On Friday February 13, 1981, in the city of Louisville Kentucky, it seemed like the city was under attack. A series of underground explosions in the city’s sewer system destroyed more than two miles of streets. Somehow, there were no fatalities but the damage was so extensive the National Guard was called in.
It began around 5:15 a.m. on the morning of Friday the 13th when a spark from a car at the intersection of 12th and Hill streets ignited flammable vapors in the sewer system. Two women on their way to work at the local hospital were driving under the railroad overpass when the sparks from their car ignited the vapors. The force of the explosion hurled the car onto its side but neither occupant was killed.
Overhead, a police helicopter happened to be traveling above the city. What they saw was incredible – a series of explosions like demolitions detonating up and down city streets, one after the other. The pilot described what they saw as looking like “a bombing run.” More than two miles of streets were left with craters where manhole covers for the sewer had once been. Many business and homes were damaged by the explosions.
The source of the blast was traced back to hexane vapors, which had been illegally discharged by a Ralston-Purina soybean processing plant. The hexane (which is a solvent) was used in the processing of the soybeans and the plant had a system to recover and reuse the hexane.
However, that night, the system was broken and hundreds if not thousands of gallons of the hexane went into the public sewer system. Inside the sewers, the vapors from the hexane accumulated and reached an explosive mixture with air. The flammable and explosive vapors came out of the manhole covers and all it needed was a spark to set it off. Ralston-Purina would later pay $18 million to the city and $9 million to the people of Louisville.
Mexican villagers were digging into the ground when they found a mass grave, filled with 25 ancient corpses. Around half of the bodies had freakishly long skulls. Although some people were quick to suggest that the bodies were those of aliens, researchers believe that the skulls were reshaped on purpose – while their owners were still alive.
Children in the Central American cultures of 1,000 years ago had their skulls forced into odd shapes from a young age. Their heads were bound with flat boards, which put enormous pressure on their skulls. The pressure forced the bone tissue to grow upwards rather than outwards – resulting in something that looks a lot like an alien.
It’s horrible enough for a family to have a child go missing, but to have FIVE of them disappear in the same night?! That’s exactly what happened to George and Jenny Sodder on Christmas Eve in 1945.
Their family had ten children, but after their Fayetteville, West Virginia home burned to the ground, five of them (Betty, Jennie,Louis, Martha and Maurice) were never seen again. The obvious explanation should be that they died in the fire, but no remains of the children were ever found and it’s extremely unlikely that fire could have completely incinerated them.
While the family did find a few remains in the wreckage, they showed no signs of fire damage and may have been stolen from a cemetery and planted there! It is theorized that the fire was started as a diversion to abduct the children as the house’s phone line had been cut and the family’s ladder was found in an embankment 75 feet away.
There were numerous eyewitness sightings of the children over the years, and in 1968, the family were mailed a mysterious photograph of a man who may have been a grown-up Louis Sodder. Sadly, George and Jenny both died without ever finding out the truth about what happened.
On February 9, in a suburb of Salt Lake City, an Hispanic woman was attacked and murdered while alone in her apartment. Incredibly, the same thing happened twice, in both 2006 and 2008. And though at first the repeated circumstances were taken to be a grisly coincidence, DNA analysis of evidence collected at both scenes would later prove that the murders were committed by the same man, whom the media promptly dubbed the “February 9 Killer.”
In the 2006 case, the victim Sonia Mejia was pregnant when she was assaulted and strangled. A few items were stolen from her apartment, but none of them ever turned up. In the 2008 case, Damiana Castillo was strangled in her apartment about a mile away from Mejia’s place. In both cases, there was no sign of forced entry- and while the investigative agencies involved were and still are extremely reluctant to label the perpetrator a “serial killer,” that certainly seems to be an apt description of a man who kills two women in a very similar fashion, on the same date, two years apart.
While police have a vague description of the killer, they’re not saying how they arrived at it; and while they have a DNA profile, they don’t have a match for that profile—meaning that unless the perpetrator is eventually made to surrender a DNA sample for some unrelated crime, he may never be caught.
New Mexico CB radio operators were shocked and concerned on August 7 to hear transmissions from a young boy pleading for help. His name was Larry, he told them, and he was trapped in a red and white pickup truck with his father, who might be dead.
According to Larry, his father had taken him on a hunting trip. At some point along the way, there was an accident and the truck overturned into a gully, jamming the driver and passenger side doors. He said he couldn’t get out, had no food or water, and no idea where the accident had occurred. He also made matters worse by constantly switching channels in an apparent panic. And he thought his father had suffered a heart attack and died.
Much to the operators’ frustration, Larry’s signal faded in and out. Due to atmospheric conditions, his cries were heard in California, Wyoming, and elsewhere. The authorities were contacted and the search for Larry began in New Mexico, somewhere in the mountains where local and state police believed the signal originated. Thousands of civilian volunteers hit the roads, but not all as part of the official search, leading to confusion.
As the days passed, newspapers and TV stations picked up the story. Larry’s signal grew weaker, a sign the battery was running out of juice. Practical jokers began mimicking his voice over the airwaves, adding to the chaos.
By August 12, no sign of an overturned pickup truck had been found, no one reported a missing boy, Larry’s signal disappeared for good, and authorities claimed the broadcasts were a hoax. However, no one has ever come forward to claim responsibility and no suspects were named. Were Larry’s cries for help a fraud? Or did a young boy die, trapped and alone? Themystery remains unsolved.
Cherry Hill was a neighborhood in the old Fourth Ward of the Lower East Side of Manhattan, which became infamous for the worst tenement slum in the city, Gotham Court. However, in 1900, a three-room flat on Cherry Street gained brief notoriety for being haunted. According to reports, for 19 years, even in overcrowded NYC, no tenant had been able to remain within the flat longer than a few hours before terrifying disturbances began: pictures turned upside down on the walls, furniture moved, residents were physical assaults. The poltergeist activity was believed due to the spirit of an old French woman, a widow who committed suicide by hanging herself following her husband’s death. This location shouldn’t be confused with the Cherry Hill estate in Albany, which is also supposed to be haunted.
Skunk Cabbage is a huge, foul smelling North American member of the Aurum family. Native to swamps, the odor of the plant is often mistaken for an irate skunk until the huge golden or purplish flowers are seen emerging from the leaves. The appearance of the plant is like an alien artifact.
Although certain parts of the Skunk Cabbage were found to be edible by Native Americans, it should be known that death from severe calcium oxalate poisoning may result from consuming the wrong parts in excessive quantities.
The calcium oxalate is an extremely corrosive toxin that burns into the flesh, and may shut down organ systems.
An author misunderstood a gardening book and tried a flowerhead. The result was extreme burning of the mouth and throat, serious illness for several hours, and two days of difficult swallowing.
On March 25, 1975, the Lyon sisters, 12-year old Sheila and 10-year old Katherine, went to Wheaton Plaza Shopping Center in Wheaton, Maryland. When the girls did not come home that night, their parents called the authorities, leading one of the largest police investigations in the area’s history. Over a week-and-a-half later, the Lyon family would receive a phone call from an individual demanding $10,000 for the return of their daughters. Even though this ransom was left in a courthouse restroom, no one ever showed up retrieve it.
The main suspect in the Lyon sisters’ disappearance is a mysterious man carrying a microphone and a tape recorder, who was seen talking to the girls at the mall that day. Two weeks later, a witness came forward to claim he saw Sheila and Katherine bound and gagged in the back of a station wagon being driven by someone who resembled the same man from the mall. However, none of these leads ever panned out, so the identity of this man and the ultimate fate of the Lyon sisters is still unknown.
In 1982, California newspapers reported on the LeBaron Hotel (now the Wyndham San Jose Hotel and Resort)—specifically Room 538, which was said by employees and visitors to be haunted. The story began with housekeeper Lupe Moncivais, who claimed she first came across the spirit haunting the room in 1979 or 1980 after the death of a young woman from a drug overdose in November of that year. She heard a voice whispering her name and her hair was pulled, but she was alone at the time.
Following the report, the hotel was deluged with requests to reserve the haunted room for the night. Guests reported other phenomena such as the elevators stopping on the fifth floor by themselves, faucets in Room 538 turning on and off, and a “woman in white” was seen entering the unoccupied room.
Freak show performer, contortionist, and a man possessing a strange and unique power, Angelo Faticoni’s singular talent was reflected in his nickname—the Human Cork. Faticoni was unsinkable, and he made his living demonstrating that fact.
Faticoni could sleep on his side while floating in water. He could stay afloat for hours with lead weighing twenty pounds fastened to his ankles, and assume any position in the water without danger. He was sewn into a sack with a heavy cannonball chained to his body and tossed into the water. He didn’t sink, but floated up to eight hours in apparent unconcern, now and then peeping his head out of the top of the sack. He is also reported to have crossed the Hudson River fastened to a lead weighted chair.
After testing Faticoni, Harvard University doctors concluded he did not possess abnormal internal organs, but they failed to find an explanation for his amazing buoyancy. Faticoni continued astonishing audiences with his performances in lakes, rivers, and pools. He was investigated numerous times, but no evidence of trickery was ever found.
In 1931, while visiting relatives in Jacksonville, Florida, Faticoni died. Although he promised to reveal the secret of his talent, he never did. He remains a mysterious individual.
There may not have been an F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway or William Faulkner if there hadn’t been Sherwood Anderson first. Throughout the teens, twenties and thirties, he wrote a series of novels and short stories that were a direct influence on the Great American Writers; his 1919 collection Winesburg, Ohio eschewed the literary devices of the day to paint the kind of bleak, unsentimental portraits of American life for which others would become more famous than he.
Indeed, Anderson’s death sounds a bit like the sort of hackneyed plot device he would have hated—while at a party, he popped his martini olive down the hatch. An olive that contained a sliver of a toothpick. No, he didn’t choke on it—it likely damaged his gastrointestinal tract, causing an infection, and he died a few days after the party of peritonitis.
Anderson has come to be known as a major American writer; dozens of works were published posthumously, and many are still in print. While contemporaries like Fitzgerald were known to be done in by an abundance of drinks, Anderson is the only of their ranks to be killed by just one martini.
The tapir is a strange looking beast similar to the pig, found in Central and South America and parts of Asia. On the morning of 27 November 1998, zookeeper Lisa Morehead was feeding a Malayan tapir named Melody (a new mother with a 2 month old baby in her enclosure) when the animal bit her left arm. Morehead fought back, suffering facial lacerations, and internal injuries including a punctured lung, but lost the battle for her arm. It was torn off at mid-bicep, too mangled and contaminated to be reattached.