Sylvia Likens was born on January 3rd 1949 to Lester Cecil Likens and his wife Elizabeth Frances. Her parents were carnival workers and she had 4 siblings. Her family moved around a lot due to their parents' line of work and they often struggled financially.

The boys helped their parents when they worked at the carnival, but the girls would stay with relatives. This was so they were safe and their education didn't suffer. 

Sylvia was described as a pretty, friendly and outgoing girl. She was fond of music and was very protective of her younger sister Jenny.

After their parents' divorced their mother was arrested for shoplifting. Their father made arrangements for them to stay with Gertrude Baniszewski while he worked away.

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Staying with Gertrude Baniszewski


During the first few weeks of being there, it was okay. She treated the girls well and Sylvia would spend time with Gertrude's daughter Stephanie and sing with her.

Things started to go wrong when the payments Lester promised failed to arrive on time. To release her frustration she took it out on the girls and beat them with paddles. 

After a month Gertrude directed all of the abuse onto Sylvia. She would be beaten regularly, was kicked in the genitals, force-fed until she vomited, and then forced to eat her own vomit. Gertrude would also force Jenny to beat her sister and threatened her if she didn't do it. 

She would let the neighbourhood kids come to the house to beat Sylvia regularly. These beatings included burning her with cigarettes, using her as a practice dummy for judo sessions, and seriously injuring her genitals. 

Eventually, Sylvia was not allowed back to school after she was caught stealing. She was brutally beaten, repeatedly kicked in the genitals, whipped, and her fingers were burnt with matches as punishment.


After the endless beatings, Sylvia became incontinent and would wet herself. That's when Gertrude tied her up in the basement alone. Sylvia was abused by several people whilst in the basement, and those people actually paid for the opportunity to torture her. 

Gertrude became more sadistic as time went by. She would bathe Sylvia in scalding water and rub salt in the wounds, denied her food or water, and forced her to eat her own faeces.

One neighbour made an anonymous tip to the local authorities about how Sylvia was treated. However, when a nurse visited the home Gertrude said Sylvia had been kicked out of the house and they didn't know where she was.

In an effort to cover up what she did to the poor girl, Gertrude forced Sylvia to write a letter blaming a group of boys for the beatings.

Sylvia's Death


Sylvia Likens died on October 26th at 16 years old. She died of a combination of shock, malnutrition and a brain haemorrhage. 

Gertrude made one of the local boys call the police from a pay phone. When the police arrived Gertrude showed them the note and told them that a group of boys caused the injuries and that she was caring for Sylvia. 

Jenny Likens took this opportunity to stop the police as they were leaving and said: "Get me out of here and I'll tell you everything." Jenny gave her statement, and the police arrested Gertrude along with everyone involved in the torture of Sylvia Likens. 

The autopsy of Sylvia revealed that she had 150 wounds all over her body, she was suffering from malnutrition, and the skin was peeling away on her face, neck and right knee. They also discovered the following words carved into her abdomen: "I'm a prostitute and proud of it."

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
Gertrude was convicted of first-degree murder in May 1966 and was sentenced to life in prison. She was given a retrial in 1972 but was sentenced to life again. 

However, in 1985 she was released from prison and relocated. She died of lung cancer in June 1990, and she never fully accepted responsibility for the suffering of Sylvia Likens.

Final Thoughts


This case was very upsetting to research and write about. What Sylvia was put through is disgusting, and the fact it was by the person looking after her is horrific. Their father trusted Gertrude and she abused and killed one of his children.

I can't begin to imagine the suffering both Sylvia and Jenny were subjected to. Yes, Sylvia was physically abused but Jenny was being emotionally abused by Gertrude. It took a lot of strength for Jenny to go with the police and tell them everything.

What are your thoughts on what happened to Sylvia Likens? Do you think this could have been stopped and her death avoided? Please share below.

Ursula Kempe was an English cunning woman that practised folk medicine in St Osyth. She would help her friends and neighbours regularly with their ailments, but she was later blamed for causing pain and suffering.

Today's post is about the St Osyth witch trials that took place in the village in 1582, and how it all started with a feud between two friends.

The Feud


The feud began when Grace Thurlow's son fell ill. Ursula visited them to see how he was, and she offered to perform a well-known ritual in an attempt to help him. After she completed the ritual she left, only to return later to repeat the ritual again.

Grace said Ursula repeated this ritual 3 times in total. After her last visit Ursula assured Grace her son would be on the mend, and that night he appeared to be a lot more comfortable.

During this time Grace was also heavily pregnant, and Ursula assumed due to their friendship and her experience that she would be chosen as her midwife. Unfortunately, Grace had already made other plans. Ursula was angered by this and she made her feelings clear.

Grace complained that she was experiencing lameness and threatened Ursula with naming her as the cause of her suffering to a magistrate.


The threats of having her name being connected in any way to witchcraft didn't bother Ursula. She had admitted openly that she had the ability to un-witch people that had been bewitched but could not bewitch them herself. Ursula instead offered to help Grace with her lameness if she agreed to let her be the midwife at her birth, which Grace eventually agreed to.

After the birth of Grace's baby girl they clashed again, but this time over who was going to nurse the child. Grace decided she wanted to nurse her baby, and all seemed to be going well at first. That was until her baby fell from her crib and died of a broken neck.

Ursula had no sympathy and openly said that it would never have happened if she was nursing the baby. After the loss of her baby, Grace's lameness appeared again.

This time Ursula visited unannounced and offered to help, but she asked for 12 pence as payment. Grace accepted and after several weeks she was feeling better. However, when it came to paying Ursula she didn't have the money. Ursula said she would accept cheese instead of money, but Grace had none of that either.

Ursula left again and when she did Grace's lameness came back. She also said that whenever she started to feel better her son fell ill again and vice versa.

Grace decided to speak to Justice Bryan Darcy, a justice of the peace for Essex and tell him about everything. She told Darcy that Ursula was practising witchcraft and that she was to blame for everything that happened to her and her neighbours.

The Investigation


The day after Grace visited Darcy they brought Ursula in for questioning. During the questioning, Ursula was adamant at first that she was not a witch. She told him that she cured the lameness using a ritual she had learnt when she was suffering with it. She only wanted to use her knowledge to help others. 

However, when Darcy promised her leniency she burst into tears and started to tell him everything. She told him all about her 4 familiars and what they did for her. 

She told him that she had 2 female familiars, Piggin a black toad and Tiffin a white lamb. The females were the ones that caused lameness and other bodily harm. She also had 2 male familiars that were both cats. A black cat called Jack and a grey cat called Titty. The males were more dangerous and brought death to the ones Ursula wanted to punish.


Ursula confessed that she had used the familiars to cause harm to others, which included her own sister in law and Graces daughter. She confessed to sending Tiffin to knock over the crib as a punishment for Grace.

Later in the questioning, she tried to shift the blame to another young woman called Alice. She hoped that offering Darcy another witch meant that he would keep his promise of being lenient. It wouldn't stop there though, as she would incriminate several other women in her future confessions.

As a result of Ursula's confessions, all of these women were brought in for questioning by Darcy. Some of the women followed Ursula's example after they were promised leniency and told him everything he wanted to hear. 

Darcy collected more evidence over time and questioned all of the accused. Then on the 29th of March 1582, Ursula and the others were tried at Chelmsford Assizes.

Ursula was indicted for murder by witchcraft with the young woman called Alice. Even though Ursula was promised leniency for her cooperation, she was found guilty of her crimes and sent to the gallows to be hung.


The Discovery


In 1921 at Mill Street in St Osyth 2 skeletons were found in a garden. The founder believed that one of the skeletons was that of Ursula Kempe. Both of the skeletons had iron rivets through their elbows and knees, which was a common practice and was believed to stop the witches rising from the dead.

However, the identity of the skeletons was never confirmed and they could have been any of the women tried in the area between 1582 and 1645.

Final Thoughts


I am not sure if I believe that any of the women tried in St Osyth were witches. I think that the women that did confess did so thinking it would save them from the gallows. It was also sad that this all stemmed from a feud between two women, and as a result, it ended the lives of several women in the village.

What are your thoughts on this story? Do you believe in witches? Do you believe that Ursula was a witch? Share them in the comments below!


Who were Betty and Barney Hill?


Betty and Barney Hill were an American couple that lived in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Barney was an employee of the US Postal Service, and Betty was a social worker. They were an inter-racial couple, which at the time was uncommon in America. Their experience in 1961 was the first alien abduction to be publicised.

The Night of the Abduction


It happened on September 19th 1961 at around 10:30pm. The couple were travelling home from their trip to Niagra Falls and Montreal in Canada.

Niagra Falls. Image credit: Saffron Blaze Photography
While they were driving on the US Route 3 they saw a bright light. Betty said she thought it was a shooting star before realising it was moving oddly. As it moved closer to the car they decided to pull over to get a closer look at it. Betty used a pair of binoculars and saw that it was an "oddly shaped craft" with many lights. She also described the craft as 60 ft long, round, and it appeared to rotate constantly. 

Barney looked through the window of the craft using the binoculars and saw 8-11 humanoids in black uniforms and hats. This made him go into a blind panic and he wanted to get out of there right away. He thought they were going to be captured, so they got back into their car and drove away. 

They both reported hearing a rhythmic sound that they believed was following their car. They also said they experienced their senses dulling and a weird tingling sensation through their bodies.

When they regained consciousness they realised they had travelled 35 miles and had little to no memory of it. When they got home they also noticed it had taken them a lot longer than it should have.

They both experienced strange impulses like taking long showers to wash off the residue, even though they were not sure what happened.  They also noticed some of their belongings were different to how they remembered. Such as the strap on their binoculars had snapped, their watches never worked again, and odd shapes were found on the roof of their car similar to crop circles.

Betty reported their encounter on September 21st and had an interview with Major Paul Henderson. After their interview with Henderson, they were not believed and told they possibly misidentified the planet Jupiter.

Their Hypnosis Sessions


Betty started to read books about UFO's and had dreams about the encounter. Barney stated he believed he had some sort of mental block stopping him from remembering what happened that night. So the couple decided to try hypnosis to remember what happened. 

They started their sessions in January 1964 with Benjamin Simon, and they were both hypnotised separately. Barney went first, and to avoid them overhearing or discussing their memories he would reinstate their amnesia after each session.

Barney's Sessions


Barney went in first and he remembered that his binocular strap was broken when they were running back to their car. He also remembered having the urge to drive into the forest where they were met by 6 men. They told Barney not to fear them. He described them as resembling a human with black hair, grey skin, dark eyes and bluish lips. He also said they communicated mainly using telepathy.

He remembered being taken into the ship with Betty and then being separated. He was then laid on a table but kept his eye closed the whole time he was examined. He felt them examine his genitals, skin, eyes, ears and mouth. He also described them inserting a cylindrical object into his anus and then removing it quickly.

At the end of the examination, he remembered being escorted off the craft and being taken back to their car. There they both watched the ship as it left.

Betty's Sessions


When Betty had her session she became very emotional so it had to be ended. However, when Betty was able to complete the session she recalled being walked through the forest by 2 men. She remembered that Barney followed them but he was in a trance-like state. 

Once they entered the ship they were separated and that was when she was examined. They told her it was to see the differences between their kind and humans.

They examined her eyes, ears, mouth, teeth, and hands. They also took a strand of hair and fingernail clippings. When they were done she also remembered being escorted out of the ship and watching them leave.

Even after their sessions, they were not believed. However, they helped them both come to terms with what happened to them and accept their experience. Barney didn't embrace it like Betty did, but they began opening up and discussing it with family and friends.

Betty claimed she saw UFO's several times since her experience. She also became a well-renowned figure within the UFO community until her death in October 2004. Barney passed away February 1969 at 46 years of age of a cerebral haemorrhage. 

Refutations


Many people believe there are other explanations for what the Hills saw that night, and that they never encountered any aliens.

One theory is that the couple was experiencing hallucinations caused by stress as an inter-racial couple. Betty said this was untrue as they were a happy couple. 

There were also suggestions that Barney may have been influenced by an episode on a TV show called The Outer Limits, The Bellero Shield. When asked about this Betty said she had never heard of it.

Lastly locals to the area the abduction happened say there is an aircraft beacon that appeared and disappeared at the times the Hills say they saw the ship.

Final Thoughts


I am on the fence. I believe there must be life out there, but I don't know what I think of alien abductions. What are your thoughts on aliens and alien abductions? Do you believe they happen? Please share your thoughts below! 

The plantation was built in 1796 in Lousiana by General David Bradford, also known as "Whiskey David". A nickname he got due to his role in the Whiskey Rebellion. Originally the plantation was called Laurel Grove, and David lived alone for years until his family joined him after he was pardoned for his part in the Whiskey Rebellion.

Myrtles Plantation is a large house built in the traditional Creole-cottage style with 22 rooms across 2 floors, and it is surrounded by 600 acres of land. 

Throughout its history, Myrtles Plantation has survived the American Civil War, been through multiple ownership changes, became a bed and breakfast, and also then a tourist attraction as the Most Haunted House in America. It's also allegedly haunted by 12 ghosts, and today I am going to share some of the stories with you guys!

Image credit: Wikipedia/Bogdan Oporowski

The Legend of Chloe


The legend of Chloe is the most well known of the ghost stories told about Myrtles Plantation. Chloe was a servant for Sara and Clark Woodruff. The story tells the tale of Clark forcing Chloe into being his mistress. One day Chloe is caught eavesdropping on private conversations and as a punishment, one of her ears was removed and she began wearing a green turban.

Chloe decided to get revenge on the family and baked a cake laced with oleander leaves. Some believe that Chloe planned to nurse the sick back to health to regain her position in the family. However, if that was her plan it didn't work. After eating the cake Sara and two of her children passed away.

Chloe was then captured by the other slaves at the plantation and hung. They then dumped her body into the Mississippi River, possibly to avoid punishment themselves.

The story is sad but there is no actual proof that any of it happened. There is no record of the Woodruffs owning a slave called Chloe or Cloe, nor is there proof that Sara and her children died of poisoning. They all died after contracting yellow fever.

Regardless of there being no evidence to support this tale, people still believe a woman wearing a green turban wanders the plantation grounds.

The Haunted Mirror



Mirrors were usually covered in homes following a death, this was so the deceased's image didn't get trapped inside the mirror. However, there is one mirror in the plantation that appears to have been overlooked. It is said to hold the spirits of Sara and her 2 children. People have reported seeing them and their handprints in the mirror. 

Ghost Girl


A young girl has been seen at the plantation and is said to be the ghost of a young girl that died at the hands of a voodoo doctor in 1868. Legend has it that she appears in the room that she died in and practices voodoo on anybody staying there.

The Ghost of William Drew Winter


William Drew Winter is the only confirmed death to take place at the plantation. William was shot dead by a stranger on the front porch. Unfortunately, he only made it to the 17th step before he passed away. People say that his ghostly steps can still be heard and that they stop when they reach the 17th step.

Image credit: Mr Jason Hayes/Flickr

The Union Soldiers and Other Stories


The house is allegedly built on an Indian burial ground and visitors have reported seeing a young Native American Woman on the grounds. 

During the Civil War, the Plantation was looted of anything valuable, and one story is that it was robbed by Union Soldiers. As they were stealing from the plantation it's told that 3 of them were killed inside the house. 

There is also allegedly a bloodstain in the doorway of the Plantation that is roughly the size of a body. After many attempts to remove the stain, it would not budge.

Final Thoughts


Myrtles Plantation has been standing since 1796 and has been owned by many different people over the years. I honestly think a building with this much history could be haunted. I know there is proof of only one murder taking place, but I think that a lot of the stories could be true. 

What do you think? Do you believe in ghosts? Let me know down in the comments! Thank you for reading. 

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