There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
– Hamlet (1.5.167-8), Hamlet to Horatio
While modern science can explain a lot of things that were once the realm of myth and legend, we don’t know everything. And these stories will make you wonder if we know anything.
When 31-year-old Gloria Ramirez was rushed to the hospital in 1994, she was suffering from the late stages of cervical cancer. Her kidneys were failing, and after 45 minutes of emergency measures to save her life, she was pronounced dead.
But that didn’t explain why the emergency room workers who attended her began to get sick and even pass out after being exposed to her. In total, 23 people fell ill. Several of them needed to be hospitalized, and one unlucky staffer landed in the ICU for two weeks.
People on the scene report that Ramirez’s skin was covered in an oily sheen and that her breath had a strange odor to it. When nurses drew her blood, it smelled strange, too. One nurse recalled that it smelled like ammonia and had strange particles floating in it.
That’s when the bodies started hitting the floor. Nurses, doctors, and other staff fainted, vomited, or experienced uncontrollable muscle spasms. The woman who was in the ICU experienced severe symptoms that caused bone necrosis and organ failure.
At first, the incident was labeled as mass hysteria. In essence, the hospital employees were accused of psyching themselves out. Another suggested the cause was poisonous sewer gas. Investigators from the hospital, as well as local, state, and federal agencies, tried in vain to discover what really happened.
Their best guess is that a combination of emergency oxygen and a home remedy containing the chemical DMSO combined to produce a toxic nerve gas. Although convincing, the theory has never been proven.
Small towns are never as idyllic as they seem. If you dig deep enough, you’ll uncover plenty of jealousy and secrets. But in Circleville, Ohio, during the mid-70s, small town gossip took a dark–and inexplicable–turn.
In 1976, residents of Circleville started receiving handwritten letters that detailed their most intimate secrets. The letter writer knew things that they shouldn’t and claimed to have been watching the people of the town. The letters were like if the Zodiac Killer had taken over as the narrator of Gossip Girl… and they had one particular target in mind.
School bus driver Mary Gillispie became the primary target of the letter writer. The messages accused her repeatedly of having an affair with the school superintendent–a claim she denied, although later she admitted that it was true.
The letter writer also sent threatening messages to Gillispie’s husband, Ron. She believed that the letters were from a fellow bus driver, who had hit on Gillispie and been rejected. She and her family sent the man a letter of their own, telling him to stop.
The letters did stop… briefly. Signs began appearing all over town with slanderous statements about the Gillispie family, including their 12-year-old daughter. Then Ron Gillispie received a phone call that apparently sent him over the edge. Believing that he recognized the voice on the line, he rushed into his truck to confront their tormentor. A few minutes later, he was dead.
Ron Gillispie crashed his truck shortly after leaving his house–but he had time to fire his gun at something or someone before he died. Ron had been drinking, however, and the local sheriff labeled his death as a drunk driving accident.
After Ron’s death, more letters started flooding into the town, accusing the sheriff of covering up the truth. The harassment continued until 1983–yes, six years–when Mary Gillispie tried to remove yet another threatening sign on the side of the road. This one was booby-trapped, however, and although the trap failed, it gave police a lead. They traced the gun to Mary’s former brother-in-law, Paul Freshour.
That should have been it, right? The culprit was caught and sentenced to prison for attempted murder.
But the letters didn’t stop. It couldn’t have been Freshour; after the letters started up again, prison wardens took away any access to pen and paper, then placed him in solitary confinement.
Then Paul Freshour received a letter. Despite this–and continued claims of his innocence–he was denied parole and spent 10 years in prison. He was released in 1994… and the letters finally, mysteriously, stopped.
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