Zombies of Miami (Bath Salts Strike Again)

On a Miami, Florida off-ramp, a completely naked man attacked a homeless man with a ferociousness that makes The Texas Chainsaw Massacre look mild. The attacker began tearing away at the victim’s face, biting with his mouth, and then eating the chunks of flesh he tore off. Though the police and hospital are not confirming, the attacker is believed to be under the influence of bath salts–and not the kind that soak your cares away. Bath Salts are an amphetamine, and this is not the first time the drug has lead to zombie-like behavior.

Users snort, smoke, or inject the amphetamine, which can lead to extreme reactions including severe hallucinations. Reports of bizarre and extreme crimes while under the influence continue to flood the news. A man slayed a goat while wearing women’s underwear, a couple repeatedly called 911 to report a non-existent intruder, and more than one person has exhibited the urge to eat another persons flesh!

I don’t think this is quite what Vincent Price was expecting as The Last Man on Earth. But then, who ever said the apocalypse would be predictable? (Oh wait…)

Me, victim of a zombie encounter or just up all night?

Me, victim of a zombie encounter or just up all night?

Immortal Jellyfish

Fans of vampire squids, goblin sharks, and mermaids can delight in the latest research about a jellyfish that–in times of stress and duress–actually reverse ages. The cells change to become YOUNGER. Not sure what pharmaceutical companies have snatched up these beasties to start their quest to provide reverse-aging creams and the like but put it on your vanity with your bee venom masque and you’ll have a display fit for a sixteenth century queen. Now if you can just track down enough virginal blood to bathe in, you’ll look like a baby by the time you die!

Read the NY Times article on the jellyfish here:

Can a Jellyfish Unlock the Secret of Immortality?

Near Death Experience and Voting

In the post-election day news frenzy, here is a great story about a man who died and then was revived, only to ask “Did I vote?”

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/11/06/man-revived-after-dying-wonders-did-i-vote/

Storage Containers of Gore

Fans of Storage Wars know that you never know what you’ll find in abandoned units, but no one expects to find body parts. A  recent discovery in Pensacola, Florida of an entire unit full of human organs in varying states of decomposition is enough to shock even the most seasoned horror fan.  According to the article:

A man reported horrible smells emanating from the unit after winning its contents during an auction. Further examination revealed  a ghoulish collection of human organs in various states of decomposition, all stored in makeshift containers including 32 oz. soda cups and plastic storage containers. The former examiner, Dr. Michael Berkland, was relieved of his official duties in 2003, but had conducted a number of private autopsies during his time in the area. Authorities are unclear who the organs belong to or why they were in the storage unit. 

Read the full article here: Storage Unit Yields Gruesome Discovery
Naturally this reminds me of one of my favorite-of-all-time stories from The Book of the Bizarre: 

In 2007, in Maiden, North Carolina, a man bought a smoker at a police auction of abandoned items from a storage facility. When he opened up the smoker, he discovered what he thought was wood wrapped up in paper. The bundle instead turned out to be a human leg that had been amputated at just above the knee. Police contacted the owners of the storage facility. It turned out that the owner’s son had had his leg amputated after a plane crash and kept the leg for “religious reasons.” She and her son drove some thirty-five miles to retrieve it from the man who had bought the smoker.

It gets better, though! I love this story and I’ve told it on radio interviews a number of times when asked what my favorite “shocking” story from the book is. During an interview with a radio station in North Carolina I received a follow-up to the story from one of the show hosts. They said that not only did they remember the story but it actually didn’t end there. Apparently the amputee didn’t get his limb back without a fight. The now-owner refused to give it up, saying it was his property. So the “original” owner of the leg had to go to court to get his limb back. But wait, that’s not all! They went to COURT TV!!!! And guess what? The amputee had to pay $5000 to win his leg back. That’ll teach him!

Ah, you just can’t make stuff up anymore bizarre than real life.

Funeral Parlor Antics on Huffington Post

ImageMy latest article on Huffington Post all about the amazing things funereal homes are doing to say alive! Like adding a Starbucks, hosting a chili cook off, and more. Plus the origin of the word hearse!

Click below to read more:

Huffington Post Article on Funeral Homes

Zombie Rats!!!!

What a wonderful world. We have vampire frogs, goblin sharks, and even zombie rats!

First, let me warn you this is a pretty gross story. And you know I don’t say that lightly. It involves rats and urine, so read the full article at your own peril…

According to an article by Graham Smith in today’s UKDaily News Online “a parasite that turns rats into zombies and manipulates them into losing their fear of cats has been uncovered by scientists.”

Apparently the rats were injected with something that made them sexually attracted to the smell of cat urine and cats, leading the rats right into the claws of the kitty-killers. This would work great with many of the cats I have lived with in the past–one particularly adapt huntress used to leave me “gifts” on my pillow (dead mice, lizards, bird wings, etc.) but I have certainly had some decidedly lazy cats who came closest to hunting when stalking my slippered feet. So science has created a monster (again) but no scientist can make a cat do something it doesn’t feel like doing. That would be a miracle serum, and we’d all want a vial to use on certain humans too!

Huffington Post: Get Your Freak On!

Huffington Post’s Weird News is host to many fantastic and freaky tidbits of current events and mercurial musings on all things strange including the paranormal! Well I am honored to join the ranks as a blogger for such a remarkable website. You can read my first post here:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/varla-ventura/skeleton-turnkey_b_931955.html

 

Santa’s Corpse?

Oh dear readers! Where does the time go? My hiatus from the virtual world is not without excuses but I won’t bore you with the reasons I have been under a rock until I can actually reveal them! Let’s just say I’ve got a new project cooking with my publisher that I am very excited about but that has taken 666% of my time away from everything else. But don’t worry, Varla is here to stay and today I’ve got a doozie of a recent news story to kick off my new season of freakery.

A recent news story has surfaced about a man who was entombed in a chimney for 27 years.  In May of last year (2010) a construction worker at a Louisiana bank was helping to remodel the bank’s second floor into offices when he discovered the human remains. He pulled out some fabric that was in the chimney and down came tumbling the bones and bits of clothing that once were Joseph Schexnider.

Mystery surrounds how exactly Joseph ended up in the chimney, and investigators are still working the case. Joseph had disappeared years before but his family, who said he was a bit of a drifter following carnivals and taking odd jobs, didn’t report him missing. The Abbeville bank’s second floor was largely left abandoned and no one reported foul smells or cries for help. Any cries from the chimney, police speculate, would have led to the roof. The chimney narrowed to a narrow 3 inch opening, so there was no way out. Exactly how or why Joseph was in the chimney remains to be seen (and we will certainly follow this story) but foul play has been eliminated.

His family buried him last week after detectives finished DNA and other testing.

The Stars at Night are Zombie Bright

You fair Southerners know the bane that is the fire ant, and no where is the problem more predominant than deep in the heart of the great state of Texas.  But now the fire ant is facing a predator of its own. Researchers at Texas A&M University have introduced a tiny phorid fly, originally native to South America, whose task it is to lay its eggs onto fire ants. These eggs hatch into maggots inside the ant, and begin to eat away at the ants’ brains, essentially turning the fire ants into tiny little zombies. The ants wander around for up to two weeks while the maggots eat away at their brains, until at last the ants’ heads fall off. Then the maggot becomes a fly and is ready to start the cycle all over again.

Join me tomorrow when I talk with Patrick Osborne at KTRH Houston, 740 AM on the local dial, at 10:15 am CT (8:15 AM PST). Surely we will speak of zombie ants, haunted hotels, and many other things that are truly bizarre! For those who don’t live local to Houston, you can listen live online.

http://www.ktrh.com/main.html

Six Feet Lower Than Most

Tonight I have an interview with Dave Schraeder from Darkness on the Edge of Town, a paranormal radio show. In honor of such a deep, dark night (a new moon too!) I thought I’d share this particularly gruesome story about a couple of brothers who owned a funeral home in Pennsylvania and were arrested in 2008 for body part trafficking.

In 2008, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Louis and Gerald Garzone, two brothers who owned and operated a funeral home, were found guilty of selling corpses to a black-market trafficker of body parts. The gruesome duo admitted to carving up nearly 250 body parts across the country for various purposes including dental implants, hip and knee replacements, and other medical procedures.

In an elaborate and grisly scheme, the brothers would sell the bodies or body parts to a man named Michael Mastromarino, who ran the company Biomedical Tissue Services. Mastromarino would collect bodies from several funeral homes in the New Your and New Jersey area. He would send a crew to cup up the bodies and then transport the parts to various biomedical facilities—at a hefty price. Tissue from a single body could be sold for as much as $4000.

The selling of bodies for medical purposes itself is not illegal, provided the family and/or the deceased have consented, and the body has been tested and certified to be free of disease. Most of the bodies sold by the Garzones and Mastromarino were given false names and documentation, received no medical testing, and in some cases, had not been stored or refrigerated properly.

Don’t forget to tune in tonight for some truly morbid and bizarre stories on Darkness Radio!

http://www.darknessradio.com/