Zak Bagans

Deadly Possessions – Peggy the Doll and John Murrell’s thumb

image Our next outing on the Paranormal Antiques Roadshow, also knows as Deadly Possessions, brings Peggy the Doll and the mummified thumb of John Murrell.

Jayne Harris is the owner of Peggy the Doll, a doll so sinister that merely looking at her can cause pain, suffering and even a heart attack. Or so claims Katrin Reddick, who believes that looking at an image of Peggy caused her to have severe heart trauma.

Peggy is brought to the museum with a bag over her head, because she is so dangerous, so completely out of control, that a warning has to be display before the camera looks fully upon her. But strangely, before we get to the unmasking, flies begin to swarm Zak, the ballroom camera fails and after just moments of looking at her, Zak is filled with rage and wants to kill everyone. Normally when people say that sort of thing, you get them counseling and medication.

But as the power of Peggy fills the museum, its time for Katrin to face her fears. Zak brings in psychic Patti Negri, who we saw on the Black Dahlia episode. She has been enlisted to perform a seance to make contact with the spirit of the doll and perhaps calm the devil within.

As the seance gets underway, a set of candles flickers every so slightly and there is a chime that might be associated with a typewriter. However, there is no change in the doll and no one in the room seemed to suffer ill effects. Of course, Katrin is unsettled after being left in the room with the doll.

The next strange trinket is the mummified thumb of John Murrell, housed at a Tennessee museum. Mary Skinner brings the bizarre item and gives a bit of detail about John. Apparently he was a horse thief and bandit and caught the attention of Mark Twain, who writes about him in the book, Life on the Mississippi.

One of John’s tricks was to dress up as a minister, and while giving fake sermons, his band of outlaws would steal horses. Despite his notorious ways, John was not killed in some wild shootout, or hunted down for a handsome reward. He died from tuberculosis, common for the day, but his body was then mummified and put on display. But there are claims that he was "dismantled" and his body parts sent to different places. It’s claimed he was decapitated and the head is currently missing.

It is claimed that the thumb, like Peggy, can cause illness and distress in people. It is believed to still retain some energy and power. To confirm this, Zak has Jamie Pistel, a descendant of John Murrell, come to the museum and they put the paranormal puck near the thumb. Jamie then asks questions and they receive the words, Cut, Cave, Swim and Drowned.

Out of context, these don’t mean much. But Bud Steed has a tale that might add some detail. He explains that he and a buddy were coming home when they saw some men fishing a body out of the river. However, the bodies disappeared into the fog and at no time did they pay attention to Bud’s intrusion.

So now we have yet another doll that is so powerful, so malicious, so intrinsically dangerous that instead of burying the doll, or destroying it, or hiding it where no one can find it, it’s paraded about on television where the only thing keeping the spirits from penetrating and ripping out your soul, is a cloth sack over the head. It’s a good thing the evil spirits are so easily thwarted and contained.

I find it shocking that someone would believe that a doll is responsible for causing heart problems. And not even looking at the real doll, but a picture of it. Funny how the owner is still kicking and she’s been looking at it for years.

What about Zak getting all that aggression? Well, the word psychosomatic comes to mind. Or perhaps, in all seriousness, Zak may be suffering from real mood swings and might need to have that checked out.

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Deadly Possessions – Conjure Chest and St. Valentine’s Day Massacre – S01E02

image As the Demonic Antiques Roadshow continues, Zak, sitting as though he is the Mafia Don this time, gets two new relics to look over. The first is known as the Conjure Chest and those who store their clothes inside will most assuredly die. It might take 50 years for the curse to take full effect, but in the end, it’ll get ya. The other involves some mob on mob violence – St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.

The Conjure Chest is reported to have taken the lives of 17 people in its long history. The story goes a little something like this. It was built by a slave, Hosea. Unfortunately, his owner, Jacob Cooley, didn’t appreciate the effort and beat the poor man to death. However, instead of destroying the chest like you would expect, he kept it and put it in their child’s room after all.

But to seek revenge this act of violence, the slaves put a curse on the chest. They didn’t put a curse on him or his family, but instead chose furniture. From there, multiple deaths are attributed to the chest. Not to the diseases and piss poor medical treatment of the time, but to a chest of drawers that will supposedly taint your clothes to the point they can kill.

However, many believed in the curse and at one time a Conjure Woman took it upon herself to take the curse away. Shortly after she did so, she died. Now, it appears the curse may be lifted, but Zak isn’t taking chances. He refrains from even opening the drawers. He’ll get the museum curator to do it, but he’s too damn scared. He will, however, take full spectrum photos around it.

Low and behold, a blob appears which they feel is an owl – a part of the curse lifting ceremony that was performed.

For the next segment we have a B-grade movie actor show up in mobster garb to offer Zak a deal he can’t refuse. After insulting Zak a couple of times and doing his best to sound like a thug, the stranger shows a picture of the actual St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, believed to have been orchestrated by Al Capone. The mobster clown then disappears and Zak is off to the Mob Museum to check out their display.

It is all shockingly, shockingly, cheesy. Why not just ask Zak to come and look at the exhibit? Who doesn’t want to check out mob history?

They Mob Museum has pieces of the very wall the gangsters where shot against and one of the guns believed to have been used. Zak is able to very lightly touch the gun and then gets down to capturing EVPs.

Billy and Zak believe they capture some voices that are residual energy from the wall.

To be honest, I found this episode to be rather silly. None of it really makes any sense. A curse on a clothes chest? If they were really able to conjure up some serious mojo, why curse a chest? Why not kill the landowner? Why not give him a series of crippling and debilitating heart attacks? Why not make him bleed out his eyes and other orifices? That would have certainly made him suffer. Certainly more along the lines of what he deserved, not some curse on a piece of wood that will affect random people. Nothing about that story makes sense. It doesn’t seem tangible. It doesn’t sound logical. Obviously, I wasn’t there and have no idea what happened. But then again, neither was anyone else telling this story.

The piece about the mob is just laughable. The guy bringing in the picture looks like a reject from a pizza commercial. Anyone remember a Godfather’s Pizza? It’s just silly. And what are we supposed to gain from this little exercise? There was some sort of injustice? There is some hidden message? We get to see a Tommy gun and pieces of a brick wall. They are kind of neat and a tricky bit of business from the mobsters of the day, but are we saying this wall and gun are cursed items? Is the gun going to go off if we don’t ask permission before taking it’s picture? Is the wall going to collapse if we say the blood stains make it ugly? Where exactly are we going with this?

Again, these are not pieces meant to stay in Zak’s collection, but are offerings from others who have come into odd curios and want to share their stories. These are interesting stories, but it’s really hard to put any stock into the legends surrounding them.

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Deadly Possessions – Dibbuk Box and Robert the Doll – S01E01

image Since we’re in a slight lull from Ghost Adventures, let’s have a look at the other project Zak has been working on. As you may have seen from newspaper articles, Zak has been collecting odd trinkets from the world of the paranormal, much like Ed and Lorraine Warren and their nephew John Zaffis. He’s been able to procure a cauldron supposedly used by Ed Gein and the VW Bus used by Dr. Kevorkian. After amassing a collection of oddities, he’s opened his museum of the bizarre to the public.

Along with the items he’s personally collected, he’s open to others bringing in their treasures, much like a demonic Antiques Roadshow. To that end, the first item up for inspection is the Dibbuk Box. This box was actually featured on Haunted History back in 2013, or at least that’s when I saw it. This is the same Dibbuk box that was purchased by Kevin and subsequently sold on eBay. Jason now owns the box, but he’s had problems with it. Problems he solved by locking it in another vessel and burying it in the ground.

Until now. Jason and Kevin have unearthed the relic and brought it to Zak. He decides to put the box in his "isolation chamber" and has Kevin hang out with it. What does Kevin do? Why open it of course. He then starts mumbling what sounds like a Poe poem (although I have no idea what it is). Zak thinks he’s speaking in tongues, or is possessed, or something equally bad. We can’t really see too much because there is an old style lamp right in the way of Kevin’s face the entire time. However, he does say there is something lurking down there with him.

They take it to a Rabbi, who surprisingly doesn’t seem all that concerned about it, but, Kevin breaks into a coughing fit and sweats like he’s been doing some serious manual labor. Remember, he opened the Dibbuk Box, so clearly he must exhibit some sort of side effect.

What happened to the Dibbuk Box? What did they ultimately do with it?

The other part of the show involves Robert the Doll, perhaps the inspiration for Chucky. It’s a very old toy, owned by a boy named Robert who identified with the doll to the point of calling it Robert and he went by his middle name, Eugene.

Eugene had the doll for decades and continued to both play with and speak to the doll his entire life. Or so the legend goes. It’s now in the possession of East Martello Museum and his caretaker, Cori Convertito.

There is an odd past for Robert, to the point that he is so dangerous and so mischievous and so prone to causing terror that the only recourse is put him on display. You just have to be respectful. Ask permission before you take his picture and don’t make any disparaging comments or lest the curse take hold.

Such is the plight of Bonnie Randolph who comes to beg Robert for forgiveness because she took his picture without permission. Also, while looking at the exhibit, someone else made a derogatory comment about Robert, but she somehow took the brunt of his anger. I’m not sure why she takes responsibility or why evil got dumped in her lap, but there it is.

But wait, before we get to that. As the doll is displayed for Zak, his man-troll Theodore comes in and exclaims in surprise at the visage of Robert. Clearly there is nothing staged about this scene and Zak springs into action. He tells Theodore he needs to apologize to Robert or else they’ll probably find him dead on the steps. (I added that last bit, it’s not in the show)

Bonnie Randolph who believes in the power of the evil eye from Robert, offers her apologies like begging for forgiveness from a Mafia Don. She is brought to tears while explaining Robert is responsible for her terrible driving that involved her in 3 accidents and that she’s not clumsy, it was Robert that pushed her down the stairs causing all sorts of medical problems. All because she took his photograph without asking, even though he was out on display for all to see, and someone else made smartass comments about him.

Let’s be realistic here. If this doll is so capable of evil, and quite frankly, Cori believes it to be true by the way she talks and handles Robert, why isn’t Robert locked in a vault, hidden deep within the earth where he can’t see anyone and no one can make the terrible mistake of taking his picture without his permission. If he’s so bloody dangerous, why is he just sitting there like a spectacle? I’m sorry, but the whole thing is just shockingly foolish.

But if a doll really could control traffic, could I have a go with it please? I could use it to move the other cars out of the way and cut my work commute time in half.

Also, does anyone else note the contradiction in Zak asking to take a picture with the doll after they’ve already been filming it?

I don’t believe either of these items are meant to be part of Zak’s collection, I believe they just wanted to brave unleashing pure evil and truck it across the country for a spot on his show. Nothing harmful in that right?

Quick update. The “chanting”, “mumbling” or “speaking in tongues” you hear from Kevin in this episode is him reciting lines from a poem called “Shadowman” he wrote back in 2012. It has nothing to do with him somehow being possessed by the contents of the box. Taken at face value, it’s a little bit of theater, a flair for the dramatic and perhaps just a hint of being staged. If you listen to the link, you’ll notice Kevin’s voice sounds the same in the recording as it does in the show, so clearly he’s “not out of it”, or “not himself”. It’s a pretty decent reading actually, but it’s obviously bogus evidence.

Kevin Mannis – The Shadowman

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Ghost Adventures – The Domes of Casa Grande – S12E09

image For this episode, we have Zak, Billy and Aaron, literally losing their minds and running scared because they think the devil is after them.

Out in open spaces of Casa Grande, Arizona are the remains of what has been dubbed, "The Domes" – the relics of a tech company that never opened it’s doors. These strange buildings give off an other worldly appearance with shapes that resemble a caterpillar and a UFO. But it’s not fun and games as Zak weaves his sinister sounding tale of Satanic rituals, dead bodies, blood drinking and human sacrifice. That’s quite a villainous cocktail!

As part of his cavalcade of witnesses who back up these rumors, we once again meet someone who’s had such a shocking experience they vowed never to return – until the cameras show up. This poor chap says something latched onto him and followed him home. This caused aggression and suicidal thoughts. And while relaying this story, both Zak and his guest feel pressure on their chest and a strong need to exit the dome.

Another witness, a US Marine Veteran, says he has seen a huge black shadow haunt the mountain edge. He also claims to have found the remains of a dog. Well, the collar and skin of a dog which must clearly be the work of Satanic evil doers! He also states a body was found in the dome, wrapped in black plastic and chucked off to the side. No real connection to Satanic rituals as wrapping someone in plastic isn’t normally how that sort of thing is done.

Additionally, he claims hundreds of chickens were found dead in the dome with blood scattered with reckless abandon. It was a busy night for the forces of darkness if they needed that many chickens. Or perhaps it was a BBQ that went terribly awry. Either way, he only heard about these incidents, was not part of them first hand, so we’re clearly getting solid 12th hand knowledge of what took place.

But the piece de resistance is the former satanic priest turned co-pilot to the powers of light, Pastor Jesus Gonzalez. Jesus claims he participated in multiple rituals and even saw a man stab himself in a demonic fit. Not to be rude or cruel, but I’m not sure how that’s possible since he’s vision impaired. He also claims to have been attacked by demons now that’s he spreading the word of the Gospel. And to prove the point, the devil shows up to the interview to belch.

We also need to keep in mind, that according to Jesus, there is a Native American curse on the land.

The investigation starts with Zak, Billy and Aaron in the dome together. Billy says he hears a growl off to the side, while Zak says he feels something touch his left arm. At the same time there is some garbled mess in the recorder.

Things turn pretty zany as Jay says he sees something happening near one of the static cameras. The motion sensor goes off and the image gets blurry. Jay then claims someone is knocking on the RV door even though the other three are still in the dome together. At least it’s a polite intruder/demon that knocks before entering.

Armed with the full spectrum camera, Zak takes several photos, of which one has a large shadow figure on it. Or more to the point, one picture has a big, black blob on the left hand side. Clearly that’s the side of the devil, therefore, a demon made an appearance.

For the next part, Aaron goes into one dome, while Billy heads off into the other. Zak stays behind because Jay needs a chaperon.

Aaron sits with his Ovilus and gets the words, Sit, Jesus, Disaster and Demon. He also feels the cold presence of something or someone.

Meanwhile, Billy, who has worked himself into a paranoid fit begins to recite the Lord’s Prayer he found on a card next to Aaron several hours before. This is clearly a sign, and while saying said prayer, he feels a tight pressure in his chest, pains in his stomach and runs for the RV where he nearly gives Zak and Jay a heart attack.

Additionally, Aaron is having his own issues and busts out of the dome. As we catch up with him, he reveals to the static camera that he just saw a shadow with horns and everything.

A pretty entertaining episode to say the least. But I have to ask, with all these wild stories of the Devil, the demonic, the bodies and the trouble, why hasn’t the current owner just destroyed these buildings and cast the demons out? Oh wait, that would impact profits, can’t have that.

Was it me, or was the owner a pretty jovial sort of a guy? I mean he comes out to politely ask Zak to sign the waiver and then gives him a tour of the place. He also says Zak is more likely to get hit on the head from falling concrete than from something supernatural. He doesn’t seem too concerned about demonic forces does he? I guess he has the same idea, that all this satanic talk is just a bunch of stupid kids acting like idiots, getting drunk, doing drugs and telling each other bullshit stories.

So this just goes to show, that when you head out to the quiet plans of Arizona where sound can travel for thousands of feet, sit in a circular room with wild acoustics and think about the devil too hard, you’ll make yourself believe in anything.

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