Monday, April 29, 2013

Y is for Yonaguni Ruins & YAY!

First for the YAY part: I received an email yesterday accepting a horror short fiction piece for Nightfall Magazine! It will be in the March 2014 issue, so a long ways off, but I'm sure my excitement can hold out that long. This will be the first short story I've had published, and also the first piece of horror. So YAY!!

Today's history's mystery is the Yonaguni Ruins. In 1986 or 1987, depending upon which source you believe, a diver discovered a stone formation under the sea near the Japanese island of Yonaguni Jima. It has been described as a pyramid, with tiered slabs going up for several levels.

By jpatokal [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

The reason this is a mystery is multi-fold. For one, experts cannot agree on whether it is man-made or natural. The nature of the stone is such that it has lines along which natural breaks can occur, removing slabs and creating a tiered look. However, the Japanese say they have discovered tool marks that make it look like it was man-made, and since the original discovery, they've found tools scattered along the floor of the ocean that are yet to be dated.

If the stone pyramid is man-made, they feel that it was created on land, then sunk during an earthquake, something they have many of in the area.

Much like the Tarim mummies of Xinjiang, if the Yonaguni ruins are man-made, it changes history as we know it. You see, they would have had to have been submerged in the last ice age, when no intelligent civilization was said to have existed in the east. A man-made structure such as this would indicate the west didn't have a monopoly on intelligent life.

There are both man-made and natural structures similar in makeup around the world, so until they can find a way to better study the Yonaguni ruins, they will remain one of history's mysteries.

What do you think? Man-made or natural? Is eastern history inaccurate?

May you find your Muse.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

X is for Xinjiang: Tarim Mummies

In the desert region of Xinjiang, China, a fascinating find was discovered in a desert area in 1978: the mummified remains of people appearing to be of European descent, but dating back to a significant amount of time before Europeans were said to have made it to China.

1910 photo of a Tarim Mummy
Aurel Stein
These bodies had not been purposely mummified. Instead, the dry, hot environment dried their skin out so quickly that it was even better preserved than those purposely mummified, such as the Egyptians. They were buried in small chambers in a fetal position, simple goods laid with them, such as food, combs, needles, etc. They were dressed in felt boots, leather and colorful dyed wool, with some wearing distinctive hats resembling our modern idea of a witch's hat. Purple was a prevalent clothing color. They had blond, red or light brown hair, and the hair of many of the females was braided.

There was a family buried together, parents and children. One man showed evidence of sutures on his neck, showing someone had treated him medically. They were laid upon straw mats and wooden logs.

The Chinese have been excavating these burial sites for over sixteen years now, and have dated the mummies to between 3000 BC and 300 BC.

The remnants of spoked wheels were found, but wheels such as these didn't appear in China for another 800 years. They were, however, found in the Ukraine during this time period.

Chinese texts speak of an alien barbarian race, called the Yuezhi or Wusun. Perhaps these are those people, and they weren't alien after all, just European.

This discovery has shaken everything historians have known about European influence in China. It has long been thought that China was self-contained and only spread influence out, not in, but these bodies change that assumption. Unfortunately, due to political unrest and lack of funds, they haven't been able to put much into researching these mummies to find the necessary answers.

It's a fascinating subject that I don't have much time to touch on (what with keeping these posts short and all), but if you'd like to read a good article on the subject, you can go here.

So, why were these obviously European people in a region they weren't supposed to have reached yet? Did they spread the use of spoked wheels and animal-drawn carts? Were they in contact with the Chinese long before they were thought to have been? If so, why did they not spread farther into China, and why were they forgotten? Were they the barbarians spoken of as alien beings?

May you find your Muse.

Friday, April 26, 2013

W is for Wisconsin Giants

In January 1870, a group of unusual skeletons was discovered in Wisconsin. They were not the first to be discovered. Indeed, there were burial mounds all over the mid-west, especially along the Mississippi River, that yielded these giant skeletons, believed to be a Native American tribe of the mound builders time period that was unknown. Their heads sloped directly back from above the eyes, they had high cheekbones, and they were said to have a double row of teeth. Some report that they possessed six fingers on each hand, six toes on each foot.

                                              By James Steakley (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons                                                                           

In August 1891, more skeletons were found, along with a defense system that came to be known as Fort Aztalan to researchers.

In May 1912, eighteen of these skeletons were discovered by Beloit University. They were said to be seven to nine feet tall, and to have elongated jaw bones, resembling apes.

Skeletons ranged in size from seven feet to nine feet tall. They were buried with arrowheads, copper rods, and other hand-worked items.

It is said that giant remains have been found around the world, and that a race of giants is reported in the bible. Some of the giants in other countries are much taller than the North American ones.

Sadly, these skeletal remains, some of which have been photographed, have disappeared. One skeleton is on display, called the Aztalan Princess, but she is of normal height. Could she be just a teenager? Did these skeletons ever exist? Or were they simply a hoax? Is it possible there were taller races at some point, despite the fact that we're supposed to be getting taller, not shorter? Could it have been that a genetic defect existed, like the current gigantism, and was more common amongst certain groups? People suffering from gigantism these days tend to be between seven and nine feet tall. Coincidence?

May you find your Muse.

P.S. If you're interested in this topic, I found a blog dedicated to reporting the discovery of giant human skeletons.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

V is for Voynich Manuscript

Voynich Manuscript
See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Source: Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript LibraryYale University 

The Voynich Manuscript is a document of about 230 vellum pages that is believed to have been written in the 14th or 15th century. It surfaced in 1912, when Wilfrid Voynich, an antiquarian bookseller, purchased it.

The book is filled with some sort of script that no one can determine or decipher. Analysts have determined that it is an alphabet of over twenty letters, but probably less than thirty. Though it has been reviewed around the world, no one has yet been able to state what the alphabet is or what the language is.

Detail from page 78r of Voynich Manuscript
 depicting the "biological" section 
In addition to the unreadable words, there are drawings of some form of plants, though none have been affiliated with modern day plant life. There are also drawings of tiny naked women in some sort of round bathtub or other item. In addition, there are pages that seem to be related to astronomy and other things.

It is generally thought to be either magic-based or scientific, due to the botanical drawings and what are theorized to be herbal recipes (perhaps).

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The text is written left to right, there are paragraphs (some set apart by "bullets"), and there are words that repeat throughout, but there are also words that don't repeat, symbols/letters that appear only at specific points in each word (some only in the center, some at beginning or end), and very few two letter or short words. It is obvious that some pages are missing, and it is considered that the pages may have once been in a different order. One odd thing is that there are absolutely no signs of mistakes or corrections. It was either written sans mistakes (or the mistakes weren't corrected, but left in place) or it was copied from another manuscript (like monks used to do, perhaps).

I did find an article from someone who claims it is Italian anagrams written in embellished script.

If you want to see a significant chunk of the pages, visit the Wikimedia Commons page.

So who wrote this book? Is it written in code, or is it some language we have yet to decipher? Was it copied or written perfectly from the start? What the heck is it about? Is it a scientific text, a magical one, or some combination thereof?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

U is for the Disappearance of the USS Cyclops & Underwater [M]WW, Plus Links

For [Mostly] Wordless Wednesday, how about a quick glance underwater?

Now, U is for USS Cyclops, or rather, the disappearance of it. How could I address history's mysteries without bringing up the Bermuda Triangle?

In March of 1918, a Proteus-class collier, the largest in the U.S. Navy, disappeared without a trace. The USS Cyclops was carrying over 10,000 tons of manganese ore, having completed an exchange of goods in Rio de Janeiro.

USS Cyclops
Photographed by Sargent. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
No distress signal was ever sent out, no wreckage was found, despite the fact that ships from all over combed the ocean. She was overstuffed for what she was supposed to be carrying, so this could have contributed to the demise of the USS Cyclops. Not only did she carry tons of ore, but there were 309 people on board. This was considered the Navy's largest loss of life without conflict/war being involved.

The ship was in the middle of the area known as the Bermuda Triangle, an area said to suffer issues with navigational equipment going crazy.

It has been stated that one of her engines was having problems, so there could have been engine failure as a factor.

Theories state that a massive rogue wave may have come along and caused her to capsize. The wreckage may have been carried off by the gulf stream, causing the searchers to miss it. There is also a theory concerning methane pockets under the water. If a methane bubble bursts, it is thought that it can change the density of the water, causing anything floating on the surface to sink rapidly, and with no warning. Once again, the wreckage could have been caught up in the gulf stream. The USGS says these pockets don't exist in the general area the ship disappeared in, and haven't for thousands of years, but perhaps they're wrong.

Captain Worley
By probably United States Navy
 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
It has been claimed that Captain Worley, who commanded the ship, was a German who had changed his name. Perhaps he stole the ship for the goods, or he sunk it intentionally, picked up by a German boat. It was said that he picked up some additional crew in Rio, including a friend of his, one consul-general Gottschalk. Did they work together to steal the ship or sink it? Either that, or a German boat sunk the ship, and it had nothing to do with Worley. The issues with both of these are that it wasn't war time quite yet, and that they weren't in an area known to have a heavy German presence. Also, the Germans have found no record of attacking a ship in the area, nor was it documented that they obtained a U.S. ship resembling this one.

Worley was not a well-liked man. He abused his crew and acted insane at times. Could be there was a mutiny, but then what happened?

Then there are the aliens and the sea serpents. We can't forget about them!

What do you think happened to the USS Cyclops? Does anyone else have absolutely no desire to sail anywhere there might be methane pockets (because that thought freaks me right out)? Was it a pre-war move by the Germans or an act of nature? Or was it, simply, the Bermuda Triangle?

Now for some links.

Accepting Submissions:

Press 53 is seeking prose pieces of between 1000 and 7000 words for their anthology, Surreal South '13. Pays in copies and discount on more copies. Deadline May 1. Either the author or the work of fiction must have something to do with the south.

Over My Dead Body! is a mystery magazine open for submissions. 750-4000 words. Paying market.

Funny Times is looking for funny cartoons and stories. 500-700 words stories. Pays $60 for stories.


The Pikes Peak Branch of the NLAPW flash fiction contest is coming to a close May 1. Theme: Hidden Amongst These Worlds. $10 entry fee, $100 first prize.

The Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition closes on May 1. $1500 prize with publication. 3500 word maximum.

Blog Stuff:

C.M. Brown is holding a Blogger Buddy Appreciation Competition. Vote for your favorite blogger buddy who's always there for you, and they could win an Amazon GC.

Anything to add? Any of these you're interested in? Have you voted for your Blogger Buddy?

May you find your Muse.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

T is for Three Flannan Isles Lighthouse Keepers Disappearance & Time to Reflect

Before we jump into the "T" topic, I'd like to make a quick announcement about the A-to-Z Reflections post. We will again be doing one this year, and there will be a sign-up list for it. The post can go up anytime between May 3 and May 10. We ask that you not enter your blog on the sign-up list until your post is up, at which time we'd appreciate it if you would link directly to your A-to-Z post, not just your overall blog home page.

What is a Reflections post? It's simply whatever you want to say, post-A-to-Z. What did you find challenging? What did you enjoy the most? What did you learn about? You can give overall commentary or make it specific. Just as with theme, it is entirely up to you what you write about the A-to-Z.

Okay, on to "T"!

T is for Three Flannan Isles Lighthouse Keepers Disappearance.

On December 26, 1900 (Boxing Day), a relief team arrived at the lighthouse on Three Flannan Isles, Scotland. Specifically, the lighthouse was on the island of Eileen Mor (Gaelic for Big Island/Isle). It had been reported that the light had not been on for several days, beginning on the 15th during a violent storm. A heavy mist had kept those nearby from being able to check on the lighthouse with a telescope, a means they employed in order to watch for emergency signals from the island.

Lighthouse of Three Flannan Isles
JJM [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

When they arrived, they found the lighthouse locked up, and were forced to use their keys to get in. Inside, they found a chair overturned, beds unmade, two pairs of boots missing, and two coats missing.

What they did not find, were the three lighthouse keepers who had been dropped off on the uninhabited island on the 7th of December. These three men were Donald MacArthur, Thomas Marshall, and James Ducat.

The island was searched, the lighthouse examined. They found that a section of railing had been torn loose, with part of it missing. Also missing was a box where ropes and such were stored. The ropes had been torn loose from the crane and lay on the rocks below.

Some have claimed there was food on the table as if they had just sat down to a meal, but actual reports from those who arrived on the 26th do not indicate this. Instead, it appears all utensils were cleaned up, making it appear that they disappeared after their meal.

A different view of the lighthouse on Elieen Mor, Three Flannan Isles
Marc Calhoun [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

The official log wasn't filled in beyond the 13th, but there were notes on a slate for the 14th and 15th, so it is thought they disappeared sometime after dinner, but before midnight (when a passing ship reported the light being out) on the 15th.

The question was, why had they disappeared?

Of course, lots of theories exist. A giant freak wave could have taken them out, dragging them from the rocks or possibly even the lighthouse. But why were only two of them in coats, while the other must have just been in his shirt?

Another theory is that one of them killed the other two, then committed suicide out of guilt.

Some put forward that it could have been a giant sea serpent or bird that tore them from the side of the lighthouse.

A strong theory is that two of them put on their boots and coats and headed outside to repair something. The third man may have seen a massive wave coming and run out to warn his friends. Or on a similar bent, one might have gotten swept off while two of them were out there working. The second man may have gone back to get the third man, causing both of them to get swept out to sea, as well.

Other theories include spies taking them into custody, a ghost ship taking them prisoner so as to roam the seas forever, and a storm of such force that it ripped a hole in the space-time continuum that sucked them in.

Finally, need I say it? Aliens.

More information for you:
An old newspaper story about the incident
A poem about the incident, by Wilfrid Wilson Gibson
A website with links to official reports from the incident

What do you think is the most likely cause of their disappearance? Why were all three men together outside? Why was one not wearing his coat when conditions were terribly cold? 

May you find your Muse.

Monday, April 22, 2013

S is for Sphinx, I Survived & Short Story Contest

Hello! I'm writing this late, so will also delay my "T" post until later today in order to give both some reading time.

I attended the Pikes Peak Writers Conference this weekend, and I survived! It was a great weekend, with interesting keynote speakers, as well as a bit of controversy related to one of them (Barry Eisler), which resulted in a bit of a social media war between agents/editors and writers, debating some of what he said about legacy/traditional publishing versus self-publishing.

Anyway, I was exhausted after the conference, and I made the executive decision to NOT stay up and research a topic for Monday's "S" post, instead deciding I would write it Monday. My kids had the day off school, though, and I had to take my son to his 8-year checkup, in addition to some other things, so here I sit at 11 p.m., just beginning the post.

Before I get to my "S" topics, I'd like to pass along a short story contest that one of our faculty members has thrown out with an Amazon GC as a prize. It's not as simple as just writing a short story. No, the faculty member, DeAnna Knippling, has issued an additional challenge. She wants you to not only send your short story, but proof that you've submitted it to someone. This was issued in her 4-Hour Short Story workshop, where she taught how to write and submit a short story in four hours. You can find more on the contest at the PPW blog, Writing From the Peak.

Now, S is for the riddle of the Sphinx.

Did you know that a mystery surrounds the date of the creation of the Sphinx? You see, while it has generally been assumed that the Sphinx was made during the same period as the nearby pyramids, the era of the Old Kingdom, sometime between 2589 B.C. and 2500 B.C., there is a discrepancy in the type of weathering that has occurred, and how much there's been.

There is evidence that water erosion occurred on the Sphinx, but after 5000 B.C. there has been extremely insignificant rainfall in the region, and none of the pyramids or surrounding sculptures show the same type of weathering. Before 5000 B.C., there was more significant rainfall in the area.

Some have postulated that it could be wet sand that weathered the Sphinx, not just water, but to do that, wouldn't that still indicate more water in the sand, meaning more rainfall?

By en:User:Hajor [CC-BY-SA-1.0 (, GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

There is also possible evidence of its age carved into a stone tablet/breast plate between the feet of the Sphinx. A translation has been made that says King Thutmose IV discovered the Sphinx already buried up to its next around 1400 B.C. In order to be buried to its neck in sand, it would have to have been much older than Old Kingdom era.

There is no documentation on the building of the Sphinx. It isn't mentioned anywhere. Why might that be?

One of the indications that it is Old Kingdom era is the fact that the style matches that of surrounding sculptures. Styles of building and design change over time, so if it had been built in 5000 B.C., for instance, it should have been a significantly different style of building from the pyramids. That is far too long for designs to stay the same.

And yes, for those of you who love the alien tales, it has been suggested that aliens built the Sphinx, then returned to teach the Old Kingdom Egyptians to build in a similar fashion.

So, was it aliens? Did the Sphinx stand long before the Old Kingdom was a desert? Or was there perhaps a mystery underground spring that might have eroded the Sphinx?

Other topics to look up that start with "S" are Stonehenge and the Servant Girl Annihilator, a serial killer some insist was actually Jack the Ripper, living in Austin, Texas before he struck in Whitechapel. Although I have my doubts...lots of them.

May you find your Muse.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

R is for Rasputin's Death

R always seems to be full of possible posts, rich in subject matter. I thought about doing Roanoke (among other things), but thought perhaps it had been done to death. Instead, I'm going to talk about Rasputin.

Grigori Rasputin
By Wood, Alan [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Rasputin was the man they loved to hate in Russia in the early 1900's. He was a peasant, but one accepted by the Romanov royal family as a mystic, healer, and adviser. They contacted him to help their son, Alexei, who suffered from hemophilia. It was said he could heal with prayer. He did appear to help Alexei. It's theorized that he either used hypnosis or that his recommendation to take Alexei off aspirin (a blood thinner) helped. It's probably a combination of these two things, plus the fact that he recommended rest for the boy, something that helped relax him and allow his body to heal itself.

Whatever he did, he became a trusted adviser to the Tsar and Tsarina, giving them political advice, which they often heeded, and leading to issues within the Russian government. Aristocrats were angered, and a few of them conspired to kill him.

Only this mystic was a hard man to kill. They attempted to poison him with cyanide, but it had no effect, so then they shot him. At first, they thought he was dead, and left him on the floor. They discovered he was still alive when he went after his attackers. He was shot again, this time in the head, and it still didn't kill him. In a rage, one of his attackers went at him with a dumbbell. They then rolled him up in a rug and tossed him into a river. When he was autopsied later, they found water in his lungs, meaning he was alive when he went into the river. Accounts differ as to whether poison was actually found in his system, but his daughter said he couldn't have sweets, so she felt he hadn't eaten the cyanide laced treats.

It's important to note that he had been the victim of an attempted murder before, though from a group of women who wished revenge for wrongs he'd committed against them. He was stabbed in the abdomen by one of these women and left for dead. He survived. If nothing else, he was a hardy man.

The mystery here is two-fold. First, did he have magical healing powers? Or did he simply have common sense that benefited the young royal? Was it the magic of prayer? A miracle? 

Secondly, why was he so hard to kill? Did it have to do with his powers of healing? Could he heal himself? Or was a higher power watching over him, giving him the chance to fight to save his life? Or maybe he was just a strong man.

What do you think?

May you find your Muse.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Q is for Queen of the Fire Eaters

is for Queen of the Fire Eaters, Jo Girardelli.

In England during the 1810's, there was a woman who traveled around, defying the laws that govern flame and heat. Billed as the Incombustible Lady, she ultimately became known as the Queen of the Fire Eaters. The name she gave people, though, was Jo Girardelli, and she was born in Italy.

We've all seen some manner of act that involves breathing fire. I saw one up close at a Greek restaurant a month or two ago. Typically, the flames don't actually come too near the mouth, as it involves spitting out a combustible fluid through a flame. Rarer is the fire eater, but they usually have the same gimmick.

Fire eater (obviously not Jo, as there are no photos of her)
By Ryan Amos (originally posted to Flickr as Fire-eater) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

However, Jo didn't just do this. No, she put molten lead in her mouth and pulled it out in solid form. She swished nitric acid around in her mouth and spit it onto iron so the audience could see it eating away at the iron. She'd put boiling oil in her mouth after showing it could cook an egg. Her tongue and mouth never appeared to be burned. In fact, she let people examine her, and she was fine.

It wasn't just her mouth that was resistant to extreme heat. She liked to play with flame and show that it didn't burn her. This usually involved candles, touching the flame, running it along her arms. She'd heat a metal object in a flame and press it to her body, even lick it. Now, think back to the molten lead she'd put in her mouth. Apparently, she would scoop this up with her hand and put it in her mouth, all without burning herself.

How was Jo able to do these things without harm or injury? She said she had a secret formula, but no one has found anything that could withstand the tests she put herself through, even to this day. Not one skeptic was ever able to find out how she might be using a trick to do this.

Was she genetically impervious to flame? An alien (oh boy, I know you guys missed the aliens!)? Someone from another world or alternate universe? Had she trained her body to withstand the flame and caustic materials? 

May you find your Muse.

*Letter Q courtesy of Yamilia,

Thursday, April 18, 2013

P is for Poe's Disappearance and Please Forgive Me!

Today is "P" day, but it's also Thursday. And what does that mean? I realized that I completely failed to put links in the Wednesday post for open submissions and contests! Ack!

Forgive me? Just in case, I'll put a handful at the bottom of this post instead.

is for Poe's Disappearance.

On October 7, 1849, author Edgar Allan Poe called out "Lord, help my poor soul" before taking his last breath (or so it's claimed). That's there the only non-mystery elements of Poe's death end, and the questions begin.

You see, Edgar Allan Poe left Richmond, Virginia on September 27, arriving in Baltimore the next day. He was supposed to continue on to New York, but he never made it there. Instead, on October 3rd, he was discovered, upset and raving, on the streets of Baltimore. He was wearing clothing that didn't appear to belong to him (it didn't fit and wasn't his style), was entirely unkempt, and his money and trunk weren't with him (the trunk was found back in Richmond). Someone claimed he'd left Richmond with about $1500, though this is reported as unlikely, due to the fact that he was there collecting subscriptions to his $5 magazine, and he'd never collected anywhere near that amount before.

Edgar Allan Poe
By Oscar Halling [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

It was assumed Poe was drunk, and he was taken to a hospital, where they put him in the area reserved for drunks. He went in and out of consciousness for several days, raving mindlessly, not making any sense. One night he called for "Reynolds!" over and over, though no one has ever been able to figure out who this was. It became obvious he was not inebriated when he continued in this way for four days before dying. He was never able to recount what had happened in the days he'd been missing.

The newspapers of the time claimed he died of a brain fever or congestion of the brain, which is said to be a euphemism for death by embarrassing means. It appears no death certificate or official records exist.

One theory as to what happened to him while he was missing is that he was kidnapped, drugged, and forced to vote at multiple ballot boxes in an election. This is called cooping, and was a known issue during that time period. Perhaps the drugs they used to keep him doing their bidding were just too much for his system.

Most other theories have to do with the cause of death, as no one is quite sure what he was doing, and cooping has been the primary suspicion to explain why he was missing and why he was in such a deplorable condition.

Rabies has been put forward more recently as the cause of death, and the confusion that might have caused him to be wandering around, not knowing who he was. His symptoms in the hospital resemble the symptoms of rabies. But how did a man as famous as Poe stay out of sight, as ill as he was, without anyone discovering him? And what happened to his clothing? Was he ill from rabies and someone mugged him, taking the nice, expensive clothes he was known to wear? Even the shoes he was found in were not his own.

Poe's original grave (his body is no longer there)
By KRichter (probably own picture (see original filename)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Various other illnesses have been suggested, such as cholera, syphilis, hypoglycemia, meningitis, a brain tumor, epilepsy, and plenty of others. Or did he overdose on something like laudanum? It had happened to him in 1848. Was he actually drunk? Despite people thinking he was acting drunk, there was no mention of the smell of alcohol, and at least one person made the point of saying he never smelled any liquor on him. It's been theorized that he committed suicide or was the victim of some slow murder, but that would involve some sort of poison, most likely, and nothing was found.

So what happened to Poe while he was missing? Where was he? How did he die? Where did his money go? His clothing? Was it an illness, or was he a victim?

A couple links to make up for my mistake...

Accepting Submissions:

Idyllic Books has a call out for submissions for their BladeMage Magazine. Seems to be primarily fantasy they're looking for. Paying market. Also seeking illustrations for pay.

Phantom Drift is seeking fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and art. Paying market.

New Horizon Press is seeking non-fiction. They have specific requests, so be sure to check those out.


Clean Teen Publishing is hosting a Kick Off Contest, with categories in illustration, drabble, short story, novelette, and novella. Prizes are $25 to $100. Deadline is April 30.


The National Storytelling Network is offering their Brimstone Award for Applied Storytelling, a grant of up to $5000. The preliminary application deadline is April 30.

Anything to share?

May you find your Muse.

Letter P courtesy of Mohamed Ibrahim,

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

O is for Oregon ([M]WW) and Original Night Stalker

Here we are at "O!" We're more than halfway through, and it feels great! I am in conference week, and have been busy, busy since last week in preparation, but as of Monday I'll be catching up on comments and blog visits.

For [Mostly] Wordless Wednesday, I thought I'd share some photos of Oregon, my home from age two to age seven, and then again the year I was married (for just shy of a year). It's a beautiful place, lush and green. Vibrant. But the photos I'm posting are of the coast, which tends to be windy and overcast, yet still so lovely. As beaches go, Oregon's are a little more rugged than some, with black lava rocks on the beaches (though I don't believe all of them, just the ones I'm familiar with) and towering light houses.

Note: I've posted these before, so some of you will have already seen them. You can never see enough lighthouse pics, right?


Today's History's Mystery concerns the Original Night Stalker, a serial killer and rapist. There were two serial killers around the same time period. Richard (called George in some articles) Ramirez was the Night Stalker, striking in Los Angeles in the 1980's, but the man dubbed the Original Night Stalker has never been determined. He was, however, linked to several other crime sprees, giving him multiple monikers: Original Night Stalker, East Area Rapist, Diamond Knot Killer, and Visalia Ransacker.

Anyone with even a passing interest in criminology has probably learned the cycle for certain types of violent criminals. Crimes start as petty, and on a much smaller scale, but they escalate as time goes by. One might start as a small-time criminal who breaks into women's homes and steals their underwear when they're not home. They may then escalate to rape, and ultimately murder. This is overly simplified, but it applies to the Original Night Stalker.

For this particular serial rapist/killer, a timeline might be easiest.

Visalia Ransacker
Note: This criminal has not been definitely tied in with the Original Night Stalker, as he never left behind DNA evidence that could be tied to the future cases. The time period, location and various details have led to officials considering this to possibly be the same person.
The Visalia Ransacker was a petty criminal, breaking into family's homes and ransacking their belongings. He might take small items, but never really anything of value. He carried a gun to his crime scenes, which he used on September 11, 1975, when he killed a man who attempted to stop him from taking his 16 year old daughter. In December of that same year, a policeman on patrol due to heightened security in response to the Visalia Ransacker stopped a man for questioning. That man pulled out a gun and shot at the officer, shattering his flashlight, which caused injury to his eyes. The man got away, but the Visalia Ransacker wasn't heard from in the area again. The crimes stopped, but it's thought the Visalia Ransacker hit over eighty homes during his one year crime reign.

East Area Rapist
Note: This criminal has definitively been tied to the Original Night Stalker through DNA evidence examined years later. 
Six month after the Visalia Ransacker's crime spree ended, a rapist turned up in Sacramento and surrounding areas. At first, he attacked women who were alone, either because they lived alone or because those who lived with them were out. Many of the woman had reported attempted intruders or someone hanging around outside their homes, indicating that the East Area Rapist was staking out houses before going in to attack them. He typically chose houses that were one story single family dwellings. He carried a gun with him when he perpetrated his crimes, and often wore a ski mask or a kerchief tied around his face.

In February 1977, a young man noticed a prowler and gave chase. He was shot in the stomach, but survived.

In April 1977, he attacked his first couple. After this, he went after many more couples, interspersed with individual women. He never attacked just a man, as rape was part of his MO. He would wake them up and force the woman to tie up the man with shoelaces while held at gunpoint. He would then tie the woman up and assault her. For her ligatures, he typically used twine.

The attacks continued this way for a time, with no murders being committed. But in May 1977 he threatened to kill his next two victims. He didn't kill anyone, however, until February 1978, almost a year later, when he killed a couple who were out walking their dog. It appeared there was a confrontation and the couple had fled, but the attacker shot them.

He went back to his attacks, no further murders, but he disappeared from the area after an incident where a couple managed to escape in October 1979. When the woman screamed, he fled. At this time, he had committed at least fifty assaults in the area.

Original Night Stalker
An attacker showed up in Santa Barbara, his first crime the murder of a couple in their home on December 30, 1979. He brought a white German shepherd with him, which would be reported at later crimes, as well. He stole a bike from one of the neighboring buildings. The East Area Rapist was reported to have gotten around on a bicycle, as well.

Composite sketch from 1977
Several more attacks occurred between 1980 and 1986, most involving the couple tied up, the woman raped, and both murdered. He often bludgeoned them, though, rather than using his gun. Perhaps this was to avoid the sound created by the gun going off, or maybe he just liked the act of beating them to death more than shooting them. In one of the first bludgeoning deaths, a log from the fireplace was used. In another, he'd gotten a tool from a shed out back. After this, the bindings and weapons were removed, possibly because he was using the same twine at each crime scene and it was being used to tie his crimes together.

His last crime was committed in May 1986 when a woman whose family was on vacation was raped and bludgeoned to death. The Original Night Stalker's murder rate was at least ten, according to the crimes definitively tied to him.

So what happened to him? Was he arrested. This seems unlikely, because legislation was passed (at least partially due to this case) that allowed for the collection of DNA for anyone committing a felony in California. No inmates have had matching DNA.

Did he move to another state? His information was sent out country-wide, due to how extreme they were. He'd stuck by a type through several moves, riding a bicycle to the scenes of the crime, taking along a white German shepherd, wearing a ski mask, carrying a gun, and using the same type of twine. While it's possible he could have changed everything, is it probable? Or might the process have been as important as the act?

Did he move out of country? It's entirely possible.

Was he killed? This is another strong possibility. Perhaps he died during his next robbery and wasn't connected to the other crimes, though this seems unlikely. But what about a car accident or some other unrelated type of death? His DNA wouldn't have been tested and compared to the Original Night Stalker's unless there was some valid reason to do so, so his death could have gone unnoticed.

Did he commit suicide? This has been suggested as only a vague possibility, as he didn't seem the type to do so, as far as profilers were concerned.

Due to the 2011 DNA results tying him to some of the murders noted above, the case has been reopened and is active, though they are referring to him as the Diamond Knot Killer, due to the knots he used to restrain his victims. There's actually a website dedicated to it, clearly going over the various crimes committed in the hopes that someone, somewhere, will have information for the police. They feel he'd be in his 40's to 60's, or thereabouts, and they offer not only physical descriptions, but also a voice recording from a message left to

People like this don't just stop, though. They don't escalate like this and just suddenly lose the inclination to commit these types of crimes. Something must have happened to force him to stop, whether it was incarceration, a move that took him out of the area that had his DNA and knowledge of his crimes, or death. Like Jack the Ripper, we'll probably never know, but it's interesting to speculate. Several men have been accused over the years of having been the Original Night Stalker, but each has been proven to be innocent, either by DNA or by having been out of the area for some of the crimes.

What do you think? What was it that stopped the Original Night Stalker? What type of job might have allowed him to move so easily from area to area, or forced him to move (it's been speculated that he had police or military training)? Or do you think he just got bored and stopped?

May you find your Muse.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

N is for Natalie Wood's Mysterious Death

is for Natalie Wood. Another maritime mystery, but this time of a different flavor.

On the evening of November 29, 1981, Natalie Wood, Oscar nominated actress, met her death in the Pacific Ocean, off Catalina Island.

Natalie Wood
By unknown photographer (ebay) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Natalie was out on the boat with her husband, Robert Wagner (their second marriage to each other, her third overall), Christopher Walken, and the ship's captain. Reports said the trio of actors had gotten quite drunk at a restaurant onshore, and had caused some problems. Waitresses reported that Natalie and Christopher Walken were flirting (or that at least Wood was flirting with Walken).

Originally, the captain just reported them having continued their partying when they returned to the ship. However, in 2011, on the thirtieth anniversary of her death, the captain admitted lying about what happened that night. (It should be noted that this coincided with the release of his tell-all book on Natalie Wood's death*). He now claimed that there was a fight once they arrived back on the ship. He heard Wagner yelling at Walken, claiming he wanted to sleep with Natalie. The couple retired to their room, the fight continuing.

The boat was discovered missing sometime after midnight. Wagner went out searching for her, but came back empty-handed. Harbor Patrol was notified at 1 AM. At 7:30 AM, her body was discovered by a helicopter involved in the search effort. She was bruised, a scrape on her cheek, and the cause was determined to be accidental drowning (some reports include hypothermia as an additional cause). Her blood alcohol level was .14%, and she was found to also have a sea sickness medication and a painkiller in her system.

Natalie Wood and James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause
By Studio (Dr. Macro) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
In 2011, in light of the new information reported by the captain, along with claims that others had come forward with information, the coroner changed cause of death from accidental drowning to an undetermined cause of drowning. It has been stated that the bruises on Natalie Wood's person were likely to have been caused before she went into the water, at least some of them. In addition, Robert Wagner admitted to being in a fight with Wood when she died, though I didn't see anything that said he admitted to striking her.

When the dinghy was found, the key was in it, and it was off. It didn't appear to have been used.

A 2001 recording of an interview with Natalie's sister, Lana, included a statement by Lana that the captain had called her while drunk and admitted to having witnessed Robert Wagner kill Natalie Wood. He said they were fighting, and that Wagner shoved Wood. She went over the side, splashing around, but unable to get purchase. Wagner told the captain to let her learn a lesson. Eventually, the noise ceased, and the two men covered it up. Walken was apparently in his room and had no knowledge of what had happened. At least one person on a neighboring boat reported hearing a scream. The police were called.

In all the years I've known of this mystery, I've never seen or heard an opinion from Christopher Walken on what happened that night, nor have I seen any statements about it.

Suggested reasons for her drowning include the following:

  • The dinghy might have been knocking against the ship, so Natalie went out to secure it better and slipped in, seeing as how she was under the influence.
  • She tried to go for a late night trip in the little boat to see the stars. In her nightgown, down coat, and knee-high socks...
  • She committed suicide by throwing herself into the water (though why she untied the ship first is unknown). In 1966, she was rushed to the hospital due to a drug overdose. She admitted to not wanting to live, and it was considered a suicide attempt, so suicide was not an unprecedented move for her.
  • Wagner and Walken were having an affair (one of the reasons Natalie was said to have divorced him the first time was due to an affair Wagner had with a man). She walked in on them, so they killed her (yes, I saw this suggested all over, despite the fact that it's probably the least likely).
  • She attempted to escape Wagner's rage, but fell off the boat or fell trying to get into the boat. Her heavy jacket dragged her down as it filled with water, and she was unable to save herself.
  • Robert Wagner killed her in a jealous rage, whether accidentally or on purpose, then untied the boat to make it look like she'd gone out on it.

An interesting side note: Natalie Wood was deathly afraid of the water.

What do you think happened? Were you aware of the mystery surrounding her death?

May you find your Muse.

*Author Marti Rulli stopped by after this post went up and commented on this. Her full comment can be read below, but the summary is that this book came out first (confirmed publication in 2010), with them working for two more years to get the police to listen to statements the captain had been making since Natalie Wood's death. The case was officially announced as reopened in 2012, two years after the release of the book. I'll leave it up to you to draw your own conclusions. 

*Letter N courtesy of kittenskill,

Monday, April 15, 2013

M is for Motivation and Mary Celeste

Hello there! How's everyone doing with the challenge?

Before I get to the Mary Celeste, my second boat mystery of the challenge, I wanted to talk about motivation. We're all motivated by different things, be they financial gain, personal gain, fame, artistic urges, or whatever else. I see people ask what motivates others, and I often have trouble answering that question about my writing. I'm not doing it to make a fortune, because the reality of that is dismal. Unless you're Stephen King, making a ton of money doesn't seem like something that can happen. So I'm not motivated by money. If I were, I'd give up my fiction writing and focus on non-fiction only. At least I've made money writing articles. I can say with confidence that I've not made any money with my fiction or with my photography.

Fame? What does that mean? As a writer, chances are you won't be recognized on the streets. Sure, I'd recognize Stephen King if I saw him, but anyone else? Nope. (Okay, other than those I've actually met, but that doesn't count). You won't be on talk shows unless you're Anne Rice, so that element of fame sure won't get to you. Will the paparazzi follow you? Happily, probably not. I'd rather not ever reach paparazzi-level fame. Not that it's a realistic possibility, but still.

Recognition. Is this different from fame? What does it mean? Awards? I wouldn't mind winning some writing awards. Who am I kidding? I'd love to! However, I don't think I write the type of thing that will garner awards. Still, I'll call this one a yes.

Mostly, I want to share my stories. I want others to read them, to understand them, to enjoy them. I want to get them out of my head and onto paper. That's my motivation for writing. Making money at it some day would be something I certainly wouldn't turn down, but realistically it may not happen.

What's your motivation?

is for Mary Celeste.

On November 7, 1872, the Mary Celeste set sail from New York City with a crew of eight, plus Captain Briggs, his wife and infant daughter. Her cargo was 1,701 barrels of American industrial alcohol worth approximately $35,000, headed toward Genoa to help in wine making.

On December 5, 1872, she was spotted by a British ship, the Dei Gratia, out of control in the Atlantic Ocean. Captain Morehouse, of the Dei Gratia, knew Captain Briggs, of the Mary Celeste. They'd met for dinner before Briggs set sail, Morehouse to follow eight days later, and Morehouse felt confident Briggs was a good captain, so it stood to reason there was something wrong. He attempted to hail the ship, watching for signs of trouble or a distress call. When there was no response, he sent a crew over on a small boat.

Painting of the Mary Celeste
See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
What they found was an intact ship, cargo still on board (though nine barrels were empty), but not one person, alive or dead. The ship had been deserted, most items left behind. All clothing, goods, pipes, and oil skin boots remained, though they were unable to find a chronometer, sextant, and navigation book. There were also no lifeboats, and it appeared there should have been at least one. The hold was full of food, the ship in good shape and running well. The only trouble was one pump that had been disabled, causing there to be some water between decks. However, this did not disable the boat. In fact, she was sailed to Gibraltar by one of Morehouse's crew after the discovery.

The ship's slate showed they had last documented a stop on November 25 on St. Mary Island.

Tales of the Mary Celeste have long said she was in perfect shape, not a thing out of place, food half eaten, and that there was a bloody sword. Sadly, none of this was true. Though it appeared the crew had left in a great hurry, there were no signs of violence, and no partially eaten meals set out. Everything on the ship was wet except for those items kept safely in trunks. Ropes were reported hanging off the side.

The crew were never discovered, and theories abounded. Piracy was a possibility, but with nothing of value missing, and no signs of violence, it made no sense. It was suggested that when the pump stopped working, they thought it was sinking and abandoned ship, but Captain Briggs had commanded several ships, and was by no means new at it. He wouldn't have abandoned the ship unless there was a real need to.

Perhaps there was a mutiny, but then not everyone would have abandoned ship, and there would have been
Benjamin Briggs, Captain of the Mary Celeste;
See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
signs, such as blood, had anyone been injured. Sea monsters, perhaps, or the ever-present aliens? Maybe the missing alcohol had spilled in the hold, causing fumes that forced ship abandonment. There was no sign of this when the ship was boarded later, but the amount of water on the ship could have taken care of the problem. No trace of the missing alcohol was found, no scent remained, and it's unknown where the alcohol went. Other suggestions included a sea quake or waterspout. It's thought that they had abandoned the ship for whatever reason, but kept a rope tied between the larger ship and the smaller. The rope was severed, setting them adrift and at the mercy of stormy seas (it was confirmed by Morehouse that there had been storms for days).

In addition to the other possible causes of the disappearance, it was posited that Captain Morehouse either worked with Briggs to commit insurance fraud (the ship, plus its goods, were insured at $46,000) or that he took out the crew to gain the ship (Morehouse got the ship as a salvage).

A few interesting extras:

The Mary Celeste was considered cursed by some well before Briggs, his family and crew disappeared into the waves. Three captains died while commanding her, there was a fire, and a couple collisions with other ships.

Captain Briggs had a second child, a seven-year old son, who had remained behind with his grandmother to continue attending school.

The Mary Celeste went back into service, and was sold many times until a new captain intentionally wrecked her in Haiti for the insurance money. He didn't get away with it, but she was a splintered wreck, never to sail again.

One of the salvagers from Morehouse's crew reported that there was blood on the deck, a gash in the railing, and blood on a sword. An investigator said the supposed blood was actually rust, and the gash could be due to just about anything, and wasn't of concern.

I found one report saying five bodies turned up on an island later on, one wrapped in an American flag. This was the only place it was mentioned, though, and no further details were included.

There have been other abandoned ships found, including The Latin, The Hermania, and The Marathon.

So why did the crew of the Mary Celeste disappear? What scared them off? Or were they forced off? What happened to the missing nine barrels of alcohol?

May you find your Muse.

*Letter M courtesy of Marlene,

Saturday, April 13, 2013

L is for Lizzie Borden

I originally started writing about the Lost Ninth Roman Legion, but after a whole lotta' research, I couldn't bring myself to care about it. Instead, I'll bring you a classic that I'm interested in no matter how many times I hear about it, because there's always some new little tidbit that comes along, and then it's new! Woo-hoo!

Thursday, August 4, 1892 was a hot day in Fall River, Massachusetts, with temperatures exceeding 100 degrees. Some members of the Borden family had been suffering a stomach illness the last couple days, which was assumed to have been food poisoning.

Andrew Borden, patriarch of the family, came in from running errands and reclined on a sofa for a nap, shoes on, feet on the floor.

Abby Borden, stepmother to the two thirty-something girls from Andrew's first marriage, Lizzie and Emma, was upstairs making the guest bed, where her predecessor's brother was sleeping on one of his many visits.

Bridget, the maid, was upstairs resting after having washed the windows in the intense heat.

Lizzie Borden.
By Anonymous [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Lizzie had slept in late, starting some chores after a breakfast of coffee and a cookie. She was on the main floor, in the kitchen, and went out to the barn for a time.

Emma, Lizzie's sister, and their uncle were off visiting people, Emma fifteen miles away.

Bridget had drifted off, but was awakened by Lizzie yelling for her, saying her father had been killed, that someone must have broken in. The house was always locked from the inside, and many of the interior doors were locked between rooms (think of Nicole Kidman's character in The Others, locking doors as she went through them).

The mutilated body of Andrew Borden.
Anonymous. Wikimedia Commons.
Andrew Borden had been murdered using a hatchet, struck about eleven times in the head and face, his eyeball cut in half, his nose severed entirely. The perpetrator appeared to have been standing directly behind him as he reclined on the sofa, his head on the armrest.

Lizzie claimed she thought she had heard her stepmother return from a chore (one only Lizzie was aware of her having gone on). Abby was found on her stomach in a pool of blood in the guest room, struck from behind at least nineteen times with the same weapon as her husband. These blows had rained down upon her head and neck.

Abby's blood had congealed, but Andrew's was still seeping out, which led examiners to think Abby had been murdered first.

Some facts:

Hearing that they had suffered a stomach malady, the victims' stomachs and the family's milk were sent off to be tested. No poison was found in the milk or in the victims' stomachs, so their illness in the days leading up to their deaths was attributed to food poisoning or a stomach bug. They had left food out on the stove to be used over the course of a couple days, so food poisoning stands to reason.

Lizzie attempted to buy prussic acid the day before the murders. She was turned down for not having a prescription. She denied having been there, though two people placed her there.

When Lizzie's father got home, she told him Abby had received a note asking for her help with an illness and
Abby Borden, stepmother.
By Anonymous [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons.
had taken off. Chances are, at the time he arrived home to lie down, Abby was already dead. Was there ever a note? No one else knows anything about it, and it was never found. When questioned on this, Lizzie claimed she may have burned it.

Bridget (the maid) was upstairs for both murders, probably dozing when Andrew was killed, yet she heard nothing.

A hatchet with a broken/missing handle was found in the cellar. There was no blood on it. A second hatchet was found with hair and blood on it, but this was determined to be from a cow. There were two other dirty hatchets, no blood on either.

Lizzie burned a dress on August 7, claiming she had gotten paint on it, which had ruined it.

Andrew Borden was an unfriendly penny pincher, and one of the richest men in town. His business dealings were said to be dishonest. He was the head of several banks and owned substantial property in town. He had many enemies.

Lizzie was the first to find Andrew, and she claimed she'd heard Abby come in, directing her maid to go upstairs and look for her stepmother (who she called Mrs. Borden, not mother, and who she didn't get along with).

Abby was killed at about 9:30 AM, Andrew at about 11:00 AM. Where was the killer all this time as two other women (Lizzie and Bridget) walked around the house?

The house was kept locked from the inside. Bridget unlocked the door for Andrew when he returned then went out to get a pail of water. She locked the door when she came back in. This was the only time the house would have been unlocked for anyone to get in.

Bridget heard Lizzie laugh upstairs around the time Andrew arrived home. Lizzie claimed she was in the kitchen at that time. (Anyone else find it disturbing that she was laughing, if she had indeed killed her stepmother?)

When asked where she'd been when the murder occurred, Lizzie said she was in the barn loft. Officers found the loft to be covered in dust. No footprints.

Lizzie had visited a friend the day before the murders, claiming she was worried something was going to happen to her father, and she just knew someone was out to get him. She claimed someone had threatened him.

Lizzie's uncle testified that Andrew was changing his will to leave his money to his wife, with only a small amount for each of his daughters.

Lizzie and Emma often tried to get their father to move to a nicer area and to improve things in life, as he was too cheap to even have indoor plumbing, though it was available at the time.

There was no time for Lizzie to have washed any blood off herself between Andrew's death and her calling for Bridget. The wall over Andrew was splattered, as would the person standing behind him to kill him have been. Where was the blood? The house was searched, and no bloody clothing found.

A boy claimed to have seen a strange man running from the home at about the time the murder was committed. A man fitting the description was found, but he had an alibi. Other eye witnesses claimed to see a strange man (though never the same one or in the same place) and Lizzie coming out of the barn just as she had said.

The key to the upstairs (the only way to get up there was locked at all times, as well) was on the shelf when Andrew got home. He went upstairs briefly, then came back down before settling in for his nap on the sofa.

Borden Home.
By Anonymous [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
From book "Infamous Murders" (1975) (out of print)

Various suspicions include:

1. Lizzie Borden did it alone. No one has been able to say for certain how she concealed the blood she should have been covered with, or how she escalated and de-escalated so rapidly after each frenzied kill, in order to be calm and doing household chores each time she spoke with someone (Bridget, Andrew).

2. Lizzie and Bridget worked together. Each left the house to the backyard/barn at some point between the murders and could possibly have concealed bloody clothing outside. Bridget left the day after the murders, though, returning to Ireland before coming back to the U.S., marrying, and living out the rest of her life in Montana. She never showed signs of any new riches, such as she might have received for being duplicitous in the crime. Also, the girls were not kind to her, calling her Maggie snidely, which was the previous maid's name. Why would she help Lizzie when Lizzie was a spoiled little rich girl, and she didn't appear to have been paid off?

3. Emma used her visit out of town as an alibi, then snuck back, probably working with Lizzie, even possibly Bridget.

4. One of many of the townsfolk who hated Andrew did it. Someone he'd cheated or swindled. Someone he'd fired or denied a loan to. However, how did they get into the house when it was locked? How did they lie in wait for 1 1/2 hours after killing Abby? And why kill Abby, but not Bridget or Lizzie?

5. It has been hypothesized that there was a troubled, mentally retarded brother that no one knew about, and that he had shown up out of nowhere insisting to be in the will. When his father turned him down, he coaxed Lizzie to help him kill their parents. He killed them both, with her covering for him. Whether this alleged son exists is not established.

All of these facts add up to a tricky case, unsolved after more than a century. Charges were pressed against Lizzie--three murder charges, one for each person, then a separate murder charge for both of them together. It would be almost a year before the case saw trial in June of 1893. Lizzie was found not guilty after a fourteen day trial. She didn't get to testify, and she fainted at the sight of her father's skull.

She was found not guilty.

Five weeks later, Lizzie and Emma purchased a house in the moneyed area using money they'd gotten from both Abby's and Andrew's estates (Abby's went to Andrew, as she died first, and his money went to the girls, his will not having been changed). They had a full service staff and enjoyed the finer things in life for the rest of their days, both dying in 1927, though they no longer lived together, and hadn't spoken in awhile due to a falling out about a friend of Lizzie's, an actress she spent much of her time with, and was rumored to have a relationship with. The girls were laid to rests by the bodies of their father, their mother and their stepmother. Lizzie left money behind to be used to maintain her father's grave.

I wouldn't doubt Lizzie was a bit of a sociopath. She was certainly a spoiled little rich girl. When reading about her behavior, I pictured her as far younger than her thirties. In fact, I was shocked to discover her age. Being spiteful to her stepmother and the maid. Acting petulant because her father wouldn't move them to The Hill, the ritzy area Lizzie and Emma moved to after their father's death. She listened intently throughout the proceedings, not showing emotion, save the moment she "fainted" when her father's skull was revealed. How easy would that have been to fake?

Did Lizzie kill her stepmother in a frenzy, wait an hour, then do the same to her father? How did she hide the blood from her stepmother's death for an hour, talk to Bridget calmly, and iron handkerchiefs, all the while waiting to kill her father? Did she change twice, wearing a total of three outfits that day in order to hide blood stains from two murders? Where did she put the bloody clothing? How did Bridget not hear the sound of a 200 pound woman hitting the floor? Did Bridget and Lizzie work together? Was there a stepbrother? Or did one of the townsfolk who had been swindled by Andrew commit the murder? Why would they kill his wife, but let his maid and daughter live?

May you find your Muse.

Friday, April 12, 2013

K is for Kennedy Family Curse

Joseph Kennedy,
US Securities and Exchange
Commission, Public Domain,
Wikimedia Commons
Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. and Rose Elizabeth Fitzgerald had nine children between 1915 and 1932. Today, only one of those children still lives, Jean Kennedy. All but one of her siblings died young, or fairly young, in terrible ways. One, Rosemary Kennedy, lived to 86. However, she had been incapacitated due to a failed lobotomy for mental illness in 1941, and kept in an institution for 63 years. The rest of her siblings died between the years of 1944 and 2009 from plane crashes, cancer, Addison's disease, and assassination.

Their children have met much the same type of fate, and the family has been riddled with scandal, from murder to affairs to car accidents that have taken others' lives or paralyzed them. Even worse, many who have married into the family have met untimely or tragic deaths. Suicide, plane crashes, and more. Now the great-grandchildren are suffering.

This is thought by some to be an actual curse. The Kennedy Family Curse.

JFK, By White House Press Office (WHPO) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Mental illness, cocaine overdose, bone cancer, skiing accident, miscarriages, suicides, premature babies, car accidents, airplane accidents...murder. All of this wrapped into two generations of the same family. Anyone who associates with them is a possible victim of the curse, and the tragedy that circles them.

There is no record of an actual curse being leveled at them. However, they've found much success, both in politics and finances. Instead of a curse, could it simply be payback for a bargain forged to insure said success? Did someone pay with blood?

You can find a timeline here.

Was the curse invented by the media? Is it a real curse? Have they seen more than their share of tragedy, or can it simply be traced to the size of the family? Is it possible that someone in the Kennedy clan traded lives for financial and political success?

May you find your Muse.