The Disappearance of the Yamagamis


The Yamagami family, composed of 58-year-old Masahiro, 52-year-old Junko, 26-year-old Chie, and 79-year-old Saegusa, went missing from their home in Sera, Japan in June 2001.

On June 4, 2001, 52-year-old Junko Yamagami was scheduled to take a business trip to Dalian, China for the travel company she worked for. Before leaving, she was also supposed to attend a meeting. By noon, after Junko hadn’t shown up to her office or gotten on board her plane, her colleagues began to get worried. They checked her house, where she lived with her husband Masahiro and mother-in-law Saegusa, but nobody appeared to be home. The family dog and Masahiro’s car were gone too. 

The Yamagamis’ daughter, a 26-year-old elementary school teacher named Chie, was also missing. She lived alone in an apartment in near-by Takehara city, but came over to visit her parents the night before. Chie was the last member of the family anybody had seen. At 9:30 PM, she picked up some make-up from a colleague and then headed for her parents’ home in the small mountain town of Sera. The Yamagamis’ neighbors heard a car door close at 10:50 PM. Either this had come from Chie after coming home, or it was the sound of the Yamagamis leaving. None of the neighbors were sure. Whatever it was, the family’s newspaper deliveryman reported that the car was missing when he came around 4:00-5:00 AM.


Masahiro Yamagami’s car was also missing.

The Yamagamis’ front door was locked, but the back door was open. Nothing in the house appeared to be disturbed. The kitchen light was left on, all of the beds were made, and breakfast had been prepared. As ordinary as the scene appeared, however, there were a couple of strange details. The Yamagamis’ pajamas were missing, and while their shoes had been left behind, their sandals were gone.  Junko’s luggage and the 150,000 yen she needed for her trip were also inside the house, and so was Masahiro’s pager. It seemed that the Yamagamis suddenly dropped whatever they were doing, took the family dog, and quietly left the house in their pajamas and sandals.

A year into the investigation, the case seemed to be going nowhere. The Yamagamis had good reputations, and weren’t involved with any particularly shady or dangerous people. Masahiro did have some money problems, but it wasn’t serious enough to leave town. To some of their neighbors, the Yamagamis’ strange disappearance reminded them of an old story from Edo times. A female servant was said to have gone into the mountains one day and then disappeared. All the townpeople tried looking for her, but she was never found.


Chie Yamagami and the family dog, Leo.


On September 7, 2002, police recovered a car that was found submerged in a reservoir. The car contained the bodies of the four Yamagamis and their dog. No cause of death could be determined, but there were also no signs of anybody being attacked or bruised. Because Masahiro was in the driver’s seat, police believed that it was a murder-suicide or group suicide.

Now the suicide theory does seem credible; after all, why else would they have taken their dog? But the apparent suddenness of how the Yamagamis left strikes me as suspicious. If Masahiro really did kill everybody, how did he manage (or threaten) to convince the other family members to get in the car? Especially when they were getting ready to eat breakfast? Or did somebody force them to leave? Might they have been trying to get away from somebody, and Masahiro accidentally drove into the water?

This case just makes my head spin. It’s a shame that there isn’t much information online about it. According to a poster on this message board, citing a Chinese newspaper, the Yamagamis’ car was found in a neutral state. Masahiro’s window was down, and everybody was wearing their seat-belt. The Yamagamis’ clothes were so damaged that the authorities couldn’t determine whether they were wearing pajamas. Some glasses and an umbrella were also found. Other users brought up a local rumor that Junko was having an affair, arguing that it really was a suicide of some sort.

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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.

6 Downright Weird Cases of People Lying About Their Ethnicity

Rachel Dolezal, an “African-American” civil rights activist provoked a media firestorm in June 2015 when she was revealed to actually be a white woman. Dolezal had been practicing what is called “passing”, a sort of phenomenon when a person lies about their ethnicity or racial origins for monetary gain, social acceptance, or economic advancement. While Dolezal’s case caused a huge sensation, passing isn’t actually that uncommon, and there have been numerous cases of it across history and different ethnic groups.

6. Hans Gunther Hauck

Tatunca Nara in a 1990 documentary. (Image source here.)

Tatunca Nara in a 1990 documentary. (Image source here.)

Tatunca Nara has been saying for almost half a century that he’s the chief of an Amazonian tribe called the Ugha Mongulala. Nara claims that the Ugha Mongulala live in an underground city called Akakor, and despite his stories being believed and endorsed by professional ancient aliens scholar Erich von Daniken, no records of the tribe or city exist. Still, that hasn’t stopped people from seeking out Nara and asking for tours and more information about the great ancient culture of the Ugha Mongulala.

Nara, however, isn’t even a Brazilian Indian. He was exposed more than two decades ago as a white guy named Hans Gunther Hauck. Hauck disappeared from Germany in 1966, leaving his wife and three children behind. Tatunca Nara started popping up in the late 1960s, spreading his story as listeners presumably overlooked his white skin and strong accent. In an interview with Der Spiegel in 2014, Nara denied being Hauck, and also disputed having anything to do with the disappearances of three Western tourists who were last seen traveling with him. (He’s also been accused of having a role in the murder of Karl Brugger, an author of a book about Akakor.) 

5. Bruno Grosjean

(Image source here.)

(Image source here.)

Latvian-Jew and concentration camp survivor Binjamin Wilkomirski published his childhood memoir about the Holocaust, Fragments: Memories of a Childhood (1939-1948) in 1995 to great acclaim. The book was quickly translated into 12 different languages, won several prestigious awards, and was a phenomenal commercial success. Critics and historians championed it a masterpiece, describing it as “achingly beautiful” and “one of the great works about the Holocaust”. Wilkomirski toured all over the world, tearfully telling audiences about the horrific experiences he had endured, including watching rats eat corpses at Auschwitz and witnessing mere babies waste away and die.

One Swiss Jewish journalist named Daniel Ganzfried, however, wasn’t convinced. He suspected Wilkomirski of making the story up, and he ended up launching an investigation that would debunk the entire book and even its author himself. Wilkomirski, Ganzfried discovered, was never interred in any concentration camps. He wasn’t even Jewish or Latvian. Binjamin Wilkomirski was actually Bruno Grosjean, a Christian Swiss orphan who was adopted by a wealthy and loving Swiss family named the Dössekkers. Sure enough, despite that he was now completely discredited, Grosjean continued to insist that he was Binjamin Wilkomirski. His “memoir” has since been taken off the market.

4. Walter Francis White

(Image source here.)

(Image source here.)

Walter Francis White was a blue-eyed, blonde-haired leader of the National Association for Colored People from 1929 until his death in 1955. He was born in 1893 to a couple of former slaves who had a great amount of white ancestry. However, the family counted themselves as black, and White always considered himself black, especially after a white mob attacked the family’s house during the Atlanta Race Riot of 1906.

White graduated from the historically black Atlanta University in 1916, and helped create the Atlanta branch of the NAACP the same year. He then became one of the country’s most prominent civil rights activists, even befriending Eleanor Roosevelt and persuading Harry Truman to become the first president to speak at the NAACP’s meetings.

During the late 1910s and 1920s, White would also go undercover as a white man to investigate lynchings and race riots in the south. He would infiltrate racist groups and interview members of lynch members. Over some ten years, he investigated 41 lynchings and 8 race riots. Articles about his field studies were published in such prestigious papers as the Nation, the New Republic, and the New York Herald Tribune, bringing awareness to racial violence to tens of thousands of white readers.

3. Anatole Broyard

(Image source here.)

(Image source here.)

After influential literary critic Anatole Broyard was diagnosed with prostate cancer and lying on his deathbed, his wife thought now would be the time to tell their children about a secret he had kept closely hidden all his adult life. Broyard wasn’t a completely white man; the family was, in fact, descended from mixed-race Louisiana Creoles. He had been passing for white for nearly fifty years. The aunts and grandma he wanted his children to have nothing to do with turned out to be black in appearance.

Broyard’s daughter, Bliss, was so fascinated and surprised by the news that she researched and wrote a book about the family’s history, One Drop: My Father’s Hidden Life- A Story of Race and Family Secrets. While researching, she uncovered a lot about her father the public and literary scene never knew.

Broyard was born in New Orleans in 1920, but his parents later moved the family up north to New York when he was 7-years-old. Both of them would pass for white when looking for work. Broyard appeared to have started passing for white when he entered college. During World War II, he enlisted as a white man and held the position of an officer in charge of black stevedores

After his service, he returned to New York and became active in Greenwich Village, where he embarked on a literary career and made friends with a number of the most notable artists, Beats, and hipsters of the day. While he did tell a few close friends about his heritage, he mostly kept it to himself. It’s possible that he was motivated to identify as white to avoid being pigeon-holed as a black writer. According to historian Henry Louis Gates Jr., Broyard “did not want to write about black love, black passion, black suffering, black joy; he wanted to write about love and passion and suffering and joy.”

2. Mark Stebbins

(Image source here.)

(Image source here.)

In 1983, a light-skinned, blue-eyed man named Mark Stebbins ran for City Council in Stockton, California, claiming himself to be a black candidate. One of his opponents, a black civil rights activist and millionaire named Ralph Lee White, angrily disputed this. White obtained a copy of Stebbins’ birth certificate, which listed his parents as white, and soon the whole town and press were debating his true race. The Stockton Record uncovered the birth certificates of all four of his grandparents, and found that they were listed as white too.

Stebbins eventually admitted that his grandparents, parents, and six siblings were white, but he insisted that he was black. After all, he had a black wife and a black barber, and was a member of the NAACP and a black church.

Stebbins ended up winning the election, but White demanded a recall. He eventually got one the next year, beating Stebbins by 67 votes. White was, however, removed from the council by a California appeals court in 1987 for “committing acts of bribery, fraud, and coercion in the casting of some absentee ballots.”

Now 72-years-old, Mark Stebbins still maintains that he is black. “The idea of race has never had any scientific validity,” he said in a June 2015 interview. “… it’s a widely held belief that really doesn’t exist, except as a belief.” White, for his part, now believes that Stebbins can be considered culturally African-American, but not racially black.

1. Lawrence Dennis

(Image source here.)

(Image source here.)

In 1941, Life magazine called former diplomat and intellectual Lawrence Dennis “America’s number one intellectual fascist”. Dennis had first achieved notoriety in the early 1930s with a book and a series of articles in the New Republic criticizing capitalism and advocating that America stop intervening in the economic affairs of its Latin American neighbors to focus on itself.

While his work was initially praised by leftists and even Marxists, Dennis began to hang around white supremacists and the far-right, even traveling to Germany and Italy to meet Nazi officials and Il Duce himself. His 1936 book The Coming American Fascism warned that a fascist system in America was inevitable, and that only the ideas of Hitler and Mussolini could solve the country’s economic crisis.

During World War II, Dennis was accused and put on trial for allegedly plotting against the American government. While he was found innocent, his reputation was ruined, and he spent the last three decades of his life in obscurity before he died in 1977. There has been some interest in him since his death, especially since it’s now come to light that he was actually half-black. Dennis was originally named “Lonnie Lawrence Dennis”, the adopted son of a mulatto couple and biological son of a black woman and white man.

As a child, he toured the Jim Crow South as “The Mulatto Boy Evangelist” along with his mother, even doing a stint in Europe for a while. Around 1913, Dennis quit preaching and cut off all ties to his black relatives to attend the elite Exeter Academy, and later Harvard. His classmates and later fascist friends and allies had no idea about his racial origins, although Charles Lindbergh once remarked that he believed some of his friend’s ancestors “might have come from the near east”.

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15 Creepy Pictures from the Japanese Side of the Internet

15. A festival in Tochigi Prefecture.

weird 12

14. Decapitated heads work just as well as traditional scarecrows.

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13. Kids making poses.

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11. No idea where this thing is.

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10. These little kids are holding up tengu masks, a kind of Japanese demon.

9. I never thought watermelon could be so terrifying.


8. Three people died in a car accident here. That’s supposedly the face of a ghost.


7. Your guess is as good as mine.

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6. H’m, there’s just something about putting creepy faces on inanimate objects.


5. Now here’s a gritty reboot I’d like to see.


4. Some sort of ball of light hovering over a graveyard

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3. A life-sized doll dressed in a kimono.

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2. She seems happy.weird2

1. Some photoshops should just never be done. (EDIT: A reader has pointed out to me that this is actually face paint. My bad!)

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The “Death to Pedophiles” Skull

Antibes, France.

Antibes, France.

On February 10, 2012, a professional diver looking for sea urchins off the resort of Antibes in southeastern France found something far grislier: a human skull. The skull, which was discovered on a seabed that was 10 meters (32 feet) deep into the water, had the words “Death to pedophiles” drawn on it, along with the scribbling of a shooting target.

The diver called the police, and several more dives in the area turned up a pair of arm bones, a leg bone, and part of a jawbone. Forensic tests determined that the bones had belonged to four different people, two men and two women. The skull was estimated to have been that of a 50-year-old man, and the rest of the bones, which were difficult to examine, might have come from people under the age of 30. It’s possible that the bones had been underwater for over a decade.

The upper arm bone discovered.

One of the discovered arm bones.

Authorities have launched an inquiry into cases of murder, kidnapping, imprisoning, and taking and receiving corpses. It’s believed that the bones belonged to the victims of a serial killer. Stephane Bourgoin, a criminologist and expert on serial killers, has suggested that the murderer lives in the area or knows it well.

Stephane Hirson.

Stephane Hirson.

Through further DNA tests, one of the arm bones was eventually identified as belonging to Stephane Hirson, a 17-year-old teenager from Paris who went missing shortly before his 18th birthday in February 1994. Hirson, who suffered from mental problems and had spent time in a psychiatric hospital, left his house without any money or personal belongings.

Some family members, however, were skeptical. One relative said in an interview with French radio that Hirson had no reason to be in southern France, and he had earlier told his mother that he was planning to go to Spain. Another DNA test was conducted, this time from the young man’s father, and the results determined that the bone wasn’t Hirson’s after all.

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The Lobishomen: A Werewolf Whose Blood Can Kill You


The lobishomen is a type of werewolf that appears in Portuguese folklore, most prominently in the southern region of Alentejo. It’s usually described as a typical werewolf, although others have said it looks more like a small, hunchbacked monkey. Explanations for how people become lobishomen varies across the country, from being the murder victims of witchcraft to being the children of parents who had committed incest. The most common explanation, however, is that a lobishomen is born if his mother has had seven (sometimes five) sons in a row. Daughters can become lobishomen too, although they are generally called “loberia”.

The victim’s life is completely normal until he’s hit puberty. For the next seven years, every Saturday night, the adolescent child has an unstoppable urge to quit whatever he’s doing and go out into the woods. He’ll then take off his clothes, fall to the ground, and transform into an ugly and oversized animal, typically a rabbit, wolf, or donkey. Immediately, he starts to run throughout the forest, and he can’t stop until the sun’s come up. According to some variations, he runs because he’s being chased by demon dogs.


Once the seven years are up, the victim finally becomes a lobishomen. During the daytime, he looks like any other man, but he’s very thin and has a yellowish tint to his skin. He continues to suffer an involuntary transformation every Saturday night, but now has an insatiable thirst for human blood. The curse is lifelong, although it can be broken if somebody draws blood from the lobishomen at the exact moment he is transforming. This is really dangerous, however, because humans can die if even a single drop of lobishomen blood falls on them.


The lobishomen legend is also found in Brazil, although it’s considered more of a vampire in that country. Unlike its Portuguese cousin, the Brazilian lobishomen doesn’t kill people, and only attacks women. Women who are bitten by a lobishomen then attack children and drink their blood. The only way to keep lobishomen away is to smear a paste made of Wolf’s Bane and sweet onion around doors, windows, and graves of people believed to be lobishomen.