Saturday, 15 October 2011

Deadly Games!

Explosive neck collars seem to be a popular device of horror stories, they instil an urgent obedience in the poor characters with them attached to their necks... Sadly, these contraptions and methods are not just an horrific device of fiction. The twisted games of the SAW films, the Fallout: Dead Money story of an elaborate robbery cartographer by a stranger; these events are closer to real life than most would realise.
On August 28th, 2003, what started as an average day, ended in one of the most bizarre criminal acts in history. Mama Mia's Pizzaria in Erie, Pennsylvania, USA got a standard order for two pizzas, to be delivered not far from the building. Filling this order was  Brian Douglas Wells’, their pizza delivery man for nearly 30 years. Wells' set off with the pizzas to a featureless building, next to the abandoned WSEE-TV Transmitter tower. Nobody knows what happened next, but an hour later he was stood in a bank 2 miles away, with an improvised shotgun in his hands and an explosive device around his neck.

The unique explosive device was a complex triple-banded collar with a 3-digit combination dial and 4 locks, each lock having a key in a different location. Attached to the collar was a metal box containing pipebombs, controlled by an electrical detonator. Brian was tasked with following a 9 page list of hand written rules, to disarm his explosive collar before it killed him. At 14:20, Brian Wells attempted his first task.

Standing in the PNC Bank with a strange device attached to his body and instructions to get quarter of a million dollars from the bank teller, Brian handed the teller a note and a bag, who then filled the bag with $8,702. Brian realised he was short, but pressed for time he told the bank teller he would return for the rest of the money later. As Brian left in his car, a bank employee rang 911: "We just have been robbed. . . . We have a bank robbery at PNC Bank. The guy just walked out with - I don't know how much cash is in the bag. He had a bomb or something wrapped around his neck."
The police swiftly moved in and arrested Brian Wells, handcuffing him in a nearby car park. Once the police realised the collar housed explosives, they called in bomb squad. Sat on the floor with 20 minutes left to live, Brian pleaded to deaf ears as the bomb squad drove to the location.

"I don't have a lot of time."
"It's gonna go off."
"He pulled a key out and started a timer. I heard the thing ticking when he did it."
"Can you at least take these freakin handcuffs off so I can hold this thing up? It's killing my neck."
"I didn't do it."
Sadly with heavy traffic and not much time left, the collar exploded, punching a fatal "post-card" sized hole in Brian's chest. The elaborate event had ended in tragedy.

No one knew what had lead to those events, who had put the device on Wells or even truly why they had done it. The investigation hit a dead end and the whole event remained an enigma. It wasn't until 2008 when the truth came crashing down, leading to the prosecution of Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong, 58, and Kenneth Barnes, 53. A third conspirator,  Floyd Stockton, 60, was granted immunity in exchange for testifying against Marjorie and Kenneth.
It turned out that Brian Wells was in on the scheme. Brian had met Kenneth Barnes through Jessica Hoopsick, one of the prostitutes he visited, then was drawn into an elaborate scheme of robbery and murder.
Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong's father had left her as the inheritor of his fortunes, unwilling to wait for his death Marjorie decided to speed things up. Her plan was to gain $125,000 to hire a hitman to kill her father, to gain the money to do this she would rob a bank. To rob the bank she would build a complex bomb collar and a homemade shotgun, then attach it to a pizza delivery man and give him a bunch of tasks to disarm it... because you know, that's the shortest way to kill your father.

Sadly for Brian Wells, what he hadn't realised was that the bomb wasn't a fake as he was lead to believe. He was never meant to survive; killing Brian was all part of Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong's plan to cut off all loose ends.

The story wasn't over though. After everything had gone wrong, Brian was dead and no money was received, Marjorie became determined not to go to jail for murder... so she hatched another brilliant plan. She went home, deciding the best way to eliminate the possibility of being traced to the crime was to kill off anyone that might talk. She stepped into her house, greeted her boyfriend, then proceeded to hack him to pieces and store the body in her refrigerator. Obviously it wasn't the best plan, as soon she was incarcerated for his murder.

The story didn't exactly end with the same levels of near evil-genius it started with. What had baffled the media and police was simply just the moronic, botched plan of an insane women.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Dyatlov Pass

In 1959 on the 28th January, nine cross country skiers went out on an expedition. They were headed for the Otorten mountain range, which is in the Northern Urals in Russia. They were led by an Igor Dyatlov 23, whose name was later given to the area after the incident that took place some 50 years ago.
On February 2nd 1959 the team were crossing an area known to the local Mansi tribe as Kholat Syakhl, translated to mean the Mountain of Death. The group set up camp on that night and were never seen alive again.

The skiers were expected to complete their expedition by February 12th and it was prearranged that Igor Dyatlov would contact the sports club they belonged to on doing so. On receiving no word from Igor the club sent word to the authorities and a search party was organised.

On February 26th the search team found the groups tent partly covered by snow, the tents had been ripped open from the inside and most of the groups belongings were said to be still inside, footprints found around the camp showed that some of the skiers had left wearing only socks or barefoot, this combined with the amount of equipment left behind suggested they had left in a real hurry.

The search continued, some two km away the first two bodies were found, barefoot and only in their underwear, evidence of a fire was found, branches had been pulled from a nearby tree although firewood seemed readily available at ground level . Three more bodies were found back towards the tents location as though they had been heading back, it was reported the first five people found had all died of hypothermia although one did have a fractured skull it was not considered the cause of death.

After another two months searching the final four bodies were found near a ravine, they were well clothed but were said to have suffered traumatic deaths. one suffered a crushed skull, one was missing a tongue and the other two had multiple broken ribs, but strangely no external wounds were found on the bodies, there clothes however were said to have contained high levels of radiation. It was also later reported that the skin of the bodies was orange in colour and looked burnt and the hair on some had turned grey, but this was not in the original report.

In May 1959 the inquest into the death of the skiers concluded that due to the absence of a guilty party the groups death was the cause of a compelling unknown force. It was also reported that local Mansi tribes had seen strange glowing orbs in the sky over the mountain range on the night that the group died.

So why did the group leave the tent in such a hurry ? Were they scared by strange lights in the sky.  What caused the condition of the bodies, how accurate was the investigation were certain facts omitted ? Could there be a logical explanation for these events or was there a more sinister force at play. This was not the first incident in the so called Mountains of Death, according to folklore nine Mansi tribesmen died there in mysterious circumstances which is how the mountain got its name, nine skiers died in 1959 and in 1991 nine died in a plane crash. So my advice if you are going to visit the area only take seven or less friends.....

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Overtoun Bridge

In Scotland in the borough of Dumbarton, lies the small village of Milton. In this villages exists the Overtoun bridge. The bridge is on the grounds of Overtoun House which is a 19th century manor. The house was commissioned to be built by James White in 1859 and was lived in by his family into the 1930s, it was then given to the people of Dumbarton. It has since been used as a hospital and youth hostel. Nothing out of the ordinary.

Now since 1950-60s something strange started to happen at the Overtoun bridge, dogs have started to throw themselves from the bridge falling to their death 40-50ft below in what appears to be some form of canine suicide.These weird events have been occurring at regular intervals up until current times. It is said that well over 50 dogs have leaped to their death.

A TV documentary was made looking at the possibilities or causes of why the dogs are reacting to the bridge in this strange manner. David Sands an animal expert came to the conclusion that it was the smell of mink that was attracting the dogs into leaping to their deaths. The sound of running water and optical illusions have also been mentioned as possible reasons.

In conclusion, is it likely that a dog would throw itself down a 40ft drop chasing after a good smell, or hearing running water would be confused enough to leap to its death. I don't think so, all these things could be present at many locations similar to Overtoun but what makes this bridge unique ? One dog was even reported to jump from the bridge, survive the fall and crawl back to the top with broken limbs and attempt to jump again. Is it some supernatural force, some unforeseen natural occurrence. Well I'm not sure but I do know if I was walking my dog here he would be firmly attached to me by his lead.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

In Deep Ship

The SS Richard Montgomery was an American Liberty Ship. The Vessel built in 1943 was used to carry cargo during the second world war.

In 1944 the ship left Hog Island Philadelphia on its final voyage. The ship was carrying 6, 127 tons of munitions. Its mission was to go to England where it would meet up with a convoy, then it would continue on to France.

Once the ship reached Southend it came under the authority of the Thames naval control.
The Harbour Master ordered the ship to berth about 2.5km of the coast of Sheerness.
On the 20th August 1944 the ship dragged anchor and ran aground on a sandbank.

On the 23rd August 1944 a local salvage company had the job of removing the cargo from the grounded ship, within a few days the ships hull cracked and its holds started to take on water, the salvage company continued operations for as long as possible, but after a few weeks had to abandon efforts.

The ship had now broken into two pieces and any salvage operations would be very difficult to carry out. In 1967 a Polish ship The Kielce which had sank in 1946 with a similar amount of ordnance on board exploded after an attempt to neutralise its dangerous load. This caused an explosion similar in force to an earthquake of a magnitude of 4.5, and made a 20ft (6m) crater in the seabed.Fortunately there were no fatalities but the authorities were very dubious about attempting this kind of operation again.

In 1973 the Maritime and Coastguard Agency placed an exclusion zone around the wreck, as there was still a large amount of unexploded ordnance on board the sunken ship.

Several assessments of the danger of the wreck have been made, the reports state that some 3000 tons of munitions are still on the sunken ship, containing about 1400 tons of highly explosive TNT.
One report by the BBC suggested that if the ship exploded it would throw a 1,000-foot (300 m) wide column of water and debris nearly 10,000 feet (3,000 m) in the air and generate a wave 16 feet (5 m) high. Almost every window in Sheerness (pop. c20,000) would be broken and buildings would be damaged by the blast.

Assessments made in the last few years have stated that an explosion could potentially cause £1 billion pounds worth of damage. The ship has continued to deteriorate, and serious concerns are being made as to the stability of its load. With the proposal of an airport possibly being built in the Thames estuary a solution must soon be found to this explosive problem.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Island of The Dolls

La Isla de la Munecas is found south of Mexico City by travelling along the Canals of Xochimilco. The story behind it is that the island once had a sole inhabitant, Don Julian Santana Barrera. While Julian was in fact married, he decided to spend the last 50 years of his life alone on his own little island.

One day Julian was relaxing on his private island when he spotted a doll floating down the canal. Julian fished the doll out and later found that it had belonged to a little girl living in a village further up the canal. The unfortunate girl had been playing near the water when she slipped, fell in and drown.

The story is a lot weirder than that though. After finding the doll, Julian soon discovered the Island had one extra inhabitant. The girl wasn't willing to give up her doll that easily, not even after death. Now stuck with a girls doll and her ghost, Julian decided it was time to take up a new hobby.

The island Hermit began collecting dolls, amassing thousands of dolls over his lifetime and lovingly displaying them across the island for the little girl.

Now from nearly every tree on the island (and just about everywhere else he could stick them) mutilated dolls simulated acts of torture and suicide. A shrine was erected for the girl, and as long as new dolls came rolling in the ghost was appeased. Or so Julian thought...

After 50 years of manic doll collecting, Julians life finally came to an end. The death of a lone crazy island hermit wouldn't really draw much attention, had he not drown in the same canal as the little girl he claimed had haunted him. Had he been paying his regards to the dead child and merely fallen in? Or had the restless spirit finally grown tired of the old man? Only Julian will ever know for certain.

Now Island of The Dolls is merely a creepy Mexican tourist attraction, visited every so often by boats of tourists. It is claimed the dolls whisper and must be offered gifts to appease them on arrival; true or not, the location is still creepy. Would you ever dare visit La Isla de la Munecas?

A Leap too Far

Astral Projection anyone ?
Nah its so yesterday.

Now everyone is Quantum Jumping.

Well when I say everyone, I mean some people are trying.
I don't want to stereo type, but those who feel there lives are unfulfilled or have a higher sense of purpose, looking for some spiritual or other worldly guidance, those who have more money than sense and are quite happy to give it to some guy who promises to change their life in six easy payments, or those who have next to nothing and its a last ditch effort to get their sorry arses back on track.....sound familiar.

When Jesus talked about our salvation, he said it wouldn't be easy, but I don't think the path to spiritual utopia has anything to to do with our sort code and bank account number. Whenever one of these so called experts tell us that they can fix everything, do we really believe them, Some do obviously but if someone has truly found the path to enlightenment, discovered the answers to life, the universe...everything do you think they would really need to squeeze us mere mortals dry to help us achieve our own goals ?

Maybe I'm being a bit cynical, I'm an open minded guy, Who remembers "Quantum Leap" I watched Scott Bakula jump around the multiverse, lending a helping hand on his way, But is it possible.......

The idea is that our universe is only one of many.Scientists are now starting to look at the Multiverse theory as being quite plausible. In the near future The Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) is going to be launched, and part of the outcome of its mission is to discover the existence of other universes. So possibly in the next few years we could have irrefutable proof that the existence of other universes is indeed fact.

Also it has been observed that the exact location of an atomic particle is hard to pin down, the idea being that the particles have multiple points of existence. Some say that the particles exist not just in multiple locations in our universe, but in multiple locations across a multiverse.

Now this is where people start hypothesizing that if multiple universes exist containing particles spanning the multiverse, that maybe multiples of us also exist. One suggestion is that every choice we make opens up multiple paths of possibility and each outcome is explored in a different universe by a different us, and so on.....

So could we potentially contact our other selves and learn from the wisdom of the different choice potentials ?
Maybe, but for now I feel that I am wise enough to realise if someone wants me to pay for the chance to be enlightened that I don't need to travel to another universe to know the outcome.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Lost and Found

Actor Sir Anthony Hopkins had just signed his contract for his 1974 film The Girl from Petrovka. After flying back over to London, England he decided to have a look for a copy of the novel. Since he was in the film, he figured he should at least of read the book it was based on at least once. He went from store to store, searching stores across London's Charing Cross Road, but to his dismay there wasn't a single copy in stock.
He began his journey home empty handed, but sitting at Leicester Square waiting for his train, Anthony spotted a discarded book. By a great stroke of luck, the book was actually The Girl From Petrovka by George Feifer. Amazed by his luck, Anthony picked up the book and set off home to give it a read. This event in its own is not interesting, merely a lucky coincidence, however what followed next was much more.
2 Years later while filming in Vienna, Anthony was visited by the author, George Feifer. During their conversation, George mentioned that he did not have a copy of his own book. He explained that he lent his personal copy to a friend, who had then lost the book in London. George then went on to explain that the copy had been rather precious, in that it contained his personal annotations in the margins.
Anthony got up and went to fetch the book he had found 2 years previously, presenting it to George and asking "Was it this one?" . To both their astonishment, the writing in the margins was George's annotations. George Feifer was reunited with his book, countries and years away from where it was lost, by an actor in the film adaptation of the very same novel.