We have decided to give photo series rest for some time and try something new. Please comment on how much do like these.
01. The Lead Masks Case
On the afternoon of 20th August 1966 a young man aged 18 called Jorge da Costa Alves was flying a kite on the Morro do Vintém (Vintém Hill) in Niterói, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He found two male bodies and warned the authorities. The police waited until the next day to collect the bodies and investigate, as it was already dark and the area was well known for being dangerous due to the presence of drug dealers. The Morro do Vintém had a difficult terrain and was hard to access. It was the place where some locals allegedly witnessed UFO sightings. With the help of firefighters, a team of police officers led by marshal Oscar Nunes arrived at the scene on the next day, 21 August.
The bodies were next to each other, slightly covered by grass. They were wearing suits, lead masks and water-proof coats. There was no sign of violence to the bodies or to the surrounding area. Next to the bodies, the police found an empty bottle of water and a packet containing two towels. The masks were a type typically used for protection from radiation, and it is these masks that have given the case its name.
Police found a small notebook stating: “16:30 estar no local determinado. 18:30 ingerir cápsulas, após efeito proteger metais aguardar sinal mascara” Which translates to: “16:30 be at the agreed place. 18:30 swallow capsules, after effect protect metals, wait for signal, mask”.
On August 17, they left their city, Campos dos Goytacazes, stating that they intended to buy some materials for use at their work. They took a bus and arrived in Niterói at 14:30. They bought the impermeable coats at a small shop and the bottle of water at a bar. The waitress who served them on the bar stated that Miguel seemed very nervous and looked at his watch frequently. From the bar, they went directly to the place where they were later found dead.
Nobody ever came forward with any information regarding the strange deaths, the case remains unresolved.
02. Case of Dorothy Jane Scott
Dorothy Jane Scott was a single mother in 1980 who kept receiving mysterious phone calls at her job in Anaheim, California. Dorothy thought the voice sounded familiar, but she could never place it. The caller threatened to cut her into pieces and let her know he knew exactly where she was every minute of the day.
Alarmed, Dorothy took up karate. It didn’t help her. One night she attended a meeting and became alarmed at the appearance of a coworker. Dorothy and another coworker took their friend to the ER to get checked out.
Once the coworker was treated, Dorothy offered to get her car and pull around to the front of the hospital. As Dorothy’s two coworkers waited for her, they saw her race past them, high beams blinding them. Dorothy was never seen again.
A few hours later, her car was found burning in an alleyway. A week after Dorothy vanished, her parents got a phone call from a man saying he killed Dorothy. The calls from the mysterious man continued for 4 years.
In 1984, Dorothy’s remains were found. After the media reported Dorothy’s death, two final calls were received, asking if Dorothy was home.
So, who killed Dorothy and why? Was it is someone in her past or a random man who was obsessed?
03. Case of Andrew Gosden
Andrew Gosden, 14, from Doncaster, UK, was known as a brilliant young mathematician, with no obvious problems weighing him down, and who would leave a note if went around the corner. He also had a 100 per cent school attendance record. On September 14 2007, Andrew left his house to catch a bus to school. On that Friday morning, however, he had no intention of going to school. Instead, he walked to a park and waited until 8.30am, when he knew that his parents would have left for work.
Andrew then returned home and changed out of his uniform, leaving his blazer hanging from the back of a bedroom chair and placing his shirt and trousers in the washing machine.He withdrew £200 from his bank account, walked to the local train station and boarded a train to London. He did not bring any clothes with him, and wore nothing over his Slipknot t-shirt. He did bring a PSP, but not its charger.
27 days later, 3 frames of CCTV footage confirmed he had reached London, and showed him leaving King’s Cross Station. Unfortunately, by this time, CCTV footage of the surrounding area had been deleted, and no trace of Andrew has been found since. When he purchased his train ticket, the seller informed him that a return ticket was just 50p more; Andrew insisted he only wanted a single ticket. This led to suspicion that he was meeting someone in London. However, he did not have a phone or email address, and searches of home, library and school computers turned up nothing to suggest he had planned anything.
A man, who would not give his identity, went to Leominster Police Station claiming to have information about Andrew. By the time an officer arrived to take details, the man had left. One of Andrew’s favorite television shows was The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin, in which Perrin fakes his death so he can start life anew. Searches of the Thames river for Andrew’s body turned up nothing. His father went to a Muse concert (one of Andrew’s favorite bands) in search of him, but also found nothing.
(I don’t have a solid source for this one) Andrew’s parents put more money in his emptied bank account, in case he needed more. This was never touched.
04. Case of Joan Gay Croft
On April 9, 1947, an F5 tornado ravaged its way through Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas, causing hundreds of deaths and devastating several towns. One of these towns was Woodward, Oklahoma, where 185 people were killed and many more injured.
Joan Gay Croft lived in Woodward and wound up losing her mother that day. Joan’s stepfather was critically injured, and both Joan and her 8-year-old half-sister, Jerri, suffered minor injuries. The two girls were taken to the local hospital to stay in the basement, which was being used as a shelter for refugees.
Sometime during the night, two unidentified men dressed in khaki army uniforms entered the basement and grabbed Joan. When Joan protested that she didn’t want to leave her sister, the two men assured her everything would be okay and that they would return for Jerri. Hospital staff members confronted the men, but they claimed they were taking Joan to another hospital to see her family. The two men were allowed to leave with Joan but did not return for Jerri. Joan was never seen again. Strangely, the men had specifically asked for Joan when they entered the room, indicating that they knew her. She’s never been seen again.
Why would two men take her? A pedophile would likely work alone and would not announce to everyone there that he was there to pick her up. They were dressed in khakis and were not recognized by the local nurses. Why was she taken, and where did she go?
05. Mysterious Chinese porcelain Seals
Since 1780, more than 60 Chinese porcelain seals have mysteriously appeared, scattered around random locations in Ireland. By “seal”, I mean it as an object used to close letters, which serves as a mark of identity to prove the letter wasn’t tampered with during transport.
In 1780, a worker cutting peat near Portlaoise in Ireland found a porcelain seal shaped as a cube, around 28 mm (1 and 1/8 of an inch) wide, with an animal shape sitting on top of it. On the underside each seal has a short message written in Chinese. In 1805, the second one was found in a cave near Cork. In 1816, another one was found in a field near Dublin, another one was found while plowing a field near Tipperary, one was found by workers digging out the roots of a pear tree. Until 1868, 61 seals were found all over Ireland. Here’s a map showing the locations of the findings.
In 1839, an Irishman named Joseph Huband Smith was the first who directed attention towards the seals, reading about them in the Royal Irish Academy. Nobody back then could agree what the messages on the seals mean or if they actually meant anything and what the animal depicted on the top of was. Huband Smith’s theory was that they were brought to Ireland by ancient Phoenician merchants.
In 1840, a man from Belfast named Edmund Getty asked a natural scientist what the animal was, and he confirmed that it was a depiction of a Chinese monkey. He made casts (pictured above) of all 25 seals which were found at the time, and sent them to a friend who worked in Hong Kong, where they were examined by two groups of Chinese scholars. After two years, he got a response. They said that the seals would have been made for educated Chinese men. A man would have owned 20 – 30 of them. Each seal carried a short, positive message, and were used to seal letters with an appropriate message. Chinese scholars agreed on most of the messages. One of them, for example, read “The heart, small indeed, but most noble-minded”. However, there were disagreements about some messages. Scholars from Nanking read one seal simply as “Some friend”, while those from Shanghai read it as “plum trees and bamboo”, but this might be due to the fact that Chinese script can be interpreted in different ways. The seals’ script was quite old, used around 500 years B.C., during the life of Confucius. However, even seals made much later would use the same, archaic script.
In 1980, several seals were displayed(pictured above) in the Irish National Museum in Dublin. Here’s a picture of the display. Among the original seals, there are four which were bought in 1864 by some Dr. Frazer in Canton for comparison. The large one at the bottom, the one above it and the oval shaped one are probably the ones bought by Frazer. At the request from a British TV network filming a series called Arthur C. Clarke’s Mysterious World (more on that in a moment), the seals were examined by Jan Chapman, an orientalist from Dublin’s Chester Beatty library. She first noticed that the material which the seals were made from was strange; Chinese seals are usually carved from minerals, not made of porcelain. They were also bigger than the ones found in Ireland. She was able to identify the china as a product of a manufacture near the major Chinese port of Amoy. She said that the factory started producing china in the 12th century, but she believes that they were made at the beginning of the 1700s, when the factory started exporting porcelain.
This case is based on a chapter from the book Arthur C. Clarke’s Mysterious World, published in 1980 and based on the TV show of the same name. Wikipedia. I also found this post on the private website of some guy named Dr. Mario Hilgemeier. It’s also a summary of the text from the German edition of the Mysterious World. The text references an even older book, the Book of the damned, written by an American named Charles Fort, who collected bizarre stories from around the world at the beginning of the 20th century. Edmund Getty also wrote a book about the seals, which can be read here. There are also these two Irish blog posts about the seals which I found.
There are a couple of theories about the origin of the seals. I already mentioned Huband Smith’s theory about the Phoenician merchants. However, porcelain wasn’t produced in China until the 7th century, so that theory isn’t very likely. C. Fort had a strange theory about their origin: he believed that a forgotten Chinese scholar built a flying machine, which exploded at a great height, scattering its cargo around Ireland. One of the blog posts above speculates about a lost connection between the Irish and Chinese peoples, referencing some anecdotal evidence and Tarim mummies.
Some of the more likely hypotheses are that the seals are a prank, scattered across Ireland by some joker. Dr. Hilgemeier argues that the news of something as strange as the discovery of Chinese seals in Ireland could have been used by some group in the late 18th century as some sort of a signal. He also sent an email to the Museum of East Asian Art in Bath, UK. The response he got back suggests that the seals could have been inserted as presents into crates of tea which were smuggled into Ireland in the 17th century.
This seems like the most likely explanation, but it still has some holes. Why weren’t they found somewhere else in the British Isles or Europe? Why are there no records of them before they were found? Why were they found in such strange locations? Who do you think could have placed Chinese seals in bogs and fields in Ireland, and why?