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/

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Man Found Cooking His Ex-Wife’s Remains

We all know divorce is not always pretty, but the way one man in Mexico took care of his former spouse is something straight out of ‘Silence of the Lambs.’

Magdalena Aguilar Romero, 25, went to the home of her ex-husband, Ceser Gomez Arciniega, to pick up her children on the morning of January 13th. Unfortunately for Ms. Romero, this was the last time she was seen alive.

According to Roberto Alvarez, state security spokesman, the woman’s remains were found in the home of her former husband. More specifically, they were found in the kitchen. It appears the man was trying to cook the remains, as her arms and legs were found in pots on the stovetop. Her pelvis, already cooked, was found in a bag by the stove. The rest of the woman’s body was located in the refrigerator.

Arciniega is being investigated for committing femicide, the act of murdering someone simply because of their gender. You can read more on this sickening story here.

Featured photo courtesy of Fox News.

Interview with Horror Artist Susete Saraiva

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Susete Saraiva, a Toronto artist who specializes in creating miniature sculptures of some of the most iconic props and settings from all your favorite horror movies.

I discovered Susete and her artwork on Instagram and was immediately captivated by not only her beautiful sculptures, but her incredible attention to detail. Given the small stature of her pieces, it’s so impressive that she’s able to capture such a likeness to what is seen in the films. Keep reading to see what Susete has to say about herself and her work!

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To start, can you tell us a little about yourself and what you do?

I’m basically a hermit that never leaves the house. Spending every waking moment dedicated to art and snuggling with my pets. In the last couple of years I’ve been focusing on creating miniature scenes from horror movies.

What is your background in art?

I’m completely self-taught.

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What influences you as an artist?

Mostly the horror genre. I’m fascinated with all things dark and twisted, it fuels my creativity. Although horror is my passion, I do draw inspiration from various facets such as the world of Disney.

How did you decide to make horror movies the focus of your art?

Being a long term collector of horror movie figures and other memorabilia, there were times when I’d be watching one of my favourite films and think to myself “I wish someone would make that for my collection.” So, I started making them.

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On average, how long does it take to complete a piece?

With no interruptions, 80 hours can easily be spent on a piece.

What has been your favorite piece to make so far?

That would have to be the Maitlands house from Beetlejuice. Beetlejuice is my all-time favourite film so the love runs deep. It was also my very first attempt at a miniature house.

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What is your best-selling piece?

The ‘REDRUM’ door from ‘The Shining.’

Can you tell us anything about any upcoming pieces you have planned?

Get ready for more horror houses!

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Thank you, Susete, for the insight into your beautiful artwork! You can follow Susete on Instagram at @monstresss and also shop her work on Etsy.

Woman Kills Daughter With Crucifix

An Oklahoma woman was convicted Thursday of murdering her daughter by shoving a crucifix and medallion down her throat.

Jaunita Gomez, 51, believed her daughter Geneva Gomez, 33, was possessed by the devil. When police arrived on the scene, Geneva’s body was found with her arms spread out as if she had been crucified and there was a large crucifix. Jaunita admitted to police that she shoved a crucifix down her daughter’s throat and watched as she took her last breaths.

Despite attempts to appear incompetent, a psychologist determined that Jaunita was able to stand trial. Jurors recommended a sentence of life in prison without parole.

Read more about this bizarre case at time.com.

Featured photo courtesy of News 4 San Antonio.

“Bro, did we just find a dead person in the suicide forest?”

Recently, Aokigahara, a national forest in Fujikawaguchiko, Japan, has received national attention in response to a young YouTuber’s recent video in which he filmed a suicide victim.

If you aren’t familiar with Aokigahara this may sound surprising, but the forest is actually known for the amount of suicides that occur there. In fact, it is often referred to as “Japan’s suicide forest.” I first heard about the forest years ago when I watched the 2012 Vice documentary that featured the forest. It is available on YouTube and can be watched below:


The forest was also the setting for a 2016 horror film starring Game of Thrones’ Natalie Dormer. But now, the forest has entered the spotlight again in response to the controversial video.

The video, which has since been removed, features YouTuber Logan Paul and friends preparing to spend a night in the forest when they come across a suicide victim’s hanging body. On the video, Paul asks, “Bro, did we just find a dead person in the suicide forest?” which says just as much about him as the obnoxious alien hat he is wearing. Paul’s group is upset by their discovery, with one person saying, “I don’t feel good.” The controversy begins when Paul is seen trying to stifle laughter, saying, “This was all going to be a joke,  why did it become so real?” Later, in the parking lot, Paul says, “That’s the life, this daily vlog life. Guys, I said this in one of my first vlogs, I have chosen to entertain you guys every single day.” Basically, it appears Paul is saying his exploitation of a suicide victim was done to entertain his followers. Just as insensitive, the video opened with Paul saying, “Buckle the fuck up, because you’re never gonna see a video like this again.”

Paul has attempted to apologize by claiming the video was released to “raise awareness for suicide and suicide prevention,” but people aren’t buying it. Breaking Bad star Aaron Paul laid into Paul on Twitter, saying, “You disgust me. I can’t believe that so many young people look up to you. Hopefully this latest video woke them up. You are pure trash, plain and simple. Suicide is not a joke.”

 

Sources:

https://www.theverge.com/2018/1/2/16840176/logan-paul-suicide-video-apology-aokigahara-forest

http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/02/us/logan-paul-profile-trnd/index.html

Featured image courtesy of All That Is Interesting.

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

 

Pentagon’s UFO Investigations Confirmed by Former Program Leader

Last Friday, pretty much everyone in Los Angeles (including the Hex Files’ own Colleen — you can check out her post on her own experience here) were panicking about the unidentified flying object hovering over the city. Much to the disappointment of anyone who digs the supernatural, it was (apparently — my conspiracy theorists out there will know what I am talking about) not a UFO at all but instead the launch of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket. However, alien enthusiasts still have some cause to be excited: a former employee of the Pentagon has recently confirmed that, despite denying it for decades, the government has actually put some serious dough towards investigating unidentified flying objects.

According to the New York Times, a program called the Pentagon Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program was started by former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Reid felt compelled to build the program in response to a discussion with his friend and political donor who owns an aerospace company. This friend supposedly told Reid he believes in the existence of aliens.

Luis Elizondo is the former leader of this program and has recently revealed its purpose was to investigate UFO sightings. He reports he program raised $22 million dollars to aid in its investigative effort. Elizondo told CNN in a recent interview, “My personal belief is that there is very compelling evidence that we may not be alone… We found a lot.”

After his resignation, Elizondo became associated with a for-profit company called To The Stars Academy of Arts and Sciences. The company is co-owned by extraterrestrial enthusiast and musician Tom DeLonge. According to the company’s website, To The Stars has “mobilized a team of the most experienced, connected and passionately curious minds from the U.S. intelligence community, including the CIA, Department of Defense, who have been operating under the shadows of top secrecy for decades. The team members all share a common thread of frustration and determination to disrupt the status quo, wanting to use their expertise and credibility to bring transformative science and engineering out of the shadows and collaborate with global citizens to apply that knowledge in a way that benefits humanity. Without the restrictions of government priorities.”

To read more, check out CNN.com and politico.com.

Featured photo courtesy of The Daily Beast.