A Haunting on Fuencarral Street

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Diego de Torres Villarroel

It would probably be easier to tell you what the 18th century Spanish writer Diego de Torres Villarroel didn’t do. According to his highly picaresque autobiography, Torres did all sorts of different jobs, including working as a bullfighter, dancer, soldier, lock picker, astrologer, and math professor. He was also said to be a prophet, although his apparent predictions of the death of the Spanish King Louis I and the French Revolution were more vague coincidences than actual prophecies.

In 1723, after moving to Madrid, a poverty-stricken Torres was forced to work as a smuggler to get by. One day, Torres’ fortunes changed when a messenger from Josepha de Figueroa, the Countess of Arcos, paid him a visit. The messenger looked pale and sick, and explained that the Countess wanted Torres to come stay at her house. For the past three nights, the Countess’ home had been knocked by loud, unexplained noises.

The Countess was afraid that her house, which was located on Fuencarral Street, was being haunted by a duende. In Spanish folklore, duendes are creatures similar to goblins, tricksters who come into people’s homes to harass them and drive them crazy with loud noises. (Our demented friends from The House of the Lions, the follets, are technically a Catalan variety of duende.)

Torres was skeptical about the story, but agreed to investigate the haunting. When he arrived at the Countess’ house, he found the servants pale and quiet, and the Countess terrified. That night, they all banded together and slept in the same bedroom, Torres included.

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A Skeptical Law Student

AntoniodeTorquemada

Antonio de Torquemada.

In the “Garden of Curious Flowers (1570),” a hodgepodge work of miscellanies that had the proud distinction of being banned by the Inquisition, the Spanish author Antonio de Torquemada recounted a bizarre story that many people in Italy and Spain could supposedly vouch for. The tale concerned a student named Juan Vázquez de Ayola, who with two of his friends went to Bologna to study law.

While searching for a place to stay, the Spaniards asked some local men in the street if they knew any places friendly to foreigners. One of the men, smiling, pointed to a boarded-up house. His friends told the Spaniards that this was meant to be a good old-fashioned Bolognese joke; the house had been unavailable the past twelve years because it was haunted. Ayola, playing the straight man, asked if he could have the keys.

The owner of the house did his best to turn the students away. He told them all about the horrible things people had seen there, but the Spaniards laughed them off. They were modern 16th century college boys, dammit, and they didn’t believe in anything as silly as ghosts. So the owner coughed up the keys and the Spaniards got themselves a haunted house.

After moving in, the Spaniards had a hard time finding servants for their new home. They were able to hire one woman as a cook, but she refused to do her job inside the house. A month passed, and much to the astonishment of the Bolognese, the Spaniards were still living in the house without having seen or heard anything strange.

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How Gnomes Drove an Artist to Kill Herself

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The Castle of La Boca, named after the neighborhood in Buenos Aires where it stands, is a big and beautiful representation of Catalan modernism. It’s also supposedly haunted, which is why many people call the building’s tower “The Ghost Tower.” The eponymous ghost of the tower is said to haunt the top floor, where people have heard anguished shouts and disembodied footsteps.

According to legend, the ghost is a painter named Clementina, a young art student who lived there a century ago. The story behind Clementina’s demise involves a nostalgic rancher, a noisy reporter, and a bunch of mischievous follets, a creature in Catalan folklore similar to gnomes.

The story begins with the estanciera (rancher) Maria Luisa Auvert Arnaud. Auvert owned a very profitable estancia, a rural estate like a ranch, making her one of the wealthiest people in Buenos Aires. In the early 20th century, Argentina was experiencing a great boom in immigration from Europe. Hoping to make some money off these new Argentinians, Auvert bought a plot of land in La Boca and planned to get into real estate.

Despite her French-sounding name, Auvert’s family had roots in Catalonia. On her new land, Auvert hired the Catalan architect Guillermo Alvarez to build a house that would remind her of her family’s homeland. To maximize the Catalan flavor, Auvert imported furniture and plants from the old country, including some mushrooms she put on the balconies.

When the construction was completed in 1908, Auvert was so happy with the final product that she dropped the idea of renting the building and took the house for herself. The Castle should have been her dream home, but Auvert quietly packed her bags after living there for only a year. Nobody knew why she moved so suddenly, though neighbors said they sometimes heard her and her servants yelling at something at night.

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The Kuykendall Family Phone “Hack”

TacomaWashington

In 2007, three families in Tacoma, Washington claimed to be the victims of a hacker who spied on them through their cellphones.

Today’s post is a guest article written by Carla. 

In February 2007, three families, including the Kuykendall family, started receiving strange phone calls from an unknown source. It all started when Courtney Kuykendall’s phone started acting weird and sending text messages to her friends and family. It was odd, but didn’t seem too alarming at the time. The family chalked it up to interference or a glitch by the cell phone carrier.

Things took an alarming turn, however, when Courtney’s family received numerous threatening calls. These calls included death threats towards the lives of her family, pets and grandparents. Naturally concerned, the family alerted the authorities. The police listened to the calls and tried to determine where they were originating from.

It’s easy to think that this was a dark prank by someone with nothing better to do than to make threatening and harassing phone calls. When the trace came back, the phone calls seemed to originate from Courtney’s phone. Understandably, many people thought the whole situation was a hoax. But why would someone threaten his or her own family?

Even if it wasn’t Courtney, it could have been a simple case of Courtney’s phone data being intercepted, stolen and hacked. It’s possible that the online security of her phone was compromised, even on a home WiFi network. However, the creepy thing was, even after Courtney turned her phone off, the calls to her family kept coming.

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The Boy Who Was Zapped By a UFO

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Drawing of a UFO that supposedly attacked a boy in Spain in October 1977.

It was the night of October 1, 1977. 7-year-old Martin Rodríguez was playing a game of hide-and-seek with some amigos in Tordesillas, Spain. When the time came for Martin and Fernando Caravelos to hide, the two boys ran to a large abandoned corral. Vagrants were known to sometimes sleep in the corral, so Martin grabbed a rock outside and threw it over the wall to be sure nobody was there.

Instead of hearing a stream of obscenities, the boys heard a clang from what sounded like a metallic object. The sound sparked their curiosity; aside from an old tilling machine, there was nothing else kept inside the corral. Going ahead of Fernando, Martin walked into the corral and noticed a metal, pear-shaped object sitting in the back of a corner.

The object was about 2.8 meters (9 feet) high and 1.95 meters (6.4 feet) wide. It had three circular windows, an elevator-like door in the middle, and three legs. The UFO made a low humming noise and flashed a variety of different colors. After a few seconds of sitting there, the object rose from the ground and suddenly shot a beam of light at Martin’s abdomen.

Fernando quickly grabbed Martin and tried to pull him away. No matter how hard he pulled, however, Martin stood in place like a statue. While Fernando took off screaming for help, Martin felt extreme pain in the spot where the light was shining. He began to feel dizzy, and as he lost his balance and fell backward, the UFO folded its legs into itself and flew away.

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A Brief History of a Satanic Armchair

TheDevilsChair

La sillon del Diablo, or “The Devil’s Armchair,” is a cursed chair that’s said to kill anybody who sits in it. 

The Museo de Valladolid is a museum in the Spanish city of Valladolid that divides its collection into two sections, archaeology and fine arts. Among the museum’s collection, which spans the history of the city, you can find Roman coins, Renaissance-era paintings, and a 16th century chair associated with the Devil. “The Devil’s Armchair,” as this wicked piece of furniture is known, is said to be cursed.

According to legend, the chair’s original owner was Andres de Proaza, a 22-year-old student of Portuguese (some say Jewish) heritage. In 1550, Proaza was studying at the University of Valladolid’s Faculty of Medicine. He was enrolled in Spain’s first ever anatomy course, which was taught by Alfonso Rodriguez de Guevara, a renown physician who’d just come back from studying the subject in Italy.

For a subject that was just formally introduced to Spain, Proaza had an unusually deep understanding of anatomy. Everybody was impressed with his knowledge, and he was considered Guevara’s best pupil. His neighbors, however, were more scared than fascinated by the young man.

At night, they heard crying and moaning coming from Proaza’s house, and the stream behind his home was sometimes soaked with blood. Soon, a rumor spread that the promising anatomist was practicing necromancy. When a 9-year-old boy disappeared in the city, Proaza’s neighbors only grew more suspicious. They contacted the authorities to search Proaza’s house.

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The Kabukichou Love Hotel Murders

Kabukicho

Between March and June 1981, Tokyo’s red-light district was the sight of three unsolved murders, all of which occurred in love hotels.

Back in the 1980s, Akina Nakamori was one of the biggest pop stars in Japan. Compared to the other idol giant of the time, sweet goody two-shoes Seiko Matsuda, Nakamori sang gloomy songs about being a rebel and getting your heart broken. Recently, while exploring Nakamori’s back catalog, I heard a pretty catchy song called Shoujo A.

The title of the song literally means “Girl A,” but as one translator rendered it, it might better be understood in English as “Jane Doe.” In the Japanese media, for the sake of anonymity, names might sometimes be given as vague pseudonyms like Mr. A, Victim B, or Housewife C. In Nakamori’s song, the 17-year-old narrator calls herself Shoujo A, a nobody who isn’t special and can be found anywhere.

Now legend has it that Shoujo A was inspired by a series of unsolved murders in Tokyo’s infamous red-light district, Kabukichou. These murders, which all might have been committed by the same man, happened a year before the song’s release. The third victim was known as Shoujo A, and like the narrator of the Nakamori hit, was only 17-years-old.

Regardless of whether this is true or not, the story behind the rumor is an interesting one. Between March and June 1981, three women were killed in different love hotels in Kabukichou. The first body was found on the morning of March 20. The victim, Hostess A, had checked into the room with a young man the night before.

When it was coming time for check-out, the room didn’t answer the hotel’s calls. An employee sent to go check the room found Hostess A dead and alone. The cause of death was strangulation. A business card, belonging to Hostess A, identified her as a 33-year-old hostess at a local cabaret.

The name on the card, however, turned out to be a fake one.

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