Monday, June 26, 2017

A Journey Through The Most Haunted Castle in the World

Leap Castle is not easy to find.  It isn’t off any major roads nor is it by any reasonably size cities.  The castle is notoriously haunted and has been seen on many ghost hunting television shows and is in almost every haunted Ireland book or article ever written.  Many people call it the most haunted castle in the world…. or at least in Europe.

When I found Leap Castle, I was sure I was in the wrong place.  I was expecting something terrifying and imposing.  I was expecting a Gothic castle from a nightmare that was well marked and either closed off or open for national tours.  Leap Castle is neither of these things.  As we drove through the gates and down the long driveway to castle, I thought I had accidentally pulled up into someone’s home.  The castle itself was mostly a ruin, but the front door looked inviting and there was a lovely garden and a green house.  Fluffy cats emerged from shady places to mew for pets.  We rang the doorbell and an old Irishman from a fairy tale answered the door.  He had a long gray beard and a welcoming smile. He didn’t say anything.  He waited for us to speak and I was sure at this point we were at the wrong place.

We asked for a tour of Leap Castle and he let us in.  He didn’t ask for money and he showed us about his main sitting room and his sun room.  He let me walk through his kitchen to his bathroom that was decorated with glitter, transparent, ocean themed toilet seats and accessories.  It felt like my grandmother’s bathroom. 

The main living area was filled with dear heads and taxidermied animals but it didn’t feel haunted or terrifying.  The sun room offered a beautiful view of the valley and was filled with so many plants it was hard to move.  Strange paintings and odd statues littered the walls and floors.  There was a huge fire in the fireplace.  It was a little cramped and the gentleman said nothing about ghosts as he showed us around.

Finally, I asked if the castle was haunted.  Mr. Ryan, the owner, responded that they would never call it that in Ireland.  He said the castle had spirits.  He said lots of old places in Ireland have spirits and that he was comfortable with the spirits of Leap Castle.  He said they never did them any harm.  They made their presence known and that was all.  He then showed us the way up a long, precarious, winding staircase up to the “Bloody Chapel”.  He told us to be careful to close the door because there was quite a draft. 

We climbed slowly up to the chapel, looking in small halls and doors as we went.  The place was surreal and the further you climbed up the more unreal and disconnected I felt, buy the time I got to the chapel my phone was down to 2% charge and I had charged it before arrival.  I had just enough battery to take a few photographs.  Doors lead out of the chapel.  There were more winding staircases, but the stairs were littered with crows nests and debris.  We were alone and discussed trying to descend them, but the first staircase had featured cracked steps and holes and these staircases seemed even more treacherous.   We also suspected one of the staircases was the path to the bloody Oubliette, from which numerous corpses had been pulled out of in the 1800s.
We descended to the entry way carefully and listened to the gentleman play the flute and left.  Again, Mr. Ryan’s music seemed out of place.  It was beautiful and upbeat.  We bought a CD and paid him twelve euros and left the way we had come. The cats said goodbye.

This seems like a strange end for a place that was once the location of such terror.   Despite our dread ascending the winding staircase, the rest of the castle seemed strangely peaceful.  The history of the castle is long a filled with death. 

According to Wikipedia:
“There are varied accounts as to when exactly the main tower/keep was constructed; ranging anywhere from the 13th century to the late 15th century, but most likely around 1250 CE. It was built by the O'Bannon clan and was originally called "Léim Uí Bhanáin" (as was the fertile land around the castle which was associated with the Bannon clan), or "Leap of the O'Bannons". The O'Bannons were the "secondary chieftains" of the territory and were subject to the ruling O'Carroll clan. There is evidence that it was constructed on the same site as another ancient stone structure perhaps ceremonial in nature, and that that area has been occupied consistently since at least the Iron Age (500 BCE) and possibly since Neolithic times.

The Annals of the Four Masters record that the Earl of Kildare, Gerald FitzGerald, tried unsuccessfully to seize the castle in 1513. Three years later, he attacked the castle again and managed to partially demolish it. However, by 1557 the O'Carrolls had regained possession.
Following the death of Mulrooney O'Carroll in 1532, family struggles plagued the O'Carroll clan. A fierce rivalry for the leadership erupted within the family. The bitter fight for power turned brother against brother. One of the brothers was a priest. While he was holding mass for a group of his family (in what is now called the "Bloody Chapel"), his rival brother burst into the chapel, plunged his sword into him and fatally wounded him. The butchered priest fell across the altar and died in front of his family.

In 1659, the castle passed by marriage into the ownership of the Darby family, notable members of which included Vice-Admiral George Darby, Admiral Sir Henry D'Esterre Darby and John Nelson Darby. By the time the castle was owned by Jonathan Charles Darby. His wife Mildred Darby wrote Gothic novels and held séances in the castle. This led to the publicity about the castle and its ghosts. The central keep was later expanded with significant extensions. However, in order to pay for these extensions, rents were raised and much of the land accompanying the castle was sold. This is one theorised motivation for the burning of the castle during the Irish Civil War in 1922.
In 1974 the castle was bought by Australian historian Peter Bartlett, whose mother had been a Bannon. Bartlett, together with builder Joe Sullivan, did extensive restoration work on the castle up to the time of his death in 1989.

Since 1991, the castle has been privately owned by musician Seán Ryan, who is continuing the restoration work.” (Wikipedia)

The Castle is also said to be home of an Oubliette.  There was a room where live prisoners would be entombed to die slowly and dead bodies could be tossed when they became inconvenient.  The spirits of the castle are said to be many, but Mr. Ryan seems to be comfortable enough with them and I suppose I would be too.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Ghosts of Cargin Castle: Part II

We have now spent a week at Carrigain, sometimes called Cargin Castle.  After our week at Carrigain Castle we discovered many haunting stories.  I have already done one blog post on the castle and I promised a ghost story. The first ghost story comes from David Scully, the boatsman.  He has been helping patrons of Cargin Castle for years now and he recalls helping one woman who was traveling through Ireland on her own.  She went fishing with David a couple of times and was very friendly.  The woman had recently had a spiritual crisis.  She had left the Mormon religion and become an atheist as she was utterly disillusioned with the notion of spirituality and the supernatural from her experiences with the Mormon Faith.  She may have stayed that way if it weren’t for the ghosts of Carraigin Castle.   One morning she called David in desperation.  She told him she couldn’t stay at the castle any longer.  When Davie asked why she told him that she had come to the castle believing that death was the end of all things, but after a few nights alone in Carraigin Castle she knew that death was only the beginning.

During our stay, we didn’t have any shocking supernatural experiences.  I rarely do.  I have walked through places that others have called the most haunted in the world and seen nothing.  I have slept in haunted rooms and wandered through many cursed places alone at night and seen nothing.  Cargin Castle was not much different.  The only difference was my son, who has watched me chase ghosts since he was little and has come to believe ghosts are nonsense.  However, here at Cargin my son became so afraid he asked me to sleep in the lower level bed chambers with him for one night.  He wouldn’t tell me why, he just said there was something here.  I felt it too.  It was something intangible that passed with the week.  Lights turned on and off .  I had bad dreams and heard footsteps.  All these things could be explained away, but I think there is something here.

Another historical story from this old castle comes again from “Of Beauty Rarest.”  It describes an account of the Ormond Rebellion in the 1570s that was written by Emily Lawless.

“Hught thought that he must certainly be still asleep, for nothing was as it had been when he had gone to bed.  Doors were broken down, there were red lights everywhere, excited tongues of flame were darting here and there into the rafters, and catching at the bundles of dry rushes; the stairs felt slippery under his feet with revolting slipperiness; there was a stinging smell of gunpowder in the air; and prostrate figures-in attitudes that did not at all look like sleep-lay about at every angle of the stairs.  All of a sudden the moon, which had been shinnin in through slit-like windows, dipped and went out behind clouds.  It seemed as if something had met its ciew too ugly for it to go on looking at it a moment longer.

One glimpse Hugh had caught, and only one.  It was the glimpse which he felt quite sure no rubbing would ever get off his brain again.  The great door, sgudded with irnon nails, leading into the hall was half open as he passed in, and instinctively he had glassed in.  It was full of armed men, all wearing the short leather coats and red badges of the De Burghs (the family that held Ashfield Castle in Cong). 

There were dead bodies about the floor, the bodies of his uncle’s serving men, lying doubled up in every attitude, and nearest the door lay poor, good-natured, red-headed Christ Culkeen, whom he had been dreaming about, his honest mouth wide open, his innocent, sheepish face white and distorted, his eyes turned hideously back in the agony of his last glance; while at the upper end, just where he was in the habit of sitting, tied to one of his own stone pillars by the arms and legs, with a rope around his neck, his forehead streaming blood from a cut which nearly divided it in two, hugh saw his uncle, Sir Meredith.  You Huber De Burg, the youngest of the Earl’s two sons- the Mac-an-Iarlas as they were called-was standing right in front of him with a look of satisfaction on his handsome, girlish face, stroking down a dainty moustache with one finger, and smiling pleasantly as he eyed his prisoner.  For this was a grudge of many years standing.  Had not Sir Meredith been invited to Connaught by the Dr Burghs themselves, who had give this castle of Cargin to keep? And had he not not in spite of this dared to oppose, and even, on more than one occasion of late, defeat them?  Cerily, it was a piece of presumption for  which he was about to reap a hot and bloody return.”

Indeed there are many reasons for the old castle to be haunted.  Even if it is, it is a beautiful place to stay and I hope that I may return someday.  It is a magical thing to stay in a castle steeped so deeply in over a half of century of history and to call it your own, even if it is only for a week.   I spoke to the owner of Leap Castle last week and I asked him how he felt living in such a haunted place.  He said that the Irish didn't call it a haunting.  He said his castle and spirits and that most of them were positive.  He said spirits were everywhere and there was nothing to fear in them.  I think that describes Castle Cargin.  It is a place with spirits, but it is a wonderful  place. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Ghosts and History of Cargin Castle Part I

When we began our journey to Ireland, I chose to stay at Carraigin (as it is listed on VRBO) Castle because it was beautiful and had plenty of space for my family to spread out into.  I would be lying if I wasn't also beguiled by the idea of Tina, the woman who brings full Irish breakfasts and dinners to the castle at our request.  I dug through the internet and found no records of any tragedies occurring at this castle and there were no ghost stories that I could find.  This didn't bother me much since I knew I would find other stories to occupy my time.

Yesterday, I met David.  David is an Irish Fisherman who knows the waters of Lough Corrib as well as I know my own office.  I wasn't particularly looking forward to his tour of Lough Corrib (The lake the castle sits on) because I don't care for fishing.  I was pulled out onto the water against my will.  I was really looking forward to Tina and her dinner and had no interest in any activity that took me away from it.  David was wonderful, however.  As he took us out onto the water he told us the history of Corrib.  He showed us islands with stone rings (Dolmen) dating back thousands of years before Christ.  He told us myths and legends and old stories about the Lough and its people.  He told us fairy tales and ghost stories and history.  I could hardly keep up with it all.  Finally,  I gave up and just listened and looked and decided I would ask him to come back and take a notebook next time.

What I do remember clearly, was his telling of the history and ghosts of Cargin Castle.  He even pointed us to a small, self published book in the library of Cargin Castle where I could find its history written.  The book he guided me to was called "A Beauty Most Rare" and its history seemed to contradict much of the history I found online about the castle.  First, according to online sources the castle was just a manor house of no military significance.  According to Michael Carol, Castle Cargin was built by "the Norman DeBurgos in the late 13th century.  It was a strategic fortress, along with Annaghkeen Castle in defendint the Manor of Headford from incursions across Lough Corrib (or Lough Orbsen as it was then known) by the dispossessed O'Flaherty clan."  The castle was of military and strategic use and was more than a country house.  Carol sites Oscar Wilde's father's histories of the region (William Wilde) in his bibliography as well Christopher Murphy.    According to Carol, De Burgo installed another Norman family, the Gaynards, as tenants of the castle and woods in Cargin and Clydagh.  In this turbulent period of Irish history, raids and counter-raids to and fro across the lake made life at the castle and in the area a turbulent one.  The Gaynard family which was considered an Old English family was tossed out of the castle by Cromwell supporters  in the 1650s and the house was passed to the New English Staunton family.  The Stauntons stripped the castle of stone and abadoned it.  They used the stone to build a Georgian Manor house and the castle was left to decay.   In the 1970's the castle was restored to what it is today.

The book told several stories associated with the castle and I will retell two of them.  One came from Thomas Egan:

"The Normans who lived in Cargin Castle were very friendly with those of Annaghkeen who were bitter enemies of the soldiers of Cong.

One day a small band of Cong soldiers came to Annaghkeen and seeing a man working in a field, they cut off his hands and legs and killed him.

When the soldiers in Annaghkeen Castle heard of this outrage, they sough help from the soldiers in Cargin and together marched to Cong.  A great battle was fought on the plain of Maigh Tuireadh in which many men from both sides were killed.

Neither of the parties were satisfied and they fought another more bloody battle a few hundred yards from Cargin Castle beside Lough Corrib.  The Cargin and Annaghkeen soldiers were victorious although very few of either army returned home.

At the place where that terrible battle took place there is a small hill, supposed to have been formed by the heap of slain soldiers who were buried there.  The hill is now covered by the trees of the Clydagh Woods."

I will save the second tale of bloodshed from Cargin Castle for the second part of this post.  There is too much for one blog post.    But I will end today's post with the name of the ghost David said haunts the castle.  He calls her Elizabeth and I think we have had a few run ins with her since we have been here.  She kept my oldest son up quite a bit one night and she had fun with us and the light switches on another night.

If you would like to stay at the castle, you can find it on VRBO.

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Haunting of Castle Hackett

Somewhere between Headford and Tuam in County Galway, Ireland on a lonely road lives the remains of Castle Hackett.  There isn't much left of this castle.  It has been mostly reclaimed by the earth.  Ivy covers its stone walls and you have to pass through an archway of ivy to enter the castle. In many of the photos I took of the location, it is hard to tell if I was taking pictures of the woods or a castle.  Once you walk up a small, winding staircase you emerge onto what was once the second story of this once formidable tower house.  The second story feels as much like a quiet glen as a castle.  Trees have taken root in the stone and dirt and moss cover the floor.  Bits of the castle peak through the branches of trees, flowers and Ivy.  There is nothing left of the third and fourth floors.  You can look up and see the remains of fireplaces, but time has reclaimed all else.  Castle Hackett looks more like a fairy fortress now than a human one and that is appropriate as the castle is steeped in old fairy legends.

According to Irish legend,  the hill of Knockma that stands behind Castle Hackett is the home of the Sidhe and the fairy King Finvarra.  The fairy city  is built somewhere in the hill of Knockma.   In the 17th century the Kirwan family built Castle Hackett by the doorway to the fairy kingdom and haunting stories have been part of the stones of the castle ever since.  One morning a Kirwan lord described meeting a dark rider on a steed made of fire on his morning ride.  The man gave the Kirwan Lord answers to all his questions and helped him bet on the races.  Luck always followed the Kirwan family after this which was usually attributed to the fairy magic.   They prospered and their horses never lost in the races.  Sadly, in 1912 Colonel Denis Kirwin Bernard inherited the Castle Hackett estate and the castle was burnt in Irish Civil war.  The Colonel was a very unpopular man due to his stance in the civil war and although he was buried on Knockma Hill his grave was desecrated by locals.

Castle Hackett is said to be haunted still by the fairy king and all his subjects.  Local lore says that he kidnaps young women and carries them away to be his lovers.   Anyone who has visited Castle Hackett could believe this to be true as the castle is as close to a fairy kingdom as I have ever seen.

Friday, June 9, 2017

The Hellfire Club

 The Hellfire Club was a club of young, wealthy gentleman that came together in the early 18th century to rebel against traditional Christian ideology.   They were largely a product of the humanist movement and the Irish called the blasters, short for blasphemy.    The actual hunting lodge that is commonly called The Hellfire Club is considered to be one of the most haunted places in Ireland by some and was a meeting place for the blasters off and on.
On my tour of the Hellfire Club today it was clear that the tour guide thought much of the darker history of Hellfire Club was nonsense, but that didn't stop him from telling it.  As we approached the club,  I could hear the screams of children.  It is a mile and a half hike uphill to reach the old lodge once owned by Phillip, The Duke of Wharton.  As the most spectacular views of Dublin appeared at the top of the hill, it was clear I hadn't been imaging the shrill screams that lingered in the cold, wet air.   A group of children were playing in the rain in the grassy area in front of the decaying lodge.  As our guide told us that the site we were standing on was once the site of an ancient Irish Cairn and burial ground,  I watched children dance and sing.

We went into the first room and our guide told us the story of a priest who had once visited the lodge.  The priest arrived for dinner and saw members of the club were treating a black cat as if it were the guest of honor.  When the priest asked why,  members of the club answered that the cat was the oldest and wisest of them.  The priest muttered an exorcism and the cat turned to smoke and returned to Hell.  Other stories include members of the club burning themselves alive to get closer to hell. One medium saw mountains of corpses in one chamber and tales of human sacrifice abound.  Campers there resort seeing demons in the walls and locals tell tales of burning cats fleeing the club.

History does show members drank to excess and had orgies at the lodge.  The guide reported that he has seen evidence of current occult activity while he has been up there.  People have left circles of candles and makeshift ouijii boards behind. When I was there, I had difficulty breathing, but that could be due to the cold air.  Whatever the truth hidden in the walls of Hellfire Club, it is a particularly cold and creepy place.  The natural beauty of the location juxtaposed with tales of satanic rituals and human sacrifice make you feel lightheaded and cold beyond measure.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Carraigin Castle

Ireland is known for its haunted castles and creepy locations.  The countryside there crawls with legends and folklore and tales of dark spirits.  We leave for Ireland next week and I can't wait to explore as many of Ireland's haunted nooks and crannies as possible.

Every expedition requires a base camp.  And although the primary goal of our journey is to see Leap Castle and all the most notorious haunted, castles of Ireland, we chose our primary residence with care.  We will be staying at Carraigin Castle in Galway for our two week journey to Ireland.  Carraigin Castle is perfect for us.  It is beautiful and has an amazing view.  It is comfortable and is large enough for our little family to be spread out in and it has a little bit of dark history to keep us up at night.

For ten generations Castle Carraigin was home to family and descendants of Adam Gaynard III.   The castle dates back to 1238 and was never intended to be a fortress or a protective structure.  It was a family home.  It was owned by the Gaynard family and the Staunton family.  The castle had a bit of a dark history when it was burned down by the IRA in 1922 ( and local folklore says that there is a tunnel that connects the castle to the neighboring cemetery.  The castle was restored in 1970 and is now available to rent on VRBO, which is where we found it.

We leave next week and I will be posting videos and photographs from all the wonderful places we will be going and there will certainly be many stories from Carraigin Castle. 

Monday, May 8, 2017

Names in Stone

Image result for tombstones 1850s alabama
My office manager is a wealth of ghost stories.  Her brother used to live in the haunted South Pittsburg Hospital and her family has been haunted by one specter or another for many years.  Today she told me a tale of a family that lived in a home in Faulkville, Alabama.  They lived in a home in the country near an old civil war site.

This family had a daughter who used to love playing with her imaginary friends.   Her imaginary friends names were Scott and Lotion.  Scott was a little girl and Lotion was a little, purple boy.  They played all day for over a year and the family thought nothing of it.  The names were silly and the idea of a purple boy made the two friends seem even more fictitious. Imaginary friends are a healthy and normal part of any child's development.  So the little girl played with her friends and no one really cared.

It wasn't until the family found an old cemetery on the site that anyone realized the significance of the girl's friends.  They found tombstones from the 1850s and the tombstones were labeled Lucien Scott and Donna Scott.  Both tombstones were for children who had died before they turned ten. Lucien had smothered to death and Donna liked to go by her last name.  She was a bit of a tom boy.   So Lucien was purple because he had died of asphyxiation and Scott was a girl because that was her last name.  The imaginary friends finally made sense.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

A Photographic Journey Through the Catacombs

These pictures of the catacombs are from a Spring Break trip to Paris and they hardly capture the haunting quality of the place.  The photographs were taken by Gabriel Penot.  
The arch at the entrance is translated to saying:  


The Catacombs of Paris have always been a source of endless fascination for me.    The catacombs are a series of labrynthian tunnels that burrow beneath the city of Paris.   The walls of these tunnels, or this ossuary, are covered in the bones of Paris's dead.  Opened in the late 18th century, the underground cemetery became a tourist attraction on a small scale from the early 19th century, and has been open to the public on a regular basis from 1867.

The history of the catacombs starts with the booming population of Paris.  As more and more people flooded this populous city, there began to be serious problems with overcrowding cementeries.  Around the 12th century, this problem became more than serious.  The wealthy could still afford expensive cementery plots, but the bodies of the poor were flooding the streets.   As solution to this,  Saints-Innocents cementery was created for the poor.  The poor were buried here in less regal style that usually involved being dumped in a sack into a mass grave.   This solution worked for a while and other mass burial plots for the poor were established.

However, by the 17th century even the mass graves of Saints-Innocents were overflowing and the sanitary conditions around these poor cementeries was becoming intolerable, even by 17th century standards.  The bones of the older dead were exhumed and laid in piles to make room for fresh corpses.  So that the cementery was laden with the unburied remains of the dead.    Luckily, the government was also looking for a solution to dealing with a series of abadoned quary mines beneath the city.   The solutions to the two problems came in the form of the l'Ossuaire Municipal, the official name for the catacombs.  

Alexandre Lenoir first had the idea to use empty underground tunnels to the outskirts of the capital to use as the ossuary. His successor, Thiroux de Crosne, chose a place and the exhumation and transfer of all Paris' dead to the underground sepulture began in 1786.  At first the catacombs were merely a place to place the bones of the dead.  It wasn't until Louis-Étienne Héricart de Thury assumed responsibility for the ossuary that it became a work of art.   He rearranged the skulls and bones to create symbolism within the tunnel and also added old cementery decorations to the underground mortuary to turn it into what you see within the catacombs today.

I've spent quite a bit of time on youtube today viewing videos of ghosts visitors of the catacombs have caught on tape. The list is more than lengthy and several people have caught honestly scary images of the spirits of the dead on tape in the catacombs. The stories of ghosts here are more than prolific.  The place is considered to be one of the most haunted places in the world and according to  the most haunted place in France.   To learn more about the catacombs or to find out how to visit them  go to

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Franklin Murders: A Follow-up and Comments

In 1998, a teenager in Huntsville, Alabama killed his parents and attempted to kill his siblings.  His name was Jeffrey Franklin.  The event shook the small city of Huntsville and all those that were connected to the case.  There was a brutality to the events that was chilling and terrifying.  It was tragic.

I wrote a brief story about these events seven years ago.  This is story is an attempt to acknowledge the concerns of people who have stopped by to comment on that blog post over the years and to further discuss issues they had with the original story.  People still comment on that post regularly.  At the time I wrote the post, I never imagined so many people would actually read something I wrote.  I wasn’t a known writer and my blog was insignificant to say the least.  I wrote a story on Jeffrey Franklin thinking it would be mostly unread.  I wrote the story because that event had such an impact on me as a young woman and on so many people in my community and I felt like it was a story that needed to be told.  I got many of the details wrong in the story.  Many readers have stopped by to comment and give their perspectives on the story.  People who knew the Franklins told their stories and I realized that the story impacted everyone even vaguely associated with the family.  It was a tragedy that resonated so deeply that no one who witnessed it couldn’t be impacted.  My mother knew the Franklin family and knew Cindy Franklin, Jeffrey’s mother.  I had been a troubled teen and Cindy and my mother would talk. I had done well and moved on and my mother had offered Cindy advice on how to find help for a troubled teenager.  They went to church together and their talks were often spiritual. 

When Jeffrey Franklin killed his parents and attempted to kill his siblings, I can still remember the look on my mother’s face.  She couldn’t believe it.  She had taught Jeffrey in religious education at the church and had believed his story would unfold like mine.  He would be troubled and outgrow it and have a good life.  None of us knew how to respond.  Of course, my mother was hit hard as she thought Cindy was a good friend and a wonderful woman.  My mother still cries when she thinks of the children and Cindy and what it was like to see the children in the hospital the next day.

I wrote my first story on this blog when I believed that something Satanic had driven Jeffrey to do what he did.  He had claimed the devil (A figure with horns on his head and eyes) made him do it.  His writings prior to the murders have been released and show that Jeffrey was planning on offering his family as a sacrifice to Satan.  (  ) . If you follow the attached link, you can see Jeffrey’s letters and the three murder weapons.  The pictures are disturbing so I wouldn’t look if you are sensitive. Jeffrey’s writings were horrific and he offered himself up to Satan.  He also planned to get off on an insanity plea in the letters.  Jeffrey clearly was involved in the dark arts and Satanism and the murders were driven partly by this, but there is more to the story than this.

 Since I wrote the  first story, I have vastly changed my perspective on this case, partly because I have been blessed by so many people who were more involved in it that I was telling me their side of the story and partly because I now work with so many troubled teens at my office.  Either way, I wanted to update the initial story with comments and information that have come to me over the years. 
Later, I wrote another story on the Franklin case because a woman contacted me with a ghost story about the case. ( ).  She believed Cindy was haunting the nursing home where she used to work and she wanted me to tell the story.  I published that woman’s story anonymously and it was beautiful.  It even inspired one of the Franklin children to respond and reach out to me.  I was deeply moved by their stories and their hope and strength.   The first time I told the story it was a horror story.  Now, I hope it is a more real story.  I cannot tell this story as well as those who inspired it, so I have posted direct quotes from comments below.  I was moved by the people who wanted Jeffrey’s story told. They wanted people to understand his mental illness and how far he has come.  I was more deeply moved by the children who have a strength that I will never know.  They are amazing.  Here are a few of the comments and the stories that have come to me since my first story.  You can read the original story and all the comments at:

“In 2005, I was working at A. Rehab . Well, I'd heard stories of a phantom nurse who was said to walk the halls at night, but being a veteran of several nursing homes, I'd heard a lot of stories like that, seems like every nursing homes has it's resident ghost. Turns out that this one was a little different. I was speaking to a couple of the night shift CNAs, (cna, in case you don't know, is a Certified Nursing Assistant, which I was at the time, waiting on my nursing license to come through), and they had both told me of watching a nurse they didn't recognize, walk down the hall and into a residents room, when they followed after her, and entered the room, the only ones there were the two residents that shared the room and they were sleeping, but the curtain between the beds was moving as if it had been pushed or disturbed. I dismissed it as a neat story but nothing more. The next week, I was waiting to clock out after finishing up my shift, and was standing at the time clock, with about 5 minutes to go, when I noticed that across the hall from where I was, the lights were on. The room I was looking into was the physical therapy department, it had double doors, and each had a window in the center. I thought maybe someone had just forgotten to turn off the lights, so I was going to go do that. I crossed the hall and looked into the room. Now this room is a rectangular shape, and if you were looking into it from the door, you would be looking in from one of the long sides of the rectangle, and the other side of the room was lined with windows looking out on an open area outside. It was 11:00 at night so it was dark outside, making the windows into the room very reflective and mirror-like, as I was looking in, I saw the reflection of a nurse, in front of me, slightly to my left, walking very fast, moving from right to left. Well, my initial thought was that someone was in that room and they were exiting through a side door. I saw this very clearly, it was a female, dressed in a white nurses uniform, white skirt, and top, no hat, she was about 5'5" or so, with dark hair just below her collar. She didn't look left or right, but moved straight ahead, very fast and with a purpose. I grabbed the doorknob and tried to open the door, but it was locked, upon further investigation, it turns out that someone had apparently left the lights on, and that there was no other door way to enter or exit, also, after looking in for a while, I realized that due to the windows on the other side of the room, I could see the entire room, and it was completely empty. Then I remembered the phantom nurse story and the reality of what I had seen started to set in and I got creeped out, I crossed the hall, clocked out, went home, and didn't sleep well.

What does this have to do with poor Mrs. Franklin? Here's how it came together for me. 6 months later, I was now an lpn, and I worked at another nursing home in  Huntsville, one night over dinner, i was talking to another nurse and I happened to tell her this story, when I described what I'd seen, her eyes got very large, and her exact words were, "I bet that's Cynthia!". Not being from this area, I didn't know who she was talking about. She then went on to tell me that "Cynthia" was Cynthia Franklin, and that she had known her and that they worked at A. Rehab together. She went on to tell me that her son Jeffrey had, in the late '90s, flipped out and murdered her and other family members. At the time, I thought that even if this was this Cynthia, why the heck she would hang around a nursing home she worked at after her death. Jump forward a couple years, I'm currently employed at another nursing home here in Huntsville, I was telling this story to another nurse and when I got to the part where the last nurse had told me her name, the one I was speaking with told very matter of factly, "Oh, yeah, I was working with Cynthia when it happened, I knew her very well", and here's when it all clicked. The nurse I was talking too, was a lady named Jane Doe who had been there at A. Rehab, she and Cynthia worked together and she explained to me that Cynthia would often stay at work until 2 or 3 in the morning, because she was afraid of her son and she didn't feel safe or comfortable in her own home. Stella told me that the only place she felt safe was at work, so she stayed there as much as she could. So know for some reason, I, a complete stranger to the Franklins and for no reasons other than sheer coincidence had learned the identity of the phantom nurse at A. Rehab, and as a bonus, I even understood why she was there. It was the only place she felt safe for her, so she comes back. If you ask day shift personnel, they'll tell you they've never heard of a phantom nurse, but you ask the night shift CNAs, the longtime employees, and you'll get a different story, if you can get them to talk about it at all.

I have to say, I don't tell you this lightly, and I don't know if I would like for this to be made public, after all, her kids are still alive and this would I'm sure be a very sensitive subject to them and others who might have known and loved this lady. Also, it seems that I cannot escape the Franklin case as it turns out that upon over hearing me talking to Jane Doe, one of my CNAs had currently been working Huntsville Hospital at the time and she was one of the aides that helped take care of the children there. According to her, those children were the most pitiful that anyone had seen, and everyone worked very hard to help them, but they all thought those kids' story was one of the saddest they had heard, you could hear the sadness in her voice and see it in her eyes when spoke of them. I just thought it was strange how all these details kept revealing themselves to me, and how I keep getting glimpses into this case that I have no ties to, or reason to know these things."
“Thank you very much for sharing this story. My name is Sara Franklin (well, Deitzman now). Cynthia was my mother. To me, this story is not upsetting. It is amazing to hear about my mom after almost 15 years, to find out that she seems to be continuing what she did after death. Do you still see her?”
“Mrs. Deitzman,
Although I returned to work at that place in 2014, I have not seen her, they've added a huge new wing and that's primarily where I worked. I still continued to have weird coincidences happen, like after this story was posted by Jessica, I became her coworker and, (I hope), friend, and upon returning to that Facility, I met a nurse who was a friend of the family who told me she had actually been to your house the night that it all happened. I no longer worker there, having moved on to greener pastures.”
Comments from the original post:
“We're all doin alright. This is Tim Franklin. Yes, it was pretty messed up but that's what happens when you fuck with that many different drugs. Anyway, interesting horror writing.. Definitely makes it sound pretty brutal...”
“I personally witness this guy at a friends house couple nights before, he was doing ritalin, xanax, cocaine and think klonopin. Most of us were tripping on acid that night (alot) and he passed out on the couch. I personally wrote on his forehead with a sharpie "I eat D**K". Ha messing with the Dark Arts, I believe it was all the drugs he was snorting, and mentally jacked up.”
“I am a close family friend of the Franklin's and have between since u was 5. They were also our neighbors until the massacre took place. Ms. Penot, several of the things you wrote about what happened are incorrect. But I did find it an interesting read and as a lifelong Huntsvillian, completely agree with the way you described our city, though it had grown substantially in size and population since. You might consider researching what happened a little more so you can fix some of the misinformation in your story and make it more informative for those reading. Thanks for posting and putting some of the odd instances of our town out there to those interested! Hope I don't sound rude, that is certainly not my intention. –Nikki”
“He is in Donaldson Correctional Facility, and he gets a hearing for Parole in June of 2016.”

“I was the 911 calltaker for this incident. I visited his siblings at Huntsville Hospital the next day, and I am amazed at how well they recovered. They kids were taken to New York to live with their Uncle, who I believe was a doctor up there. I can honestly tell you that call was the worst I ever answered. I hope I can be at the parole hearing to lend support to his victims and see him rot in prison for a much longer time.”
“Jeff is in Bullock Correctional, a medium security prison just south of Montgomery. he is still in the mental health block but is far from crazy. he got his GED years ago, knows Spanish, took drafting and art classes at Donalson Correctional. he has a very positive attitude. he was denied parole but will be up again in 5 yrs.there are 4 of us that correspond with Jeff and some of us even visit. if any of you close friends of his or the family would like to drop him a line or Christmas card i will publish the address.”
“Hello. I'm In case anyone is still interested he is actually diagnosed with schizophrenia. I know a family member and many of the details. And i agree with Nikki that if you're going to post a story like this you have to get the facts straight.but i can see why you are so interested in this event. I don't think he'll ever be getting out of prison. His letters to the judge are bizarre and he gets the best treatment for his mental state in there.”

More Information:

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Disappearing Cross

This story was sent to me by Keith Linder.  It is a chilling tale. If you would like to learn more about the paranormal investigation associated with this first hand account of hostile haunting you can read more about it at:
"I will always remember the events of this day.  It was the weekend Captain America the Winter Soldier came out. April 2014.

A month before this movie premier, I wanted to enjoy my cousin's spring break, she was a school teacher - 8th and 9th grade level.  She was aware of some of the problems we having prior to arriving.  I had kept her in the know about some of the events me and my girlfriend were experiencing.  One Bible having gone missing for over a year returned one night on fire.  Loud bangs, loud thuds, phantom footsteps, and yes a even a flying Amoire.   It was for those reasons, she bought a cross with her when she arrived. A gift. Something she wanted us to hang on the bedroom wall.  To protect us. Written on the cross were Bible, Joshua 1:9, Phil 4:13, Psalm 28:7 and Matthew 19:26; each verse spoke about maintaining one's strength, one's faith during troubling times.

The cross was prayed over and immediately hung in our bedroom. The bedroom at that time was the third most active place of the house; it's also the place where we sleep.  So, a cross positioned high upon the wall seemed a great idea.  This was March.  Mid March I believe.  April arrives.

A week or so before the Captain America movie came out, the cross went missing. Missing objects in our home are not new and not a big deal. Things get taken all the time. Sometimes they return; sometimes they don't. The items that do return are never found in their original spot. This cross would be no exception.

I woke up one morning, my girlfriend was beside me - I looked at the wall the cross was on and saw that it was gone.  I told my girlfriend almost immediately.

Other religious objects have been taken already, some broken, some turned to sit upside down, some relocated and some just outright stolen.   Whether one cross goes missing or twenty crosses go missing our reaction was always the same.  What the heck is going on? 

The cross is gone. It's missing. My girlfriend and I had already given up on the notion of even looking for it. After all, it was a gift from my cousin, a spiritual gift at that.  No use looking for it, no one else lived with us, and objects get taken all the time. Whatever object we set out to look for, we never find.  This cross would be no exception.  My girlfriend and I talked about the cross being gone. I emailed my cousin the next day to tell her, she was shock.  The weekend arrives.

It's Saturday morning (movie day), and the cross is still missing. Like most Saturdays in my house, it was laundry day. I started doing my laundry early that day so I could go meet one of my friends for drinks.    Drinks and movie. That was the plan.

I began my first load of laundry: colored clothing. My girlfriend, Tina, is walking around the house doing her own thing. While my clothes are washing, I decide to go into my office and watch TV.  About an hour later, I noticed something peculiar. My first load of clothing was still washing. Now I know there are long wash cycles but this was weird - my brain knows how long it takes for my clothes to wash. So I'm in my office and I glance toward the wash room, hoping to hear the beep beep beep, the noise the washing machine makes when it's done. Clothes don't wash for an hour, especially my clothes, and especially a light load of clothing. So I glance at the wash room and sort of look at the clock on my PC toolbar , I think to myself what's taking my clothes so long to wash.

A few minutes later I hear this knocking sound: a banging and knocking. You know, the sound the washing machine or dryer makes when you're washing your shoes.   I hear this noise, and it's clearly coming from the washing machine. So, once again, I glance up from my PC and turn to face the washing machine or wash room.

Now in my mind I'm thinking - that sound wasn't there before? All I put in the washing machine was clothing. Coins, chap stick, keys, etc. wouldn't make that noise. And even if it did, those sounds would have been heard almost immediately. At this point, the wash cycle had been running for  nearly over an hour. So why the loud noises now? Normally I would get up, walk to the washing machine and open it up to see what the commotion was about. Normally that's what I would have done.   It was very uncharacteristic of me to not stop what I was doing and investigate. Looking back and reliving the moment, it seems weird for me to not get up and investigate the noise, especially with the previous events having happened in this house. I acknowledged the noise, and length of time it was taking for that load to complete.  But nothing was motivating me to go see what was taking so long. 

Minutes later, the washing machine beeped informing me that the load was complete.  I got up and went to the washing machine to transfer my clothes to the dryer. As I was pulling out clothes and tossing them into the dryer.  I immediately grabbed hold of something solid. Not clothing. Not shoes. Not anything except a metallic-wooden cross. I didn't know what it was until I pulled it out of the washing machine.  There in my hand in two pieces is the cross my cousin gave me.

Now some might say, "Well maybe the cross was in there to begin with." Not so. As I mentioned prior, the  would have been heard early on, especially during the spin cycle. The knocking noises I heard began 15 minutes before the washing was complete. When my machine is done it beeps. And also the washing machine was empty when I filled it with my clothing. Some might say, "Maybe you accidentally put the cross in the machine when you loaded in the clothes." Nope. It was a colored clothing load (machine wash COLD/WARM). I sorted my clothing carefully meaning items went into the machine almost one at a time. A cross this size was not going to be grabbed by mistake.  I'm talking about an eight-to ten inch cross. 8 inches long. 3 1/2 inches wide.  This wasn't a necklace.

Someone might also think might girlfriend put the cross in the machine. My girlfriend was nowhere near the washing machine that day, and I never left my office. The washroom sits right outside my office. And she wouldn't stop my wash load regardless. I do my own laundry, and she does hers.

I had to get those particulars out of the way because I realize people gravitate to the obvious explanation. And that is understandable but allow me to paint the picture near perfect as possible because it even hasn't began to get weird yet. In my hand is the cross my cousin gave me. It was wet and broken. I then called my girlfriend to the room. When she arrived, we both examined the cross from top to bottom. It had been taken the week before, about 5 days prior to turning up in the washing machine. I ended up fixing that cross. I put it back in it's original spot.  It would go missing a few more  times. It never appeared in the washing machine again. 
A few weeks later 2 Bibles caught fire.  A month or so after the Bibles catching fire another Bible went missing.  It has never returned."