The history of mankind is riddled with the weird and the wonderful; bizarre people, strange places and odd events. For centuries, we’ve told each other fantastic stories around campfires and in darkened rooms. Tales of ghosts, UFOs, and conspiracies, but are these stories exactly that: Stories? There’s only one way to find out! Join me as I dive down the rabbit hole and into… the Unexplained Files.
The Oklahoma City bombing, until one dreadful September morning in 2001, was the worst terror attack in the United States. How does this tragic event make it into The Unexplained Files? Anomalies. Lots of anomalies.
On the morning of 19 April 1995, a Ryder rental truck packed with explosives was parked outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. At 9:02am that bomb was detonated, killing 168 and leaving hundreds more injured. The powerful explosion blew off the building’s entire north face and the blast damaged or destroyed over 300 buildings in the immediate area.
Forensic evidence quickly connected anti-government militant Timothy McVeigh and co-conspirator Terry Nichols to the attack. McVeigh was already in jail, having been stopped a little more than an hour after the bombing for a traffic violation and then arrested for unlawfully carrying a handgun. Before he was scheduled to be released from jail, he was identified as a prime suspect in the bombing and charged. The same day, Terry Nichols, an associate of McVeigh, surrendered in Herington, Kansas. At least, that’s the official story…
One of the first responders on the scene was police sergeant Terrance Yeakey. He was nearby on a routine traffic stop when the explosion shattered the morning quiet. He raced to the scene, working tirelessly for three hours, dragging eight people from the aftermath, later receiving a key to the city of El Reno for his efforts. Yet his superiors were unhappy. Terrance had submitted a 9-page report of events that went against the quickly established narrative. A report that included multiple explosions and unexploded bombs. So who was right?
Timothy McVeigh was arrested near the scene of the bombing roughly 90 minutes after. Why was he stopped? He was driving a car with no licence plates. If you imagine the planning this event must have gone through and this oversight seems baffling to say the least. Weak? There’s more. According to the official story, the target of the attack was the bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, who McVeigh blamed for the tragedy of the Waco Disaster, yet not one ATF agent was injured. That’s because, on the morning of the attack, they weren’t there. Well, two claimed they were, but with hindsight, that looks like a mistake.
Two men from the ATF claimed not only to be in the building, but to be heroes. Their story falls apart under little scrutiny. One of the “heroes” claimed that he was trapped in an elevator shortly after the explosion after it descended in freefall. Oscar Johnson, an elevator mechanic upon inspection of the buildings elevators said, “No elevators were in freefall. No possible way.” He also rubbished the claim that the agent climbed out of the elevator car to join rescue efforts saying that the locking mechanism had not been touched. If there had been anyone in there, they would have to be rescued just like everyone else.
Witnesses reported bomb squad vehicles parked across the road from the building at a church two hours previous, again lending credence to the idea of advanced knowledge.
Multiple witnesses reported seeing 2 or even 3 men park the Ryder Truck in front of the building, who left in a brown pickup. An APB was issued for said vehicle and more witnesses came forward saying whenever McVeigh was spotted before the bombing he was never alone. Sketches were made of a mysterious John Doe 2. In spite of all of this, after what was at the time the worst terrorist attack on US soil, the search for John Doe #2 was quickly abandoned.
One FBI agent admitted on record that all fingerprints collected at the scene were not run through databases and an OKCPD officer said that he and colleagues had been held back from assisting recovery efforts and saw, “men in FBI raid jackets dismantling video cameras off the side of the building”.
One of the strangest things in the whole story of the Oklahoma City Bombing was the recovery of a random leg. During the blast 8 victims lost left legs, yet a ninth was recovered. The owner of the leg was never found.
Multiple local news reports from the morning of the bombing reported more than one device - “another bomb” “other devices” “another explosion” - and even one scene where a truck was seen and discussed, the job of which was to, “transport the explosive device away from this populated area.” The rescue operation was even shut down for 20-30 minutes to account for this. Was it these devices Terrance Yeakey had seen during his own rescue endeavours?
By the afternoon, news media were changing their story. As if that weren’t enough to call the official story into question, there’s more…
According to the final report, one truck bomb was responsible for the devastating damage. That bomb changed from a 1200lb ammonium nitrate fertiliser and fuel oil bomb to 4800lb bomb, to 7000lb of fertiliser and nitro methane.
Even so, a truck bomb is essentially an air blast. This air blast was going up against 8 feet of reinforced concrete. The damage recorded was wildly inconsistent with similar or even much larger bombs of its kind. Another point raised was ammonium nitrate fertiliser bombs release a noxious nitrous oxide - breathing that cocktail in such large concentrations would have led to first responders being hospitalised. No such hospitalisations were recorded.
Furthermore, there was evidence of explosions inside the buildings. Footage from OK County Sheriff’s office minutes after blast shows the north side parking lot littered with paper and debris. The location of these papers meant they would have to have travelled against the blast wave. Debris from the Murrah Building was found on top of buildings on the other side of the street, and piled against the foot of the nearby records building, again, travelling against the blast wave. Could this have happened as part of the collapse of the north face? Of course. But when you look at the damage caused by an air blast, this seems unlikely.
Survivors reported explosions and shaking inside the building before the truck bomb went off. Three separate seismographs recorded 8-10 seconds of activity, suggesting the possibility of two blasts, and two separate energy spikes. A member of the OK Geological Survey stated the activity could not be put down to floors collapsing, nor could the last 5 seconds be the result of an air blast.
On 23 May 1995, barely a month after the attack, going against advice from structural engineers that it could be rebuilt, the Murrah building was demolished, despite body recovery being incomplete. Any remaining evidence was destroyed with it.
Terry Nichols was sentenced to life in prison in 2004. On June 11, 2001, Timothy McVeigh, at the age of 33, died by lethal injection at the U.S. penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana. His body was cremated quickly - without autopsy, going against standard procedure for executed prisoners.
Sgt. Terrance Yeakey
On the morning of 8 May 1996, at 7am, Terrance Yeakey’s car was found. The inside of the car was full of blood, razor blades, and a knife. The car was locked, the windows rolled up.
Between 6-7pm that same day Terrance’s body was found. His wrists and neck had been slashed. He had rope burns on his neck and handcuff marks on wrists. He had sustained a gunshot wound to the head. An immediate search of the scene recovered no firearm.
His death was ruled a suicide.
According to the official story, Terrance had inflicted the wounds on himself in the car, locked it, walked a little over a mile, climbing a waist-high barbed wire fence in the process, and shot himself in the head.
But even the gunshot wound was called into question. The wound was at a strange angle, inconsistent with suicide. The bullet entered the temple region above his right eye and exited below his left cheek. There were no powder burns.
No autopsy was performed.
So What Happened?
We may never know. It is known the paperwork for the Whitewater scandal, a failed real estate investment venture involving then-President Bill Clinton, was stored in the Murrah Building. Shortly after the blast, a team in blue, unmarked jackets collected boxes of files from the wreckage. Could that simply be coincidence?
Another strange connection is links to the intelligence community. Operations were underway to infiltrate groups posing threat to the US government. McVeigh’s behaviour in the build up to the event bears the hallmarks of “Sheep-Dipping”, a term intelligence agencies use when they pretend to remove someone from the military, secretly turning them into a covert operative. If that sounds far-fetched, it’s worth keeping in mind his death certificate stated his occupation as “US Army”, that despite a 9-year gap since his military service and the fact he’d held other jobs since… and just to muddy those waters further is the involvement of Dr Jolyon West, dubbed “Mr Mind Control”. West has connections to Patty Hearst, RFK assassin Sirhan Sirhan, and Lee Harvey Oswald’s killer Jack Ruby. West visited McVeigh on multiple occasions prior to him waiving all his appeals and requesting to be fast-tracked to federal execution.
Even without that twist, what with the numerous discrepancies between witness reports and the official story, and the tragic end of Terrance Yeakey, the terrible events of the morning of 19 April 1995 do carry the tell-tale signs of a false flag.
In 1994 and ‘95, the US Congress failed to pass an omnibus crime bill that would expand federal jurisdiction to crack down on the second amendment and create new agencies with the alleged aim of increased monitoring of US citizens. In the wake of the Oklahoma City Bombing, the bill was repackaged as the “anti-terrorism effective death penalty act.”
The act was signed into law one year and five days after the attack.
Of the 168 killed that dreadful day, 19 were children in an employee day-care centre.
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I was looking into the idea of ending my Amazon exclusivity and “going wide” i.e. publishing on many platforms. The process can be frustrating and really time consuming: formatting, covers (different places use different dimensions), uploading, tax shizzle… and on and on. That’s per online store you want to put your book on. Considering that Amazon represents roughly 70% of the ebook market, the question that comes to most self-published authors without a massive audience is the same one: Is it really worth it?
Then I found someone who uploads to all of the stores for you. A one-stop shop, if you will. Fast. Less hassle. So I thought I’d upload a tester, just to see how the whole process worked.
And one of those frustrations came to bear. It’s fine. We can deal with it. It’s all in one place. Overcome this one hurdle and that’s it… But I got locked into this Catch 22 nightmare that I couldn’t undo. So I contacted help. Help took an age to reply, and basically told me to use the help pages on their site. I had thought of that. It didn’t help. That’s why I contacted them. The tall and short of it is, no “going wide” for me just yet. Just need to bide my time until this whole lockdown situation calms down and their help peeps are back in the office.
Sorry to disappoint those waiting for this. The best things come to those who wait, they say. Let’s hope so!
So my super-secret screenplay project is moving along nicely. The first draft is done and in terms of page-length, tone, and lots of other stuff, I feel like it’s in really good shape. Maybe my best ever first draft. So why the secrecy?
Screenplays are funny things. Unless you are commissioned by a studio to write something, you have to write it first, then try to sell it. Between first draft and finished movie, so many things can happen, including not selling it - i.e. nothing at all. I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself at this stage or jinx anything. I probably won’t mention the screenplay again unless there’s major news (at which point you won’t be able to shut me up about it - you have been warned!).
I will say this: because of the subject matter and amazing source material I’m working with (it’s an adaptation, see) I do feel this one has a chance of making it to screen. A real chance. Fingers crossed.
There’s an old expression about best laid plans going to shit (or something). Life gets in the way and so on and so one. I found out kinda out of the blue that I need to move house. Major ballache. (Boxes are piling up around me as I speak.) Just saying because obviously there might be some disruption to post frequency and maybe post/newsletter length. Hopefully things will move quickly and smoothly, but fair warning.
That’s all for now. Keep it weird, folks.
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What are your top 3 werewolf movies?
If you didn’t say 1985 Michael J. Fox classic Teen Wolf, hang your head in shame (Go, Beavers!). But no doubt most fans of the genre mentioned a film from 1981. That’s because in 1981, we got what are generally considered the two best werewolf movies of all time. If you’ve read Laszlo, you’ll have spotted the nods to the John Landis classic An American Werewolf in London, but it was actually the other offering from that year that inspired The Death of Laszlo Breyer. Joe Dante’s The Howling. Featuring Dee Wallace and Christopher Stone (who went on to appear in 1983 Stephen King adaptation Cujo, which I strongly recommend - both book and film), there was one tiny scene in there that was the seed for Laszlo.
I’ll try to keep this as spoiler-free as I can. In the film a serial killer is shot and killed by police. But when they go to check on the body at the morgue, it’s gone. See, the man shot dead by police is a werewolf (not a spoiler, don’t worry) but because silver bullets weren’t standard police issue, ol’ Wolfman Eddie came back from the dead. That idea fascinated me.
In The Howling, the full moon is not part of the lore (just like silver bullets aren’t in American Werewolf), so he could just change into a werewolf any time. But I wondered what would happen if he did need a full moon. If he was shot and killed and then buried. I wondered what it would be like if, every full moon, that body became a wolf and that broken body kept awakening until it was strong enough to escape.
It was actually the death of Laszlo Breyer that led me to the start of his story.
'The Death of Laszlo Breyer' is available now from Amazon in ebook and paperback.
A major historical event. A time travel story.
Seems straightforward enough. Only for me, it wasn’t.
There was I, scouring the interwebs a few years back when I saw a news story from the writing world that delighted me. Stephen King’s new book coming out was the news. I’m a huge fan of King, his book On Writing about the craft of writing remains one of the best around, whether or not you’re a fan of the man himself, so I was suitably delighted. “Yes!” I shouted. I read on, overjoyed at this news. It’s about the assassination of JFK. Oh my. My favourite author has written a book about the grand daddy of conspiracy theories (something else I’m fascinated by - obvious to anyone who’s read The Unexplained Files/this blog/my Twitter feed (another aside here - retweets do not equal endorsement. Don’t @ me. Or if you do, prepare to be ignored. I have zero time nor tolerance for cancel culture. But I digress)). “YES!” I scream. It feels like my fave author has written a book just for me! I can’t get enough of this news. Hungry for more I read on. It’s about time travel…
“YE— … … bollocks.”
OK, now I feel sick. Sick and excited. Excited because I have got to read this book. Sick because I know anyone who knows me, knows I love Stephen King. So when I tell them about my time travel book based around a major historical event, they’ll think I’ve “borrowed” it. And who would blame them? That’s what I’d think.
“The first draft of anything is shit.” - Ernest Hemingway.
The fact was, the first draft of my time slip novel based around the events of 9/11 was already tucked away in a dark corner on my laptop. Complete. Back then, I was more into screenwriting (something I still love, and have recently returned to, but that’s another story entirely), and the first draft of that book was rougher than even Hemingway could imagine. Truth was, while the story was there, my writing needed a lot of development before I was ready to share that book with the world. A full four years passed between first draft and publication.
Another question I get asked about that book is “Was it difficult writing about such a sensitive subject?” If I tell you King had reservations about his JFK book more than fifty years after the event, then that should tell you everything. I had doubts. Serious ones. They were with me every single time I sat down to write Ghosts of September. Maybe that is something I’ll go into in more detail another day. For now all I’ll say is I hope my respect for the strength, will and resilience of the people of New York shines through in that book.
95% of UFO sightings can be written off as nothing: weather phenomena; misidentified aircraft; mistakenly identified stars or planets. 5% cannot be explained. In this series we’ll be looking at the mass sightings. The abductions. The unexplained deaths. Real cases, with real people.
These are the 5%. These, are the UFO files.
16th September 1994
It’s the morning break at Ariel School, Ruwa, Zimbabwe. The teachers are all in a staff meeting, leaving the children outside in the school yard with just one adult for supervision. The adult is working at the tuck shop, selling sweets and drinks to the children.
The meeting is nothing out of the ordinary until suddenly, the children run screaming into the school towards the teachers, surprising them in how coordinated they were, one teacher recalling “They came running up here [to the meeting] in such a panic, even if we had staged it they could not have run all together like that. Even if we practised it I don’t know how many times. They came up here like a living snake.”
The screaming children are telling the most outrageous of stories, another teacher recalled her initial scepticism at the wild claims. When all is said and done, 62 children will report the sighting. After hearing the children’s stories and the consistency within them, she too starts to believe that something out of this world had taken place.
So what had happened?
The children were playing outside, when suddenly, some of their eyes are averted skyward, drawn there by a flute like noise. Looking up, they see a silver object, surrounded by smaller objects. Beside the school grounds is an area of brush. More children watch now as the object lands in the field next to the school.
Wild enough, but what happens next is straight from the realm of nightmares. The craft sits in the scrub beside the school and a ‘man’ materialises on top of the craft. No taller than the children themselves, the being has large, black, threatening eyes.
In the blink of an eye, he is in front of the craft, walking towards the children. Panicked, they scream. The man notices the children and vanishes, materialising behind the craft.
The stories are unbelievable, and yet, with so many of the children reporting such a similar tale, the teachers think that the kids have seen something. The children are asked to draw exactly what they have seen. The drawings contain such an eerie similarity that now the teachers are starting to believe.
Children are famous for their over-active imaginations, and it would be easy to dismiss, if not for the fact that some of the children are also displaying symptoms of PTSD.
John Mack is an American psychiatrist and parapsychologist and a professor at Harvard Medical School. In the early 1990s Mack embarks on a study into alien abduction, suspecting that those reporting the events are suffering from some form of undiagnosed mental illness. Upon interviewing ‘abductees’, however, his interest is piqued when no obvious pathologies present themselves. They’re not crazies, so what’s really going on?
It is during the following decade-long study that he was called to interview the children at the Zimbabwe school.
The children are interviewed one by one. They recall seeing two UFOs and two alien beings. It is clear from the interviews that the children are scared. They report the noise of the craft. The landing of the silver object. The strange being that came from the craft. One child recalls the man looking at her:
“I felt scared… I’ve never seen such a person like that before.”
Fear was a common theme. The black, staring eyes of the being seemingly the source of the fear. The children sensing the man wanted to take the children away.
Some of the older children got the impression that they were being communicated with, but the message was bleak:
“They were telling us the world’s going to end. Maybe because we don’t look after the planet.”
This idea came after the sighting.
“I felt horrible inside. All the trees would go down and there would be no air and people would be dying.”
John Mack said after the interviews that he felt the children were not distorting reality, telling something crazy, and doubting themselves. The quality of the testimonies was that of someone talking about something that happened to them. He said of the alien abduction phenomenon more generally, “I take [the accounts of abduction] seriously. I don't have a way to account for them. I would never say, yes, there are aliens taking people. [But] I would say there is a compelling powerful phenomenon here that I can't account for in any other way, that's mysterious.”
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In this blog I'll be bringing to you short tales of things that go bump in the night, true stories of weird and unexplained events, and the real-life news of all things odd and macabre, and entertain you along the way.