New Addition To The Museum: Boy With The Leaking Boot Ceramic Plate



Nice little ceramic plate depicting the Cleethorpes, England statue. No date or other markings on the back of the plate.

Personally, the Cleethorpes statue is one of my favorite versions of the statue. For one, Cleethorpes has really embraced their Boy and have chosen to put his image on a wide variety of merchandise. So of course, that’s a dream come true for freakish collectors like me! I also like that this particular statue is unique in that its name never varies: it’s always referred to as the “boy with the leaking boot”. Most of the other statues across the world drop the “leaking” bit.

Finally, I love the fact that this statue is in England, so it really throws a wrench into the theories of those still clinging to the idea that the original version was created because during the Civil War, a boy once carried water inside his boot to dying soldiers on the battlefield.

Check out an assortment of other Boy with the Boot memorabilia, leaking and otherwise, in the Boy with the Boot section of the Strange and Spooky Museum.


ONW: Boy Finds Mummified Body Hanging Inside Dayton Home


It sounds like the kind of story you’d hear as a child when you’re huddled around a campfire: a young, adventuresome boy decides to investigate an old, abandoned house. Once inside, he finds a mannequin hanging in one of the closets, no doubt put there by previous trespassers to scare those who followed in their footsteps. Upon closer inspection, however, the young boy is shocked to find that the mannequin is, in fact, the mummified remains of a man.

It’s a creepy story, to be sure. What makes it even more disturbing is that this particular tale is true.

According to Dayton resident Michelle McGrath, her 12-year-old son could best be described as “adventurous”. That’s the only reason she could think of as to why he decided to wander across the overgrown lawn and into the rundown house on Harbine Avenue in Dayton. Locals report not having seen any activity at the house for years, so it’s unclear what the boy expected to find inside.

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The abandoned house on Harbine Avenue –via CNN

What he did find, hanging from a belt inside a closet, was what the boy originally mistook for some sort of mannequin, made up to look like a mummy. But once he realized that he was looking at actual human remains, he ran back home and told his mother, who called the police.

When authorities arrived, they were able to determine that the body belonged to Edward Brunton, who purchased the home back in October of 2009. The Montgomery County Coroner’s Office concluded that Brunton committed suicide shortly after purchasing the house and that his body had been hanging inside the closet, undisturbed, for close to 5 years. The door to the closet had apparently been closed, which kept the body out of direct sunlight and away from critters, allowing it to take on a mummified-like form.

As to how Brunton’s body was able to remain undiscovered for so long, residents claim they never saw anyone coming and going from the house. Indeed, it would appear as though Brunton never even officially moved into the house as it was mostly unfurnished. He had also never paid any taxes on the house. Brunton was also estranged from his family and friends, which may be why he was never reported missing. And that, to me, is what makes this story so damn depressing.

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Front view of house — via CNN

You see, each and every one of us would like to think that we matter. That there are people who care about us and will miss us when we’re gone. What’s more, they will keep our legacy alive, in some small way, by reminiscing and telling stories about us. Put another way, one of my greatest fears, and one that I think I share with many of you, is that I will be forgotten. That I’ll be gone one day and no one will care.

Yet, that is exactly what happened to poor Edward Brunton. He passed away and no one knew or seemed to care. In fact, had it not been for a random neighborhood boy, Brunton’s body might still be hanging there in that house. Sad.

OK, it’s getting way too serious and depressing around here. So let’s lighten the mood a bit. I’ll leave you with this: a monkey trying to ride a bicycle! Check him out! “He thinks he’s people!”


–via Net Dump


Check out CNN’s coverage of the story, complete with video, by clicking here.

The Washington Post also covered the story. Go here to read it.

Want to check out even more Ohio News Of The Weird (ONW)? There’s a whole mess of stories right here!

Author Alley Releases List Of Featured Authors



Author Alley has just released their list of Featured Authors for their July 5th event. And yes, I’m still on the list. Of course, having the last name “Willis” means that I’m almost at the bottom of the list (thank you, Mary R. Woldering), but I’m on it!

I’ll be signing copies of my 4 most recent works, including The Big Book Of Ohio Ghost Stories, so come on out and say “hi”. Heck, drag out your old dog-eared copy of Weird Ohio and I’ll sign that for you, too. I’ve never been to the Author Alley before, but it’s tied in with the annual Larchmere Festival, so there should be lots of cool stuff to see and do. So if nothing else, you can help me try to find some new and exciting pieces to add to The Strange & Spooky Museum.

Hope to see you all there!

For more information on Author Alley, go here.

Want to know more about the Larchmere Festival? Give a little click here.

New Addition To The Museum: Blue Hole Simulated Stag Horn Salt & Pepper Set



OK, hands down. There’s no need to take a vote. These are, by far the weirdest “souvenir” currently residing in my Strange & Spooky Museum.

There’s no date on the shakers or the box, but they look pretty old. I tried doing some research to see when simulated stag horn salt and pepper shakers were in vogue, but came up empty. Doesn’t appear that salt and pepper shakers made from real stag horns were ever at the top of everyone’s wish list, either (you’re shocked, right?).

Despite that, someone felt the need to create these for the Blue Hole gift shop. If you’ve ever seen a set like this or, better yet, own some yourself, drop me a note in the comments section below. If for no other reason than to let me know that I’m not alone in thinking these things are bad a**.

There’s more Blue Hole memorabilia, as well as other bizarre objects and artifacts, waiting for you in the Roadside Oddities wing of The Strange & Spooky Museum. Go check them out!

ONW: 13-Year-Old Girl Stabs Mother In Alleged ‘Slenderman’ Attack


Site of the Waukesha, Wisconsin attack — via WLWT

I’ll be honest: when reports of the Waukesha, Wisconsin Slender Man attack started making the rounds several weeks ago, I decided not to post any information about in on my site. As far as I was concerned, it was a weird, bizarre and sad instance of two girls who clearly had issues. How else can you explain two 12-year-old girls deciding to try and stab their friend to death and then claiming their actions were an attempt to win the favor of a fictitious character known as Slender Man?  I mean, nobody actually believes Slender Man is real, right?

Well, apparently others do. Or at least that’s what a Hamilton County, Ohio mother is claiming. Specifically, the woman, who has yet to be identified, told an NBC affiliate that she came home from work one night to find her 13-year-old daughter waiting for her in the kitchen. According to the report, the girl was wearing a white mask and attacked her mother with a knife, causing multiple minor injuries.

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–via WLWT

Here’s where things get a little sketchy, though. The mother stated that “after hearing about the Wisconsin attack”, she started to think her daughter might be “under the same influence”. The mother based that assumption on the fact that she had found some of her daughter’s writings which “made reference to Slender Man” and that the daughter had “even created a world for Slender Man in the game Minecraft.”

See, that’s why I added the “alleged” to this post’s title. Unlike the Wisconsin case, where the 2 accused girls apparently made comments to authorities that their crime was related to Slender Man, the alleged attacker in the Ohio case made no such statement. In fact, the only one who brought up Slender Man was the attacker’s mother. Granted, there may indeed be a connection. I’m just saying one hasn’t been established yet, so it’s a bit unfair to start linking them.


An artist’s interpretation of Slender Man –via Creepypasta

More than that, though, I just can’t get my head around why these girls are thinking Slender Man is real. For the uninitiated, Slender Man is the creation of Eric Knudsen, an administrator for the website Creepypasta. Long story short, creepypasta is a site filled with horror fiction, which is written and designed specifically to be spread across the Internet (chat rooms, forums, etc). Anyone can contribute and the stories can be about anything, just as long as they are creepy, frightening and perhaps even disturbing. Some of the more popular topics (i.e.: monsters, ghosts, etc) are given their own pages. Slender Man has his own page, with some contributors even posting drawings and “real” photographs of Slender Man in an attempt to give their posts an air of authenticity.


A “real” photo, showing Slenderman lurking about at a local playground — via Creepypasta

As I mentioned, Slender Man was created by Eric Kundsen. Yes, created. Kundsen is credited with writing the first story about Slender Man before it went out into the virtual world and people began adding their own stories about the shadowy figure. But here’s the thing: Slender Man’s stories are works of fiction and are presented as such. Spend more than 5 minutes “researching” Slender Man (i.e., reading about him online) and you’ll quickly discover that people readily admit to him being a fictional character. In fact, it’s mentioned in the very first sentence on Wikipedia:

The Slender Man (also known as Slender Man or Slenderman) is a fictional character that originated as an Internet meme created by Something Awful forums user Eric Knudsen (a.k.a. “Victor Surge”) in 2009.


So for the life of me, I can’t figure out why these girls allegedly thought that Slender Man was real.

Of course, there are already arguments and conversations taking place online and in the news debating whether or not online horror fiction such as Slender Man is too violent and if guidelines and laws need to be put in place to protect impressionable children from getting their hands and eyes on it. Believe it or not, even though I am a writer that deals with just this sort of spooky stuff, I can see where people are coming from. I’m all for making sure that the materials children are reading are age-appropriate.

But here’s the thing: these Slender Man “incidents” go well beyond a simple discussion of what’s appropriate reading for adolescents. It’s actually a case of right and wrong and even what’s real and what’s imaginary. To put things in perspective, these girls believing that Slender Man was real and that they needed to carry out acts of violence to appease him would be the equivalent of me, as a 12-year-old (eons ago), believing that Bloody Mary, Michael Myers, and even Slimer were all real AND they wanted me to do their bidding and harm people. It doesn’t make sense to me.

Of course, a lot of things don’t make sense to me these days. But the way I see it, I don’t care how impressionable you may be: if someone, especially the Boogeyman, tells you to hurt another human being, common sense should tell you that’s a bad idea. Because, you know, he’s the Boogeyman and all.


You can read the full report from WLWT News, which includes a video interview with the Ohio victim/mother here 

More information on the Wisconsin case can be found here

The Slender Man section of Creepypasta, which includes many fan contributions, can be accessed here

New Addition To The Museum: Boy With The Boot Metal Statue



This magnificent, albeit crudely painted, metal statue of the Boy with the Boot, was a gift from my wife.  The sticker on the base of the statue reads: “Boy with the leaking boot – Hershey – PA”. While the sticker is clearly not original, it does appear as though whoever painted the statue used the Hershey, PA version as a model. I say this because, to date, the Hershey statue is the only one I’ve found that has the boy’s shirt painted blue.

Check out an assortment of other Boy with the Boot memorabilia in the Boy with the Boot section of the Strange and Spooky Museum.