Lancaster Intelligencer, March 7, 1896.

Etlinger's Body Not Removed.” Philadelphia Times, March 11, 1896.

His Body is Undisturbed.” Washington (DC) Times, March 11, 1896.

Man Who Reports Deaths in Chair Never Saw One.” Pittsburgh Press, January 16, 1938.

No Tears For Him.” Wilkes-Barre News, March 9, 1896.

Robbed of About $4,000.” Lewisburg Chronicle, February 25, 1905.

School Funds Missing.” Millheim Journal, April 23, 1885.

Sequel to a Tragedy.” Aspen (CO) Daily Times, March 18, 1896.

The Sheriff Must Pay Damages.” Mount Union Times, September 22, 1899.

Tragedy at Woodward.” Lewisburg Journal, March 13, 1896.

Atlas of Centre County, Pennsylvania. Philadelphia: A. Pomeroy & Co., 1874.

Commemorative Biographical Record of Central Pennsylvania. Chicago: J.H. Beers, 1898.

Pennsylvania Superior Court Records, Vol. 12. New York: Banks Law Publishing Co., 1911.

The Woodward Shoot-Out – The Pennsylvania Rambler

William Ettlinger, the Desperado of Woodward (

Howard Orndorf - Facts (

May 28th, 2021    

88 - The Tichborne Claimant

In 1854, heir to the Tichborne baronetcy, Roger Tichborne, disappears after a shipwreck.  He's presumed dead until, in 1865, an Australian butcher comes forward and announces himself to be the missing nobleman.



Part of the Straight Up Strange Network:

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

Closing music by Soma.


“Sir Roger Tichborne.” Sydney Morning Herald, January 31, 1868.

“The Claimant & the Tichborne Case.” Jackson's Oxford Journal, March 30, 1872.

“The Claimant of the Tichborne Baronetcy.” Wrexham Advertiser, January 19, 1867.

“The Tichborne Baronetcy.” Melbourne Age, September 12, 1867.

“The Tichborne Case.” Hampshire Telegraph & Sussex Chronicle, November 9, 1867.

“The Tichborne Dole.” London Daily News, September 6, 1855.

“The Tichborne Heir.” Indiana (PA) Progress, September 24, 1930.

“Tichborne Claimant's Story to be Subject of Coming British Film.” Montreal Gazette, September 5, 1936.

The books of Dr E. V. Kenealy (

Theresa Doughty Tichborne - Wikipedia

May 4th, 2021    

87 - The Green Bicycle Mystery

In 1919, 21-year old Bella Wright was shot on a roadside near Little Stretton, Leicestershire, England. The man thought to have committed the crime was acquitted. But the question remains: did he do it? Or if not, exactly what did happen that July evening?

Podcast Site:



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Brown, Antony M. The Green Bicycle Mystery. London: Mirror Books, 2017.

Humphries, H. Trueman. “The Green Bicycle Case.” The Strand Magazine 63 (Jan.-June 1922).

Green Bicycle Mystery Map - Google My Maps

April 13th, 2021    

86 - The Wheels of Orffyreus

Scientists and laymen alike have long sought to build a machine capable of perpetual motion. Several attempts are described here, especially focusing on the well-documented, and still controversial, efforts of Johann Bessler, better known as Orffyreus.

Podcast Site:



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Closing music by Soma.


Dircks, Henry. Perpetuum Mobile; or, A History of the Search for Self-Motive Power. London: E. & F.N. Spon, 1870.

Gould, Rupert T. Oddities: A Book of Facts. New Hyde Park, New York: University Books, 1965.

Hicks, Clifford B. “Why Won't They Work?” American Heritage Magazine 12:3 (April 1961).

Jenkins, Alejandro. “The Mechanical Career of Councillor Orffyreus, Confidence Man.” American Journal of Physics 81:421, January 2013.

Phin, John. The Seven Follies of Science: A Popular Account of the Most Famous Scientific Impossibilities. New York: Van Nostrand and Company, 1906.

Shaffer, Simon. “The Show That Never Ends: Perpetual Motion in the Early Eighteenth Century.” British Journal for the History of Science 28:2 (June 1995).

Verance, Percy. Perpetual Motion. 20th Century Enlightenment Specialty Company, 1916.

(104) Johann Bessler Perpetual Motion Machine Bessler Rad - YouTube

(104) Redheffer machine à mouvement perpétuel - YouTube

Archimedes' screw - Wikipedia

The Mysterious Stranger – Part 1 - TFOT (

Orffyreus and Leibniz - Part 2 - TFOT (



March 25th, 2021    

85 - Don’t Call It Murder, Call It A Job

In late 1930s Philadelphia, a murder-for-profit ring rivalling the French Affair of the Poisons, run by two cousins named Petrillo, is uncovered.  This is the story of the Poison Ring.

Podcast Site:



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“15 more poisoners face arrest as ring’s toll mounts hourly; crowd threatens Mrs. Favato.” Philadelphia Inquirer, April 28, 1939.

“2 more confess poison killings, third admits drowning plot; U.S. May enter investigation.” Philadelphia Inquirer, May 7, 1939.

“3 confess arsenic plot as 7 others deny guilt.” Lancaster New Era, May 25, 1939.

“3rd widow freed in insurance ring.” Reading Times, December 12, 1939.

“Arsenic suspect believed slain to balk justice.” Allentown Morning Call, May 10, 1939.

“Bail is denied in poison case.” Wilmington News Journal, September 7, 1939.

“Beach slayer dies in cell.” Delaware County Daily Times, January 11, 1936.

“Death threats menace son of triple slayer.” Kokomo (IN) Tribune, April 24, 1939.

“Calls uncle, who sent him up, a poisoner.” New York Daily News, February 10, 1939.

“Commutation saves woman from chair.” Latrobe Bulletin, June 20, 1941.

“Completing jury in another poison trial.” Mount Carmel Item, December 13, 1939.

“Convict Swartz for murder of mother in law.” Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader, June 14, 1940.

“'Customer' of murder syndicate starts term.” Scranton Times-Tribune, October 29, 1940.

“Enters guilty plea in mass murders.” Danville Morning News, February 27, 1940.

“Faces 30-year term for husband's poison death.” St. Louis (MO) Star and Times, December 14, 1939.

“Fast hearings stun suspects in poison cases.” Baltimore Sun, May 11, 1939.

“Five police win Inquirer awards for smashing poison ring.” Philadelphia Inquirer, April 10, 1939.

“Follow poison murder ring's trail to N.Y.” New York Daily News, May 14, 1939.

“Framed to hide poison deaths, prisoner says.” Philadelphia Inquirer, February 12, 1939.

“Gets 2-20 years in poison deaths.” Reading Times, December 13, 1939.

“G-men to enter probe of Phila. mass murders.” Delaware County Times, May 15, 1939.

“Hold 'death rose;' 12 more indicted.” New York Daily News, May 20, 1939.

“Insurance plot suspect linked with deaths of 3.” Allentown Morning Call, January 9, 1936.

“Jury given case of Reading man in N.J. drowning.” Reading Times, October 13, 1939.

“Kiss of death woman is held without bail.” Bristol Daily Courier, May 19, 1939.

“Last principal jailed in arsenic murder ring.” Scranton Times, December 13, 1945.

“Life sentence given Rodia in drowning case.” Camden Morning Post, October 14, 1939.

“'Love healer' gives up in poison ring probe.” New York Daily News, May 2, 1939.

“Man, woman convicted in murder-for-insurance trials.” Lancaster Intelligencer Journal, September 28, 1939.

“Murder-for-profit ring sets record in American crime.” New York Daily News, May 21, 1939.

“Murder gang used hemlock.” Salt Lake Telegram, May 4, 1939.

“Murder ring doctor makes guilty plea.” Harrisburg Evening News, February 26, 1940.

“Nab long-sought widow in mass-murder probe.” York Gazette and Daily, May 19, 1939.

“Nine New York murders laid to poisoners.” Pittsburgh Press, May 12, 1939.

“Petrillo dies in electric chair.” New Castle News, October 20, 1941.

“Petrillo's boast of arsenic murders revealed by witness.” Philadelphia Inquirer, September 26, 1939.

“Philadelphia police hunt sources of 'witch's brew.'” Racine (WI) Journal-Times, May 13, 1939.

“Poison ring plotted death of Phila. aides.” Camden (NJ) Morning Post, May 3, 1939.

“Poison slayer pleads guilty.” York Daily Record, September 16, 1939.

“Police arrest 2 more widows in poison quiz.” Philadelphia Inquirer, May 6, 1939.

“Quaker city starts arraigning mass-murder suspects.” Baltimore Sun, May 11, 1939.

“Rodio case is given to jury.” Philadelphia Inquirer, October 13, 1939.

“Rodio guilty of murder; doctor tries suicide.” Philadelphia Inquirer, October 14, 1939.

“Rose Carilli convicted of manslaughter.” Wilmington Morning News, December 14, 1939.

“Rose Carilli drops fight for freedom.” Wilmington Morning News, January 23, 1940.

“Rose Carina freed in $2500 bail for new murder trial.” Camden Morning Post, January 3, 1940.

“Says Swartz asked facts on poisons.” Philadelphia Inquirer, December 16, 1939.

“Seeress and collegian held in murder probe.” Pottsville Republican and Herald, June 20, 1939.

“Spared from chair.” Carlisle Sentinel, July 1, 1941.

“Survivors got lesser dose to postpone doom.” Camden (NJ) Morning Post, May 3, 1939.

“Suspect brought to N.J. for trial in insurance murder.” Camden Morning Post, June 7, 1939.

“Suspect in mass murders taken in Cleveland.” Carlisle Sentinel, May 17, 1939.

“Swartz insane; trial called off.” Philadelphia Inquirer, December 21, 1939.

“Two more admit their parts in death syndicate.” Sayre Evening Times, April 29, 1939.

“Two offered jobs as executioners expose vast murder corporation.” Racine (WI) Journal-Times, May 13, 1939.

“Two poison ring leaders admit part in deaths.” Harrisburg Evening News, April 29, 1939.

“Wife held in plot to poison husband.” Philadelphia Inquirer, September 28, 1938.

“Wife of former Scranton man is held for murder.” Scranton Times-Tribune, May 12, 1939.

“'Witch' sobs at life term for poison.” Philadelphia Inquirer, April 2, 1940.

“'Witch' swayed mind, wife-poisoner pleads.” Philadelphia Inquirer, March 21, 1940.

“Witness mailed death threats.” Wilmington (DE) News, January 6, 1939.

“Woman, 28, is shot by former suitor during a quarrel.” Brooklyn Eagle, December 14, 1936.

“Woman arrested climaxing probe of arsenic ring.” Wilmington Morning News, September 2, 1939.

“Woman poisoner twice attempts to take life.” Harrisburg Evening News, April 29, 1939.

Young, R.J. “Arsenic and No Lace: The Bizarre Tale of a Philadelphia Murder Ring.” Pennsylvania History 67:3 (Autumn 2000).

Commonwealth v. Petrillo, 12 A.2d 317, 338 Pa. 65 –

Commonwealth v. Petrillo, 16 A.2d 50, 340 Pa. 33 –

Commonwealth v. Petrillo, 19 A.2d 288, 341 Pa. 209 –

Commonwealth v. Giovanetti, 19 A.2d 119, 341 Pa. 345 –

Commonwealth v. Giacobbe, 19 A.2d 71, 341 Pa. 187 –

Philadelphia Poison Ring Murders: a Virtual Cemetery - Find A Grave

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