The Haunting of Al Capone

Although decades have passed since his criminal reign, it’s hard to find someone who isn’t familiar with the name “Al Capone.” Named Alphonse Gabriel Capone at birth, he was an infamous American gangster who used violence and murder as a means to gain success and power during the Prohibition period. Despite having been such a powerful crime boss, his final years were spent screaming out at night for “Jimmy” to leave him alone. This odd behavior left those around him to question if Capone was suffering from mental illness or if he was being haunted by one of his many victims.

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A mugshot of Al Capone, courtesy of history.com

Capone entered a life of crime at a young age, and had managed (perhaps by having half of Chicago’s police force on his payroll) to get away with it for the most part — that is, until the St. Valentine’s massacre of 1929.

On the morning of February 14, 1929, Capone’s men brutally murdered 7 members of a group known as the “North Side Gang” with machine guns. The North Side Gang was a group of rival racketeers that posed a threat to Capone’s domination of the illegal liquor trade in Chicago, so naturally, he had to take care of them. Capone’s men posed as police to enter the gang’s bootlegging headquarters on Chicago’s North Side. They launched a fake raid on the gang, lining them up along a wall and gunning them all down. One of the men killed in the massacre was named James “Jimmy” Clark.

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The victims of the St. Valentine’s massacre, photo courtesy of omgfacts.com

Authorities were unable to prove a connection between Capone and the massacre, but in May of 1929, he was arrested for carrying a concealed and unlicensed .38 revolver during a trip to Philadelphia. The bootlegger was sentenced to serve the maximum sentence of 1 year in prison in the city’s notorious Eastern State Penitentiary (said to be one of the most haunted locations in the country. I’ve been here many times and can definitely attest to the chilling vibe this place gives off).

One of the Penitentiary’s biggest attractions is Capone’s cell, which has been preserved to look the same as it had when Capone had inhabited it and is a must on any Philadelphia tourism checklist. Where every other prisoner lived out their sentence in bare concrete cells, Capone’s was well-furnished, decorated with paintings and even had a radio. Check out the shocking comparison below:

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Typical Eastern State Pentitentiary cell vs. Al Capone’s cell, photos courtesy of Ancient Origins

But to Capone, it seemed the “luxurious” accommodations were meaningless, as he was being tormented by the unseen “Jimmy.” Even after his release from Eastern State, Capone didn’t seem to leave alone. At one point, he even hired a psychic to help get rid of the unwanted spirit, but to no avail.

Capone was arrested again for tax evasion, originally imprisoned in Atlanta but sent to Alcatraz, and as you probably could have guessed by now, Jimmy went with him. At this time, Capone was suffering from syphilis, a disease that begins in your genitals but, left untreated, will work its way into your major organs, including your brain.

Eventually, Capone’s behavior became so bizarre he was actually released early from Alcatraz “on good behavior.” In 1947, he passed away at the age of 48 at his Palm Island Estate, leaving me to wonder if Jimmy followed him all the way to hell.

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The grave of Al Capone, courtesy of Greta Polites on Flickr

Sure, one could argue that “Jimmy” was actually conjured up by the disease slowly eating away at Capone’s brain. But isn’t it fun to wonder if a man like Al Capone, with such a violent history, could perhaps actually have been getting stalked by one a particularly bitter victim?

SOURCES:

Featured image courtesy of WBUR

ancient-origins.net

omgfacts.com

prarieghosts.com

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Podcast Episode 11: “The Warrens”

I’m so excited that the podcast is back! Episode 11 is now available on iTunes, Stitcher & SoundCloud. Or you can click play right above and listen right here.

Episode 11 features psychic research couple Ed & Lorraine Warren whose work has been featured in cult horror movies like The Amityville Horror, The Conjuring and Annabelle. In Part I, I discuss the lives and career of the Warrens and in Part II, I’m joined by Hex Files’ contributor Craig to talk about our experience meeting Lorraine Warren and touring the Occult Museum.

As I promised in the episode, here are some of the photos I took while touring the Occult Museum. Light was certainly not on my side, so I apologize that most of the photos are poor quality but they’re still pretty awesome!

The Real Winchester Mystery House

Winchester is one of the most highly-anticipated horror films of the new year, advertised as a film about the most haunted house in history, but we all know Hollywood has its way of putting a spin on the truth. Before you check out the film’s premiere on February 2nd, allow me to brief you on the true story behind what is known as the “Winchester Mystery House.”

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Let’s start off by identifying exactly who Sarah Winchester, the character portrayed by Helen Mirren in the upcoming film, was. At the age of 22, Sarah married a man named William Wirt Winchester. Unfortunately, William fell victim to tuberculosis and died in 1881. After the death of her husband, whose father invented the Winchester repeating rifle, Sarah became the heiress to the large fortune of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. She inherited about 50% of the company, which was valued at $20 million dollars at the time. Sarah was basically the Bill Gates of the 19th century as far as wealth was concerned.

So what exactly was it about the Winchester repeating rifle that made the Winchester family so damn wealthy? To make a long story short (you can read much more about the extensive history of the Winchester rifle here), the rifle allowed for faster firing than other rifles on the market at the time, therefore making it more desirable.

With the use of her inheritance money ($5,500,000 of it, to be exact), Sarah left Connecticut and purchased a farmhouse in San Jose, California to be closer to her family. This house is, of course, what is known today as the Winchester Mystery House. For the next 38 years after its purchase, the house was an endless construction project. What began as 8 rooms ended with a total of 160 rooms, as well as 2,000 doors, 10,000 windows, 52 skylights, 47 stairways, 47 fireplaces, 13 bathrooms, 6 kitchens, 3 elevators adn 2 basements, to name a few of its copious features. But why would someone who lived alone possibly need such an extensive dwelling? Well, there’s a few theories out there to answer this question.

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One theory is that maybe Mrs. Winchester was feeling nostalgic. Back in Connecticut, she and William had overseen the construction of their New Haven home together. According to Janan Boehme, a long-time historian of the Winchester House, stated, “I think Sarah was trying to repeat that experience by doing something they both loved.”

Or maybe the motive came from the philanthropist in Sarah. Evidence of her generosity was seen when Sarah also used a portion of the inheritance money to help fund the Winchester Chest Clinic at New Haven Hospital. According to a Smithsonian article by author Pamela Haag, Sarah employed many carpenters to work on the house day in and day out, paying them triple their usual salary. Boehme stated Sarah wanted to keep her employees “gainfully employed… Sarah had a social conscience and she did try to give back. This house, in itself, was her biggest social work of all.”

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But you can’t possibly make a box office hit horror movie off nostalgia and philanthropy. This is where the theories that influenced the film come in. It is rumored that, after the premature deaths of her husband and her infant daughter, Sarah met with a medium who told her these untimely deaths were payback by the bitter spirits who died at the hands of the Winchester rifle. It is said the medium then instructed her to build and build onto the house as a means of warding off the spirits haunting her.

It is also said that the elaborate construction was meant to confuse the ghosts. After all, the construction was constant and most of it made little to no sense. There are stairways leading right into ceilings and a doorways that lead to multiple-level plummets.

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Although Sarah apparently spent much of her time on her nearby houseboat after she became trapped in one of the rooms during the 1906 San Francisco earthquake (she had to be freed with a crowbar), she did pass in her bedroom in the house in 1922 from heart failure at the age of 82.

The house is now a preserved attraction for tourists and many visitors claim the hauntings go on to this day. Some claim they have heard footsteps in Sarah’s bedroom, others say they have seen doorknobs turn on their own. There are also reports of an apparition working on the house dressed in white overalls that has come to be known as the “wheelbarrow ghost.” The house was named one of TIME Magazine’s Top 10 Haunted Places in 2008.

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All ghost stories aside, Boehme says, “There is a good energy here. Sarah Winchester was truly a fascinating person.” You can check out the house’s official website here to learn more about the house, tours and special events.

 

Photos courtesy of winchestermysteryhouse.com.

Sources:

http://abc7news.com/entertainment/list-top-10-mind-bending-facts-about-the-winchester-mystery-house/2554143/

http://www.countryliving.com/life/travel/a45210/winchester-mystery-house/

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/helen-mirren-talks-winchester-film-impact-gun-deaths-1080448

http://www.travelchannel.com/interests/haunted/articles/winchester-mystery-house

https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/movies/2018/01/30/winchester-house-helen-mirren-true-story/1076785001/

Siquijor: Island of Witches

Looking to escape the icy grip of winter cold? Consider a visit to the Philippine island of Siquijor where temperatures hover around 80° year round. You can relax on one of their many beaches, rent a motorbike and see the sights, or (if you’re so inclined) reign down a series of curses on your enemies back home.

That’s right; on the island of Siquijor magic and witchcraft are alive and well. However, the vast majority is used strictly for healing purposes. One can see local witches, or mananambals (traditional healers) as some prefer to be called, for treatment of a number of different ailments, the removal of evil spirits, or even to acquire a love potion. Though they primarily serve tourists curious about the island’s magical reputation, many actual residents of the island swear by the healing powers of the mananambal over traditional medicine.

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Image credit: dumaguete.com

One such healer is 91 year old Consing Achay, who practices bulo-bulo, the removal of evil spirits. A typical visit to Consing would begin with her chanting in an ancient language and dropping a small stone into a glass of water. As the glass is moved over the body of her client, the healer blows into the water through a bamboo straw. The water becomes increasingly cloudy as the sickness is removed. The ritual is repeated until the water remains clear throughout the procedure.

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Image credit: http://news.bbcimg.co.uk

One might be shocked to find Achay incorporating Catholic traditions into her rituals, often beginning her treatments by making the sign of the cross. During the 16th century, Catholicism was introduced to Siquijor by the Spanish, and its beliefs and traditions quickly melded with the island’s ancient practices. In fact many of the island’s witches consider themselves devote Catholics and see no contradiction between the religion and the practice of witchcraft.

Although Siquijor’s tourism industry emphasizes its reputation as a place of healing magic, there is a less advertised flip side to the magic of the island. This comes in the form of sorcerers, or black witches, known as the mambabarang. People pay top dollar for spells meant to curse those who have crossed them.

The majority of their clients seek revenge on ex-lovers, which can take the form of a spell that causes the offending party to constantly see that person’s face wherever they go. Should this level of punishment not quite fit the crime, there are more serious spells one can request meant to bring about sickness or even death.

Until recently, Siquijor lacked much in the way of modern medical facilities, offering a possible explanation for the perpetuation of the island’s ancient, mystical healing methods. But even with the addition of a hospital, good old fashioned curiosity keeps a steady flow of people coming to visit these traditional healers. So if you’re looking to rid yourself of some pesky evil spirits, or wish to inflict some on that ex who slept with your best friend, consider a vacation to scenic Siquijor, the island of witches.

 

Sources:

https://dumaguete.com/siquijor/witches-and-healers-in-siquijor/

http://articles.latimes.com/2011/oct/30/world/la-fg-philippines-witches-20111031

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-16871785

 

Woman Prefers Sex with Ghosts Over Sex with Men

27-year-old Amethyst Realm has quite the unique sexual preference: she has sex with ghosts. In fact, she prefers ghosts to real men.

12 years ago, Realm moved into a new home that came with more than she had expected. Realm reports an energy being present in the new home, but this presence was interested in something entirely different than your typical haunting. According to Realm, the ghost began touching her, and the touching eventually lead to sex.

Realm goes on to say she has had sex with a total of 20 ghosts and must be bored because now she’s taking things to a whole new level: she wants to get pregnant with a ghost baby.

You can read more about this story, including the opinion of a paranormal expert on the situation, on bravotv.com.