Manic Street Preachers’ missing guitarist – did he jump or was he pushed?


Richey Edwards – former guitarist and lyricist for the Welsh rock band Manic Street Preachers – was known for having an air of mystery. On 1st February 1995, he became the centre of a new mystery – his own disappearance…

Known for his eyeliner-heavy ‘Emo’-look, his enigmatic persona and his politically charged lyrics, Richey Edwards was the guitarist who couldn’t play guitar (he mimed during many performances). He struggled with bouts of depression and admitted self-harming with blades and cigarette butts. He also famously carved ‘4 REAL’ into his arm with a razor blade during an interview with NME journalist Steve Lamacq, requiring 15 stitches.

Richey Edwards, with '4 REAL' carved into his arm

Richey Edwards, with ‘4 REAL’ carved into his arm

On February 1st 1995, the day he was due to fly to the US for a Manic Street Preachers promotional tour, Richey checked out of the Embassy Hotel in London and disappeared. He is understood to have withdrawn £200 – so that he now had £2,800 – before driving to his apartment in Cardiff to drop off some things and leaving again. Over the next two weeks, several unconfirmed sightings were made. Richey was supposedly spotted at the passport office and the bus station in Newport, Wales.

Then, on 7th February, a Newport taxi driver picked up a passenger who looked like Richey from the King’s Hotel and drove him around the South Wales Valleys, including Blackwood where Richey used to live. The driver said the journey was “extremely strange”, that the passenger was slim with a gaunt face, was putting on a Cockney accent and asked to lie down on the backseat. He dropped the passenger at the old, now closed Severn View service station – at that point a large and busy stop-off for travellers going over the Severn Bridge – and the passenger paid the £68 fare.

On 14th February, Richey’s Vauxhall Cavalier was given a parking ticket in the car park of the Severn View service station. On 17th February, it was reported as abandoned. Police found that the battery was flat, and there was evidence that the car had been lived in. Burger wrappers and pictures of Richey’s family, taken a month before, were also found.

The original Severn View service station, where Richey's car was found, with the Severn Bridge in the background

The original Severn View service station, where Richey’s car was found, with the Severn Bridge in the background

Did Richey Edwards jump off the Severn Bridge?

The Severn Bridge is known for being a common spot for suicides, and many believed that Richey Edwards took his own life by jumping off the bridge into the River Severn. He was clearly pretty messed up…

Less than a year before his disappearance, Richey went missing for 48 hours in July 1994, reappearing after two days of heavy drinking and self-mutilation in what was thought to be a suicide attempt. He was committed to a psychiatric hospital and missed several gigs and festivals with the rest of the Manic Street Preachers.

On 24th November 1994, after a show in Amsterdam, the band discovered that Richey had cut himself vertically down his chest – the injury needed 36 stitches.

On 1st December, Richey was found by one of his bandmates outside their hotel in Germany, banging his head against the wall repeatedly – with blood all over his face.

The Severn Bridge - a common spot for suicides

The Severn Bridge – a common spot for suicides

Sounds like one seriously disturbed guy. But what raises doubts over the suicide theory is that a lot of people who knew him argued that he was never the type to contemplate suicide. In 1994, Richey also said himself:

“In terms of the ‘S’ word, that does not enter my mind. And it never has done, in terms of an attempt. Because I am stronger than that. I might be a weak person, but I can take pain.”

But if it wasn’t suicide, what happened to Richey Edwards?

Richey Edwards and the New World Order – was he murdered?

Not helping things is the fact that Richey Edwards’ body was never found. It’s not uncommon for bodies to be discovered many years later after people have jumped off the Severn Bridge, but more than 20 years have now passed since Richey Edwards went missing. Still no body.

Where there is mystery, there are conspiracy theories. Some people suggest that Richey Edwards had key information about the New World Order, and was eventually killed for it. New World Order, a conspiracy theory in itself, says that a secret, powerful group is actually in control of the world, or on the verge of taking control. Variations include Satan’s minions secretly pulling the strings of world governments in preparation for the coming of the Antichrist, and the British Royal Family being part of a secret cabal of disguised reptilian aliens.

Some argue that if you study Richey’s lyrics in many Manic Street Preachers’ songs, such as If White America Told The Truth For One Day Its World Would Fall Apart, he is attacking New World Order. They argue that maybe government agents targeted him because the revelations in his lyrics were making them nervous.

Is he still alive?

The most common theory is the Elvis-esque notion that Richey Edwards is still alive. Many discount this as fans wanting him to be alive – just like Elvis and Michael Jackson – and refute all the alleged ‘sightings’. However, since Richey’s body has never been found, the ‘still alive’ theory is much more plausible.

In 1997, a college lecturer claimed to have seen Richey getting on a bus in Goa, India. Then a barmaid claimed to have seen him in a bar in the Canary Islands in 1998; apparently he hotfooted it out of the bar after someone recognised him.

An Oxford University undergraduate also theorised that Richey was hiding in Germany. She said that he went there to visit places significant to the Allied Forces’ liberation of the concentration camps, which he’d studied at Cardiff University.

But all of this is speculation, together with sightings that have never been confirmed. For a long time, his family refused to have him declared legally dead, hoping that one of the leads would prove fruitful. Alas, nothing new came to light and in 2008, Richey was officially declared “presumed dead”.

Despite the conspiracy theories about New World Order and speculations that he might be alive, my feeling is that Richey committed suicide (until substantive new evidence comes to light, of course). He was clearly a screwed up guy; he had pictures of his family in his car; and if we believe this taxi driver, he visited his home town shortly before his final stop at one of the UK’s most renowned suicide locations. Whatever he might’ve said about suicide, his actions, including some horrific self-mutilation incidents, suggest he definitely had the capacity to throw himself from the Severn Bridge in despair.

Having said that, I do have one question. If he was planning to commit suicide, why did he withdraw £2,800?

Next week: The Resurrection conspiracy

Sources:, Connecting Minds Network, David, Wikipedia


Is God a Martian? Ancient aliens and the Pyramids of Mars

The mysterious Cydonia region of Mars

The mysterious Cydonia region of Mars

Is there or was there life on Mars? Many people, including some scientists, believe that intelligent life used to exist on the Red Planet and that the evidence is already abundant. But how convincing is this evidence? And if ancient aliens did once dwell on Mars, what is their connection to us?

Even though freezing temperatures on Mars today make the planet uninhabitable for humans, research has shown that Mars used to enjoy a similar climate to Earth. Most scientists believe that water is necessary for life, and that once upon a time, water was in abundance on Mars. Signs of dried up ocean beds, lakes and old river channels have been gathered by missions to Mars, revealing large-scale water coverage on the surface at some point in the past. Water molecules and ice have also been found on the surface. Data from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has even revealed possible flowing water during Mars’s warmest months.

But most astonishingly is the fact that three Mars meteorites have been found to contain microscopic structures that resemble fossilised bacteria, indicating past life on Mars. So if water and bacteria and a habitable climate once existed on Mars, could an intelligent civilisation have also existed?

The Faces and Pyramids of Mars – evidence of ancient aliens?

In the region known as Cydonia on Mars, several bizarre discoveries have been made. Firstly, images gathered by Mars orbiters show a structure on the surface that bears an uncanny resemblance to a humanoid face. The imagery also revealed a number of pyramid-like structures on the surface. Richard C. Hoagland believes that the ‘Face on Mars’ and the pyramids are the last remnants of a ruined city and evidence of an ancient Martian civilisation.

The 'Face on Mars'

The ‘Face on Mars’

Another face-like formation – one that appears even when viewed at different angles – has been found in the Libya Montes region of Mars – more evidence of ancient aliens?

The Libya Montes face

The Libya Montes face

There is plenty of mystery surrounding our own pyramids. Some scientists, researchers and geologists believe that the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx were not built by the Ancient Egyptians and are much, much older than people think. Some have made the connection between Earth’s pyramids and the pyramids of Mars, suggesting that the ancient aliens that once dwelled on Mars were responsible for building the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx.

One of the Pyramids of Mars and the Great Pyramid of Giza

One of the Pyramids of Mars and the Great Pyramid of Giza

Are the Martians our creators?

The 2011 Ridley Scott-directed movie Prometheus posited the idea that life on Earth was seeded by an alien race. This was not a new idea, and indeed many people have theorised that ancient aliens didn’t just exist – they created us. It is said that Earth’s scientists have plans to transport simple bacteria to Mars as a way of introducing (or perhaps reintroducing) life to the planet. So is it possible that life on Earth began the same way? That perhaps an ancient and highly advanced civilisation from Mars created us?

Maybe our creation is absolutely nothing to do with God, as still many people believe. Or maybe – if the Martians were highly advanced and beyond our conventional understanding of life and existence – God was one simply one of them.

Is it all just pareidolia?

Pareidolia is a psychological phenomenon which involves identifying something significant in images and sounds that are actually random, vague, natural or accidental. These include the Moon Rabbit, the Man in the Moon, seeing faces or animals in the clouds, and hearing hidden messages in songs played in reverse. Scientist Carl Sagan hypothesised that we are ‘hard-wired’ from birth to recognise the human face.

Supporting this theory is the fact that several better quality images of the ‘Face on Mars’ have since been returned to Earth, revealing the initial images to be little more than tricks of light and shadow. There’s also the example of the ‘Happy Face Crater’, an optical illusion created by two small mountain clusters in the north of the crater and a curved mountain range in the south. Essentially we’re seeing what we want to see. Both the ‘Face on Mars’ and the Libya Montes face are today generally regarded as examples of pareidolia.

Newer image of the 'Face on Mars'

Newer image of the ‘Face on Mars’

The Happy Face Crater

The Happy Face Crater

And while significant questions do surround the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx, and there is evidence that they predate all known ancient civilisations, there’s no evidence to suggest that Martians or ancient aliens created us. (But then, there’s no evidence that God created us either.)

Of course, it could be that unknown forces are manipulating the data. Perhaps ancient aliens are not so ancient. Still nobody knows what happened to the Mars Observer, which mysteriously vanished in 1993 before it could produce any data about Mars. There are also conspiracy theorists who believe that all the Mars images being sent back to Earth from probes and spacecrafts are being censored, altered and fabricated by the Martians. Because they’re still there – and they never left.

Next week: What happened to Manic Street Preachers guitarist Richey Edwards?

The truth about Loch Ness – time travel and the Taos Hum

The world's most mysterious waters?

The world’s most mysterious waters?

Loch Ness in Scotland is a hotbed of intrigue, mostly because of copious alleged sightings of the Loch Ness Monster, affectionately dubbed ‘Nessie’. A little further investigation reveals that Loch Ness has also played host to poltergeists, the famous Taos Hum, birds going berserk and time travel. So just what is going on at Loch Ness?

In 1933, George Spicer and his wife encountered an enormous, long-necked animal, lurching across the road in front of their car and heading for Loch Ness a few metres away. This widely publicised story popularised the notion that the waters of Loch Ness are inhabited by a dinosaur-like creature.

Since then, many alleged sightings (and dubious photographs) have been recorded, and investigations and sonar studies have yielded some strange but inconclusive results. In 1954, the crew of the fishing boat Rival III observed sonar readings of a large object chasing their boat at a depth of 146 metres – then contact was lost. Biologist Roy Mackal’s Loch Ness expedition in 1970 recorded sounds that were unlike anything produced by known aquatic animals. And when 1987’s Operation Deepscan made contact with a large, unidentified moving object, sonar expert Darrell Lowrance said:

“There’s something here that we don’t understand, and there’s something here that’s larger than a fish, maybe some species that hasn’t been detected before. I don’t know.”

But the Loch Ness Monster is not the only source of weirdness at Loch Ness…

Poltergeists at Loch Ness

The notorious occultist Aleister Crowley moved into Boleskine House, a manor on the south-east side of Loch Ness, in 1899. While he was there, it is said that he was haunted by ominous dark shapes and strange winds on still days. Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page, who bought the house in 1970, also claimed it was haunted. And aeronautical engineer Tim Dinsdale claimed to have been attacked by a mob of ghosts and demons while he was anchoring his boat near Boleskine House. After this experience, he became convinced that the Loch Ness Monster itself was a ghost, not a living dinosaur.

The Taos Hum

In 2008, it was reported that residents in the Loch Ness vicinity were being woken up at night by a strange, low-frequency humming noise. The same phenomenon had been reported in other areas of the US and the UK, initially in Taos, New Mexico, and is completely unexplainable to this day.

Only 2% of the local population are affected by the Taos Hum, which apparently sounds like a truck diesel engine in the distance, and has been known to drive people mad. Some researchers have theorised that the hum is the result of unusual sensitivity to electromagnetic noise created by the growing number of gadgets and technologies around us. Others say it’s to do with aliens or secret military experiments. Another theory is that it’s the sound of the universe expanding.


Blogger Sarah Hapgood reports that once when she was visiting Loch Ness, she saw all the birdlife in the area going completely berserk at around midnight – like something out of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. Could this be linked to the Taos Hum in some way? Are the birds sensitive to it as well?

The time travelling couple

The most intriguing tale for me is the little-known case of a mysterious couple, cited by author Andrew Collins in his book Alien Energy.

In the mid-18th century this couple were travelling in a horse and trap near Loch End on the south side of Loch Ness – when they disappeared. Local people speculated that they had been kidnapped or attacked by outlaws and thrown into the loch.

A hundred years later, two people – a man and a woman – walked into a local almshouse to seek refuge from a storm. The priest who took them in noted that they were wearing old-fashioned clothing and were very confused, unable to explain how where they’d come from or how they’d arrived in the area. Two days later, they disappeared again.

Was it the same couple? Did the man and woman who disappeared in the mid-18th century slip forwards in time to the 19th? Did they slip back again after the two days – or to another time entirely?

Is the Loch Ness Monster a time traveller?


The story of the time travelling couple is an enlightening one. It’s a similar tale to the one about Rudolph Fentz, the man who inadvertently slipped forwards in time from 1876 to 1950. And there are other famous time slip cases, such as the Moberly-Jourdain Incident and the story of the Vanishing Hotel.

But what if the most famous time slip case is the Loch Ness Monster itself?

Many believe, from descriptions given by those who claim to have seen it, that the Loch Ness Monster is a plesiosaur that survived the extinction of the dinosaurs. But if this plesiosaur and its ancestors have been alive for the last 65 million years, why did the sightings only start in 1933?

Maybe it’s because they didn’t survive extinction after all, and that Nessie’s presence in the 20th century is actually the result of time travel. Perhaps she slipped forwards in time from the Cretaceous Period and the reason you don’t hear much about new Nessie sightings nowadays is because she’s gone back to her own time.

Physicist Dr. John Brandenburg theorises that time travel might be the cause of lots of sea monster sightings, including the Loch Ness Monster. He says because lakes like Loch Ness have a large concentration of quartz, capable of generating enormous amounts of electromagnetism, this could’ve caused a portal through time to open in the lake. His theory is that Nessie might be going back and forth through this portal, which is why no one’s been able to find her.

And perhaps it’s the weakness in the fabric of time in the vicinity that is causing the Taos Hum and the birds to go berserk, and caused the 18th century couple to slip forwards in time?

But of course, time travel is just an unproven theory – and a plot device for Doctor Who.

Isn’t it?

Next week: the Mars conspiracy


Sarah Hapgood – Loch Ness: Area of High Strangeness Indeed

Above Top Secret – Are Champ and Nessie Time Travellers?

James Donahue – Infamous Taos Hum That Drives People Crazy


The most mysterious body ever found… the Atacama Alien


In 2003, a skeleton was discovered near an abandoned church in the deserted town of La Noria, in the Atacama Desert in Chile. It had a vaguely human shape, except for having 10 ribs instead of 12, an abnormally large and pointed head, and being only 6 inches in length.

Many suspected that the Atacama skeleton was an alien, because of its unusual features. However, immunologist Garry Nolan carried out extensive DNA analysis, finding abundant human DNA, and revealed in 2013 that the Atacama Alien – dubbed ‘Ata’ – was very much of this world. The body’s mitochondrial DNA also revealed that its mother was from the west coast of South America, i.e. Chile. But this has not put a lid on the mystery, given the tiny human’s bewildering features.

So what exactly is Ata?

Ata 2

An extinct species of human from hundreds of thousands of years ago?

Perhaps Ata belongs to another species of human that existed tens or hundreds of thousands of years ago. Humans that were much smaller, had larger heads and had 10 ribs instead of 12. It would have been a rare species, given that Neanderthals and other extinct species of human have been excavated in copious numbers across the world, but no other Atas have been found.

I say no other. A similarly tiny, deformed corpse dubbed Aleshenka was discovered near Kyshtym in Russia in 1996 – perhaps another member of Ata’s elusive species? However, while there is video and photographic evidence of Aleshenka, the remains of the creature were mysteriously lost after 1996 – which means it cannot be verified as human, alien or even an elaborate hoax.



In any case, the answer is no. Garry Nolan confirms that Ata’s DNA is modern. He too initially presumed that Ata was tens or hundreds of thousands of years old, preserved because of the Atacama Desert’s exceptional dryness. But his analysis indicates that Ata – whoever he or she was – lived and died only a few decades ago.

A dwarf or a human foetus with progeria?

This bizarre, tiny human is the size of a 22-week-old foetus. Some scientists have suggested that Ata is a foetus that was born prematurely and didn’t survive.

However, Garry Nolan’s analyses continue to produce confusion. He found that the density of the growth plates in Ata’s knees is equivalent to that in a 6 to 8-year-old child. A 6-inch tall 8-year-old?

One of Nolan’s theories is yes, Ata was a 6-inch tall 8-year-old. As strange as it sounds, perhaps Ata suffered from a very extreme form of dwarfism. Still, the idea that a person as tiny as 6 inches could have been living in Chile a few decades ago without attracting the world’s attention beggars belief.

Nolan’s other theory is that Ata was a foetus, but was suffering from a severe form of the rapid aging condition, progeria, which is why features of its skeleton resemble that of an 8-year-old.

However, the mystery deepens. Nolan has not been able to confirm either of these theories because no indications of progeria or dwarfism have been found in Ata.

A hoax?

Nolan discounts this one immediately. Some have argued, because of Ata’s alien-like features and inexplicable origins, that it might be a hoax conjured up by ufologists. Nolan argues that the x-rays clearly show real bones with arterial shadows and says, “You just couldn’t fake it,” before adding with a laugh, “unless you were an alien.”

Did something happen in La Noria?

Even though Aleshenka’s existence cannot be verified due to the loss of the remains, people still theorise about its origins. One theory is that Aleshenka was a human foetus with bizarre deformities due to long-term radiation exposure following the Kyshtym disaster of 1957, which seriously contaminated the area.

Did something similar happen in La Noria? Just what did happen in La Noria? Records indicate that it used to be a major mining town in the late 1800s, and today it is said to be haunted by the workers, who were badly mistreated to the point of slavery. The last residents of La Noria are said to have abandoned the town in the 1950s. Why? The cemetery in La Noria is considered one of the most frightening places in the world, thanks to the toppled-over gravestones, open graves and clothed bodies only half-buried in the ground. The residents of the village nearest to it refuse to ever go there.

The most frightening graveyard in the world?

The most frightening graveyard in the world?

Was Ata the result of some kind of experiment conducted in La Noria? Were Ata’s features because of radiation exposure following some kind of accident? Was Ata’s condition completely natural yet utterly unique – a rare condition as yet undiscovered?

Was Ata murdered?

The other question is what actually happened to Ata. What we know is that someone in La Noria wrapped the body in a white cloth with a purple ribbon and buried it in a shallow grave near the church. What we also know – most disconcertingly – is that Ata had a fracture on its upper arm and another fracture on its skull – which doctors and scientists consider to be a possible cause of death.

My theory is that someone murdered Ata out of fear of what it was. Or, if Ata was the tiniest human to have ever lived, perhaps he or she was walking down the street one day and was accidentally trodden on.


Next week: Strange goings-on at Loch Ness…

The Death of Edward II – natural causes, suffocation or a red-hot poker up the bum?

Edward II - an ill-fated king

Edward II – an ill-fated king

The death of King Edward II during his imprisonment at Berkeley Castle in 1327 is shrouded in mystery. Nobody knows for certain whether he died of natural causes, was murdered on the orders of his wife, or in fact swapped his clothes with a servant and escaped…

It’s an understatement to say that Edward II had a pretty rough time as king of England. Unsuccessful military campaigns. Uprisings and civil wars. And after years of making enemies all over the country because of his controversial relationship with the unpopular Piers Gaveston, and later the hated Despenser family, he fell out of favour with his own wife – the French king’s sister, Isabella. In 1326, Queen Isabella turned against Edward, gathered an army and kicked him off the throne. As a result, Edward II became the first English monarch to be deposed. Depending on what you believe, it’s possible he then suffered a very gruesome death by having a red-hot poker shoved up his anus – on Isabella’s orders.

She sounds like a woman you wouldn’t want to mess with.

Queen Isabella – the ‘She-Wolf of France’

Isabella had a deep dislike for Edward’s close friend and adviser, the very rich and influential Hugh Despenser the Younger. Some people say he was the real ruler of England because of how much he dominated Edward. She was also embarrassed by Edward’s unsuccessful military campaigns in Scotland and considered him an incompetent king. Finally, because of rising tensions with the French, Edward and Hugh had decided in 1324 to confiscate Isabella’s lands and place her youngest children into the custody of the Despenser family. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

In 1325, Isabella went to France to negotiate a peace treaty with the French king on Edward II’s behalf. After negotiations completed, she decided not to return to England and plotted against Edward instead. She became involved with an exiled lord, Roger Mortimer, and the two of them hatched a plan to remove Edward II and the Despensers from power.

Queen Isabella and her forces

Queen Isabella and her forces

In 1326, Isabella and Mortimer gathered an army and invaded England. Edward was pretty unpopular by this point, largely because people hated the Despensers, and many rose up against Edward in support of Isabella, forcing the king to flee London. Eventually Edward was captured and imprisoned by Isabella’s forces, and she and Mortimer became the de facto rulers of England.

Was Edward murdered with a red-hot poker?

In January 1327, Edward II was forced to abdicate. His young son was crowned Edward III, with Isabella as queen regent. Edward II was moved to the more secure location of Berkeley Castle. What happened after this is still a massive source of debate.

On 23rd September 1327, Isabella and Edward III were informed by messenger that Edward II had died at Berkeley Castle because of a ‘fatal accident’ – which is the information that was given to Parliament. Nobody is clear on the nature of this accident or what is said to have happened. Others say he died from ill-health and depression brought on by his captivity.

But the most popular view is that he was murdered on the orders of Isabella and Mortimer. There is a legend that the two of them plotted to murder him in such a way that they could deny any wrongdoing. Allegedly, they sent a famous order, “Eduardum occidere nolite timere bonum est, which – depending where you place the comma – could be read as “Do not be afraid to kill Edward; it is good”, or “Do not kill Edward; it is good to fear”. The evidence is minimal, but the likelihood that most historians subscribe to is that Isabella and Mortimer did have Edward killed, because of concerns over plots to liberate him.

How they murdered him is also up for debate. Some say he was suffocated or strangled. But a sordid legend has it that a group of men held the king down, pushed a horn into his anus, and then inserted a red-hot poker to burn out all of his internal organs. It was a method of execution that would leave no visible marks on the body. However, most historians now agree that the red-hot poker story was just medieval propaganda – possibly inspired by Edward’s rumoured homosexuality.

It seems we’ll never know how Edward II died…

But maybe Edward didn’t die at Berkeley at all…

There is a minority view that in fact Edward II escaped Berkeley Castle and carried on his life in exile in Europe. This theory comes from the ‘Fieschi Letter’ – an undated letter written by priest Manuele Fieschi to Edward III, a copy of which was first discovered in 1877 in Montpellier. The letter says that when Edward II heard that he was to be murdered at Berkeley Castle, he swapped clothes with a servant and escaped by killing the gatekeeper.

Berkeley Castle - where Edward II was imprisoned and (possibly) murdered

Berkeley Castle – where Edward II was imprisoned and (possibly) murdered

The question is, who did they bury at Gloucester Cathedral if it wasn’t Edward II? Some say that it was either the gatekeeper – and Isabella knew her husband had escaped – or it was the servant, killed by Isabella’s assassins.

The Fieschi Letter goes on to state that Edward fled to Corfe Castle in Dorset, then travelled to Ireland, France and eventually settled in Italy, where he spent the rest of his days as a hermit.

Supporters of the Fieschi Letter point to royal accounts that mention Edward III’s meeting with ‘William the Welshman’ whilst in Germany – a man who claimed to be Edward II. No further details about ‘William the Welshman’ are known. Other documents detail how Edmund, the Earl of Kent, was executed for plotting to liberate Edward II from Corfe Castle – three years after his apparent death.

In addition, evidence that it was actually the king’s body buried at Gloucester Cathedral is a bit shoddy. For the first time, a wooden effigy of the king was carried through the streets instead of his body. Furthermore, the body was embalmed before it was viewed (from a distance) by local dignitaries, which possibly made it unrecognisable.

Do I smell a cover-up? One that maybe even Edward III was in on, or knew about?

It certainly seems quite fanciful that Edward II escaped and survived in the way the letter tells it – and the letter’s motives are doubted by historians. However, the evidence for all accounts of what happened to Edward II is inadequate. We don’t even have a cause of death, just a number of wildly different theories.

So perhaps Edward II was more resourceful than Isabella thought…

Next week: Who killed Jill Dando?


Wikipedia: Edward II of England, Isabella of France, Fieschi Letter

Times Higher Education – A red hot poker? It was just a red herring

Susan Higginbotham – Hugh Despenser the Younger


LA’s most dangerous hotel and the gruesome case of Elisa Lam


On February 19th 2013, 21-year-old Canadian student Elisa Lam was found dead and decomposing in a water tank at the Cecil Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles. Theories as to how she got there range from mental illness to murder to demonic possession…

I’ve heard that Downtown LA has a bit of a bad rep. I suspect the grisly history of the Cecil Hotel on Main Street – which has now been renamed ‘Stay on Main’ and is a budget hotel and unofficial residence for ‘transients’ – is a big reason for that.

Hotel of Horror – suicides, stabbings and serial killers

Since the Cecil Hotel was built in 1924, three people have committed suicide by jumping out of windows. One jumper also killed a passing pedestrian.

In 1964, a woman named Goldie Olsen, known for feeding the pigeons in Pershing Square, was raped, stabbed and strangled in her hotel room. The room was ransacked. Her killer was never found.

Satanist Richard Ramirez, aka the Night Stalker, lived in a top floor room at the Cecil for several weeks in 1985, during which time he committed a vast spree of horrific burglaries, rapes, murders and attempted murders.

Killer-cum-journalist Jack Unterweger was a guest at the Cecil while he was supposedly working for an Austrian magazine, but was in fact up to his old tricks: strangling prostitutes with their bra straps.

And in 2013, Elisa Lam became the hotel’s latest victim.

The bizarre death of Elisa Lam

On January 26th 2013, Elisa Lam checked into the Cecil Hotel. On January 31st, she went missing. While authorities searched for her, guests at the hotel complained about low water pressure in their rooms, discolouration and a funny taste. Then, on February 19th, maintenance workers discovered Lam’s body in one of the water supply tanks on the room, naked and decomposing. No wonder the water tasted funny!

Elisa Lam

Elisa Lam

Her death was ruled to be an ‘accidental drowning’, possibly contributed to by her bipolar disorder. Many people take issue with this ruling…

The elevator video

One of the reasons this case caused such widespread speculation is because of the CCTV footage of Elisa Lam in one of the Cecil’s elevators, released by the LAPD on February 14th 2013. The footage is the last time Lam is seen alive.

In the footage, Lam behaves in an utterly bizarre manner. Looking frightened and as if someone is after her, she steps in and out of the elevator several times, hides in the corner, looks up and down the hallway and waves her arms about erratically. Eventually she steps out and is not seen again. For another minute, the elevator doors are seen opening and closing, apparently by themselves.

Some have theorised that she was having a psychotic episode, imagining that someone was pursuing her, because of her bipolar disorder. Others have theorised that she was under the influence of drugs. Given the Cecil’s dark and sordid past, some have said that her inexplicable actions are because she was possessed by a demon or a ghost. Others believe she was murdered, either by a lone killer or as part of an insidious conspiracy.

See for yourself…

Unanswered questions and shocking coincidences

A long list of questions still surrounds the mysterious death of Elisa Lam…

  1. How did she get onto the hotel’s roof? Doors accessing the roof were locked, and the only way of getting to it without triggering an alarm was to use a staff member’s pass code or key.
  1. How did she get into the water tank? Some have argued that she wouldn’t be able to get into the tank by herself or without a ladder, and wouldn’t have been able to replace the very heavy lid – one of the leading reasons why people argue that she was murdered.
  1. What happened to her phone? It wasn’t found in the water tank or in her room. Was it stolen just prior to her death?
  1. Who has been sporadically updating Elisa’s blog since her death?
  1. Is it merely an astonishing coincidence that at the time of Elisa Lam’s death, the Centre for Disease Control was testing for a new strain of drug-resistant tuberculosis that had broken out across Los Angeles – and the test was called the “LAM ELISA TEST”?
  1. Did some kind of conspiracy lead to Elisa’s death? Suspiciously, the release of the autopsy report was postponed many times, and her cause of death marked “accidental”, then three days later marked “undetermined” – apparently in error. Another big question hangs over the elevator CCTV footage. Disturbingly, the time stamp on the footage jumps by a minute, suggesting that the video has been edited and some of the footage of Elisa – or perhaps even her killer – is being withheld.

What do you think? Is the Cecil Hotel cursed? Are ghosts or demons at work within its walls? Is a much larger, more corporeal conspiracy at work? Or is all this just a series of strange and unfortunate coincidences?

I know one thing. I certainly won’t be booking a room.

Next week: what really happened to King Edward II?


Half-fish, half-polar bear – the mysterious ‘Trunko’

Trunko & killer whales, Bill Asmussen

The world is full of stories about mysterious creatures that inhabit the ocean. One of those is the enigmatic Trunko, a half-fish, half-polar bear monster with an elephantine trunk, spotted battling two killer whales off the coast of Margate Beach, South Africa in 1924…

This astonishing encounter between two killer whales and a large creature with a trunk and white fir first appeared in an article called ‘Fish Like A Polar Bear’. Published in the Daily Mail on 27th December 1924, the article described a strange creature lifting itself out of the water by 20 feet and whacking the whales with its tail. Hugh Balance, one of the witnesses, claimed that the animal was like a “giant polar bear”, and that the whales were said to have fought the creature for three hours.

Trunko versus two killer whales – who won?

After the fight, the carcass of the creature – nicknamed Trunko – washed up on Margate Beach. Apparently the whales won the fight. Trunko was there for 10 days before getting dragged back into the water, but no scientists examined it while it was beached. Unidentified witnesses described the corpse as being 14 metres long, 3 metres wide and 1.5 metres high, having white fir, a lobster-like tail, an elephantine trunk and no blood.

A question arose over whether Trunko was really dead following an article published on 27th March 1925 in the Charleroi Mail in Pennsylvania, called ‘Whales Slain By Hairy Monster’. This story reported that, in contrast with the first article, Trunko killed the whales. He then swam ashore, fell unconscious from exhaustion, woke up 10 days later and crawled back into the sea.

Was Trunko a globster?

Since 2010, cryptozoologists have been digging up photographs taken of Trunko when he was washed up on Margate Beach. Having viewed the photos, Karl Shuker determined that Trunko was a globster.

One of the original photos of Trunko washed up on the beach

One of the original photos of Trunko washed up on the beach

For a long time, globsters or blobs (that’s the technical term) were unidentified organic masses that washed up on beaches and often lacked bones, heads or recognisable body structures. One of the earliest examples is the St. Augustine Monster, a strange, rubbery mass that washed ashore near St. Augustine in Florida in 1896.

The carcass of the St. Augustine Monster

The carcass of the St. Augustine Monster

Scientists at the time theorised that the St. Augustine Monster was the remains of a gigantic octopus – an unverified cryptid in itself. However, recent, more advanced analysis of samples taken from the carcass has confirmed that the monster was a decaying mass of whale blubber, probably from a sperm whale. This tends to be the 21st century explanation for most globsters.

On looking at the photos, Shuker decided that Trunko was nothing more than whale blubber, and that its white ‘fir’ was just exposed connective tissue fibres.

Let’s look again at Trunko’s battle with those whales…

If Trunko was indeed just a mass of decaying whale skin, how does that explain Trunko’s battle with two killer whales, which was observed by witnesses on Margate Beach?

Well, orca enthusiasts will know that killer whales have a rather charming habit of playing with their food. They’ve been known to toss seals in the air and repeatedly whack them with their tails while they’re still alive, and continue to do so after the seals have croaked.

So Karl Shuker’s theory is that the two whales happened upon this mass of decaying blubber and were playing with it, tossing it into the air and confusing observers on Margate Beach into thinking it was alive!

Next week: Were the moon landings faked?

The Roswell UFO Incident – new ‘witnesses’ come forward

In the last article I examined the events of 1947. Now I’m looking at what set Roswell on the road to becoming the biggest and most written-about conspiracy theory in history.

Jesse Marcel, pictured with the Roswell wreckage

Jesse Marcel, pictured with the Roswell wreckage

The events of 1947 were actually rather… uneventful. Everything died down until UFO researcher Stanton Friedman interviewed Major Jesse Marcel in 1978, who recovered the wreckage of the ‘weather balloon’ 30 years earlier. Marcel told Friedman that what he’d handled that day was the wreckage of a crashed spaceship and that his superiors covered up the incident.

This reignited interest and encouraged other researchers to get involved, and other ‘witnesses’ to come forward. Between 1980 and 1994, a series of books, starting with The Roswell Incident in 1980, propagated claims of a spaceship crash and a cover-up by the government.

Balloon or no balloon?

Rancher William ‘Mac’ Brazel, who first discovered the wreckage, didn’t think what he’d found was a weather balloon. However, what he described – bits of rubber, sticks, paper, tinfoil and scotch tape with flowers on – hardly sounds like debris from a spaceship either. Brazel’s daughter Bessie, who was 14 years old at the time and helped him gather the debris, gave a description of it that was very similar to her father’s. She described “double-sized material, foil-like on one side and rubber-like on the other”, “sticks like kite sticks” and “whitish tape” with “flower-like designs on it”.

And what she also said, contrary to her father’s belief, is that “the debris looked like pieces of a large balloon which had burst”.

Jesse Marcel, the first to claim that the debris was from something extraterrestrial, said that he saw beams which resembled wood but were weightless, flexible yet unbreakable and would not burn. He said they had strange markings like hieroglyphics on them.

Stanton Friedman said in an interview:

“There was a material they couldn’t break with a sledge hammer because it was so strong, but very light. There was nothing conventional, no wiring, no propellers or vacuum tubes. But, of course, it was (according to the Air Force) a standard issue balloon. The Air Force’s explanation is baloney. They ought to serve it at a delicatessen.”

Strangely he ignores the descriptions of Mac Brazel and his daughter. I’d say there’s something very ‘conventional’ about scotch tape and tinfoil.

And these don’t sound like very sophisticated aliens to me.

Swap or no swap?

So Jesse Marcel believes that the wreckage he recovered was extraterrestrial. Okay, fine. Photos were taken of this debris when it got to General Ramey, who examined it at the Roswell Army Air Field (RAAF) base at Fort Worth. The only photos of the wreckage known to exist. Okay, fine.

Ah, but Colonel DuBose – one of the witnesses who alleged a government cover-up and who appears in the photos of the debris – said that the government secretly swapped the spaceship debris for that of a weather balloon prior to the photo-shoot.

General Ramey (in the hat) and Colonel DuBose. But is this really the recovered debris?

General Ramey (in the hat) and Colonel DuBose. But is this really the recovered debris?

Hang on a minute. Both the photos themselves and the photographer – J. Bond Johnson – contend that the debris photographed matches the descriptions given by Mac Brazel and his daughter. But Marcel said this debris was the real wreckage from the spaceship. So his story doesn’t match up with DuBose’s.

But can Marcel’s story be trusted? Debunkers have pointed out Marcel’s history of changing his story and lying about his military career. This led UFO researchers to prefer the ‘swap’ account from Colonel DuBose.

But DuBose was 90-years-old and relaying 43-year-old memories with the, urm, ‘assistance’ of regressive hypnosis when he revealed the ‘swap’ to Friedman and fellow researcher Donald Schmitt in 1990. So why should we trust his story either?

Well, DuBose’s story is more exciting. That’s why.

Aliens or no aliens?

Ah, the big question. Thing is, Jesse Marcel never said anything at all about aliens. But we don’t believe him anyway, so that’s fine.

Enter Glenn Dennis. He was the first person to make a claim about alien bodies being recovered from the Roswell crash site. He worked in a funeral home in Roswell and recalled several phone calls at the time from an RAAF mortuary officer asking for “small caskets”. He said that a friend of his, a nurse for the RAAF Hospital, admitted to him that she had taken part in the autopsy of three alien creatures. Apparently she told him to keep it a secret and was then killed in a military plane crash. However, no records of this plane crash exist, and when he finally gave her name – Naomi Maria Self – research found that she didn’t exist either.

But the alien stories didn’t stop there. Jim Ragsdale said he was in the desert with his girlfriend, Trudy Truelove (what a name!) and discovered a spaceship sticking out of a cliff-face, a number of alien bodies and huge military recovery teams. But his story was discredited too, thanks to multiple changes to his story.

Others have alleged that alien bodies were recovered from the crash site. In the next article, I’ll take a closer look at these accounts, as well as the infamous ‘Alien Autopsy’ that surfaced in the 1990s…

Next week: The real Men in Black…