Shadow People: What are they?

Shadow People: What Are They?



Different authors and people in the paranormal have their theories as to what a shadow person is, and these ideas come from all fields of study and belief, ranging from metaphysics, religious ideals, parapsychology, cryptozoology, even the occult and demonology.


Others have ideas that shadow people are thought forms, ghosts themselves or sometimes even demonic forces. A thought form, by the way, as most people are familiar with the basic ideas of what a ghost and demon may be, is a manifestation of mental energy from a thinker or person into a semi corporeal (physical) form. They called tulpas alternatively and the idea for them comes from Tibetan and Hindu mysticism.

Further speaking of the tulpas, there is a book called Thought Forms by Annie Besant and C.W. Leadbeater, which is essentially study on the power of the nature of thoughts. They state as their premise that thoughts have two effects on the physical world, a “radiating vibration” and a “floating form” and going further, they break up their classification of thought forms into several different categories:

  • Thought forms that take the image of the thinker
  • Thought forms that take the image of a material object
  • Thought forms which take the form of a unique entity all of its own, expressing its inherence qualities in the matter which draws around it.

The book also examines the effects of music, emotion and colors in regards to thought forms as well.  Some people feel that shadow people are creatures from another plane of existence that overlaps ours.  Oddly, others believe that shadow people are two dimensional entities that reside or pass through our three dimensional reality and are somehow tied into Grey Aliens.


This explanation is often tied into deep and twisted conspiracy buff theories and I personally don’t hold much to it. I personally prefer the tulpas theory for most shadow people experiences.


Remember, at any given time there may be more than just your own thought forms in a given area if that theory holds true. Tulpas may also be present during poltergeist outbreaks when people believe they are seeing demonic forms and monstrous creatures…if a thought form takes the form of your thoughts, and you are angry, distressed or worried, one must consider, what would anger look like given form? Or fear? Or passion? I can almost bet it wouldn’t be pretty.

Of course, these are all possible and none confirmed. Now that we have explored the paranormal possible causes, we also need to be balanced and examine logical explanations as it always best to eliminate all possible rational explanations first before jumping to paranormal conclusion.
Many different scientific principles can explain the effects experienced during shadow people encounters, including hallucinations and optical illusions brought on by different physiological or psychological conditions, drug use and or the interaction of external agents on the human body.

Also, images seen in the peripheral area (edge) of vision can be caused by what is termed pareidolia, which means in simple terms, when your brain incorrectly interprets complex lines, colors, light or shadow or texture that may appear to be something familiar…the common term used by us and the majority of other researchers was coined by Grant Wilson, matrixing.
Hypnagogia, what is known as “waking-sleep” is a condition in which a person is half way asleep and half way awake.  While in this state, people can be conscious and aware of their environment but also at the same time in a dream like state, where images from their own subconscious may be perceived; they often report lights, and shadows moving around them, or faces in the dark as well as a heavy feeling of impending dread.


This is one of the effects of sleep paralysis, as you noted earlier with the paralysis part coming from your body’s natural tendency to paralyze itself while in REM sleep to avoid reacting to internal dream stimuli. Sleep paralysis is another good possible explanation or even lucid dreaming, while rare, may be occurring in which it would almost be a waking dream.


So in the end, shadow people are as mysterious as ever, another mystery to be solved in time.

— Anthony Justus

Posted in Mythology and Folklore | 1 Comment

Thermodynamics and the Macroscopic Paranormal: Cold Spots.


Understanding the macroscopic paranormal in relation to cold spot phenomena. 




Many people in the field of the paranormal have encountered the infamous phenomenon known simply as “cold spots.”

Numerous theories have been put forth as to why these places of thermal variance are encountered, but to date, no one has really set them down beyond basic statements and in general terms. Recently, I was studying the laws of thermodynamics for a case, and I believe that I may have came up with a hypothesis that would fall in line with the known laws of thermodynamics and may explain a cold spot in scientific terms.

First, we should define what thermodynamics is.

Thermodynamics is the field of physics that describes and correlates the physical properties of macroscopic systems of matter and energy and their interaction and transference of energy in the form of thermal energy. A macroscopic system (also called a thermodynamic system) is a geometrically (measureable in three dimensional space time) notable piece or pieces of matter in coexistence with an infinite imperturbable environment.

For most people, that is a mouth full. In short, it is the study of how heat energy is transferred from matter to matter and the laws governing those exchanges, called thermodynamic processes.

There are four laws that govern thermodynamic processes in these systemic exchanges. We will examine in turn to get a better understanding of the basic principles of macroscopic system interaction. The first concept that we will deal with is temperature.

Temperature is generally defined as the heat or lack/loss of heat of an object, since cold does not scientifically exist. The Zeroth Law describes what temperature is.

The Zeroth Law states that “…when two systems are in equilibrium with a third, the first two systems must be in equilibrium with each other. This shared property, which can be measured and a definite numerical value ascribed to that measurement of the property. This measurement of the property is called temperature.”  This is a more precise definition than that used commonly.

So, if this is the definition of temperature, what is the definition of heat? Heat as a concept is very interesting indeed as it means something entirely different that what most people think of. Heat is commonly known as the opposite of cold, but thermodynamics gives us an entirely different definition of heat. Let’s look at it now.

Encarta Encyclopedia states that heat is “…in physics, is the transfer of energy from one part of a substance to another, or from one body to another by virtue of a difference in temperature. Heat is energy in transit; it always flows from a substance at a higher temperature to the substance at a lower temperature, raising the temperature of the latter and lowering that of the former substance, provided the volume of the bodies remains constant. Heat does not flow from a lower to a higher temperature unless another form of energy transfer, work, is also present.

Energy and Work also have very different definitions than most investigators and people attach to them. Again, according to Encarta:

Energy is capacity of matter to perform work as the result of its motion or its position in relation to forces acting on it.”

While work is slightly more complicated and is defined thus:

” …Is a product of a force applied to a body and the displacement of the body in the direction of the applied force. While work is done on a body, there is a transfer of energy to the body, and so work can be said to be energy in transit. The units of work are identical to those of energy.

If, for example, an object is lifted from the floor to the top of a table, work is done in overcoming the downward force of gravity, and the energy imparted to the body as work will increase its potential energy. Work is also expended when a force accelerates a body, such as the acceleration of an airplane because of the thrust forces developed by its jet engines….”

While this is interesting in and of itself, the next part of the definition is far more interesting from a paranormal perspective when you are not dealing with purely mechanical forces:

“… The force need not be simply a mechanical force, as in the case of lifting a body or accelerating a plane by jet reaction; it can also be an electrostatic, electrodynamic, or surface-tension force…”

In layman’s terms, energy is the ability to do work and work is defined as going against another force, for example gravity and heat is the result of energy being transferred back and forth from system to system until equilibrium is reached. So what is equilibrium?

Equilibrium is the condition of a system in which competing influences (variables) are balanced evenly. When a macroscopic system shifts with an irreversible reaction, equilibrium is reached and no further change in the system is possible.

A variable, by the way, is a factor used to describe a macroscopic system’s state of equilibrium and include things such as temperature, pressure, volume, density, etc, in relationship to the environment.

Heat and work therefore are the mechanisms by which two or more systems may exchange energy, which leads us to the next law.

The next law of thermodynamics is perhaps the one most often quoted (and mis-quoted no less) by investigators as proof of survival and while it does have bearing on that notion of the human soul, is it more appropriately fitting to the concept from which is was pulled: the transference of heat energy from one system to another.

This law states ” …because energy cannot be created or destroyed, the amount of heat transferred into a system plus the amount of work done on the system must result in a corresponding increase of internal energy in the system.”

In simple English, this means energy (heat in this case) cannot be created or destroyed but merely transferred from system to system, creating an equal and opposite reaction in the corresponding systems, with an increase in one, (the receiving system) and a decrease in the other (the transference system).

Following this law, is the next rule of thermodynamics, which precisely defines the property, which is called entropy.

Entropy could be thought of as a measurement of how close a given system is to equilibrium; it can also be thought of as a measurement of a system’s amount of disorder. Interestingly, nature itself seems to prefer chaos and disorder as opposed to a true equilibrium, with each external system balancing out the other in a system of chaotic checks and balances.  Chaos theory describes this fascinating set of interactions and patterns but more on that later in another article, perhaps at another time.

The law itself states that “the total entropy of any isolated system always increases over time, approaching a maximum value.”

What this means is that a system will continue in disorder until it finally reaches balance or equilibrium and as stated earlier, once a system reaches this state, it cannot change. This law shows in that in the absence of work, heat cannot be transferred from a region at a lower temperature to one at a higher temperature, however it would be possible for a higher temperature system to give energy (heat) to a lower temperature system.

The last law of thermodynamics that we must understand before moving on to my theory is that the previous law suggests the existence of an absolute zero of temperature and the last law itself states:

“….absolute zero cannot be obtained by any procedure in a finite number of steps and can only be approached arbitrarily closely but never reached.”

What the previous statement suggests is that temperature can be reduced or increased by taking energy out of a system by making the motion of molecules at the molecular level speed up (increase of heat) or slow down (loss of heat) and that absolute zero is close to impossible under normal conditions.

It’s a large amount of information to process but you are now going to see how I used the laws of thermodynamics to describe how a cold spot is formed in a hypothesis that I call the Thermodynamic Macroscopic Transference Hypothesis.

With the preceding statements and facts in mind, let’s for a moment hypothetically state that we have three isolated systems in a given environment: a living human and a non-corporeal entity, aka a ghost and the air between them. All of these are forms of matter, one solid, two not.

The entity in question could transfer heat energy from the human by slowing down the molecules in the air and speeding up the molecules on the human (work) thus creating friction as heat is transferred into or to the entity, drawing it from the human, creating an increase in entropy in all three systems…the human, the ghost and the air.

The decrease in heat from the human would create a feeling of intense cold, while the warmer air between the ghost and human would act like a storage battery for the ghost to use while it draws the heat from the human to itself to use as energy to do work aka, manipulate the environment.

This entropy would continue until the human moves out of the range of the entity in question or disrupts the transfer, which would destabilize the increasing entropy and restore the natural equilibrium in all three systems. If a ghost has taken its fill of heat energy stores and utilizes them to make a physical change in its environment, then the expenditure of that stored energy to do work would drain it away, also restoring the native entropy and equilibrium in the entity. This exchange may be inverted as well, resulting in spots of sudden abnormal heat.

This may help explain the bone chilling cold that some victims of paranormal encounters report, many times whom are unable to shake the feeling or the sudden dense pockets of cold air as the entity uses transfers  of thermal energy to itself from its environment in a thermodynamic process between the two (possibly three) systems using electromagnetic movement of molecules.

While this may go some way towards explaining the mechanics, the process by which an entity would do this remains unknown but outlined above, it is fully in line with the laws of known thermodynamics and thus should be possible…of course this assumes that a non corporeal entity could exist and use heat (energy) in the first place.

—-Anthony Justus.






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Ghostbusters (2016) Review

Ghostbusters (2016).



The hate for this movie coming out is unlike anything I have ever seen for any movie franchise ever. This hate came from people calling themselves fans of the original and the cartoons. I admit, when I first saw some of the designs and such, I had extreme reservations. I believe I may have also said some pretty dry things about not looking forward to it but as time went on and we saw more, I started to understand the threads of the film, of the story that was being woven.

Growing up, I had two favorite cartoons and movies; ask my parents. Batman the Animated Series and Tim Burton’s excellent Batman movies and Ghostbusters and anything related therein. I even watched a few episodes of the unrelated 1970s live action show but to me, the Ghostbusters have always been the Boys in Grey (plus Janine. She was always a Ghostbuster to me and always will be). I had the toys. I watched the episodes until my mom probably was drove crazy and one Christmas (the best ever), my sister and I both got Proton Packs, traps and PKE meters. I’m telling you, we played with those toys more than anything else we ever had.

As I got older, I began to appreciate all the mature jokes and cerebral real world mythology that the cartoons and film pulled from and I realized that Ghostbusters, the cartoons especially, were not intended for kids. They were simply animated. Some of the episodes posed difficult questions about what it means to be alive or if we should fear death, others explored deep character arcs that proved to be incredibly poignant and made them three-dimensional people. We got stories that took us to the Other Side (even one where we went to Hell itself!) and others where we saw the Boys in Grey lay everything on the line and were ready to give their lives to save the world from mass destruction. If it weren’t for the humor, Ghostbusters would be sci-fi horror and there is no doubt in my mind without the jokes, the movies and the shows (especially Extreme Ghostbusters) would be downright terrifying. Monsters that rip your eyes out for looking at it? Yup. Hellraiser like demons invoked through the act of writing that came to our world, taking innocent people and cutting them up and twisting their bodies into living monsters? Yup. Historical figures that come back to right a real life wrong so that they can finally rest in peace? More than once. Casey Jones and the OK Corral shoot out ring a bell? How about the genius way the stories and technobabble was written? Again, the originals were lightning in a bottle.

Through the years, the Ghostbusters canon has existed in some form or another, from Marvel comics to the short-lived 88MPH studios run to the current (and still on going) IDW Ghostbusters series which is currently continuing the canon that the first two original movies and the realistic video game left off, leading to a wonderfully deep expanded universe that rivals Star Trek and Star Wars.


That said, I believe it is at the the heart of why so much hate was leveled at this movie. People were upset, understandably so. The words “remake” and “reboot” are probably the two most hated terms in Hollywood today and these remakes hardly ever come close to being good with the exception of the Star Trek films and there is a heated debate about them as well (I love them personally and look forward to more…I even fly a Kelvin Timeline T6 Heavy Command Constitution cruiser in Star Trek: Online as my main character’s ship, the U.S.S. Endurance). I was even more worried when I saw the casting, especially that of Melissa McCarthy. I did not know who any of these women were (and no, I do not care that the cast is made up of women. Why should that even matter? We never once questioned four dudes). I had never seen any of their previous work except McCarthy, who through my experience was mostly used in comedies for her slapstick and while she was very funny, I couldn’t picture her as a scientist, not even a quirky one like Ray.


Dr. Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy)

The pictures leaked of the gear and I saw the proton pack, the trap and the PKE meters and especially the new ECTO-1. I saw small hints of the different canons of Ghostbusters history in them. Hints and throw backs to Extreme Ghostbusters, the animated series and even to the video game and IDW series. I saw that while most of the people were hating on it claimed to be fans, that they were so busy hating it and spewing racist, sexist junk that they never stopped to see what was happening. There was a deep respect for the roots of the story they were trying to tell and it was not apparent from the trailers (which do not do it justice).


Old vs new 

So I went and saw it yesterday and I finally let go of my expectations, wishful thinking and projected ideas. Please understand, I KNOW Ghostbusters. I know the characters, their histories, the lore. I wrote pages and pages of the Ghostbusters Fans Wiki, from mythology to technology. I can tell you how a proton pack works, I can describe to you ever class of spirit in the fictional Tobin’s Spirit Guide. I’ve written two full length Ghostbusters novellas, “Mutes” in which the Ghostbusters are called to Utah to help a rancher and his family under siege from what appear to be UFOs mutilating his cattle but are actually harbingers to something far worse and “Iconography”, the sequel to “Mutes” in which a rich collector steals an ancient statuette, unleashing a hellish curse on himself leaving Kylie and Bryan (the Rookie’s official name from the video game) to Deal with the mess while the other four Ghostbusters head to a paranormal conference and meet old faces, friends and foe alike but not all is going to be smooth sailing as there is something at the conference that is entirely unearthly.

“Mutes” and “Iconography” were part of a three-story series set in the IDW Ghostbusters universe with smatterings of the Real Ghostbusters tossed in. The third story was called “Hunger Strike” and it involved a wendigo getting set loose in Manhattan. Still working on that one by the way…the point is, I KNOW Ghostbusters. I had to, both as a fan and a writer.

From the moment the film opened and I saw what the story line was, I was IN. Without giving spoilers, its unique. Its not a remake of the first Ghostbusters film. Yes it shares threads but that’s it. Its its own unique tale and while the trailer did not do it justice, believe me, the jokes make much more sense in context with the full scenes and there are some genuinely creepy moments that the jokes do not make less creepy because they are so well done (case in point, the entire opening sequence and the ghost in the subway….he was definitely a 10+ on the creep-0-meter).


The gear itself evolves; we get to see it built from the floor up, see the effort it took and the history that made it all possible from the work of Abby and Erin. While my favorite character is Holtzmann (the brilliant if not slightly off her rocker nuclear engineer, inspired by my friend Alexandra Holzer who consulted on the film whose father in turn inspired Dan Akroyd, hence her name, HOLZmann), Abby (McCarthy) and Erin (Wiig) truly have an interesting arc through out the film that, especially after reading the novel, makes many of the scenes between them almost sad and yet you can see them re-bonding (sorry, no spoilers) throughout the film and its a gradual slow arc that pays off nicely in the final fight. Leslie, who plays Patty, is just as phenomenal.



While the other three have the brain in regards to science, Patty’s talents lay towards research and history (much liker OGB counter part, Dr. Winston Zeddemore who started out as former Marine and electronic warfare expert and construction worker and became a doctor of Egyptology and History, though whether Patty follows in his footsteps is to be seen and if she doesn’t, I love her how she is!).


Kevin…where to start with Kevin. He is not a Janine by any means. Janine was an expert and the office quickly fell into chaos without her and her bite and attitude more than once kept jerks in line, human or otherwise. She even hit on a demon-god, before blasting him into the next world. Kevin is sweet but stupid. To be blunt, there is no other way to stay it but he’s got little quirks and much like Abby (while the others find him annoying–she does too–), its good to give Kevin a chance because his dimwitted self does actually grow on you like I said and in the end, he proves that he’s willing to improve and might yet be the one thing that stands between mass hysteria and…well…more mass hysteria.


Slimer’s cameo is well done and isn’t overly hammy; it perfectly fits his origin and character to show up when and how he did PLUS his behavior is exactly like his video game counter part: not sweet and gushy like a puppy but not overtly malevolent, just incredibly mischievous and at one point, kind of creepy which is how Slimer should always be.

The villain is NOT the subway ghost (though he looks the part) and the villain is interesting, much like Peter MacNicol before him but not as outlandish. MacNicol’s Poha was never evil, he just became a pawn. This film’s villain, when you look at the clues and the things he does and says, his behavior projects exactly what he is: a broken, utterly destroyed human being who is very angry and is willing to cause millions of people to die, suffering as they do and then prolong their agony as long as he can. He’s got a score to settle with humanity and it reminds us that “it’s always the quiet ones” isn’t always funny.

The effects are great, the mythology is kept intact, the equipment’s design it turns out was inspired by real world particle physics and the production company had scientists come in and advise on the construction of the packs and the science behind them and scarily enough, the science is legit. It could be done, given enough work and effort to build working packs. All the equations you see on the white board are real physics equations. The novelization is worth a read too; it expands greatly on the relationship between Abby and Erin as well as gives insight into Patty and Holzmann. There is a scene in the film in which Erin describes what got her interested in Ghostbusting and the paranormal and while I was watching it, I kept waiting for someone to crack a joke or say something funny.


They never did. It was a serious moment, and it was one the more poignant moments in the franchise history since we finally got to see what motivated a Ghostbuster to do what they do and much like Egon in the animated series, her experience is a truly terrifying one that gets fully explained in the books and I realized that while Holtzmann was my favorite to watch, Erin came in second because of the depth of her character and what she had gone through, having gone through similar experiences myself which also led to my study of the paranormal. The scene where the soon to be Ghostbusters come to investigate the haunted mansion from the opening sequence and the guys just throw the keys on the ground and say “Nope. Not going. You have fun. It’s all yours.” got to me as well; I’ve had that same experience from a client who contacted my team years ago for help with strange things going on in their house. The client literally handed us the keys and left. He was scared out of his mind and the opening ghost is no Eleanor Twitty, a sweet gentle librarian guarding her stacks….definitely not.

All told, once I let go of my expectations, I was very pleasantly surprised, not only by the writing, the story itself, the effects, the depth of respect that was put forth into the film but especially by all the actors and I’ll say MOST IMPRESSED by Melissa McCarthy. She did not play the hammy slapstick laugh factory for a change. She wasn’t a walking joke but rather a fairly normal human being with a sensor of humor that did not overpower her humanity. I actually bought that she was a scientist.


Just like the final fight, Ghostbusters (2016) is a blast and if you are a fan, go see it. You WILL like it. All the original cast cameos are wonderful, especially Bill Murray’s (naturally) and Harold Ramis even has TWO, though the first is a bit of a hit in the feels. Ernie and Annie are superb and Sigourney, wow. Just those brief moments were pure GOLD. Morranis would have made it complete but as it stands, Ghostbusters is a helluva good time. Go see it. Enjoy it. I sure did!




That post credits scene was perfect and sets up sequels!!

— Anthony Justus.

More about the science behind “Ghostbusters”:

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North Carolina: Hate Crime and My Thoughts.

NC State Seal B and W

For those of you who are readers of mine for all things scary and paranormal, I apologize to have to do this again but I feel I must. Once again, laws have been passed that do direct harm to people like me, people who did nothing wrong but be born the wrong way and I will not stand for it. I absolutely believe in loving my fellow man and these issues are important to me. If you feel that you can no longer follow me if I am not posting strictly paranormal topics to my personal blog, then I understand and wish you well. This post will contain graphic images. You are warned.

A bit of background.

On Wednesday, the NC legislature passed House Bill 2 and NC governor McCrory signed it into law. It was passed unanimously because the Democrats objected, were overruled and walked out in protest. Business after business is protesting this. Movie companies and major contributors to the NC economy are protesting this. None of it mattered. All that mattered was that the Republicans got their chance to hurt people. And they did. House Bill 2 is now law. It strips away every protection across the state for all LGBT people, even local ones. It makes it a crime for a transgender person to use any bathroom but that on their original birth certificate. It gives businesses and facilities the legal right to turn people away because the person is LGBT and therefore, would offend the businesses or facilities religious beliefs in serving that person. This law is so broad it could mean anything from restaurants to hospitals and those things are just the start of the insidious law.

When I was in college, gay rights were a frequent topic of my thesis papers. This action we are seeing now from our law makers, is the exact same type of hateful reactionary action taken by white supremacists back when integration was first made the law.

A similar incident of law making just happened in Georgia. Two gay men were at home, in their home, not bothering anyone, and their mother’s boyfriend walked in to their home, and threw boiling water onto them as they slept, cursing at them and when he was arrested, he said it was just a little hot water, that they’d be fine and that he did it because of his Biblical belief that being gay was wrong.  More on that story here:


The state will not be pressing hate crime charges against this man because the state of Georgia just repealed any protections it had for LGBT people at the state level, just like North Carolina did on Wednesday.  Only 17 states in the U.S.have hate-crimes laws that cover both sexual orientation and gender identity. However, if the federal government becomes involved, Blackwell could be prosecuted under federal hate-crimes law. That situation seems likely since the state itself will not be prosecuting him.

Now you know the background. I’ve already responded to Georgia via phone calls and letters to the governor. Here is my response to the North Carolina situation.

This is an open letter I just sent to NC Governor McCrory. I also urge you to call his office and let him know your thoughts. 919-814-2050 as I will also be doing.

Gov. McCrory,

I do not know where to start this message. I am literally speechless. That’s a rare thing for one as opinionated as myself. Consider it a privelage that you have rendered me so. I have a request. I need your help to understand the thinking, the thought process that went into approving House Bill 2.

I have a dear friend in North Carolina who is LGBT. He is a professor, a teacher, one who shapes our new generations and he is a great man. He is one of the rare teachers that actually loves to teach, engages his students, challenges them and is challenged in turn. Its because of people like him that the state of North Carolina will be a leader in the future of technology and education.

Or would have been had you and the Republicans in your legislature not painted a legal target on his back and that of every other LGBT person who lives in the state. Do you comprehend what you have done?

You have just given every business, every person and legal entity, from 911 to hospitals to housing authorities and foster systems and employers state-wide the ability to deny LGBT people assistance, to fire them or reject them based on the idea that being LGBT is a sin against the Christian Bible (let’s not mince words, governor. That was the basis here, wasn’t it, the Bible? I cannot see another rational explanation for this lunacy).

My friend and many like him have already been through absolute hell and having finally gotten to a safe space in life where their lives were looking positive and you and your legislators, your party, go and rip it away from them, all because of your religion and more than likely, your sponsors and those who make large donations to you from major conservative lobby tanks, like Focus on the Family.

I will never comprehend why money and social status is more important than loving your fellow human beings as your own. I mean, I’m not a Christian, but wasn’t that what that one middle eastern fellow said? Love your fellow man as your own? What was his name? Josh? JESUS. That’s his name. Jesus.

Not that for a moment I think you truly sincerely have moral or religious objections to LGBT people. You are just sucking the dicks of your sponsors and lobbyists so that they keep that money flowing to you like the whore of Babylon.

When I asked you at the start of this letter if you could explain to me the logical rational reasoning behind you signing this law into existence, I made an error. There is no way you can EVER explain this to me. There is no way you can ever make this action make rational logical sense because it doesn’t. This law and the behavior surrounding it wasn’t born of rational thought. It was born out of the need to protest and scream, to throw a tantrum because you aren’t getting your way, just as the south did back when integration was made law. Its the exact same thing.

You shame our country. You shame North Carolina. You will cost your state millions, maybe billions, in revenue and still you are willing to destroy your state to stick to your guns and hurt people. Hell, maybe you will change your mind when those dollar signs stop flowing and you begin to feel the pinch in your pocketbook.

And you wonder why people like me, born and raised in the Christian faith, turn on it and leave it behind like a snake skin.

People like you are why.

Never yours,

Anthony G. Milhorn.


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Rotherwood: House of Hell



Houses are living things. I’ve said it before. They see, hear and breathe. Sometimes, I think, they breathe in what we put into them and when they exhale, they put out whatever they took in to begin with only now it has changed into something new, be it an echo of happiness or silent screams of sorrow. Sometimes, I feel, they take in something awful and then breathe out something truly hellish. This toxic cloud of negative energy-or whatever etheric matter is made of- moves, slinking from room to room, drifting on the edges of our consciousness unti it can feel inside of our minds, taking on twisted forms and degenerate shadows plucked from our fears and worries. Or maybe, just maybe, could it be that something once lived that was so vile, so cruel and inhumane, that the very fabric of whatever lays beyond this life rejects it and it becomes trapped here, with us, walking side by side, waiting to prey again?

Such could be the place with a location in Kingsport, Tennessee.

Sitting on the very banks of the Holston River, high on a hill, sits a majestic manor home with red bricks, dark shutters and breath-taking thirty-foot high Doric columns that line the front porch, giving anyone who stands on that porch a commanding view of the river and the lands beyond. At three stories tall, this stately home is in fact, the source of all of Kingsport or what would be the town later on. Its intricate ties to our home city make it a source of great pride and haunting creeping dread for those that live near it. Some of us bear the scars quite literally from the house and its long and sordid history. It even has a name, a name pulled from the works of Sir Walter Scott: Rotherwood. Rotherwood, as so many places like it began, did not begin with malice or evil but its fate and often those who are tied to it, was doomed the moment the first brick was laid.

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In the later part of the 18th century, a young man named Fredrick Ross and his family inherited a large parcel of land of several hundred acres along the north and south forks of the Holston River. The land ran from Bay’s Mountain to almost the Virginia border. Ross and his family were very wealthy and were respected in the area. Ross himself would later go on to lay out the town of King’s Port/Rossville, which obviously later became the Kingsport we know today. Like most wealthy families in the south at the time, Ross did own slaves. He also had several indentured white servants as well but he was not known to be a cruel man. He treated his slaves well, considering the circumstances of the immorality of the institution of slavery. Unlike many southern slave owners, he did not engage in wanton cruelty.

In 1818, the work on the majestic plantation house that was Rotherwood was finished. Taking the name from Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe, the house and grounds were truly the showplace and entertainment center of the entire region. With curved driveways, column lined porches, hanging floral gardens, and even a pool on the roof, Rotherwood was every bit the dream home of the Ross family. Ross had several children but everyone remembers his daughter Rowena the best. With her raven hair and fair complexion, she was considered to be the most beautiful creature in the entire area and she had an education and manners to back it up. Well-liked and kind to everyone she met, slaves included, Rowena had many young men chasing after her hand in marriage but there was only one gentleman that caught her affections and held them close.

Ross himself was beyond happy with his daughter’s choice and went on to build another Rotherwood across the river from the main house for his daughter and her soon to be family. He relished the idea of being a grandfather and the new house was completed. It was an exact replica of Rotherwood itself but instead of red brick, the entire house was done entirely in white. Unfortunately, it never was lived in because it burned to the ground not long after it was completed. Perhaps that was an omen of things to come. Perhaps not but what did happen next was nothing short of devastating. Perhaps this event on a day of joy was what started the downward spiral of Rotherwood into darkness.

On her wedding day, Rowena and her family and the groom and his family had gathered before the ceremony, laughing and rejoicing. The groom and several of his friends decided to try their hand at fishing before he married his beaming wife to be. Taking a small boat out onto the Holston, the men were in plain sight of the house and as Rowena watched, her life changed and fate dealt her a cruel hand.

The Holston River is notorious for its dangerous currents and eddies and somehow, the boat the men were in capsized, spilling them into its icy depths. Everyone on shore watched in horror as the men floundered in the water, the surging currents pulling them down. Miraculously, three of the four men made it back to shore but to Rowena’s devastation, her true love did not surface again. In fact, his body was never recovered.

Rowena was devastated by his loss and fell into a deep depression. The once vibrant beautiful young woman became a virtual recluse, secluding herself away in her third floor bedroom, looking out of her window at the river, silently mourning her lost life and love.

For the next two years, Rowena saw no one but gradually began to come out again, socializing in small bursts until a man happened to cross her path and again, she felt the pull of love calling to her. This rich young man was from Knoxville and while he was not her first true love, she was willing to try again. She was able to marry this man. Fate however struck once again, another shockwave of grief slamming into her as her new husband died not long after their wedding vows from yellow fever. Once again, Rowena fell into a depression and this time, it did not break for more than a decade.

One last time, Rowena tried to be happy and she did marry again and this time, her life seemed to be on the right track. She even had a daughter with her new husband and for six years, she finally seemed to find happiness but something was just never quite right. It is unknown how or why but what is known is how her story finally came to its tragic end. What is known is this. During a vacation back at Rotherwood to see her father, Rowena said that she had seen the ghost of her first love, her true love. She had said that she had heard his ghostly voice calling to her and had seen his pale white hand reach out from the dark waters of the Holston and beckon to her.

That night, she slipped into her wedding gown, the garment flowing behind her like angel’s white wings as she made her way silently outside late at night, barefoot, following the trail to the shores of the river before slowly and calmly wading into the water, walking until the water was up to her neck and finally, she vanished below the surface, taking her own life.

From that point the fate of Rotherwood was doomed to be a bleak one. The once happy Fredrick Ross was himself in a deep depression over the loss of his daughter and in the years leading up to the Civil War, he made several business decisions that seemed to backfire, huge losses and failed investments that cost him dearly. His overseer, Joshua Phipps, was also his bookkeeper. Strangely, he never seemed to understand why his employer’s ventures were failing.

Ross saw only one way out of the failing plantation and made a heart breaking decision. He sold Rotherwood plantation to the only person that he knew could afford it and the losses it had taken: Joshua Phipps. Before he completed the sale, however, Ross made one decision that was a harbinger of the hell to come. He freed as many of his slaves as he could before transferring ownership to Phipps. These freed slaves settled further away from Rotherwood into Hawkins County in a place named Zion Hill. Among those that were freed were the ancestors of the future singer and actress, Diana Ross, whose family had taken the Ross family name as their own because Ross himself was a kind man. Ross had freed the slaves because he knew what was coming, the storm that was incarnate in a man named Joshua Phipps. Ross left his once happy manor and grounds and the remaining slaves he could not free in the hands of Phipps and left by carriage to his fate. He would die years later as a broken man.

Phipps, on the other hand, would have a short but unforgettable tenure as lord and master of Rotherwood plantation.

Even before his death, Phipps was known in his day for his malice, his cruelty and his irritable nature. The only thing that held him in check as overseer of the slaves and grounds was the hand of his employer, Ross. Now that Ross was out of the picture, Phipps had total control of the manor and the slaves and it is not hyperbole to say that hell was unleashed the day he took control.

Rotherwood began to change; slave cells were added inside the basement with dirt walls, dirt floors and no windows with only one opening. The “field slaves” were forced to huddle into the small room at night. Iron bars were set into the one opening with no glass or protection from the elements. On the third floor, a whipping post was built into the walls.

Virgealia “Jill” Ellis of Kingsport spoke to the Douglass Alumni Blog about her experiences working at the plantation as a child and the treatment her family had experienced while under Phipps’ cruel hand.

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(Virgealia “Mama Jill” Ellis)

I grew up on the 2,500 or so more acres of Rotherwood land. My mother, Inez Looney was the cook and my father, James Looney, was the chauffeur, the butler and the mansion maitre’d. As a child, I had to go into this area [the slave cells] almost every day because the food mother canned was stored in the basement and the laundry facility was also in this area. The stench was embedded in the ground—the darkness and the dampness was sometimes overpowering. One could imagine hearing the moaning, the wailing, the crying of the slaves, their misery and despair. If a slave was maimed, he was shot like an animal because he was of no more use. In the front room of the third floor facing the river, was the whipping post. Slaves were shackled to the post to be whipped. The blood stains are still embedded into the wood floors of that room…during days of heavy moisture, the wood would expand and the blood stains would show up again…” (Douglass Riverview News and Current Events, 2016).

Phipps built the post into the house because he enjoyed hearing his slaves scream. In fact, he was known to be so vicious with them, to beat them so furiously, that neighboring plantations and landowners reported hearing the screams of the slaves echoing off of the mountains as Phipps would torture them. Astoundingly, Phipps was not alone in his evil. He had a mistress on the side (his wife knew about it and was too scared and powerless to stop him) who was a slave herself, a half black woman who was reported to be as cruel to her fellow slaves if not crueler than Phipps himself was.

His evil did not stop at the slaves and his treatment of them. Phipps was just as cruel with his own family and had a strange request about his death. As recounted by a former slave in October of 1975, a woman named Aunt Vic Phipps told Edward Stewart in article about Rotherwood just how far his evil went. Aunt Vic was a slave before the Civil War and she told Stewart about hiding in the reeds and ditches so when slave traders would come, she would not be sold away from her mother. Aunt Vic told Stewart that Phipps was often overheard stating that when he died, he wanted to be buried standing up on the top of the hill at Rotherwood, so he could always be looking down into the bottoms and see the slaves working. (Kingsport Times, 1975).

Aunt Vic Phipps #2

(Aunt Vic Phipps).

Phipps had a daughter, Pricilla, who had fallen in love with a young man, a farm hand. The Civil War had struck and her young suitor was called off to battle. Phipps hated the young man and had him murdered in action, telling his daughter what he did and why he did it. Pricilla herself died from depression and grief at the age of twenty, a widow. There was a short battle on the grounds of Rotherwood during the war but as fate would have it, there was one last nightmarish tragedy set to unfold on the grounds, one that would leave its scars, physically and echoes of terror for years to come.

In the summer of 1861, Phipps himself fell ill. The doctors could not explain his condition. He was feverish, almost delusional. Afraid of contagion, the cruel man now debilitated by sickness, was moved out and quarantined into the carriage house. A young slave boy was assigned to keep watch over him and to fan him to keep him cool. For days, Phipps lingered, half awake in fever with labored breathing until finally, death came for Phipps in a way that only a man of his nature could deserve. In fact, no one has an explanation for his death or the circumstances in which it occurred. Can a man be so evil that death itself manifests directly and comes to take him from this world? Maybe.

One sweltering afternoon, the slave boy was fanning Phipps as he was assigned when suddenly Phipps for the first time in days snapped fully awake. His eyes roving wildly in their sockets seem to fixate on a point high in the air above and behind the young boy. Turning to see what his master saw the boy himself let out a blood curdling scream of absolute horror.

A sickly buzzing cloud had begun to form in mid-air, wriggling and swarming and it took the boy all of two seconds to realize what it was: hundreds of flies.

The cloud of flies got thicker and thicker until finally the entire cloud itself descended onto Phipps, covering his face, crawling and running all over his his forehead, their tiny hairy legs poking into his open eyes, as they rammed themselves up his nostrils, into his ears and finally down his open screaming mouth. The swarm was so thick that Phipps finally started to suffocate, choking to death on the living buzzing flies. Unrelenting, the flies kept coming as the young boy, scared out of his mind, watched his master quickly go into spasms as his tormentor and owner’s lungs filled with the insects as Phipps finally died with a buzzing death rattle.

Finally regaining his senses, the boy bolted off to the house to get help. When he returned with family and the doctor, Phipps lay dead, his eyes staring up, his mouth slack and frozen on his face was a look of terror.

There wasn’t a fly in sight. They had vanished as though they had never existed at all.

His death was something out of the books of hell but Joshua Phipps was not to be gotten rid of so easily. His funeral, even today, is something of legend around locals who’s great-great grandparents were there and who passed the story down to their descendants. One such descendant, folklorist and historian Dr. Nancy Acuff, personally confirmed that what is about to be typed was true, as told to her from the first person account of her great great grandfather who was present at the event and told her father and then to her.

The funeral of the most hated man in Kingsport was more of a social event of the summer than the somber occasion it should have been, though I do have to wonder just how upset Phipps’s wife and remaining family were, but that’s neither here or there.

The funeral casket was to be pulled by two large horses, up and around to the cemetery plots on the grounds. During the funeral, it seemed that a storm was coming the wind picking up the skirts and clothing of those around and making the black covering on the casket move ever so slightly, just enough to make one wonder if the man himself were really dead.

As the procession up the hill began, the two horses began to struggle, digging deep furrows into the earth, as though the simple cart and casket were too heavy for them to budge. Unable to move the casket, two more horses were attached and slowly, the hearse began to move again, each horse straining to make the wheels turn with its unnatural weight. Overhead the sky began to grow from a promise of rain into a churning sky as thunder began to snarl. Just before they reached the cemetery, a bolt of lightning snapped down out of the black clouds, cutting a tree in two, knocking the trunk violently across the path, blocking the road. The onlookers were worried and began to mutter about evil and God as the pallbearers simply picked up the casket and carried it to the open grave side where the pastor stood waiting to lay the man inside to rest.

As the pastor began to give Phipps his final words, the river below the gathering began to bubble and churn, as if it were boiling, the currents moving so fast the water itself was muddy. The thunder above grew worse and a movement drew the eyes of the crowd.

The casket, under its dark cloth, was moving.

It was vibrating, as though something inside wanted out, badly. They heard the scrabbling of what sounded like claws against wood and with a roar, a gigantic black dog blasted out of the casket, bolting out from under the black cloth as the attendants screamed in terror. The dog snarled at them with its gleaming eyes before bolting off across the grounds and vanishing into the woods.

The casket itself was unharmed. It seemed to be an impossibility. Shaken and now thoroughly scared, the onlookers rushed the pastor who himself was shaken ashen white. Finishing the rites, Phipps’s coffin was hastily buried and as the onlookers moved to go back down the hill, the first drops of ice cold rain began to fall. There was another sound, some would swear to later to their children and neighbors, a sound that mingled with the thunder: the sound of laughter and they said the voice belonged to Joshua Phipps.

Two weeks later, Rotherwood was still moving on, though without one of its cruelest taskmasters, it was somewhat quieter. The remaining family began to whisper of things moving in the shadows of the house, of hearing animal feet running through the hallways and most horrifying of all, that the laughter and sound of Joshua Phipps stalking his way around the home as he would appear at night at the foot of the bed and yank the bed clothes off, keeping anyone from sleeping. But it wasn’t only the family that had these troubles. The slaves were coming in droves to the point of a riot to claim that the ghost of Joshua Phipps had risen from the grave along with a giant black dog to torment them every night. Fed up with such reports, the new overseers and the family to calm their own fears agreed that Phipps’s grave would be dug up to prove once and for all that the man was truly dead.

Opening the grave turned out to offer more mysteries and terror than anyone imagined. The coffin was still there and once opened, it was empty, all but a few large black animal hairs. Stunned, no one knew what had become of his body as the dirt on the grave had not been disturbed. Not longer after, violence struck Rotherwood again as the slaves, unable to bear the torment from their unseen attackers, revolted, destroying Phipps’s headstone, desecrating his grave and finally, at last, killing their last torturer, Phipps’s equally cruel mistress, the mulatto woman. They beat her to death and what happened to her body is unknown.

Rotherwood itself was purchased by the US government in 1940, and Mrs. Ellis and her family moved away to North Carolina. Years later, Mrs. Ellis would resettle in Kingsport and share her story. But it wasn’t the end of Rotherwood. Passing through several owners, the current owner is a prominent OBGYN at the local medical campus. She began to renovate and restore the home to its former glory. She has fully succeeded in her goal, turning her home into a stunning memorial to the past as well as once again giving Rotherwood an inhabitant to call it home. Even in modern times, however, Rotherwood still holds darkness in its heart.

During the renovations, the owner and her friend were both at the house as workmen were working on plumbing and wiring in the basement, where the former slave cells were located. One of the workman claimed that his partner suddenly looked up from his work and froze in place, his skin going white and his eyes widening like a deer in headlights. Without preamble, his partner began to scream and run, fleeing up the stairs as if he was running for his life. Astounded, the owner, her friend and the workman watched as the man leaped into the work van, spun gravel out and fled, leaving his tools, and his partner and a stunned owner behind.

Later, the man was calm enough to tell everyone what had happened. He said he had been working and he had looked up when he felt someone staring at him. When he did, he saw a man materialize out of the wall, dressed in a dark suit. Next to him was a gigantic black dog with glowing red eyes, its mouth open, fangs exposed, snarling deep in its throat. The man had looked him, and grinned a sadistic smile and pointed at him. Instantly the dog had leapt for his throat and that’s why he ran, because the dog that no one else could see was chasing him down like a rabbit. He said the dog followed him up out of the basement, to the van and even a little bit down the road before vanishing into thin air. The workman said he would never set a foot on the property again and he never did.


This hound of hell and the apparitions of not only Joshua Phipps, but also that of Rowena Ross, Pricilla and the spirits of slaves murdered on the grounds are said to wander the property. Most of them are harmless, save Phipps and his hound of hell. During thunderstorms, one can hear the hound baying, almost screaming and Phipps is there, unseen, laughing his cruel laugh.

Rotherwood, once a beautiful and happy home was left to die in darkness only to be reborn as a home again, but this time, scarred for what it had breathed in over the years it had been used as both a refuge and a hellish nightmare come to life. What it breathed out was worse than any ghost but rather a monster that still makes local people uneasy about it and the Phipps surname.

There is one last anecdote that I was told by Dr. Acuff years ago when we investigated another local haunted place called Sensabaugh Tunnel (mentioned on this blog). We were standing outside of a river culvert tunnel, often called the Minor Tunnel by local enthusiasts. Sensabaugh Tunnel itself is not haunted and has no connection to Rotherwood but the minor tunnel or rather the land it was built on does and the connection is one drawn in blood.

Back when Rotherwood was still a working plantation, there was a movement locally to help escaped slaves get to Canada as part of the Underground Railroad. Escaped slaves would move under the cover of night and make their way down what is now Big Elm Road, right next to the Holston River. They would hide in the natural enclosed valley that is where the minor tunnel would later be built and wait on a ferryman to come and take them across the river so they could continue their journey to freedom.

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One evening, a slave and his wife and three children had escaped a local plantation and had nearly made it to the hiding spot when the slave owner who had discovered them missing finally cornered them on horseback. Despite pleading for their lives, the slave owner brutally murdered them all, shooting the husband and wife plus her two other children. The youngest child was a baby and it lay screaming, covered in blood in its mother’s arms, the bullet having missed it barely. The slave owner coldly picked up the child and slung it over and over into the rocks lining the valley, smashing its brains out and tossing its body aside.

Many in Kingsport know the story or at least the rumors. They know that something bad happened there but Dr. Acuff told me the full story with the understanding that I never reveal the slave owner’s name because his family still lives in the area and are deeply embarrassed about what their ancestor did. I know this man’s identity and I feel justice was eventually served but his connection to Rotherwood will never be undone, nor will his deeds.

I drive past Rotherwood once in a while. I see it sitting on top of that hill, its windows looking out on the river down below. I know the secrets inside of its walls and now, dear reader, so do you, for better or worse. We should be always be mindful of what we put into a house or anywhere really. They breathe. They exhale. They see. They wait. Sometimes what they breathe out or give birth to after we are gone, isn’t what we put into them but rather a twisted mutation, an aberration, an abomination of our own warped natures that will echo forever within the halls of the damned.


– Anthony Justus, March 3, 2016.

Posted in Mythology and Folklore | 5 Comments

Mountain of Death: The Dyatlov Pass Incident

Dyatlov Pass incident


On the night of February 2, 1959, nine experienced hikers cut open their own tent and fled for their lives, blindly, into a blizzard, half-dressed deep in the Ural Mountains. All nine of the hikers would never leave the mountain alive and their deaths have left an undeniable mark upon in the annuals of Russian history and remain to this day unexplained. What happened that night in February? No one knows and the official cause of death is even more mysterious: “a compelling unknown force.”

These horrific events, lodged so deeply into the paranormal, have a name. The Dyatlov Pass Incident. The hiking trip started innocently enough as a group from the Ural Polytechnic Institute (now known as the Ural State Technical University) and was composed of experienced members of the school’s tourism club. The group was headed by Igor Dyatlov, a 23 year-old who was held in high regard for his knowledge with cross-country skiing and mountain climbing. The group’s goal was to hike ten kilometers north of what would later become known as Dyatlov Pass to a mountain called Otorten. The route itself and specifically the season that they had chosen to make the trip in, made the climb to be labeled as a “Category III”, which is the most difficult. None of the members of the group was new and all had extensive experience.
The other members of the group included Yuri Yudin, Gregory Krivonischenko, 24, Yury Doroshenko, 24, Zina Kolmogorova, 22, Rustem Slobodin, 23, Nicholas Thisbeaux-Brignollel, 24, Ludmila Dubinina, 21, Alexander Kolevatov, 25 and lastly, Alexander Zolotaryov, 37. All of the group’s members were students at the university with the exception of Zolotaryov. Rumors were abounding that Zolotaryov was an odd figure, that Dyatlov was hesitant to take with the group but despite the rumors, based on high suggestions from his friends based upon Zolotaryov’s experience, Dyatlov agreed. On January 23, the ten-member group left on what was intended to be a three-week cross-country trek.

Traveling by train to Ivdel, they arrived on January 25 and moved on by truck to Vizhai, the last inhabited settlement before the ice and snow covered mountains forced civilization far behind. On January 27, they began their trip but on the 28th, Yuri Yudin became sick and had to turn back, leaving his friends to continue on the journey without him. Dyatlov told Yudin that the group would probably be back a few days later than planned. It was the last time Yudin would ever see his friends alive again.

What happened next can only be based on extensive reconstruction of events based on journal entries, photographs from the hiker’s cameras and the results of an extensive investigation spanning months. For the next four days, the group skied across frozen lakes and uninhabited areas following ancient trails of the local Mansi tribe. The Mansi are the indigenous people that called the Ural Mountains and the surrounding area home. The Mansi had several legends about the destination of the hiking group, which were more than evidence in how the name translated from the Mansi into English.

The name of the mountain for which the group was headed, Otorten, literally translated as “don’t go there.” From January 31 to February first, the hike went without incident and for some reason, most likely believed to be weather, the team found itself on the eastern shoulder at a height of just below 3,600 feet of the mountain named Kholat Syakhl, which was chillingly enough translated as “ Mountain of the Dead.” They camped at this site at around five in the afternoon. They would never see the next morning. The last diary entries illustrated that the hikers were in great moods, having a great time and even made their own mock newspaper.

The plan had been to return to Vizhai by February 12 and from there, Dyatlov would send a telegram to the university’s sport’s club letting them know they had arrived back safely. When the message never arrived, no one worried. After all, they had been warned that a delay was to be expected. It was not until February 20 that the families of the hikers called for action and the university sent out a search and rescue party made up of teachers, students, the police and the army. Helicopters and planes were also dispatched. Five days later, the camp was found. According to Mikhail Sharavin, a searcher, “…We discovered that the tent was half torn down and covered with snow. It was empty and all the groups’ belongings and shoes had been left behind.” Even more strangely, the tent had been violently slashed open, from the inside, as if the group were trying to escape and could not be bothered to untie the tent loops.

Dyatlov Pass incident
Footprints were discovered in the three-foot deep snow, left by people in sock feet, valenki (soft felt boots), a single shoe and even footprints that were totally barefoot. The temperatures had been around -25 to -30 degrees below zero Celsius. There was no evidence of a struggle, no sign of anyone else but the hikers themselves. The tracks led down a hill toward the forest and disappeared totally after about 550 yards. One and a half kilometers from the destroyed tent, the first two bodies were found, those of Gregory Krivonischenko and Yury Doroshenko.

Both were barefoot and dressed only in underclothes. They were found at the edge of the woods under a tree, their hands badly burned and the charred remains of a fire nearby. Branches on the tree were broken up to sixteen feet up, suggesting that one of them had climbed the tree to get a vantage point. One thousand feet beyond their remains was the body of Dyatlov, on his back, with his face looking in the direction of the camp with one hand clutching a branch. 180 meters towards the tent, Rusteem Slobodin was discovered and 150 meters from him lay Zina Kolmogorova. Both looked as if they had been desperately crawling for the tent and died in the attempt. All five of them had died of sudden and rapid hypothermia.

Only Slobodin had any injuries other than freezing to death, which was a fractured skull, although medically, he would not have died from his wound.

Two months later, the remaining skiers were found. The bodies were found buried under thirteen feet of snow in ravine, 250 feet away from the tree where their friends had been found. Nicholas Thibeaux, Ludimila Dubinina, Alex Kolevatov and Alex Zolotaryov had not died from hypothermia. They had died from massive injuries that to this day remain unexplained. Thibeaux’s skull had been utterly crushed and both Dubuninia and Zolotaryov had numerous broken ribs but neither showed any external wounds of any kind. Despite many unanswered questions, the investigation was closed by the end of the month and the case files locked in a secret archive. Skiers and other hikers were barred from the area for the next three years without explanation. Numerous theories abound as to what may have happened to the hikers.

Some blamed the Mansi tribes but the Mansi tribes had good relations with the Russians and do not approach Kholat-Syakhyl in winter. There was also no evidence to suggest that anyone was present except the nine hikers and this theory was soon discarded as well as all theories of external human intervention as there was simply no evidence to suggest that anyone was present at the site but the students themselves. After the classification was lifted on the files in the 1990s, Dr. Boris Vozrozhdenny, who was the doctor who examined the bodies, states that he believes no man could have inflicted the injuries because the force of the flow was so extreme that it was equal to a car crash at sixty miles per hour full on and yet no soft tissue had been damaged. Other theories suggest that perhaps the group had been attacked by a Yeti and that the damage to the bodies was caused by a Yeti squeezing the people to death. There was no evidence that this was the case as again, there were no tracks or other evidence of anyone but the students themselves.

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With the lift on the classification of the files, other mysterious details of the deaths finally became public. Medical tests on the bodies had shown very high levels of radiation on the bodies and the clothes of the victims, as if they had been handling radioactive material or had been in a fall out zone for a prolonged period. Chief investigator Lev Ivanov described that he took a Geiger counter with him as he approached the site and the device began to sound an alarm rapidly. Ivanov also revealed that he had been ordered by senior officials in the government to close the case and classify the findings because of reports by eyewitnesses on neighboring mountains , including the weather service and the military that “bright flying spheres” had been seen in the area of Kholat Syakhl that night. Ivanov later commented that he felt that the spheres were connected, if not directly responsible, for the deaths of the hikers.

The files contained testimony from another group of hikers who had been camping about 30 miles south of the camp who reported the strange balls of light, described as “balls of fire”, floating in the direction of Kholat Syakhl on the night the students died. Other reports tell about a shining circular body flying south west and north-east that was practically the size of the full moon, described as a blue-white light surrounded by a blue halo. The halo brightly flashed like flashes of lightning and when the disk disappeared behind the horizon, the sky in that area lit up for a few minutes before fading away. Ivanov suspects that these spheres might have been seen by the students who woke the others and they had ran away in fright, trying to escape the UFO, which then exploded, causing the injuries reported.

Other theories suggest that the students had stumbled upon a secret military testing ground and in fact, later strange metal fragments were found with no discernable source. At the funerals of the victims, the first five were found to have a deep brown tan, while other family members remember that the bodies had a strange orange coloration to their skin and that their hair had turned totally grey, as if prematurely aged and Dubinina’s tongue was missing. Skeptics of the UFO and military cover-up/Yeti theories state that a simple avalanche caused the destruction of the camp and the deaths of the students. They say that the campers left the camp on foot and went more than a thousand yards in -30 degree Celsius weather, barefoot and barely clothed.

Thibeaux would have been unconscious due to his crushed skull but his friends, they state could have carried him as investigators could not determine whether there were eight or nine pairs of tracks in the snow. Dubinina and Zolotaryov could have probably walked with their broken ribs but Dubinina’s injuries were much more serious as one of her broken ribs had pierced her heart, causing her to bleed to death internally, leaving her only about ten to twenty minutes to live, meaning she would have died long before reaching the forest. The question that the skeptics cannot answer is how two of her male companions froze to death via hypothermia before she died? The official cause of death was “ a compelling unknown force.” What natural phenomenon can crush ribs and skulls, without damaging the external body?

What natural force coats bodies in high levels of lethal radiation and burns their skin orange-brown? What can prematurely age a person over night and cut out a person’s tongue? What drove nine experienced hikers to flee for their lives into the night of bone numbing temperatures by cutting open their own tent from the inside with no signs of an avalanche or attackers? Ever since the case files were opened in the 1990s, researchers have continued to try to solve the mystery.

In 2000, a regional broadcast company made a documentary film about the event and in 2011, the History Channel aired a special on their series Ancient Aliens about the event in an episode titled “Evil Places”. The Dyatlov Foundation, founded by Dyatlov’s friend Yuri Kuntsevich to honor the dead and continue the search for answers is located in Yekaterinburg.

In 2008, six members of the original search party and thirty one independent experts held a conference organized by Ural State Technical University and officially came to the conclusion that the Russian military was responsible for the deaths yet lacked documentation. “ If I had a chance to ask God just one question, it would be ‘What really happened to my friends that night?’” said Yuri Yudin, the only survivor and merely a survivor thanks to a stroke of ironic luck. Yuri is still waiting for answers and so is the world, about what happened that night in the mysterious Kholat Syakhl, now named Dyatlov Pass. Strangely, the Mansi have a legend about nine tribe members who once sought shelter during a flood in the same area that the hikers had died in. The tribe’s members too died under violent and mysterious conditions and it is from this incident that the mountain has gotten its name.

The Mountain of the Dead holds her secrets well… ….and probably always will.

— Anthony Justus, February 12, 2016.

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A Status Update: My brush with death.

I would like to apologize to my readers and followers. Recently, I fell ill with what I thought was a particularly nasty kidney or bladder infection and was treating it as such until one night I got so bad off with fever that my partner forced me to go to the emergency room (I dislike hospitals).

When we got there, I found out that I did not in fact have a bladder or kidney infection; what I had was actually acute perforated appendicitis and my gallbladder was also infected. Within hours, I was in emergency open surgery to remove both my gallbladder and my burst appendix as well as to clean out my abdomen.

My very skilled surgeon, Dr. Thomas, explained that my appendix had probably ruptured three days prior to my ER trip and was spewing highly dangerous staph and strep bacteria into my blood and body. He also made it clear that if I had not gotten to the ER when I did, that I would not have lived to see the end of the next day. I was hospitalized for well over two weeks and am now home recovering with a set of fresh new scars and sans two organs.

I will be blogging again about the paranormal and my experiences and definitely look forward to more Beyond the Forest Radio shows and adventures in the strange and unusual with Sanjay.

Thank you for your understanding.

— Anthony Justus.

Posted in Personal Writing | 2 Comments