As a “princess of the people,” Princess Diana was a globally-beloved woman. When she died in a car crash on August 31, 1997, the world was shocked. Paparazzi chased the car that she was in into Pont de l’Alma tunnel in Paris, France. Her partner, Dodi Fayed, and the driver of the Mercedes-Benz W140 S-Class, Henri Paul, were pronounced dead at the scene. Their bodyguard, Trevor Rees-Jones, was seriously injured, but survived the crash.
The condition of the drivers, the ruthlessness of the paparazzi, and potential motives from the royal family have all been called into question since her death.
2. Natalie Wood
The death of Natalie Wood is among the most famous cold cases of Hollywood. Wood fell off a boat near Santa Catalina Islsnd and drowned while onboard with her husband, Robert Wagner and actor Christopher Walken on November 29, 1981.
Her death was originally ruled an accident; however, the case was reopened after new testimony and mysterious bruises on her body were identified.
Nominated for three Academy Awards and starred in “West Side Story” and “Rebel Without a Cause,” Wood, with Wagner, Walken and the boat captain were celebrating Thanksgiving weekend. After a night of drinking, her body was found floating in the waters off Southern California’s Catalina Island. She was 43.
Years later, CBS News aired an interview with Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. John Corina, who said he doesn’t believe Wagner has told the whole story about what happened.
In 2013, investigators said Wagner had not been interviewed since their probe was reopened. They had tried at least 10 times to interview him but he refused.
3. Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe died of an overdose on Saturday, August 4, 1962, at her 12305 Fifth Helena Drive home in Los Angeles, California. Her body was discovered before dawn on Sunday, August 5.
Immediately the media reported she died of barbiturates overdose, but over the years her death is believed by many to have been a murder. The most popular conspiracy theory is that she was killed by the government due to her rumored affairs with John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy.
4. George Reeves
Star of The Adventures of Superman George Reeves was found dead with a gunshot wound in his head. Though his death was ruled a suicide, a few suspects were identified including an ex-lover. Read more about his death here.
5. Bob Crane
Bob Crane, the TV star known to millions as the wise-cracking title character on the 1960s sitcom Hogan’s Heroes, was found bludgeoned in his Scottsdale, AZ apartment at age 49 on June 29, 1978. The case has been cold since then.
All roads of the murder investigation led to John Henry Carpenter, a video-equipment salesperson from Sony—and a friend of Hogan’s Heroes cast member (and future Family Feud host) Richard Dawson. Carpenter helped Crane obtain gadgetry to watch and make erotic videos long before they were available to the public (Carpenter also sold similar equipment to President Lyndon B. Johnson and Elvis Presley).
“At the scene, there was blood everywhere,” former Scottsdale detective Vassall recalled. “There were some traces of blood on the back of the exit door, the front door, the doorknob. There was a red stain on the curtain. We found blood in [Carpenter’s] rental car and on the passenger door. It was Crane’s blood type. Nobody else who handled that car had the same blood type as Crane. It was type B blood, all of it.”
DNA testing wasn’t available in 1978, but other clues and evidence were presented to the local district attorney who rejected the case. Scottsdale detective Jim Raines uncovered a previously unseen crime-scene photo that showed a speck of brain tissue in Carpenter’s car. The actual tissue sample was long gone, but the image was ruled admissible by a judge, and Carpenter was eventually charged with Crane’s murder in 1992. Again the information was rejected by the county attorney’s office. He was acquitted in 1994 and died four years later.
6. Brian Jones
Rolling Stones founding member Brian Jones was found dead at the bottom of his pool on July 3, 1969, at the age of 27.
The coroner’s termed Jones death as a “misadventure” with traces of pep pills, sleeping pills, and alcohol in his system, as well as evidence of significant liver damage from drugs and alcohol.
At the time and over the years investigators speculated that he may have been the victim of a crime. Jones’s daughter, Barbara Marion, believed so as late as 2019.
7. Gianni Versace
Fashion icon Gianni Versace was returning home from his morning walk from the News Cafe in 1997 when Andrew Cunanan, 27, fatally shot him in the back of the head.
After shooting him on the steps of Versace’s home, eight days later, Cunanan, suspected of killing four other people in three states, killed himself on a houseboat in North Miami Beach.
The mansion was built in 1930, and Versace bought it in 1992. After his death, it was sold and became a hotel and event space. The day before the 24 year anniversary of Versace’s death, housekeeping staff at The Villa Casa Casuarina called police around 1:20 p.m. after discovering the bodies of two men, 30 and 31 years old, who were from Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Police said it was a double suicide.
8. Brittany Murphy
Actress Brittany Murphy was found dead at age 32. Her official cause of death was a combination of pneumonia, iron deficiency, and drug overdose. As if her death wasn’t strange enough, her husband Simon Monjack died the same way five months later. Her father has called for investigations to see if his daughter and son-in-law were poisoned.
Director Cynthia Hill claimed Brittany was one of Simon’s “last victims.”
“He was a disturbed individual who was used to conning people and Brittany was one of his last victims,” Hill, who made a documentary for HBO, claimed. “There was a pattern of behavior that became very obvious the more research that we did.”
9. Brandon Lee
Brandon Lee, actor, and son of Bruce Lee died while filming The Crow. His gun was supposed to be filled with blanks, but the studio tried to make their own to save money. The homemade blank misfired and fatally wounded Brandon. This accident seemed to be a mistake, but conspirators are not so sure as his father also died mysteriously and there is said to be a curse of the family.
10. Tupac Shakur
In the midst of the East Coast vs. West Coast rap battle of the 1990s, Tupac Shakur was shot at a boxing event and died in the hospital a few days later. No suspects or even eyewitnesses have been identified
Puppies in the doctor’s back yard gave San Antonio police detective Walter Dennis a firm suspicion that the St. Bernards were more than just mere coincidence.
After he knocked on the front door of Dr. Charles James Guilliam’s house, a woman with long, straight blond hair opened it. It was a cool Sunday afternoon, February 17, 1974, when Dennis introduced himself and the other suited gentleman standing with him on the porch of the Tuxford Street residence in northeast San Antonio.
“…and this is detective John Dillmann from the New Orleans Police Department,” Dennis began. The lady shook their hands and identified herself as Dr. Guilliam’s wife, Katherine. “We are here to speak with your husband.”
“I’m sorry, but he is out of town on business and can’t be reached by phone right now,” the twenty-something-year-old woman reacted. The detectives verified with her that Dr. Guilliam was a consulting psychologist currently working on a project in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area.
“We are also attempting to locate a Mr. Claudius Giesick,” Dennis requested. “Do you know Claudius Giesick?”
“Yes, I believe he is a business associate of my husband,” she responded.
“How about Sam Corey,” the other detective asked. “Do you know a Sam Corey?”
Katherine’s faced twitched. Dennis could hear the puppies barking outside and noticed she had difficulty focusing on the enquiry. She asked detective Dillmann to repeat the name.
“You know–Sam Corey,” Detective Dennis replied for the New Orleans investigator. “The big, heavy man. He ran for Mayor of San Antonio and owns the Tokyo Massage Parlor here.”
“Oh yes,” Katherine swiftly remembered. “Jim has gone to his parlor for a massage a few times.”
When asked, she had no photos of her husband she could provide the detectives and asserted that her spouse would have to be the one to answer these questions about him. Dennis gave her his business card and asked her to have Dr. Guilliam call him as quickly as possible.
“Look in the back yard,” Dennis whispered to Dillmann as they walked back to the police car. Dillmann said yes, he had noticed the puppies too when they started barking during their questioning of Katherine.
As Dennis drove back to police headquarters, the two officers compared notes. Dennis had received a call from Giesick on Friday after telling the police operator he needed to speak to a detective. He told Dennis a strange account of how he had spent the last two years in virtual hiding because he was in extreme danger from a criminal named Zent.
Giesick said that his bride, Patricia, had been killed by an oncoming car while they were enjoying their honeymoon in New Orleans the previous month. He wanted to let the detective know that the New Orleans police may be notifying them. Should New Orleans make any inquiries into this death, Giesick was requesting that the SAPD tell them he had to disappear because he was their police informer against this violent gangster, Zent.
Dennis, suspicious of this bizarre request, went to a nearby office to run a computer check on Giesick’s background. When he discovered there was a warrant out for passing hot checks, Dennis instantly arrested him. Dennis then contacted New Orleans and reached Dillmann, who flew into San Antonio Sunday morning. By then, Giesick had been released. Someone posted a bail bond on his behalf. Dennis discovered that someone was Sam Corey.
When Dennis picked up Dillmann at the International Airport Sunday morning, he had already arranged for a 10 a.m. meeting with Corey at the police station downtown. They took a formal statement in which the more than 300 pound Corey wrote that he “emphatically and positively” did not know Patricia. He did not know if Giesick has worked in any massage parlor. He claimed to hear of her death some days later from the bride’s mother who called him from New Jersey. Corey admitted he knew Giesick and had actually met him in Richardson, near Dallas, since the death.
If Corey had known that Dillmann was working on this case for a couple of weeks, he may have been more truthful. The New Orleans detective, by this time, knew that pretty, strawberry blond 24-year-old Patricia Ann Albanowski had been employed in a massage parlor and had been heavily pursued by Giesick.
Two different insurance agency investigators had concerns. Giesick purchased insurance policies totaling over $300,000 on the day of their wedding, prior to embarking on their honeymoon flight to New Orleans.
Patricia’s mother said that in a New Orleans hotel room, the night of her death, her daughter called very worried. Her new husband had left to take their rental car back for some kind of repairs.
Patricia told her mom that Giesick was a psychologist, but didn’t have an office. He often had to go undercover and disappear because he had helped the federal government arrest a major gold smuggling organization. The government was so concerned about his safety and reprisals from this smuggling gang, they had provided Giesick with a new identity. The name he said the Feds gave him was Charles James Guilliam.
When the detectives called Patricia’s mother to confirm information, they learned more startling clues. Patricia, or Trish, as her family called her, commented that Giesick said had been married twice before. His first wife, a former Miss Texas, was killed in a hit-and-run accident along with their only child. His second marriage ended in divorce.
But what she revealed next alarmed both men to the core. On January 2, 1974, Claudius Giesick and Patricia Albanowski were married. Their pastor’s name? Sam Corey.
Before they left for their New Orleans honeymoon trip on January 13, Giesick presented his wife with a wedding present: a St. Bernard puppy.
The detectives soon uncovered information to prove Sam Corey, in a scheme to save on taxes and protect his massage parlors from police troubles, became an ordained minister with the Calvary Grace Christian Church of Faith. He filed a request with Bexar County to change the name of his business from Tokyo House of Massage to Tokyo House Massage Temple.
They also learned that Corey had provided money to Giesick to deposit into his Harlandale State Bank account in San Antonio. The money was used to buy several insurance policies, pay some rent and a few bills after he had performed the marriage ceremony.
As the investigation progressed, it was revealed that Corey was in New Orleans on the night Patricia was hit by a car. The rental car Corey used was checked for evidence which exposed and matched Patricia’s hair. In his formal confession, in order to cut a deal for a lighter sentence, Giesick implicated Corey as the driver of the car that killed Patricia on January 16, 1974.
Giesick had asked his wife to go for a walk that foggy and chilling night. He wanted to show her a family of ducks near the romantic water at a bridge up the street from their hotel. On cue, he noted Corey was waiting nearby in the rental car.
“I tripped her into the road, and he came by and hit her. It was him. He was driving the car and I did see him.”
“I waited about four or five seconds to give him enough time to get started,” Giesick confirmed with no remorse. “I tripped her into the road, and he came by and hit her. It was him. He was driving the car and I did see him. Seconds later the police were there because a guy came by and called the police. Then Mr. Corey came by in the Monte Carlo, just drove by.”
Giesick confessed that his new wife, at the moment of impact, was on the road “on her hands trying to get back up again, but she was facing up. As she was trying to get up, she had sandals on and she was slipping. She couldn’t get up…There was a double thud. It very distinctly hit her twice.”
Several days later Giesick and Corey flew to Trenton, New Jersey for Patricia’s funeral. Corey “was wearing Catholic-priest clothes and was paid by the Albanowski family as a priest; he accepted several donations…for prayers for Patricia.”
On February 22, Dennis and other San Antonio police arrested Giesick for bigamy. It was confirmed that Giesick had been married four times. A one year marriage ending in divorce, a California marriage annulled after three days, to his existing wife Katherine in 1969, and illegally to Patricia.
Eventually Sam Corey was sentenced to death which was later reduced to life in prison. He died at Angola State Prison in Louisiana. Giesick received a 21 year prison sentence, but was released in 1986 at age 54. By 2000, he was sentenced to 16 months in federal prison for submitting false auto theft reports in an attempt to collect insurance funds.
Years later, when asked what he remembered most about the case Dennis, a then retired detective, had two answers.
“Well, of course I remember the book by Dillmann and the 1987 TV movie, ‘Unholy Matrimony’ with Patrick Duffy of the Dallas television show starring in it,” Dennis offered. “But the most disturbing thing that sticks in my mind was going back to Giesick’s house on Tuxford to talk with his wife again during the investigation. This time I brought a patrolman with me that actually knew the couple for a few years, hoping she would trust him enough, maybe we could get better information from her.”
The blond hair lady at the door with the St. Bernard puppies was Katherine Kiser Giesick, the real wife of Claudius Giesick, aka Jim Guilliam. They had been married since September 1969. She recognized the friend, the police officer with Dennis, immediately.
During their conversation, the young policeman revealed that her husband had called him to ask if he would say they had been divorced for a couple of years.
“She was puzzled by this, we could tell,” Dennis remarked. “It was obvious we hit a nerve and she acted like she was both hurt and confused.”
“I will never forget the look on her face when we told her about Patricia (Albanowski)—her death and the insurance,” Dennis shook his head. “She started crying in disbelief.”
“It was a life insurance policy he had recently, and unexpectedly, took out on her life and the family.”
“We thought she was crying because of the news we just told her,” Dennis continued. “But she got up and went to a drawer in the kitchen area and brought back a file—a paper.”
“It still brings me chills to think how evil Giesick and Corey were when I saw what the paper was,” Dennis revealed. “It was a life insurance policy he had recently, and unexpectedly, took out on her life and the family.”
During the April 1975 trial, court evidence showed that when the FBI analyzed the pieces of human hair taken from underneath Corey’s New Orleans rental car and from the exhumed body of the bride, “all 15 characteristics were matched perfectly.”
The District Attorney showed how Giesick, all through his adult life was a “con man who made his living off ripping off insurance” companies. “Claudius Giesick literally lied his way through life. He posed as a psychologist. Dr. Jim Gillium and even collected fees.”
“Claudius Giesick told friends he had a plan by which he could hook Sam Corey on a murder charge in New Orleans.” Testimony and evidence also showed how he attempted to get two women to take out insurance policies on their husbands and have them murdered.
Katherine and Claudius Giesick’s divorce was final on Oct. 19, 1976. They both remarried. He lived in Louisiana for a while, but moved back to San Antonio in 2006. If alive in 2022, Giesick would be 75.
My father was Detective Walter Dennis. As a teen, Dad would often take me to the scenes of crimes and investigations he was currently, or previously, worked on. I became the youngest licensed private investigator in Texas at age 18 and oversaw investigations, missing persons, and personal security protection services for over seven years.
Years later, after my father passed away, I heard Giesick served his term in prison but was incarcerated again in 2000 for insurance fraud. I tracked him down when he was age 70. Giesick was living in a rundown one bedroom apartment just southwest of downtown San Antonio. He was sitting on a lawn chair with a cheap bottle of wine in his hand.
In February of 1965, San Antonio’s largest unsolved mystery would take place at The Gunter Hotel in downtown in East Houston Street. Each evening, when my father returned home from his shift as a city police officer, he would brief our family on the day’s investigation status.
Albert Knox checked into the historical Gunter on February 6th. He was a blond man, said to be quite handsome. A charmer, really.
According to some, Knox was coming off a drinking binge. According to others, Knox was still in the thick of that partying run, content to thrive on the chaos until he sobered up and went back home to his parent’s house.
For two days, guests of The Gunter saw Knox come and go with a tall woman. The inquisitive gazes that followed the couple labeled the woman as a call girl–a prostitute– though no one will ever know for certain that she was. And so the party raged on.
On February 8th, one of the hotel’s housekeepers was bringing some items to Knox’s hotel room: Room 636.
Maria Luisa Guerra noted the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door, but paid it no attention. Most people tended to forget to take it down, even just before they were ready to be checked out of the hotel.
Guerra pushed open the door, only to stop dead in her tracks.
Standing at the foot of the bed, Knox stood with a bloody bundle in his arms. Blood splattered practically every inch of the guest room, like a mosaic of death that needed no explanation.
In the face of Guerra’s horrified expression, Knox lifted one finger up to his mouth. “Shhh.”
The housekeeper’s mouth parted on a scream, and Knox used that moment to dash past her and out of the room. It took forty minutes for Maria Luisa Guerra’s report to make it to management. By that time, Albert Knox had disappeared.
The evidence remaining in Room 636 was clear: somebody had died…and it was brutal.
In a 1976 interview about the crime, I interviewed my father for an article about the murder. I was writing for the University Star as student reporter at Texas State University (in the 1970’s, it was known as Southwest Texas University).
Dad, or Detective Walter “Corky” Dennis, passed away in 2011, but I will never forget his words.
“It was the bloodiest place I had ever seen up until then. The bathroom was especially bad and just sticky with blood all over the place. We [he and the other detectives] noticed the bathtub had a red ring around it like it had been drained of blood.”
(Some wonder if, after murdering the woman with his .22 caliber-weapon, Knox then butchered the body and flushed her down the toilet and bathtub).
The San Antonio police suspected dismemberment, and one of the witnesses description only further pushed this idea.
The day before the murder, Knox had visited the local Sears Department Store on Romaine Plaza in search of a meat grinder. When the Sears employee informed him that they didn’t have the larger size that Knox wanted, the employee offered to order one from the warehouse. For Knox, however, that would take much too long. He stormed off in a huff.
Little evidence was found inside the room. A lipstick-smeared cigarette, brown paper bags, and luggage from the San Antonio Trunk & Gift Company. The purchase for the suitcase had been made by a check from John J. McCarthy . . . who happened to be the stepfather of thirty-seven-year old Walter Emerick.
Emerick had disappeared on one of his “drinking bents” at the end of January and had stolen his parent’s checks and some of their items.
Police scoured the city for the woman’s body, so sure were they that someone had been murdered. They checked construction sites, and even sections of streets where cement was being laid down.
On February 9th, a blond man walked into The St. Anthony Hotel, just one block away from The Gunter. He came with no luggage. And when he requested to book a room, he made it known that he wanted Room 636. That particular room was not available, and after some arguing, he settled for Room 536. He checked in under the name Roger Ashley.
But the man had aroused the suspicions of the front desk attendants, and after tipping the San Antonio Police that the murderer might have just checked in to their hotel, the detectives rushed over.
They hurried up to Room 536. Banging on the door, the police tried to apprehend Emerick for the crimes. But as they struggled to open the door, they heard the single, hollow sound of a gun shot.
Walter Emerick had killed himself, and taken whatever information he had with him to the grave.
It’s now over fifty-five years that have passed since those fateful nights. The woman’s identity has never been discovered and no missing reports have ever surfaced. About 20 years ago, however, the formal general manager of The Gunter received an envelope with no return address. It was directed to “The Gunter” (not the Sheraton Gunter as it is identified now) and the zip code dated to 1965. Inside the envelope was an old room key, the one for Room 636, and was the kind used during that period.
A bit of folklore to add to an already strange story? No one is quite certain, but many people have witnessed the murder replay in the years since then, as though the imprint of that devastating death has no choice but to reenact the scene over and over again.
Staff and guests both have reported such paranormal phenomena–one guest even witnessed seeing a ghostly woman who held her hands out and stared at the guest with a gaze that appeared almost soulless.
When I lived across the street above the Majestic Theater from 2007-2011, I would take guests to the hotel for sightseeing. In one case a clairvoyant from Florida wanted to explore the murder room. What she didn’t know was that room 636 today is not the same one it was in 1965. The original room has been remodeled and is now two separate suits. Current 636 is around the corner at the end of the hallway.
As we passed the murder location, she suddenly said “STOP!”
The lady placed her hand on the wall exactly where the doorway was in 1965.
Over the years, I have interviewed police officers, detectives, witnesses and hotel staff who were involved during the murder. Some of the most interesting people I’ve met were actual guests (that had no clue there was ever a murder there) who have experienced strange occurrences: screaming, crying, furniture movement, loud walking on the carpet floor and even ghostly images.
Today, the Gunter is a must see stop during guided downtown ghost tours that begin at the nearby Alamo.
This article #3 of CleverJourneys ongoing series exploring American history from a perspective that burrows deep into criminal profiles, the penal system, victim’s stories, crime prevention, forensic science, law enforcement and our justice system.
My father, Walter Dennis, was a police officer and homicide detective for the San Antonio Police Department from the late 1950s through the mid-1970s. Later, he was a U.S. Marshal and worked on the assassination of federal Judge John Woods.
Dad would often take me to the locations of some of his cases. He’d explain what happened, pointing me to the clues, structures and surroundings of the crime scenes. He taught me the science and art of profiling.
It’s no wonder I later became the youngest licensed private investigator in Texas in 1976, and worked on many crime cases.
Some of the more notorious sites I’ve checked out include assassination locations such as Dealey Plaza, Ford Theater, and Ambassador Hotel (JFK, Lincoln and RFK).
Horror houses I’ve visited include Amityville, Sharon Tate (Manson murders), Nicole Brown Simpson (Bundy Drive), Erik and Lyle Melendez (parents murders), Phil Spector (murder of Lana Clarkson), Bugsy Siegel, Phil Hartman, and Dorothy Stratten.
Death locations include Vitello’s Italian Restaurant (Bonnie Lee Bakley, Robert Blake), Sam Cooke, Selena, Marvin Gaye, Sal Mineo, Rebecca Schaeffer, and William Frawley.
Historical locations like the OK Corral in Tombstone, Colorado’s Woodland Park RV Park (arrest site of “Texas 7” escapees), Killeen Luby’s (massacre site on October 16, 1991, by George Hennard) and ‘The Butcher of Elmendorf’ Joe Ball site (killed women, fed bodies to his alligators) are just some of a long list I’ve checked off.
More recently, Dodie and I visited the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas and the ambush site of Bonnie and Clyde in Louisiana.
The Top 10 most read articles from CleverJourneys in 2021 included new information on the Arizona and Georgia Election Fraud, former VP Mike Pence as a mole for the Deep State, The Devolution Theory, and Attorneys willing to go to bat for people being fired for not taking the experimental and dangerous COVID jabs.
In January 2021, we were censored by the social media giants (you know who they are) and lost tens of thousands of readers. We are proud of our persistence and picked up incredibly patriotic sponsors along the way. By mid-May, we were bouncing back.
We are most grateful to our readers, sources, sponsors, and advertisers.
Our sponsors in 2021 included http://www.GreenPasture.org, Cindy Leal Massey: Texas Author, Goettle Plumbing & HVAC, South Dakota Tourism, North Carolina Tourism, Discount Tire, Texas Tourism, and Graceland: Elvis Presley Enterprises.
Surprising, others in the Top 10 included an article about Ted Nugent’s letter to Joe Biden and a legendary San Antonio horror story.
In 2021, (in spite of having mid-January through mid-May with greatly reduced readership due to social media censoring us), we managed to end with more than 8 million viewers and over 14.9 million hits on over 955 posts. This led to:
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Here are the Top 10 Most Read Articles of 2021
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The bone chilling legend of the Donkey Lady offers that a half-woman-half-donkey-like creature continues to haunt the concentrated woods amid the Medina and San Antonio Rivers just south of the Alamo City.
Faithfully, an October and Halloween tradition of searching for the terrifying Donkey Lady, or by now, perhaps her ghost, has been a teenage ritual going as far back as the late 1940s.
Some years back, Harlandale High School classmates and residents of the 1940s and 1950s sat at their local favorite lunch hangout on the south side, Bud Jones Restaurant at Military Drive and Commercial discussing their youth. The conversation turned to the Donkey Lady.
“To this day I swear it wasn’t just a made up deal,” claimed Archie Mabry, a retired electrician, who recalled “going out there as far back as about 1952 or 53. We decided we were going to ride our bicycles out there and actually camp because we wanted to find her.”
“The story we were told by, our older brothers, sisters and classmates, was that there was a man and woman, who lived with their small children near Elm Creek about where Jett Road and Applewhite Road was,” Mabry said. “It was right after World War II and he had come back home messed up in the head after being in the battles in Europe.”
“Well, the man was abusive and drinking all the time. One night she became scared when he came home drunk so she pulled a kitchen knife on him to protect herself and the kids. It ticked him off so he went and set the damn house on fire.”
“I guess fate, or what you call karma, took care of him because the husband and the two children died in the fire,” his friend and my father, Walter “Corky” Dennis, a retired San Antonio police detective added. “Supposedly, they found her barely alive and just severely burned all over. Someone finally took her to what was either called Brooke General Hospital, or Brooke Army Medical Center(BAMC) back then, on base at Ft. Sam (Houston). Now it’s a major trauma center.”
“She was so scarred up and disfigured that she looked somewhat like a horse or donkey,” Dennis emphasized. “But I don’t think we started calling her ‘Donkey Lady’ until after the drowning at the bridge.”
The old classmates nodded their heads agreeing to this version of the story.
“That’s right,” affirmed Mabry. “When she healed, her face kind of drooped, baggy-like and her fingers fused together like hooves.”
Others around the table explained that when the woman was released from the hospital and went back with no home, she “really had no choice but to settle camp style, wild-like, and isolated.”
“We grew up wondering if she would ever make her way into town where we lived,” Dennis smiled. “On summer nights, around campfires, we talked about how she needed to come look for food. We just knew she was out there in the dark waiting for the last one of us to go to sleep, or if one of us needed to walk away for a minute to go to the restroom.”
Stories spread over the generations of students throughout Harlandale, Burbank, McCollum, South San and Southside High Schools. Mutilated by the fire, and absolutely insane from the death of her children, her appearance, the beatings from her husband, and then the isolation in the woods, people reported she would wear a bonnet, scarf or hood during the day to hide her eerie form.
Shop keepers nearby said if she came into their stores, it would be with her beloved donkey. She’d remain unnervingly silent placing purchases on the counter, pay, and simply walk out.
However, at night, the sightings were treacherously different—even sinister in the descriptions. Those who dared to venture over the Applewhite Road Bridge crossing Elm Creek in the dark were terrorized by the sound of animals, especially the unnatural wailing of a donkey.
The old friends around the table turned serious as they told about the bicycle trip Mabry, and three other young Harlandale Indians freshmen took to find the Donkey Lady.
“We thought we were on a safari or witch hunt,” one gentleman began. “We loaded our bikes up with everything we thought we needed to camp out and find the Donkey Lady: lanterns, bedding, slingshots, food, a hatchet, matches, cowboy canteens, just everything you could imagine.”
“We were something out of the ‘Little Rascals,’ now that I think about it,” laughed Mabry. “But we peddled ourselves way out there.”
“I bet we hadn’t settled down more than 30 minutes before we started talking about how she would come out like a wild lion and pounce on one of us, chewing and ripping one of us apart–and then we heard the sounds.”
“It was a donkey,” Mabry swore. “It was a wailing, crying, howling donkey. We could hear it back there in the trees and it was coming closer; right at us.”
The boys all started yelling and ran to their bikes, leaving their gear behind.
“It was sheer terror,” Mabry looked serious. Rubbing his hands together, he continued. “That’s the fastest I ever peddled in my life, both before and since.”
“One of the boys, Jimmy, the one in back of all of us, started screaming and I could hear his bicycle crashing on the ground. I figured that Donkey Lady was gnawing on him like a buzzard or lion would with their prey. Hell no, I didn’t look back to check on him. It was each one for themselves at this point.”
“Remember now, it was pure dark,” he emphasized. “We couldn’t see but maybe eight or ten feet in front of us. We had no idea if he was dead or not. All of our senses was devoted to survival. It was probably a good 30 minutes before we slowed down and stopped.”
“Jimmy wasn’t with us and we weren’t about to call out for him. Our hearts were pounding so loud and we were breathing so hard, we could barely whisper. We figured we were pretty much out of the ‘Donkey Lady Zone’ and decided to lay back–more like collapse–and catch our breath for a quick spell.”
“It wasn’t even five minutes and here comes something, we could hear it, behind us. We jumped up to grab our bikes and Harold said, ‘Look it James (Jimmy)!’”
“Now here comes Jimmy huffin’ and puffin’ towards us. He was mad as hell we left him behind and it wasn’t until he was right on us, that I noticed he didn’t have his pants on.”
“‘Where’s your pants Jimmy?,” one of us asked. ‘Did she get your pants?’”
“Then we saw he was buck naked from the waist down!”
“Hell no, you sons of a bitches,” he yelled. “You just deserted me and I swear I could hear her–she was snortin’ and her hoofs were coming for me. I sh_t my pants right then and there. Pulled them off–underwear and pants. Didn’t even wipe my arse and you guys just left me. You dirty bastards.”
“Speaking of dirty bastards you smell like crap Jimmy,” Mabry noticed.
“What the hell do you expect me to smell like,” Jimmy retorted. “My bicycle seat will never be the same. I tried to keep my ass up peddling because I kept sliding.”
“We didn’t really know what to do for Jimmy, but we had all night, so someone volunteered their socks over so he could try to wipe himself and his bike, but it still stunk all the way to Six Mile Creek. It was there we made him go down stream from us to wash himself better while we soaked and quenched our thirst.”
“I can’t remember, but I guess it was at least four or five days later, maybe a week, ’til we went back–in the daytime–to get our stuff we left back there.”
“It’s strange how different things look in the day than it did in the middle of the night knowing that Donkey Lady is sneaking around. It was still creepy.”
“Our food was all gone, but our blankets, my hatchet, lanterns and other stuff was still there. We think we saw hoof marks there too, but we didn’t stay around to analyze it,” Mabry grinned. “We quickly grabbed our things and rode back. But poor Jimmy. His mama made him bring those pants back home so HE could wash them proper. The underwear stayed. They were a lost cause.”
We traveled through enchanting Sedona a few weeks ago, although we couldn’t stay long. It’s only been a few years since I was there, but mercy has it grown…almost to the point that Sedona’s popularity could be a possible burden.
Traffic congestion was considerable and all shops, restaurants and parking areas were full. We will be back, but probably not in the peak of summer. Most likely we will try again in the fall.
The first sign of autumn isn’t always the changing of the leaves; sometimes it’s the changing of the kegs. When the air turns crisp and pint glasses are raised in celebration, it can only mean that Oktoberfest has arrived.
Ales on Rails is Verde Canyon Railroad’s way of toasting this German tradition, providing a rollicking farewell to summer beginning Tuesday, September 14 and running through Sunday, October 31, 2021.
Sample a wide range of local Arizona breweries, proudly showcased on the depot patio, these are richly crafted local beers ranging from the lightest pilsners to the hoppiest IPAs and deepest stouts the Copper State has to offer.
Now in its 19th year, the very popular Ales on Rails season always sells out in advance and may be reserved to include a Verde Canyon Railroad logo beer glass with four beer-tasting tickets, a made-to-order lunch from the Copper Spike Cafe and a large selection of fine Arizona-brewed craft beers for only $125 per person.
The party begins on the depot patio from 10:30am -12:45 p.m., with beer tasting on tap prior to the train’s 1:00 p.m. departure.
The fun continues as favorite beers of the day will also be available canned for purchase aboard the train, to enjoy while marveling at the vibrant Verde Canyon scenery.
Echoing the celebration of amber brews are the brilliant bronze and gold colors vividly on display throughout Mother Nature’s masterpiece during the Fall Colors Tour, with autumn foliage ranging from chartreuse to ginger, and vermillion to violet for a wide range strikingly seasonal hues.
If you mixed all four seasons together and skimmed off the very best, you would create autumn.
Radiant colors and mild temperatures with a hint of briskness in the air charges Verde Canyon with a fresh energy. Residents of the Verde Canyon, as well as visitors, feel the seasonal change.
Wildlife sightings increase as deer, Javelina, coyote and other species grow more active. Amidst the fall finery, a chorus of wings adds a touch of music, as migratory birds return to the sanctuary between the canyon walls.
The Verde Canyon’s resident Bald Eagles are joined by these migrating visitors, adding to the population, and the train’s connection with these noble birds.
The train is a proud sponsor of Arizona-based rescue Liberty Wildlife, who share scheduled Raptors at the Rails programs with depot guests, featuring hawks, owls, falcons and vultures from their education program at the depot, and a bald eagle riding the train each month.
As October draws to a finale, the Verde Canyon’s low whistling winds are perhaps ghostly whispers of ancient Sinaguan cliff-dwellers or of miners’ spirits restlessly roaming from nearby famed “Ghost City” Jerome’s abandoned copper mine shafts.
It’s not the destination, it has always been the journey
No matter what your plans might be for the spookiest night of the year, spend part of your day aboard the Haunted Halloween Express on Sunday, October 31st.
In addition to the blazing colors of fall and the smooth, cool flow of artisanal beer, train staff will be in Halloween disguises ranging from mild to wild, and there will be a costume contest for passengers, with fun prizes and plenty of candy making for ghoulish good fun for the whole family.
Leave the confines of city life in favor of high-spirited fun and an unforgettable journey around every bend and over every bridge as the train winds through its beautiful and historic red-rock riparian canyon home this autumn. Surrounded by the colors of the season, the flavors of Arizona, the curves of the Verde River, a trip aboard the train inspires wonder and fills cameras.
The Verde Canyon Railroad depot is in Clarkdale, Arizona, 25 minutes southwest of Sedona and two hours north of Phoenix. For reservations book online at VerdeCanyonRR.com or call 800-293-7245.
Big Tech has launched a major assault on Americans’ right to free speech. In their most audacious attack, some of the most powerful big businesses in America joined together to force Parler off the Internet.
Parler, a social media site that rejects Twitter’s censorship policies, had millions of users until Google, Apple, and Amazon deplatformed the entire website, removing it from their app stores and web hosting service.
Americans must fight back against this blatant censorship. While Parler’s working through the courts to get back online, Big Tech continues to silence conservatives and trample our right to free expression.
Fortunately, independent bloggers such as CleverJourneys have found phenomenal growth in reporting what Big Tech try to censor and the “Mockingbird” Media dare not report.
We are migrating to Parler (@Jackdennistexas), Gab (Jackdennistexas), and more.
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Simply “Subscribe” at the bottom of any article at the “NOTIFY ME…” box.
Some of our most popular articles are JackNotes, executive summaries of books, articles, speeches and other useful information that may save you the expense and trouble of reading the entire publication….or it may spur you on to seek more information from the original source.
We are now rolling out another new feature, Accounts of the Old West as a tribute to Jack’s great, great uncle Charlie Bassett, the first marshall of Dodge City, Kansas…and James Allison Morgan–a cattle driver and cowboy, Jack’s great grandfather. (You thought TV’s ‘Marshal Matt Dillion’ was the first didn’t you?)
We also feature “Top 10 Buzz Trends of the Week” highlighting some of the best posts, memes, and photos on the web the prior week.
Another feature is T.R.A.S.H. (Trivial Relevations of A Sick Human-being), an updated version of Jack’s national and Texas award winning column from back in his Texas State University days.
Remember, we don’t just write news. You will enjoy travel, recipes, lifestyle, humor, motivation, wellness and health, how-to, history, reviews, military, crime, police, heroes entertainment, interviews, fun and so much more.
Dodie has over 38 years in the medical, health and wellness field being a registered nurse. She has trained hundreds in nutrition, prenatal and post natal care, pregnancy, parenting, nursing, and general health. Much of her time was also devoted to immunology and vaccines.
Jack is an award winning journalist, investigative reporter, and author. He was an executive for H-E-B FOOD-DRUGS for almost 30 years, a founder and first elected president of Professional Retail Store Management Association (now CONNEX), life coach and private investigator.
Thank you for your readership and kindly sharing our articles.
Until recently, I lived almost ten years in a wonderful community just northwest of San Antonio, Texas.
Residents of, and near, Fair Oaks Ranch, a small town on the cusp of the sprawling Texas Hill Country, (southeast of charming Boerne where I raised my four children in the 1990s and 2000s), have reported seeing some strange sightings recently.
In 2020, partly because of a pandemic furlough and mostly due to some health issues, I’ve been away from my retirement job as an ace marshal at the golf courses there.
Fair Oaks Ranch Golf & Country Club is the heart of the city, with two golf courses, tennis courts, pools, and additional event space. I’m proud to be a part of The Club as it is one of Texas’ premier family-oriented country clubs.
Known for its impeccable and personalized service, warm and friendly staff (yours truly was Employee of the Year 2019), full-service facilities and amenities, what I love about it most is its active and vibrant membership community.
The time off has afforded opportunity to heal and hone my calling to write more. Dodie and I moved further northwest between Bandera, the Cowboy Capital of the World and Kerrville, another Hill Country haven. We’ve simplified our lives during our first year of marriage and founded CleverJourneys. By the start of 2021, we should reach more than 300,000 readers.
Fair Oaks Ranch has an intelligent, wise and experienced population. There is a wealth of information, rich with reliable sources from retired military officers, business owners, ranchers, civil service, pilots, doctors, lawyers and corporate executives. For investigative reporting, it continues to be a hub of knowledge and focus for me.
In Washington DC, on some business for a previous employer in late 1990s, I was actually able to take advantage of an opportunity to meet General Norman Schwarzkoph, who had recently retired as commander of Operation Desert Storm in Iraq.
In 2013, the 1956 Class of West Point played golf at Fair Oaks Ranch as part of their annual reunion.
Unfortunately, Gen. Schwarzkoph, a fellow alumnus, passed away the previous year, but I was able to meet some remarkable veterans with amazing stories and exceptional connections.
Which brings me to the strange sightings recently witnessed by at least five residents. Perhaps, because of my writing or investigation background, they contacted me offering “news” about their sightings and two claimed encounters.
The serendipitous and coincidental part of this story is that I received information from five individuals, with three of the interviews totally independent of each other.
There is also a sixth person, who has witnessed some of these sightings. Because of the nature of his job, the sixth person desires to remain very anonymous regarding what he saw on at least two occasions.
Although these witnesses are real, the names are made up to protect their identities. (Of course, they are more than welcome to self identify in the comment section below).
“On or about Tuesday May 12, 2020 was the first time I saw it,” a resident, Bob Jones, who lives near the Live Oak Course in the vicinity of holes #11, 12, 17 and 18 said. “I was taking my dog for an evening walk and stopped to talk to a neighbor. By the time we finished our conversation, it was late. I decided to stay on the cart path so I could see my way back with the backyard lights of the houses rather than risk stumbling in the dark trying to take a shortcut across the course to get home.”
“There was a slight breeze coming out of the east. I remember thinking when I played golf earlier that day, it had been blowing from the south. We were at the end of (hole) #15 and I stopped to use the restroom there. As I walked out facing #12 and #18, that was when I actually first spotted it.”
“It was dark but the moon was over half full. It was behind a cloud but it helped me see a little.”
“From my left, or southwest, going across the sky to the northeast, was this thing. The only way I know how to describe it is that it reminded me of a smoke ring–as if someone with a cigarette had blown a smoke ring out of their mouth. But it was several rings inside each other, perfectly set, and traveling above, yet below the cloud it was approaching. The cloud that the moon was behind.”
“I tried to tell myself, it was a balloon figure, but it wasn’t. It was traveling against the wind and a balloon would travel with it. Hell, I could tell it wasn’t a balloon, but it definitely wasn’t a plane, a satellite or drone either.”
“From beginning to end, the moment I saw it, to the time it passed between me and the cloud–it was high, but definitely under the cloud–until it was out of my sight was no more than three minutes.”
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” he continued. “I would not call it a flying saucer or an aircraft, but it was certainly and unidentified flying object.”
“Two days later I saw it again, but it was later after the 10 pm news but during a commercial before the weather came on. I took the dog outside so he could (relieve itself) and saw that damn thing again. It was north of me toward the direction of the Clubhouse, but it was staying still.”
“This time I yelled at my wife and when she came to the door, I pointed up. When she saw it, she came out there with me and saw the same thing I did. She said it looked exactly as I had described it Tuesday.”
“We watched it kind of stay right there for maybe half a minute or so. I wouldn’t call it hovering, because it was perfectly still and I could make out the features better. It was kind of a lighter cloudy color, light grayish. Very still. Kind of creepy and a sense of disbelief. But it was there. We both saw it.”
“Without a warning or even a hint of sound or motion, it whooshed off so fast, almost like a shooting star but very high and far enough we couldn’t see it anymore.”
“We checked the news and internet to see if anyone had reported or seen it too, but heard nothing. We never saw it again until December 7th, Pearl Harbor Day. It was higher up and going west with increasing altitude.”
“It was somewhat cloudy and cool with gentle winds coming out of the north-north-west. Again, we heard no sounds. We’ve been looking up more often, even in the day, wondering if we would see it again.”
“It was a Thursday because I walked outside to take the trash out to the street,” said John Smith. “It would be hard to miss. It was high up and north. I had my camera, or my cell phone and took some pictures. I couldn’t believe what this thing was. I’m glad I have the pictures because who would believe this? I know it was a Thursday, because it was about 10:30 at night and it was the day before a (leaving blank to help hide individual’s identity).”
“I knew it wasn’t Venus because it was too big and way too north,” he explained. “It was still for a while and then It started shifting in angles. Not the thing itself, but the direction. The directions were at different degrees and made little sense. Was it calibrating or surveying? Was it doing some kind of recon or what? This was all going through my mind.”
Note: This Thursday coincides with the same day ofthe Sighting #1man, “Bob Jones,”saw the object the second time with his wife.
“This doesn’t look like anything that appears to be a UFO in the classic sense–the way we would see it in books, on the internet, in a movie or on TV. It is spherical and it’s layers of rings are turning within it.”
“It looked like some kind of portal. Like something to do with quantum physics, a wormhole to another dimension or time. It wasn’t a spaceship…or maybe it was. It was like looking down at a hurricane from up above. Only I was below and south of it, looking up. But in this hurricane-portal looking thing, there was no “eye” and there was no storm. The lighter colored rings in this circle kept turning or swirling.”
This sighting was a combination of two men seeing objects and a husband and wife (a different couple than the pair in Sighting #1) possibly seeing something similar at the same time.
John Smith was riding in his golf cart near his home on the Live Oak Course when he noticed a neighbor looking up in the sky from a second story deck in his back yard.
“Now Jack, what I’m about to tell you is true. We saw it. You know us and you know our backgrounds. But when you hear it, just know that we were not drinking or out drunk. I was as sober as I am now.”
(John Smith and I were at a coffee shop in Boerne, Texaswhen he told me this story and provided photographs. He was sober).
“He said he was up there looking for UFO’s. Of course, this peaked my interest. It was about 9 at night. We exchanged stories and I was relieved about two things.”
“Number one, this is a high level reasonable man. You know his background…”
“Number two, I was not alone. Someone else had seen it. This was verification and relief.”
The two men talked for sometime, comparing notes when they noticed foreign objects–not planes, crossing the sky.
“They were erratic. No reason or clear pathways. It was dull lights going one way and then going the next way. He video taped it but it’s not that good of footage.”
“They moved very erratically and descended closer to us. We weren’t afraid, just about as curious as we could be. We could both see these lights in a circular pattern around the circumference of the crafts and especially the one that descended on the other side, closer to above, maybe Dietz-Elkhorn (a street west of their location near #11, #12, #16, and #17 Live Oak Course holes).”
“It looked like they all seemed to descending closer in unison heading toward Camp Stanley. (Name hidden) was recording this on his phone and we both saw what looked like some kind of orb pass right through our eyeline as we watched these crafts.”
“It was very strange that they would be this close to where anyone could see them. But I was just standing there just outside his back fence with my hand on the corner post when we first saw them. I guess I was so mesmerized, my hand was still on the post when it was over. Well, at least I thought it was over.”
“It was getting close to 11 (pm) and we talked more about it, then I turned around to go get on my cart towards the path.”
“There was this being, not a human as we recognized it, walking right to left and then shifting to its right, away from us. It must have been eight feet tall and was carrying something–like a book, tablet, instrument of some kind–in front of it like it was studying or inspecting it for who knows what.”
“On its head there was a helmet type thing that I couldn’t tell if it was made of any metal or cloth, but the material was shaped like a bonnet…like ladies used to wear way back when. It had some kind of a big belt and the clothing draped all the way to its feet or boots maybe. It wasn’t moving fast.”
“There is no way we could not have noticed it or it could have not noticed us, but there were no gestures, acknowledgment. It was so tall and as it walked away down the path toward the street a large flash, like an encompassing negative–everything black or dark turned to white or light. Everything light turned to dark. It was quick, but permeated everything around it for at least 50 feet from both sides and around it.”
“We still don’t know what to think about it, but it wasn’t just a coincidence that we saw those things flying around and saw this giant thing walking in right in front of us. Each one by itself was crazy enough, but both is something we can’t explain.”
“We were watching TV and were talking about how the Boy Scouts were being banned from placing flags on veterans graves this year because of pandemic restrictions,” explained Tammy Morris, who lives on #12 Live Oak.
“Roy (her husband) saw something out our large back window and asked, ‘What is that?’ It was this tall man or woman or kid on stilts dressed in some kind of costume was my first thought.”
“There was this outburst of reflections and glare. Like a burst of something. It wasn’t fireworks or lightning, but that’s the best way to describe it. We are about 70 or 80 yards away, but we could see this tall thing walking up by the hole–or between the green and the side street. That’s when this burst of energy happened and that thing was gone.”
Roy Morris, the husband, thought at first it was some prank.
“When you see it, you just wonder what is going on. It’s night, but we could see it from here. We were talking about Boy Scouts so my mind went to maybe it was some boys playing a trick or up to some mischief. But that flash and disappearance of that tall thing was too odd.”
“You know, there’s quite a few stories around here about Camp Stanley. It’s known as Depot West for the CIA and an armory for the military. Some say there are secret experiments with futuristic and advanced technologies. When you think about Camp Bullis being next door and Fort Sam (Houston), Randolph (Air Force Base), Lackland (AFB), there’s an impressive amount of military presence here.”
“We talked about there’s the Southwest Research Center here (in San Antonio) and there is no telling what advanced science they are working with for NASA or the military.”
“When you think about it, it’s difficult to think of anything rational to express in words or clarify what we saw. We are located about halfway between Boca Chica where Elon Musk has his space center on the lower tip of Texas coast, and the Corn Ranch near Van Horn way out in West Texas for Jeff Bezos satellite and rocket launches. We’ve done our homework, but nothing really adds up. Your mind looks for intelligible answers, but so far there are none.”
If you have any information, including witnessing anything similar or out of the ordinary, please leave a comment. Click “NOTIFY ME… and leave your email if you would like updates from CleverJourneys. Thank you for your readership.