Monday, June 18, 2012

Taman Shud Case - The Body on Somerton Beach

In 1948 the body of a man was found on Somerton beach in Adelaide, Australia. The man was never identified. Police found a suitcase which they believed was his containing clothing in which all but three items had their name tags removed. The name on the remaining items pointed them to a man who was later identified as not being the dead man. A small note in the man’s pocket said “taman shud” which is the last line of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. It had been cut from a book. A doctor seeing the note on the TV contacted police to say that the book had appeared in the backseat of his unlocked car. It was the copy that had had the note removed. In the back of the book were coded markings which have not been able to be deciphered as yet:


A name in the front of the book led police to a woman who said she had given it to a man named Boxall during the Second World War. Upon seeing a plaster cast of the dead man she identified him as Boxall. This appeared to solve the mystery of who the man was, until Boxall was discovered alive with his copy of the book undamaged. Coincidentally the woman who identified the man lived in Glenelg – the last town visited by the dead man before he travelled by bus to his final destination. The woman asked police not to record her name as she was married and wanted to avoid scandal – they foolishly complied and her identity is now also unknown. This is considered to be one of Australia’s most profound mysteries. Wikipedia has extensive information on this fascinating case here.

Most murders aren’t that difficult to solve. The husband did it. The wife did it. The boyfriend did it, or the ex-boyfriend did. The crimes fit a pattern, the motives are generally clear.

Of course, there are always a handful of cases that don’t fit the template, where the killer is a stranger or the reason for the killing is bizarre. It’s fair to say, however, that nowadays the authorities usually have something to go on. Thanks in part to advances such as DNA technology, the police are seldom baffled anymore.

They certainly were baffled, though, in Adelaide, the capital of South Australia, in December 1948. And the only thing that seems to have changed since then is that a story that began simply—with the discovery of a body on the beach on the first day of that southern summer—has bec0me ever more mysterious. In fact, this case (which remains, theoretically at least, an active investigation) is so opaque that we still do not know the victim’s identity, have no real idea what killed him, and cannot even be certain whether his death was murder or suicide. 

Taman Shud Case - The Body on Somerton Beach

Katz II - Unexplained Mystery of Ghost Yacht

In 2007, the 12-metre catamaran, the Kaz II, was discovered unmanned off the coast of Queensland, northeast Australia in April. The yacht, which had left Airlie Beach on Sunday 15 April, was spotted about 80 nautical miles (150 km) off Townsville, near the outer Great Barrier Reef on the following Wednesday. When boarded on Friday, the engine was running, a laptop was running, the radio and GPS were working and a meal was set to eat, but the three-man crew were not on board. All the sails were up but one was badly shredded, while three life jackets and survival equipment, including an emergency beacon, were found on board. Investigators recovered a video recording that showed footage taken by the crew shortly before their disappearance. The footage showed nothing abnormal.

The Katz II was (or is) a private yacht whose 2007 crew met with a similar end to the crew of the Mary Celeste. That is to say, no one is quite sure what happened to them. The story is slightly less suspicious than the story of the Mary Celeste, given that there were only three men on board the Katz II. Nevertheless, the lack of clues, disappearance of the crew and discover the boat are very much the same, save the more modern equipment on board the Katz II.

The Katz II was found adrift near the Great Barrier Reef on April 18, 2007. The Katz and three friends -- all experienced -- left Airlie Beach only three days earlier. Upon boarding the vessel, authorities found food set out on the table, equipment still turned on, the yacht's entire store of life jackets, the engine running and a laptop still turned on. There was even a coffee mug still on deck. The only thing that was not there were people and there was no sign of them.

A rescue effort went underway immediately. However, it appeared, judging by a video made by the men and other clues, that the men had gone missing the very evening after they left. That meant nearly three days in the open ocean without life vests, if they had fallen overboard. That meant three days lead, if they met with foul play. They were never found. 

Katz II - Unexplained Mystery of Ghost Yacht

Creepy Places - Aokigahara Suicide Forest

Called "the perfect place to die," the Aokigahara forest has the unfortunate distinction as the world's second most popular place to take one's life. (The first is the Golden Gate Bridge.) Since the 1950s, Japanese businessmen have wandered in, and at least 500 of them haven't wandered out, at an increasing rate of between 10 and 30 per year. Recently these numbers have increased even more, with a record 78 suicides in 2002.

Japanese spiritualists believe that the suicides committed in the forest have permeated Aokigahara's trees, generating paranormal activity and preventing many who enter from escaping the forest's depths. Complicating matters further is the common experience of compasses being rendered useless by the rich deposits of magnetic iron in the area's volcanic soil.

Due to the vastness of the forest, desperate visitors are unlikely to encounter anyone once inside the so-called "Sea of Trees," so the police have mounted signs reading "Your life is a precious gift from your parents," and "Please consult the police before you decide to die!" on trees throughout.

Contemporary news outlets noted the recent spike in suicides in the forest, blamed more on Japan’s economic downturn than on the romantic ending of Seicho Matsumoto’s novel Kuroi Jukai, which revitalized the so-called Suicide Forest’s popularity among those determined to take their final walk. (The novel culminates in Aokigahara as the characters are driven to joint-suicide.) 

Unexplained Mysteries - Creepy Places - Aokigahara Suicide Forest

Creepy Places - San Zhi Resort

What do you get when you cross a series of abandoned, rusting, futuristic UFO-shaped buildings with a series of mysterious deaths covered up by the government? How about the ghost town-slash-tourist resort of San Zhi, located just outside Taipei and inside your worst nightmares.

The exclusive San Zhi resort in Taiwan was supposed to be the destination for bored, rich folk who always wondered what it would be like to live inside an over-sized hockey puck. Construction of Pod City started around the 80s but was quickly shut down after a series of mysterious on-site fatal accidents... or it could have been due to Godzilla attacks for all we know. There is actually very little official information on San Zhi. We can't even confirm how many people died there or if they screamed something about eyeless children eating their souls. The whole thing is shrouded in secrecy.

Currently, most of the information on the complex comes from the locals who--what a surprise--refuse to go near the damn thing. And thus the abandoned 90 pods just stand there, waiting for anyone foolish enough to wander in.

Off the northern coast of the country, on the outskirts of Taipei, Taiwan is an abandoned housing project consisting of podular housing … The area is called San Zhi. There are no named architects since the whole site was commissioned by the government and several local firms. They were trying to create a posh luxurious vacation spot for the affluent and rich streaming out of Taipei. Now this is where things get weird.

The local papers say there were numerous accidents during its construction, and as news spread to the urbanites of the island state, nobody wanted to vacation there, much less visit. Locals say the area is now haunted by those who died in vain and because they are not remembered, they linger there unable to pass on. These are only rumors as far as i can tell… This explains one possibility why the area was abandoned. If the site is haunted, no amount of redevelopment is going to bring the masses to that spot. Even demolishing it is out of the question because destroying the homes of spirits and lost souls is a HUGE no-no in Asian culture. 

Creepy Places - San Zhi Resort 

The Real Dracula: Vlad the Impaler

One of the most influential books in the horror genre is Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula. Stoker, who was a manager of the world-renowned Lyceum Theatre in London, supplemented his income by writing stories. His books include The Lair of the White Worm, The Jewel of Seven Stars, and The Mystery of the Sea. However, it is his narrative about the vampire Count from Romania who invaded London for which th
e Irish author is most well remembered.

Stoker often researched his subjects carefully and included descriptions of real places and people in his stories. Dracula is no exception. Stoker was inspired by folktales from Eastern Europe about vampires and incorporated many of these legends into the novel. He had almost completed his book under the original title of The Un-Dead when he came across a historical figure that changed both the label of the book and the name of the main character. The figure was a 15th century Prince of Wallachia named Vlad III. Because his father was a member of the Order of the Dragon and had taken the name Dracul, Vlad was often referred to as "the son of Dracul" which in Latin was Dracula. Because of his preferred method executing his enemies, however, he was commonly known as "Vlad the Impaler."

The Impaler Prince

Vlad III was born late in the year 1431 in the Transylvanian city of Sighisoara. His father, Vlad II, was a nobleman living in exile. The same year Vlad II was born his father was inducted into the secretive "Order of the Dragon." The order, founded in 1410 by Sigismund the Holy Roman Emperor, demanded the members defend Christianity and resist the Ottoman Turks who were Muslims.

In 1436 Vlad's father took over the throne of Wallachia, a region of what is now Southern Romania. He was removed from power six years later by rivals and decided the best way to get the throne back was to switch sides, betray his oath to the order, and ally himself with the Ottoman Sultan. As proof of his new loyalty, Vlad's father sent two of his sons, Vlad III and his younger brother Radu, to the court of the Sultan to be held hostage. Radu (known as "Radu the handsome") did well at the court and eventually converted to Islam. Vlad, however, was a problem child. He didn't get along with his tutors and trainers and was angry at his father for favoring his older brother, Mircea, and betraying his pledge to the Order of the Dragon (into which Vlad III had also been inducted at age 5). He was also angry at his younger brother for leaving Christianity. His bad attitude earned him beatings, imprisonment and this gave him a hatred for the Ottoman Turks.

Eventually, Dracula was released on the promise of good behavior and continued his education at the Court, learning how to handle weapons and ride horses as well as getting an education on subjects like religion and logic. He also became fluent in several languages. 

Read More about Real Dracula

Mel Holes - Unexplained Mysteries of Devil's Holes

Mel's Hole is a supposed geographic anomaly discovered by Mel Waters on his land near Ellensburg, Washington. Waters claimed that he lived in or near Manastash Ridge, Washington, about nine miles due west of Ellensburg, though later investigation revealed that no such person was listed as a resident. According to Waters, the hole has paranormal properties, including a possibly infinite depth and the ability to restore dead animals to life.

The first references to the hole were made in a series of interviews with Waters, made by Art Bell on the American radio show Coast to Coast AM (which focuses on conspiracy theories and the paranormal). Waters initially appeared on Coast to Coast AM on February 21, 1997. He subsequently appeared on February 24, 1997, April 2000 and January 29, 2002. His most recent appearance on the show was on December 20, 2002.


While speaking on Coast to Coast AM, Waters related several stories about the hole and its properties. He also claimed that he had discovered that the hole was in excess of 15 miles (24 kilometers) deep, which he figured out by spooling out 18 reels of 20lb test fishing line, tied end on end, into the hole. Waters claims that he attached a "triangular, one-pound, standard lead fishing weight" to the end of the fishing line.

Waters also told a story of a local man who dropped the remains of his deceased dog's body down the hole. Later, the man saw his dog while out hunting and attempted to call it; however, it appeared to belong to another hunter. Waters also speculated that the hole's properties might be tied to some cosmological events, including unspecified alignments of the moon.

On the September 18, 2008, edition of Coast to Coast AM, guest Red Elk, an intertribal medicine man, recounted the time he visited Mel's hole. He recounted the hole as "around 9 ft. in circumference and somewhere between 24–28 (27.5?) miles deep" and said that it was a blow hole for Mount Rainier.


Waters has never revealed the exact location of the hole. It is possible that it is located in a region removed from publicly available satellite images due to the nearby Yakima Training Center. Despite this, several people have claimed to have found the hole.\ Just before the tenth anniversary of Mel's first appearance on Coast to Coast AM, the moderator of the Mel's Hole website declared the search for the hole was a dead end, and that it would likely never be proven to exist unless Mel came forward with evidence of its location. 



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