Thursday, December 18, 2014

FREE Parapsychology Course (January 2015)

The Rhine Research Center defines parapsychology as 'the scientific study of interactions between living organisms and their external environment that seem to transcend the known physical laws of nature.  Parapsychology is a component of the broader study of consciousness and the mind.'

It goes on to list the FIVE areas of study within parapsychology:

1. Telepathy-mind to mind communication through a means other than the normal senses.

2. Clairvoyance or Remote Viewing-knowledge of objects, people or events that are hidden via space or time.

3. Precognition-knowledge of an event that has not yet occurred, or information that appears to be transferred from the future into the present.

4. Psychokinesis (PK)-Mind interacting with matter at a distance.

5. Survival Studies-The nature of human consciousness and an examination of whether consciousness survives the physical form.  This includes mediumship research, reincarnation, out of body experiences, apparitions, and ghost activities.

Up until this point, the majority of my interests, and thus work, in the paranormal field have had a fairly narrow focus on Survival Studies, mainly ghosts, apparitions, and hauntings. However, in order to have a fuller understanding of my chosen focus area, I realize the need for a broader education of the entire parapsychology field.

Luckily, I found a wonderful, FREE opportunity!  Starting on January 5, 2015, the Parapsychology Foundation is partnering with the AZIRE to offer a free course entitled Parapsychology and Anomalistic Psychology: Research and Theory. Hosted through WizIQ, this course will consist of over 22 video lectures running almost daily through February 14th.  A partial list of speakers has been published, and there are some interesting lectures, ranging from those geared to the beginner to those very specific to certain areas of study.  The majority of speakers are associated with the Rhine Research Center in some way or another and are noted in their field as being top researchers.

This link will give you all the information you need to sign up for the course: Parapsychology MOOC

I'm excited for this and I hope some of you will join me in this endeavor!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Top Tuesday: Best Christmas Ornaments!

This post is being published a little later than originally planned...I meant to post it right before Thanksgiving, but better late than never, right?  Anyway, I found this collection of awesome ornaments that any paranormal investigator or enthusiast would be thrilled to have hanging on their tree!  In no particular order...

Krampus, from Paranormal Books and Curiosities

1. Krampus:  Paranormal Books & Curiosities out of New Jersey is selling this delightful glass artwork for $14.95.  But who is Krampus and what does he have to do with Christmas?  Look for a Krampus post here on Theresa's Haunted History in December, but in short, Krampus is a beastly companion of St. Nicholas who pays a visit to and punishes the naughty children of northern Europe.  He arrives on the night of December 5, and for those who are particularly naughty, he takes them away to his lair in a sack.

Jersey Devil, from Paranormal Books and Curiosities

2. The Jersey Devil: Also from Paranormal Books and Curiosities comes this more traditional glass bulb ornament featuring New England's favorite cryptid.  This one is a bargain at $9.95.  I really love how elegant these look!  They'll definitely add a more subtle nod to the unexplained on your Christmas tree.

Bigfoot, from Toscano

3. Bigfoot:  This 2010 design from Toscano is a real work of art...and is one of the most festive Bigfoot ornaments I've seen on the market.  It's hand painted resin, which sounds pretty durable, and can be yours for $9.95.

Frankenstein by Hallmark

4. Frankenstein's Monster: Available as part of Hallmark's 2014 collection.  This Universal Monsters favorite is only $14.95 and can be purchased online or at your local Hallmark store.  As an added bonus, this particular ornament has a pretty broad appeal; paranormal enthusiasts will enjoy it, but so will literati and fans of classic horror movies.

Cthulhu, from Amazon

5. Cthulhu: This is a strange little Cthulhu ornament--it resembles more of a classic alien representation with a curly beard of octopus tendrils than H.P. Lovecraft's iconic creature, but its so cute and festive with its lil' Santa hat! Seriously, who wouldn't love that on the tree this holiday season? This one is being sold for $8.45 through Amazon.

Alien, from Bronners Christmas Wonderland

6. Alien: There are tons of awesome alien/ufo ornaments available from a variety of sources and at a variety of price points, but I chose this guy from Bronner's Christmas Wonderland.  He's made in Poland of high-quality glass, and costs $21.99.

Zombies, from Amazon
7. Zombie: What says Christmas more than rotting flesh hanging from the limbs of a pine tree? Amazon is offering a full set of 8 zombie ornaments for $34.95. These are from Tree Buddees and each brain-devouring fiend stands about three inches tall.

8. Mothman:  This one actually comes from my personal collection!  This was purchased many years ago at the annual Mothman Festival, and I haven't been able to find a similar one to share here.  Sorry for the terrible picture...this was a very shiny ornament and I was taking this photo at 3am, so no natural light was available, lol.

*Gotta throw a shout-out to the awesome blog, Ghost Hunting Theories.  When trying to find a particular photo for this blog, I realized that she'd already beat me to a paranormal ornament post, lol!  Check out that list at the link above.*

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Fallstreak Clouds: Nature's Rapture

Fallstreak Cloud over Australia (November, 2014)

At the beginning of the month, a rather peculiar anomaly was spotted over the skies of Wonthaggi, Australia.  Dozens took to Twitter to share photographs and offer up theories as to what this strange thing in the clouds was.  Many thought that it may be extra-terrestrial in nature...possibly some type of alien spaceship with a shoddy cloaking mechanism engaged.  Some described the image as what the sky will look like during the Rapture.  Others simply had no idea what this thing could be.

Luckily, science had the answer.

This weird anomaly goes by many names including punch hole cloud, hole punch cloud, and fallstreak...and its a MOSTLY natural phenomenon. According to Wikipedia, "such holes are formed when the water temperature in the clouds is below freezing but the water has not frozen yet due to the lack of ice nucleation particles.  When ice crystals DO form, it will set off a domino effect, due to the Bergeron Effect, causing the water droplets around the crystals to evaporate: this leaves a large, often circular, hole in the cloud."

Interestingly, fallstreak holes were not observed prior to World War II, which led to a working theory that these anomalies are actually sparked by airplanes!  In a study led by Andrew Heymsfield, "the research determined that precipitation is triggered by water droplets at extremely cold temperatures, below about 5 degrees. As the air is cooled behind the planes, the water droplets freeze and drop toward Earth."

Still...these are beautiful...and beautifully creepy!  They've certainly fooled many a person as to their true identity and will probably continue to do so for years to come!

10 Examples of Fallstreak Clouds
Fallstreak in Australia
USA Today Article

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Attic Ghosts of the White House

Today, Theresa's Haunted History of the Tri-State Facebook page is devoted to the hauntings of the White House!  Staying with that theme, today's blog post is dedicated to just one of the many, many ghosts associated with our nation's capitol!

1927 construction of the third floor residential areas
When construction of The White House was completed, it came complete with a traditional third floor attic space.  Accessible only by ladder, the majority of the space was used as storage, but there were several small servant bedrooms that were initially created as space for Zachary Taylor's slaves. During Abraham Lincoln's presidency, it was a favorite place for his children to play.  It wasn't until 1902 that a staircase was added, along with several more rooms used as guest bedrooms, clothing storage, ironing, etc.

Each subsequent president did a little more work to the attic space until 1927 when a major renovation took place, turning the traditional attic into a more modern residential living space.  Many paranormal enthusiasts will be quick to point out that renovations often have a way of stirring up paranormal activity and that seems to be true in this case because even though the dark, dank attic was now transformed into a pleasant living area, the ghost stories could not be deterred.

William H. Harrison
The main ghost of the White House attic seems to be that of our ninth president, William Henry Harrison.  Harrison passed away from pneumonia on April 4, 1841--only serving 32 days in office.  Unexplained noises coming from the attic, especially over the area of the Yellow Oval Room, have been attributed to Harrison, who seems to be rummaging through the storage area, looking for something.  Harrison has even been SEEN in the attic.  Witnesses report that his apparition appears to take on a blue glow, and that the sounds of his hacking cough often accompany his sightings. 

William Henry Taft may not be the ONLY ghost that roams the attic, though.  In 1790, David Burns, the original owner of the White House property, was forced to give up his land in order to build the iconic presidential home.  He would die nine years later, apparently carrying a chip on his shoulder throughout his afterlife. FDR's valet may have been the first person to publicly come forward with his encounter with David Burns.  He had heard someone say his name, and when he turned to see who it was, there was no one there.  However, he heard a loud voice in his ear say, "I am Mr. Burns."

Ten years later, a security guard working under the Truman administration also heard the voice saying "I am Mr. Burns," and assumed it was the voice of James Byrnes, Secretary of State.  The voice has been heard in the Yellow Oval Room, which at one time served as Abraham Lincoln's library (and isquite haunted in its own right), seemingly coming from the attic above...but its also been heard in the attic as well, especially in the area over the Yellow Oval Room.

What is President Harrison looking for so intently and will he ever find it...and why has David Burn chosen the attic and the Yellow Oval Room as his favorite spots to haunt?  Until paranormal investigators are allowed in and allowed to publish their findings, we may never know.

White House Museum-The Third Floor
Mr. Lincoln's White House
David Burns from Washington Oddities

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Haunted History of Frankfort's Liberty Hall

Although he was a quiet, behind-the-scenes kind of politician, John Brown is often referred to as The Founding Father of Kentucky.  Born in 1757, he was the youngest member of the Continental Congress and when Kentucky gained statehood, was one of its first senators.  When the seat of government moved to Frankfort, Brown picked up and moved to the frontier area and built a beautiful home on a four acre plot near the Kentucky River.

The home was completed in 1796 and was named Liberty Hall.  Three years later, Brown married a woman named Margaret and brought her to the fine home, where the guest list included many famous names of celebrities and politicians of the period.  Liberty Hall stayed in the family until 1937, and was then later willed to the Colonial Dames of America in 1956.  Today, it operates as a historical site and museum, where tours are offered daily sharing the history of this marvelous home and the people who lived there...and of course, the history of those who died there as well.

Over the years, Liberty Hall has picked up several ghost stories, and it is believed that at least three main spirits still walk the grounds.  In 1805, a visiting Spanish opera singer was said to have attended a party at Liberty Hall, yet was never seen or heard from again.  She was last spotted walking the gardens in the direction of the river and her disappearance was blamed on an abduction by Indians.  Whatever the young woman's fate, her spirit seems to remain.  A dark-haired woman has been seen running through the gardens, her mouth frozen in a silent shriek.  Another ghost is said to be that of a British soldier from the War of 1812.  Legend states that the man had fallen in love with a cousin of the Brown family who was visiting, yet the affection was not reciprocated.  The soldier has been seen standing outside, peering into the windows.  When he doesn't see what he's come to see, his countenance takes on a mournful expression, and he walks sadly away.

Photo of the Gray Lady?

While these sightings are quite interesting in their own right, the star spirit of Liberty Hall is undoubtedly the Gray Lady.  The Gray Lady is believed to be the spirit of Mrs. Margaret Varick, the elderly aunt of Margaret Brown, who came to visit and console the family in 1817 after the death of one of the Brown children.  Mrs. Varick traveled all the way from New York and unfortunately the long trip proved too much for her and she passed away from a heart attack three days after her arrival.  She was buried in the gardens, but her body was later moved to a larger cemetery and today, its exact whereabouts are unknown.

But just because her body cannot be found doesn't mean that Mrs. Varick will allow herself to be forgotten.  She was first sighted as early as the 1820s by a grandson of John Brown.  Later, she was spotted by a great-granddaughter, Mary Mason Scott, her witnessed the small woman in gray in her second floor bedroom---the same bedroom where Mrs. Varick allegedly passed.  In 1965 a firefighter responding to a small fire at the home snapped a photo that appears to show a woman in a cloak descending the stairs.  Many believe this is evidence of the Gray Lady.

It is believed that the spirit of the Gray Lady is a gentle, helpful one.  She seems to watch over the house and take care of its inhabitants...something she tried to do while alive, but unfortunately was never able to accomplish.  To celebrate her life and her afterlife, each October Liberty Hall holds a special tour in her honor.  These Gray Lady tours cover the life of Mrs. Varick and the ladies who have witnessed her presence, discuss the hauntings, and share the mourning practices popular at the time.  As an added bonus, Gray Lady costume contests are held at Halloween!

Liberty Hall Website
Haunted Kentucky, by Alan Brown
Article by Troy Taylor
Article from Lex18

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Shadow Man of WV State Penitentiary

This evening I'll be attending a public investigation event at the West Virginia State Penitentiary at Moundsville!  One of the ghosts I hope to encounter is the infamous Shadow Man.

Shadow Man, by Polly Gear

This iconic photo was taken by Polly Gear, co-founder of the Mountaineer Ghosts Paranormal Investigators.  It was taken around 1:30 am on May 7th, 2004, just a few hours after a severe thunderstorm rolled through the area.

The area you are seeing in the photo is the doorway to the cafeteria.  Polly was in the North Hallway walking south towards the lobby, when she heard a noise behind her, coming from the area of the doorway that leads to the cafeteria.  As she went to investigate the sound, she turned on her light and saw the shadowy figure of a man, who looked at her before darting back behind the door frame.  At the point that she saw the figure, she estimated she was about 10 feet away from him.  She began to back away from him and dropped her light in order to ready her camera for a picture.  At an estimated 110 feet from the figure, she managed to snap the famous photograph that has caused quite the stir in the paranormal world.

When TAPS filmed an episode at the prison for their Ghost Hunters television show, many believed they had solved the mystery. In episode 303, which aired on October 25, 2006, Jason and Grant attempted to debunk the Shadow Man photo. Since they were able to recreate a similar phenomenon employing the IR shadow theory, it couldn't have been a real ghost, right?

Well...that theory, while sounding good, doesn't account for the details provided by Polly about the conditions under which the photograph was obtained.  According to the awesome information provided by the Sparks Spirit Hunters, "an IR shadow occurs when there is an Infrared light source behind the investigator who is taking a photograph or video in the dark. The IR light is 'invisible' to the naked eye, so often the investigator is unaware that it is even shining on him or her. The investigator then snaps a picture with a camera that has the ability to capture this 'invisible' IR light.  The result is a shadow shaped like the investigator where they have blocked out the IR light.  It looks just like a Shadow Person!"

Graphic by Sparks Spirit Hunters

While it seems like the IR shadow is a very plausible explanation--and is a concept that ALL investigators need to be aware of, especially when investigating large, open areas-- as I said earlier, it just doesn't mesh with the circumstances.  We don't know if there was an IR source behind Polly when she took the photo, but there may have been since this was presumably an investigation.  However, Polly saw the shadow with her own eyes...and she saw the figure dart behind a door, independent of her own movements!  If this were an IR shadow, technically she shouldn't have been able to see it, and it certainly wouldn't have moved on its own.  Therefore, if we take this information as being truthful and accurate, that still leaves this photograph as unsolved.

But who is the Shadow Man?  I've heard theories ranging from it being the spirit of a former prisoner, possibly the infamous RD Wall who was murdered in the 1970s, to it being the spirit of a former guard who is still wandering the halls, keeping the prison in check.  Whoever it may be, I hope to meet him tonight!

Interview with Polly Gear

IR Shadow information from Sparks Spirit Hunters

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Ghost of RD Wall at Moundsville

The Boiler Room, from Haunted History
Robert Daniel Wall, inmate #44670, was serving a life sentence at the West Virginia State Penitentiary at Moundsville for a Logan County rape conviction.  More commonly known as R.D., he was a model prisoner and a favorite of the wardens.  Therefore, he was entrusted to work as the inmate maintenance clerk. He spent the majority of his time under the administration building in what was the prison's boiler room, working and even living near the base of operations for the maintenance department.

Unfortunately it is there that his life ended.  On October 8, 1979, R.D. Wall was brutally attacked and killed.  His fingertips were cut off, and some believe he may even have been decapitated...or at least had his throat severely sliced.  Overall, it was a horribly bloody and vicious murder.

It's common knowledge that inmates serving sentences for certain crimes against women and children tend to be targets of violence for other inmates, but the prisoners of the WV state pen had another reason to hate R.D. Wall---it was widely accepted that he was a prison snitch.

Rumor has it that a day or so before, an inmate had overheard Wall speaking with Warden Richard Mohn about some of the activities of the other inmates.  After breakfast, a group of inmates snuck downstairs, armed with their homemade knives and attacked Wall.  He managed to briefly break free from his attackers, but died in an adjoining room.

Although there are a lot of rumors and false information out there about R.D. Wall, we do know from an Associated Press newspaper article about the murder that this, and another attack later in the day, followed a prison-wide theft investigation.  Was R.D. Wall really guilty of being a snitch, and if he was, did he have inside information about the thefts that were happening?

It seems that either way, R.D. Wall is still roaming the area, trying to make contact with those who dare enter his basement home.  Women who have visited the area where he was killed have felt a hand stroking their hair or their cheek.  Disembodied footsteps and voices have been heard and a man in a khaki uniform, believed to be Wall, has been reported.  Some even believe that the infamous Moundsville Shadow Man may even be Wall!

Tour Notes from Paranormal
Afterlife with No Parole: The Haunted History of the West Virginia Penitentiary, by Sherri Brake
Associated Press article, October 9, 1979

Newspaper article on RD's Death
This article appeared October 9, 1979 in Huntington's Herald-Dispatch:

Associated Press
Moundsville, W.Va. -- One inmate was stabbed to death and, in a separate fight, three others were injured at the West Virginia penitentiary yesterday, corrections officials said.

Two of the injured inmates--Boyd Tomlin and Dale Eugene McCoy--are from Cabell County.

The three inmates were among four who were fighting in the morning, McCoy said.  He described the incident as "a major disturbance-a big scuffle."  He said it was not a riot.

The fight followed a weekend investigation of thefts at the prison, McCoy said.

Earlier in the morning, inmate R.D. Walls, 57, was stabbed to death in the maintenance area of the northern section of the prison, according to prison Superintendent Richard Mohn.  He was serving a life sentence on a rape conviction from Logan County.  No one has been arrested in the stabbing, officials said.

"We can find no connection between the incidents," McCoy said.  State police were called to investigate, McCoy said. Tomlin, 26, was serving a five to 18 years on a murder conviction, prison officials said.  McCoy, 24, was serving a life sentence on a murder conviction. The third injured prisoner, Carl Echard, 33, was serving a life sentence on an armed robbery conviction from Wood County.

Tomlin was listed at Reynolds Memorial Hospital in fair condition and the other two were listed in good condition. A fourth inmate involved in the fight, Rudolph Green, was put in a segregated discipline area after the fight, prison officials said. A piece of pipe and a wrench were found in the area where the fight took place, Mohn said. Authorities closed off Jefferson Avenue in front of the prison for a time and the city fire department was put on alert.