“…There should be no-one who is a beggar in my land. Instead everyone should be rich.” -Vlad the Impaler
For my favorite holiday of the year, I offer inspiration from one of the more nefarious rulers of all time. Though many know him as Vlad the Impaler, he is of course best known as Dracula.
Born in late 1431, Vlad Tepes was ruler of Wallachia, Romania. Born into nobility, Vlad Dracula should have immediately taken power when his father died, however his father Vlad II had been deposed and murdered, and the throne assumed by his murderers, the boyars. With the help of Turkish cavalry, Tepes was eventually able to assume his rightful place.
Although Vlad Tepes was, by name and banner a Christian ruler, his reputation for cruelty does not speak to that effect. Whenever Tepes met with those he found disagreeable, whether they were peasants, soldiers or foreign dignitaries, they would often be flayed, burned or impaled. Impaling his victims was thought to be his preferred method of punishment, because it resulted in such an extended and agonizing death. The preference earned him the nickname of The Impaler.
As a bit of context for todays quote, Tepes believed that the inhabitants of his kingdom should be wealthy, and in order to insure that this was the case he once invited those that were poor throughout the land to a large banquet. When asked if the guests wished to be forever free of suffering, they of course agreed. Tepes was then said to have sealed the hall and set it on fire, killing everyone inside. Thereby, he maintained a wealthy land.
While Vlad the Impaler was rumored to have consumed the blood and flesh of his victims on occasion, this is not as well-documented as some of his other exploits. It is possible that this was either partially based on fact, or a rumor started by Vlad himself in order to further instill terror into his enemies and subjects. This reputation for consuming flesh and blood of his victims was the inspiration for many vampire legends, and the most notable novel Dracula by Bram Stoker.
The Tepes line is thought to have died out in the 1500′s, however recently Prince Charles of Great Britain has claimed some potential distant relation to Tepes’ Romanian lineage. The exact nature of this lineage remains to be seen.
Today’s post is dedicated to USAF Staff Sergeant Kevin Stanton, who is currently serving his second tour in Afghanistan, and could not be home for his favorite holiday. Happy Halloween!
Quote source: The Story of Dracula. Russian manuscript translation dated 1490 ACE
Factual Sources: The Story of Dracula. Russian manuscript translation dated 1490 ACE
Vlad The Impaler Biography: VladtheImpaler.com
CBS News: Vlad the Impaler: How is Prince Charles, Queen Elizabeth related to him?
“Countless millions who have walked this earth before us have gone through this, so this is just an experience we all share” -Ted Bundy
A predator may take many forms, but the most dangerous are those who do not immediately instill fear in those around them, but whose pleasant appearance and mannerisms initially suggest a trustworthy demeanor. Ted Bundy was able to use these to his advantage, and allowed him to evade capture or suspicion for a number of years.
Ted Bundy, born Theodore Crowell on November 24, 1946, was the son of Louise Crowell and an Air Force soldier whom Ted never met. Due to the social implications of bearing a child out of wedlock in post-war America, Louise returned to her parent’s home after Ted’s birth, where he was raised as her brother rather than her son.
After high school, Bundy attended the University of Tacoma, where he met Stephanie Brooks. A highly motivated woman, she was less than pleased with Bundy’s future potential, so she ended their relationship in 1968, shortly after her graduation. Another devastating blow to Bundy’s psyche from an important female figure in his life came in 1969 when he learned that his “sister” was in fact his mother, though he had already assumed her married surname in 1951.
Bundy managed to reconnect with Stephanie Brooks in 1973, and after taking a great deal of care to re-cultivate her infatuation, he grew cold toward her and left without explanation. Brooks was confused and hurt by this, however Bundy fortunately never dealt her any physical harm.
It is unclear at exactly what point Ted Bundy began to outwardly express his aggression, however in early 1974, women who closely fit the description of Stephanie Brooks began disappearing or turning up dead. From Washington, to Utah and Colorado, and finally to Florida, Bundy began raping and murdering beautiful women with a slim build and brown hair parted down the center. Generally, he would assume a guise of authority, or feign an injury to gain the trust of his victims, and then assault them in a more secluded location. In some of his more heinous attacks, such as the Chi Omega Murders on January 15, 1978, he attacked and brutalized victims while they slept.
It was the murder of Bundy’s youngest victim, twelve year-old Kimberly Leach, that eventually earned him a death sentence, after murdering at least 20 women, and possibly upwards of 30. The exact number of his victims is not known.
As a testament to the influence of appearance and demeanor on the public, Bundy maintained a fan-base (comprised mostly of women) from death row. In a rather shocking twist for all of those involved, Bundy even used a little-known legal loophole to wed witness for the defense, Carol Ann Boone in the middle of courtroom proceedings. He performed this legal stunt on February 9th, 1980, two years to the day after the murder of Kimberly Leach.
Despite his ability to sway people to his favor, the malice that underlay his pleasant face showed through, and Bundy was put to death by electric chair on January 24, 1989. Bundy’s case has since been used in many studies of criminal psychology, and has been the subject of several books by witnesses and legal officials involved in the case.
Fatal Addiction: Ted Bundy’s Final Interview
TruTV: Most Notorious- Ted Bundy
Deseret News: Ted Bundy Timeline
Discovery.com: Ted Bundy Timeline
Stephen G. Michaud, Hugh Aynesworth: The Only Living Witness
Hey everyone! We had a couple of minor setbacks, and had to move hosting companies for some unfortunate reasons. (Don’t worry. We didn’t get sued or shut down!) In the process, we are rebuilding the website thanks to Google Cache, and we should be back and better than ever, with all the same content, and plenty of new as well.
“I’m not insane, I’m just queer.” -Albert Fish
“Walk in the light and the light will grow within you.”- Warren Jeffs
Warren Jeffs, leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints, is fast becoming synonymous with religious corruption. The church’s main contingent resides in several small communities near the Arizona/Utah border, where they maintain a largely self-contained existence. Jeffs, who is regarded as their prophet, took over leadership of the church after his father Rulon died in 2002.
Within the FLDS community, polygamy is considered a sacred practice. Women within the faith must seal themselves to a husband in order to obtain exaltation, and a heavenly reward. Jeffs himself claims 78 wives.
While the practice of polygamy itself is often frowned upon in American culture, it was the age of several of his wives that brought Warren Jeffs nationwide attention, and helped land him on the FBI’s Most-Wanted list. Of his 78 wives, 24 were found to be under the age of seventeen when they entered into plural marriage. DNA evidence has proven that Jeffs fathered children with girls as young as 15.
Along with the assignment of his own wives, it is Jeff’s duty and right to assign or re-assign wives to other church elders, according to the FLDS. Along with charges of sexual assault, he has also been charged with conspiracy to commit sexual assault, after assigning other underage wives to church elders.
On August 9, 2011, Jeffs was sentenced to life in prison plus 20 years for the sexual assault of a 15 and 12 year old girl. According to evidence presented at the trial, several wives assisted in his assault of the 12 year old girl by holding her down, although they have yet to be charged.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints claims no affiliation with the FLDS or Warren Jeffs, and has had an official ban on polygamy, with threat of excommunication, since 1890.
Quote Source: The Daily: Inside the Polygamy Lair (Note: Some of the audio contained here may be disturbing to listeners)
Factual Sources: Mormon Fundamentalism: Is Plural Marriage Required for Exaltation?
The Deseret News: Warren Jeffs Timeline
The Daily Mail: Warren Jeffs sentenced to life plus 20 years in prison as picture emerges of 50 brides, bred to worship the polygamous ‘prophet’
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints: Use of the Word Mormon in News Reports
“With Heaven’s aid I have conquered for you a huge empire. But my life was too short to achieve the conquest of the world. That task is left for you” – Genghis Khan
As one of the most successful conquerors of all time, Genghis Khan’s mark on the world may still be clearly seen today. Born Temujin in the mid 1100′s to the Borjigin tribe, he inherited leadership at the age of 9 when his father was killed by a rival clan. When he attempted to claim his birthright, he and his family were ejected by clan elders.
After escaping another rival tribe which had briefly held him captive, Temujin began building sympathetic forces. When his numbers had reached the tens of thousands, he went tribe by tribe, first conquering those which had wronged him, decimating their populations and plundering their resources. He was given the name Genghis Khan when the surviving tribal leaders agreed to unification, and declared him their “universal leader.”
The outcome of this bloody systematic takeover was a more unified Mongol empire than has existed before or since. Khan and his successors implemented postal systems for better communication between tribes over a long area which were very similar to the more modern Pony Express of the American Southwest. These routes were also used for trade, which further facilitated the gain of the empire.
Aside from the political influence that Khan’s empire has had on modern civilization, his conquests have taken a biological toll as well. While Khan had only one wife, he took several hundred concubines, each of which were thought to have borne him children. Many of these concubines were acquired while sacking local tribes. According to recent genetic research, a chromosome related to his direct line is found in approximately 8% of males living in the area of the old Mongol empire, and in .5% of the male population of the world at large.
Quote Source: History of the Mongol Empire: Quotes
Factual Sources: Biography.Com: Genghis Khan
UC Berkeley Office of Resources for International and Area Studies: The Life and Legacy of Chingis Khan
National Geographic: Genghis Khan a Prolific Lover, DNA Data Impies
“Falsehood is invariably the child of fear in one form or another.” – Aleister Crowley
I feel it is only right that I preface this by saying that Aleister Crowley does not fit my standard profile of a terrible person. He was neither convicted of a violent crime, nor was he a con-artist in the classical sense. However, this does not eliminate him from the running. The effect he had on society was not inherently negative, but one would be hard-pressed to assemble a list of the notoriously terrible people throughout history without naming Aleister Crowley. Some have called Crowley “The Wickedest Man in the World,” while others have called him Master. He is, for good or ill, one of the most influential iconoclasts of the 19th and 20th centuries.
Although this quote in particular easily lends itself to the concepts of critical thinking and skepticism, Crowley himself embodied the practices of mysticism and the occult that we are most familiar with today. Born Edward Crowley to a wealthy Victorian family in 1875, he changed his name to Aleister shortly after his time at Malvern and Trinity College as his interest in the mystical began to take shape. Soon, he formed the Order of Thelema, making him the first Englishman to formally organize his own religion.
Guided by his primary tenet, “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law”, Crowley engaged in every kind of misanthropy which was taboo in his time. His open bisexuality and promiscuity, extensive drug use and dedication to the occult afforded him a demonic reputation in English society which he highly encouraged. Although he was an adept writer, chess player, poet, and scholar, his works and writings were often destroyed or censored in an effort to quell his rising support.
His introduction of eastern philosophies and Egyptian mythos to western culture have largely shaped the New Age movement, and paganism as it is practiced today.
Quote Submission: Erin G
Quote Source: The Confessions of Aleister Crowley (1989)
Factual Sources: US Grand Lodge, Ordo Templi Orientis
The Ross Institute Internet Archives for the Study of Destructive Cults, Controversial Groups and Movements
Hermetic.com: The Master Therion
The Book of the Law, Aleister Crowley (1904)
“I do my best to live today and be happy. -Chris Benoit”
Canadian professional wrestler Chris Benoit was one of the most celebrated in the business from the early 1990′s to the mid 2000′s. From an early age he had embraced a passion for wrestling, and was already a member of the Calgary-based Stampede brand by the age of 18.
Benoit spent time in most of the popular wrestling organizations of the day, from Stampede To ECW, to WCW and finally to the WWF/E. In the late 2000′s he was considered to be at the peak of his professional achievements.
Wrestling for Benoit was not without its hardships. Over the 22 years he spent in the ring, he had sustained many serious head injuries, and several of his close friends in the industry had passed away in close succession. In 2003 his wife Nancy Benoit filed for divorce from Benoit, saying that he had become increasingly violent toward her and their son Daniel. Nancy withdrew the petition for divorce several months later.
In 2005, Benoit’s best friend Eddie Guerrero passed away due to a heart attack at age 38. According to Nancy, Chris Benoit became increasingly more paranoid after Guerrero’s death.
On June 23, 2007, Benoit changed plans to appear at a WWE Smackdown live event, telling his co-workers that Nancy and Daniel had come down with a case of food poisoning and he was overseeing them at their home in Atlanta. When the WWE had not heard any response from Benoit after two days, management sent the Atlanta Sheriff’s department to the Benoit residence to check on the family.
When Sheriff’s department officials arrived on June 25th, they found Nancy and 7-year old Daniel asphyxiated, with bibles placed carefully next to them, and Benoit hanged from his weight machine. An autopsy of Benoit found that he had incurred serious brain damage over a long period of time, and also found doctor prescribed steroids in his system.
Quote Source: Otto Hack-Man: Pro-wrestling Chris Benoit Interview
Factual Sources: ABC News: Chris Benoit’s Murder, Suicide: Was Brain Damage To Blame?
Fox News: Chris Benoit: Professional Wrestler, Murderer, Suicide
CBC.ca The Fifth Estate: Chris Benoit Chronology
NY Daily News: Chris Benoit Timeline
“The most difficult battle you ever fight is the battle to be unique in a world that will marshal its every force to keep you the same.” – James Arthur Ray
When a spiritual self-help guru is convicted of negligent homicide, this thing writes itself. James Arthur Ray made his fortune on the concept of facilitating wealth and growth within the spiritual self. With appearances on the Oprah Winfrey show, and a cameo in the film version of The Secret, he managed to reach millions of people searching for self-betterment. However, in 2009, his message of reward through pushing the body to its limits resulted in the deaths of 3 people and the injury of 18 who placed their money and their trust with him.
The mountains near Sedona, Arizona act as a gorgeous backdrop for what is currently a sort of mecca for new-age believers. Angel Valley Ranch, booked by Ray for his Spiritual Warrior retreats, is one of many such local event venues.
Ray has has held many spiritual events over the years, each of which cost several thousand dollars a head for attendance. Admission to the Spiritual Warrior retreat was approximately $10,000. For many of his followers, he was known as a guru, a fearless leader who had overcome his own poverty and self-doubt by living exactly what he proscribed. He had harmony. He had wealth, all through spiritual awareness. He claimed to have been trained by obscure mentors all over the globe, including Hawaii, the Andes and the Amazon to acquire his other-worldly knowledge. Upon closer inspection, it became clear that Ray had not even acquired the training or the licenses he claimed to hold, and was using the curricula of other trainers without paying the proper royalties or obtaining permission.
The sweat lodge, as originated by the Lakota tribe, was originally meant to facilitate physical and spiritual purification. Ray, however, manufactured a test of endurance, rather than a sanctuary of purification for his followers. At the end of the 5 day Spiritual Warrior event, Ray put 52 people into a somewhat makeshift sweat lodge of his construction, with an area of 415 square feet. The lodge was insulated by tarps and blankets, and heated rocks were brought into the center of the lodge. Although people began to lose consciousness due to dehydration and heat stroke, Ray pushed his followers to stay through the suffering. According to survivor accounts, he did not make a great effort to check on the well-being of the participants, and the emergency plan was to “help your neighbor” if they needed it, rather than having safety teams standing by. At trial, the prosecution played a recording of Ray which said, “You will have to get to a point to where you surrender and it’s O.K. to die,”
Two people died within the sweat lodge, and one more died at the hospital later that day. 18 others were taken to the hospital for dehydration, burns and possible chemical overexposure. (Ray claimed that the sweat lodge blankets, unbeknownst to him, had been stored with pesticides in the off-season.) Instead of staying to watch the scene, make statements, help his followers or offer apologies, Ray left Sedona for home the same night, supposedly advised to “steer clear” by investigators. His email blasts continued, as did his twitter bots, and his advertisements of his Harmonic Wealth series. He received even more negative press when it was found that instead of offering an apology, he offered around $5000 to the family of Kirby Brown, who died at the scene- half the price she paid to attend.
James Ray was convicted 3 counts of negligent homicide on June 22, 2011. He is currently awaiting sentencing as of the time of this writing.
Edit: It was brought to my attention that I had incorrectly cited the original reasons for sweat lodge ceremonies as a test of the participant’s endurance, rather than purification. This error has been removed as of July 10, 2011, and the sources for my edits are cited below:
Quote Source: JamesRay.com
Edit: Akta Lakota Museum and Cultural Center: Inipi: The Rite of Purificaiton
New York Times: New Age Guru Guilty in Sweat Lodge Deaths
Time Magazine: Negligent Homicide: The Case of the Sweat Lodge Guru
JamesRay.com: Sweat Lodge Accident
AZ Central: Sweat-lodge trial: James Arthur Ray often misused teachings, critics say
Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe Podcast: Guru in Sweat Lodge Deaths Convicted
“…to hate tyranny to love liberty and justice, to strike at wrong and oppression, was the teaching of our fathers. The study of our early history will not let me forget it, And may it never. -John Wilkes Booth”
In honor of Independence Day, we thought it appropriate to select a subject who was notorious for an attack on the United States. Almost anyone who grows up in this country knows how John Wilkes Booth earned his infamy, but the story of his youth and upbringing is less prominent in American history lessons. For this reason I thought it appropriate to delve a bit into some lesser known facts
John Wilkes Booth, the 9th of 10 children, was born on his family’s Maryland farm on May 10, 1838. His father Junius was one of the more affluent and respected actors of the time; a tradition which he passed on to 3 of his sons, including John Wilkes. The younger Booths also excelled at their professions, and their fame was boosted by the notoriety of their already well-known father.
The Booth family kept no slaves on their farm permanently, though they were known to “rent” servants from family friends for set periods of time. Those who entered into servitude at the Booth home were said to have been treated well, and Junius was known at the time for treating all races as equals, and teaching his children to do no harm to their fellows.
John Wilkes Booth however, made no secret of his sympathies to the South, or his staunch support of slavery. By his own admission he believed that the United States “was formed for the white, not the black man”, and that slavery was a God-given right. Much as his namesake, the revolutionary John Wilkes, he was an opponent of the potential great power of Government, and the prevention of the secession of the South caused him a great deal of turmoil. Shortly after the close of the American Civil War, Booth and a group of co-conspirators began to formulate a plot to kidnap President Abraham Lincoln, in an effort to re-kindle the fires of hope for independence still smoldering below the Mason-Dixon line.
After several failed or scrapped plots to abscond with President Lincoln, Booth and his co-conspirators began planning for his murder instead. As great fans of the theatre, Mary Todd and Abraham Lincoln frequented the Ford’s Theater in Washington D.C., where Booth was a regular feature. The group elected to target Lincoln in his private box above the main seating area. Since he was a familiar face, it was logical that Booth should act as the hand to strike against Lincoln. Booth’s presence at the theater would cause no alarm, and he would be given free reign of the facility.
On April 14, 1865, Booth and his sympathizers carried their plan to fruition, leaving Lincoln dead and Booth with a broken leg after a botched jump from the box to the stage. Booth fled from to Virginia on a horse kept waiting for him behind the theater. Badly injured, he resorted to hiding in the barn of the Garret farm after several days.
Booth died on April 26th, after Union soldiers surrounded the barn and set it ablaze. When Booth appeared at the door of the barn, he was shot and mortally wounded. His last words were recorded as “Tell Mother … I died for my country… Useless… Useless”
Today U.S. Highway 301 passes directly through the site of the Garrett farmhouse near Port Royal where John Wilkes Booth met his end. The location is indicated by a historical marker on the southbound lanes.
Happy Independence Day to all our readers!
Quote Source: New York Times: THE MURDER OF MR. LINCOLN Proof that He Meditated His Crime Months Ago His Excuses for the Contemplated Act His Participation in the Execution of John Brown. (April 21, 1865)
Factual Sources: New York Times: THE MURDER OF MR. LINCOLN Proof that He Meditated His Crime Months Ago His Excuses for the Contemplated Act His Participation in the Execution of John Brown. (April 21, 1865)
- American Brutus: John Wilkes Booth and the Lincoln Conspiracies; Kauffman, Michael W. Random House Digital, inc. (2005)
- The Life, Crime and Capture of John Wilkes Booth; Townsend, George Alfred,(1865)
- http://www.notablebiographies.com/Be-Br/Booth-John-Wilkes.html – ixzz1R8MkzvCzNotable Biographies: John Wilkes Booth Biography
“…there is a limit beyond which men cannot be driven, and I am ready to die sooner than sacrifice my honor.” – Nathan Bedford Forrest
If you have been following along with the majority of our posts, it should be apparent that a person is not always the direct perpetrator of the actions that make them terrible. Sometimes it is their influence over others, and the way they use it, that defines them as such.
Nathan Bedford Forrest was a Lieutenant General for the Confederate army during the American Civil War. His brilliance in battlefield tactics and his aggressive determination made him the only soldier on either side of the conflict to enlist as a private and end the war as a General.
The life of Nathan Bedford Forrest is clouded in controversy to this day. He is generally known to have been the first Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan, although verifying membership of a secret society is difficult by nature. According to Forrest, the original intentions of the KKK were simply to act as a “protective political military organization” designed to protect citizens in southern states from northern insurgence and violence. Publicly, Forrest decried the actions of Klan members against other races, and denied all personal involvement with the KKK. He did, however, admit to supporting their ideals.
On April 12, 1864 Forrest and his cavalry laid waste to the Union regiment at Fort Pillow, Tennessee. Most of the casualties at Fort Pillow were black Union soldiers, and many were thought to have been executed after their surrender and capture. Although Forrest later spoke out in favor of equality between races, his wartime actions seem to indicate otherwise.
Nathan Bedford Forrest was well-respected in the south and feared in the north by the end of the war. These qualities made him the ideal candidate for a leadership position in the early Klan. The power of his presence, regardless of his true intentions, added a strength to the KKK which would be used to terrorize black citizens in the south well into the 20th century.
Quote Source: Cincinnati Commercial, August 28, 1868 (also 40th Congress, House of Representatives, Executive Documents No. 1, Report of the Secretary of War, Chapter X, Page 193)
Factual Sources: “Forrest, Nathan Bedford (1821-1877).” American Eras. 1997. Retrieved June 26, 2011 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-2536601366.html
Rickard, J (3 September 2007), Fort Pillow Massacre, 12 April 1864 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_fort_pillow_1864.html