In 2004, a creepy ghost video surfaced online. It had been taken with a VHS camcorder in the Smith Building, a former office located at Schatzell and Mesquite streets in downtown Corpus Christi, Texas, by a 20-year-old painter who was part of a renovation crew (the building is now called Retama Vista Apartments). Shot in 2002, the video shows cameraman Mike De La Garza walking through a vacant office suite on the building’s second floor. From his comments, you can gather that someone else has been reporting strange noises, and that De La Garza thinks a female ghost is responsible. “She’s here…it’s cold,” he says as he walks from room to room, searching for her. He comments that doors are closing, apparently of their own volition, and in one of the rooms a light seems to switch off by itself. One of his co-workers, a man named Tom, sits in a hallway hugging a gigantic crucifix to his chest, looking nervous.
Every room on the floor is empty, except for one darkened space; what appears to be the figure of a young girl is fleetingly glimpsed, standing in the corner. De La Garza dashes away from the apparition in terror, so we don’t see much detail. There’s just the impression of a dark-haired girl in a long white skirt, facing the corner. But it’s such a classic horror movie set-up – the warren of empty rooms, the grainy footage – that gooseflesh ripples down your arms when you realize there’s someone standing there. Let’s face it: It’s scarier than the last Paranormal Activity.
After the video became public, De La Garza explained that he had seen the little ghost-girl he called “Christie Smith” before, and told Tom about her. Tom, in turn, told some locals about her. His story attracted so much attention in Corpus Christi that De La Garza and a friend conducted ghost tours of the second floor for a while, telling visitors that they, too, might catch a glimpse of Christie. Then Mike decided to try and capture the ghost on video.
The video was posted on countless websites devoted to ghosts and the paranormal, and the Smith Building was added to lists of haunted places in Corpus Christie. The building’s current owner, Tracy Long, once discovered a group of people conducting a seance on the second floor.
This October, De La Garza finally decided to come clean. He now says the “ghost girl” was a prank he pulled on Thomas after finding some old clothes in the building. He rigged up a mop and a yardstick to simulate the appearance of a young girl, had a friend turn breakers off to make the lights flicker, and instructed another friend to slam doors when no one was looking. By the time he took the video, however, Thomas was in on the hoax.
An “outtake” from the ghost video shows De La Garza and two friends sitting beside the obviously fake “ghost” in a well-lit room.
In 1924, 14-year-old Anna Mitchell-Hedges discovered a skull sculpted from quartz crystal in the ruins of the Mayan city of Lubaantun while exploring with her adoptive father, the English adventurer Frederick Mitchell-Hedges. They handed it over to locals, but when the family was preparing to return to England three years later, it was returned to them as a farewell gift. At least, this is one of the stories Anna told. It seems her father never mentioned the skull in any of his writings, and no one can recall Anna being in Lubaantun with him. There is evidence that the skull didn’t come into her possession until 1944.
For years, Anna kept the “skull of doom” on her dining room sideboard. It passed to her friend Bill Homann (mistakenly identified as her widower in several news stories) upon her death. Though Anna always insisted it was used by Mayan priests to place death curses upon their enemies, the skull bore more than a passing resemblance to another crystal skull held by the British Museum, and experts who examined that one found evidence of modern tool marks and machine grinding on the quartz, leading them to conclude it’s a clever fake. Just who created the skulls, and when, remains a mystery.
The skulls became a popular symbol of the unexplained, appearing in Erich von Däniken’s Chariots of the Gods? (aliens made it, of course) and on an episode of Arthur C. Clarke’s Mysterious World.
Now, there are reports that an archaeologist in Belize is suing the makers of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Homann, and the Mitchell-Hedges estate. News stories claim that not only does Dr. Jaime Awe of Belize’s Institute of Archaeology want the skull returned to Belize, but he’s upset that the filmmakers didn’t ask permission to use the skull as the model for the prop in the movie (which doesn’t even look very much like the Mitchell-Hedges one). However, according to this report from Belize, Dr. Awe was not even aware a lawsuit had been filed, does not believe the skull is a genuine artifact, and wants nothing to do with the group that launched the suit.
It’s been three years since Wife Swap participant, stormchaser, and all-around jackass Richard Heene reported that his 6-year-old son, Falcon, may have stowed away in his homemade flying-saucer balloon, which had escaped its moorings and was floating over Laramer County, Colorado. The whole thing turned out to be a publicity stunt, as little Falcon accidentally revealed in the family’s first televised interview. So what’s up with Balloon Boy these days? Would you believe…preteen heavy metal boy band?
Henry Makow has appeared on the Wednesday Weirdness Roundup many times, but he has finally jumped the shark with his December 11 article “Aliens Have Abducted Our Women“. No, he’s not talking about alien-aliens, he’s talking about the “Illuminati Jewish bankers and their Masonic lackeys” who have used the Communist conspiracy known as feminism to transform Western women into frigid lesbians. He goes on to cite – big shock – a book published in the ’50s.