6 Creepy Unsolved Japanese Murders

I’ve noticed that my posts about Japan receive a lot more traffic than I usually get, so I’ve decided I’m going to embark on a series of lists about unsolved Japanese murders. Most of the cases that will be featured here have never appeared in English media before. Some of them are quite obscure, but I’ve tried to find as much relevant information that I could. 

6. The Haga Futon Bag Murder

Police sketch of a man found inside a futon bag in

Police sketch of a man found inside a futon bag in Japan’s Tochigi Prefecture. (Image source/credit here.)

On April 21, 1996, while coming home from school, a group of junior high school students were looking through a bamboo grove in the Haga district of Tochigi Prefecture when they noticed a barely-closed futon bag. The kids had seen the bag laying there for almost a month, and curious about what might be inside, one of them poked it with a stick. A human hand then drooped out. The bag, it turned out, contained the body of a middle-aged man.

According to the autopsy, the man had been dead about a month when his body was discovered. He was bruised on his waist, and some of his front teeth were missing. He appeared to be between the ages of 40 and 50. The man was about 5 foot 11, and weighed 150 pounds. He had an O blood type. His clothes consisted of a dark blue jacket, a gray shirt with a green tie, and a gray pair of paints.

Investigators found the surname “Yamamoto” written on the bottom side of the tag of his pants, and the Japanese word for “next” on the other side. Despite these mysterious messages, the man has never been identified. In 2010, a sign was put up on the spot where the unidentified man’s body was found. Police hope that it might someday lead to his identification.

5. The Murder of Yoko Yoshida

Picture of Yoko Yoshida from when she was a high school student.

Picture of Yoko Yoshida from when she was a high school student. (Image source/credit here.)

On September 29, 2000, around 1 PM, a census taker collecting information in a Tokyo apartment complained to management about a room that had a terrible smell coming from it. When management sent a janitor to check the room out, he found that the door was unlocked. Inside, he found the body of the woman who was living there, a 28-year-old manga artist named Yoko Yoshida.

Yoshida, who lived alone, was laying on her back on her bed, wearing only a t-shirt. As the autopsy determined, Yoshida had been strangled to death. She had been dead for at least 10 days by the time her body was discovered. Her room showed no signs of disarray and nothing appeared to have been taken. 3 million yen and a receipt from a convenience store dated September 18th were found in her purse and wallet.

Pictures of Yoko Yoshida and the apartment she was staying at.

Pictures of Yoko Yoshida and the apartment she was staying at. (Image source/credit here.)

Police suspect that Yoshida had known her killer, and since she was a manga artist, some suggest that she was killed by a crazed fan. Yoshida had been active in the dojinshi (self-publishing) community since she graduated high school. Her killer might very well have been somebody she knew, but police have never been able to find any shady acquaintances or witnesses.

4. The Murder of Kaori Hirohata

The site where Kaori Hirohata's body was discovered.

The site where Kaori Hirohata’s body was discovered. (Image source/ credit here.)

On June 24, 2013, a member of a parking cleaning staff found the body of a middle-aged woman lying in a bush outside an apartment complex in Narashino city in Chiba Prefecture. Her belongings were found scattered around her body. Her ID identified her as Kaori Hirohata, a resident of the complex who hadn’t been seen since the day before. Although Hirohata participated in a local community event that day, she never showed up to work that evening.  

According to the autopsy results, Hirohata had been choked to death. Her upper body also showed marks of being beaten. Since Hirohata’s purse was found to be empty, the motive appeared to have been robbery. Her body was very lazily hidden, with her feet visibly sticking out of a bush. It’s likely she was dragged to the location from somewhere else.

A model of what Kaori Hirohata was dressed like the day she died.

A model of what Kaori Hirohata was dressed like the day she died.

If Hirohata really was the victim of a robbery, one has to wonder why the killer used his bare hands? Interestingly, the spot where she was found was part of her commune to work. Hirohata’s killer might have known her schedule. For information that could lead to the killer’s arrest, police are currently offering a reward of 3 million yen.

3. The Murder of the Sunamis

A policeman handing out flyers about the Sunami murders.

A policeman handing out flyers about the murder of Haruhiko and Midori Sunami. (Image source/credit here.)

On the morning of April 28, 1995, around 2:30 AM, a house in Kurashiki Kojima had been set on fire. Authorities discovered two bodies on the first floor, the remains of 70-year-old Haruhiko Sunami and his 67-year-old wife Midori. Both had been decapitated. Haruhiko also had a knife lodged into his stomach, and later evaluation of Midori found that she had been stabbed in the chest and several other spots. They are believed to have died the previous night, sometime between 5 PM and 9 PM.

Because the fire destroyed much of the house and subsequently any evidence that might have been found there, authorities have had little clues to lead them to the Sunamis’ killer. Police thought their killing might have been the result of a dispute, but this was never established. The killer might have been familiar with the house, or at least had been in it before.

For whatever reason, the killer was in the Sunamis’ house for at least 5 hours after he killed them. Could he have been looking for something? And why did he think it necessary to cut off the Sunamis’ heads, neither of which have turned up in the 20 years since the murder occurred?

2. The Murder of Makiko Tsuchiyama

Picture of the city of Higashi-osaka. (Image source/credit here.)

Picture of the city of Higashi-osaka. (Image source/credit here.)

On November 21, 1984, around 2:10 PM, a 2-year-old girl named Makiko Tsuchiyama was found fallen on her face in a drainage ditch in an alley behind her home in Higashi-osaka city.  Makiko was unconscious, and her neck seemed as though it had been strangled with a cord. Although she was rushed to the hospital, Makiko died 9 hours after being taken there.

The fact that Makiko had been playing outside by herself wasn’t unusual in the neighborhood, since other children and mothers were often outside too. Nobody, however, had seen Makiko’s murderer. Eerily, Makiko had been found unconscious on the same spot a month earlier. She had been strangled that time too, with the marks of a string around her neck. Unlike the second time, she had regained consciousness shortly after being taken to the hospital.

Immediately after this first incident, Makiko’s grandfather received a strange phone call from an unidentified woman. The woman was crying hard and speaking incomprehensibly. He tried talking to her for 2 minutes before she suddenly said “I’m sorry” and hung up. Makiko’s grandfather had not yet heard about Makiko’s incident, and thought the woman had gotten the wrong number. For the next few days, he received several more unexplained phone calls. Every time he answered, he heard only silence on the other end.

Police originally thought the first incident was an accident. They concluded that Makiko had gotten her neck hooked around a vinyl strap that had been attached to the door of her house. After Makiko died, however, they decided to launch a criminal investigation. It was strange that Makiko had been found in the alley, since she had refused to go anywhere near it since the first incident. Since there were no scratches on her face, it was suspected that somebody lured Makiko away and then strangled her in a different location. In the 30 years since Makiko’s death, neither her killer or the mysterious woman who called her grandfather have been identified.

1. The Murder of the Miyazawas

A picture of the Miyazawa family.

A picture of the Miyazawa family. (Image source/credit here.)

On the morning of December 31, 2000, a relative of the Miyazawa family in Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward found father Mikio, his wife Yasuko, their daughter Niina, and their son Rei dead in their home. While Rei had been strangled in his bedroom, the other three members of the family had been stabbed to death in two different parts of the house.

The Setagaya police offering prayers at the Miyazawa home. (Image source/credit here.)

The Setagaya police offering prayers at the Miyazawa home. (Image source/credit here.)

Authorities speculate that the killer had gotten into the home from a bathroom window on the second floor of the house around 11:30 PM. He went into Rei’s room and strangled him as he slept. Mikio was found on the first floor near the staircase, possibly coming up the stairs after he heard the intruder making noise. The female Miyazawas were killed next.

A publicity campaign by the police to bring awareness about the Miyazawa murders. (Image source credit here.)

A publicity campaign by the Setagaya police to bring awareness about the Miyazawa murders. (Image source/credit here.)

The killer then ransacked the family’s house and stayed there for about 10 hours. He went into the kitchen and took some food from the fridge, and then used the family’s computer for a while. None of the money in the house was taken, but some New Year’s cards were missing. A knife the killer left behind was found, along with a shirt and bag. Additionally, blood was found at the scene that didn’t belong to any of the Miyazawas. After more than 15 years, police have had few clues to catch the Miyazawas’ killer. There is currently a reward of 20 million yen being offered to anybody who could give information that would lead to the killer’s identification.

Be sure to check out more creepy Japanese mysteries in my e-book, 20 Unsolved Mysteries of Japan, available on Amazon for Kindle.

Advertisements

The 1973 Pascagoula Alien Abduction

Picture of the type of alien Charles Hickson and Calvin Parker claimed to see in Pascagoula, Mississippi. (Image credit/source here.)

Picture of the type of alien Charles Hickson and Calvin Parker claimed to see in Pascagoula, Mississippi. (Image credit/source here.)

On the night of October 11, 1973, co-workers Charles Hickson and Calvin Parker were fishing on the Pascagoula River in Mississippi when the two men suddenly heard a hissing sound coming behind them. When they turned around, they saw an oval-shaped craft hovering in the air and flashing blue lights. A door on the craft opened, and three robot-like creatures floated down toward Hickson’s and Parker’s boat. The creatures were about 5 feet tall, with gray wrinkled skin, clawed hands, and slits for eyes and a mouth.

The two men found themselves paralyzed and unable to resist being grabbed by the creatures. Parker fainted at this point, and they were then floated up into the spaceship with their abductors. According to Hickson, he was taken into a room full of light and examined by an oval-shaped probe that circled around his body. When the probe had finished its examination, the creatures floated out of the room and then floated Hickson back outside after 20 minutes. Hickson found Parker on the shore, crying and praying. The spaceship then left, and Hickson and Parker went into their car to calm down and try to make sense of what happened.

Charles Hickson (left) and Calvin Parker (right). (Image source/credit here.)

Charles Hickson (left) and Calvin Parker (right). (Image source/credit here.)

Although afraid that nobody would believe them, Hickson and Parker called the Kessler Air Force Base, which recommended that they report the incident to the local sheriff. At first, the sheriff and his deputies were skeptical and thought the men were drunk. When they left Hickson and Parker alone in a room with a secret tape recorder, however, they continued to talk as though the experience were real. At one point, Hickson told Parker, “It scared me to death too, son. You can’t get over it in a lifetime. Jesus Christ have mercy.”

The story appeared on local newspaper headlines the next day, and soon news reporters and UFO investigators were crawling all over Pascagoula and harassing Hickson and Parker at their workplace. Hundreds of UFO sightings in Mississippi were reported in the next couple of weeks, including an encounter by some Coast Guardsmen with a glowing object moving underwater in the Pascagoula River.

While Parker initially tried to keep his distance from the incident, Hickson gave media interviews and lectures about his experience, even visiting local schools. In 1983, he published “UFO Contact at Pascagoula” with investigator William Mendez, a full-fledged (and rare) book about the encounter and three incidents of psychic telecommunication he said that he received in 1974. Until he passed away in September 2011, Hickson continued to insist that the story was true and that the creatures he saw were peaceful aliens concerned about the earth.

Drawing of the Pascagoula aliens. (Image source/credit here.)

Drawing of the Pascagoula aliens. (Image source/credit here.)

After participating in some hypnotic sessions, Parker recovered vague memories about what had happened that night. Unlike Hickson, he was wary of the attention he attracted, and eventually moved out of the state. Over the past two decades, he has become more open to interviews and has even participated in UFO conventions.

Drawing of a Pascagoula alien. (Image source/ credit here.)

Drawing of a Pascagoula alien. (Image source/ credit here.)

So what have skeptics had to say about the Pascagoula incident? Hickson’s and Parker’s story made a big splash in national media back in 1973, and some of the biggest names in the UFO investigation community, like J. Allen Hynek and James Harder, believed that the men were telling the truth. While Hickson and Parker did pass lie-detectors, there were inconsistencies in the interviews Hickson gave to the media. Much of the story, in fact, had come from Hickson, since Parker said he passed out. Nobody else in the area, including drivers on a well-used highway, claimed to have seen the UFO.

In an interesting article for the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, noted paranormal investigator and debunker Joe Nickell suggests that the whole abduction was a vivid hallucination by Hickson. Hickson had drunk some whiskey after the abduction to soothe his nerves, and Nickell suspects that he and Parker might have been drinking before the incident. They fell asleep afterward, but Hickson suffered an episode of hypnagogia, a state of consciousness in which a person is in between sleeping and waking up. Hypnagogic episodes often involve the experiences of paralysis, seeing lights, and feeling as though one is floating. While Parker might not have had a hypnagogic episode himself, he might have been influenced by Hickson and the hypnotic sessions he had undergone.

The Gnome of Girona: A Real-life Smurf Hoax

The preserved remains of the Gnome of Girona. (Image credit/source here.)

The preserved remains of the Gnome of Girona. (Image credit/source here.)

Sometime in September 1989, two couples named Añaños and Pujals went camping in a forest near the Spanish city of Girona. While the four friends were barbecuing and listening to music on a cassette player, a strange creature suddenly walked out of the bushes. The “Gnome of Girona”, as it was later called in Spanish media, was a small rabbit-like creature that had glowing red eyes and bluish skin. Apparently attracted by the music, the Gnome walked up to the cassette player and stood as the campers watched.

When one of the men turned the music up, the creature let out a loud laugh like an old man’s, and tried to run away. To prevent its escape, the campers threw a blanket over it and placed the Gnome in a birdcage. It smelled like sarsaparilla and had very soft skin. Aside from three pieces of hair found on the back of its neck, the Gnome was hairless. Its height was measured at 12 centimeters (4.7 inches). It made no protest about being captured, but refused to eat. After four days in captivity, the creature died.

Drawing of the Gnome of Girona. (Image credit/source here.)

Drawing of the Gnome of Girona. (Image credit/source here.)

The campers decided to save the creature’s remains in a coffee jar filled with formaldehyde, and it was later sold to Angel Gordon, a Spanish parapsychologist. Gordon paraded the remains around the media, appearing on the Spanish TV shows Otra Dimensión (“Another Dimension”) and En los Límites de la Realidad (“In the Twilight Zone”). Some speculated that the creature was an alien, but Gordon himself said that it was an elf, the same sort from German folklore which inspired The Smurfs.

Gordon’s bizarre story attracted growing skepticism after he gave conflicting accounts of how the Gnome was found. He couldn’t specify where in the forest the campers saw the Gnome, and nobody could locate the campers either. (He could assumedly neither explain why anybody would go camping with a birdcage.) In 1991, pictures taken of the Gnome were examined by Dr. John Altschuler, an American pathologist interested in UFOs and cattle mutilations. Altschuler was not convinced that the remains were of an extraterrestrial origin, dismissing it as an animal fetus, possibly a cow or pig.

Angel Gordon displaying pictures of the Gnome of Gerona remains. (Image credit/source here.)

Angel Gordon displaying pictures of the Gnome of Gerona remains. (Image credit/source here.)

In a move to defend the Gnome, Gordon appeared on a Spanish TV show along with Dr. Luis Linares de Mula, a medical doctor and fellow parapsychologist. Mula claimed that the Gnome of Girona was an abnormal animal unknown to science. The campers who caught the Gnome, the Añaños and Pujals, also appeared on the show and gave a first-person account of the story.

Biologists from the Barcelona Zoo later investigated the Gnome and came to the conclusion that there was nothing extraordinary about it. Its legs, they noted, were underdeveloped and couldn’t possibly have been able to walk. The “Gnome”, in fact, was very likely a deformed three-month-old calf fetus.

Pictures of the Gnome of Gerona. (Image credit/source here.)

Pictures of the Gnome of Gerona. The remains have become yellowish over time. (Image credit/source here.)

Any hope that the Gnome of Girona really was a blue little elf was extinguished when a man named Manuel Tello came forward and told a different story about how the Gnome was found. According to Tello, one of his neighbors had found the Gnome dead while walking in the countryside. He thought it was a rabbit fetus, or possibly some rare animal. After Tello took some pictures of the thing, Angel showed up and bought it. Tello began to see Angel touring the media circuit with the camper story a few weeks later.

As another skeptic would later uncover, the Añaños and Pujals turned out to be actors hired to promote Gordon’s camper story. There are, of course, some believers who still insist that the Gnome of Girona is either an extraterrestrial/real-life Smurf/elf corpse or the fetus of an unidentified animal, but this story has been thoroughly debunked as a hoax.

The Case of Jaclyn Dowaliby: An Unreliable Witness and a Wrongly Accused Man

Jaclyn Dowaliby. (Image credit/source here.)

Jaclyn Dowaliby. (Image credit/source here.)

On the morning of September 10, 1988, David and Cynthia Dowaliby reported to the police that their 7-year-old daughter Jaclyn had gone missing from their home in Midlothian, Illinois. Jaclyn wasn’t in her bedroom when her parents woke up, and one of the windows in the house’s basement was found broken. The Dowalibys thought somebody must have broken the window from the outside, but the more numerous shards of glass outside suggested to police that the window had been shattered from inside the house. Equally suspicious, how didn’t anybody wake up while the abduction was taking place?

Four days later, Jaclyn’s body was discovered in a field behind an apartment complex. One of the apartment’s residents, Everett Mann, told police that he saw a suspicious Caucasian man in a dark car driving away from the field on the night of Jaclyn’s disappearance. After being shown pictures of the case’s suspects, Mann identified David Dowaliby as the man he saw. David and Cynthia were arrested on November 22, charged with murder and concealing a homicide.

Picture of Jaclyn Dowaliby. (Image credit/source here.)

Picture of Jaclyn Dowaliby. (Image credit/source here.)

Although public opinion was set harshly against the Dowalibys, several investigators behind the scene believed they were innocent. A forensic report confirmed that the basement window in the Dowaliby’s home had been carefully broken from the outside, while Everett Mann’s reliability as a witness came under serious scrutiny. Mann changed the description of the car he saw numerous times, and identified David in the line-up from his nose, which he claimed to have seen 75 yards away in the middle of the night. He was also mentally unwell and suffered from bipolar disorder.

As the Dowaliby trial unfolded, Cynthia was cleared of any wrongdoing in April 1990, but David was convicted of murder nearly a month later. After spending a year in jail, David’s conviction was overturned due to a lack of evidence, and he was released in November 1991. Although the Dowalibys were proven to be innocent, the question still remained of who was guilty of killing their daughter?

Clip from an Unsolved Mysteries segment about Jaclyn's murder.

Clip from an Unsolved Mysteries segment about Jaclyn’s murder.

Before Jaclyn’s body turned up, her biological father, Jimmy Guess, had been the main suspect in the case. Guess had tried abducting Jaclyn before, but he was ruled out once it was discovered that he was in jail during the time for sexually assaulting a woman. After the Dowalibys appeared on an Unsolved Mysteries segment in 1993, authorities received a tip that Guess’s schizophrenic brother Timothy had lied to the police about his alibi on the night Jaclyn was abducted.

When earlier questioned, Guess said that he had spent the evening at an all-night restaurant. Several other people at the restaurant, including two waitresses, reported that Guess was only there for a short while at 9:30. When Guess gave a taped interview to a professor involved in the case, he claimed that he was possessed by a spirit that could make him invisible.

Despite never having been to the Dowaliby’s home, Guess was able to accurately describe the inside of it. At one point, he described in the first-person where Jaclyn’s room was located. When asked how he knew this, Guess explained that the spirit told him. While Guess might very likely have been the killer, Jaclyn’s case is still open. Guess died years ago, and not much has developed since the Dowalibys were let go.

 UPDATE: (5/14/2016)

A Chicago news station recently aired a segment about this case that you can watch here. It doesn’t offer any new leads or tips, but it does include some interviews with the Dowalibys’ attorneys and Jimmy Guess. The Dowalibys were also asked to be interviewed for the segment, but they ignored the invitation. Since being cleared of their daughter’s murder, the Dowalibys have changed their last name and no longer live in Midlothian.

20 Vintage Pictures of Old-Timey Circus Freaks

Freak shows had been popular since the 16th century, but reached their height of popularity between the mid-19th century and early 20th century. Circus “freaks” were often people with rare genetic disorders and disabilities. Many were exploited by selfish managers, although a few did go on to become happy and rich. The performers featured here come from the heyday of freak shows.

20. Martin Laurello

martin

The German-born Martin Laurello (originally Emmerling) had come to the US in 1921 to perform in freak shows. Performing under the name “The Human Owl”, Laurello could turn his head around in a 180 degree angle.

19. Isaac W. Sprague

isaac

Isaac W. Sprague was an American man known as “The Living Skeleton”. At the height of 5 feet 6 inches, Sprague only weighed 43 pounds. Amazingly, he was said to have the appetite of two full-sized men.

18. Mademoiselle Gabrielle

gabrielle

Mademoiselle Gabrielle was a Swiss woman who was born without any legs. After many successful tours in America, she supposedly left the country and went back to Switzerland with her (third) husband.

17. Pasqual Pinon

pinon

Pasqual Pinon toured the US for several years under the name of “The Two-Headed Mexican”. Pinon’s second “head” was actually a tumor wearing a specially-made wax face. The manager of the circus Pinon performed for later paid for the tumor’s removal.

16. Frank Esele

esele2

Known as “Freddie the Armless Wonder”, Frank Esele was a freak show performer who was born without arms. One of the more obscure figures on this list, Esele’s time of death is unknown, and few details exist about his personal life.

15. Alzoria Lewis

alzoria

Alzoria Lewis, “The Turtle Girl”, worked at Coney Island for more than 20 years between the 1930s and 1950s. Aside from her small size, Lewis was notable for her short arms and unusual feet, one of which only had one toe.

14. Martin Van Buren Bates

bates

Martin Van Buren Bates was a Confederate captain who stood 7 feet, 11 inches. While touring in Europe after the Civil War, Bates married another woman of similar height, Anna Haining Swan. Bates retired from performing in the 1880s and died in Ohio in 1919.

13. Fannie Mills

fannie

Fannie Mills suffered from Milroy Disease, a genetic disorder which causes the sufferer’s legs to become swelled with fluid. Mills’s feet were so large that she needed assistance walking. After touring for 7 years, Mills became sick and had to retire early.

12. Minnie Woolsey

koo

Minnie Woolsey suffered from Seckel syndrome, a sort of dwarfism that gives the sufferer a bird-like face and intellectual disabilities. Woolsey lacked teeth, hair, and the ability to speak comprehensively. Before working as a circus freak, she had been living in a mental asylum.

11. George Williams

george

George Williams started performing in freak shows while only a child. Originally, he was billed as “Turtle Boy”, but took the name “King Dodo” in later years. Williams was small and had twisted limbs, possibly a sufferer of parastremmatic dwarfism.

10. Ella Harper

ella

Ella Harper, “The Camel Girl”, was born with knees that could bend backwards. She walked better on all four opposed to standing up on her two feet, and that’s how she got her name.

9. Anna Haining Swan

anna

Anna Haining Swan, the wife of Martin Van Buren Bates, was just as extraordinary as her husband. Standing at a similar height, although some believe she might have actually been taller than Bates, Swan had grown to 7 feet by the time she was 15. She was a gifted pianist and singer, and had once played the role of Lady Macbeth.

8. Maria and Arrita

twins

Maria and Arrita were a pair of conjoined twins who toured the US in the 1920s. Not much is known about them; they were said to have been born in Mexico, but they might have actually been born in Honduras. The girls got sick in 1929 and died shortly after.

7. The Ovitz Family

ovitz

The Ovitzes were a Jewish-Romanian family of seven dwarves and five normal-sized relatives who traveled through Eastern Europe singing and playing music during the 1930s and 1940s. They were all imprisoned in Auschwitz in 1944, and despite being experimented upon by the infamous Josef Mengele, survived the ordeal and returned to Romania after the war.

6. Betty Lou Williams

betty

Betty Lou Williams was born with a parasitic twin on the right side of her body and started touring in freak shows when she was only 2-years-old. Although she died in her early 20s, Williams was such a successful performer that she was able to pay for college educations for all 12 of her siblings.

5. Grady Stiles

grady

Grady Stiles, “The Lobster Boy”, lived such a bizarre and fascinating life that he was the subject of a 1994 book by former New York Times columnist Fred Rosen. Stiles had conjoined toes and fingers, which made them look like claws. He was an abusive alcoholic feared by his family for a violent temper. In 1978, Stiles fatally shot his daughter’s fiance. Although he was convicted of the murder, he was let go because no prison could have cared for his needs.

4. Julia Pastrana

julia

Julia Pastrana was an indigenous Mexican woman who suffered from hypertrichosis, also known as werewolf syndrome. She was an accomplished dancer, and could speak several different languages. In March 1860, she died 5 days after giving birth to a baby that survived for only a few days. Her husband then had her and her baby’s remains mummified.

3. Ruth Berry

mignon

Ruth Berry was a freak show performer who was born with conjoined limbs. She billed herself as “Mignon the Penguin Girl”, and performed in freak shows for more than 30 years.

2. Lucia Zarate

lucia

Lucia Zarate might possibly have been the lightest-weighing adult who ever lived. By the time she was 17, she weighed only 4.7 pounds and was 20 inches tall. Zarate suffered from Microcephalic osteodysplastic primordial dwarfism type II, an extremely rare type of disease that had only been classified in 1982.

1. Prince Randian

randian

Prince Randian was a Hindu Guyanese who performed under names like “The Human Caterpillar” and “The Living Torso”. Despite having no limbs, Randian could paint, write, shave, and even light cigarettes using his mouth.

The Wildman of China

A costume of the Yeren featured in the movie Big Trouble in Little China. (Image source credit here.)

A costume of the Yeren featured in the movie Big Trouble in Little China. (Image source/credit here.)

Accounts of Bigfoot-like creatures in China date back nearly 3,000 years. One of the best-known of these creatures in modern times is the yeren, or “Wildman”, in the central province of Hubei. The earliest report of a Wildman appears in a local chronicle of Hubei’s Fang County in the 17th century, where the author claimed that a large number of them could be found on Mt. Fang. There were hundreds of sightings of Wildmen in the 20th century, and people still report seeing them today.

The typical Wildman is described as being about 6 between 8 feet tall, and covered in long red hair, although Wildmen with black or white hair have also been reported. They stand upright like humans and have long, powerful limbs. They communicate by grunting, but are also capable of laughing and crying. There are records of encounters with male, female, and children Wildmen.

While the Wildman had long been known by peasants, scientists only began to take an interest in the creature’s existence in the latter half of the 20th century. In 1940, while traveling on a bus through the province of Gansu, a biologist named Wang Zelin found a group of “Wildman hunters” who had shot and killed a female Wildman and planned to take it to the county government. Wang described the corpse as being about 2 meters (6.5 feet) and covered in thick grayish-brown hair. The locals had said this Wildman had been living in the area the past month.

Drawing of a Yeren. (Picture source credit here.)

Drawing of a Yeren. (Picture source/credit here.)

In the early 1950s, a geologist named Fan Jingquan claimed to have seen two Wildmen in the province of Shanxi. Over a period of three days, Fan and a local guide twice observed a mother and baby Wildman in a forest outside of Baoji City. While the mother was cautious, the child was more than happy to interact with the two men, and it even took chestnuts from them. Fan’s guide told him that the Wildmen lived in a near-by cave, and often came to the forest during the autumn and winter seasons to pick chestnuts.

The first serious effort by scientists to investigate the Wildman occurred in Yunnan province in 1961, after a group of construction workers claimed to have found and shot one. China’s official Academy of Sciences could find nothing to corroborate the workers’ claims, and although there were more investigations over the next dozen years, nobody paid much attention again until a series of Wildman sightings in Hubei in 1976.

On May 14th of that year, six government officials were driving through the border area between Fang County and Shennongjia when they noticed an ape-like creature about 5 feet tall standing on the road. After almost running the creature over, five of the men got out of the car to take a better look at it. The creature did nothing but stare, and it walked back into the forest after one of the men threw a stone at its hip.

A hair sample allegedly from a Yeren. (Image source credit here.)

A hair sample allegedly from a Yeren. (Image source/credit here.)

Several weeks later, a peasant woman and her four-year-old son were walking up a mountain ridge when they saw a Wildman rubbing its back against a tree. Once the creature realized the woman was watching it, it took off chasing her. The woman ran for more than a mile before she looked back and saw that the creature was no longer on her trail. When the Chinese Academy of Sciences investigated the encounter a month later, they found primate-like hair in two different spots on the alleged tree where the creature was rubbing its back.

A third sighting had happened on October 18th. A schoolteacher and some of her students were picking fruit on a mountain when they saw a Wildman walk past them and up a hill. Several large-scale investigations were then launched in Hubei over the next couple of years, but none of the investigators found anything more than samples of hair, feces, and 18-inch footprints.

In January 1999, after decades of searching, the Chinese Academy of Sciences announced that the Wildman didn’t exist. Some scientists have suggested that reports of the creature are just confused sightings of primates like the golden monkey or the gibbon. Cryptozoologists, however, believe the Wildman could be a descendent of the Gigantopithecus, a sort of 10 foot ape that lived in Asia and went extinct more than 100,000 years ago.

The Black Magic Murders of Ahmad Suradji

Picture of Ahmad Suradji. (Image source/credit here.)

Picture of Ahmad Suradji. (Image source/credit here.)

Ahmad Suradji, also known as Nasib Kelewang, was a self-proclaimed black magic master who ritualistically killed 42 women and girls over an 11 year period.

 A cattle breeder by trade, he lived in Medan, in West Java, Indonesia, where many women would make the journey to his house seeking guidance and assistance in matters of health, love and finance.

Suradji would generally charge between $200-$300 for his services, with most of his female clients longing to be wealthy or attractive and some asking him to perform black magic rituals to keep their significant others from cheating. As a Dukun, or Shaman, they believed, just as the vast majority of the Indonesian population does, that black magic could help them.

Ahmad Suradji on trial. (Image source/credit here.)

Ahmad Suradji on trial. (Image source/credit here.)

A revered position, many Dukuns make a living with this occupation, and although primarily healers, they are used for a variety of reasons; some are exorcists, some perform blessings on new businesses, and farm lands and on individuals, and some can see the future through spirits. Some Dukuns even offer a darker service of casting curses and hexes and spells for revenge.

Suradji was something of a sorcerer, and between the years of 1986 – 1997 he murdered 42 of his clients in ritual slayings that he believed would ultimately make him more powerful.

Inspired by a dream he had in 1988, in which his deceased father visited him, Suradji would lead the woman and girls out to a sugar cane plant on the outskirts of Medan, and bury them up to their waists in earth before strangling them with a cord. Once dead, he would strip the bodies of the women naked and bury them facing in the direction of his house.As instructed by his father in the dream, he would also consume the victim’s saliva.

His objective was to kill 70 victims in this way, but he was caught at just over half way through his mission at confirmed victim number 42, after the discovery of a body, later identified as Sri Kemala Dewi, by a local man at the sugar cane plantation.

Picture of Ahmad Suradji. (Image source/credit here.)

Picture of Ahmad Suradji. (Image source/credit here.)

Investigators found clothing linked to over 20 women who had been reported as missing in and around the local area. All of the victims were between the ages of 11-39 years old. If Suradji was running low on clientele, it was said that he would also kill local sex workers to get closer to his goal.

Despite the official recorded body count of 42 victims, it is possible that the actual number could be almost double that.

Suradji was convicted, along with one of his three wives (all sisters) who had helped him hide the bodies.

Despite protests by Amnesty International, he was executed by firing squad in 2008.

This article originally appeared on Real Life is Horror, a blog about the unexplained, the creepy, and the unsolved. It has been reposted with the author’s permission.