As a freelance writer it is my job to immersive myself in all kinds of random topics. Some of these are pretty dull, from kitchen remodeling to tax laws. I even spent several weeks of my life writing about TV cabinets. I bet you didn’t even think it was possible to write 50,000 words about TV cabinets, well, the black rings under my eyes and the sheer contempt I now have for all home furniture suggests otherwise.
Lately, I have been afforded the chance to delve into something a little more interesting: hauntings. In particular, the Enfield Haunting, which you may know as the incident covered by The Conjuring 2, AKA the film about the doll that’s not actually about the doll.
Glad I cleared that up.
The Enfield Haunting, if you don’t know, is one of those cases that everyone insists is real, until they actually read about it and discover that it’s as fake as North Korean diplomacy. But there are cases out there that get more interesting and more intriguing as you read about them, and these are a few of my favorites.
The Moonlight Murders
It seems like for every serial killer that ends up behind bars or on Death Row, there are several that never get caught (check this list for a few of the more disturbing ones). This is one such case.
The Moonlight Murders occurred in the Texas town of Texarkana from February to May 1946. The US was still living in the shadow of the Second World War, but for this town there was a very real threat much closer to home. A killer nicknamed The Phantom stalked the town, murdering couples in parked cars, much like the more well known Zodiac Killer would do decades later.
5 were killed and 3 were wounded in just 10 weeks, with the killings ending as abruptly as they had begun. This spree spawned a film and a remake called The Town that Dreaded Sundown (so named because the attacks happened during the dead of night), but the killer has still not been identified to this day.
One of the most bizarre unsolved mysteries around, Tamam Shud is so named because it was printed on a strip of paper found on a dead man on Somerton beach, in Adelaide, South Australia. A suitcase was later found and connected to the man, as was a book from which the strip of paper was torn.
There were no clues as to the cause of death, the man’s identity or why he was there, and the scraps of evidence only furthered the mystery. They included several lines of code that have yet to be deciphered and the phone number of a local nurse who claimed not to know who the man was.
There has been speculation that the man, who became known as The Somerton Man, was a spy and was killed by the US or Soviet secret service. But nothing was conclusive and the case remains unsolved.
The body was found in December 1948. For all we know he could have been the Phantom after going on a wander Down Under, trying (and failing) to take his unique breed of terror to the citizens of Adelaide and being beaten to death by a surly kangaroo. It sounds crazy, but not as crazy as some of the other theories.
The Mothman Prophecies
This film was actually based on a real story. From 1966 to 1967 several residents of Point Pleasant, West Virginia, said they saw a giant winged creature with fierce red eyes that glowed in the dark. This “mothman” was described in similar terms by many who saw him. It was said to be 7 foot tall with a 10 foot wingspan and could fly 100 miles an hour.
The sightings stopped in December 1967 and just 2 weeks later the Silver Bridge, which connected the town to nearby Kanauga, Ohio, collapsed, taking the lives of 46 civilians. Afterwards it was claimed that the Motorman had been trying to warn the citizens of the town.
Some have said that it was just a bird and that the people who saw him overreacted, which is not an unusual occurrence. But then again, I feel my bowels loosen when I see a 3 inch spider scuttle across the bathtub, so I imagine I would be prone to an overreaction as well.
The case of Kyle Peterson is incredibly bizarre and fascinating. One of those where you want to believe that the guy wasn’t nuts or high just so the mystery could endure. This one began with a car crash in Oregon, after which Kyle Peterson promptly climbed out of his vehicle and waited for police to arrive.
He was said to be calm and cooperative when they arrived, but then he changed tune and began to act erratically. He jumped in the car and began revving the engine. The officers backed away and then Petersen stopped. Just as they were waiting for an explanation, he jumped out of the car, sprinted into the woods and was never seen again. Seriously.
Maybe he had just taken a boatload of drugs that just so happened to kick-in during that moment. Maybe he saw the Mothman. Maybe he was the Mothman. No one knows.
Jokes of drug use aside, he seemed like a normal guy with his whole life ahead of him and there was nothing to suggest he was anything but slightly shaken up when the police arrived. No one knows what triggered him, why he ran, or why a search team was not able to find him afterwards.