Mushroom Death Suit: Funerals Go Fungal

The Infinity Burial Suit is the latest in green burial, using mushrooms to consume the body and remove toxins as it decomposes.

I’ve never particularly enjoyed the thought of spending eternity trapped in a box, floating in a gooey mass of embalming fluid and putrefaction. I mean, if I could afford an extravagant, pyramid-shaped crypt with an interactive tour of my mortal remains and/or a mysterious (but ultimately meaningless) undecipherable code to keep people guessing for centuries to come…I might consider it.

Otherwise, I would prefer to become a tree.

Or maybe some fungus.


Thanks to the growing movement toward green burial, there is hope. Jae Rhim Lee and Mike Ma, founders of the Coeio company, created the Infinity Death Suit to provide an eco-friendly alternative to standard burial that would remove the 200+ toxins from the body as it returned to the earth.

The Infinity Burial Suit uses mushrooms to aid decomposition

The fibers of the suit are woven with a strain of spores hand-picked for their voracious appetite for human flesh. The body is placed in the suit and buried within 24 hours, allowing early decomposition to activate the spores.

From the company’s website:

Unlike conventional burial and cremation, they do not use harsh/toxic chemicals, pollute the environment, or waste precious natural resources. The Infinity Burial products also go a step beyond other green burial options, by cleansing and purifying toxins that accumulate in the body. If left unabated, these toxins end up contaminating the surrounding environment.

A special strain of fungus removes toxins from the body as it decomposes

Learn more about the Infinity Burial Suit for you or your pet right here.

via Mysterious Universe

Abandoned Witherell House in Fond du Lac, WI

What is the Story Behind this Mysterious Abandoned House in Fond du Lac?

What happened inside this abandoned house in Fond du Lac to give it such a sinister and bizarre reputation? The Witherell House has a long and mysterious history.

On County Highway K, outside of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, is an eerie old house set back from the road. Though not much is known about the property, its unusual architecture and local legends have made it a point of interest for what may be decades of restless teenagers.

Which is exactly how my fate became entwined with this cursed place.

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The year was 1999. I was 18, living with friends in a wretched little backwoods town about an hour north of Milwaukee in the heart of Deliverance country. As can be expected when you live in the sphincter of the great Dairy State, we were horrendously bored and desperate for adventure one day. We were probably talking about haunted locations or some similar topic, as the night before we had been creeping around the woods near Rienzi Cemetery in search of witch graves and gates to Hell.

A friend from nearby Fond du Lac shared a story he had heard about an abandoned house in the area. According to local legend, a girl had murdered both her parents there. And he knew the location of the house. As a matter of fact, it was just down the road from Rienzi.

How could I possibly resist?

So a group of us jumped in the car and headed off into the wild unknown, completely unaware of the misfortune that would soon befall us.

Fond du Lac abandoned house

Today, the trees and bushes have been trimmed back, and a neighborhood of modern houses sprouted up beside the house. 16 years ago, though, the property was isolated, ominous, overgrown and barely visible from the road. White paint was peeling off to reveal the gray, weathered clapboard beneath. Most of the windows were broken, gaping black voids. A sun room in the back had collapsed inward.

The door in the back was padlocked shut. A large NO TRESPASSING sign should have been enough to deter us at that point…but the house seemed completely neglected. It was falling in on itself. How would anyone notice, or possibly even care, if we went in and looked around?

Well, it turns out someone cares very much.

Someone in our group pushed the door open, probably breaking the latch off the rotting door frame, and we crept inside. I didn’t expect to find anything, but of course I was hoping for anything to substantiate the legend…you know, 100-year-old blood stains, human remains, etc. The first thing I remember seeing was a mattress on the bare wood floor of the living room, in front of a large fireplace. On the mattress was a Ouija board and some burned candles.

There were cans of paint and other supplies covered in layers of dust in the kitchen. I found a few receipts laying around on the counter, the most recent dated 1987. Whoever was attempting to fix the place up seemed to have given up a long time ago.

Musty books were piled on the floor of an upstairs room. I examined a few of them, which appeared to be pathology texts with obscure symptoms and disorders underlined throughout.

The fieldstone basement was extremely dark, so we didn’t go too far down there. I remember noticing a few pieces of rusted metal, perhaps a water heater and furnace, resting just beyond the light that shone down the narrow staircase.

The Letter

Abandoned and haunted Witherell House in Fond du Lac, WI

Back upstairs, along the side of the wall in which the fireplace had been built, I found a single square cupboard door. It opened downward to function as a writing surface for a secretary desk-style compartment in the wall. It was empty, but I noticed an ornate wooden handle at the back. I tugged on it, and realized the whole desk was just loosely set into the wall. I carefully slid it out…to reveal a letter that had been hidden behind it.

The paper was stiff and yellowed, handwritten in pencil. It was addressed to a Mr. J. Witherell, an apology from the Fond du Lac sanatorium that, since the facility was closing, his wife and daughter would have to be discharged. Was this evidence that some unspeakable tragedy may have actually happened there? If the letter was real, how had it never been found before?

Excited by actual, physical evidence to support some semblance of the story I was there to find, I slipped the letter into my back pocket and started toward the door. Just as I was about the exit the house, a Fond du Lac County sheriff rounded the corner from the front of the house and was approaching the door. I quickly alerted the others, but there would be no escape. Through the large front windows, we could see firetrucks and squad cars lined up out on the road.

While most of us were exploring, two members of our group had apparently been throwing around wood and other junk they found laying around. In the process, they managed to knock a fire detector off the ceiling, which triggered an automated alarm at the fire department.

There was a moment of panic, then we decided to go outside and face the firing squad. I wasn’t keen on the idea of a theft charge, so I left the letter on the mantle of the fireplace before stepping outside.

As we were explaining ourselves to the officers, an older woman (the owner or caretaker of the property) walked around the house, surveying the damage. She claimed she lived nearby, and had heard the sound of smashing glass from her home. She said something to the effect that she had been there the day prior and that all the windows were intact. As a result, not only did we all get fined for trespassing, we were assessed restitution for property damage totaling $1,500 each.

We were told that trespassers were pulled out of that house frequently. But why is a dilapidated house that’s been vacant for decades so heavily protected? Why is the grass mowed and the property regularly maintained?

The historical Witherell House in Fond du Lac

History of the Witherell House

I’ve come across several recent references to the house, suggesting rumors still persist. Its reputation for being wired with motion detectors and other security measures is well known.

In a 2014 episode of Real Ghost Stories Online (listen below), hosts Tony & Jenny Brueski briefly discuss the house. They theorize that maybe the owner is trying to protect people from a dangerous presence inside.

I’ve often thought that, if something tragic did in fact happen there, maybe the family couldn’t bear to let the memory wither away with the house. I felt differently in 1999, though. I was angry and highly suspicious. Someone was trying to cover up a violent and brutal crime from their family’s past, and the letter to J. Witherell was the evidence that would justify the outrageous fines I couldn’t possibly afford to pay.

Until recently, I had never found any factual information on the house. I was searching for a record of a sanatorium in Fond du Lac the other day when I stumbled upon a searchable database on the Wisconsin Historical Society website. Much to my disbelief, Fond du Lac’s most mysterious (and arguably most feared) abandoned house had a history. According to the historical record, it is an 1873 Queen Anne known as the Witherell House. This is the first reference I’ve found to the name on the letter, giving credence to its authenticity.

From the description of the property:

Two story, Late Picturesque frame house with clapboard siding. Gable roof with bargeboards. Oddly shaped windows. Pictured in 1874 Atlas of Fond du Lac County.

Phillips, the former sheriff of Onondaga County, New York and a state representative, arrived in Fond du Lac County in 1852 with his brother Lyman Phillips. Primarily a farmer, Phillips was also elected to the state Senate in 1860, and provost marshal of the Fond du Lac district in 1863-1864. Elihu was also the founder and first president of the Fond du Lac Savings Bank.

The Lyman Phillips (Elihu’s brother) house was very similar in design and appeared on Bogert & Haight’s 1862 Map of Fond du Lac County Wisconsin. This residence, however, was destroyed by fire in 1876.

Historical photo of the abandoned Witherell house on Hwy K in Fond du Lac

Historical photo of the abandoned Witherell house in Fond du Lac

Historical photo of the abandoned Witherell house in Fond du Lac

As you can see in the photos above, the house was in much better condition when it was the subject of a historical survey in 1974.

Searching for the Fond du Lac Sanatorium

A vintage postcard of St. Mary's Springs sanitarium in Fond du Lac
Postcard from St. Mary’s Springs Sanitarium c.1901

I have yet to find a record of a facility specifically called the Fond du Lac Sanatorium. Just down the road from the Witherell House, however, is St. Mary’s Springs Catholic high school. It was built in 1901 by the Sisters of Saint Agnes to serve as a sanitarium, but it closed in 1909 to become a girl’s boarding school.

Is that what the letter was referring to?

What happened in the house after J. Witherell’s sick wife and daughter returned home?

It’s worth noting that St. Mary’s Springs, the Witherell House, and Rienzi Cemetery are all on Hwy K within just a few minutes of each other. At the back of the cemetery is a single monument and four small cornerstones possibly marking the perimeter of a mass grave. This is the infamous Witch Circle, rumored to be the final resting place of nuns from St. Mary’s Springs who were excommunicated for practicing witchcraft and getting pregnant.

Real Ghost Stories Online: Abandoned Haunted House?

Have you had an experience with the Witherell House, or have some insight into its real history?
Please share it in the comments below.

READ MORE: Unraveling the mystery of the Witherell House

Chapel of Skulls Made of Human Bones in Poland

The Chapel of Skulls in Poland is adorned with the bones of 3,000 people who died from war, disease, and starvation.
The Chapel of Skulls in Czermna, Poland
The Chapel of Skulls in Poland

Inspired by the Capuchin crypt in Rome, Father Vaclav Tomaszek began building St. Bartholomew’s Church, or Kaplica Czaszek, in Czermna in 1776. He spent the next 18 years exhuming bones from mass graves left over from years of war, disease and famine. Skulls and bones of 3,000 people were meticulously cleaned and arranged in the chapel as memorial and memento mori to visitors.

A trap door opens to the basement where bone fragments of another 21,000 have been interred.

When Father Tomaszek died, his skull was placed on the altar beside a syphilis skull, a skull said to have belonged to a giant, and others he had found interesting.

Skulls on the altar of the Czermna chapel

An angel among the bones

Skulls and crossbones on the chapel's ceiling

A trap door into the basement of the chapel
Images: Wikimedia Commons

X-Ray Reveals John Dee Painting Originally Had Circle of Human Skulls

A painting of 16th-century mathematician and occultist John Dee performing an experiment for Queen Elizabeth I has been hiding a dark secret.
This painting of occultist John Dee originally had a circle of skulls
Why was the circle of skulls covered up? Photo: Wellcome Library

In preparation for its exhibition at the Royal College of Physicians, an x-ray of a painting by Henry Gillard Glindoni has revealed a surprisingly dark secret. In the painting, John Dee, a man once known as “the Queen’s conjurer” performs an experiment for Queen Elizabeth I. What the x-ray revealed, however, is that Dee was originally standing in a circle of skulls.

For The Guardian, Mark Brown writes:

X-ray imaging of the stately Victorian artwork has revealed that Dee was originally surrounded by human skulls before the ghoulish image was painted over, probably because it was too odd for the buyer. But curators of an exhibition opening on Monday believe it sums up the conundrum of Dee: should we remember him as brilliant pioneering scientist, or as an occultist who thought he could talk to angels?

X-ray image reveals human skulls hidden in a painting of John Dee
X-ray image of the circle of skulls hidden in the painting of John Dee.

It is not known why the skulls were covered up, but exhibition curator Katie Birkwood concludes it was likely at the request of the person who commissioned the painting:

“Glindoni had to to make it look like what we now see, which is august and serious, from what it was, which was occult and spooky. That epitomises the two different impressions of Dee which people have and the fight between them.”

The exhibition Scholar, courtier, magician: the lost library of John Dee runs from January 18 to July 29 at the Royal College of Physicians. It includes a selection of Dee’s books with his personal notes scrawled in the margins, as well as his crystal ball and an obsidian magical mirror.

h/t Odd Things I’ve Seen

Wisconsin Urban Legends Panel at 2016 Milwaukee Paranormal Conference

Panel on Wisconsin urban legends, as well as new guest speakers, announced for the 2016 Milwaukee Paranormal Conference happening this October 14-16.
Cult of Weird will present a panel on Wisconsin urban legends at the 2016 Milwaukee Paranormal Conference

The latest round of guests to appear at the 2016 Milwaukee Paranormal Conference have been announced. Besides an exciting list of speakers (below) to supplement an already great lineup, a new panel has been added to the schedule.

There’s no shortage of weird in Wisconsin. If you’re from here, you have likely followed one odd legend or another down a creepy back road with the hope of encountering something otherworldly. Ghosts, witches, goatman, reclusive circus folk…you know, the usual. That’s why this year’s Paracon will include a panel on Wisconsin’s Wildest Urban Legends.

Here’s what to expect:

This panel will talk about one of the more fun aspects of our folklore– the urban legend. We’ll be talking about Menomonee Fall’s Haunchyville, an alleged colony of angry little people, the bloody legend of Boy Scout Lane in Stevens Point, the break out star of the 2015 Milwaukee Para Con–Goatman!–and more. This panel includes J. Nathan Couch (Goatman: Flesh or Folklore?), Charlie Hintz and Christina Rickman(Cult of Weird), and Valerie Kedrowski (Stevens Point Paranormal). Moderator: Tea Krulos (Monster Hunters, Riverwest Ghost Stories).

Newly announced guest speakers include:

  • UFO researcher and MUFON member Chase Kloetske
  • Beyond Deep Black Radio host Nick Roesler
  • Kristan T. Harris on “The Hidden History of Giants”
  • Dark Star Ministry presents: “Ouija & Tarot: Occult Tools and the Paranormal”

More: MKE Paracon 2016 First Details Announced

Buy your tickets now right here.

For more info go to milwaukeeparacon.com