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Wisconsin’s Wildest Urban Legends Panel at the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference

Learn about some of the strangest legends from the weird backwoods of Wisconsin this Sunday, October 16th at the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference.
Wisconsin urban legends panel at the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference

The Milwaukee Paranormal Conference has a lot of weird to offer this weekend, including a Q&A with Paranormal Lockdown star Katrina Weidman, a talk by Loren Coleman (International Cryptozoology Museum) on the Minnesota Iceman, a debate on the Roswell UFO crash with Donald R. Schmitt and Mark O’Connell, and much more.

So it’s only fitting that, for the first time ever, Cult of Weird will be presenting a panel on the many strange urban legends from the backwoods of weird Wisconsin! The panel will be moderated by conference director Tea Krulos with Cult contributor and resident goatman expert J. Nathan Couch, Valerie Kedrowski of the Stevens Point Paranormal Club, my partner in crime Christina Rickman, and myself.

Here’s what we’ll be talking about:

  • Lover’s Lanes and Creepy Roads
    Hogsback Road and goatman, Boy Scout Lane, Paradise Road
  • I Dare You to Go There
    Haunchyville, St Nazianz, Mary Nohl House, Maribel Caves Hotel Hell
  • Phantoms
    The ghost of Al Capone, Bloody Bride Bridge, Phantom Hitchhiker of Hwy 12
  • Reality vs Urban Legend
    Ed Gein’s cauldron, Slenderman, werewolves, Milwaukee Lion
  • Audience Q&A

Come to the conference (there are great things happening all weekend) and hear about some odd, horrific and/or quirky Wisconsin legends. Also, you can find us in the vendor hall all weekend next to the Grave Digger’s creepy Halloween candles.

The Milwaukee Paranormal Conference is happening this Saturday and Sunday, October 15-16. Catch the panel on Sunday at 1pm in the UWM Ballroom West.

Wisconsin's Wildest Urban Legends panel at Milwaukee Paranormal Conference

More info at milwaukeeparacon.com

Al Capone

Chasing the Ghost of Al Capone

If you’re looking for the ghost of Al Capone, these five places are where you’re most likely to encounter the spirit of the legendary gangster.

There is no more famous name in American crime history than Al Capone, the powerful mob leader who ruled Chicago through a haze of cigar smoke with an iron fist. Larger than life, Capone died in 1947, but some say his strong will and personality has carried on beyond the grave.

According to various witnesses, Capone’s ghost can be found traversing thousands of miles in the afterlife, showing up at a variety of his old haunts. Here are just a few of the places where it is claimed you might have an encounter with Alphonse Gabriel Capone—former gangster, bootlegger, racketeer, head of the Chicago Outfit, and potential wandering spirit.

Eastern State Penitentiary
Philadelphia, PA
The cell of Al Capone in Eastern State Penitentiary
Al Capone’s prison cell in Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary

Al Capone’s ghost stories begin when he was still alive. Capone’s mob executed the brutal Saint Valentine’s Massacre on Feb. 14, 1929. Capone’s men, dressed as policemen, entered a garage on Chicago’s North side owned by Capone’s rival George “Bugs” Moran. There they told seven of Moran’s men to stand and place their hands against the garage wall where they were gunned down in a hail of machine gun fire. It was a sensational, sick story of violence that made the general public call for an end to mob violence. Capone himself was soon rounded up and sentenced for carrying a dangerous, concealed weapon. He was sentenced to serve time and spent 8 months at Eastern State Penitentiary from 1929-1930.

Capone was provided with a lavishly furnished cell, complete with oriental rugs and a cabinet radio, but suffered in a different way. The story goes that Capone was tormented by the ghost of James Clark, one of the victims of the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre. Clark was Moran’s brother-in- law, and legend says Capone could be heard at night by other inmates begging Jimmy to leave him alone. Stories say the ghost of Jimmy Clark continued to dog Capone after he was released from Eastern State, following him around to harass him.

The penitentiary was also known for its cruel torture practices to inmates, such as dousing them with cold water in winter months, chaining their tongues to their wrists, and leaving them strapped tightly to chairs for extended periods of time. They also had a solitary confinement room called “The Hole,” where they would be held without light, human contact, and little food. The prison was abandoned in 1971 and remains a favorite spot for paranormal investigators.

Maribel Caves Hotel aka “Hotel Hell”
Maribel, WI
Maribel Caves Hotel, also known as Hotel Hell, in Maribel, WI

Built in 1900, the Maribel Caves Hotel, renamed by local youth as the “Hotel Hell” was rumored to have been owned by Capone who used it as a front for his bootlegging business, along with the water bottling plant next door. Maribel, a town of about 350 people, is located in rural Wisconsin, which was a favorite hideout destination for many Chicagoland criminals. Capone’s ghost, trapped in his bootlegging days, is said to still frequent the grounds, and a well on the property is said to be a “portal to hell.”

In actuality, the therapeutic spa and hotel was open until the 80s, when fire destroyed the interior and just left the outer stone structure in place. The eerie, fire scorched building developed into local urban legend. Teens daring each other to enter the allegedly supernatural location became a pastime for bored rural youth or adventure seekers on a road trip. Unfortunately, not much is left to see of the Hotel Hell. Only a small part of the building remains standing—a 90 mph windstorm destroyed most of the structure in 2013.

Bachelors Grove Cemetery
Midlothian, IL
Bachelors Grove Cemetery
Bachelors Grove Cemetery. Photo: Matt Hucke/Wikipedia

Ask any experts on Chicago ghostlore and one of the first places they’ll point you is to one of Illinois’s most haunted plots of land, Bachelors Grove Cemetery, established sometime around 1840 near the suburb of Midlothian. It’s located down a short trail that leads through the woods to the graveyard, surrounded by a chain-link fence and a lagoon covered in thick algae on one side.

Claims of activity here are quite substantial. One of the most interesting pieces of ghost evidence is a photo taken in the cemetery in 1991 by Chicago group Ghost Research Society. Using infrared film, they captured what appears to be the ghost of a forlorn woman in a white dress, sitting on top of a headstone.

The land is supposedly crowded with entities— there’s reports of flying balls of light, a disembodied crying baby has been heard, a ghost of a farmer and his horse has been seen plowing the ground, a phantom farmhouse appears and disappears, and even a two headed spirit has been spotted. It is also said that Al Capone and his gang used the secluded cemetery’s lagoon to dispose of dead bodies they accumulated during Prohibition. Now, Al Capone’s cigar chomping ghost will put in an occasional appearance, wandering by the graveyard’s lagoon.

Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary
San Francisco, CA
Alcatraz

In 1931, Capone was sentenced to 11 years prison time and was sent to Cook County Jail before being transferred to a federal prison in Atlanta. Sick of Capone’s ability to leverage the system, the decision was made to transfer “Public Enemy Number One” to America’s most famous prison, Alcatraz, where Capone was to be just another name and number.

Capone was shipped off on a prison railroad car to the Rock in 1934. After settling in, Capone filled his time by playing banjo in the prison band. He often practiced playing the banjo in the empty shower room. Tour guides and visitors have reported hearing a ghostly banjo twang in the shower room and from his cell B-181 (later renumbered B-206).

Other gangster ghosts have been spotted—”Machine Gun” Kelly in the prison’s chapel and Alvin “Creepy” Karpis in the prison bakery and kitchen. D-block is considered to be a hotspot for ghosts by several paranormal investigation teams.

Suffering declining health from an untreated case of syphilis, Capone was transferred to the Federal Correctional Institute of Terminal Island before being released in 1939. He retired to Palm Island, Florida to live out the rest of his life.

Mount Carmel Cemetery
Hillside, IL
The grave of Al Capone in Mount Carmel Cemetery, Hillside, IL
Al Capone’s grave in Mount Carmel Cemetery. Photo: ericvv/Creative Commons

Capone died on January 25, 1947. His final resting place, alongside other members of the Capone family, is the eerie Mount Carmel Cemetery. Besides Capone, a rogue’s gallery of other mobsters, like Frank Nitti, Sam Giancana, and “Machine Gun” Jack McGurn, suspected of being one of the executers of the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre. Visitors often leave a small gift on Capone’s grave—a cigar, flower, coins, bottles of alcohol. Be respectful when visiting—if you’re not, it’s rumored Capone’s ghost will chase you out.

The cemetery is also home to Julia Buccola Petta, “the Italian Bride.” Petta died in 1921 during childbirth and was buried here in her wedding dress (a Sicialian custom), along with her still born baby. The story goes that after her death, Julia’s mother, Philomena, began having a series of intense dreams of her daughter pleading with her to exhume her body. After asking various officials, Philomena finally was able to exhume Julia’s grave six years later and found that her body was perfectly intact, as fresh as the day it was buried. The grave is marked with a statue of a woman holding a bouquet of flowers on top of it. Porcelian photographs on the base of her tomb show Julia on her wedding day and again after she was exhumed. An inscription in Sicilian translates as “What is this strange photograph taken six years after her death?” Since her reburial, Julia’s spirit has been spotted several times wandering around Mount Carmel.

Al Capone’s ghost will also haunt the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference where he’ll be discussed as part of the “Wisconsin’s Wildest Urban Legends” panel, sponsored by Cult of Weird. Guest speaker Ursula Bielski will also be giving a talk on her research of Bachelors Grove cemetery for her new book “Haunted Bachelors Grove.” More info: milwaukeeparacon.com


Tea Krulos is a freelance journalist and author from Milwaukee. His books include Heroes in the Night and Monster Hunters (both available from Chicago Review Press). He is also the director of the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference.

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

Milwaukee Paranormal Conference 2016 First Details Announced

The Milwaukee Paranormal Conference returns this year with guest speakers, panels, screenings and more. Here’s a quick look at the first details.
Milwaukee Paranormal Conference 2016

Get your fix of weird Wisconsin this October at the the 2016 Milwaukee Paranormal Conference! This year’s con will be held October 14-16 at the Helene Zelazo Center for the Performing Arts located on the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee campus.

Speakers will include:

  • Loren Coleman, founder of the International Cryptozoology Museum
  • Chad Lewis, Wisconsin paranormal researcher, Unexplained Research
  • Mary Marshall, founder and director of The Paranormal MD
  • Allison Jornlin, Milwaukee ghostlorist
  • Celesté Contreras, organizer, Día de los Muertos Milwaukee
  • Summerwind Restoration Society
  • Paranormal Investigators of Milwaukee

The first panels announced are:

Haunted Roadtrip with ghost guides Mike Hoke (Cedarburg Ghost & Dark History Walking Tours), Lisa Van Buskirk (Madison Ghost Tour), Kathi Kresol (Haunted Rockford, author of Murder & Mayhem in Rockford, Illinois). Moderated by Mike Huberty of Minneapolis Ghost Tour and the See You On The Other Side podcast.

Searching for Wisconsin’s Sasquatch with Linda S. Godfrey, Jay Bachochin (WPI Hunts the Truth), and Jen and Larry Dopke (Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, Wisconsin). Moderated by Sanjay R. Singhal, RA (Beyond the Forest Radio).

There will also be a pre-con party, Ghost Story Open Mic, Masquerade Ball, screening sessions and more. Con director Tea Krulos (Monster Hunters) kicked off the inaugural Milwaukee Paranormal Conference last year with great success. This year is sure to be bigger, better…and undoubtedly weirder.

Tickets available now right here.

Loren Coleman of the International Cryptozoology Museum
Loren Coleman of the International Cryptozoology Museum will be a keynote speaker at Milwaukee Paranormal Conference 2016

More info right here.

See: Close Encounters at the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference 2015

Cult of Weird 2015 Fall Reading List

Peculiar children, cannibalism, and the glorious misadventures of a dead man’s head top the list of macabre history and strange fiction on this year’s fall reading list.
Cult of Weird fall reading list

If you’re looking for the perfect weird book to curl with this fall, here is a collection of macabre history and strange fiction recommended by the Cult of Weird community. *Cult of Weird is not responsible for paper cuts, nightmares, existential breakdowns or sudden metamorphosis from your larval stage.

Last year: Fall Reading List 2014

Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs

Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs
Library of Souls is the third installment of the best selling Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.
BUY IT HERE

Bad Days in History by Michael Farquhar

Bad Days in History by Michael Farquhar
If you feel like you’re having a bad day, this book details something horrible that’s happened in history for every day of the year. Your lousy day at work has nothing on the great molasses flood of 1919.
BUY IT HERE

Lady ParaNorma by Vincent Marcone

The Lady ParaNorma by Vincent Marcone
If your familiar with the work of Vincent Marcone and his design studio My Pet Skeleton, you won’t want to miss his first lavishly illustrated book about a haunted woman who finds happiness in an unlikely place.
BUY IT HERE

Monster Hunters by Tea Krulos

Monster Hunters by Tea Krulos
What’s it like to be a paranormal investigator? Tag along with Tea Krulos as he hunts for ghosts, UFOs, Bigfoot and other legends with those who have dedicated their lives to finding the answers.
BUY IT HERE

Memento Mori: The Dead Among Us by Paul Koudounaris

Memento Mori by Paul Koudounaris
Explore the strange ways that cultures around the world celebrate and remember their dead, from extravagant bone-filled catacombs to vibrant festivals where the remains of their ancestors are the guests of honor.
BUY IT HERE

Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife by Mary Roach

Spook by Mary Roach
I haven’t had the opportunity to read anything by Mary Roach yet, but there’s no denying that she is a Cult of Weird favorite. Her name pops up again and again every time I’m looking for book recommendations. Last year’s list featured her book Stiff about cadavers, so this time we’ll take the next step…into the afterlife.
BUY IT HERE

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielwski
I have no idea what House of Leaves is about, but after several recommendations and a compelling description, it seems like this list would be incomplete without it.
BUY IT HERE

Parasite by Mira Grant

Parasite by Mira Grant
Designer tapeworms…what could possibly go wrong?
BUY IT HERE

The House on the Borderland by William Hope Hodgson

House on the Borderland by William Hope Hodgson
Because a fall reading list isn’t complete without some historical cosmic horror. This is a classic work of weird fiction from 1908 that went on to influence H.P. Lovecraft.
BUY IT HERE

The Embalmed Head of Oliver Cromwell: A Memoir by Marc Hartzman

The Embalmed Head of Oliver Cromwell by Marc Hartzman
Oliver Cromwell died in 1658, but that was not the end of his story. He was later exhumed, hanged, beheaded, impaled, bought and sold until his final burial in 1960. This memoir recounts the many misadventures of Oliver Cromwell’s head through 300 years of bizarre history.
BUY IT HERE

Welcome to Night Vale

Welcome to Night Vale the novel
A shadowy government agency wants me to tell you that this book from the creators of the Welcome to Night Vale podcast should not be read, as it may cause a wormhole to open in your nostril…a serious threat to national security to be sure. Don’t read it. Just don’t. Okay, maybe just a little. But stop when the tingling starts.
BUY IT HERE

Mothman’s Curse by Christine Hayes

Mothman's Curse by Christine Hayes
What are the origins of the mothman? Does he cause death wherever he goes, or is he trying to help? Mothman’s Curse explores these questions through the story of three kids who find themselves hopelessly entangled in the creatures mysteries through a terrible disaster they hope they can prevent.
BUY IT HERE

Man-Eater: The Life and Legend of an American Cannibal

Man-Eater by Harold Schechter
True crime author Harold Schechter tackles the sordid tale of one of America’s first cannibals. Was Alfred Packer a cold-blooded killer, or did he eat his travel companions in a last ditch effort to survive after they had already killed each other?
BUY IT HERE

Did you read something recently that belongs on this list?
Tell us about it in the comments below!