King William II murdered in the New Forest?

On 2nd August 1100, while hunting in the New Forest, William II met his maker at the end of an arrow. It was deemed an accident, and yet something about that day continues to raise eyebrows. Could the Red King have been murdered?

The mysterious death of King William II—nicknamed William Rufus or the Red King because of his ruddy complexion—is one of the first things I remember learning about in History when I got to secondary school. It stuck with me because of the mystery and conspiracy theory that continues to surround the incident to this day.

Our view of the hunting expedition on 2nd August 1100 is murky at best. Contemporary chroniclers have tried to piece together the events, but all of them had agendas and none were eyewitnesses. The earliest mention of the event is in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, which records that William II was “shot by an arrow by one of his own men”. Later chroniclers gave the name of William’s killer as nobleman Walter Tyrrell, sometimes spelled Tyrell or Tirel.

The most extensive contemporary account comes from William of Malmesbury, writing in circa 1128—so still almost 30 years after the event. He says that the king dreamed he was going to Hell the night before the hunt and that the Devil had said to him, “I can’t wait for tomorrow because we can finally meet in person!”

The next morning, William and his hunting party headed out into the New Forest. Walter Tyrrell was present. So was William’s younger brother, Henry, along with several other lords. William forbade them from leaving his side but, as the hunt began, William and Tyrrell ended up separated from the rest. Apparently, Tyrrell went to shoot a stag but missed, his arrow plunging into the king’s chest.

Tyrrell fled the scene and hightailed it to France. The king’s body was discovered by a poor charcoal-burner called Purkis, who placed the body in his cart and conveyed it to Winchester Cathedral.

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The Princes in the Tower: Britain’s most famous missing persons case

The unexplained disappearance of the Princes in the Tower, aka 12-year-old Edward V of England and his nine-year-old brother, Richard of Shrewsbury, is one of Britain’s coldest cases. Five and a half centuries on, it remains the subject of debate and conspiracy theory. But are we any closer to the truth?

When King Edward IV of England died on April 9th 1483, his son, also Edward, succeeded him as Edward V. Because he was only 12, his uncle, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, was supposed to act as Lord Protector of the Realm till he came of age. This didn’t quite go to plan. Richard sent both Edward and his younger brother to the Tower of London, supposedly in preparation for Edward’s coronation. But the coronation never happened. Instead, Richard took the throne for himself and the little princes disappeared.

A game of thrones

On his deathbed, Edward IV named his brother, Richard of Gloucester, Lord Protector of the Realm until his son reached maturity. However, Elizabeth Woodville—Edward IV’s wife and queen consort and Edward V’s mother—wasn’t too thrilled about this. She and her family either didn’t trust Richard or wanted to seize power for themselves in the wake of the king’s death (or both).

In any case, Elizabeth ordered her own brother, Anthony Woodville, Earl Rivers, who was looking after Edward V at Ludlow Castle, to bring the boy king to London immediately to be crowned. And she told him to bring an armed escort of 2000 men. Whatever her motive, it certainly looked like Elizabeth was preparing to do battle with her brother-in-law.

But Richard, aware of what was going on, intercepted Edward V and Anthony on their way to London. Also present was Richard Grey, Edward V’s half-brother (the product of Elizabeth Woodville’s first marriage), and Thomas Vaughn, Edward’s chamberlain. Richard met them at Stony Stafford and dined with them, lulling them into a false sense of security before arresting all three men for treason the following morning. (They were later beheaded at Pontefract Castle in Yorkshire.) When the boy king protested the arrests, Richard told his nephew of a plot to deny him his role as Lord Protector, and that his guardians had been a part of it. He then escorted Edward V to London himself.

On hearing of her brother and second-eldest son’s arrests, Elizabeth Woodville fled into sanctuary at Westminster Abbey with her daughters and nine-year-old son, Richard of Shrewsbury.

Edward V and Richard of Gloucester arrived in London together. At the time, Richard still promised his nephew he would be crowned, but postponed the date from 4th May to 22nd June. On 19th May, Richard sent Edward to the Tower of London because, at the time, the Tower was the traditional residence of monarchs prior to their coronation.

In early June, Richard wrote to a number of important lords asking for their support against “the Queen, her blood adherents and affinity” because he suspected Elizabeth Woodville and her cohorts of plotting his murder. At a Privy Council meeting on 13th June at the Tower of London, Richard accused Lord Hastings of conspiring with the Woodvilles against him. It is said that Hastings was dragged out of the Council chambers and immediately beheaded in the courtyard.

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Ireland’s big mystery – the Vanishing Triangle

Just outside Dublin lies a place known to locals as the ‘Vanishing Triangle’. One of Ireland’s eeriest mysteries, it’s where eight women suddenly and inexplicably vanished in the 90s, never to be seen or heard from again…

Annie McCarrick. Eva Brennan. Imelda Keenan. Jo Jo Dollard. Ciara Breen. Fiona Pender. Fiona Sinnott. Deirdre Jacob. Most of these women were in their late teens or 20s; at 39, Eva Brennan was the oldest. Between 1993 and 1998, all of them disappeared leaving no clues or evidence as to their fates. Despite extensive media campaigns and large-scale searches by the Irish police, none have ever been found. One of the most curious elements is that all the disappearances occurred within an 80-mile radius of Dublin that forms a geographical triangle.

Annie McCarrick went missing on 26th March 1993. The last confirmed sightings of her had her running errands at her local bank and supermarket that morning. An unconfirmed sighting placed her in Johnny Fox’s pub in Glencullen in the evening with an unknown man. This man was never found.


Annie McCarrick

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Karen Silkwood: How to silence a whistleblower and get away with it

Remember Erin Brockovich? She’s the file clerk who famously uncovered evidence that a huge Californian gas and electric company was poisoning people. Karen Silkwood’s story is similar, but the big difference is that Erin Brockovich’s story had a happy ending and Karen Silkwood’s… didn’t.

Karen Silkwood was hired to work for the powerful Kerr-McGee Cimarron Fuel Fabrication Site plant in Crescent, Oklahoma in 1972, where she made plutonium pellets for nuclear reactor fuel rods. There she met her boyfriend, co-worker Drew Stephens, who expressed concerns about working conditions at the plant, putting health and safety on Silkwood’s radar.

Just 3 months into her employment, she joined the local Oil, Chemical & Atomic Workers Union and took part in a strike at Kerr-McGee calling for better wages and safer working conditions. After the strike ended, she was elected to the union’s bargaining committee — the first woman at Kerr-McGee to achieve such a position — and was charged with investigating health and safety issues.

In 1974, Silkwood found numerous violations of health and safety regulations, including faulty fuel rods, exposure of workers to contamination, improper storage of samples, falsified inspection records, and more than 40 pounds of missing plutonium.

That’s when strange things started happening.

Was somebody poisoning Karen Silkwood?

On November 5th 1974, Silkwood performed a routine self-check and discovered that her body contained nearly 400 times the legal limit of plutonium. She was decontaminated at the plant and sent home with a testing kit. The following morning, she again tested positive for plutonium and was given a more intensive decontamination. But on November 7th, dangerous levels of plutonium were found in her lungs, and following an inspection, plutonium traces were found all over her home.

Questions arose over how she’d been contaminated. She believed Kerr-McGee was poisoning her because of her whistle-blowing efforts, while Kerr-McGee accused her of poisoning herself to add fuel to her accusations. What’s disturbing is that the soluble plutonium in her body came from an area of the plant she hadn’t been in for 4 months…

The meeting that didn’t happen

Silkwood decided it was time to go public with her evidence and contacted David Burnham, a journalist at the New York Times. On November 13th 1974, witnesses said Silkwood left a union meeting at the Hub Cafe in Crescent with a binder and a packet of documents and headed for Oklahoma City for her meeting with Burnham.

She didn’t make it.

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“If anything happens to me, investigate.” British UFO expert Max Spiers sent this creepy warning, days before his death


An ever-deepening mystery surrounds the death of ufologist and conspiracy theorist Max Spiers, who was found dead while preparing to expose politicians and celebrities linked to a global conspiracy…

In July 2016, a 39-year-old UFO researcher, conspiracy theorist and father of two, Max Spiers, was found dead on a friend’s sofa in Warsaw, Poland. Originally from Canterbury, England, Spiers was due to speak at a conference in Warsaw that month, where it’s believed he was set to lift the lid on a global black magic conspiracy and a paedophile ring inside the US Army.

Just days before his death, Spiers sent a text to his mother, Vanessa Bates, saying, “Your boy’s in trouble. If anything happens to me, investigate.”

His mother, an English teacher, told newspapers, “I think Max had been digging in some dark places and I fear somebody wanted him dead.”

Polish authorities concluded that Spiers had died from natural causes, despite no post-mortem examination being carried out. After Spiers’ body was returned to the UK, British doctors at Margate QUQM Hospital in Kent did a post-mortem but were still unable to determine how he died. To this day, Spiers’ cause of death remains a mystery.

However, an inquest into Spiers’ death, which opened at Canterbury Coroners’ Court in December 2016, has added some disturbing clues to the mix. The inquest is ongoing, but it’s already been revealed that Spiers was puking up a mysterious black liquid shortly before his death. (Makes me think of the black oil—that nasty alien virus in The X Files!)

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Who murdered Superman?


We all thought the Man of Steel was impervious to bullets, but in 1959, we were proved wrong. George Reeves, the first man to play Superman on TV in the 1952 series Adventures of Superman, was shot dead in his bedroom. Officially ruled a suicide, Superman’s death remains shrouded in mystery…

George Reeves donned Superman’s red cape and Clark Kent’s specs and began saving the world long before Christopher Reeve and Henry Cavill in the movies, Dean Cain in 90s TV show The New Adventures of Superman and Tom Welling in Smallville. Adventures of Superman ran for six seasons between 1952 and 1958 and was cancelled after the sixth season. There were plans to revive it, but George Reeves’s untimely death in June 1959 stopped these plans in their tracks. Mystery and controversy have surrounded his death ever since.

According to witnesses, George Reeves and his fiancé Leonore Lemmon were out for dinner and drinks on the night of his death with their friend Richard Condon. Reeves and Lemmon had an argument in front of Condon and, shortly afterwards, the three of them returned to Reeves’s home in Benedict Canyon in Los Angeles.

Reeves went to bed, but sometime around midnight, friends William Bliss and Carol Van Ronkel turned up at Reeves’s house for an impromptu party. Reeves was in no mood to join in; rather, he came down and had a go at them all for the noise. He ended up having a reluctant drink with them, before retreating upstairs again in a bad mood.

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The dark side of the police – the Steven Avery conspiracy

Right folks, I think it’s about time I talked about the hottest conspiracy theory around right now: the conviction of Steven Avery…

The Steven Avery case has dominated headlines and got tongues wagging in outrage all over the world since Netflix documentary series Making a Murderer aired last December. (Yes, there are significant spoilers for the series ahead, so if you haven’t watched it and you want to experience the outrage first-hand, do NOT read on.)

My housemate and I watched the series in January. As some of you know, I used to practise as a criminal defence lawyer. She still does. We therefore spent most of the series with our chins on the floor.

I have to say, it’s nice to see a programme that doesn’t paint the defence lawyers as baddies. Here we’re seeing the prosecution and the police in a dark and nasty light, something huge swathes of the public are ignorant about. Sorry guys, but having dealt with dodgy cops myself—cops who wilfully disregard procedure just so they can nail someone—I can tell you that many of them are not the knights in shining armour you think they are. And the Steven Avery case is one big, glaring example of that.

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Was Pope John Paul I assassinated?


John Paul I was pope for a mere 33 days before he was found dead in his bed, aged 65. Numerous oddities, inconsistencies and unanswered questions have given rise to theories that dark forces conspired to murder him…

On September 27th 1978, Pope John Paul I was found sitting up in bed like he’d been reading, dead. His papal reign was one of the shortest of all time.

But the circumstances of the pope’s death were – and still are – incredibly murky. This is thanks to lots of conflicting statements about when and who found his body; if and what the pope was reading before he died; and the lack of any autopsy to confirm the cause of death.

Inconsistent statements

Some witnesses stated that Pope John Paul I’s body was discovered at 5.30am by the pope’s private secretary, John Magee. Others state that the body was found at around 4am by a nun, Sister Vincenza Taffarel. There was disagreement, too, about the time and cause of death. A statement put out by the Vatican said that he’d died of a heart attack, while some witnesses said that he actually died of a pulmonary embolism. The Vatican statement said he’d died at 11pm the previous night; other witnesses said he died only a few hours before he was found.

Pope John Paul I - a picture of health?

Pope John Paul I – a picture of health?

What’s more is that Pope John Paul’s health basically couldn’t have been better. He drank very little, had a long history of low blood pressure and was a lifetime non-smoker. All the witnesses, including his own doctor, said that he was in perfect health. His brother said that he had an “iron health”. His doctor said, “He’s not well, he’s very well. I talked to him the night before. He seemed fine and didn’t mention any problems.”

Has there ever been a person more unlikely to suffer a sudden, fatal heart attack?

Spanish priest Father Jesus Lopez Saez and historian John Julius Norwich argue that a heart attack being the cause of death could not have been properly determined without an autopsy.

Yet was no autopsy – the Vatican decided not to conduct one. Apparently they tried to argue that autopsies on popes were not allowed. Since autopsies had been carried out on other popes, this was a flagrant lie.

What was he reading?

The official story from the Vatican is that Pope John Paul I went to bed to read The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis. This book was in the pope’s hand when he was found dead in his bed.

However, Sister Vincenza said that she found the pope with “papers” in his hand. She didn’t specify what these papers were, but The Imitation of Christ is a book, a book she probably would’ve described as such. These “papers” sound like something else entirely.

Some have theorised that these papers might’ve contained certain names, names of people suspected of being involved in the corruption within the Vatican Bank. Or they might’ve been an agenda detailing the pope’s next actions to be taken against the bank.

Paul Marcinkus - part of a conspiracy to assassinate the pope?

Paul Marcinkus – part of a conspiracy to assassinate the pope?

This leads nicely onto potential motives. David Yallop in his 1984 book In God’s Name said the pope knew about the corruption in the Vatican Bank and was planning to make a move against those responsible. He said that one of the names on the papers in his hand was Paul Marcinkus, head of the bank. Marcinkus had been accused of being in collusion with Roberto Calvi, chairman of the bank Banco Abrosiano, which had been laundering drug money for the Mafia. The Vatican Bank had shares in Banco Abrosiano and was also accused of secretly funding rebel groups through it. After this scandal came to light, Yallop named Marcinkus as a possible accomplice in Pope John Paul I’s murder. He believed the pope was poisoned with digitalis.

The Vatican has maintained its silence over the issues surrounding the pope’s death for decades now. Why so much inconsistency? Why no autopsy?

I suspect foul play. Everything sounds off to me. Unfortunately, without more evidence, it’s a skeleton in the Vatican’s closet that looks destined to remain there. We may never know what really happened in Pope John Paul I’s bedroom on September 27th 1978…

Perhaps Dan Brown would like to have a stab at this one.

Next week: The Disney Conspiracy, Part 3. [Part 1 is about subliminal messages and a gay agenda in Disney movies. Part 2 is about whether Walt Disney was a racist.]