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I have officially been added to an Author Panel for the Ohioana Book Festival. It looks like it will be taking place at 12:45. No word yet on if hoagies will be made available for all to enjoy. But feel free to bring along one for me as I often get a bit peckish at these types of engagements.

As far as the topic of the panel, it’s a bit vague, but since I’ve been paired up with several other authors who have written non-fiction books about Ohio, I think it’s safe to assume we’ll be talking about our experiences. But you know me; I’ll talk about anything, so bring your weirdest questions! Actually, those are the ones I like the best, especially when I’m on a panel. People traditionally ask the other authors things like “what was your inspiration” or “can you explain your writing process” and then I get something like this:

“Yes, I have a two-part question for Mr. Willis. First, did you encounter any evil spirits when you visited the Tunnel of Death or the Gates of Hell? Also, do you believe the sightings of trolls in and around Loveland are nothing more than people misidentifying the Loveland Frog or are they encountering a new crypid?”

God, I love my fans!

I also took a list of all the authors scheduled to appear and this event looks to be filled with literary heavy hitters, so I’m thinking of wearing a monocle to the Festival just to try to fit in a bit more. I’ll probably leave the top hat and cane at home, though, for fear that people might take one look at my grossly misshapen body and mistake me for Mr. Peanut.

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Either way, looking forward to seeing everyone on May 10th. Let your strange and spooky flags fly!

As a reminder, I will have copies of my most popular books for sale at the Festival:

For more information on the Ohioana Book Festival, click here.

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The Bath Township, Ohio home where serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer committed his very first murder is back on the market and can be yours for the low, low price of $295,000.

In June of 1978, 18-year-old Dahmer picked up hitchhiker Steven Marks Hicks, also 18. Hicks was attempting to hitchhike to a local concert, but was persuaded by Dahmer to accompany him back to his parents’ house in Bath Township to drink alcohol and listen to music. Dahmer’s parents had recently divorced and moved out of the home, leaving Dahmer there alone.

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Rear view of house, circa 2012–via housecrazy.com

After several hours of drinking and listening to music in the house, Hicks said he needed to leave, at which point Dahmer killed him. Dahmer would later dismember Hicks’ body in the house’s crawl space before scattering the remains around the property.

Almost 13 years later, police arrested Jeffrey Dahmer on suspicion of murdering over a dozen young men in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area. While in custody, Dahmer admitted to murdering Hicks and told police where to find the body. So for one week during the summer of 1991, local police and crime scene experts wandered through the woods behind the former Dahmer family home, eventually recovering the remains of Stephen Hicks.

Since then, the house has had several different owners. The current one, who has lived in the home since 2005, put it on the market back in 2012, but it didn’t sell. The recent resurgence in the real estate market prompted the owner to put it back up for sale in the hopes of finding a suitable buyer.

Of course, they’re having to weed out the curiosity seekers who really don’t want to buy the house, merely get a peek inside. For that reason, only pre-qualified potential buyers are being allowed access. “The house is not a museum. We are not giving public tours”, said Richard Lubinski, the real estate agent handling the home.

Current living room of home –via AOL.com

Truth is, the house is really nice: over 2,100 square feet sitting on 2 acres of land that includes woods, gardens, and even a pond. It’s just a matter of people getting over the whole Jeffrey Dahmer connection. And as if this poor house didn’t have enough problems, recent articles are throwing around allegations that the house “might” be haunted. Personally, I’ve known about this house since I moved to Ohio in 1999 and even visited it for a potential story for Weird Ohio back in 2004 (the story eventually mutated and ended up in the book in a different form). Truth is, I have never heard of a single instance where someone said the house was supposed to be haunted. Not one. Even the Internet, where people throw around ghost stories like they are going out of style, was incredibly quiet when it came to this house being haunted. That is, until now. So forgive me if I look at these ghost stories as being nothing more than people trying to add another layer to the tale. As far as I’m concerned, this is a really nice house where, unfortunately, something unspeakable happened.

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Another current view of home’s interior –via AOL.com

That being said, no, I couldn’t live there. But not because I’d be uncomfortable living with the memories of what happened in the house. Rather, it’s because I recently re-watched Sinister and have come to the conclusion that strange and spooky writers like myself need to stay as far away from murder houses as possible!

 

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Here’s a link to an AOL article about the house recently going back on the market.

And here’s a link from WCPO-9 in Cincinnati, again about the house being for sale.

Finally, here’s an interesting link from when the house first went up for sale in 2012, complete with interior photos.

Photo I took for Weird Ohio of the alleged Rogues Hollow Crybaby Bridge, circa 2004

You have? Then I want to talk to you!

I am currently in the process of compiling data for my Crybaby Bridge project, which will launch this summer on this very site. Basically, it will be a somewhat comprehensive list of all known Crybaby Bridges in the state of Ohio, including the legends attached to each bridge and what, if any, specific ritual you need to do in order to be able to hear the ghostly baby cry.

I will also be including photos of all of the bridges as I’m making it a point to personally visit each and every one, just to see if I can experience anything myself. And that’s where you can help! I want to know what happened when you went to the Crybaby Bridge. Did you hear the baby cry? Anything else weird happen? Or is the story just BS and absolutely nothing happened? Either way, I want to know!

Lick Road–a Crybaby Bridge in the making

Drop me a line at jim@strangeandspooky.com and tell me all about it. I’ll even include your story on this site because, after all, I’m a big fan of giving credit where credit is due. You don’t even have to use your real name if you don’t want to.

Right now, I have compiled information on 32 alleged Crybaby Bridges in Ohio, so chances are, the one you’ve visited is on my list. If that’s the case, I’ll have information that I can share with you about the bridge, too. See how that works? Everybody wins!

So come on and write me that e-mail!

On April 1st, 2014, an article appeared on cincinnati.com, reporting an alleged close encounter at the Voice of America Park in West Chester. According to the article, a man, “who wished to remain anonymous”, was driving southbound on Butler Warren Road around 1:30 am when he noticed something strange “near the park’s new athletic fields.”

The man decided to pull over to take a closer look. As he exited his car, he was shocked to see several “workers” around what appeared to be some sort of strange craft. Those workers, upon being spotted by the man, scrambled into the craft, which began to make strange noises before it “disappeared completely.” The man was able to snap a single photo with his cell phone before the craft disappeared. That photo, shown below, accompanied the newspaper article (the text is also from the original article).

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The man said he waited several days before coming forward and reporting the incident to Butler County Park rangers, who were now “investigating” the whole thing. Spoooooky!

To be honest, I didn’t make it all the way through the cincinnati.com article before I began smiling. I knew it was all a joke as soon as I saw the photograph of the “strange object”, which is actually a house in Carlisle, Ohio. Known locally as Futuro or, my personal favorite, the Mating UFOs House. It’s actually become quite the roadside attraction over the years.

Now, you’d be forgiven if you didn’t recognize the Mating UFO House because you’re  either not from the area or you’re not like yours truly, who enjoys hunting down bizarre roadside attractions like this house. Case in point, I dragged my wife, daughter, and father-in-law to go see it just last year:

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But where you really can’t be forgiven for is reading this story on APRIL FIRST and not at least pausing for a second to allow your morning caffeine to kick in before taking to the InterWebs and lashing out at everyone and anyone. But that’s just what happened in Southern Ohio on this April Fool’s Day.

Almost as soon as the article was posted, people were angrily posting comments about how “fake” the whole thing was. Not that it was part of an April’s Fool Day joke, mind you. Rather, that we, as full-blooded tax-paying Americans, were being duped into believing that UFOs had landed. And that’s what makes this joke so perfect; people fell for it!

One commenter, who actually identified the Futuro House (even adding a “duh” at the end of her post), still apparently missed that it was a joke because her post implied that she thought park rangers really were investigating the whole thing. In fact, she was so angry that she went so far as to ask the Powers That Be to please “stop wasting taxpayers’ money by using rangers’ time on this”.

One gentleman’s post was so funny that I just had to include it here in its entirety (typos and all):

Like ALL the other BS pics of UFO’s and Sasquatch. This is just out of the light or too dark, or fuzzy or…… with all the camera’s out there, still not ONE really good picture. All fakes. How else could the thriving media business of ghosts and all the rest make any money? Facebook is alive with other crap cures and phony claims. Time to put on my suit and sneak around the woods.

Can’t you just feel the anger in his words? I mean, this silly April Fools joke got so stuck in this guy’s craw that he actually took the time to log onto his Facebook account in order to leave his scathing message before dashing off to put on his “suit and sneak around in the woods.” My guess is that the suit he’s referring to is either an alien costume or perhaps a Bigfoot one. Well, either that, or he just some sort of weird stalker guy who simply enjoys formal wear.

But the best part of all this was that one guy took the time to create a YouTube video specifically about “busting this hoax”. Now, the guy who created the video is my kind of guy: he specializes in “underground world news” and has video posts of all sorts of things like conspiracy theories, False Flag attacks, and even the Illuminati (it’s like we’re kindred spirits or something).  So he should be used to reading about all sorts of weird stuff , the bulk of which is BS. So why, on April 1st, of all days, not hold back a couple of hours and wait to see if Cincinnati.com posted the obligatory “April Fools!” note later in the day (which they did) before proclaiming the whole thing a “hoax” and intimating that people were reporting things without looking into them thoroughly by stating “if any of them are any type of news crew, they would know the truth behind this.”

To be sure, this was not a hoax. Nor was it simply an April Fools joke. It was actually a bit of guerrilla marketing designed to make people aware of the fact that there were new athletic fields available at Voice of America Park. And it worked brilliantly. If you read the original article, not only were people made aware of Voice of America Park and their new athletic fields, but they even gave the name of the street the park is located off of. And if people still thought the story was real and decided to drive out to the park, they were greeted by several blow-up aliens near the front entrance, posed around a sign about the new athletic fields.

So see? Nothing to be angry about here. Just a MetroPark using April Fools Day as an opportunity to raise awareness about a new feature at one of their parks. No alien invasion. No conspiracy. No waste of taxpayers’ money…unless, of course, you want to take issue with a park ranger getting paid to blow up a couple of alien-shaped inflatables.

But you know, I did see something weird on the news the other night that I think might be a hoax. This guy had a picture of a Sasquatch that looks too good to be true. It’s my expert opinion that this is a hoax and that some major corporation is behind it all. I just don’t know what their End Game is…yet. I am suddenly hungry, though.

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Here’s the link to the original Cincinnati.com news article, which now has the “April Fools!” blurb added to the top of it.

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If you were looking for a quick, easy way to stock up on autographed copies of my books, here’s your chance! For the Ohioana Book Festival, in addition to my latest, The Big Book Of Ohio Ghost Stories, I will have three additional titles available for purchase:

  • Weird Ohio
  • Haunted Indiana
  • Weird Indiana

Since that is more titles than usual for the Book Festival, supplies are probably going to be limited. So you might want to get there early. As for me, I’ll be there signing all day until either the books are all gone or else my left arm falls off…which would make for a pretty cool photo-op.

Hope to see you all there!

For more information about the Ohioana Book Festival, click here.

More information about my books can be found here. 

 

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NOTE: This is a Tarot card, not a crime scene photo!   dawnalicebooks.com

Authorities in Auglaize County are scratching their heads and hoping an autopsy will help explain how the body of a local man came to be found hanging upside down from a bridge near the town of St. Marys, Ohio.

On Sunday afternoon, March 9th, police were summoned to a small creek bridge just outside of St. Marys. There, they found the body of 36-year-old Richard Moon, hanging upside down from the bridge. It appeared as though Moon had fallen off the bridge and that one of his legs had gotten caught in the bridge’s guardrail.

Police were not commenting on the condition of Moon’s body and would not speculate as to the cause of death, stating only that suicide and foul play were not suspected. They hope that the exact cause of death will be revealed during the autopsy, which is currently being conducted.

Authorities did, however, mention a rather bizarre fact concerning Moon’s car, which was found wrecked near the bridge. Sheriff Allen Solomon said that detectives believe Moon was involved in a car crash, which he survived, before he began walking across the bridge. Yet another example of how fate will not be denied.

You can read the original newspaper article from the Zanesville Times Recorder by clicking here.

Those of you who know me just accept the fact that I have an unhealthy obsession with the urban legend surrounding the “death” of Paul McCartney and the subsequent cover-up by the remaining three Beatles. Truth be told, my interest has less to do with my believing in the legend and more with my fascination over how such a bizarre story could come to be accepted as truth by millions of people. Granted, this happened in the late 60s and there were a lot of controlled substances being ingested back then, but even today, there is a whole subculture devoted to finding clues related to McCartney’s death.

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The biggest question I’ve always asked is: how did this bizarre tale get started? Most people point to the October 12th, 1969 broadcast of Michigan’s WKNR, when then-student Tom Zarski called in and told the DJ, Russ Gibb, that he “wanted to rap with (him) about Paul McCartney being dead.” Years later, Zarski would state that he had heard the rumors of Paul’s demise and that there were clues hidden in the records and was merely calling the radio station to see if the stories were true. In other words, the legend pre-dates October 12th, 1969.

The earliest mention of “clues” that I’ve been able to find in print (so far) is the September 17th, 1969 edition of Drake University’s Times-Delphic, which contains an article by Tim Harper entitled “Is Beatle Paul McCartney Dead?” But once again, Harper has stated in interviews that he was merely re-telling what he had heard or been told about the clues.

Article from September 17th, 1969 edition of the Times-Delphic (click to enlarge)  – from lacaraocultadelrock, because my copy is tattered and torn

If we take the actual clues out of the legend, one of the earliest possible sources that people might have gleaned information about Paul McCartney being dead from was the single Saint Paul by Terry Knight, which was released in May of 1969. With numerous Beatle references sprinkled throughout the song, Saint Paul is obviously a reference to Paul McCartney. While the popular belief is that the song is about Knight becoming disillusioned after meeting several of the Beatles, including Paul, if one listens to the lyrics with their conspiracy hat on, they could be taken to be describing Paul’s death (click on the image below to listen to Saint Paul and decide for yourself what Mr. Knight is talking about).

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Of course, none of the lyrics of Saint Paul mention the cause of Paul’s alleged death: a car crash. The earliest appearance I’ve been able to find of that is The Beatles Book from February of 1967, almost two years before the Paul Is Dead rumor broke.

Beatles Monthly Book

Towards the back of this UK magazine, there is a section called Beatle News, which traditionally carried brief announcements of “light” news—this particular edition features a blurb about how all of the Beatles have decided to grow mustaches. But there’s also a rather intriguing article entitled False Rumour, which reads as follows:

False Rumour

For me, this would seem to be where the initial idea of Paul McCartney dying in a car crash came from. It’s interesting to note that even when the Paul Is Dead rumor finally hit in 1969, the story was that McCartney had died 2 years earlier, in November of 1966. That puts us in roughly the same time frame as the alleged January 1967 car crash.

So when you lay everything out in a nice little timeline, it appears as though the False Rumour article points to the original rumor that Paul had died in a car crash on January 7th, 1967. That story percolates for a while until Saint Paul is released, at which point people start thinking there might be clues hidden in that song’s lyrics. From there, it was only a matter of time before people were listening for clues in Beatles records…and playing them backwards. Of course, I might uncover another tidbit of information that sends my whole theory crashing down, but for now, that’s what I’ve come up with!

Interestingly enough, while researching the January 7th, 1967 car crash mentioned in The Beatles Book, I uncovered a whole slew of urban legends attached to it; did the crash really happen? Was it Paul’s car? Was Paul even in the car? But those are different legends for a different day!

“One and one and one is three”

Contrary to popular belief, the lack of activity on this blog is not due to my recent abduction or even a stern talking to from the Men In Black. Nope, the reason is a simple, yet big one. Very big. Like 130,500-word big. Yup, that’s right. My latest manuscript just got shipped off to the publisher late last night, meaning I can once again turn my focus back to this blog and all things strange and spooky.

What’s the book about, you ask? Well, I can’t say too much right now, suffice to say it will be about ghosts in Ohio. Oh yeah, and me getting locked inside buildings overnight with a bunch of equipment to see if I can hunt down said ghosts. And there’s over three years’ worth of research crammed into this book, so I’m pretty stoked about it. Hope you guys are, too. I’ll keep you posted!

I can also let you in on some upcoming things for this site, too:

Aside from the usual weirdness, as well as uploading the HUGE backlog of photos chronicling the latest additions to the Strange and Spooky Museum, I’ve got some cool new projects I’m working on. First up will be the creation of a (somewhat) comprehensive database of all reported Crybaby Bridges in Ohio–and I’ll be looking to you guys to help me populate the database with your personal experiences, too.

Oh yeah, and this summer, we’re going monster hunting across Ohio! Should be one heck of a time! So thanks for hanging in there with me, guys! New strange and spooky stuff is on the way!