Sunday, August 31, 2008
Katie and Micah were a promising young couple, with a carefree life, until bizarre events began occurring in their new home. Katie was no stranger to paranormal phenomena, as she had been stalked by a malevolent entity since childhood. They purchase a video camera in an attempt to find out what's happening as they sleep at night. Over the course of three weeks in September & October of 2006, they ran nightly surveillance and captured indelible proof on home video, which has been edited into a feature film.
I don't know if this is a "Blair Witch" style hoax to hype the movie but still.... it looks great.
On February 12, 1998, seventeen-year-old Rod Ferrell pled guilty to killing a Eustis, Florida couple with a crowbar. The leader of a teenage vampire cult, Ferrell was allegedly helped in the double slaying by his then-girlfriend, Charity Lynn Keesee, and two other members of the cult.
The victims, Richard Wendorf and Naoma Queen, were the parents of Heather Wendorf, a friend of Ferrell's, and were beaten to death in their home on November 25, 1996.
The road to the murders began some three days earlier, on November 22. Late that night or early in the morning of the 23rd, Ferrell -- along with Keesee and the two cult members, Howard Scott Anderson and Dana Cooper -- left his hometown of Murray, Kentucky to drive down to Eustis.
After the four arrived in Eustis, Ferrell, who had lived there for several years before moving back to Murray to live with his mother, tracked down Wendorf and told another acquaintance, Audrey Presson, that he was in town for unfinished business.
A Disturbing Upbringing
When Ferrell was born on March 28, 1980, his mother, Sondra Gibson was only 17 years old, and his father, Rick Ferrell, was also a teen. The two were married nine days after baby Rod was born, but split up weeks afterwards.
Rick Ferrell filed for a divorce and joined the military, while Sondra kept the child. Her parents also looked after Rod, who claimed Sondra's father -- his grandfather -- raped him when he was 5.
Rod also claimed that as a young child, he was exposed to occult rituals and human sacrifices, and was introduced to the "Dungeons & Dragons" role-playing game.
Sondra Gibson eventually remarried and moved frequently with Rod before leaving him in Murray, Kentucky and moving with her new husband to Michigan. He allegedly told Rod that they were never coming back, and Gibson apparently became so upset that she divorced him and moved back to Murray to be with Rod. (Her second husband also allegedly engaged in satanic rituals.)
Around this time, Rod began to undergo some sort of transformation. He walked in cemeteries at night, cut himself so others could drink his blood, and told people he was a 500-year-old vampire named "Vesago." His school work slipped and he began flagrantly disobeying his schools' policies, skipping class, smoking on campus and generally defying teachers and school officials. He also indulged in playing "Vampire: The Masquerade," a realistic role-playing game in which players act out vampiric scenarios in real-time.
His mother allowed him to stay out all night, use drugs, and skip school, and he frequently spent time with a young man named Stephen Murray, who brought the teenage Ferrell into the vampire world and "crossed him over," turning him into a presumptive vampire and giving him his name.
By the spring of 1996, Rod was also talking long-distance to Heather Wendorf, who apparently told Rod that her parents were hurting her and that she wanted him to come get her, but that he would have to kill them to do so.
In September 1996, Murphy attacked Ferrell, who refused treatment when taken to a local hospital. Murphy was convicted for the attack. Shortly after, Sondra Gibson was charged with soliciting a minor -- Murphy's 14-year-old brother -- whom Gibson wrote love letters, imploring him to "cross her over" and have her as his vampire bride.
On November 25, the day of the murders, Ferrell and his companions were stopped by law enforcement officers and questioned because their vehicle had a flat tire. The flat caused Ferrell to change his plans. He told Wendorf and another friend, Jeanine LeClaire, about this and allegedly discussed with the group a plan to kill Wendorf's parents and take their Ford Explorer to use as a getaway vehicle.
Ferrell and friends arrived near the Wendorf home and met Heather Wendorf down the road from her house. He sent the three young women -- Heather Wendorf, Cooper and Keesee -- to visit Heather's boyfriend and pick up LeClaire. Ferrell and Anderson stayed behind, armed with clubs.
The two young men searched the outside of the Wendorf home, looking for some way to get inside. They entered through an unlocked door to the garage and searched the garage for better weapons. Ferrell finally settled on a crowbar.
Ferrell and Anderson then went inside the house, yanked one phone from the wall, and came upon 49-year-old Richard Wendorf, asleep on the couch. Ferrell beat him several times with the crowbar, fracturing his skull and giving him numerous chest wounds, including fractured ribs.
As Richard Wendorf lay dying, Naoma Queen left a bathroom in the house and entered the kitchen, where she found Ferrell. Ferrell had blood on his clothes and the crowbar in his hands. Queen threw hot coffee on him and fought him, but Ferrell beat her down to the floor and bashed her head with the crowbar several times.
With Heather's parents dead, the two young men searched the house. They took a Discover card from Richard Wendorf's pocket and the keys to the Explorer, which they drove off in.
They soon met the girls, who were returning to the area near the Wendorf home in the Buick Skyhawk they had originally used to drive down from Kentucky. The group then used both vehicles to drive to nearby Sanford, where they dumped the Buick. They switched the license plates, so that the Explorer had the Buick's plates (and the Buick, now left behind, had the plates of the stolen Explorer).
The group of five -- Ferrell, Anderson, Keesee, Cooper and Heather Wendorf -- drove west along Interstate 10 through Tallahassee and towards New Orleans, presumably to meet famed vampire writer Anne Rice. They stopped in Crestview, Florida and bought gas and a knife using Richard Wendorf's stolen Discover card.
One of the five made a call from Baton Rouge to Charity Keesee's family, and soon after, the five were caught. Ferrell was videotaped making two slightly different confessions, and four of the suspects -- the two guys, Dana Cooper and Heather Wendorf -- were charged with murder. Keesee was charged with being an accessory after the fact. A grand jury indicted Ferrell and Anderson on December 17, 1996 but refused to indict Heather Wendorf.
The Trial and Sentencing
The trial against Ferrell began on February 12, 1998. As the state offered its opening arguments, Ferrell pled guilty to the four charges against him: armed burglary, armed robbery, and two counts of first-degree murder. The jury empanelled for his trial was then given the task of determining if Ferrell should be given life in prison or death in Florida's electric chair.
Ferrell's lawyers argued that his young age should be a mitigating factor in his sentence, as well as his emotional age, which a psychiatrist placed at three years of age and his extreme emotional and mental disturbance.
On February 23, the jury voted unanimously to give Ferrell the death sentence. After additional testimony from both sides, Judge Jerry Lockett accepted the jury recommendation four days later and sentenced Ferrell to the electric chair. He is now the youngest person in Florida to sit on death row.
After the sentencing, Judge Lockett also urged prosecutors to charge Heather Wendorf, pointing to unanswered questions about her parents' death and saying, "There is genuine evil in this world." Ferrell's mother, Sondra Gibson, said she felt her son did not deserve the death penalty, but endorsed the judge's suggestion about Wendorf.
"There's one person walking around who's just as guilty as he is," she said.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Postmortem photography, photographing a deceased person, was a common practice in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. These photographs were often the only ones taken of their subjects and much pride and artistry went into them. It is astounding that although postmortem photographs make up the largest group of nineteenth-century American genre photographs, they are largely unseen, and unknown. Today we struggle to avoid the topic of death; as a result we have closed the door on those images, which reflect an American culture in which death and mourning played a visible and active part.
What emerges from these images is a vivid visual history of the changes in American customs. We can see the change in death concepts and funerary practices, from the image of death as a stark Puritan journey for a sinner to the late Victorian beautification of death and its interpretation as a restful sleep for a redeemed soul.
These photographs were a common aspect of American culture, a part of the mourning and memorialization process. Surviving families were proud of these images and hung them in their homes, sent copies to friends and relatives, wore them as lockets or carried them as pocket mirrors. Nineteenth-century Americans knew how to respond to these images. Today there is no culturally normative response to postmortem photographs. Discussions of death in books are prolific, and we are accustomed to images of death as part of our daily news; but actual death, as a part of private lives, has become a shameful and unspoken subject.Excerpted with permission from Sleeping Beauty: Memorial Photography in America by Dr. Stanley B. Burns of The Burns
Friday, August 8, 2008
Misc. and Interesting Facts About Waverly Hills Sanatorium
-Phrenicotomy (Phrenic Nerve Crush)
-The morgue on the first floor was used for autopsies. The majority of the dead were processed through the body chute to the receiving building off the hill.
Kitchen, Bakery, & the Dining Room:
-The kitchen has the capacity and equipment of which can easily take care of 500 people w/ a ventilation system that can completely change the air tempature every 3 minutes.
-The average consumption in one meal was 140 pounds of bacon, 100 dozen eggs, 30 pounds of cottage cheese, 30 gallons of ice cream, 9 gallons of syrup, and 190 pounds of liver. In 1 year, in addition to container milk, 1,147 barrels of bulk milk, 13 tons of sugar, 6 tons of butter, and 52,276 pounds of ground beef.
-The main dining room capacity in which 328 employees and, or patients can be seated at one sitting. The room could be expanded to seat 448 people at once. An average of 2,100 meals served daily.
-The children spend about 4.5 hours a day in school each day.
Here is a link to a newspaper article about Waverly:
Please enjoy this Video that we created from a private tour we took.
Friday, August 1, 2008
Here is our video of the famous Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville, KY...best known to be Colonel Sanders resting place.
Cave Hill Cemetery was chartered by the General assembly of Kentucky on Feb. 5 1848 for the purpose of operating a rural cemetery. The cemetery was dedicated in July of that year, and the transition from Cave Hill Farm into beautiful and historic Cave Hill Cemetery began.
Famous people laid to rest include:
George Rogers Clark, Colonel Sanders, Patty Smith Hill (creator of the song Happy Birthday), George Barry Bingham, Sr.(Courier Journal founder), Carl Theodore Fischer, Sr.(Meat Packing), George Keats (brother to the poet John Keats), Dr. John C. Croghan (proprietor of Mammoth Cave tourist attraction), Jim Porter (the Kentucky Giant), Meriwether Lewis Clark, Jr.( started Churchill Downs and invented the KY Derby), and Huse Baker (our father). Many more famous politicians, educators, and church founders are also resting here.
Please enjoy this short film of this historical place.
I am sister number two, Micki. I was 4 when we moved to this house. What an experience to move to such a big old house. The walls and ceilings seemed to be larger than life to a 4 year old. I have had many experiences that were intense but a lot of just everyday ones that someone that lives in a house for 20 years just would become accustomed to. Here are a few of the freaky events that I have seen and heard.
My room was at the top of the stairs, the first one you come to before entering the main hall to the other bedrooms. Looking out of my room you would see the opening to the stairwell. Anyone coming up the stairs would be heard and I could always see their shadows as they ascended the stairs.
One time in high school, I came home and no one was in the house. I got some food and went to my room to read a Teen Beat magazine. I was laying at the end of my bed and I didn't hear anyone come in the house but it was a huge house. I looked out from my bedroom and heard footsteps very clearly coming up the stairs then I saw a shadow of someone with a hat walking up but never saw anyone come around the corner in front of my room. I called out "Mom, Juni?", but no one answered. I got a little freaked I went through the whole house but no one was there but me.
When I was about 5, my father was still remodeling the house. The stairwell on the top floor had not had the banister affixed to it yet. For some reason about the time we moved into the house I started sleep walking. Now I don't remember this story but my mother has told me about it over and over. She said she woke up to hear me talking and got out of bed. When she walked out of her bedroom, I was standing on the edge of the opening swaying back and forth. She had to jump across the open stairwell to push me to safety.
There have been many times that all of us, sisters and parents alike that have come in the house late at night and heard silverware rattling in the dish rack, or been sleeping and heard dinner parties going on downstairs. How about brushing your hair...laying your brush down and getting a clip for your hair and going to pick the brush back up only to see or find it across the room.
We stayed in this house for many years. My parents sold it when they retired, and I believe it was bought by a single individual. He turned it into an apartment building, a 4 plex I believe. One night one of the residents had an altercation with another resident that ended in him murdering his neighbor and then setting the house on fire. It was bought again and gutted then restored by an engineering firm that now uses it as it's home office. I have some pictures of the inside now but have to find them, as soon as I do I will post them.