Friday, October 31, 2008

"Thriller" on Lexington Streets

Every Halloween, the streets of Lexington are filled with zombies - dancing zombies - as the music video for Michael Jackson's "Thriller" is re-enacted downtown by Mecca dance studio and friends.

But....why? Don't ask why. Just accept.

Micah Isaacs has played the part of MJ each year (except one where he was stuck in a snowstorm in Canada) since originating the role in 2002, when he was but seventeen years old.

Mummified Georgetown Woman Found in Car

From the Associated Press by way of Fox News:

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The mummified remains of a disabled Kentucky woman were found in the trunk of her brother's car, police said, and her crudely wrapped body may have been stored in her bedroom for two years.

The severely decomposed body of Penny Brown, 31, was discovered Friday by police in the central Kentucky town of Georgetown, KY, said Georgetown Police Chief Greg Reeves. Police are searching for her brother, Timothy Allen Brown, 30, of Georgetown.

The car was discovered in St. Louis last week, Reeves said, when police responded to a complaint that it had been on a street for several days. Police had the car towed more than 300 miles back to Kentucky where they searched it and found the body.

Penny Brown's body had been "wrapped in quilts and then the quilts were wrapped in construction-grade plastic to make it more of an air-tight package, and then placed in the back of his car, in the trunk," said county coroner John Goble.

Goble said the body was so decomposed the state medical examiner's office was unable to determine a cause of death, but "she had no fractures, no broken bones whatsoever."

He said toxicology tests would be performed to determine how Penny Brown died, but "we're probably never going to know, to be honest."

Reeves said a Georgetown police officer had visited Timothy Brown's apartment Sept. 20 as part of a child welfare case involving his 8-year-old son, who was taken from the residence after social service workers found deplorable conditions there, including "human feces and everything just on the floor."

The officer went back after the child had "mentioned he was never allowed in Aunt Penny's room," Reeves said.

Afterward, Timothy Brown disappeared, and police contacted another relative, who filed a missing persons report, he said.

Police in Georgetown, which is about 70 miles east of Louisville, believe the body was kept in Timothy Brown's apartment for two years, Reeves said, probably in Penny Brown's bedroom. The police chief said Timothy Brown had signed his sister out of a nursing home in 2006.

"There was a bedroom that was her bedroom in the apartment," Reeves said. "We believe that's where he stored her."

Reeves said Penny Brown had used a wheelchair but would not elaborate further on her disability.

Timothy Brown has not been charged, police said.

And then, later, by way of WTOP:

GEORGETOWN, Ky. (AP) - A Kentucky man arrested after police found the mummified remains of his disabled sister in the trunk of his car was set to appear in court Wednesday for an extradition hearing.

Timothy Allen Brown, 36, was arrested by U.S. Marshals in St. Louis on Tuesday night, said Georgetown Police Chief Greg Reeves.

The severely decomposed body of 31-year-old Penny Brown was discovered Friday after police towed the car from St. Louis to Kentucky. They had received complaints that it had been on the street for several days.

Brown has been charged with abuse or neglect of an adult, a felony in Kentucky, Reeves said. He could face additional federal charges in Kentucky for allegedly cashing his sister's disability checks, Reeves said Wednesday.

Timothy Brown signed his wheelchair-dependent sister out of a nursing home in 2006, and the remains may have been in his apartment for two years, police said. Officials have said they may not be able to determine how she died.

Lee Messmer, a U.S. Marshal's assistant chief deputy in St. Louis, said Brown had been in the St. Louis area probably for a couple of weeks. He was arrested Tuesday night at a library, Messmer said.

Brown's car was found last week when police responded to a complaint that it had been on a street for several days. Police had the car towed more than 300 miles back to Kentucky where they found the badly decomposed body wrapped in quilts and plastic.

Reeves said a local Kentucky police officer had visited Timothy Brown's apartment Sept. 20 as part of a child welfare case involving his 8-year-old son, who was taken from the residence after social service workers found deplorable conditions. Reeves said the boy mentioned that he hadn't seen his aunt "in some time," and was not allowed into her room.

Reeves said officers found evidence of decomposition in the room that matched the remains in the trunk.

Grave Sights

There's an article by yours truly in this week's issue of Louisville's Velocity magazine. It's "Grave Sights", highlighting some of Kentucky's most noteworthy tombstones, such as Colonel Sanders, Harry Collins, and Sylvester Weaver.

You can check out their online version here. (For some reason, their online version is "Metromix"; not sure what that's about)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Win One Dead Body!

Pictured above is part of an advertisement for "Dr. Satan's Shrieks In The Night Show", a Girdler-esque live spook show that took place in Hopkinsville, KY in the 1960s. Among the odd features of the attraction, they promise you will see "dead painter Van Gogh materialize" and "the posing apparation of Marilyn Monroe". But most curious of all, a drawing was held and "one real dead body" was given away to some lucky contestant.

Another interesting horror-show attraction in Hopkinsville was "Kirma's Ghost Party", pictured below.

The Milton Lizard

In the summer of 1975, a cryptid described as resembling a 15-foot monitor lizard was sighted multiple times at Canip Creek, near the town of Milton, in Trimble County. It's come to be known as the Milton Lizard, sometimes called the Canip Monster.

Clarence Cable, manager of the Blue Grass Body Shop, saw the hissing creature come out from behind some wrecked vehicles. Cable said it had "big eyes similar to a frog's... Beneath its mouth was an off-white color and there were black and white stripes cross ways of its body with quarter-sized speckles over it."

The lizard was described by Cable as having a long forked tongue and huge, bulging, froglike eyes. Its skin was said to be black and white striped, and with small speckles. After the concentrated flurry of sightings in 1975, it was never seen again, leaving Fortean researchers to wonder.

Some have theorized the Milton Lizard might have been a monitor lizard (pictured above) that somehow got released into Kentucky's ecosystem.

(The city of Milton's other claim to fame, incidentally, is that the Rat Pack film Some Came Running was filmed here.)


New Circle Road in Lexington has always been a great source for still-intact retro businesses, although they're becoming fewer and farther between nowadays. The best and most beloved of them would be the Parkette Drive-In diner.

Parkette's probably best known locally for two things: their great Poor Boy sandwiches, and their Biblical messages on their marquee, which were often confusing and obtuse because of the limited space (Sort of like the Estill County religious billboards).

The Parkette began in 1952, and once had a second branch on Georgetown Road which is long demolished. At the time of its opening, New Circle Road didn't exist. There was only a dirt road called Belt Line Highway.

Although Parkette's doors are currently dark, I hear they're about to reopen under new management and are renovating in such a way that will preserve the Parkette's old-school style. According to an article in the Lexington Herald Leader, the partners who currently own the Parkette are looking at unveiling the new improved Parkette in December.

Obama effigy hung from noose on UK campus


University of Kentucky police are investigating who hung an effigy of Democrat Sen. Barack Obama from a tree on the Lexington campus Wednesday morning.

UK President Lee Todd said that UK police have notified federal authorities of the incident. Todd said a professor saw the effigy on the tree near the Rose Street parking garage across from the Mining and Mineral Resources building this morning and called police. The professor then sent Todd an email notifying him of the incident.

UK police took down the effigy and have it as evidence, Todd said. He called the act "deplorable" and says that type of behavior is not tolerated on UK's campus.

The effigy had a mask of Obama on it and there was a noose around the effigy's neck, Todd said.


Ed Donovan, a spokesman for the Secret Service, confirmed that the federal agency charged with protecting presidents and presidential candidates had been notified and were working with UK police to determine who was responsible.

Donovan said he couldn't go into the specifics of the investigation.

"We take any threat against any of our protectees very, seriously," Donovan said.

Meanwhile, just over the river from Louisville, in Clarksville, IN:

A Clarksville man expressed his opposition to Barack Obama’s presidential candidacy by hanging an inflatable doll made to look like the Democratic nominee from a tree on his front lawn – until his son took it down as reporters gathered at the scene.

“It is not racially motivated,” Kirk Deddo said today as he stood under the tree outside his Potters Lane home. Deddo is white; Obama is the first black to be nominated for president by a major political party.

Gary Leavell, president of the Clark County chapter of the NAACP, said after the scene was described to him, “That’s a direct threat on the life of Obama as far as I’m concerned.”

Leavell said he would ask Clark County Prosecutor Steve Stewart to look into the matter.

Stewart could not be reached for comment. But Jeremy Mull, chief deputy prosecutor, said after making a brief legal search that “it does not appear to be in violation of any Indiana criminal statute.”

But Mull added, “Personally, I find such conduct to be deplorable.”

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Disappearance of Sonya Bradley

One of the most puzzling Cold Case files in the Kentucky State Police database would be that of Sonya Lynn Bradley, who vanished without a trace in Eddyville, KY on October 10, 2002.

Bradley had allegedly been last seen by her boyfriend at 12:30 p.m. on October 10, 2002. Bradley had been suffering a recent string of bad luck: medical problems, money problems, and one of her three children was involved in a near-fatal car accident. Some believe Bradley went somewhere to commit suicide, and this theory is bolstered by the fact that wherever she went, she did not bring along her purse, her medication, her cigarettes, or any clothes from her closet.

Others believe that some sort of foul play was involved, citing her personal character as not being the suicidal type, and the fact that a large comforter was missing from her bed. If someone did kill her, it has been theorized, they may have used the comforter to wrap her body up in and transport it away. And even if Bradley did commit suicide, where is her body?

In 2004, a female torso with its head and limbs removed was found near an I-70 rest stop in Wright City, Missouri. It was believed at first to be that of Bradley, but a DNA test ruled that out. In 2005, an attempt was made to match Bradley with a "Jane Doe" skeleton found in Texas, but Bradley's dental records didn't match.

A 2007 article in the Paducah Sun has a curious statement from Bradley's mother, Beverly Miller:

"Miller said she knows who killed her daughter -- the suspect is in prison for killing another person. Investigators have not identified a suspect publicly."

The case is currently a KSP unsolved Cold Case file. If you have any information concerning this case, please contact: Kentucky State Police Detective Steve Bryan, at (270) 856-3721 or (800) 222-5555.

"Ghosts of Frankfort" event

Received a notice about this event by email last night. Not sure what it's all about, really, but if it's at Liberty Hall then it's certain to be an interesting time.


Paducah's spooky old Whitehaven Mansion was built in the 1860s and then abandoned a century later, in 1968. It sat empty in a dilapidated state, heavily vandalized and falling apart, until a major restoration project brought it to its former glory in the 1980s.

Today Whitehaven serves as a tourist welcome center/rest area for I-24. It also houses a sort of mini-museum dedicated to the former Vice-president Alben Barkley. The collection includes his Vice-Presidential desk and chair, walking canes,
shaving mugs, his 1948 inaugural Bible, and more.

Supposedly a female ghost is occasionally sighted on the balcony of the second floor bedroom, and some versions of these anecdotes attribute the ghost to a woman who once lived there and bled to death during an appendectomy.

The Erica Fraysure Case

Erica Fraysure was a 17-year-old resident of Germantown, KY. She was a senior at Bracken County High School and was employed part-time at Carota's Pizza in Augusta, KY.

Fraysure was last seen on October 21, 1997, during the 9pm hour, at the Video-N-Tan in Brooksville, KY. She drove away and headed for her home in Germantown, but never got there.

The next day, Fraysure's car was found only one mile from Video-N-Tan, parked between haystacks on Fronks Road. Her purse was inside the car with all her money and valuables intact. Fraysure's car keys were discovered nearby, covered with leaves. There was no blood, no signs of struggle, no evidence of foul play. Because of this lack of evidence, her disappearance is being considered a missing person case, not a criminal matter.

In 1998, the cheesy self-proclaimed psychic Sylvia Browne claimed to have information about the Fraysure case that she psychically gleaned with her paranormal abilities. (You can read more about Browne here and you can check out her own ridiculous websites here and here.) Browne announced her claims on, of all places, the Montel Williams Show, where she declared that Fraysure's body was at the bottom of a lake near Brooksville. For reasons unclear to me, the police decided to take the word of a TV psychic hotline lady seriously, and at great expense, all nearby lakes were dredged.

Fraysure wasn't found.

Undaunted by her failure, Browne continued to appear on the Montel show, and allegedly hinted that a man named Chris Mineer was responsible for Fraysure's disappearance. Mineer subsequently committed suicide. Mineer's mother tried to sue over the incident but a judge in Covington, KY ruled to dismiss, for reasons that are also unclear to me.

Meanwhile, investigators are no closer to solving the Erica Fraysure case than before.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


It's not widely known that most of the area currently known as Kentucky was once called "Transylvania". The land was purchased from the Cherokees by explorer Richard Henderson, who hired Daniel Boone to help him build this new colony.

When history books tell you about Boone eking out the Wilderness Road and setting up Fort Boonesborough, they usually neglect to mention that he was doing this specifically for Transylvania, not Kentucky. The last remaining vestige of this great lost land is Transylvania University in Lexington.

Boone's exciting land of he-man adventure and freedom was soon quashed by a conspiracy of politicians, bankers and financiers in the neighboring state of Virginia. Transylvania and Kentucky were declared by a crooked judge in a rigged court to be the property of Virginia, and so they were absorbed into it. Since Kentucky eventually broke free and became a separate commonwealth again, we maintain that Boone and Henderson's prior colony of Transylvania should still legally stand today and regain its rightful place.

Even today, many Kentuckians look to Transylvania as a symbol of Kentucky's former frontier glory days, much in the same way the Weimar Republic is viewed as a symbol of more glorious times for Germany before World War II.

Burgers! Shakes!

This is a wonderful old 50s era burger joint out on New Circle Road in
Lexington. When I took this picture back in 2003, the burgers were a
mere 75 cents but currently have been inflation-adjusted to 79 cents.

Anyone have any older photos of the place back when they were cheaper?

Beulah Annan

Few remember her today, but Kentuckian Beulah Annan made national headlines in the 1920s over her controversial murder trial, for which she was eventually acquitted. Many felt strongly that she was guilty and that justice was not served. Others saw her - and still see her - in a more romanticized “Bonnie and Clyde” way.

In a very short period of years, Beulah went through several men and several misadventures. She married her first husband in Owensboro, KY, then divorced him and moved to Chicago and married auto mechanic Albert Annan. She soon began having an ongong affair with a laundromat worker named Harry Kalstedt, and in April 1924, she shot him to death.

Beulah told multiple versions of her story - that she murdered him in cold blood for no reason; that she murdered him because he was leaving her; that Kalstedt tried to rape her and she shot him in self defense; and that he reached for his gun when she told him she was pregnant, so she grabbed it first and shot first. Whichever version is true, what is common to all versions is her admission that instead of calling for help immediately, she sat around drinking cocktails and watching him bleed to death for two hours while playing a 78 record by Sophie Tucker called “Hula Lou” on automatic repeat the entire time.

Despite her waffling and inconsistencies, she was ultimately acquitted. It was a decision that shocked and outraged many.

Albert Annan had supported his wife throughout the trial, and nearly bankrupted himself paying her legal fees. And the day after she was freed, she made the announcement that she was leaving him. “He is too slow”, she told the press.

She next fell madly in bed with a boxer with Edward Harlib, whom she married once the divorce from Annan was finalized. Three months later, she divorced Harlib as well, claiming “cruelty” on his part and demanding thousands of dollars in a settlement.

There were a couple other men who crossed Beulah’s erratic path after that, but tuberculosis put an end to her journey. She died in a sanatorium in 1928 and was buried at the Mount Pleasant Cumberland Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Owensboro.

She was fictionalized as “Roxie Hart” in the play and film Chicago by Maurine Dallas Watkins.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Bobby Mackey's Music World

In Wilder, KY, just across the Kentucky border from Cincinnati, lies Bobby Mackey’s Music World, a nightclub that some have called Kentucky's most haunted location.

The building was built in the 1850s as a slaughterhouse and meat packing plant. The well in the basement, where blood from the animals was drained, still can be found there. After the slaughterhouse closed, the building became a ritual site for occultists who supposedly sacrificed animals there. In 1896, the discovery of a naked and headless female corpse ended up leading police investigators to the occult group. The subsequent Pearl Bryan murder case made national headlines and reportedly spawned a brief craze of Pearl Bryan commemorative souvenirs and merchandise. I have yet to see any examples, but would love to.

During the 1920s to the 1970s, the place was inhabited by a number of sleazy nightclubs, and several murders took place here over the years, including a pregnant stripper named Johana who committed suicide on the premises in the late 1930s.

In 1978, it became Bobby Mackey's Music World. People have had every type of ghost experience here, from hearing noises and screams, to objects being moved, to actual sightings. One person even tried to sue after claiming to have been attacked by a ghost or demon in the bar's restroom. And in 1991, an attempted exorcism was held, to no avail.

There are reports of the building's caretaker actually being possessed by the ghost of Alonzo Walling (one of Pearl Bryan's murderers), although some reports call him Claude and others call him Carl.

Although the hauntings at his bar have brought throngs of curiosity seekers into his establishment, Mackey himself has mixed feelings about the whole thing. For many years he refused to discuss or even acknowledge the hauntings to reporters, and definitely didn't seek any publicity about it - the publicity sought him. In the 1970s the talented Mackey was on his way to becoming a major Nashville country music star, and it's unfortunate that his fame has been eclipsed by that of his club's notoriety. Perhaps this, too, is part of the curse of Pearl Bryan's head.

Bobby Mackey's Music World is located at 44 Licking Pike, Wilder, KY. Visit Bobby's website here.

The Death of Pearl Bryan

In 1896, a mysterious occult group's activities were exposed during the spectacular Pearl Bryan murder trial, which made national headlines. It began when Pearl's headless corpse was found just behind what is now the YMCA in Fort Thomas, KY.

Pearl Bryan was a young woman who found herself with an unwanted pregnancy by Alonzo Walling, the son of a local minister. Pearl sought an abortion from a Cincinnati medical student named Scott Jackson, who was a member of a Satanic occult group operating out of an abandoned slaughterhouse in Wilder, KY.

Unfortunately for Pearl, Jackson's medical schooling was in dentistry, and he knew little or nothing about how to perform an abortion and ended up only mutilating the girl horribly. Scared and unable to figure out what to do and how to stop the bleeding, Jackson and Walling ended up murdering the girl by severing her head, not far from Jackson's slaughterhouse headquarters.

The men were eventually caught, but never revealed what they did with the head. They were offered a deal to avoid being executed if they would reveal the head's location, yet they refused and took their secret to their graves. They reportedly were more afraid of Satan's wrath in the afterlife than any mortal threats to their physical bodies.

The story, like all stories, is riddled with inconsistencies but has just enough meat to hold itself together. One report says Pearl was not a willing participant, and that the men drugged her by slipping cocaine into her drink at a bar. Cocaine was, in fact, found in her system in the autopsy, but cocaine is a stimulant; you don't slip someone the proverbial mickey by giving them a stimulant. Another version of the story claims that even after having confessed to the deed, the men proclaimed themselves innocent just before being executed. Yet another version of the tale says that the police actually recovered Pearl's missing head, and that it then inexplicably vanished again from the police station.

And still another version states that the occultists placed a curse on the severed head, and that it remains hidden somewhere in the old slaughterhouse, which currently is occupied by a country music saloon called Bobby Mackey's Music World, which is indeed haunted and cursed according to many. According to local writer Troy Taylor:

"One reporter commented later that Walling, as the noose was being slipped over his head, threatened to come back and haunt the area after his death. The writer also stated a few days later, in an article in The Kentucky Post newspaper that an 'evil eye' had fallen on many of the people connected to the Pearl Bryan case. Legend has it that many of the police officials and attorneys involved in the case later met with bad luck and tragic ends."

Pearl Bryan's head remains missing to this day.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Waverly Hills Sanitorium

(Note: the following entry was originally part of my Weird Kentucky book but ended up on the cutting room floor by editorial decision. Apparently my characteristic candor didn't sit well, since Waverly Hills is a sacred cow for many who have turned "ghost-busting" and "spook tours" into a cottage industry. We now present the unexpurgated text for your perusal, dear readers.)

Waverly Hills is a very spooky-looking abandoned tuberculosis hospital in Jefferson County, and if you’re reading this book and interested in its topic at all, chances are good that you’re familiar with the place. But I find the pop phenomenon that many have tried to turn Waverly Hills into very irritating. While working on this book, everyone I mention the project to says, “Oh, you must write about Waverly Hills!” as if that’s their total frame of reference for Kentucky weirdness. Give me Bobby Mackey’s or Whitehall any day of the year.

Don’t get me wrong, Waverly Hills is haunted. But I’ve seen haunteder.

There’s a legend about “Room 502," where it’s said that a nurse named Mary Hillenburg committed suicide by hanging. Or was murdered. Or was murdered and made to appear that a suicide had occurred. Because she was pregnant. Or having an affair. Or having an abortion. Or something. No one’s really sure but they are really sure that it’s all true.

Another “Room 502" anecdote, endlessly passed around like an STD, tells of a nurse who committed suicide by jumping off the roof. Same nurse as Ms. Hillenburg? No one knows. Who was this nurse? No one knows. Does anyone really know anything about it? No.

These stories were in circulation decades before the advent of modern computers, of course, and we’re now able to easily determine from computerized death records that no one by the name of Hillenburg died during Waverly Hills’ existence. We can quickly consult newspaper databases and see that no news stories announced these tragic deaths - not even obituaries.

Of course, the lack of evidence that these suicides - or any other suicides, for that matter - took place here doesn’t stop the throngs of “ghost hunters” who tiptoe around Waverly’s macabre corridors holding cheapo EMF detectors in their outstretched hands like Mr. Spock wielding his tricorder. As if there’s any reason to proceed from an assumption that something as complex as ghosts would be merely electromagnetic in nature (goofy movies like Ghostbusters notwithstanding, of course).

Then there’s the “Death Tunnel.” It’s an inclined ramp with an elaborate motorized conveyor that, some say, was used to transport corpses on gurneys out of the building. Never mind that there would have been more efficient ways of accomplishing this; we’ll not quibble with that now. This “Death Tunnel” is famous for being a haunted “hot spot” for paranormal activity. Trouble is, it’s been established conclusively that this corridor was actually built for the express purpose of loading in supplies, not loading bodies out.

The internet rumor mill, as always, has a way of course-correcting itself: the believer’s party line has now adapted itself to “well, yeah, I guess that’s what it was originally for, but somewhere along the way they also decided it was useful for hauling out the disease-ridden corpses with as well.” Right. Through the same conveyor they use to haul their food in with. Yeah, that makes sense.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that means Waverly Hills isn’t haunted.

But I’ve seen haunteder.

A common myth, oft repeated but never sourced, is that over sixty thousand people died at Waverly Hills. Estimates based on reliable information, however, place the number at more like...... a hundred and fifty two. And considering it was a hospital for tuberculosis patients during the early twentieth century TB epidemic, 152 is an amazingly low number.

Another common myth: the building has been abandoned since Waverly Hills Sanatorium closed in 1961. Not so. Immediately after the sanatorium ceased operations, the edifice became a geriatric hospital called Woodhaven, which did business there until 1981. In 1983 a group of developers began to convert the building into a state prison, but the plan fell through. It was only after this that the property went into a cycle of intermittent abandonment and recapitulation. Luxury condos were proposed next, but that plan fell through also. In 1996, a man named Robert Alberhasky announced his intention to erect a Christian center with the eighth wonder of the world, the world’s tallest statue of Jesus Christ on the site! Unfortunately, Alberhasky’s dreams of making the place a mecca for religious Guinness Book of World Records buffs were not to be. According to a 1997 article in the Kentucky Post, the entire project was slated to cost twelve million dollars, but after a year of fundraising, only a meager three thousand bucks had been raised.

Don’t try to enter the premises without permission. I repeat, don’t do it. There once was a time when anyone with a flashlight and some guts could sneak in and putter around, but those days are thankfully gone. I say “thankfully” because there is apparently no greater purpose in life to some than visiting a place of historic importance and spray painting their names on it. You’re free to attend the Halloween tours held there and see it all for yourself then. I highly recommend it.

The public’s obsession with Waverly Hills is largely the result of the undue media attention lavished upon the place. Numerous TV programs and movies have sent camera crews here, with the express purpose of shooting grainy night-vision footage of people standing around looking nervous and saying “did you hear something?” to every little creak the ancient building makes. Every Halloween season, you’ll see hastily tossed-together “documentaries” about the sanatorium somewhere on cable television.

Most recently, a pair of truly foul movies about Waverly has hit the video racks: one is Death Tunnel, a bit of fictional direct-to-DVD piffle (filmed on location at the sanatorium) about a group of truly uninteresting college girls who stay in the building overnight and waste no time in taking off their clothes. Makes the Friday the 13th flicks seem Shakespearean by comparison. The other film is a so-called documentary called Spooked which actually documents very little. Spooked desperately tries to turn a lot of nothing into a little something, by way of blurry photos of shadows and "orbs", with pseudo-ominous music cued.

So why do so many people gravitate to this, of all places, as some sort of ultimate shrine of paranormal gosh-oh-wow-ness? Well, appearance is everything, and it must be said that Waverly looks creepy as hell. It has a gorgeous asymmetrically towering facade with strangely out-of-place arabesque arched entrances. Its crumbling interior is a gorgeously decrepit remnant of another time, and easily spurs one’s imagination to new heights of paranoia when you’re in there at night, expectantly looking to get scared out of your wits. For reasons more psychological than supernatural, Waverly Hills rarely disappoints in this department.

It is haunted to some degree, of course - as would be any site of prolonged human misery - but I repeat: I’ve seen haunteder.

Dairy Dart

Continuing our ongoing obsession with the state of Kentucky's rapidly vanishing old retro diners, hamburger stands, and ice cream stands, the Dairy Dart in London has always been a favorite. While all their wares are worthy, it's their banana malt shake that gets me to make a special trip all the way out there.

Not sure what the Dairy Dart's history is. Any local old-timers out there have memories of it from way back in the day?

The Dairy Dart is located at 1255 S Main St, London, KY.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

BGAD's Spaced-out Insignia

Here's a good shot of the Blue Grass Army Depot's logo, as it actually appears at their front gates. Click to enlarge.

In the foreground we have a depiction of what would appear to be Daniel Boone. Daniel Boone, of course, is a symbol of the pioneer. And what is the literal definition of being a pioneer? Leading the way in exploring unknown territory. Behind Boone's image we have a backdrop depicting a rocketship in space! The implications of this juxtaposition seem clearly to point to space exploration.

Coincidence? Possibly. But consider that much of the Depot houses private research facilities for the major NASA contractor Raytheon, as well as entities called Serv-Air and E-Systems, which are both also tentacles of Raytheon under different names.

The corporate watchdog group CorpWatch had this to say about E-Systems:

One of Raytheon's more secretive subsidiaries is E-Systems, whose major clients have historically been the CIA and other spy agencies like the National Security Agency and the National Reconnaissance Office. An unnamed Congressional aide told the Washington Post once that the company was ''virtually indistinguishable'' from the agencies it serves. ''Congress will ask for a briefing from E- Systems and the (CIA) program manager shows up,'' the aide is quoted as saying. ''Sometimes he gives the briefing. They're interchangeable.''

E-Systems is also the creator of the "Doomsday Plane", which would be the U.S. President's escape vehicle in the event of a nuclear attack, and double as a temporary airborne command post for the Pentagon and the White House.

It's also rather odd that there's a very prominent star on the image of Kentucky. Now, you'd think the purpose of said star would be to denote the location of the Depot... but the star's location isn't even close. Maybe the insignia designer took a drastic liberty with it, since Daniel Boone's figure is obscuring the actual location of the Depot? Why not just design it another way then?? The star seems to be on Lee County (which, according to rumor, was the location of a 1980's CIA psych-op installation - which may or may not still exist).

If anyone is able to recognize what, if any, specific star background area is shown in the logo, please let us know. (I wouldn't think that any specific constellations or actual star patterns would be depicted, but then again, I once read some conspiracy article that found some sort of arcane significance in the stars on NASA's insignia. I forget what now, though.)

Oh, and hey, did you know that Raytheon means ""light from the gods"?

The Maverick Club

The Maverick Club is a country-and-western nightclub on the outskirts of Richmond, KY, well known to locals as a local nightlife institution.

Many, many years ago, the Maverick was a pretty rough place by all accounts. When Jerry Lee Lewis played here in the late 1960s, he placed a wall of chickenwire between himself and the audience to protect himself from flying beer bottles, just like The Blues Brothers.

We've heard from a former employee that the place is haunted and that is it's not a happy haunting. We've also heard a story that in the 70s, someone was murdered in the club after closing time by someone he knew named Clarence, and that this Clarence left the stabbed man in the walk-in freezer to die as he went about robbing the place. But, as the story has it, the poor unfortunate fellow managed to write his murderer's name in his own blood on the wall inside the freezer. As the story goes, this, along with circumstantial evidence, was enough to convict the murderer. We'd love to get more details and verification on this story if anyone's got the scoop.

The Maverick of today, however, has been under new ownership since 2005 and is a much safer, comfier and cooler place to be, with national acts such as Confederate Railroad, David Allan Coe and T. Graham Brown. Check out their website and drop on in next time you're in Richmond. They're on 1507 East Main Street as you're headed out of town towards the Depot.

Photo above: The Maverick today. Below: The Maverick, back in the day.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Blue Grass Army Depot

The Blue Grass Army Depot is located in Madison County, KY and is well known for being a storage facility for nerve gas. Each year they release free calendars to local citizens, as part of a public relations drive to show everyone "We're really just a simple ammo dump, and there's nothing to fear. Just ignore the Black Helicopters and UFOs. Really. Trust us."

Back in the early 90s, when I ran an antiques business from Richmond and Berea, I had a series of conversations with an eccentric old fellow (who will go unnamed here), who used to tell me a great deal of tall tales and unsubstantiated rumors about what was going on in the Depot. How he could possibly know this information, he refused to say. I do know he served in Vietnam, but that's the only military connection I ever gleaned for certain about him.

Among his grandiose claims were:

1. Alien technology recovered from a crashed alien spacecraft was being reverse-engineered and used in experimental aircraft being tested at the Depot.

2. He said he had it on authority from people he trusted, that the alien spacecraft was stored, at least at some point in time, underground at the Depot. Why Kentucky?, I asked. "They wouldn't keep it where everyone expects it", he said.

3.All manner of cutting-edge secret aircraft are tested at the Depot, including the Stealth Bomber, and many others that no one's ever heard of. He mentioned one such secret plane in particular, one that was completely invisible because its hull acted as both a camera and a monitor, projecting what was on one side of the plane to the other side, no matter what angle you were facing the plane from.

4.He said that the Depot was the military's main headquarters for Chemical Warfare, and that the first Gulf War was practically run from within the Depot.

He made a great many other wild claims, but these are the ones that are most relevant to our field of study here. At the time, I didn't take anything this person said too seriously. He didn't look or act like the type of guy you'd expect to have security clearance anyplace. He was pretty much drunk a large percentage of the time, too. But I often thought back to the bizarre "truths" he'd confided to me, especially when seeing UFOs in the area and hearing other talk about the UFOs they'd seen.

But gradually, I began to find out that at least some of what I had been told was true. The Blue Grass Army Depot is the main source for the Department of Defense's chemical weapons, according to information found right on their own web sites.

I considered his "invisible plane" story to be the most outlandish detail of all, even more so than the alien story. Then I found out years later that such an aircraft does exist, with a technology called "Electrochromatic Panels", which have been researched extensively by respected journalist Norio Hayakawa.

The more we learn about the Blue Grass Depot, the more questions arise. One thing is for certain, and that is they are not just a simple army ammo dump.

Were one to compile an exhaustive list of all UFO sightings in the Kentucky area (and more specifically, the Depot area), it would be massive enough for a site all its own. But UFOs do not get reported around here much anymore, even though they're seen on an almost nightly basis. It's something the locals have grown accustomed to, much like people near Area 51. One gentleman who resides within sight of the depot made that connection himself, saying "I guess you could say this is like the Area 51 of the South."

The types of UFO reported run the gamut of all the traditional variants: saucer-shaped, cigar-shaped, triangular, mystery lights, etc. Unmarked Black Helicopters are also a recurring sight, almost daily, in the area. They are frequently seen coming in and out of the depot, even in broad daylight. Some seem to be coming or going in the general direction of Fort Campbell, or sometimes the nearby Madison County Airport. Some are very advanced and of unknown make, others appear to be Blackhawks or "Little Birds".

There have also been numerous reports of the Stealth Bomber being seen in Kentucky, especially around the northern border near Cincinnati.

Above photo: note the charming bomb motif at the Depot's Operation Golden Cargo checkpoint.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Accusation of Dog Molestation Leads to Murder

Originally gleaned from News of the Weird:

In 1994 in East Bernstadt, KY, one Jimmy Humfleet was charged with the murder of his own uncle, Samuel Humfleet.

According to the local sheriff, Jimmy confessed to the murder and said he did it because he caught Samuel having sex with one of the two pit bulls belonging to the owner of the trailer in which they had been partying. Earlier that evening, Jimmy had called 911 twice to report the alleged dog-molestation.

A deputy arriving on the crime scene was attacked by the dog, which was foaming at the mouth. The deputy was forced to shoot and kill it.

An autopsy on Samuel turned up no dog hairs or other evidence of molestation.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Lynn's Paradise Cafe

Sort of like a Cracker Barrel for Louisville hipsters, Lynn's Paradise Cafe combines a freaky gift shop with a wackily festooned restaurant that looks like it was decorated by the same folks who did Pee-wee's Playhouse.

The gloriously tacky Lynn's style may be off-putting for some who cannot abide kitsch, but me, I love the place. Check 'em out next time you're in the 'ville - they're at 984 Barret Avenue in the Highlands.

For more pics and info about Lynn's, consult your copy of Weird Kentucky.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Henry Earl Goes to Rehab?

Here's an update for those of you still following Henry Earl's exploits after Jimmy Kimmel and the Internet made him, in the words of the Lexington Herald-Leader's Brandon Ortiz, "the most famous homeless man in America".

On Thursday, October 16, Henry had his umpteenth court hearing for a public drunkenness charge, but this time things went a little differently. Henry, who last held a job in 1969, has a pro bono lawyer now named Stephen Gray McFayden, who reportedly is trying to get Henry into rehab at The Hope Center in Lexington.

Read the full story here.

Black Helicopters in Kentucky

You may not be aware that the "black helicopters" of X-Files lore are indeed real, and that they're based in Kentucky, of all places.

You can spot all the black unmarked copters you want at the 160th Spec-Ops Aviation Regiment (SOAR) at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Their craft, known as "Little Birds" (but they look more like Little Bugs to me) use a specially-formulated CARC paint which protects from chemical attacks but is also non-radar reflective to help them do whatever it is they're doing out there.

(Wait a minute - did I say "protects from chemical attacks"? What kind of chemical attacks are they expecting, anyway? What the heck are they doing out there?)

The copters are used for all manner of covert purposes related to Special Operations, which can cover quite a lot - and most of it we're not supposed to know about.

The motto of the 160th is "Death waits in the Dark", and their insignia is the grim reaper riding a pale horse with wings.

You can see some interesting video footage of these "Little Birds" at the Don F. Pratt Memorial Museum, and there's even a real one - a CARC-painted McDonnell-Douglas AH-6 Cayuse, to be exact - on display, hanging from the ceiling. There's also a huge exhibit devoted to Ft.Campbell's important role in Operation Iraqi Freedom, some captured Nazi souvenirs from World War II, and a rare (one of only four left in the world) CG-4 Waco Cargo Glider, which visitors can actually climb into.

Even if you couldn't care less about seeing the Cigarette-Smoking Man's unmarked helicopters, visiting the Pratt Museum is highly recommended. Enter the Fort through Gate 4 and have your ID ready. Closed Sundays.

Meanwhile, black helicopters can also be seen buzzing across the state, and especially in and out of the Blue Grass Army Depot in Madison County, often to a helipad very close to the road. The photo above is a black helicopter zipping across the sky above Brodhead, KY.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Catalina Motel

Oh lordy lordy lordy. If this motel could talk.

Well, if any motel could talk, you'd have enough bizarre and poignant anecdotes about the human condition than you could stomach... but this motel is something special. The drapes, the carpet, the pool, the pillows, the towels, they all radiate a certain mythic resonance. And I mean that in a good way.

Someday I'll file a report divulging all I have learned in my years of research in this wondrously retro commercial lodging facility (as well as The Glyndon Hotel, among others), but it'll have to come later in life when I release my epic multi-volume tell-all autobiography Transmissions From Agent J. But now just ain't the time and this blog ain't the place.

Like life on the streets, though, the Catalina's life on the sheets isn't all romance. In 1997, Steven Lee Fox was murdered here by Aaron Leaf Rivers, who didn't plead guilty to it until 2007, the case being officially unsolved until then.

As part of a plea agreement, Rivers was transferred to a state prison in Kentucky from the super-maximum Red Onion State Prison in Virginia, where he was already serving a 35-year sentence. According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, Rivers' long criminal record includes six persistent felony offender counts, two robbery charges, assault, burglary and theft by unlawful taking, arson, possession of a fake ID, and mailing fake anthrax to former Governor Paul Patton.

Also according to the Herald-Leader, this drama unfolded in room 208. And the motel is located at 208 West New Circle Road. Numerologists among us, you may now go apoplectic.

Anyone have old-school postcards and pictures of the Catalina in its 50's heyday? Tip me if you can hip me.

Anthropomorphic Barbershop

This barbershop in Richmond has a face. And at night, after a round of drinks at the Maverick Club, it talks to us in a voice only we can hear. For real, dog.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Wigwam Village

Not to be confused with the Wig Wam Restaurant, Wigwam Village is one of Kentucky's most famed and enduring examples of 20th century mimetic architecture. Each motel room unit is a separate stone teepee, as well as the main office building. Amazingly, even though this tourist trap of a bygone era was originally built in 1937, it still stands today and hasn't been torn down by blasé land developers.

The main teepee is made up of 38 tons of concrete, 13 tons of steel, and stands 52 feet high. Used to have a restaurant back in the day, but sadly that's been long gone for decades. They do still have quite a thriving and wacky gift shop though.

Of the seven original Wigwam Villages, only three remain today. The other two are out West, in Arizona and California.

Does anyone out there own any memorabilia from the Wigwam Village, specifically the Kentucky one? Pictured below is a postcard from the now-vanished Florida one:

Wigwam Village is located at 601 North Dixie Highway, Cave City, KY. Call (270) 773-3381 to make reservations.

Casino industry calls for Kentucky boycott

As previously reported here, Governor Steve Beshear is spearheading a drive to confiscate internet domain names from gambling websites (even ones in other countries) because it is claimed they violate Kentucky law.

This idea, to anyone who has even the most basic clue how the internet works, is barking mad. A Kentucky judge cannot take over a Costa Rican website for violating Kentucky gambling laws any more than an Iranian judge can hijack an American swimsuit site for violating Iranian modesty laws.

Predictably enough, people are not taking this lying down and are now unfortunately calling for a boycott of Kentucky products, especially relating to the racing industry. Needless to say, we at Unusual Kentucky do not support such a boycott, but I can certainly see why a lot of people are ticked off at our Governor right now. I saw this rant today on Online Casino Advisory site:

"We call upon our friends and competitors in the casino news industry to help us reach the public with this call to boycott. If the Poker Players Alliance can get its members to refuse Kentucky products, especially gambling ones, that will send a message to Beshear. If the PPA can get protesters to carry signs in front of Churchill Downs, that would be a public display of our united anger.

If you are a resident of Kentucky, buy your lottery tickets across state borders, or online from another state. If you attend Kentucky tracks, drive to Indiana or other states featuring full racinos. If you live near the state border, buy groceries and cigarettes outside Kentucky."

I don't wish to see our state's economy damaged or hampered in any way, and I call upon Gov. Beshear to please get help and seek the counsel of experts who understand Internet law. This insane scheme to censor websites and confiscate their domain names is doomed to fail, but in the meantime it's obviously going to hurt Kentucky's economy, which we especially don't need at this time when the nation's economy is at an all time low. I also call upon the Democratic Party of Kentucky to quietly take Mr. Beshear aside and attempt to talk some sense into him, before his massive mistake takes the entire party down.

Stop And Go Diner

Originally we reported on the old Cain's Diner, which stood on Water Street in Richmond for decades before morphing into The Silver Diner.

Now, the place has changed hands again, and is called Stop And Go Diner. From a recent article in the Lexington Herald-Leader:

Stop and Go owners Russell Cantrell, 50, and Robert Miller, 56, have been cooking longer than the two have been friends.

Cantrell and Miller were a few years apart when they both attended Madison High School, but became friends when they were in the band SPAN (Soul Pleasing All Night), from 1976-1978. Miller played the drums and Cantrell was the sound technician for the group that was formerly known as the Techniques.

It was during Miller's sophomore year in high school that he had one of his first experiences with the restaurant he would later co-own. Miller descended the hill from his school down to the restaurant on Water Street, then known as Cain's Diner.

According to Miller, the owner, James Cain, still kept a sign on the wall that seemed to yell at blacks: "We have the right to refuse patrons." Miller walked in and sat down at the counter. He says Cain called Miller and his friends the N-word and promptly told him to leave.

Miller's mother, Mary B. Turner, 83, remembers how disappointed her son was that day. "I guess he was kind of shocked and surprised that he couldn't come and eat here," she said.

Stories like Miller's left a sour impression for many blacks in Richmond for many years.

I haven't sampled the food at Stop And Go yet, but from all reports, it's fantastic. Not just good, but great, and blows all previous incarnations of the diner out of the water. I'll be dropping in to Stop And Go soon and will give a full report.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


It's been a while since I've checked out NUFORC's files of submitted UFO reports in Kentucky. Here's the latest ones they list:


  • 7/27/2008 : Florence, KY. "I left my boyfriends house in Hebron KY around 1:15am. I was headed south to my home in Crittenden KY. I noticed a large, bright orange light (about a half mile in front of me) in the sky along south-bound I-75 around the Dream Street area. As I got closer I noticed that the light was on the front of what appeared to be a triangular shaped object. It did not appear to be moving. My best GUESStimate was that it was about 50-75 feet in the air. As I drove underneath the object I saw two green lights and one red light, all of which were blinking as opposed to the one in front (the orange one) which was not blinking. I could not tell if the three blinking lights were on the bottom or the side of the object due to the fact that I was passing under it at around 60mph."

  • 7/28/2008 : Mount Sterling, KY. "My children and I watched as blinking lights (red, white, green, and blue on some) moved across the sky at different directions. Then there were several more that even met up and went almost in circles before disappearing. Lastly, we even saw one meet another, then both go in the same direction with one following the other. They were definitely not plane, or helicopters due to the amount of them, lack of noise, and the strange flight behavior. It lasted roughly 30 minutes, and I would've watched longer, but I was getting tired. I wanted to film it, but my small video camera would not have captured it very well due to the dark night and they were pretty high up in the air. Some were barely able to be seen if not for the blinking of the lights. It was amazing and I wish someone else would believe us!"

  • 8/8/2008 : Murray, KY. "Oval object shoots across the sky and explodes in bright flash. My step-brother, his friend, and I were walking down the road. The event occurred between 1:30 to 1:45. First we were just walking we were about 200 yards away from the house. And we all saw a flash of light and, then there was an oval shaped object that shot across the sky with a hissing noise. It left a bright trail that remained even after it was gone. But after it shot across the sky it had seemed to explode in a sudden silent flash."

  • 8/9/2008 : "Two small orbs seen hovering over Dawson Springs, KY at a great distance. The objects were too far up to describe in much detail. There was one object that appeared to emit light or simply reflected sunlight. The other object appeared only for a few seconds and simply appeared as a dark spot. The lighted object moved only a small distance then stopped, moved back and then stopped and did this about 4 times before disappearing. I have taken photos of the objects as well."

    (Photo above: UFO spotted over Louisville in 1973.)
  • Kentucky vs. the Internet

    We've reported on some truly weird Kentucky laws in the past, but this new court ruling from Frankfort has to take the proverbial cake. In case you haven't heard, Governor Steve Beshear has proclaimed, as if by royal fiat, that the state of Kentucky has the right to confiscate the domain names to online gambling sites (even ones in other countries) that, in his view, violate Kentucky anti-gambling laws.

    Sounds insane? Sounds illegal? Yes, indeed. And yet Beshear's view is also held, coincidentally enough, by a certain Judge Thomas Wingate in Frankfort. Judge Wingate has ordered owners of 141 online gambling domain names to appear at a court hearing on November 17. And then they have to demonstrate that they're blocking traffic from residents in Kentucky - which of course, they're not. If the sites don't appear or don't comply with the ruling, the rights to their domain names will be forfeited to the state.

    Experts, however, take an extremely dim view of Beshear and Wingate's confused idea of how the internet works. The professional Poker organization GPSTS called it "bizarre, far-reaching, and unpleasant", and iMega (Interactive Media Entertainment & Gaming Association), which is an organization championing internet growth and innovation, had this to say:

    "Judge Wingate has ignored the clear laws of his own state in coming to a decision that essentially green-lights any jurisdiction - in the U.S. and abroad - to ignore our rights and abuse their power to do away with competition or speech or content with which they oppose, regardless of the law. This is a dark day for Internet freedom."

    John Pappas of the Poker Players Alliance is equally outraged at Beshear and Wingate's scheme:

    "This action not only unduly restricts the freedom of Kentucky residents to play games of skill online, such as poker, but sets a precedent for censorship of the internet by force.

    Many of Governor Beshear's arguments - that online poker is illegal, unregulated and without a mechanism to capture tax revenue - are false. Online poker is not illegal under Kentucky law, it is regulated in its home jurisdiction and the Commonwealth of Kentucky chose not to license and regulate poker websites."

    Most disturbing of all to me is that the Governor openly admits that a key part of his reason for committing this constitutional travesty is because he would prefer gambler's dollars to be spent at Keeneland, Churchill Downs, and the Kentucky lottery:

    "Illegal and unregulated gambling Web sites - many of which operate from other countries - are leeches on our communities and unfairly undermine Kentucky's horse-racing industry. By seizing those Internet names, the state can require the casino operators to block their sites from being accessed in Kentucky. Kentuckians likely spend tens of millions of dollars on illegal internet gambling sites each year - money that might otherwise go to Kentucky's horse tracks, charitable events and the state lottery."

    So, uh, that pretty much reduces his argument to a very petty matter of professional jealousy: 'hey, dese other guys' gambling scams are interfering with OUR gambling scams! Dah, we can't have dat! We'd betta rub 'em out, boss!'

    Mind you, I don't give a hoot about online gambling myself. It's strictly for suckers and dopes, if you ask me. But I'll still defend to the death these rubes' constitutional rights to go clickity-clack on any internet site they choose, and to blow their money on said sites.

    If allowed to get away with this madness, I guarantee you internet erotica will be next, and then the precedent will be laid to quash political dissent sites and anything else that anyone in any Government anywhere wants to banish from the web. So this isn't just about Poker, it's about setting a legal precedent that allows two-bit politicians and judges to really screw up the internet for everyone else in the world.

    Thursday, October 16, 2008

    Stonehenge in Munfordville

    Next time you're in Hart County, stop through Munfordville and check out this replica of Stonehenge.

    I'm not actually sure what purpose it was created for - although it's on private property, people are welcomed to visit it. Technically, it really isn't even close to being an authentic replica in terms of placement and sculpting of the stones, but it's a pleasant place to visit nevertheless.

    Dixie Cup Water Tower

    Does this water tower, mimicking a paper Dixie cup, still exist? Last I saw, it was still intact on Harbison Road in Lexington.

    Wednesday, October 15, 2008

    The Ghost of Octavia Hatcher

    There's no shortage of spooky Kentucky ghost stories (all of them sworn to be totally true, of course) circulating on the web as myths turned memes. Dozens of books and websites exist that are packed with these tall tales that are unverified and probably unverifiable. That's fine if you're in the mood for a simple vicarious chill around the campfire, but I'm only interested in things we can research, dissect, and work towards verifying and understanding.

    The "Octavia Hatcher" meme is a curious one. A search for this name brings up only a handful of relevant hits, like this one and this one.

    As Troy Taylor notes in the Prairie Ghosts link above, "Students at nearby Pikeville College can tell you a dozen different versions of how this ghost died, how she lived and how she makes her spectral presence known in the local graveyard. Unfortunately, few of these stories are actually true."

    What I want to know is, on what basis do we assume any of them are true?

    The Prairie Ghosts page also states, "According to a number of reliable witnesses, unexplained things still take place around the place where her life ended in terror." Okay, that's great. So, uh, like what? Who are these reliable witnesses? Who deemed them reliable? Exactly what did they say??

    I won't bother recounting the soap-opera-esque Octavia Hatcher legend here, but instead I'll skip to the meat of the matter, which is the allegations of sightings of Octavia's ghost near her grave, as well as paranormal phenomena such as weird sounds. I'm very interested in getting firsthand reports about all this for a future book I'm working on.

    Hatcher is buried at Pikeville Cemetery, Johnson Cemetery Rd, Pikeville, KY.